Gravity is your friend

This Sunday, last Sunday, and on several future Sundays, our training route will include the last miles of the Marathon course. As you may have noticed, the downhill starts at 24th Street and continues all the way to Ocean Boulevard.  For those of you doing the full marathon, or the second half of the Marathon Relay, remember this!  You’ll be happy on Marathon Day that you know exactly when the last uphill ends.

When you get to this downhill, or any other downhill for that matter, LEAN FORWARD A BIT, and let gravity help you out. You’ll speed up without even trying.  I would also encourage you to think about some other elements of smooth efficient running.   Make sure your arms are swinging at your sides rather than across your chest; keep your shoulders and hands relaxed; hit the ground with the ball of your foot first (not your toes or heels); and if you have a watch or a timer on your phone, check that your cadence is close to 180.  That’s 45 foot steps every 15 seconds.   With these minor adjustments, you’ll be running faster with less effort.  You’ll feel great!

Go Team!


How many “firsts” will you achieve?

As one of our teammates finished this morning, he approached me with a huge smile and announced “Today was the first time I ever ran 10 miles!”  Congratulations!!!   Yes, if you stick with it, and this is your first year on the team, you will keep going further than you have before and you’ll have an opportunity to be proud of yourself each and every week.  Not only will you achieve new distances, you will have the opportunity to achieve new “firsts” in your personal life as you continue on the journey to Marathon Day.  Team members from prior years have told me it was the first time they felt like they were part of something big, the first time they believed they could really accomplish a huge goal, the first time they committed to something, etc.

If you are a returning runner, I encourage you to achieve a “first” as well.  Make this the first time you helped someone in the early stages of recovery achieve their goal, or the first time you helped in a new way. Consider introducing yourself to someone new before or after the run, running with people you haven’t talked to before, offering to lead a pace group, sharing a success story, or being inspiring in whatever other way works best for you.

Together as a team we can all inspire each other.  What will your “first” be?

Go Team!

“Love that shirt”

“Love that shirt” a man shouted as he passed me running in the other direction this morning on the beach bike path.  Then he turned and said “great message”. I turned, gave him a big thumbs up and thought “yup, we are all out there running for a great cause”.  We are changing lives; we are supporting each other; and we are helping others change their lives.  People who don’t even know us can learn a lot about who we are just by reading those three important words “Running 4 Recovery”. By wearing your team shirts to every training run, you not only help share our message and educate others about our cause, you also help your teammates by showing that we all share a common goal.

We are a running community, and we are proud of what we run for.  To each of you who has been wearing the team shirt, thank you; and to each of you who will be wearing the shirts from now on, thanks in advance.  Go Team!

About that uphill

So, how was that uphill for you on Sunday?  Mararthoners, are you proud of yourself for powering up that?  You should be. Soon, we’ll all be going all the way up Temescal Canyon, both the half marathoners and full marathoners;  and once you can do that, you’ll be prepared for all the hills on the Marathon course.

There is one short steep hill in Downtown LA at about Mile 4.  It looks tough, but as you approach it on Marathon day, there will be drummers there pounding out a rhythm that echoes off the buildings and within your body.  Put your head down, get into the rhythm, and the beat will power you up that hill. The rest of the hills are longer but much gentler.  As we get further into our training season, our routes will cover sections of the Marathon route so you’ll be very familiar with every incline and decline, and you’ll know how to pace yourself. You’ll be able to tackle the course with wisdom and confidence.

Between now and then, here are physical and mental tips for doing uphills.  (More about downhills in a future post.) Lean forward a bit and take shorter steps. It will feel a little easier.  Also have a plan for how you’ll mentally tackle the hills.  A game I play in my head is to guess where I’ll be after 100 steps, then look down (though I do look around enough so I don’t do something really embarrassing like run into a parked car), run those 100 steps, pick my head up for a better view, and see how close my guess was to where I actually am.  Maybe this will work for you, or maybe you’ll come up with something else.  Experiment and see what works best for you.

Yoga is a great way to improve your running or walking

The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat–namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors–can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free, says Adam St. Pierre, a coach, biomechanist, and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. We are very fortunate that Ashika so kindly volunteered her time to conduct post-run yoga sessions. As a certified yoga instructor, and a trainer for aspiring instructors, she has lots of valuable expertise to share and she made the class fun.  Thanks so much!  This was the first session, and we look forward to more.

Not only does yoga provide physical benefits, a team yoga class is also a great way to connect with your teammates, share stories, and encourage each other. As I was down on the grass this morning, one runner told me he had a pain behind his knee.  I’m glad I heard about that because it was an opportunity for me to encourage him to get to Liddy Health & Fitness before it gets any worse and sidelines his running. If you feel sharp pains anywhere, I encourage you to do the same.   Another runner told me that today was his furthest run.  He surprised himself by how well he did, and I feel honored that I got to hear about this success.  I told him, and I will say the same to each of you:  keep it up and you’ll find yourself being very proud of your accomplishments as well.  And as you reach these personal milestones, I hope you too will share them with me.

Go Team!

It’s Time to Start Running More Deliberately

First of all, to all of our new runners/walkers, congratulations to each of you for completing a month of training.  You made a commitment to yourself and you are sticking with it; you set a goal for yourself and you are making progress toward it.  That’s awesome.  To all of you returning runners/walkers, thanks so much for coming back and being part of the community once again. And volunteers, thanks as always for the moral support and the refreshments.

Whether you are a beginner or are more experienced, there is always something you can do to improve.  Running may seem simple – just put one foot in front of the other, a lot of times.  Actually, there is quite a bit to pay attention to and think about so you can optimize your experience every time you get out there. At the workshop last week, Erika Hall presented a number of tips; and at the breakfast this morning, Brandon presented more.  We know it’s a lot of information to take in, so we will review and reinforce these lessons throughout the season, starting today.

The tip for this week: Pace yourself.  13.1 miles is a long way; and 26.2 miles is even longer.  The runs we are doing now are relatively short, so it may be tempting to start off at a strong  pace.  There are two reasons not to. First of all, your body needs some time to warm up.  You are less likely to get injured if you take it easy for the first 10-20 minutes, and then gradually go faster.  Second, it’s not fun to run out of steam in the middle of the run and have to slow way down in order to make it to the end.  So, here’s what we recommend for each run: Take it easy for the 1-2 miles, roughly 10-20 minutes. Then pick up the pace a little, maybe 10-15 seconds per mile faster.  If you feel like you still have lots of energy, think “Great, I’ll save it for the end.”  Don’t pick up the pace quite yet.  If you are still feeling strong as you begin the last mile or so, then pick up your pace a bit more, but only enough that you can still maintain a conversation. (Please note that this applies to the midweek runs later in the week and the Sunday run, and not the Tuesday recovery run which should be slow for the entire run.) This is all about managing your energy levels, learning what your limits are, and pacing yourself to be able to finish strong.    It takes some practice, and some trial & error. You can do it!

Go Team!

You are part of something big!

As I sat in Rosh Hashana services this morning, I looked around at the crowd who had gathered.  Some were good friends I’ve known for years; others were acquaintances; and many others were complete strangers.  We were a diverse group of familiar and unfamiliar faces, people with many different stories and reasons for being in services; but we were all connected by a common bond. And our synagogue community was part of a much larger Jewish community, also sharing this common bond.  This sense of community and connectedness, this special bond, is something I cherish each time I go to services.  And then I thought “That’s part of what the Marathon Team is about too. Now I know what to write about in this week’s message to the team.”

Every week, we come together:  runners and walkers, residents alumni and community members, athletes and novices, people from all sorts of backgrounds.  We all have our own reasons for wanting to cross that finish line, but we all share a common goal.  When each of us comes out on Sunday, we each contribute to that sense of community for our teammates; and we can embrace the support that others provide for us.  We will work together over the next five months to achieve our goal, knowing that there are literally thousands of others training for that same goal.  On February 14, you will be surrounded by over 25,000 runners; the crowd support from the thousands lining the streets will be amazing; and the outpouring of encouragement you’ll get when you pass the BTS booth at Mile 19 will be so uplifting.

Next Sunday, and every Sunday until Marathon day,  I encourage you to look around at your Marathon community, and feel part of something big.  Know that as you are taking on this challenge to help yourself, you are also making a difference in the lives of all those who feel supported by your presence.  Thank you.

Shana Tovah.

I’m scared.

“I’m scared.” A new runner approached me this morning and said these words, voicing trepidation about what lay ahead and crossing the finish line.  Hopefully I provided a good response at the time, but I thought about those words all the way home. I’m sure this runner is not the only one feeling this way, so I wanted to share a few thoughts on this topic with all of you.

First of all,  it’s perfectly okay to be scared. In fact, it’s very reasonable and appropriate.  Finishing a marathon is a big challenge, both physically and mentally.  Each of you attempting the marathon for the first time is asking your body to do something difficult.  You can’t just roll out of bed with little or no running experience under your belt and expect to cruise across the finish line.  It takes hard work. It takes a lot of time. There are no shortcuts.  You will be transforming your body, one mile at a time between now and February 14.  There will be days where you get out there and feel great, and there will be other days when you won’t.  There will be days  when you are excited about what you are accomplishing, and there will be days when you won’t even feel like getting out of bed to train.

Every one of those feelings is perfectly okay. WHAT MATTERS MOST IS WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT.  Do you tell yourself “I’m scared, or I don’t feel like it;  therefore I won’t even try?”  I hope not, as that’s a guaranteed recipe for failure.  Or, do you do what each of you did today?  Show up and do your best. You came, you went out there, and you faced the challenge.  You put your worries aside.  You believed in yourself, and look what you accomplished.  A shout-out to each of you!!!!  Be really proud of yourself.

Stick with it, and in a month from now, you’ll be thinking ‘I can’t believe how far I went today.  I remember when I thought 2-3 miles was hard.”  And, as crazy as it may sound to you now, when I am telling you in January that today we have a “short” run of “only” 12 miles,  you will be very comfortable with that distance.

Each of you can do this. Your teammates and the staff are here to support you.  Your coaches are here to guide you on this physical and mental journey.  Your job is to show up, do your best, and most importantly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Go Team!!!


Congratulations on taking the first step! Now what?

Today was an awesome start of our new season, with the biggest group we’ve ever had on a team run.  Thanks to each of you for coming out.  Not only are you helping yourself, you are helping support everyone else on the team.  You each took a huge first step toward accomplishing a life-changing goal, and as you make that journey toward the finish line, you will see changes in yourself that you will be so proud of.

So what’s the next step?

Set aside a few times to get out there and get moving during the week.  Notice I didn’t say “get out there and run?”  In fact, unless you have been running routinely, we would encourage you NOT to run much this week. Your joints, muscles and cardiovascular system have a lot to get used to.  Go easy on them!  Midweek runs will come later.  At the beginning of the season, ignore any urges to get out and run fast. Save all that energy and enthusiasm for later when your body is ready for it.  Instead, go for a walk a few days this week and think about how you can best fit midweek training into your schedule for the next 5 1/2 months.

The goal at the beginning of the season is to make a commitment to yourself. You all did that by showing up today. Excellent!!!  Keep it up by going for a walk a few times this week, and coming back next Sunday.  We look forward to seeing each of you out there.




Getting up early for the next 25 Sundays is worth it!

Sunday will be our first run.  To those of you who are returning, hurray and welcome back!  To all of you who are new, and especially to those who are wondering if you really want to get up early on Sunday morning to do this, that’s up to you.  Finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment that can be life changing.  You don’t have to believe me.  Go to the Testimonials page on this website and read what your teammates from prior years had to say.  Each of them chose to share their experiences as a way to support the new runners.  It was one way they each chose to pay it forward.

You each need a reason to tackle this huge challenge, and you will find that reason by looking inside yourself.  That will be what makes you get out of bed on Sunday morning. There will be mornings when you’ll really want to stay in bed, and that’s okay.  (Did she actually just say that?!)  Yes, it’s okay to want to stay in bed; but it’s not helpful to actually do it!  Starting this Sunday, think long term. Think about what finishing the marathon will mean to you.  Get yourself out of bed and come to the team runs.  We coaches will do everything we can to support you, and you’ll have the whole team’s support as well.