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Thoughts on Running

Thoughts on Running (13)

You wouldn’t know it by the strength of her British accent, but Rosie has been in the US for over 10 years. She arrived in Indianapolis to run track and cross country at Butler University. Since then she has progressed through the distances, from 1500 meters to the marathon.rosie_bio3

Rosie is fresh of the plane from her most recent race at the British Olympic Marathon Trials, where she placed third with a time of 2:31. Wowza! She loves all things science-based and enjoys putting her Sports Science Degree and running experience into practice.

 In addition to her coaching on Runcoach, she is a strength and mobility coach and today we asked her to share a few little tips, which may help in your next race build-up:

 Hips don’t lie~

Hip mobility is a huge focus area for runners, whether you are in a car, seated at a desk or watching TV at night, sitting with your knees and hips at 90 degrees can be a little tough on the body.

As runners, hip extension is paramount when opening the stride. However, the everyday seated position can lead to tight and shortened hip flexors which can decrease the length of our stride, costing us precious seconds over each mile and even leading to injuries.

 If you have the ability to sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair it will help to keep your hips mobile throughout the day, while activating and recruiting stabilizing core muscles.

Here are some of her favorite hip-opening stretches.
stretchs2

Another key area that we often neglect are the adductors. If we asked you to log how many steps we take in the forward motion compared to the lateral motion each day we'd wager that the majority of us only build in lateral movement when turning very tight corners.

 This is why our adductors can become weak and as a result, tight.

By adding a little focused work to strengthen these stabilizing muscles we can once again work towards decreasing injury risk.

Strength exercises for this exercise include clamshells, monster walks, and lateral steps with resistance bands.

One of her favorite stretches can be viewed below. The mountain backdrop certainly makes the stretch more enjoyable.

Hold each stretch for 1-2 minutes or move gently in and out of the stretch for mobility, avoid aggressively bouncing.

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Taking a few minutes each day to focus on the little things can pay dividends in the long run, no pun intended. Happy running.



Need a bit of motivation?  We all have our moments where the light at the end of the tunnel seems a bit dim.  Take heart, and be encouraged by the words and sentiment of a few top athletes and coaches throughout history.

 

He’s not a runner, but he is undeniably one of the greatest….

 

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.  But I can’t accept not trying.

Michael Jordan

He probably never ran a marathon, but he motivated many….

 

The only time success comes before failure is in the dictionary.

Vince Lombardi

Famous for his gutsiness….

 

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

Steve Prefontaine

Joy in the daily run, even when you are a two time Olympian….

 

That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success.  They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.

Kara Goucher

Believe in your dreams….

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.

Doug Larson

Have patience….

Good things come slow... especially in distance running.

Bill Dellinger

Mental toughness requires practice, even for a 3-time world Cross Country Champion…

Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.

Lynn Jennings

How the first sub 4:00 miler felt about running…

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.

Sir Roger Bannister

And finally….

If it was easy, I’d do it!

Seen on a marathon spectator sign

 

 



Bust these 5 Running Myths Today!

Written by Dena Evans February 06, 2014

TF_croppedDon’t let your running and training be hampered by arbitrary tales that may lead you off track.  If you find yourself caught in the trap laid by one of these myths, it is time to set yourself free!

Myth #1:  If you don’t have time for the entire prescribed workout, you should just skip the whole thing.

We all know the nagging pain of a day where the alarm didn’t go off, your toddler is sick, work is a fire drill, or the weather is garbage. The scheduled workout is Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.  In frustration, it can be tempting to bag everything and sulk.  Don’t.  Your schedule is the best-case scenario, and every single runner has had to punt and pivot now and again.  If the track workout isn’t an option, an aerobic run can still help clear your head, and keep you on track for either an adjusted workout day later in the week or next week’s tasks.  If the schedule calls for 45 minutes and you only have 25 minutes, your body will get a significant benefit from doing even half the work.  If you are taking an unplanned “zero” in the log, focus your mental energy on the positives – more freshness for the next session, accomplishment of the tasks and issues that have stolen your run time, and the confidence that a day or few off does not have to have a significant impact on your fitness level.

Myth #2:  Days off are for wimps.

Training hard is important to get toward your goal, but without recovery, your muscles don’t have the ability to adapt and recoup after the stress you have placed on them already.  Recuperation time allows your body to return to preparedness for the stimulus ahead and in doing so, get the most out of the upcoming challenge.  Running hard every day drives your body into a deeper and deeper hole from which it eventually becomes impossible to escape.   Build your schedule with some planned and regular rest, and the chances of you making it to the start line of your goal race will increase immensely.

Myth #3:  You will set a personal best every single race or you are not trying hard enough.

There are many, many factors that contribute to a personal best day.  An accurately (or inaccurately) measured course.  A tail or head wind.  Hills.  A bad meal the night before.  How well recovered you are.  Your bout of flu last week.  Neglecting to hydrate along the route or beforehand.  The list goes on and on.   These are not excuses, but factors which can both enhance or diminish the yield from your training up to that point.  Your actual fitness plays the largest role, but smart training includes a slight cyclical effect where recovery periods are interspersed with hard training and tapering for goal events.  100% effort each time can be a good way to practice the significant demand your body will require when it is primed for a signature day, but even top level effort each time may not always result in a new level of achievement, particularly for experienced runners who have been through the train and taper cycle in the past.  Concentrate on the quality of your preparation, the execution of your plan, and when your body is ready, you’ll have good racing habits and attitude down pat.

Myth #4a:  The more cushioning in your shoes, the better chance you have of avoiding injury.

Most athletes do not need to purchase the shoes with the maximum potential padding, structure, or stability in order to stay injury free, and in fact these shoes can sometimes impede your stride from operating at its greatest efficiency.  Each foot and every person is different.  Consider getting a gait analysis from an experienced staff member at a reputable running specialty store in your neck of the woods, and adding that info to your reasoning as you choose your next pair of shoes.  Well-cushioned shoes have indeed helped many non-runners become runners through the years, but for many athletes, other choices may serve the body better.

Myth #4b:  The less cushioning in your shoes, the better chance you have of avoiding injury.

In recent years, thousands of runners have become enamored with the “minimalist” segment of the running shoe market.  These are typically footwear with much or all of the heel lift eliminated, or shoes meant to simulate running barefoot with various ways of wrapping around the foot or articulating the sole.  While incorporating barefoot running or minimalist footwear into a larger program to strengthen the foot and lower leg can be very beneficial, these decisions must be made in context.  Injury history, the restraint to gradually incorporate this type of running, and the availability of suitable and safe terrain must all be considered.  Again, minimalist footwear have been invaluable tools for many runners, but just because you want to be one of those runners, doesn’t mean you are.  Get some input from your experienced local running specialty retailer or a podiatrist, and don’t do anything all at once.

Myth #5:  Training for a marathon is a great crash diet.

Physical fitness is a great by-product of decision to train for a half or full marathon.  Weight loss may result, but the “goal beyond the goal” should always be sustainable, healthy habits.  Athleticism, strength, endurance are all aspects of your best self that need to come to the fore in order for you to reach your race finish line.  Explicit, short term dieting and caloric reduction while maintaining a schedule of challenging running tasks can be detrimental to your training and health at best, and dangerous at worst.  We want running to be a life-long, rewarding pursuit, but we also know it fits into a larger context of healthy diet, sleep, lifestyle, and fitness choices.  Incremental changes you can live with, while adjusting to training, can help ensure that this goal won’t be the end of your training, but just the start.



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26.2 miles or 42 kilometers may seem like a completely arbitrary distance, considering how the marathon has captured the imagination of the running public over the past several decades.  In reality, the marathon has its roots in a few twists and turns of history, some of which are factual, some of which are in dispute or considered to be not necessarily history in the hard and fast sense.  How did we get to the universal understanding of the 26.2 mile distance as an object of fascination and motivation for hundreds of thousands of runners each year?

 

The conventional wisdom about the genesis of the marathon consists of the brief story of a professional courier named Pheidippides, who lived around 500BC.  Running approximately 25 miles to bring news of victory by the Greeks over the Persians at Marathon, Greece, he collapsed upon arrival and announcement of his news.

 

There are several variations of this story, both in prose and poetry in the centuries since, some of which include the aspect that Pheidippides initially ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for their help, covering about 240 km in two days. The account of Herodotus, writing about half a century after the events, is often considered to be an important source, but really doesn’t describe the events as we have come to accept them, instead mentioning the efforts of Pheidippides, (as he called him, Philippides) to get to Sparta and back, and indicating that Athenian fighters won the battle and marched back to Athens the same day.

 

Either way, there is a route from Marathon to Athens that spans about 25 miles.  This route travels to the south, around Mount Penteli, which stands between the two cities.  There is also a steeper route to the north which would require a more technical trip, but only spans 35 kilometers.  In the late 1800s, the founders of the modern Olympic movement became inspired by the 1879 poem of Robert Browning, Pheidippides and decided to include a marathon in the 1896 Olympic Games.  At the time, the southern route was a well established road and became the setting for the first organized attempts at the distance:  the Greek qualifier for the Olympic marathon, and the 1896 Olympic marathon, won by Spyridon Louis of Greece in a come-from-behind 2:58.

 

Inspired by the 1896 Athens Olympic Marathon, US team manager John Graham returned to New England and helped establish the Boston Athletic Association-hosted marathon of 24.5 miles on April 17, 1897, now well into its second century of annual running.  The winner, John McDermott, had already won the first ever marathon on US soil (approximately 25 miles) from Connecticut to the Bronx on September 19, 1896.

 

The 1900 Olympic race in Paris featured 13 competitors, seven finishers, and Michel Théato of France as the winner in 2:59, while 1904’s effort in St. Louis was a bit of a disaster. Trimming 32 starters to 14 finishers, many received aid such as physical assistance, injection of stimulants on the road to keep them going, and more.  One competitor was found prone along the road, suffering from dust inhalation from the lead vehicles, while a competitor who had earlier dropped out, was initially and mistakenly considered the winner while crossing the finish line after being dropped off by his ride a few miles short of the finish line.  After everything, Thomas Hicks of the US was declared the winner in 3:28.  The Paris distance was about 25 miles, and the St. Louis distance was planned to be 24.85 or 40K.

 

In 1908, while the distance was anticipated to be between 25-26 miles, long planned efforts to incorporate a protected start from the crowds within the grounds of Windsor Castle as well as to provide a more spectator friendly finish on the track at White City Stadium in Shepherd’s Bush resulted in what became officially “about 26 miles plus 385 yards on the track” when then best start was finally decided upon.  Often reported as a special royal request, this starting spot appears more likely to be a pragmatic consideration.   Although later measured to be actually a bit shorter than this listed distance, the 26 miles and 385 yards number has stood the test of time as the accepted distance of the marathon ever since.

 

For additional information on the historical establishment of the marathon distance, check out these sources:

 

Longman, Jeré The Marathon’s Random Route to Its Length. ” New York Times April 20, 2012.  Web.  Accessed January 8, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/sports/the-marathons-accidental-route-to-26-miles-385-yards.html

 

Marathon History.”  Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Accessed January 8, 2014. http://www.aimsworldrunning.org/marathon_history.htm

 

The History of the Marathon.” Marathon Guide. Accessed January 8, 2014.  http://www.marathonguide.com/history/

 



Names Every Runner Should Know

Written by Dena Evans December 12, 2013

imagesAre you a new runner and hope to join in the conversation with the more experienced athletes on the next group run?  Have you been running long enough to have heard these names, but are a bit too sheepish to ask who they are or what they have done? Wait no longer and raise your running knowledge quotient in a few quick minutes right now!

 

Mo Farah

Farah is a British athlete who has won both the 5000m and 10,000m gold medals at the most recent IAAF World Championships in 2013 as well as the 2012 London Olympics.  As you might imagine, this is extremely tough to do, and he is widely considered to currently be the best distance athlete on the planet.  Originally born in Somalia, Farah has a twin brother from whom he was separated when only part of his family was able to move to the UK in the early 90’s.  He is married with three daughters and trains with American coach Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon.

 

Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich

The current world record holder in the marathon, Kipsang is a Kenyan athlete, who covered 26.2 miles at the 2013 Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 23 seconds.  He has run faster than 2:05 four times, was the bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, and is the reigning champion of the NYC Half Marathon.  2:23:23 equates to 4:42 per mile average, or 26.2 miles of 70 second quarter miles.  Continuously.

 

Paula Radcliffe

Although Radcliffe has competed sparsely over the past few years due to injury and maternity, she remains the women’s world record holder over the marathon distance.  Her mark of 2:15:25 at the London Marathon in 2003 stands nearly three minutes ahead of the next best performance, by Liliya Shobukhova at 2:18:20.  While famously unable to achieve the Olympic gold medal to match the magnitude of her performances outside of the Games, her long and storied international career and front running tactics have made her a household name and a women’s distance running standard bearer for the current generation.

 

Meb Keflezighi

Keflezighi, was the first American male to win a medal in the Olympic Marathon since the 1970’s when he took home silver in the 2004 Athens Games.  Following the disappointment of not qualifying for the US team in 2008, he returned to form from injury in 2009, winning the ING New York City Marathon, again the first American to do so in a generation.  Keflezighi finished 4th in the Olympic marathon at the 2012 Games at the age of 37.  His accessible nature and interest in the community have made him a fan favorite.  Keflezighi is a current member of the runcoach board of directors.

Tirunesh Dibaba

Nicknamed “The Baby-Faced Destroyer,” this twenty eight year-old Ethiopian athlete has won three Olympic Gold medals, five World Championships in track & field, and five more world championships in cross country.  She can close her 5000 and 10,000 events with 400m finishing sprints in faster than 60 seconds, sometimes battling compatriot, rival, and fellow world champion Meseret Defar.  Dibaba has two siblings who have also won medals at the world championship level, and her cousin Derartu Tulu, won gold at the 1992 and 2000 Olympics.

 

Legends (not nearly an exhaustive list, but just to get you started):

 

Steve Prefontaine

Former University of Oregon and US international athletes initially famous for outspoken criticism of restrictive amateurism rules and a brazen front running style, but remembered greatly due to a tragic passing in a car accident in May of 1975.  Eugene, Oregon plays host to an annual Diamond League event in his honor which is traditionally one of the highest quality international meets across the globe each year.

 

Roger Bannister

A well respected British neurologist, Bannister is just a teeny tiny bit more famous for being the first person to record a mile in less than four minutes.  He did so at Iffley Road Track at Oxford in May of 1954.  The time was 3:59.4, but the world record status only lasted for a little over a month and a half before the time was bettered again.

 

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Winner of the first Olympic marathon for women in 1984, this diminutive American athlete still blazes trails while racing regularly.  She nearly finished among the top 10 American women at the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.

 

Sebastian Coe

A former Member of Parliament and head of the organizing committee for the London Olympic Games, Coe earned gold in the 1500m at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and captivated the track and field world for the years surrounding these events with his rivalries with fellow countrymen Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.  Coe was world record holder in the 800 meters for 26 years, running 1:41.73 in 1981.

 

Frank Shorter

The Olympic Gold medalist in the marathon in 1972, his performances and influence are widely regarded as a crucial factor in the growth of recreational running during this time.

 

Grete Waitz

Norwegian athlete Grete Waitz won nine New York City Marathons in the 70s and 80s, more than any athlete in history.  She took silver to Benoit Samuelson in the 1984 Olympic marathon, but won gold at the 1983 Helsinki World Championships.  In all, Waitz lowered the women’s world record in the marathon nine minutes over several races, down to 2:25 in 1983.  She passed away due to complications from cancer in 2011 at age 57.

 

Kip Keino

One of the very first Kenyan athletes to take the world stage in distance running, Keino’s victory over Jim Ryun in the 1500m at the 1968 Olympics made a huge impact.  This was followed by future championships in the years to come, and further magnified by humanitarian efforts in his home country.

 

Jim Ryun

About that silver medalist….Jim Ryun was famously the first high school athlete to break four minutes for the mile, attended University of Kansas, competed in two Olympics for the United States, and set the world record in the mile (the last American to hold that distinction).  Ryun also served for many years in the United States House of Representatives.

 

Billy Mills

The last US male to earn gold in the 10,000 meters, this 1964 Olympian came out of nowhere to take the victory in what still stands as one of the biggest upsets of all time.  A well-traveled motivational speaker, Mills is a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe and was the second Native American athlete to ever win Olympic Gold.

 

Kathrine Switzer

Subject of a famous photo showing Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple trying to pull her off the course in 1967 while entered under her gender neutral initials, Switzer became the first official female winner of the Boston Marathon in 1972, running 3:07.

 

This list leaves out a great many giants of our sport – including many contemporary world-beaters. However, perhaps the list above can be a conversation starter for your next run, and hopefully an invitation to learn more about the heroes and heroines of our sport!

 



presentDon’t let the passing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday get you down – there is still plenty of time to make the runner in your life light up when opening your gift.  If you are stumped for ideas, here are a few safe paths to tread.  Likewise, runners, feel free to forward this on to non-running friends and family if they need a bit of prodding or direction!

 

Stocking stuffers

There are many small and low-key items which may seem trivial and perhaps even downright weird to anyone who doesn’t run on a regular basis.  These small tokens, however, may provide a path straight to your recipient’s heart.   An assortment of gel packets, chews, bars (GU, Power Gel, Clif Bar, etc) in a favorite flavor or range of flavors, breathable  or cushioned socks, Body Glide, gloves, warm headband, earphones, and hand warmer packets are examples of the type of item that doesn’t take up too much space, but are regularly used by many runners.  Bottle belts, handheld bottles, Camelback systems and other fluid delivery systems are often plentiful at your local running store.  Various balls or rolling devices can help your runner treat the odd ache and pain or avoid it altogether.  Sunscreen, deodorant, and other items may not scream “gift,” but with a cheeky delivery and some good humor, you can own your creativity as serving a utilitarian goal.  Several companies have seasonal flavors or special deals in December, making this time of year a perfect opportunity to increase the impact of your generosity on the same budget.

 

Reflective gear for nighttime running

A head lamp, Velcro reflectors, a sporty jacket with reflective piping or detailing, and other items can combine the desire to freshen up your favorite runner’s wardrobe with a gift that shows you care for their safety as well.  Particularly if your runner must run before work or after on a regular basis, winter is the time these are most needed, both potentially as an extra layer against the elements, and as help to remain visible in traffic.

 

Go Green! Make a gift toward their cause of choice.

If the runner in your life “has everything they need,” but has a goal race with a charitable drive planned for the spring, use the holiday season as a time to make a contribution toward their total.  They will appreciate your interest in what is likely a cause close to their heart, and your gift will be remembered months later as they achieve their goal with your encouragement.  Plus, most of these donations are tax deductible, which helps redefine the “going green” theme yet another way!

 

Fresh flowers?  How about a fresh pair of shoes?

Does your runner frequent a local specialty shoe store or buys the same shoe over and over?  Do a bit of research and/ or talk to the store to determine if you can purchase a pair of their favorite shoes in the correct size and have them waiting for a fresh start January 1.  Is this gift the most beautiful and poetic of presents?  No, but the one thing runners use the most is footwear.   If you are looking for a gift that will definitely be used, this one is it!

 

Want to give a game changer?  Here are some ideas….

If the holiday spirit has you ready to make a significant purchase for your favorite runner, there are many things runners often dream about, but may not feel are needed enough to invest the capital.  A GPS watch is a very popular item on many runners’ letters to Santa, and a treadmill can often be the difference maker for a busy runner as they try to fit everything in.  For those looking to cross train, items like an ElliptiGO or an indoor elliptical machine can also be well received.  That said, some of these purchases are highly individual in nature.  Be very confident in your plan’s positive reception and do your research if you go in this direction, particularly if the gift might be received as an admonition to “get in shape!”  Read the warranties, keep the receipts, and be prepared for some assembly in a few cases.

 

Read all about it!

There are a wide variety of autobiographies and biographies on famous runners, as well as advice books about how to train, and popular volumes like Born to Run and Unbroken.  Your bookstore or online resource could be the source for hours of enjoyment for your runner, and you could be the conduit for them learning more about their sport.  Read up!

 

Help them recover from the holidays, or just recover from the long run

A massage gift certificate, a pedicure for the toes ravaged by marathon training, a promise of dinner after the race, a yoga studio gift card, or a surprise spa treatment certificate at the hotel where they will stay following their next goal race could be ideas for a supportive family member or friend who wants to treat the runner in their life.

 

Give the gift that keeps on giving – runcoach!

If you know a beginner who could use some sound training guidance or have a runcoach customer in the family who you hope keeps up the good work, contact us to extend a subscription or provide a gift!  You’ll help them achieve their goals, and if you are already a runcoach user, perhaps you will find an ally as you hook another onto the joys of running.

 



runnerSQRunning is easy to take for granted, especially if the last few months or years have been relatively free from injury.  Even if that has not been the case, Thanksgiving is a great time to take stock of the ways in which running can make a significant difference in our lives.  Which of these makes you thankful for running this holiday?

 

Reason #1 to be thankful for running – health benefits

No exercise is perfect, but running has been found in studies to provide a tremendous number of health benefits, ranging from an efficient way to burn calories and lose weight, increased “healthy” cholesterol readings, decreased risk of breast cancer, improved protection from osteoporosis, help resisting heart disease and many other ailments.  For many runners, an occasional ache and pain will send them to the sports medicine doctor, but as a habit that positively differentiates your health from a sedentary person, running is pretty darn effective.

 

Reason #2 to be thankful for running – stress relief

This could also be captured under health benefits, but for many runners, the chance to “clear the head,” regroup from a stressful day behind or ahead, to do some background thinking about intractable problems or issues can be one of the chief reasons they get out of the house and go each day.  While many time providing an actual physical separation from the whirlwind of a busy and stressful life, running can be a crucial lifeline to quiet time for many and as such an irreplaceable part of the daily or weekly schedule.

 

Reason #3 to be thankful for running – new experiences

Whether on a lonely bike path or trail with only the company of a curious deer or exploring the busy streets of a new city just visited for the first time, running allows us to get out and experience the world around us in a way that is much different than the seat of a bus, car, or in front of the computer screen.  Even in the average and ordinary day, we can observe people and nature in new ways, informing the way we go forward afterward.  Traveling to races near and far also allows runners to explore interesting parts of their city, county, state, and even far away regions of the country and world on the ground level.  The entry fee might be pricey, but the experiences at these local races as well as those farther afield are often priceless.

 

Reason #4 to be thankful for running  - the people

Some runners do go it alone, but for many runners, the social aspect is an essential component of their running experience.  Whether a formal group, a bunch of friends, a particular running buddy with whom you always have great talks, having a running or training partner (even if only on an occasional basis), can provide a great basis for a friendship that often extends beyond the run after a while. Because running is a pursuit with particular challenges and joys, these running friends can often be among those who begin to know you best because of your shared goals and perspectives on health and healthy living.  In addition, many times running can bring together family members who are working toward a shared training goal for fitness, charity or both.  These experiences often provide memories for a lifetime.

 

Reason #5 to be thankful for running – the accessibility

Running has something for almost everyone.  Fast and competitive athletes have outlets to challenge themselves at the highest level, while beginners and recreational runners have countless (and growing ways) to participate in short and long events of every distance and for every interest area.  Put on a pair of shoes (or not), and put one foot in front of the other – that’s it.  As coaches, we are well versed in the nuances of running form, training plans, race strategies, and other minutia, but at the core, running is an activity able to be enjoyed by 1 year olds and 100 year olds alike.  It doesn’t have to look the same, go as fast (or slow), travel the same routes, or manage the same distance for any two individuals.  Your goals are yours alone, and your running, even amongst friends or teammates, is as unique as a snowflake.  At runcoach, our approach in providing individualized plans is an obvious expression of our understanding that each runner is distinctive, and this holiday season, we share our gratitude that running allows for all the distinct personalities we meet to enjoy running equally as much in their own way.

 

 



Set Your Very Own World Record

Written by Dena Evans September 12, 2013

Siberianicemarathon

Ever feel frustrated about the limitations of your human body?  Ever wonder what you have in common with the Olympians atop the marathon podium?

 

Although most of us may not be able to break the tape in front of a stadium full of people, there are amazing feats accomplished by every day people all the time.  Here are a few extreme performances to captivate your imagination.  Find your strength and your niche, and you never know, you could be on this list!

 

You're Never too old to start!

In just over eight hours, Fauja Singh completed the 2011 Toronto Waterfront Marathon at age 100.  He was rather fresh, however, as he just started competing at the ripe young age of 89.

 

The conditions don’t have to stop you!

If you think your region gets cold in winter, be encouraged you aren’t training for the Siberian Ice Marathon.  800 participants are expected to converge in Omsk, Siberia on January 7 for a half marathon in temperatures that average -20°--40° C.  In 2000 Jay Tuck became the first American to finish the race, and in 2001, the temperature of -42° C meant that of the 223 registered participants, 134 showed up to the starting line and a mere 11 finished.  Hard core! (Photo credit:  My Next Run)

 

Diluted sports drink still too much for your stomach?  Avoid this race…

Each year since 2004, Raleigh, North Carolina runners have contested the Krispy Kreme challenge, consisting of 2.5 miles out, a stop to consume a full dozen doughnuts, and 2.5 miles back.  Keep it all down and do it under an hour to earn prizes.  Demonstrating both internal and external fortitude this year, Tim Ryan did all that in a winning 31:30.

 

Carry a golf club, set a record!

Chris Smith is the current Speedgolf record holder with a 5 under 65 in 44 minutes (scoring is done by adding score and time), but this year, Olympic medalists Bernard Lagat and Nick Willis are headed to the World Championships in Oregon (October 26 and 27).  Will the ability to run a sub 3:50 mile make the difference and lower the current 18-hole record?  We’ll have to tune into find out!  For the ladies, the top finisher last year was Gretchen Johnson with an 84 / 55:16.

 

Good at downhill running?

If you are good at downhills, take a look at the Everest Marathon…that is if you can endure a start altitude of over 17,000 feet!  This race goes from 17,149 to 11,300 feet.  If you can make it through the cold and the altitude effects, you might be able to challenge the Nepalese athlete who ran 3:41 for the win last year.

 

Even if you aren’t fast, you’re still an athlete!

Kelly Gneiting needed over nine hours to complete the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon (memorable for extremely rainy, windy conditions), which may seem pretty slow until you factor in his weight – 430 lbs!  A sumo wrestler, Gneiting destroyed the old record of 275 lbs. (according to the LA Times, he weighed in a 396 after the race).  While we recommend following the advice of medical professionals when taking on extreme challenges to the body, we have to admire his mental toughness to improve on his personal best by 2 hours (from 11:52 to 9:48) in the process.

 

Want to set a Guinness World Record?  Make one up and set it yourself!

The Virgin Money London Marathon has become famous for fast times, but toward the back of the pack, even more records are set each year in a long list of irreverent, but yes, official world records.  As a sampling, the 2011 edition featured records set in the categories of: fastest marathon run by a person dressed as Mr. Potato Head, a sailor, a nurse (male), as a bottle (male), as an astronaut, as a vegetable (female), as a Viking, as a lifeguard, in a police uniform, as a Roman solider (3:09!), wearing a gas mask, in a wedding dress, in an animal costume (female), as a television character (female), as a fairy (male), as a fairy (female), as Dennis the Menace (3:02!), as a cartoon character (Fred Flinstone for 2:46 – smoking!), as a book character, as an ostrich, as a jester, as a super hero (2:42 for the win), as a nun, carrying a 40lb pack, carrying a 60lb pack, moving on crutches (one leg), and number of solved Rubik’s Cubes (that would be 100 in 4:45 for the finish).

 

Don’t see your favorite fancy dress outfit here?  Looking for a way to let your particular skill set shine?  Check the book, find the race that fits your passion, and set your own kind of personal best and world record next time out!

 

 

 

 



Boyden_family_pic_cropped

You run, maybe even every day.  Perhaps it took until adulthood to catch the running bug, or perhaps running just became a convenient exercise option when time became scarce amongst the demands of work and family.  Everyone benefits when our kids are healthy and participate in regular exercise, but we know we can’t invite five year-olds to come along for our weekend 20 miler or set the alarm for a pre-dawn, 5:30am 30 minute run.  Many kids associate running with a dreaded weekly mile in PE class, trudged around the school track, but we hope they can learn to see running as the rewarding activity we have found it to be. How can we involve children in the running process and introduce them to the sport as a fun endeavor?

 

Practice positive talk about your own running

If our kids hear us talking about tomorrow morning’s run with dread, or getting down on ourselves about the challenges and hurdles we face in our running, they are going to begin to associate those emotional results with running.  Why would they want to try something that seems to only make their parent(s) feel bad?  On the contrary, we can be mindful to talk freely and regularly about the productive results of our running: a clear head, a sense of accomplishment, healthy competitive attitude, good health, and more.  When our kids are given the opportunity to run, they’ll at least be hopeful for these results, rather than anxious in anticipation of the pain and struggle.

 

Introduce them to some heroes of the sport

Many kids can name their favorite basketball, football, or baseball player, but how many have a favorite runner?  Think back to your own childhood and the heroes you tried to emulate in sports, in the arts, in music, and more.  For running, we seem to subsist on the Olympics every four years to build a following among our youth, but look carefully, and there are plenty of great role models out there to follow and emulate.

 

If you’re in a race with professional athletes out front, remind your family to pay attention to the amazing feats going on in the lead and have them do the math to figure out how superlative some of their performances really are.  Many times, local pros and emerging elites are more than happy to talk and completely accessible after a race.  Ask for a picture at the awards ceremony and follow that athlete as they progress to the national or international level.

 

Check out your local college cross country or track and field meet and cheer for the hometown school.  Support your local high school at their meets or look out for the state meet if near you.  Again, many of the top finishers there will be stars in college and beyond, and ample video and other online content about them can likely be found on sites such as Flotrack, Runnerspace, and more.   A lot of these athletes didn’t know they would be standout distance runners, or even go out for their teams when they were younger.  Someone had to plant the seed.

 

Look for appropriate opportunities to let kids race with you

Many road races these days have kids’ races at age appropriate distances.  These are a great way to get the whole family looking forward to race day, and are also a great way to teach a sense of personal accomplishment, win or lose.  Mom or Dad comes home after a big city marathon and the kids ask, “Did you win?”  We chuckle at this, but the question reflects a perception that winning is the best and primary goal, whether they realize it or not.  We can model an effort-based approach, and kids’ races are a great way to encourage them to follow suit, as well as a chance to enjoy the fun extrinsic benefits like ribbons and medals, just as we adults do at the front of the pack or the back.  Kids’ races are also a good way to de-mystify the process of racing or pushing oneself.  Many kids dread the PE mile, because they are nervous whether or not they can run that far or about how they will feel if they push themselves.  Once that feeling is no big deal, and they learn they can run and make it to a finish line that seemed far away, they can enjoy the process a bit more.

 

Deliberately involve your kids in your daily running routine

Again, no one advocates banging out a set of repeat miles with your pre-schooler, but encouraging your kid to run a lap around the block with you for the first or last couple minutes of your run can get them to start to see themselves as a part of your pastime rather than a spectator in Mom or Dad’s activity, and can get them looking forward to spending those extra few minutes of one on one time.  Go to the park and include a bit of running as one of the things you are going to do – play structure, fountain, throw a ball around, bike riding, and maybe a couple of races to the tree and back, skipping, hopping, running, kicking a soccer ball, obstacle course on the play structure, or anything related.  Even in such a small sample, any association kids can draw between running and “fun” will help the make the same association later.   Separation between “play” and “running” now can reinforce that divide later.   On the other hand, pairing those two can help build a foundation of running as an activity not to be feared, but embraced as natural.    Running can be enjoyed as an individual pursuit, but can also be enjoyed as part of a team sport .    The important thing is to keep our kids active and including healthy exercise as a non-negotiable part of their daily lives.  We never know when a positive moment can plant a seed that will put kids on the right path towards making those choices for themselves.  Take advantage of all the opportunity running gives us and leave a trail of seeds for them to find!



Pay it Forward on the Run

Written by Dena Evans August 29, 2013

trash-run-pick-up-300x300The amount of money raised by runners competing for various charitable causes has grown a staggering and amount over the past several years.  We are well familiar with the “macro” type efforts to help those who need it through these amazing efforts. but sometimes we may forget  that there are ways in which we can make a difference in the course of our everyday run.  We’ve written before on practical and safety tips in a previous post on running etiquette, but here are a few ideas for ways in which you can “do good” next time you head out.

 

Pick up at least one piece of trash before you get home

Many of our favorite places to run haven’t always been treated with kid gloves by those that have tread on the paths before us.  Leave your route a smidge better than you found it, and maybe build some positive momentum for anyone who sees you and is inspired to do likewise.

 

Respect signs, directional signaling, and stay on the labeled paths

Oh, how it smarts when a favorite route is paved over, changed, or new signs ask runners to avoid previously popular informal short cuts along a trail!  Although it is tempting to continue as if those changes never had occurred, deep inside we know they were probably made for a reason!  Because we care about the long-term survival of these routes, it is probably in our own best interests to take the lead and make sure our footfalls occur in the areas requested, as annoying as that may possibly be.  Likewise, every time we run on the portion of the path intended for pedestrian travel, call out before passing, and revert to single file when oncoming traffic approaches, we also encourage others to do the same and keep traffic on these routes flowing safely and well for all.

 

Smile, wave, and say good morning!

Many runners reflexively follow this rule when passing others or encountering someone coming the other direction.  In addition to just being good manners, making the effort to smile and make eye contact with others may help improve their day, may help remind you that you are part of a larger community of people and that you are all advancing the cause of physical fitness and health, and may help you remember that person if you encounter them in a different context.

 

Run an errand (literally)

Corny as it may sound, using your feet to do something you normally do in your car – mailing a letter, picking up or dropping off a small item, might save you a bit of time, save you a bit of gas, and probably give you an outsized feeling of pride, knowing you did your part for the environment that day.  That said, every little bit does help, and on a day when you don’t have a hard workout to give a big sense of accomplishment or on a day when things aren’t going your way generally, checking something positive off the list can actually help change your mood in the process.

 

Invite someone for next time

If you’re running, you’re automatically doing something positive toward your health.  You may even cherish that time alone as your only quiet moments of the day.  However, remember the first time you went running or walking – it may well have been because another invited you along and welcomed you to the “tribe.”  When you have the opportunity, perhaps you can be that gateway to someone else and help them enjoy the benefits and adventures you have enjoyed during your running journey.