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GU Brew and Strava Help Challenged Athletes

The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) provides opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. GU Brew and Strava have joined forces to help raise money for CAF with a Strava challenge for runners and bikers. GU Energy will donate up to $50,000 based on the total number of kilometers run (and ridden) during the Challenge period. >>>Join Challenge

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Challenged Athletes Foundation Programs (CAF)

Ways to Give to CAF

  • Access for Athletes steps in where rehabilitation and health insurance end by providing funding grants for equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics, and resources for training and competition expenses directly to physically challenged individuals.
  • Operation Rebound provides sports and fitness programs for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities.
  • Project N.Ex.T. (New Expectations Today), connects physically disabled mentees in San Diego County with similarly disabled mentors who provide one-on-one support as role models and partners as the mentee begins to engage (or re-engage) in physical activities and participate in sports.
  • Reach High provides information, resources and opportunities to people with physical challenges, enabling them to make informed decisions about health, lifestyle and medical choices.
  • Catch a Rising Star (CRS) provides post-rehabilitation support and mentoring to individuals who have suffered a traumatic injury, have a physically impairing disease or were born with a congenital impairment resulting in a physical disability.

GU Brew

The new GU Brew product is focused on hydration and electrolyte replacement as well as carbohydrate delivery. The 3% carbohydrate solution can be taken along with GU gels or enjoyed on its own. It’s recommended that athletes consume 16 – 20 oz. in the hour prior to their workout or race, and then an additional 7 – 10 oz. every 15 minutes during exercise.

GU Brew

I’ve used GU Brew for the last couple of weeks in my marathon training, and it’s really worked well for me. I like the light taste and I have completed several 2-hour training runs without any other type of fuel. Lemon Tea offers a caffeinated kick, and Blueberry Pomegranate offers twice the sodium for those who need it.

Want to try it for yourself? Enter our free giveaway contest:
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STRAVA

STRAVA is where I track my runs. It’s free and easy to use. As a member of Strava, I can track my training runs, join challenges, and see how I compare with other runners and riders who cover same sections of road that run. After trying Garmin Connect, Map My Run, DailyMile, and NikePlus, I’ve finally arrived at the best solution.

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2014 TCS NYC MARATHON TRAINING – WEEK 14 OF 16

WEEK FOURTEEN: OCT 13 – OCT 19 RECAP

Only 13 days until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon!

week14

The hardest weeks of training are now behind me. With only two weeks left, the plan is starting to taper off in miles and zero in on marathon goal pace. Yesterday, I ran my last long run off 16 miles with the last 8 at marathon goal pace.

This week, my longest run will be an easy 10 miles. The only tough day on my schedule is a 2 x 2m at threshold pace. As my mileage drops, so do the temperatures here in NH. I’m really trying to stay healthy now.

I’ll be running 7 of my training miles in Philadelphia this week as part of the Timex One Relay. On Sunday I’ll be running 10 in Washington, DC as I cheer on my wife, Tina, at her first marathon. With all the traveling, I’ll be taking my vitamins and washing my hands every chance I get.

I got a big gift from ASICS this week that really lifted my spirits. First, I received a box full of branded NYC marathon gear: gloves, hat, shirts, and jacket. Second, a pair of NYC marathon special edition ASICS Gel Kayano 21 running shoes! I love my ASICS gear, and I took my new shoes out for my 16-miler yesterday. Dy-na-mite!

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Don’t forget to show off your #MarathonBeard during your NYC Marathon training.

 

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Marathon Taper Mac & Cheese with Ham and Peas

Delicious Macaroni and Cheese with a tasty brew is one of my favorite ways to stock up on carbs before taking on a half or full marathon. Marathon fueling starts weeks before race day arrives.  Here’s a sumptuous meal to add to your carb-crazed marathon taper menu.

marathon taper beer pasta

“Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in…” #TCSNYCMarathon

Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cook a full box of your favorite short pasta to al dente.  Set aside and keep warm.

2.  In a medium saucepan, melt 3-4 T of butter over medium heat.  Whisk in 3 T of all-purpose flour.

3.  Add in about 2 T Dijon mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Whisk until combined.

4.  Add 2 and 1/2 cups of milk all at once.  Cook and stir until it’s thick and bubbly, then cook and stir for another 2 minutes.

mac and cheese marathon

5.  Remove from heat and add 2 to 3 cups of your choice of shredded cheeses.  Stir to combine into amazing “melty-goodness.”

6.  In a very large bowl, add the cooked pasta, and then mix in 1 cup of frozen peas, and 1 cup of cubed ham.

peas and ham

7.  Add the cheese sauce and stir to combine.  Transfer into a 9×13 baking dish and top with a mixture of:

  • 1 T melted butter
  • 3 T fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3 T grated Parmesan cheese

8.  Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Let this incredible dish stand (if you can) for 10 minutes before serving.

Marathon Taper Mac & Cheese

Mmmm… Happy eating = happy runner.

Oakley Radarlock

Oakley Radarlock Sunglasses for Runners

Oakley is a strategic partner and sponsor of the 2014 New York City Marathon. They make some of the very best eyewear on the market for runners, triathletes and cyclists. This is my product review their ultimate sports performance eyewear, the RADARLOCK™ PITCH™ VENTED sunglasses outfitted with a OO® Red Iridium® Polarized lens.

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Oakley Radarlock Pitch Vented sunglasses

The lightweight O Matter™ frames provide durability, increased airflow, and a great look. These frames stay in place with the help of interchangeable nose pads and the earsocks made of Unobtainium® designed to increase grip when you sweat. There is nothing more irritating than frames that bounce up and down on the bridge of your nose or slide down during your run.

The Polaric Ellipsoid™ geometry provides great coverage and allows for protection on the periphery. The sweeping contour gives you a wide-open view and enhanced side protection against sun, wind and precipitation. These sunglasses offer great protection in the rain and snow.

radarlock lens

The vented lens provides cooling airflow and eliminates fogging as it vents heat. I am using the Oakley OO® Red Iridium® Polarized Lens. These lenses enhance athletes’ visual contrast and depth perception, making it easy to spot potential hazards. The clarity is absolutely amazing.

One thing coaches always tell their athletes is to stay relaxed. Wearing sunglasses prevents eye strain and helps relax the face which, in turn, helps relax the body.  The OO® Red Iridium® Polarized Lens reduces eye fatigue so that you can better maintain mental focus – and perform
better and longer.

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I’ve been wearing my Oakley Radarlock sunglasses on every run and ride since they arrived. I also take them with me when I get behind the wheel. The visual clarity really is remarkable. And, if you should decide to use different lenses for varying conditions, the Switchlock™ interchangeable lens technology allows for a fast, secure lens swap.

Apart from functionality, these Oakley Radarlock sunglasses just look cool. Perhaps the highest compliment came from my 5th grade son who said “Dad, if you every get sick of those new Oakley’s, can I have them?”

PEAR Sports Review

PEAR Sports Review

PEAR Sports is a training system that offers runners real-time coaching based on their own bio-feedback. It works with both Android and iPhones. The kit from PEAR Sports includes a Bluetooth® Heart Rate Monitor and PEAR Stride™ Earphones. The PEAR Sports app can be downloaded for free directly to your mobile phone.
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As a 2014 NYC Marathon Asics Editorial Challenge team member, I’ve been using the PEAR Sports system and enjoying some great coaching from Andrew Kastor. PEAR Sports allows any athlete to use coaching programs designed by elite coaches. Individual workouts and full training plans are available for instant download. Many of the plans are free, but prices vary according to the length and complexity of the training plan.

Coach Kastor

I’m not a “kitchen sink” runner. I don’t like to listen to music because it makes me feel claustrophobic, and I lose the magic of running. Much to my detriment, I don’t like running with a hydration pack or water bottles strapped to my hips. In fact, if I bring anything more than my watch and sunglasses I start to feel weighed down. But, I promised myself I would deliver an honest review and keep an open mind.

My first workout with the PEAR Sports system was a 20-minute calibration run. Matt Fitzgerald (80/20 Running) was my coach. His voice guided me through the run, making sure that I was running at the right effort level. That way, my heart-rate zones could be accurately mapped for future training runs.

After that first run, I realized two very important things about the PEAR Sports system. One, the impact of hearing your coach’s voice is very powerful in terms of both motivation and discipline. Two, the heart-rate monitor is the key element in providing accurate coaching prompts in real-time.

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After I arrived back at home, I realized that my heart-rate zones were lower than I expected. Zone 5 was defined as anything over 135 beats per minute. Hmmm… not really. Fortunately, I could manually change my numbers using the app on my phone. Later, I realized that the heart-rate monitor had not been damp enough to pick up an accurate reading.

The next time I used PEAR Sports was on a 26.2k time trial. This was a challenging run at marathon goal race pace to test my fitness and find my realistic marathon pace target for the upcoming 2014 TCS NYC Marathon. I strapped on my heart-rate monitor, plugged in my headphones and dropped my phone in the pocket of my hydration pack. Honestly, I felt like a sherpa and I was nervous about my run.

The sloshing of the water pack annoyed me for most of my run, but the PEAR Sports kit was incredibly helpful. Hearing the voice prompts of your coach is really awesome. I have a bad habit of starting out too quickly, and Coach Kastor’s voice was in my head saying “Slow it on down, Jason. Your going too fast…” He also provided some good information about the NYC Marathon that helped pass the time as the run progressed. Text-based training plans are so 2013. PEAR Sports is changing the game.

The PEAR Stride™ Earphones with Earlock by Surefire Retention System are excellent. I don’t listen to music on my runs, so I’m not sure how they compare in terms of music quality. But, they stayed in place and felt comfortable for the entire run. I heard the voice prompts clearly, and I kind of forgot I had them on.

Listen to Sample Audio

After my run, I visited the PEAR Sports online portal and saw that my workouts had been automatically uploaded. I didn’t need to plug anything into my USB port or export any data files manually. The whole system is well thought out in terms of efficiency and usability.

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Training calendar on the PEAR Sports portal

Pros

  • Access to world-class coaching and training plans for runners of every ability
  • Real-time coaching feedback on the run
  • Accurate coaching prompts based on authentic bio-feedback
  • Coaching On-Demand
  • Great earphones and a comfortable armband for securing your phone

Cons

  • The PEAR Sports app sometimes provided incorrect mileage and pace information
  • Not all of my workouts synched with the PEAR Sports portal
  • The armband doesn’t work well with some larger mobile phones

Summary

PEAR Sports has created a system that shows us the future of coaching. With workouts and training programs available from top coaches on demand, every athlete will be able to use reliable custom training plans. The bio-feedback of the PEAR Sports system makes it possible for coaching to be tailored to the specific athlete and the specific workout.

I am eager to see where they take this next. I would like to see wireless headphones, heart-rate monitoring and GPS via a watch only, and the ability for coaches like myself to upload custom training plans for their athletes. If those things can be done, then show me where to invest because this will be HUGE.

Until then, I will run my key workouts with the help of the PEAR training system. The feedback and real-time coaching is just too good to pass up. The rest of the time, I will be enjoying my run for what it has always been, an escape from entanglements, both literal and otherwise.

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Marathoners: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Ourselves

Enough already! Has your Twitter feed been flooded with #tcsnycmarathon news? Have your Facebook and Instagram accounts been dominated by finish line photos from the Chicago marathon? Why do marathoners feel the need to share so much? If it were a weekend 5k, it might not even get a mention.

Runners are a bunch of over-achieving, energetic, positive-thinkers who want nothing more than to recruit you to become a better version of yourself by becoming more like them. Wait. That didn’t sound very good, did it? Let’s try that again. Runners know the rewards of becoming a fit and healthy and want to help others find the same joy in living an active lifestyle. That’s better.

We love to share our running goals and achievements in hopes of finding encouragement along the way, or possibly inspiring others to chase their own dreams. Nothing shines brighter on the mantel of running rewards than the marathon finisher’s medal. It is the pinnacle of racing achievement for the road runner. (There’s the ultra crowd, but let’s face it, they’re fanatics that live on the lunatic fringe.)

Let’s consider the road to the marathon. It begins with the gateway race, the 5k. It quickly escalates in terms of both time and money to the half marathon. After a few successful races at 13.1 the average runner starts to consider the remote possibility of someday running in a full marathon. You think your hear condescension in the voices of your friends when they say “Congratulations! That’s a long way.”

Soon, you begin to notice all the marathon articles, the marathon training plans, the marathon mentions on your social feeds, and you take the critical next step. You visit the website of a major marathon. Now, you’ve crossed the line. There’s no going back once you have started to plan out your travel logistics, race expenses, and the feeling of crossing the finish line with your arms raised in victory!

If you decide to enter one of the big marathons that dominate the headlines in the fall and spring seasons, you have an added layer of comfort and security, the marathon lottery. You can sign up and maybe not get in. What? You’re committing to running a marathon, but at the same time, leaving it up to fate. It kind of takes the pressure off.

Lottery day! You wait anxiously as announcements are sent to the lucky runners. Just when you think fate has determined you’re not worthy, your bank account gets hit and an email arrives with confirmation of your marathon registration. Yes! No! Aaaagh. It’s time to have a serious conversation with your spouse. Life as you know it is about to change. Your hobby is about to become a lifestyle. Tweet about your goals and let the world applaud your decision.

Months of training and more miles than you can count come and go over the next 16-20 weeks. You learn more than you ever wanted to know about blisters, hydration, fueling, foam rolling, stretching, carbohydrates, and your own mental fortitude. The long runs tax your mind and body to the point of fatigue almost every weekend. You miss your child’s soccer game to complete a training run. You pass on late nights with your friends. Pick-up basketball games are suddenly too dangerous. You’ve become a running diva. Let the world know by posting your workout details to Facebook.

Race day approaches and your training plan calls for a reduction in mileage. This period is known as the taper. It’s designed to build strength and confidence while topping off your body’s reserves in preparation for the upcoming race. But, taper madness soon sets in causing you to question your readiness, sanity, and level of fitness. Now, more than ever, you need the encouragement and wisdom of your peers. If only you knew the right hashtag to get their attention…

The week before the race is a time for research and planning. What to wear? What to eat? Where to go? The Internet will answer all of your questions. In fact, if you look around long enough you’ll find the answer you were hoping for, if not the correct one. Time to scan the feeds and click on any promising links that might help you in your upcoming race. Run with a penny under my tongue until mile 7? Yes, I think I will. Thank you, Internet.

Race day arrives. You take pictures of the hotel room, pictures at the start, and of course pictures at the finish. You document everything so that you can relive this glorious achievement in vivid detail. Surely, your friends on Instagram will be impressed, and the pictures will make your race recap come alive!

The marathon is a humbling experience. Every runner knows that they have accomplished something truly significant when they complete their race. During the last few miles of the race, when the walls close in and your world becomes very small, it’s just you versus you. Finishing the race is proof of your spirit and grit, your willingness to suffer and persevere through physical exhaustion unlike anything you’ve ever known. When you cross the finish line, you are a changed person. You are a marathoner.

Now, isn’t that worth at least 143 characters?

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2014 TCS NYC MARATHON TRAINING – WEEK 13 OF 16

WEEK THIRTEEN: OCT 6 – OCT 12 RECAP

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Only 19 days until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon!

This past week was a tough one. 2 x 2m repeats, 8m at race pace, and a 22m long run were enough to wear me down. This week has some similar workouts, but the taper officially begins. From here on out, I’ll be gaining strength and confidence.

The fall weather is definitely back. New Hampshire is covered in bright foliage and the temperatures have dropped down into the 50s during the day. We will likely have our first frost one of these nights and next month the snow flies.

Right now, my primary goal is to stay healthy. Colds and flus and all kinds of nasty stuff are going around. I’m trying to get my sleep, eat well, and drink a glass of Emergen-c each day. What are you doing to stay healthy?

Don’t forget to show off your #MarathonBeard during your NYC Marathon training.

Running in the Rain: Gore Running Wear

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Satan’s conveyor belt (a.k.a. the treadmill) is not your only option when the clouds roll in. In fact, if you haven’t been out for a training run in the rain, you’re missing a wonderful experience.

I ran 5 miles in the rain last weekend, and it was by far the best run of the week. There is something wonderful about running in the elements that really connects you with the outdoors. While most people stayed inside, I had the roads all to myself and enjoyed a peaceful run through the rain and the falling leaves.

X-RUNNING 2.0 GORE-TEX® Active Jacket

The X-RUNNING 2.0 GORE-TEX® Active Jacket

As a member of the Gore Running Team in the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon, I own some of the best running gear on the market today. Gore Running Wear manufactures their gear to exacting standards and has an unwavering commitment to quality and performance. The X-RUNNING 2.0 GORE-TEX® Active Jacket kept me dry despite the steady rain.

When you look for a shell or jacket to keep you dry on the run, be sure to consider a few key points:

  1. Is it breathable? Will it allow your body’s perspiration to escape while keeping you dry from the elements on the outside?
  2. Is it reflective? Bad weather conditions cause poor visibility for drivers. Stay safe by wearing gear that has reflective properties.
  3. Does it fit correctly? Are the hems adjustable? Can the sleeves be tightened at the cuffs? Is it form-fitting or billowy?

Buying the best gear isn’t cheap, but it’s a long-term investment in your running. If you are comfortable, you’ll continue to run. Don’t let bad weather jeopardize your running program.

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Transcend: The Story of Wesley Korir

Transcend is one of those films that won’t go away. Like the lingering soreness of tired muscles that continues to remind you of your efforts days after a race or workout, Transcend is a film that will occupy your thoughts and remind you that not everyone enjoys the privileges that we have come to expect here in America. Wesley Korir, an elite Kenyan marathoner and newly elected member of the Kenya National Assembly, is trying to fix that one step at a time.

timex one relay

I’m Running in the The Timex One Relay!

Running is a very personal sport, but it can benefit an entire community. Many of us begin running for very personal reasons. In time, we reach our desired goals and run because it is who we have become. At this point, we strive to find even more meaning in our daily runs and look for ways that our running can benefit others.

charity miles One incredibly easy way to make the most of your runs is to use the CharityMiles app. This is an app that runs on your phone and turns every mile you run or walk (or ride) into a 25 cent donation towards the charity of your choosing. You simply start the app and go run.

Timex Sports is working with CharityMiles to do even more. They are organizing and sponsoring the Timex One Relay, an unprecedented 800 mile, 22-day journey featuring more than 100 runners and spanning the Chicago and NYC Marathons to help raise funds for deserving charities. The relay kicks-off on October 9th. For every mile traveled between Chicago and New York, Timex will donate $100 to one of those designated charities.

wounded warrior project

I have the honor and privilege to be running a 7-mile leg of the Timex One Relay in Philadelphia on October 23rd. I will be raising money for the Wounded Warriors Project. This project is aimed at helping our veterans recover, adjust, and succeed in their transition from combat to civilian life at home. With our help, WWP can foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history. I am grateful to have the chance to help those who have sacrificed so much of themselves to protect and defend our country.

You can follow the progress of the Timex One Relay on Facebook, Twitter and at onerelay.timex.com Runners will be wearing the new Timex IronMan One GPS+ watch. So, you can track the relay progress in real-time and to send messages of encouragement directly to the runners, who will receive them on their watch along the route.

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50 Last Minute Tips for Running a Marathon

50 Last Minute Tips for Running a Marathon

Congratulations on making it to the starting line after months of training.  Here are some practical tips to help you run your very best on marathon race day. Good luck and Godspeed!

  1. Plan your transportation to the starting area
  2. Plan your transportation from the finish area
  3. Pick a post-race meeting place for friends & family and write it the back of your bib
  4. Run for a charity cause when possible
  5. Drink coffee or tea, but no more than 2 cups before racing
  6. Clip your toenails
  7. Eat lots of carbs all week, switch to white pasta and breads 2 days before your race
  8. No spicy food the day before
  9. Make lunch your biggest meal the day before the race or eat dinner early
  10. Pick out everything you’ll wear, try it on, and set it out the night before
  11. Pack a throwaway bag with snacks, fluids, and Vaseline to take to start
  12. Don’t wear new shoes
  13. Wear the same type of gear you trained in. Be predictable.
  14. Write your full name and emergency contact details on back of your bib
  15. Pin your number to your shirt the night before
  16. Go to bed early but read or watch TV if you can’t sleep due to anxiety
  17. Set more than one alarm clock and have a buddy call you just in case
  18. Eat something like oatmeal and bananas in the morning, avoid fats
  19. No massage the week before your race, no cross-training, be conservative
  20. Sleep well the week before, night before isn’t as crucial
  21. Don’t walk around sightseeing, save your legs for the marathon
  22. Double knot your laces, but leave just a little room for your feet to swell
  23. If it’s cold bring gloves and hat from dollar store and throw away once you’re warmed up
  24. Bring toilet paper to the start
  25. Bring a trash bag to the start to sit on
  26. Bring a bottle of water or sports drink to sip, not guzzle, before the race starts
  27. Use an extra pinch of salt on your food the week before
  28. Wear warm clothes while waiting to start and leave them in charity bins
  29. Being nervous is part of it, trust in your training and your taper
  30. Visualize reaching your goal and crossing the finish with your arms raised in celebration
  31. Drink a little bit at each water stop or at least rinse your mouth out
  32. Only drink water with your energy gels
  33. Avoid puddles, potholes, and curbs
  34. Start at a slower pace than you hope to finish (negative splits)
  35. Aim to run an even goal race pace if possible
  36. Temperature, wind, and hills will make things harder and slower, adjust your expectations accordingly
  37. Try to run the tangents when you go around corners, the distance adds up
  38. Fatigue will visit you, be ready to kick it’s ass when it does
  39. During the last 6 miles, everybody hurts. This is what you signed up for.
  40. Stand up straight, you’ll breathe easier
  41. Look where you’re going and you’ll get there faster, keep your head high
  42. Listen to the crowd cheer and feed of their positive energy
  43. Write your name on your shirt so people can cheer for YOU
  44. Wear band-aids or something extra over your nipples to avoid chafing in wet conditions
  45. Wear sunglasses to avoid squinting and stay relaxed
  46. Put plenty of Vaseline on any hot spots before you start
  47. Tape over existing blisters with band-aids and duct tape
  48. Fuel the way you did during your long run training
  49. Smile at the photographers, a picture is forever
  50. High five the kids along the race course and enjoy the experience
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2014 TCS NYC MARATHON TRAINING – WEEK 12 OF 16

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WEEK TWELVE: SEPT 29 – OCT 5 RECAP

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Only 26 days until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon!

This week was a cut-back week in terms of mileage. It was needed after the long run of 21 miles the previous weekend. For the most part, I ran slowly and stayed in the easy zone for the majority of the week. Sunday was the only day that called for a run at effort.

The 16-mile marathon simulation run was done using the PEAR Sports training system. I brought my phone and wore a heart monitor and earphones the entire way. Wearing extra gear was not my favorite thing, but I found the training system to be very helpful. By wearing the headphones and heart monitor, the runner is able to hear verbal cues from their coach using a pre-recorded workout program adjusted to their particular running goals.

In my case, I was listening to the sound of Andrew Kastor’s voice telling me to slow down, or focus on my form, etc. My goal was to run the workout at an average pace of  7:20 per mile. I ended up running at about 7:29 per mile. I’m not too worried. I still think 7:20 is a reasonable pace for race day. But, we’ll see what the coach has to say about it.

I have some speedier running on tap this week and a 22-mile long run. The miles will creep back up into the 50’s for the last time before tapering begins. Things are getting real now that October is here.

How is your NYC marathon training going? Add a comment or ask a question below.

Don’t forget to show off your #MarathonBeard during your marathon training.

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Running Tips: 5 Ways to Conquer the Hills Like a Pro

Conquer the Hills Like a Pro

Hills are a big part of road racing. Runners win and lose races on the hills, PRs come and go on the hills, and a lot of us are running them the wrong way. Gravity is a tough opponent, and it takes a few tricks to survive the fight.

Heads Up

When running uphill, you want to lean just slightly from the hips. Your body will lean into the hill naturally, so you probably have this covered. Lift your knees high and let your hips drive you up the hill. It may help to imagine you are running over hot coals. Quick, high steps will get you to the top of the hill in no time.

Your head should be up. You want your focus to be in the near distance or at the crest of the hill you’re running towards, not at your feet. Remind yourself to breathe, keep moving, and focus on your form.

Forget the Watch

Seriously. Don’t look at it when you’re running up and down the hills. It won’t tell you anything that is particularly helpful. Your pace will slow on the way up and accelerate on the way down. That’s just how it works.

Legendary running coach Jack Daniels has come up with a formula for hill running. He found that every percent gradient of incline (going uphill) will slow you by 12-15 seconds per mile, and every percent gradient of decline (going downhill) will aid you by 8 seconds per mile. No surprises there, a hilly course will always be slower.

So, forget the pace and run by effort. Keep a consistent effort going up and over the hills and you will find yourself picking up where you left off once you hit the flats. Other runners will be gasping from the exertion and compromise their overall race strategy.

Run Over the Top

Don’t stop when you get to the top of the hill! The race isn’t over. When you crest the hill pick it up with some quick strides and then settle into your rhythm again. This is a great place to shake your competition or separate yourself from the pack.

Lean, Don’t Reach

Running downhill sounds easy, but it’s not. Many runners prefer the taxing uphill part of the run to the quad shredding impact of the downhill run. However, this is a great place to pick up some speed thanks to gravity.

When running downhill, you want to let the hill do the work. Your legs should be making quick steps that fall beneath your body, not reaching out in front of you. Extending your legs too far in front of you causes you to land on your heel. This will act as a break and increase the force of impact.

Your body should remain close to perpendicular to the hill surface. If you lean too far back you’ll be breaking, if you lean too far forward or you may end up falling. If the hill is particularly steep, it’s a good idea to spread your arms out for balance.

Relax

Keep your shoulders and face relaxed. It will help you run loose and easy up and down the hills. Remember to breathe and run at a consistent effort up and over the hill. This will help you to resume your race pace as soon as possible and prevent a mid-race meltdown.

Practice makes perfect. Incorporate hills into your regular workouts and set aside days for hill training. Pretty soon, you’ll be looking forward to seeing the hills at your next road race.

“Hills never get easier, you get stronger.”   -Greg LaMond

 

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Women’s Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7 – Review

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Women’s Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7

The Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7 running shoe helped me reach a new 5K PR last month!  Adidas might attribute my success to the energy-returning Boost™ midsole, but I think it’s a combination of the many great design features.  These shoes provide stable support for my whole foot but without any superfluous strapping that might cause friction. My heel feels nice and secure and there’s plenty of padding underneath for a heel-striker like me.

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There’s plenty of room in the toe box for my feet to spread out, and the cushioned tongue is comfortable against my foot when I lace them up.  They’re made of “breathable air mesh” material and have a durable rubber outsole which makes them good for running on trails or the pavement.  I’ve put about fifty miles on mine, and they still look like new.

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When I run on the road, I find the Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7 to be a really quiet shoe. I’ve been telling myself to run tall and light on my feet, and I think these shoes have helped me to improve my running form. There is a nice bounce that comes from the Boost™ midsole and forefoot.

assb7inside

These shoes were comfortable from the moment I slipped my feet into them. They make me feel faster and tougher, which comes in handy on fast days and race days.  It might be the black/pink color that makes me feel stronger, but if you prefer a different look, they also come in a silver/mint and pink/black/pink combinations.

Name: Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7
Surface: Roads
Purpose: Training and Racing
Type: Stability
Price: $129.95

IMAG0180 (2)

There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Run

I woke up yesterday morning both excited and apprehensive about my 21-mile long run. It’s become a familiar feeling for me during marathon training. It manifests itself in repeated bathroom visits and an obsessive compulsive routine of checking and re-checking every detail of my run before leaving the house. This includes water, fuel, weather, course details, timing, gear, shoes, scheduling and anything else that crosses my mind.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.32.35 PM

I usually drive out with a cup of coffee to scout my route and drop off water bottles like Easter eggs. But, my wife generously offered to do that for me, so that I could get a jump on the day. The temperature at 7:30 am was a perfect 68 degrees, but the forecast was for sunny skies and 85 degree weather by midday. After discussing expectations for my return time, and going over my route details one last time, she left to drop off the water bottles and I revisited the bathroom one last time.

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I grabbed a pack of energy chews and stuffed them in the back pocket of my shorts. I decided to wear both a visor and sunglasses. I lathered on some sunscreen, grabbed a last sip of water, and set off at an easy pace.

The first three miles were awful. My legs were tight and my joints hurt. I know from experience that this is a product of high mileage, early morning running, and a 44 year-old body. After the engine warms up, things usually get easier. By mile 4 I was starting to enjoy the run.

I cruised along the shoreline admiring the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean. There were lots of walkers, and runners crowding the elevated footpaths and the roads were full of weekend beach traffic. I was contending with late season tourists on beach bikes and spandex covered cyclists for 24 inches of pavement.

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Surfers and paddle boarders bobbed in the waves as the morning sun went from warm to hot in a few short minutes. I’d planned an out-and-back route so that I could take advantage of the water bottle drops at 7 miles (15 on the way back) and 11 miles. I approached the stop sign that marked the first water bottle and began searching.

No luck. It wasn’t there. What? I crossed the road thinking that maybe I hadn’t been clear about the drop-off point. It was nowhere to be found. Frustrated, I tried to find a positive spin on the situation. I decided that 4 miles to the next stop wasn’t that far, and maybe depriving myself of fuel and water for the first 90 minutes was a good endurance tactic.

My tech shirt was heavy and wet by the time I reached 11 miles. My visor was completely soaked and I my sunglasses had fogged up. I was grateful to find water bottle number two right where I expected; leaning up against a wooden post at the entrance to Odiorne State Park.

I took a few big gulps of water and chomped my way through the pack of energy chews. I decided to carry the bottle with me for the next ½ mile. I ended up drinking about 10 oz. of water before dropping it next to the boat launch entrance.

Odiornesp

Instead of retracing my steps, I turned inland to find the shade of the tree-covered roads. The overall distance was going to be about the same, but the hills would be a little more challenging. I felt good until I hit 15 miles at about the 2-hour mark.

I recognized the signs as I slowly deteriorated to the point where I had to begin breaking up the run into smaller chunks and bargaining with myself. This was a lot like mile 20 of my first marathon in New York City last year. In some obscene way, I was happy to be suffering because I knew it would make things easier on race day.

I reminded myself that I was only 4 or 5 miles from home. The first 15 miles were really just a prelude to the real training run. This is where the magic happens. This is where we train the brain, condition the body, and extend our fitness.

It takes a lot of willpower to push on when you can choose to stop. Just the day before my long run I had seen my wife in tears at mile 16 of her 20 mile training run. She was happy to see me and our two children cheering her along, but also sad that she couldn’t stop and ride home with us in the car. I told my children to remember that moment and be inspired by their mother’s toughness and determination.

Tina Saltmarsh

Now, a day later, I was in the same spot. Three miles to go. I was running past a picturesque horse pasture and on the verge of dry heaving after inhaling the smells of a working farm. I reminded myself to check my form, check my breathing, and run light on my feet.

As my watch showed 19 miles, I was struggling. My lower legs had turned to wood and I had a layer of gritty salt on my shoulders. A cyclist interrupted my thoughts by asking for directions to the beach. I gave him directions and kind of snapped out of my funk. It’s amazing what a bit of human interaction can do to bring you back to the present.

Soon I was running up the familiar hills towards home. As I passed my children’s elementary school I began feeling better. I was going to finish this workout, and I was going to be better for it. I hit the button on my watch and slowed to a walk just before turning into my driveway.

Peyton and Abigail

My son came out with a smile and some words of encouragement, my daughter brought out a cold drink of water, and my wife turned on the garden hose for me to rinse my tired legs. What a great feeling it is to be loved and cared for.

It turns out that first water bottle was dropped at the road sign just 25 feet in front of the intersection where I had expected it to be. I had run right past it. My son asked me if I’d had a bad run. “No, Bud. There’s no such thing as a bad run. Some are just tougher than others. Those are the ones that make us stronger.”

brooklyn

2014 TCS NYC MARATHON TRAINING – WEEK 11 OF 16

tcsnyc

WEEK ELEVEN: SEPT 22 – SEPT 28 RECAP

 

Week 11

Only 34 days until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon!

Okay, so 21 miles is a long way. It’s even longer when somebody takes one of your water bottles. The temperature outside was about 68° F when I began my run, but quickly warmed up to a sunny 80° F before I finished my running tour of the New Hampshire seacoast. I grabbed my second hidden water bottle at mile 11 and ate a few chews for an energy boost, but it was not one of my finer runs.

On the plus side, it was a good test of my endurance and mental fortitude. I should be able to bend spoons based upon the mental concentration it took to continue running the last 5 miles. Give me a 8-mile tempo run or some interval work any day. What’s not to like about the 5K, 5 mile, 10K, 10 mile, or even the half marathon?

I’ll be running a bunch of easy runs leading up to next Sunday’s 26.2K simulation run. I’m hoping that it will be a confidence builder. The goal is to complete the 26.2K run at marathon goal pace. Sunday’s performance will decide my pace on race day November 2nd.

How is your NYC marathon training going? Add a comment or ask a question below.

Don’t forget to show off your #MarathonBeard during your marathon training.

Week 11 #MarathonBeard

Feetures Running Socks Review

Feetures! Performance Running Socks

My wife and I are both training for fall marathons. When you’re running high mileage weeks, there are few things more irritating than blisters. So, when an opportunity to review Feetures!® ‘no blisters’ performance running socks came along, we were thrilled to try them out.

Feetures!® makes a very comfortable running sock. The targeted compression of the Power Arch helps prevent fatigue and discomfort during and after runs. Tina remarked more than once that she liked having two pairs of Feetures!® so that she could put on another fresh pair after her run.

I found that the seamless toe design and the low-cut ankle made the Elite socks especially comfortable. In my book, socks that make you forget you have them on work best. The thin material and anatomical design combined to provide protection and comfort without any bulkiness or excessive padding.

The iWick fibers of the Feetures!® socks help keep feet cool and dry. I ran a few difficult workouts ranging from 7 to 16 miles and never developed blisters or experienced sweaty socks. If you don’t have socks that wick and breathe, you’ll be in trouble on your long runs. Feet sweat at a rate of 16 oz. per 8 hours of aerobic activity. I know, amazing and kind of nasty.

Feetures! Elite socks come in some really fun colors too! I particularly like the Olympian Blue + Orange socks because they remind me of the New York City Marathon. Tina is quite fond of her Lavender + Melon socks. They are a great value at just under $15 a pair. And, they come with a Feetures!® Lifetime Guarantee.

I also tried out their new product, the Plantar + Calf Sleeve. This sock is specifically designed for runners with Plantar Fasciitis symptoms who also want the performance and recovery benefits of a compression calf sleeve. The sleeve works fast to reduces heel and arch pain by lifting, stretching, and stabilizing the plantar fascia, while delivering graduated compression to improve circulation. The sleeve fits easily under another pair of socks. I’m wearing mine today under my ‘business socks’ and nobody is the wiser.

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You can navigate the Feetures!® website by product, cushion, or height. Within each category you’ll find lots of styles to choose from. As winter approaches here in New England, I’ve got my eye on the Merino+ socks. If you’re looking for quality running socks, I would recommend trying on a pair of Feetures!®. I like Feetures!® so much that I only wear them during my toughest workout days each week. They’re reserved for those times when I need every advantage I can get.

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Gore Running Wear: There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather

Gore Running should be on your radar. Winter is coming, and nothing will protect you from the elements and keep you as dry and comfortable as Gore Running Wear. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the running world, but Gore has been a player in the running apparel industry since 1997. They have steadily grown their business in Europe and recently began selling direct to consumers in the United States at GoreApparel.

As members of the Gore Running Team at the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon, Tim, Katie, and I had a unique opportunity to tour the Gore factories and facilities in the beautiful state of Delaware last week. I was impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of every Gore employee that I met.

Elk Creek Gore

Outside the Elk Creek Facility

Gore Running Shoes

What do the Saucony Ride, Brooks Ghost, Brooks Adrenaline, ASICS Cumulus, ASICS GT 1000, and Saucony Xodus have in common? They’re all made with GORE-TEX® product materials. GORE-TEX® is tested and proven to be the most reliable waterproof material. Other companies claim to have water-resistant shoes, but use a spray coating that quickly rubs off the surface of the shoe.

GORE-TEX® keeps your feet warm and dry on wet, cold days. What’s more, GORE-TEX®  allows your feet to breathe. The water and cold are blocked, but the sweat escapes! This is really important considering the average marathon runner will sweat nearly 8 oz. of water from their feet alone during a race.

Kirk Christensen, GoreTex Running

Kirk Christensen, Gore Running associate

You can trust that if a shoe is made with GORE-TEX® it will be waterproof. The company stands behind every product made, even when it’s made by a partner company. As Gore associate Kirk Christensen explained to us, every shoe brand is rigorously tested and designed in partnership with GORE-TEX® to ensure the highest level of quality and craftsmanship.

Gore Running Wear

Although GORE-TEX® has traditionally been seen as an ingredient in other brand’s garments, the company decided to launch their own line of gear to meet the growing need for superior running wear. GORE-TEX® Active is a material specifically made for high aerobic activity. It ensures protection from the elements while allowing the body to breathe.

Gore Running Wear is engineered to be comfortable, functional, and durable. Each line of garments is specifically engineered to best meet the needs of runners. There are speciality lines for performance runners, ambitious runners, fitness runners, and trail runners.

Gore Running is a line of superior quality products made for everyday runners. As account manager Cindy Woods explained, people who want quality, reliability, and performance in their running apparel will enjoy Gore Running Wear. Every design element is carefully considered, down to the smallest detail.

Testing and Quality Assurance

Gore does more product testing and quality assurance testing than I ever imagined. Not only do they test their own products, but they also require their partners to conduct the same rigorous tests. Gore associate and (ahem) “booty-tester,” Donna showed us exactly how the tests are done.

Donna and the shoe testing machine

Gore associate Donna and the shoe testing machine

There are three tests or processes required by Gore that all partner factories must use to ensure quality and uphold the Gore-Tex® Waterproof Guarantee. The first is the seam sealing machine that ensures proper coverage along the seams of the booties. The second is the Booty Testing Machine (seriously). This involves inflating the booties and submerging them under water to look for air bubbles. The third test is the Centrifuge Test which involves spinning shoes full of water around at more than 30 times the force of gravity to test the water barrier.

We visited the factory at Elk Mills to speak with Gore associate and textile expert Louise. She walked us through the factory and showed us how Gore carefully selects textiles based on performance and design to match with the Gore-Tex® materials. In addition to running wear, the factory also makes bike wear, hazmat suits, police gear, fire turnout gear, and military fatigues.

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Tim and Gore associate Louise at textile factory

Tim, Katie and I took part in a Rain Room demonstration to better understand the waterproof testing of fabrics. Specifically, the test is used to determine if there is any water penetration through a given material after being drenched and sprayed with high-powered streams of water for hours on end.

Helpful Hint: Wash your Gore-Tex® jackets in a washing machine and throw them in the dryer to keep the water-repellent layer clean. Believe it or not, it’s perfectly safe and the dryer’s heat is beneficial to keeping the material in good condition.

Quality and Integrity

Throughout the visit, I heard the phrase “fit for use” over and over. I heard it in different locations and from every person we met. The commitment to designing and engineering the best product possible for a specific use is remarkable.

There are not many companies that inspire trust and brand loyalty, but Gore-Tex® has done that. If it says Gore-Tex® it’s a quality product. As a runner, it can be tough training outside in the nasty weather. Now, with my Gore Running gear, I’m looking forward to it.

Gore trip

Gore associate Paul, Katie, Tim, and me

You can check out my Gore Running teammates at:

Tim Jones
http://therunningjones.com/
@therunningjones

Katie McElroy
rowdyrunning.com
@rowdy406

finishnyc

2014 TCS NYC MARATHON TRAINING – WEEK 10 OF 16

tcsnyc

WEEK TEN: SEPT 15 – SEPT 21 RECAP

Week 10 NYC Marathon Training

 

Can you believe it? There are just 41 days to go until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon!

Weekly mileage is accumulating quickly now. The long run is the most important workout of the week. The long run teaches your body how to run more efficiently and your mind how to resist fatigue. If you feel like you’re being pushed to your breaking point, then you’re doing them correctly.

It’s no coincidence that many runners tend to hit the wall in the marathon at the same distance as their longest training runs. Focus on good form, consistent fueling strategies, and positive thinking. These long runs provide ample time for you to think about your motivation and develop mantras that you can use on race day when the going gets tough.

You may notice that you’re feeling extra tired these days. That’s normal. Your body is in a constant state of recovery and adaptation. Be sure to rest and eat plenty of healthy foods. Your top priority is to reach the starting line fit and ready.

How is your NYC marathon training going? Add a comment or ask a question below.

Don’t forget to show off your #MarathonBeard during your marathon training.

#MarathonBeard Week 10