Time for Reflection, and a Helpful Checklist

Think back to where you were with your training back in September.  If I had told you then that by early January, you half marathoners would think 9 miles was easy and you full marathoners would consider 12 to be a break after last week’s 16; would you have believed me?  I believed in each of you back then, I believe in each you now, and I hope you all believe in yourself now as well.  You can all do this!  Next Sunday, we’ll be setting new mileage goals for each group – 10 miles for the half marathoners and 15 for the full as prep for 18 the following Sunday.  So, here is a checklist to help you prepare and finish strong. 


This week

  • Please do some mid-week training. A recommended schedule is on the website as well as in the newsletter; but even if you can’t do all that, please get out there a few times and at least do something.


Saturday Night

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Put a protein bar, Muscle Milk, or some other protein/carb snack in your car/sweatshirt pocket/running belt or wherever you can get to it as soon as you finish the workout on Sunday


Sunday Morning

  • Eat a “good carbs” breakfast and have a drink of water


During the Run/Walk

  • Stay well hydrated. Eat and drink at each of the stops.
  • Do the first mile slowly, and finish with a cool-down mile



  • Stretch
  • Refuel and rehydrate
  • Congratulate yourself for a job well done!




Life Lessons and a Shout-Out to Daniel

Training for a marathon is a metaphor for taking on life’s challenges; and that’s what Daniel’s run this Sunday looked like to me.  Having taken some time off to recover from a back injury (good idea) but not having done any cross training during this time (not such a good idea, but we all learn some lessons the hard way), he showed up determined to complete his longest run ever, 16 miles for the full marathoners.  We started off at his usual pace, but by about mile 10, the break in his training started to take its toll.


What also worked against him was that he was at the beginning of his learning curve as to how much and how often he needed to eat and drink in order to maintain his pace.   I can make some general recommendations, but everyone is different. Some people have a faster metabolism than others; some people sweat more than others.  That’s why it’s really important to do a lot of the long runs.  It’s your opportunity to see how you feel as the miles build, and fine tune your hydration/nutrition plan until you figure out what’s best for you.


It was a struggle, and Daniel could have easily quit and accepted a ride back; but he wouldn’t do it.  He looked inward to find the strength to continue. He looked outward for help and accepted it, i.e., he was running with a Jewish mother who was encouraging (nagging?) him to eat more and drink more, and he took my advice.  He also slowed down, and took some walking breaks.  In other words, realizing that his first plan (run his normal pace) wasn’t going to work, he didn’t use that as an excuse to stop trying.  Instead, he stayed focused on his goal and adjusted the way he was going to get there – just like we all need to do from time to time in other parts of our lives.  He was determined to achieve his goal no matter what; and he did it.  Excellent!!!



14 Miles Under the Stars

The holiday season is behind us, so if your training schedule has been a bit chaotic lately, the time has come for you to get back to your routine.  We’re offering something new to make that transition even more fun, another opportunity to enjoy the mental, spiritual, and physical benefits of being active and working toward a challenging goal.

We are bringing back a much enjoyed tradition of Marathon Teams past, The Night Walk.  Led by David Wiss, our team nutritionist and Beit T’Shuvah alumnus,  our first of two night walks will be this Saturday evening.  We’ll meet at the Hermosa Beach Pier and do a one way team walk to the Santa Monica Pier.  Yes, there will still be a training run on Sunday morning, 16 miles for full marathoners and 9 for the half marathoners, all on the course.  Feel free to do one or the other, or both.   I will be out there for both, and hope to see you all twice this weekend.

The Marathon is less than 11 weeks away! Let’s all start the year off strong.


Training Tips for the Holiday Season

Training during the holiday season is tough.  But you’re all tougher!  Finding the strength to stay sober requires thought and effort throughout the day, every day.  Training for a half or full marathon only requires a few hours of effort a few days a week.  You can all do that!

The challenge is finding time in your schedule, which may be quite a bit different this week than it would be during a non-holiday week.  But that’s life.  Sometimes it’s easy to accomplish everything you want to do in a given day or week, and sometimes it’s hard.  It doesn’t mean it’s impossible; it just means you have to take some time to plan ahead and figure out how to make it work.

Training for the Marathon is just like preparing for success in the rest of your life.  Keep focused on the long term goal, and find a way to take steps every day to get closer to it.  Visualize yourself succeeding, and you’ll be that much more motivated to continue making progress.

As my grandmother often told me, “If something is important to you, you make the time to do it”.  Those are words I live by.  I encourage you to do the same.

Go Team!!!

Now It’s Time to Take on “The Course”

First of all, I hope that each of you who completed the 10K/Half Marathon is especially proud of the milestone you just achieved. That’s huge!!!

So, what’s next?  For the past three months, we’ve focused on several elements of training – tackling challenging hills, gradually increasing our distance, and exploring the beaches and trails.  I hope that each of you is feeling confident in your capabilities as you were enjoying the scenery.

Now it’s time to “study”. It’s time to learn the course so you’ll know what to expect on Marathon Day and how to plan for it.  Each Sunday, we’ll train on a different section of the course; and if you show up to every training, you will have done each segment of the course at least three times. You’ll know where the uphills and downhills start and end, and through trial and error, you’ll figure out how to pace yourself and what nutrition/hydration plan works best for you.

You’ll also get a grand tour of LA.  Over the next three months, we’ll run through Downtown, past the lake at Echo Park, along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, past Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, past the halfway point where half marathoners start or finish, through West Hollywood, down Rodeo Drive, through Century City and West LA, and all the way into Santa Monica to the Pier, crossing the Finish Line.  We’ll pass all sorts of landmarks and through a wide mix of neighborhoods, as we cover the entire 26.2 miles of the course –  one segment at a time.

Keep on training, and on Marathon Day, you will feel well prepared!


What Does Your Team Shirt Really Say?

What Do You Run For?  Running For Recovery. The simple question and answer on our team shirts says a lot about who we are, what we do, and how we make a difference; and it starts the conversations that inspire and educate, and maybe even change lives.

People coming up behind me have actually stopped me to ask me what I run for, and I am always proud to tell them.  I tell them stories about people who had hit bottom, came to BTS, and are now living productive happy lives.  I tell them about the people currently on the team who are in recovery and are not only changing their own lives but are inspiring their teammates and raising money to help those who will come after them.  I tell them about the alums who come back and keep running with the team as a way to stay sober and give back.  And I tell them about those who are not in recovery yet are here because they want to make a difference.  We are all part of something big, part of an effort that changes lives.  How many of those people who stopped me are battling addiction, know someone who is, or may simply want to help?  I’ll never know, but I assure you the answer isn’t zero.  Because I wore the shirt, I had an opportunity to send a message that can help others.

The shirt sends a message to you too.  The shirt says you are committed to a goal, and you are out there working toward it.  The shirt reminds you that you are part of this year’s team, as well as the teams that have come before you and those who will come after you.  The shirt says you are willing to inspire others, to be part of a caring community, and do your part to change lives. The shirt says you have something to be very proud of.

Starting right after the 10K / Half Marathon, we’ll be out there on the course every Sunday.  Every Sunday through March 19th, you’ll have an opportunity to be seen by many. I encourage each of you to wear your shirts to the 10K/Half Marathon, and every Sunday through Marathon Day.  (After is good too!)

Get noticed.  Send a message to others.  Celebrate what you do.  Feel proud!


Five Successes to Celebrate

As we are nearing the halfway point in our training, now is a great time to reflect on all that you have accomplished in the past 3 months.  I looked back at the surveys you filled out at the beginning of the season on which many of you listed your goals.  You are accomplishing them:

  1. Recovery: You’re still here.  You’re still sober.  You are learning to, and I quote a teammate from a prior year, enjoy the “high au naturel”.
  2. Get in Shape/Improve Fitness: Remember back in early September when 2-3 miles seemed like a lot?  Now that’s often shorter than the distance to the first water/Gatorade stop.  If you’ve been showing up most Sundays and doing most of the midweek training, you’ve already covered well over 100 miles, and some of you have done more than 150.   Your heart is stronger, your lungs have more capacity, your joints are tougher, and your muscles are growing.
  3. Inspire Others: Every time you get up and show up, and do the miles, you are being a role model. Your effort and your participation keep others motivated. You’re part of team that is inspiring not only those you run/walk with this season, but also inspiring those who will come after you.
  4. Give Back: You’re fundraising to help those who couldn’t otherwise afford treatment. You are helping people overcome their addictions and become the person they want to be.
  5. Prove to Yourself You Can Do It: Half Marathoners – you’ve done 6-7 miles so many times, I bet it doesn’t even seem hard to you any more.  The 10K will be a breeze. Full Marathoners – you are building miles every week, and learning to pace yourselves.  Each and every one of you is ready for the half marathon.  You are all proving to yourself that you can achieve a challenging goal.

I am proud of each and every one of you.  You are working hard; you are accomplishing your goals; and you have achieved successes that will always stay with you.


Preparing Your Legs for the Longer Distances

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, our distances are getting longer.  If you’ve been coming to most of the weekend runs, your cardiovascular system is ready.  If you’ve been doing the midweek training, your joints are readyNow it’s time to focus on your muscles.  Let’s work on making them more powerful and efficient so you can still feel strong when you’re taking on those double-digit distances.

One way to do this is to run “strides”.  Strides are short bursts at high speed, followed by a slow recovery that’s at least 3 times as long as the time you spent at high speed.  For example, if you run hard for 30 seconds, give yourself at least 90 seconds for recovery.  Better yet, 2 minutes.  Then repeat it a few times, focusing on good running mechanics each time.

  • Keep your arms low at your sides
  • Lean forward just enough so that your body naturally falls forward
  • Land on your mid-foot first, then let your heel hit, so your footsteps are quiet

The best time to do strides is either as part of your warm-up, or toward the end of an easy pace run.  The physical and mental benefits of strides include:

  • Builds leg strength
  • Improves anaerobic capacity (making it easier to run hard)
  • Increases “running economy”, teaching your body to be more efficient
  • Improves speed
  • Adds some variety to the longer distances

Keep this up, along with the speed workouts we’ll be adding throughout the rest of the season, and as the distances get longer, you’ll be able to approach them with a feeling of “No problem.  I’ve got this.  Bring it on!”  You will be strong, confident, and one step closer to achieving your race day and lifelong goals.

Go Team!

Proper Nutrition: Before, During, and After your Runs

A special thank you to David Wiss of Nutrition in Recovery for his presentation this morning.  This article will be the first of several which will highlight parts of his presentation, for those who were unable to attend, as well as for those who’d like to review the wealth of valuable information which was presented.  In this week’s Coaches Corner, I’ll focus on nutrition immediately before, during, and after the workouts.

Before:  Aim for a breakfast of about 70 grams of carbohydrates, eaten an hour before your planned start time.  Fat and fiber tend to slow digestion, so while those are an important part of an overall healthy diet, neither is helpful immediately before a workout.  Before a workout, choose low fiber, low fat carbs such as potatoes or oatmeal.  Also, if you are going to have coffee, drink it after you’ve had a meal, and drink at least as much water as coffee.

During:  After the first hour, start hydrating and replacing electrolytes every 15-20 minutes.  Sports drinks, or water and GU are options.

After:  When you finish your run, try to get some fluids, low fiber/ low fat carbohydrates and protein into you as quickly as possible so your body can start rebuilding.  Immediately replenishing your glycogen stores will also help your body learn to store more glycogen, providing you with the extra energy you’ll need for your longer distances.

And most importantly, remember that there is no “one size fits all” diet.  These are general guidelines.  Please experiment with different foods and different quantities, within these guidelines, until you find what works best for you.


How to Burn Body Fat while Feeling Great on our Longer Routes

If you were building a campfire, you probably wouldn’t create a pile of big logs, throw a lit match at it, and expect the result to be a warm, long-burning enjoyable fire.  You’d first put some small sticks under the logs, and light those.  You’d carefully manage those sticks, and after a while, those sticks would all be burning, and eventually the bigger logs would catch fire and begin that slow long burn. You’d have a campfire that would last for hours, and you’d feel great as those big fat logs slowly burned down.

Imagine the logs are your body fat, and the right kind of sticks are a good breakfast. If you start your long runs/walks with a good carbs breakfast, you’ll have some fuel to get your body warmed up and moving, and soon, your body will transition to burning both the good carbs and some body fat.  If you start with no breakfast, your body will rely on your glucogen stores, but those will run out within an hour or so, and you’ll soon be out of energy. Fat burning probably won’t happen.  If you start with a high sugar breakfast, you’ll get lots of energy right away, but it will fizzle out quickly, just like the match, before your body heats up and you can switch to burning both carbs and fat.

So, what constitutes a good breakfast?

  • Your meal is eaten about an hour before the run so your body has time to digest it. Try to eat before leaving for the meeting spot, rather than eating in your car right before you start.
  • It’s not too much. A few hundred calories is fine.  More than that and you may regret that  lump in your stomach for the first few miles.
  • Good carbs with some protein.  Examples include oatmeal, fruit and yogurt, cereal and milk, a whole grain bagel with peanut butter, and some of the healthier breakfast bars.   If you’ve got some low fat pasta, rice or potato leftovers from dinner, that could work as well.

Since our routes will be getting longer, we’ll be learning more about proper nutrition for athletes at the next team breakfast.  See you all next Sunday!