Speed, Weed, and Pain Meds, a.k.a. “Runner’s High”

If you are a member of the Marathon Team, you have the opportunity to enjoy the effects of speed, weed, and pain meds, all at the same time. The euphoric feeling of “Runner’s High” that some of you have already experienced, and which all of you can, has real brain science behind it. 

Continuous vigorous exercise results in the production of three endogenous euphoriants, specifically phenethylamine, anandamide, and beta-endorphins.  Translating from clinical-eze to regular English, when you’re out there on the course pushing yourself for a while, your brain releases three chemicals that are very similar to those found in amphetamines, marijuana, and opioids/pain meds. And that’s what creates “Runner’s High”.  That experience of emotional release, spirituality, and profound joy is caused by the changes in brain chemistry that occur as you exercise. And that means you can create those feelings for yourself over and over.  How awesome is that?!

So, next time you have a craving, or even if you don’t, and you just want to feel great, go out for a run.  It’s cheaper, it’s legal, and best of all, you’ll feel really good about yourself afterward.


Welcome Lauren, Joey and Brett

Our Running4Recovery community is growing, and so is the energy.  Thanks to Lauren, Joey, and Brett for joining the team.  You’ve joined a group of role models who are willing to go the extra mile not only to help themselves, but also to show each other what’s possible with consistent hard work.

As Brett so correctly observed, “This is hard!”  Yup. It is.  And that’s why you’ll all be so proud of yourself when you cross the finish line, just as Meredith described this morning, when she shared her experience as a member of last year’s team.  

What you’ll also experience as the distances get longer, is that your teammates will inspire you to keep going.  We’ll lift each other up, and we’ll celebrate each other’s successes. We will do this together! We are an awesome community!

Thanks to each and every one of you for coming out and working hard week after week. 


What to Expect in Phase II

As we wrap up 2017, we will be wrapping up Phase I of our training, which was all about starting a new habit and getting your body accustomed to running or walking regularly. Phase II has two important changes.

1) Ramping up the mileage:

  • Half Marathoners, we’ll be increasing the distance by one mile every 2 weeks. It will be so gradual you will barely notice it, and then one day you’ll look back and probably be thinking “Wow, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.” 
  • Full Marathoners, we’ll do 10 miles this weekend, 8 miles the next as a rest, and then we’ll add 2 miles each Sunday until we get to our longest training run, 20 miles, on February 18th.  Given the intensity of this phase, please do your best to attend every Sunday run, or at least do the distance if you can’t. 
  • Everyone: As the distances get longer, those midweek runs/walks become increasingly important. They are critical to reducing your risk of injury.  If you do have to miss some training, please come to Anna or me so we can create a personalized schedule that will help you catch back up safely.

2) Training along the Course:  From now until Marathon Day, our focus will be on learning the course.  Each Sunday, we’ll train on a different section, with the goal of covering each part of the course at least twice.  Knowing what you’ll be up against as you tackle this big challenge will help you feel more prepared when the big day comes.

Finishing a full or half marathon is hard, and so is staying clean and sober.  With every success out there on the course, you’ll have more to look back on and be proud of. That pride of accomplishment will help power you through the tough times not only on the course, but in your recovery as well.


Thanks, Josh, for your inspiring finish line quote

Before I share Josh’s quote, I want to congratulate each of you who did the Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run 5K or 10K.  Look back on where you were just two months ago, and look how much you have accomplished since then.  You got up and showed up; you worked hard; you didn’t quit; and you achieved a big goal.  You’ve got a medal to show for it, and a memory that I hope will always inspire you.  You have an experience that will help you remember that you’re capable of whatever you are willing to work for. 

In three more months, it will be Marathon Day.  Your continued hard work will have built on itself, and you will be even stronger, more disciplined, and more focused than you are today.   Your success today is a stepping stone to even bigger successes, out there on the course, and in recovery.

And on those days when training seems tough, you can remember what Josh said to me shortly after crossing the finish line and reflecting on the experience.  “I was miserable the entire time, but now that I’m done, I feel great!  It’s the opposite of drugs.”


The lessons of a snowy run

I thought of each of you as I ran through the snowy streets of northern New Jersey on Sunday.  As I piled on layer after layer to prepare for the early morning cold, I decided to ignore the little voice in my head that was complaining about how much I hate the cold and counting the hours until I could get back to the warmth of Southern California.  I decided to focus instead on trying to enjoy a run in the brisk morning air. As I stepped out the door, I realized that it was way too cold to start slow, so I forced myself to start strong, and keep up a good pace the entire time.  I paid close attention to the beauty of the fresh snow on the trees. It was the first sunny days after 3 days of gray skies, so I also remembered to take special note of how happy I was to see the sun.  Then, I let my mind go blank and concentrated on how good my body felt as I challenged myself and took in all that fresh air.  It actually turned out to be a nice run.

So, why am I telling you all this? What can be learned from this story? 

The mental side of running is at least as important as the physical side, just like in the rest of your life.  Sure, running and walking long distances is hard physically, but with consistent effort you’ll get stronger and it will no longer seem difficult. That’s the easy part.  The hardest part is controlling what goes on in your head, and what you do as a result of those thoughts.  As much as I’d like to tell you that you’ll be excited about every run, the reality is that there will be days when, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to get started. That’s okay. What matters most is how you respond to that feeling. 

Always remember that you have the power to change the message in your head, and you have the free will to harness that power.  You have the power to motivate yourself to do what’s best for you in the long run, to do what helps you achieve your long term goals.  And, as you harness that power to show up and do your best for each training session, you’ll be learning to apply that same power to the rest of your life.  You will be proud of yourself for what you are accomplishing.


And now you have a second new silent running buddy…

Last week’s Coaches Corner talked about the value of letting gravity be your friend whether you are running uphill, downhill, or on flat ground.  I hope you are all remembering to lean forward slightly, with your body aligned and not bent at the waist, so that gravity helps you move forward.  Another “friend” that becomes increasingly important as the distances get longer is a breakfast consisting of good carbs.  (We’ll be sending out the slides from David Wiss’ nutrition talk, with much more detailed info, in a separate email.)

I’m sure you have a number of reasons for wanting to be on the Marathon Team, and I hope that at least one of them involves honoring yourself.  One way to treat yourself well is to set yourself up to do your best at whatever you do. You can practice this by not just showing up on Sundays and for midweek runs, but by also showing up prepared. 

Most people who didn’t eat breakfast before a morning run start to run out of steam after about 5-6 miles.  Energy levels drop and those last few miles seem so much harder than the first few.  Everybody is different, so how much you need to eat and how soon before will vary from person to person.  A Clif bar about 30-60 minutes before a long morning run works for me, but that may not be right for you.  I encourage you to start experimenting with different good carb breakfasts at different times until you figure out what works best for you. 

As our distances get longer, you’ll be ready. You’ll be doing your best to honor yourself and your commitment. And, you’ll be able to feel like a superhero by finishing strong!


Did you enjoy connecting with your new favorite running buddy?

I hope you all enjoyed connecting with your new favorite running buddy today.  “G” is always there for you, and can be incredibly helpful yet never says a single word.  All “G” asks is that you show respect: “Don’t fight me because you’ll pay the price.  Instead, let me help you move forward gracefully.”  And who is “G”?  That would be “gravity”.

We covered a lot about proper body mechanics today, probably more than most can absorb in a single lesson; and we do plan to reinforce those lessons about efficient, injury free running throughout the season.  But if I had to sum it all up with a short phrase, it would be “Let gravity be your friend”.  Here are some tips for harnessing the power of gravity:

Flat surface running: 

  • Lean slightly forward, with your entire body aligned (not bending forward at the waist).
  • Think about landing on your mid-foot, with your feet landing quietly underneath you.
  • Keep your arms relaxed, low, and gliding back and forth at your sides.

Downhill running (i.e., feeling like a Super Hero)

  • Lean slightly forward, with your entire body aligned (not bending forward at the waist).
  • Let your stride lengthen as you “fall” forward down the hill. You will naturally accelerate with minimal effort.
  • Keep your arms relaxed and gliding back and forth, without crossing your midline. If you need to raise them a bit to maintain your balance, go for it.

Uphill running:

  • Lean slightly forward, with your entire body aligned (not bending forward at the waist).
  • Shorten your stride
  • Keep your arms relaxed, low, and gliding back and forth at your sides.
  • Tell yourself that it’s not that hard. You are actually giving your “flat surface” muscles a break.

The L.A. Marathon course has a lot of gradual uphills and downhills, and it’s long! Throughout the season, we’ll help you not only add miles but also refine your technique. As you learn to run more efficiently, you’ll prepare yourself well for tackling this big challenge. 


“If you had asked me a month ago….”

One of my favorite parts of being a coach is hearing people express their pride as they realize they achieved a distance they didn’t think they were capable of.  It happened for the first time this season as Adam shared his excitement with me over having completed today’s challenging route.  “If you had asked me a month ago, I would have told you I could never go this far.”  It was the first time we added a hill to our training, and it was the longest distance the marathoners were asked to so so far. And they did it.  And for all you half marathoners, I bet 4 miles now sounds easy.  It was only a month ago when we began the season by walking two miles.

If you can make that much progress in a month, imagine what December will bring, then January, February and March.  To those of you who are thinking “I can’t do a half marathon” or “I can’t do a full marathon”, you may be right about your capabilities today, but stick with the training, and you will be able to achieve your goal. 

You are capable of whatever you put your mind to and work hard at!

Go Team!


Congratulations on Achieving a Major Milestone

Just as recovery is filled with small successes that add up to long term sobriety, your training is a series of successes that are giving you so much to be proud of.  We are now in Week 5 of our training, and already you have achieved a lot. Not only have you been consistently getting up and showing up, you are getting stronger and going further.

The most common distances for races in the distance running community are a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon.  If you did the full 3 miles either this Sunday or the Sunday before, you completed the equivalent of a 5K!  That’s the first major milestone. Awesome!  In just a few more weeks, you’ll be celebrating the fact that you just completed the equivalent of a 10K!

Yes, you can do this.  Keep believing in yourself, and keep showing up, and you’ll be very proud of what you accomplish.


Four Reasons to Join the Early Morning Midweek Training Sessions

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning throughout Marathon Season, Robin will be leading midweek training sessions.  These sessions have a multitude of benefits, benefits that are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Here are some of them:

  1. Your muscles and joints will thank you. Even if your cardiovascular system is strong, your joints and muscles need time to adapt. Let’s give them plenty of opportunity to do so. If you get your body accustomed to running/walking several times each week, your muscles and joints will be fully prepared for the longer distances that will come later in the season.  Midweek training is an opportunity to honor yourself by honoring your body. 
  1. You’ll feel good about yourself afterward. It may be hard to drag yourself out of bed, but think how good you’ll feel once you get out there, and how you’ll feel throughout the rest of the day as you congratulate yourself for getting out there and doing it. You will have made the decision to get up and show up, and that will be a reason to reflect on your day with pride.
  1. You will enjoy the camaraderie of the team. We’re all in this together.  We will celebrate our successes, and hold each other accountable.  Be part of something bigger than yourself.
  1. Robin will inspire you. Robin supported the team during the 2015-16 season and he did an awesome job. He was consistently there and consistently positive. He knows that training is tough.  He knows how to keep you motivated and he brings a sense of enthusiasm that will put a smile on your face no matter what.

If you are already doing the midweek runs, awesome! Keep it up.  If you aren’t doing them yet, I encourage you to check it out.   The benefits listed above are but a few of the many.  See how many more you can experience.