The Art of Running in the Rain

The Art of Running in the Rain

It don’t matter if it’s raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you’re crazy
I make my own sunshine

“I make my own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura, and recorded by Steven Tyler

I have a lot going on right now. My house just went on the market, so there’s lots of people coming through to look at it – and there is of course the constant battle to keep it neat and ready for the next realtor’s call. I’m also getting ready to launch two spring beginner 5k group training programs next week and there’s my own marathon training. Read more

Where heart meets sole

Where heart meets sole

The Surf City Half Marathon last Sunday was better than expected. The last time I ran with my boyfriend it was a six mile training run on the first Saturday in December near his home in Illinois. About two miles in, I stopped laid down on the grass and didn’t want to get up. I did. But I felt it was going to be a long road back. Surf City was only eight weeks away.

When I started running over twenty years ago I liked the solitude of it. It was an escape of sorts. “Me” time.  Find a training partner is advice often given to new runners because the idea is that if you know someone is waiting for you, you’ll get up and out, not wishing to let them down. Or maybe, as my mother would say, “misery loves company.” Regardless, it’s not bad advice. The camaraderie among fellow runners certainly provides motivation. I always recommend that new runners join a beginner group training program* because of the motivation created by being part of something bigger than yourself. When I started out, however, I was a loner and that suited me just fine. Then.

Everyone starts running for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that any of us actually liked to run. I have found that we are mostly running away from something or to something. A lot of runners I know are former addicts. Many are avoiding difficult relationships. Almost everyone starts running as a means to cope with some sort of stress or anxiety. When I started running I needed to be alone. Some people do better as part of a group. Others don’t. It probably depends a lot on your personality plus the reason you’re running.

I joined a running club about 15 years ago. I didn’t start participating in any of the group runs until much later however. One winter they started a Saturday morning group run of various distances and paces. Knowing that there were people I could run with got me up and out almost every weekend during those cold months. I began to see the advantages of training partners and running friends. I remember being glad that my mother died on a Tuesday morning because that was the day of my club’s summer evening workout and I needed to be with supportive people and to run off the hurt. I have found races to be more fun when there are others that care about my results almost as much as I do. Running, I found, could be a team sport and those relationships have become some of my most rewarding and most cherished.

No surprise then that I would now find myself in a romantic relationship with a fellow runner. As runners, he and I understand one another on a level that those who came before could not. Running together, we are completely in sync. Running, even when living and training 800 miles apart, is a bond that motivates us everyday. Although there are a million and one reasons why I’m connected so fully to this wonderful man, he has become the motivation for why running continues to figure so prominently in my life everyday. Because there is someone I want to be accountable to about my training, because I want to be able to run with him, because I know he’ll be there at my side for those long runs (literally and figuratively), and lastly because he signs us up for races months in advance, so I have no choice but to keep training. 🙂

There are runners who have amazingly successful partnerships with people who don’t run. So I’m not saying that can’t work. There’s a magnitude of reasons we connect with the people we do; successful relationships are not one-dimensional.  That said, it’s important for us to surround ourselves with people that motivate us to be better. If you want to be a runner, or a better runner, or a more motivated runner, spend some time regularly with other runners.

“Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dream lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.” – Seth Godin

After that weekend in early December when I crashed and burned on a six mile run, I got motivated. He was so understanding. He acknowledged my difficultly and reminded me of all that I had been able to achieve in the past and encouraged me to keep going. I did the training I needed to do to get to the start – and the finish – of the Surf City Half Marathon. I ran strong. Every step in sync with him. And the road back wasn’t as long as I thought it was going to be because I had never really abandoned my training completely. With another runner figuring so prominetly in my life, I just couldn’t. At the very least, I’d still have to talk about running.

img_5869Huntington Beach, California. Home of the Surf City Marathon and Half. February 2017.

Looking for something for your Runner Valentine? I found a really cute, and super comfortable running top at the Surf City Expo from AEVOK APPAREL. To get yours and see what they have for men, go to AEVOK.COM. (and no they didn’t pay me or even give me a discount for this endorsement. Just some really nice people making some really cool stuff).

 

 

*If you are in the Bergen County, New Jersey area, my running club has an awesome Beginner to Finisher 5k program that begins on March 18. Click here for more information.

 

 

The Plan

The Plan

So, have you been working out? Or are you still struggling to get into a good routine? I will confess, I’ve been struggling. Not with sticking to my workout schedule; but rather sticking to my blogging schedule! Thankfully I started a workout routine just after Thanksgiving and it’s now a habit. It’s that with everything going on in our country and the world, I’ve found it a little difficult to sit down this week to write about training. It seems at times, trivial. I remembered however, that we need to workout to keep our stress levels manageable – regardless of where you stand on the issues.

So I don’t want to let you down if you’ve come here looking for motivation. If you haven’t gotten going yet, not to worry. Do not throw in the towel on your goals because you didn’t exactly stick to your New Year’s resolution. That’s what I hate about New Year’s Resolutions. Too often people feel it’s all or nothing. Every day is a new day, so if you haven’t started yet, you still can. If you have, good for you!

The best way to get into a routine, is to have a plan. Let’s start there. Creating and/or following a training plan provides easy to follow step by step instructions. You wouldn’t prepare a holiday meal without a menu and recipes, would you? You wouldn’t manage a big project at work without planning it out first either. You’d probably create a timeline, too. That’s exactly where to start with a training plan.

If you are new to running or getting back after a long break or injury, start slowly.  For me, this is a building year. My ultimate goal is a Boston Marathon Qualifying Time at the NJ Marathon next year. This year, I have a spring goal race and a fall goal race. Both Half Marathons. So right now, I’m only looking at the spring goal. Your goal should be determined by your previous experience, current training/fitness level, how much time you have to dedicate to training, and how much time you have until the goal race. Will you have enough time for the appropriate amount of training? And a training rule worth sticking to is the 10% rule. Meaning that each week, you shouldn’t add more than 10% on to what you did last week.

Designing my training plan, I work backwards. Goal race is April 30. The 16-week training plan began the 2nd week in January. It involves a weekly long run designed to gradually build my endurance for the distance of my goal race, a speed session, and a “threshold” run or two (that’s a run of about 85-90% of max heart rate or “comfortably hard”), and a recovery (slower) run.  I typically only run 4 days a week. And there is value in recovery and rest days! I also cross train – for me, swimming. I also try to working in a few sessions of Pilates, yoga and/or strength training each week. Maintaining core strength and flexibility is a key factor in preventing injuries, as is doing a solid warm-up at the beginning of each work-out and a stretching routine afterwards.

I’ve been running for over 20 years. I am a certified running coach and I’ve worked with a coach. I know what, in theory, works. I also know through years of trial and error what specifically works for me. So where do you, as a beginner or novice, go for a training plan for your specific goal race? If you are a beginner, you should look no further than a local “beginner to finisher” or “couch to 5k” program. First, as a beginner, I strongly urge you not to tackle a first race longer than a 5k. A beginner group will give you the organized plan, the benefits of having a coach, and the company of others. To find a group near you, Google “beginner run group” to see what comes up or leave a comment below and I will try to help. If you’re a walker who is new to running, you might find some helpful tips in this article, published recently on Sparkpeople.com, in which I am quoted: 9 Real-World Tips from Walkers Who Became Runners.

If you’ve already run your first race and are ready to work on increasing speed or distance, there are a ton of books out there, as well an abundance of online resources, including apps. Hal Higdon is probably one of the most popular and well respected (www.halhigdon.com). His training plans offer something for every distance and every level. Runner’s World (runnersworld.com) besides offering lots of useful information in their monthly publication also has training plans designed to meet a specific goal like weight loss, maintaining fitness, tackling a new distance or faster time. Lastly, (but of course not at all least of the options), hire a coach. A coach provides the accountability, and real-time feedback that you can’t get from a book, website or app. A coach can also make adjustments throughout your training based on how you are responding. To find a certified coach visit Road Runners Club of America or USA Track & Field websites.

Regardless of what plan you use, sticking to it builds discipline and focus…and certainly a sense of accomplishment, which will boost self-esteem.  Exercising clears the head and relieves stress. I would add that getting outside for a run (rather than the treadmill all winter), if you can, is best. I have found lately that running on the treadmill at the gym in front of the morning news might elevate my heart rate a little too much.

img_5691Saddle River County Park, Dunkerhook Area, Paramus, New Jersey. January 2017.

The Power of Endorphins

The Power of Endorphins

Back in late November I was feeling really down. I just chalked it up to the time of year. It was just starting to get cold, the days were getting progressively shorter, and I was gearing up for another holiday season without a number of the people who had been around my table for so many holiday feasts of the past. So it was understandable. I was having trouble focusing at work, was neglecting my house, and didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Depression. And I felt stuck.

Yup. I’m a coach. I help clients get un-stuck all the time and was having trouble helping myself. I’m about as good at being my own coach as I am at French braiding my own hair. Thankfully I too have a coach. The first thing we talked about is how I felt over-whelmed by everything. That’s never a good place to be because collectively everything is more than you can handle. It needs to be broken down into manageable pieces. My coach asked me, what’s one thing that you want to take aim at?

She asked me about my running. I said I was running sporadically and that wasn’t it because trying to fit more runs into my schedule right then would just cause me more stress. I didn’t have the time I told her. So we agreed I’d aim at getting something accomplished at work. That would make me feel better, right? Well yeah, it did. Sort of. But a funny thing happened. The Monday  after Thanksgiving, I signed up for a 6am Pilates class. I went to bed a little earlier the night before and resisted the urge to go back to bed when the alarm went off and made it to the class. The next day it wasn’t as hard to get up and I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. Getting up to run in the cold and dark was asking too much, but the treadmill was an okay compromise. Just a slow 3 miles. I ran 4 days that week and took two Pilates classes! By the the next week the endorphins were starting to kick in. Getting up wasn’t as much of a struggle and my mood was starting to elevate!

Never underestimate the power of endorphins! Suddenly I was looking at everything more positively. I was thinking clearer about everything. Just that simple mood boost helped change my perspective; made everything else feel more manageable. It wasn’t really the time of year, it was my lack of exercise! When I looked back at my training log and saw how long it had been since I was running consistently, it was no wonder I had been feeling the way I had. So if you need to take aim at something, start with exercise. Even just the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Commit to walking a mile every morning before work. And that’s where you need to start if you want to run, whether you’re new to the sport or have been on the sidelines for a long time.

Starting an exercise plan is always hard at first. I’ve been getting up 6 days a week for over a month now to either run or do some sort of strength training or swimming (my go to cross training). It’s still hard. And as I work muscles that have been goofing off for months, I’m sore. If you’re feeling it, don’t give up! Focus on the good. Do you feel stronger? Are the endorphins helping to make you more awake and alive? Do you feel more focused? It takes a lot of discipline and drive at first, but then it starts to feel natural. It’s just getting over that hump.

I’m feeling pretty up! I’m ready for the new year ahead. I noticed that it’s not completely dark out when I leave work now, and this week in New Jersey the thermometer hit 65! This weekend’s schedule includes my first double digit long run since October. Thank god for endorphins! Are you feeling ’em?

img_3073Saddle River County Park, Glen Rock, New Jersey. January 2016.

Reset for a New Year

Reset for a New Year

When I published my first blog a year ago, I said, “as much as my blog is going to be about fundraising and non-profit management, it’s going to be about how I bring who I am as a runner into every day, and every project; how I approach work and life pretty much the same way I approach a run.” That’s who I was then. Professionally I’m still a fundraiser, but by the end of July, I had redefined “cause” in “cause coach” from a charity I was trying to help to being who I was…”the cause coach: giving rise to action.” Running remains the constant.

The blog this year is going to be true to my personal mission of giving rise to action; helping you achieve your goals whether that is running a big race, transitioning to a new chapter in your life, or simply surviving each new – often unpredictable – day. We’ll look at how we can best honor our values, explore different perspectives, and on some days we’ll just appreciate being. Together we will strive for wellness; better health physically and mentally.

I will be continuing on my journey and will share what I’m learning from you…as a life coach, running coach, and fellow human. The first lesson is patience. I was pleased when a coaching client decided last fall after 15 plus years of running that they would finally commit to tackling a marathon – in 2018!  I have also seen friends in my running club post about marathon aspirations two or more years out. It was a good reminder for me on the importance of planning and preparation; the need to get our bodies, minds and spirits ready to go the distance (and I’m not just talking about running here, but life).

If you’ve been following along you know I have missed a Boston Marathon qualifying time in my last three attempts. Since my last marathon in May, I have also become a bit of a slug (at least by my own standards). I had thought maybe I’d try again this spring, but decided I had other priorities. Fall wasn’t entirely out of the question, although in the end, when I sketched out my race calendar for this year, the marathon didn’t make the cut.  Inspired by smart runners, I intellegently decided to wait until spring 2018. In the 16 months between then and now, I am going to be strategic in how I approach my training and I’m going to share…so think about it. You in? Want to train with me?

The blog and the training plan are now reset for the New Year. For the next 69 weeks – as I count down to my daughter’s 18th birthday and high school graduation and I build my business – I’m going to use a running goal to keep my sanity. So tell me, you in? Its okay if you just want to walk.

img_3164Darlington County Park, Mahwah, New Jersey. January 2016.