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!

If you missed a few runs during the holidays…..

This post is directed to those of you who missed a few runs during the winter holidays and/or because of the rain (we ran anyway and it was fun) , and to those of you who are friends with those who we haven’t seen at the workouts lately.

If you are worried that you fell behind in your training, well, you did.  But so what.  You didn’t fall so far behind that you can’t achieve your goal.  The Marathon is still 9 weeks away.  That’s plenty of time to train.

Life is full of setbacks.  What’s important about each setback is what you do next.  Do you quit because you fell a little behind or got off track from your goal, or do you use it as motivation to come back stronger and more focused? Sometimes it’s hard to get started again, but that’s why you’ve got a whole team out to support you.  Come rejoin us.  We’ll be there to cheer you on. And to those of you who can personally reach out to your friends who haven’t shown up lately, please do. Your kind words can make the difference as to whether someone comes back or not.

Thanks!

The Second Trimester Has Begun

Before I tell you about what’s coming for our second trimester, I’d like to publicly thank Nicole for the team breakfast at her place this Sunday.  It was such a nice treat to enjoy an optimal,  post-run breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, muffins yogurt, fruit, granola, and more, while relaxing and unwinding together.

As Craig said on Sunday, we have now begun the “second trimester” in our marathon preparation.  For the last 3 1/2 months, we’ve been focusing on building a solid base, getting lots of miles in and getting your body accustomed to running.  During the next two months, the emphasis will be on gradually adding mileage, with an occasional shorter run to give your body adequate recovery time so you can come back strong for an even longer run the following weekend.  For example, we did 14 mile runs the last two weekends; next weekend will be 12; and then following weekend will be 16.  Our longest run before the marathon will be about 20, as we approach the end of February.  Then, we’ll start your third and final trimester – tapering and mental preparation.  More about that next month.

For this phase, I urge you to listen closely to what your body is telling you. The most common messages your body is likely send you are either “stop running” or “please feed me”.  If you are having pains anywhere, please tell me or Craig.  Don’t try to “run through the pain”.  “No pain, no gain” applies to mental toughness and challenging yourself, it’s not a recommendation to ignore the warning signs of an injury that could sideline you.  The pains may be something we can help you address through proper strengthening, stretching, rolling, changes in your  midweek training or simply taking a break; or we may recommend medical attention.  You have all worked so hard to come as far as you have, so please let us help you take care of yourself so you can cross that finish line.

Cold weather running tips

Congratulations to all you hearty souls who came out to run this morning in 45 degree weather and overcast skies.  It’s refreshing if you are dressed properly; it’s miserable if you’re not.   Most likely, we’ll have a few more Sunday mornings that start off this cold, or even colder, so here are a few tips.

1) Wear a hat or headband: Not only will it keep your head warm, it’s also a very easy layer to take off and carry as the temperature starts to rise.

2) Wear gloves:  No point running with cold hands.  It’s not very comfortable, and it’s tough to tear open a GU or unscrew a water bottle with cold stiff fingers.  If you’d rather not wear gloves, consider wearing a long sleeved shirt or sweatshirt with sleeves that are long enough for you to easily pull your hands inside.

3) Think twice before you choose to wear tights under your shorts:  That’s a great idea if you expect it to stay cold throughout the run.  On the other hand, if it’s likely to warm up quickly (the temperature can easily go up 10 degrees or more as the sun gets higher in the sky during our early morning runs), you may soon be uncomfortably warm, and it’s not always easy to find a place to take those tights off.  Instead, consider toughing out those first few miles with cold bare legs, and extra layers on your upper body.  Once you get going, unless it’s really cold, your legs will warm up quickly.

4) Consider wearing a long sleeved shirt under your Running4Recovery team shirt.  Yes, for us girls taking that layer off isn’t simple, but on the other hand, if you wear a sweatshirt over your team shirt, you’ll miss an opportunity to publicize the team.  So, if it’s going to stay cold, I encourage you to wear the warm extra layer under your team shirt; but if it’s likely to warm up, wear a sweatshirt for the first few miles.  You can always tie it around your waist later, or you can leave it at one of our water stops and pick it up at the end of the run.

Weather.com says next Sunday will be sunny with morning temperatures in the high 40’s, so please be prepared.

 

What’s Your Eating Plan for Sunday’s 14 Miler?

Now that the marathon is less than 3 months away, and you have a lot of miles under your belt, we’re going to be ramping up the mileage for the marathoners.  The goal between now and the end of February is to do several 18-20 mile runs so your body will be very ready for the big 26.2.  It’s more important now, and will continue to be important, that you eat a good breakfast before the run, and you eat appropriately during the run.  I can assure that if you don’t fuel up before and during the run, you will run out of energy somewhere along the route, and you probably won’t like the way you feel.  So, here are a few tips.

There is no “one size fits all” nutrition plan, so you need to experiment until you find out what works best for you.  However, please stay away from a breakfast of excess protein and fat. Steak and eggs is a really bad idea; a bagel, oatmeal, milk, wheat bread, yogurt, fruit, and other “good carbs”  with a little fat and protein are more appropriate foods to try.  Those “good carbs” will give you a steady flow of energy, rather than the burst and crash you’ll get from something too sugary, or the lump in your stomach from too much fat and protein .  Timing is important too.  Be sure to give yourself enough time to digest your breakfast before you start running.

It’s also important to think about how you will eat during the run.  If the granola at the snack stations works for you, great and keep it up.  If you feel better with something else like gels or energy bars, go for it.  Maybe a mix of both.  But, whatever you choose, please be sure to start snacking no later than an hour into the run.  It will take your body some time to digest the food, so you want to start eating before you start feeling low on energy.

Plan ahead, experiment, and listen to your body so you can be well prepared on Marathon Day.  Your body will thank you.

 

 

Four Mental Tips for Running Hills

Sunday’s half marathon was quite a challenge, with over 500 feet of elevation gain, yet everyone who came finished.  Congratulations!  Hurray team!

I’m sure you all noticed the hills, especially that tough steep one at Mile 11.  The only hill that steep on the LA Marathon course comes at Mile 4, but it will feel much easier.  There will be drummers pounding out a rhythm that will power you up the hill, and with all the crowd support, you’ll feel energized as you climb.  As far as all the other hills, if you follow the training schedule, your body will be ready. Here are a few tips to help you be mentally ready.

1) Know the course.  Our plan is to do some runs on the actual marathon course, so remember where those hills are and how long they are.  It often seems easier when you know what’s coming on race day.

2) Don’t look at the hill.  It’s tempting to look ahead of you, focus on the incline, and let  negative messaging get you down.  Instead, look at the scenery and think positive thoughts.  I spent a lot of time enjoying those snow capped mountains on Sunday.  I hope you did too.

3) Don’t think of it as a hill.  It’s just an opportunity to give those muscles that power you on the flats a short break.

4) Take advantage of the crowd support.  Running low on energy?  Hold up your hand, run close to the spectators, and you’ll get lots of high fives from people who are there to support you.  You’ll feel energized once again.

Those hills are a metaphor for life.  As you conquer those hills, think of all the other challenges you can overcome.

 

Today’s Elevation Gain vs. the LA Marathon

Congratulations to everyone on today’s long and challenging run! Wondering how hard all those hills were compared to the actual marathon?

Today’s 12 mile run included about 450 feet of uphills, and the LA Marathon course includes about 950 feet of climbing.  So, today, those of you who did the 12 miles, did about half the climbing, and about half the distance.  In other words, we are halfway through our training and you are already strong enough to do the equivalent of half the course.  As we continue, you’ll be getting stronger at a faster rate.  Keep it up, and you’ll be more than ready for the big day.

Good luck next week to everyone participating the half marathon, and to those who aren’t, please go out and run with us in spirit.  You’re all looking strong out there!

 

TLC from Elevation Fitness

I hope each of you who spent time working with Deborra and Erika from Elevation Fitness got helpful information.  They offered to come back again the week before the half marathon.  This time they will present a 30 minute Running Form Clinic on Sunday December 7th at 7am.  They will be covering the four elements of good form:

Posture

Cadence

Midfoot Strike

Lean

Running a half or full marathon is hard enough.  Don’t make it harder or painful by running incorrectly!

Also, runners wishing to seek further care can contact Elevation Fitness at efitla.com or 310.657.7878.  The evaluation and pre-race check is free to all members of the team.

Sometimes its good not to run

Very few of us have the perfect runner’s body.  Instead, we may have weak quads or glutes; maybe our hamstrings or IT bands are too tight; perhaps we are carrying more weight than we wish; and if you are female, the fact that your hips are wider puts you at greater risk for injury.  The list can go on.  For most of us, these are minor annoyances in every day life, if we even notice them at all.  However, as we start to increase our mileage during the week and on those Sunday long runs, those small problems can become big ones.   Please pay attention to what your body is telling you.

It’s tempting to think you can push through the pain, and be okay; but that’s rarely true.  When pain is making it difficult to run, you really only have two choices: (1) Keep running until your injury is so bad, you’ll be out for the entire season and won’t be able to do the marathon or (2) Stop running.  Treat the injury now.  Then get back to running.  It’s early enough in the season that you’ll still be able to finish the marathon.

A few people told me today that they had to cut their runs short due to joint pain.  Fortunately, each of them made the right decision this morning. If you feel pain during your run, I hope you too will stop then so you can finish later.  Next weekend, Elevation Fitness will be conducting a runner workshop.   If you have questions about treating your injuries, this is a great opportunity to ask.