Forgot username?     |     Forgot password?

Show Blog Categories
Hide Blog Categories
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.


Lauren Fleshman is a 1999 Graduate of Canyon High School in the Santa Clarita Valley of Southern California.  While competing for Stanford from 1999-2003, she won five NCAA Individual titles, 15 All-American awards, and was ranked among the top 5000 meter runners in collegiate history.  As a professional competing for NIKE and the Oregon Track Club Elite, Lauren has competed for several US international teams, including the 2005 and 2007 IAAF World Championships in the 5000m and many IAAF World Cross Country squads.  She has been the US Champion in the 5000m on the track in 2006 and now in 2010, boasting a personal best of 14:58.48. 

After spending most of the previous two seasons recovering from foot surgery, Lauren is enjoying the tail end of a successful European track season, and took a few minutes to answer a few questions from us on how she preps for challenging workouts.  Like all of us, even a top pro has good days and bad days!  Hear what she has to say on the subject.....

Photo credit:  Sports Image Wire

Coach: What is the most difficult type of workout for you, both historically, and currently?  What is the easiest, or the one you most look forward to?

LF:  Fartleks with 3-5 min intervals are always the toughest mentally.  I hate them.  I have no clue how far or fast I'm going and I always worry I'm not working hard enough!  I love 8x 800m repeats.  Right when it starts to hurt, I get to stop, so its a no-stress workout.

Coach:  What is your favorite time of the year for workouts (base building, specific track workouts in the spring and summer, etc)?

LF: I love fall build up because its the time of year when I get to strip myself down as an athlete and start from scratch.

Coach: How do you approach those really challenging workouts on the day of, and has that changed since high school or college?

LF: In college, our tough sessions were in the afternoon, and two or three times per season, we knew a "big one" was coming up.  I'd anticipate it all week, getting pumped up and excited to go out and kill it.  Luckily I had classes all day to distract me or I would have over-thought it.  Now my coach schedules all our hard sessions for 10:30 in the morning.  I'm not a morning person, so this means I have to wake up at 7:00 just so I'm a half-way normal person by 10:30.  Once I'm fed and caffeinated, I'm usually full of excitement.  The only time I feel dread is when the session seems like it will be above my fitness level and I'm worried I'll fail; its tough to battle the nerves for those sessions, and I find myself having to work on relaxation techniques.

Coach:   Do you prefer to know your workouts well in advance or right as you arrive, or some combination?  Why do you think you have these preferences?

LF: I like to know the general type of workout, (tempo, long reps, short reps, etc) but I don't like to know the specifics (how far, fast, etc) until the last minute.  At Stanford, we always did this, and I think it prepared me to be ready for anything, but at the same time, relaxed.  These are the qualities you need to have for a successful race, so its good to practice that.  I've told my current coach that I prefer it that way, so that's how we roll.

Coach: Assuming you have some positive imagery or self-talk you use to get yourself through difficult work days, can you share some of these keys you either currently use or have used in the past?

LF: I try to take the pressure off, and focus on staying relaxed.  I tell myself, "Just do the best you can" and it relaxes me.  You only get tense when you think you won't be able to handle the session.  But if all you have to do is deliver your best effort, there is nothing to be worried about.  Sometimes though, I just don't feel like working hard and I want to can it.  That's when I remind myself that I'm lucky that I get to run, that I'm able bodied and have the time to do it.  I trick myself by breaking the workout down into bite-size pieces, giving myself the option to bail after a certain point.  For example, if I have 2x 4 mile tempo, I'll commit to one 4 mile tempo saying, "I'll do one four miler well, and see how I feel."  98% of the time, once I'm out there, I finish the whole thing.

Coach: What would be a piece of advice you might give to a novice runner who is a bit apprehensive about upcoming workouts that may be more difficult that they have ever done before?

LF: So often we can go through life on autopilot, but a hard session puts you right in the present moment.  You have to concentrate.  You have to engage, adjust, fight.  This is uncomfortable, but so rewarding.  Whenever you feel apprehensive, or have thoughts of doubt, change the conversation. You enjoy working hard, you enjoy doing this for yourself, you are fine tuning your machine inside and out...actions will follow your thoughts.

Coach: What rewards do you allow yourself or how do you congratulate yourself on a workout well done?
LF: A latte and a scone at my favorite bakery, preferably while in my sweaty running clothes, still euphoric from the session.


Terri Wojtalewicz

Terri is married to an Army Colonel who has been stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas for the past three years.  While he is on the road many times, taking various units through pre-deployment exercises, Terri takes care of things at home, including their three children, 18 (beginning college this fall), 10, and 8.   Terri grew up as the daughter of an Air Force officer, so is no stranger to the itinerant lifestyle of military families, living in England, Germany, Virginia, California, Alabama, and Nebraska along the way.  With all that moving as a young person, she got used to meeting new people, but is glad that with new technology, these moves no longer necessarily mean losing touch.

Terri is training for her first Army Ten-Miler, which will be the longest race she has ever attempted.


Coach: How did you start running?

TW: Many of my friends have been running.  I had always wanted to run, but never pursued it because I thought it was too hard, couldn’t run that distance, couldn’t keep up, etc.  My New Year’s resolution was to get back in shape, but figured, I’m 42 years old and need to do something that I can do even when I was 60 or 70 (which left out kickboxing and things like that).

I began with stationary bike and walking, and once I started doing that, I decided in March to try running on a treadmill.  Everybody said, “Go get fitted for a good pair of shoes,” but I didn’t listen,  and got shin splints and had all sorts of problems.  Finally, I went and got new shoes and that was the end of all the pain.

I decided to sign up for Army Ten-Miler.  I figured could do it one mile at a time, water station to water station.  You know, just go as fast as you can, doing my personal best each time.  If I cross the finish line under my own power, then I accomplished my own goal.  A lot of army spouses are running it, and we’re all meeting up in DC to run the Ten-Miler.  They have all gone to different (stations) since then, so it is nice to be meeting up with them.  I’ve run two 5ks and my first 10k [August 28].  Ft. Leavenworth is very hilly, right by the Missouri river.  There were a lot of really big hills in there.  I ran a pace of 13:11, and it was really fun.  My children were there at the end, and ran the last 100m with me.  I was like there was no way I can do this, but I saw them and next thing I knew I was jogging across the finish line.



Coach: Who is your running role model?

TW:  A few close friends of mine who are regular women, Army spouses who also have decided to pick up running and have seen that it is possible to just go out and do it, have fun, and not take it too seriously.

Also, one of those days where is was going to be 103-105 degrees, I was making excuses about going out to run that morning, and then came a woman running up the street in a full leg prosthesis, and I was like, I have no right to make any excuses at all!


Coach: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

TW: the 10k I just did, the fact that I was absolutely terrified to run it, that I was doubling my distance.  I know because I did that that I can do the Ten-Miler. It was kind of the roadblock that has been shattered.


Coach: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

TW: The schedule, and the blogs - being able to go in and see what other people are doing. For instance, there was something about taking a day of rest. Just taking that rest day seriously…I was like it can’t just be that simple!  I like how the system has the flexibility to work around your schedule. I’m going to keep it up after the Ten-Miler!


Coach: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

TW:  I can’t think of anything other than saying a prayer about reaching the finish line.  Ok, well, I know I don’t wear cotton shirts.  I make sure that I am wearing my orange or my pink tech shirt.


Coach: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

TW:  Outside, around the golf course, in the shade of the trees.  I love running here on post.  There are all these trees, all this historical stuff. It keeps my mind off the running - looking around at all the beautiful scenery.  I don’t like going into the gym, it’s boring!


Coach: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

TW:  The biggest goal would be to increase my pace and just be able to run a 10k or a half marathon, run it the whole way without walking at any point during the race.  I’m not ashamed to stop and walk, though.  I sing that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer kids’ song about putting one foot in front of the other!  So my goal is just to complete it running.

Updated by Rosie Edwards

While not everyone can be the running equivalent of a Tour de France champion, dancing on your pedals as you climb the Alps and the Pyrenees with the ease of a mountain goat, we all will encounter hills in our running, and probably all could use a periodic refresher on how to get the most out of our efforts on the ascents.

With the climb or descent looming ahead, how should you prepare to for the challenge ahead? Read on for a few simple cues....

1.  The basics of general good running form almost all still apply.  Keep your arms at 90 degrees (click here to review our column on What To Do With Your Arms) and keep your shoulders low (not hunched) and square to the direction you are heading.  Keep your hands relaxed and swinging through your "pockets", and maintain tall posture.

2.  Don't lean too far into the hill on the ups or too far back on the downs.  Try to maintain a slight lean forward (long lean from the ankle, not the waist) both up and down, just as you would on the flats.  Leaning too far forward on the uphill restricts the ability of your knees to drive and can compromise your ability to maximize your inhales if you are hunched over.  Stay tall, open up your chest, and give your legs and lungs room to work.  On the downhills, braking yourself by leaning backward puts unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints, and often squanders a chance to make up ground in a race.  A little forward lean, when not on an area with dangerous footing, can help get you a couple seconds closer to that PR, and leave you a bit less sore the day after.

3. Concentrate on cadence.  Resist the urge to overstride on the downhills, and do your best just to maintain your rhythm on the uphills. Yes, you will be going faster than the flats on the downhills and slower than the flats on the uphills if you maintain a similar rhythm and effort level, but you will also most likely arrive at the top of the hill without wasting a bunch of energy for little advancement, and keeping your stride landing underneath your body on the downhills instead of in front will minimize excess pounding.

4.  Don't spend a lot of time on the ground.  Keep your feet pushing off of the ground quickly, just as you would on the flat. For those used to heelstriking on the flats, hills can be a valuable tool to build foot and calf strength as you land more on your midfoot than you might normally.  On the uphills, it should almost feel like your feet are striking the ground behind you.  On the downhills try (as we have discussed), to let your feet land underneath you so you do not have to wait to let your body travel over the top before pushing off again.

5.  Look ahead.  Sure, it is tempting to look at your feet and make sure your legs are doing what we have just been talking about, but looking several steps ahead will help you anticipate any undulations in the hill ahead, any poor footing areas requiring caution, and will keep your posture tall (more air in the lungs!)  and your arms at the right angles.  

This fall, may you approach every hill with anticipation and crest the top with satisfaction! 

Have a suggestion for next month's Personal Best?  Email it to us at









Jonathan Penn Ironman Vineman

Jonathan Penn

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957, Jon attended Long Island’s Massapequa High before graduating from SUNY Albany and University of Michigan’s law school.  After a sojourn to Boulder during the mid-eighties, Jon returned to New York, and eventually came to California in 1989 at which point he immediately decided he would never want to live anywhere else.  A self –described “patent geek,” Jon has been practicing intellectual property law for 25 years.

A veteran of many marathons and a long time FNF’er (read on below), Jon is competing in the Full Vineman Triathlon (his first Ironman) on Saturday, July 31, in an effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Jon has definitely brought a unique element of creativity to the familiar endurance event fundraising efforts (in which many FNF’ers have participated through the years), and with a week out, is $600 shy of his ultimate goal of $10,000 raised.   His Team in Training page is found here. 

Training for Grandma’s

Under coach Tom’s guidance, I’ve completed a tough training cycle and am beginning the taper for Grandma’s marathon in on June 19th.  To answer the questions I get most often, 1) it’s in Duluth, MN, 2) because that was the time of year that worked for when I could train for and run a marathon (after a March vacation in Egypt)., and 3) yes, it can be hot, but that’s my best chance at decent weather. (People who know Minnesota also mention insects, which is a bit of a worry.)

I live in a Boston suburb and have run (pause to count) 15 marathons, 11 of them as a member of Focus-n-Fly.

Michael GalbusA Middletown, Delaware resident for over a decade, Michael has been married since 1993 to his wife Crystal, and has three kids: Connor, Carter, and Madelyn. Michael is Vice President of Operations at Zodiac Aerospace, where his division makes concrete placed at the end of runways in order to stop airplanes which have failed to slow. Michael grew up in Salisbury, Maryland about 90 miles away, before attending college at the University of Delaware.

A lymphoma survivor, Michael ran his first marathon with Team in Training at the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. At the recent Delaware Marathon after training with FNF, he finished in 3:19:54 to earn himself a spot in next year’s Boston Marathon. Michael has also enjoyed the tremendous support of the Middletown Athletic Club, of which five members hit the Boston mark that day.

At 32, local marathoner Peter Gilmore has already compiled an enviable list of accomplishments for any professional runner, and as he heads towards Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) on June 20, he is looking forward to the opportunity to add another outstanding accolade to his résumé.   Gilmore is a San Mateo resident and Cal graduate whose best NCAA Championships finish in college was a 91st place result at the 1999 NCAA Cross Country Meet.   He is sponsored by and advised in his training by Jack Daniels, PhD.

The Palo Alto area has had a long tradition of hosting top distance runners for training.  Kate is one of the most recent additions to this list, having lived here part time since 2006.  A Milton, Massachusetts native and 2003 Yale grad, Kate is an identical twin to fellow All-American and former World Cross Country Championships team member Laura O’Neill, and was a 2004 Olympian in the 10,000 meters (qualifying with an Olympic A Standard performance at the 2004 Cardinal Invitational).   Despite an untimely injury before the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, Kate has enjoyed great success in her young marathon career, including a third place finish in the 2007 La Salle Bank (now Bank of America) Chicago Marathon (the hot one).  She is currently preparing for the Flora London Marathon on April 26th, tuning up with a 10,000 meter victory at the 2009 Stanford Track & Field Invitational on March 27th.

An interesting up-close with our own Ponce de Leon from the Younger Legs for Older Runners Blog.

Here’s a preview:

Younger Legs: What do you do now in your training that you never did when you were younger?
Jim Sorensen: When I was younger, I would often hammer the last couple of repeats or intervals. I may run the last few quicker now, but I don’t blast them like I used to. I am also willing to take more days off. So it’s basically the same theme as we talked about before - I am more conservative. But that’s kind of funny, because I was always forced to be conservative in my training when I was younger, since I was so injury prone. So, in reality, I guess there’s nothing that much different. Everything is just on a smaller scale. This may be due to the fact that I now have a teaching career - not just because I am older.

Jim Sorenson, Focus-N-Fly member and the fastest over-40 1500 meter runner in the history of planet earth, just opened his 2009 season with a convincing win at the prestigious Hartshorne Memorial Mile at Cornell in Ithaca, NY.

….and I quote from the Sports Basement event “I’ve been just sticking to my pace chart……”

<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Next > End >>
Page 14 of 19