What’s New for Our 2015-16 Season

Welcome to all of our new runners, and welcome back to our running veterans.  We are very much looking forward to seeing each of you when the season starts on August 30.  Usual place, usual time; and for those who are new – that’s the cannon at the Santa Monica Pier at 7am.

We read all those surveys you filled out at the team dinner the night before the Marathon, and we took your comments to heart.  First of all, thanks for all the kind words, and also for sharing your ideas for improvement.  We’ve been hard at work during the off-season getting ready, and would like to share some of the changes with you.  There is quite a bit of new content on the website, so we encourage you to check it out.  Here’s what else is new:

1) Liddy Health & Fitness:  We will be working even more closely with them this year.  You can look forward to more education about how to prevent injuries, and if you do get injured, they will treat you in their brand new location.  Same great personal attention, in a bigger better setting.  Our first event will be a running technique workshop on September 13 to be held during our training session.  If you want to start getting educated even sooner, check out this foam rolling video they created.

2) Support from Road Runner Sports:  Road Runner Sports has generously offered to provide an educational session on proper running gear, and to host a Running 4 Recovery night at their Santa Monica location.  Discounts on running gear will also be available to the entire team.

3) Pacing Groups:  One of the suggestions made at the team dinner was to add pacers, experienced runners who would lead a group of runners at a pre-defined pace.  So, we reached out to our more seasoned runners and asked for volunteers, and we now have some pacers.

4) Running Buddies:  Each runner will be offered a wristband which will identify you as either a new runner or a returning runner.  So, if you’re a new runner and want to ask a more experienced runner for some advice, you’ll know who they are.  And, if you are more experienced and want to reach out and welcome our newest team members, you’ll be able to spot them.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.   We are excited for the new season!

 

Congratulations to all of our runners and thanks to everyone who supported us!

As I sit here in my chair typing this blog, knowing that I will need to use my arms to push myself up afterward because my quads are far too sore to do it on their own, I can’t help but reflect on the last six months. You all worked so hard, and I am so proud of each of you.  Today’s heat made the course exceptionally challenging. You all knew it would be even tougher than a typical marathon which is already hard enough, and not one of you changed your mind at the last minute.  You all faced this challenge together, and that is so awesome.

No matter how well you prepare for something and how much you plan ahead, life sometimes throws you a curveball.  What’s most important is what you do when that happens.  Do you quit?  Do you pretend that didn’t happen and push on recklessly?  Or, do you adjust your approach, then tackle the challenge head on, and still try your best?  That third choice is what each of you did, and I hope each of you is very proud of your choice and your accomplishment today.  I saw some of you after the race, but not everyone, and would be so happy to hear from all the rest of you about how the day went.  If you’d like to send me an email, my address is leslie.gold@cox.net.  Otherwise I look forward to hearing your stories at the Marathon Shabbat.

I also want to give a special thank you to everyone who made today possible – all of our runners, our volunteers and Marathon staff, and everyone who came out to support us at the booth and along the way.  You made this a special day for each of us.  I look forward to seeing all of you again during the 2015-16 Marathon season.

 

My last bit of advice before the big day

As I’m sure you’ve observed, I am not a big fan of running with headphones on.  I could try to convince you of the benefits of running without them on Sunday, but I know that’s not going to fly.  So, let me suggest instead that you either turn the music down low, or run with just one earbud in.  I encourage you not to miss the opportunity to fully take in the sounds and the energy of the crowd.  If prior years are a predictor of the crowd support we’ll have on Sunday, it will be amazing.  Enjoy it to the max.

There will be people lining the entire course, supporting you in so many ways.  The Japanese drummers will power you up the hill at the Disney Concert Hall, a long line of Dream Center folks will cheer you on in Echo Park, drag queens will welcome you to West Hollywood,  hundreds of cheerleaders will be shouting and jumping as you run through Cheer Alley near Mile 18, the BTS booth is at Mile 19, and the crowds along Ocean Boulevard will be huge.  You’ll feel  like a rockstar as you run those last yards to the finish line. There will also be dozens of bands all along the course, and regular people who  blast their stereos.   You will  also see all sorts of  inspirational signs.  Some of my favorites from prior years include “the only reason your feet hurt is because you are kicking ass”, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”, “I don’t know you, but you inspire me”, and, at mile 20, “Humpty Dumpty had wall issues too.”  (That last one wasn’t particularly inspiring, but it made me laugh, and I sure needed a good laugh by then.) And, if you are ever feeling low on energy, run over to the side with your hand up.  People will give you high fives, and many will call you by name, assuming that’s what’s on your bib.  It will be incredibly uplifting.

You all worked so hard to get here.  Have an incredible day that you will always remember.

Plan ahead so you will be prepared on Marathon day

Hi,

Over the next two weeks, we will be sending you information about what to eat and drink, and how much running to be doing between now and the big day, but there is more you need to think about so you will arrive ready to do your best.

1) Decide what you’ll wear when you are running:  Twenty-six miles is a long way, and as you probably discovered on your longer runs, those minor annoyances can become bigger problems.  For example, choose your most comfortable socks so you can avoid blisters.  If some shorts chafe, don’t wear them.  Guys, if you need bandaids, make sure to pack them.  And, don’t wear running shoes you just bought, unless it is the same model you’ve been wearing.  It’s also good to have a plan if the forecast calls for rain.

2) Decide what you’ll carry during the race and how you’ll carry it:  Race day is not the time to try out that new belt you bought at the expo to carry your keys, GU, money, credit card, ID, cell phone, water bottles, or whatever else you’d like to have with you.  Remember, while there will be water and sports drinks every mile, and some other snacks at various points, this may not be what you want to eat and drink, when you want to eat or drink it.  Think about what you’ll want with you and how you’ll carry it, then go out and run a few miles carrying it all to be sure there are no surprises.

3) Have a plan for getting your recovery drink at the end of the race: Will a family member or friend meet you at the finish line and give it to you?  Will you buy something at the expo or in a nearby store, and if that’s the plan, will you have money?  Last year, I incorrectly assumed that they’d be handing out protein drinks as I crossed the finish line, like they did the previous year, but if they were, I never found them.  I waited at the finish line for a few hours for people to finish and didn’t get any protein into me until almost 4 hours later.  On Wednesday that week, I went to the gym and it was a struggle just to step up onto the treadmill.  I had to use my arms to pull myself up, and it was pretty embarrassing. Talk about a lesson learned the hard way.  I can assure you that I have a much better plan for getting that post-race recovery drink into me a whole lot sooner.

4) Avoid scheduling any late night activities a few days before the run:  To those of you staying at the hotel Downtown, we will need to be out the door and on the bus well before 6am.  If you’re not normally an early riser, you may want to consider going to sleep early for the last few nights before the marathon so you can get up earlier.  Then, by Marathon morning, it will be easier to wake up feeling full of energy and ready to go.

5) Non-residents, figure out your transportation and parking.  How will you get to Downtown and how will you get home?  Will you take the shuttle back to Downtown and return home from there, or will you leave from Santa Monica?  Overnight parking Downtown isn’t cheap, and  overnight parking in Santa Monica anywhere near the finish line is not easy to find, if it is exists at all.  Consider making arrangements with friends or family to drop you off and/or pick you up, or check into the public transportation.  Also, if you will leave from Santa Monica, and you stayed at the hotel, you may wish to bring your belongings to the pre-race Gear Check to pick them up at the end.  If you are doing the half-marathon, be asware that there are no mid-race shuttles, so have a plan if you won’t be taking advantage of BTS transportation.

6) Get your throwaway warm clothes: Read my post from last week.

7) Plan a good lunch for Saturday and eat it:  Don’t arrive at the Expo on Saturday afternoon thinking you’ll enjoy all the free samples they’ll be handing out.  Do you really want to find out on Sunday morning that something didn’t agree with you?  Have a good high carb lunch with foods you know your body likes.

Various things I want to tell you

No catchy title about the theme for  this week’s post, since the things I want to tell you are all unrelated.

1) At some point during the next two runs, please remember to thank our volunteers.   This is the most support we’ve had in the 3 years I’ve been on the team, and it’s great.  It would be so much harder to go those long distances without the knowledge that cheerful people will be waiting with food, water and moral support every few miles.   We wouldn’t be able to do those one way runs to familiarize ourselves with the course without them.

2) Start planning for how you will keep warm on Marathon morning.  We will be getting to Dodger Stadium at least an hour before the start of the run.  It will be dark, and it is not likely to be warm.  Walking around shivering for an hour is not the way you want to start your day.  Consider going to a thrift shop to buy some sweats or a blanket, something you won’t mind tossing to the side when you start running and never seeing again.

3) Please pay attention to any aches and pains and take care of them appropriately. At least two people didn’t show up today due to injuries; at least one stopped midway through the run; and yet another had painful leg cramps at the end.  Everyone who stopped, or didn’t start at all, due to their pain, did the right thing.  Do NOT try to “run through the pain”.   We are too close to the Marathon to risk hurting yourself. Don’t let one bad decision ruin your chances of achieving something you have worked so long and hard for.  It’s better to have to go slowly on Marathon day to cross that finish line than to be unable to walk more than a short distance.  If anything isn’t feeling right, remember that Elevation Fitness is eager and willing to help.  They regularly reach out, encouraging me to send any injured runners their way.  I encourage you to take advantage of this generous offer.  And of course, you are welcome to reach out to me or Craig as well.  We are all here to help and want to see you succeed.

Next weekend’s run is “only” 16 miles, since we are now starting to taper.  Remember when 8 miles sounded like a lot?  Look how far you have come!  Congratulations to all of you.

Tips for Running in the Heat

According to the historical records, the average high temperature for Downtown LA in March is 70 degrees; but if the last few weeks are any predictor of the weather on Marathon day or on the 3 Sunday runs until then, our upcoming runs are likely to be quite a  bit warmer.  If you are under hydrated, not only will you slow down, you’re also likely to feel less than your best.  With less blood volume and thicker blood, it’s harder for the body to cool itself off, and if you haven’t adequately replaced the electrolytes you lost by sweating, it will be that much harder for your body to absorb the liquids when you do drink. We’ve all heard Coach Craig say “if you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late”; now you know the science behind that.

So, here are a few tips to help you avoid the effects of under hydration.

1) Drink before you start: When you get up in the morning,  drink at least 8-16 ounces of water.  Start the run with a full tank, so to speak.

2) Drink at every stop:  Have at least a cup of water and gel, or a cup of Gatorade, at EVERY stop.

3) Consider carrying water:  Given how well supported our training runs are, if you stop at each water stop and have either gel and water, or an electrolyte drink, you may not need to carry fluids.  Whether or not you do is a function of your own body. Over these weeks, hopefully you are learning your needs, but here are a few facts to help you decide. Males sweat more than females, and faster runners sweat more than slower runners.  Also, as you plan for Marathon day, please keep in mind that our volunteers won’t be staffing these water stops during the Marathon.  Last year, the heat caught the LA Marathon staff by surprise.  Runners out on the course longer than about 5 hours reported that they got to stops and there were no drinks left.  Maybe the staff learned and will adjust the amount of fluids offered; maybe they won’t.  I don’t know.  I therefore recommend that if you expect to be out there longer than 4 1/2 to 5 hours and it’s going to be a hot day, carry your own water or sports drink.  You can start practicing now by carrying fluids on our training runs.

4) Pour some water over your head.  It will cool you down right away, and as it evaporates, it will continue to cool you down.  It’s a great way to feel instantly refreshed.

5) Run on the shady side of the street. No point running in the hot sun and sweating even more than you already are.  If you run on the sunny side of the street, not only are you getting the direct sun, you’ll also be feeling the heat radiating up from pavement that’s been heated by that direct sun.  Why do that to yourself?  It only takes a few seconds to cross the street.  Your body will thank you.

Go Team!

How we will spend our last 4 Sundays before the Marathon

The Marathon is just 5 weeks away, so what you do to prepare over the next few weeks is very important.  Next Sunday, the plan is to run 20 miles.  We’ll do another 20 mile run the following Sunday, Feb 22; and then we’ll start tapering.  The runs on March 1 and March 8 will be much shorter, as will the weekday runs, so your body can rest and be ready for the big day.

If you are worrying about doing 20 miles, that’s normal.  But remember a few things.  If you’ve been training consistently with us, you are strong enough to do it. Also, it’s at least 50% mental.  If you want to think of the route as a series of shorter runs from water stop to water stop, go for it.  If you will be encouraged by the fact the course is a net downhill, with a long gradual downhill for the last few miles, visualize yourself cruising down those hills.  If you want to use the time to think about how you can apply the lessons learned from all this hard work to other parts of your life, and how you will be more successful in achieving your goals as a result, go ahead and enjoy those insights.

If you scroll down through the recent blog posts, you’ll see information that Craig and I pulled together to help you prepare for those long runs and recovery properly.  I strongly encourage you to take these suggestions to heart so you will feel your best.

Also, please remember to give a special shout out to the volunteers staffing our water/snack stations.  We couldn’t do this without them.

Post Run Recovery Tips

First of all, congratulations to everyone who finished today’s 19 mile run.  The elevation gain today was the same as it will be for the full marathon, which means that if you did all that climbing over a shorter distance, i.e., more climbing per mile than the actual marathon,  you can feel very confident in your ability to run the entire course.  Today you proved to yourself that you can do it. And, instead of ending the run with a challenging uphill like we had today, the end of the LA Marathon will be far easier.  Miles 24 and 25 will be downhill, and mile 26 and that last 0.2 will be flat with lots of crowd energy to power you to the finish line.

Now it’s recovery time. Your body worked hard, and it needs time and the right inputs to rebuild.  Take it easy on Monday and Tuesday, and check the schedule for this week’s training.  Be sure to consume lots of good carbs and protein, replenish your electrolytes, and drink plenty of water.  The sooner you do this after a run, the better.  (Trust me, I learned that the hard way.)   When you do a long run (15 miles or more), you are probably burning more calories than you are consuming, and at some point your body will start breaking down muscle tissue to provide some of the energy you need.  That’s why it’s so important to eat protein right away. That’s what repairs those muscles.  The carbohydrates are necessary to rebuild your energy stores; the electrolytes restore your body chemistry for optimal function, and the water is necessary to keep you properly hydrated.  If you take good care of your body after a long challenging run, you’ll feel a whole lot better in days that follow.

Ten Tips for a Successful 18 Mile Run

This Sunday’s run will be LONG.  If you don’t know what it feels like to “hit the wall” and want to find out, ignore all of the recommendations Craig and I are providing below.  We guarantee you’ll feel absolutely terrible somewhere around mile 15, if you even make it that far.

So, now that we’ve got your attention, here are the 10 tips for a successful run.

Saturday

  1. Carbo-load. Increase your carbs toward the end of the week, especially on Saturday.  Examples of good carbs include bagels, oatmeal, baked potatoes, rice, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit.  Consume these extra carbs throughout the day, rather than all at once at dinner.
  2. Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water throughout the day on Saturday so you start out well hydrated on Sunday morning.
  3. Get a good night sleep. Go to sleep early on Saturday and wake up Sunday feeling refreshed.
  4. Put “recovery food” in your car. After a long run, it’s very important to get liquid, carbs, and protein into you as soon as possible.  If you don’t, your body will continue to break down muscle tissue, and you will be hurting big time on Monday, and probably a few days after that as well.  Chocolate milk is highly recommended.  Put a bottle in your car, in a small cooler if necessary.

Sunday Morning Before the Run

  1. Eat breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll run out of energy some time between mile 6 and mile 8. There have been a number of times this season when I’ve been running with someone who’s cruising along at a comfortable pace when about an hour into the run, they tell me how they suddenly started feeling really tired.  My first response is “did you eat breakfast?”  The answer is always “no”.  By then, it’s too late.  You have to keep running to the next station, and after you eat there, it will take a mile or two until it kicks in.  That’s a long time to run feeling lousy. Don’t be one of those runners.  Eat a “good carb” breakfast.
  2. Be sure you have the right clothes. If the 7-day forecast is right, it will be chilly in the morning, and quite warm by the time we finish. Be prepared to leave your layers at one of the water stops,  carry the extra clothing as you shed it, or buy something at a thrift shop that you don’t mind tossing to the side of the road when you no longer need it.

During the Run

  1. Eat and drink at regular intervals.  Have your first snack no later than an hour into the run, and eat something that’s primarily carbs every few miles after that.  Don’t wait until you are already out of fuel.  Depending on what you eat, it can take at least a mile, often more, before you feel the effect, so be sure to eat before you are tired and hungry. If you choose GU,  drink water with it, and not Gatorade.  Also remember that you will be sweating for at least 2 1/2 hours, and possibly as long as 4, depending on how fast you run.  That’s a lot of fluid and electrolytes to replace..  Drink plenty of water; and if you didn’t already have GU, drink Gatorade as well.  Ideally, take a water bottle with you and have a few ounces every mile or so.
  2. Pace yourself for a negative split. If you feel full of energy when you start, great.  Don’t spend it right away.  Invest it. Go easy for the first few miles and save that energy for the end when you’ll need it.  Think “negative splits” – the second half of the run should be faster than the first half.  Check your time at Mile 9, and calculate your pace.  Your time from Mile 9 until the finish should be at least a few seconds per mile faster. Or, just do it by total time.  If it took you 1:30 to get to Mile 9 (that’s a 10 minute mile), try to finish the second 9 miles in a little less than 3 hours.

After the Run

  1. Keep walking. As tempting as it may be to sit down the minute you’re done, don’t do it.  Your muscles need some time to wind down so they won’t cramp up or feel stiff.  Walk around for a few minutes.  You legs will thank you the next day.
  2. Refuel & Rehydrate. Drink that chocolate milk you kept in your car as soon as you can.  Then, eat lots of carb and protein and drink plenty of water throughout the day.  You just ran 18 miles, and your body needs to repair itself.

And one last thing – be proud of yourself.  Eighteen miles is a huge accomplishment!

How will you surprise yourself?

Sunday’s run started out slow for me.  My legs felt like lead, most likely because I had trained too hard during the week and didn’t take a recovery day like I should have.  I pushed on at a pace that was okay, but not where I wanted to be.  At about Mile 10, Craig joined up with me, and stepped up the pace quite a bit. It was a pace I could hold for a 10K, but definitely not one I would even consider 10 miles into a 16 mile run , especially when I had not trained properly the days before.

But, I figured if Craig was willing to run slower than he could in order to keep me company, I would do my part by trying my best to keep up with him.  Also, I figured, the water stop is only a mile or two away, and I could at least hold that faster pace for that long.  Then I thought about how many times I have said to all of you “you can do it”, “believe in yourself”, and that if I didn’t keep up with Craig all the way to the water stop, I’d be a lousy role model.  So I did it.  I held that challenging pace and achieved that small goal I had set for myself.

Craig stayed at the stop longer than I wanted to, and said no need to wait for him, so I took off.  At that point I figured, “Well, I got here at that faster pace, maybe I can keep going at that speed.” Maybe it was that positive messaging, maybe it was that second Clif bar, or maybe it was both, but not only did I hold that pace, I went faster, and, much to my surprise, finished in a time I was really proud of and had never achieved for that distance.

So, why am I telling you all this? I think there are some good lessons here, aside from refueling during your run is helpful and recovery days are important.  These lessons can apply not just to the marathon training, but to all aspects of your life.

1) Getting support from others around you really helps.

2) When the going gets tough, it’s not a reason to quit, it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself.

3) The best way to accomplish a big goal is to break it into a lot of smaller goals that you know you can achieve, and then tackle each one, one at a time.

4) Dream big, Expect a lot from yourself, and take pride in doing better than you thought you could.

Go team!