Why you should train with runners who are faster than you: my story

run with faster runners

Most age group winners I now compete against have run track and/or cross country in high school and/or college, so they literally have decades of experience and running base under their feet. I only started seriously running when I was 45. I ran one meh year of high school track – 800 meters and 400 meter hurdles, mostly to keep in shape after gymnastics season – my real passion at the time. Our high school track practices were a joke. Come to think of it, I don’t remember practicing much. I just recall showing up for a few track meets, winging it and doing okay (which, in retrospect, makes me think I should probably have stuck with it).

To work my way out from the middle of the middle-aged pack, I had much to learn and a lot of catching up to do – literally and figuratively.

Zigging instead of zagging

Last year, I decided I was going to do 3 things to help me push my running to the next level: hire a coach, get my USATF coaching certification so I could help others, and run with a local competitive team.

Philly is home to so many running clubs. There is literally something for everyone: social running teams, charity running teams, theme running teams, beer running teams, running store teams, etc. Philly also has a talented masters running club. You would think it would have been the obvious choice for me.

But as someone who tends to zig while the rest of the world is zagging, I decided to try something truly unorthodox: run with a bunch of crazy-fast young guns. This is because my main goal is not to become a better masters runner, although that’s certainly a given. My goal is to defy categorization and become a better runner. Period. 

Plus, I like to occasionally try things that scare the crap out of me…

This week’s workouts : not too much, not too little, just right

This week's workouts

Running is a balancing act, and figuring out how much your body will tolerate before it cries “Uncle!” can be tricky. This is especially important for masters runners.  Magazines, blogs and training plans all offer prescriptions for improvement, but in the end, you need to listen to your body and learn what works for you. You also need to be brutally honest about the difference between feeling a bit tired after workouts – normal and necessary as your body adapts to the increased stimulus – and true fatigue, which can lead to overtraining and sideline you.

Most runners use what’s called a “3 on/1 off” approach to training, meaning they spend 3 weeks increasing mileage and or intensity (eg, speed work, hills, intervals) and then spend 1 week “off,” cutting back on mileage and doing less intense runs to allow their bodies to catch up and recover. I discovered years ago that my body responds better to a “2 on/1 off” approach. Here’s what I did this week…

How to save money on running

Save money on running

“Running is cheap; all you need is a good pair of sneakers.”

Ummm … no. 

“Need” is the operative word, here. Forbes reported that road racing is a $1.4 billion+ industry, and running shoes are a $3 billion industry. You can drop a lot of money on something that theoretically only requires shoes and clothing. Once you catch the running bug, you’ll want more than just sneakers.

Want to enjoy running without running out of money? Try these tips…

March Stride Box Review

StrideBox Review March 2017

Time for another exciting monthly edition of StrideBox review. I hope you think it’s exciting, because I sure do. Coming home and seeing my the smiling, cartoon faces adorning my StrideBox, and knowing I’m about to get a heaping helping of cool runner swag can make a sad day glad, not to mention make bills and junk mail a teensy bit more tolerable. This month’s box was decorated with a St. Patrick’s Day theme. 

21-day Badass Adventure Cleanse

21-DAY BADASS ADVENTURE CLEANSE

Almost time for spring cleaning – that seasonal ritual when we give everything a good scrub, clear out the dust bunnies, and discard items that are worn out or broken. Similarly, I like to spring clean my health habits and take inventory of my diet. To accomplish this, I do a version of Kris Carr’s 21-day cleanse to get back on track with clean eating and self-care. Since I had been feeling a bit fatigued and have been having some trouble sleeping lately, I figured the universe was telling me it was time to course correct.

Come cleanse with me starting April 1. It’s free!

Long runs are more fun with company, and so are cleanses. Instead of going this one alone, I decided to invite some friends. If you would like to cleanse with us, please just request access on Facebook to the Group “21-Day, Badass Adventure Cleanse” and I will grant you the keys to the lean, green castle.  It’s completely FREE. Just a group of like-minded people supporting each other and sharing recipes, tips, photos, and encouragement.

Race Recap: Shake Your Shamrock 5K

Shake Your Shamrock Race Recap 2017

The weather has been bipolar the past few weeks here in Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, the daffodils and some fruit trees were blooming. Now, they’re all frozen. One day, you’re running in a singlet and shorts. They next day, you’re freezing your assets off. You never know what to expect, and your body can’t adjust either way.

I had been watching the forecast all week. Saturday, the day I was scheduled to race my first 5K of the season, the temperature was scheduled to be 22 degrees at gun time. Thanks to 15 MPH winds, it would feel like 17 degrees. 

More than anything in the world, I hate to feel cold and I seem to feel it more deeply than most people. I get cold very easily. I’ve even experienced body-shaking and shivers after snorkeling in 80-degree Caribbean waters – while wearing a long-sleeved rash guard. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this bitter-cold race. I dreaded the icy temps much more than the burn I would feel while racing.

Because of the conditions, I knew I needed to adjust my expectations. I decided I would just use it as speed work and not worry about a fast time.

Shake Your Shamrock 5K: race recap

Shake your Shamrock 5K 2017

March 13, 2017 The weather has been bipolar the past few weeks here in Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, the daffodils and some fruit trees were blooming. Now, they’re all frozen. One day, you’re running in a singlet and shorts. They next day, you’re freezing your assets off. You never know what to expect, and your body can’t adjust either way. I had been watching the forecast all week. Saturday, the day I was scheduled to race my first 5K of the season, the temperature was scheduled to be 22 degrees at gun time. Thanks to 15 MPH winds, it would feel like 17 […]

You say “running fatigue” like it’s a bad thing.

Running fatigue

Last week, I was super fatigued. Not a dainty, yawn-and-stretch-on-your-tippy-toes tired. I was so exhausted that even thinking about running felt difficult. 

I usually get by fine on 7 hours of sleep, wake without an alarm, and start my day fully energized, even before coffee (thinking barking Chihuahua zippiness). Last week, I was sleeping 10 hours, plus taking power naps, and I was still not waking feeling refreshed. I normally look forward to my runs, but I was dreading some because my legs felt like anvils. My long runs, usually up to 16 miles often including significant hills, normally leave me feeling energized, but last week I struggled through an 11.5-mile easy long run on a flat path. My glutes were sore for 2-weeks following a hard track session. My appetite was ravenous – think 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches. I could have easily out-eaten a linebacker yet I didn’t gain an ounce. My resting heart rate was 10 beats above normal upon waking, 

These were all signs of accumulated fatigue. This means fatigue from previous workouts is basically carried over to the next one, and the next one, etc. until your body finally cries “uncle!” and remands quality recovery…

If you are training and want to become a better runner, a certain amount of fatigue comes with the territory. It’s normal and necessary, even though it feels like neither of these things….

How to make a Buddha Bowl – the ultimate runner recipe

How to make a Buddha Bowl

A protein. A grain. A veggie. A sauce. A tablespoon or two culinary bling. This is the humble Buddha Bowl. Buddha Bowls, or Dragon Bowls, are the ultimate, delicious no-brainer meal, and they’re perfect for busy, health-conscious runners. I make them at least 3 or 4 times per week. I think most people love this combination because of the interesting array of textures and flavors: comforting carbs, chewy protein, creamy sauce, crunchy toppings. Buddha Bowls first became a crunched-out vegetarian restaurant menu mainstay in the 1970s and 1980s. The rest of the world has finally caught on. Now, they’re “of-the-moment” and multifarious recipes […]