I was very fortunate to have runners participating in races literally all over the world this weekend. My heart was full. There were great races, okay races, and “I was just glad to be finished” races. But I want to tell the incredible story of Sharon!
Everyone meet Sharon Chaix, 70 years young! Doesn’t she look pretty good for running 26.2 miles? She first came to me in August 2018 because she saw a running friend wearing a Run With Gina shirt. She went on to tell me her extensive history; breast and thyroid cancer, ripped hamstring, and three previous back surgeries with some clamps, rods, and screws surgically placed in her spine. You know, everyday stuff. She told me that she had went to physical therapy for the ripped hamstring and continued to see the physical therapist from time to time. The good news is, I have a corrective exercise certification.
Sharon hired me to do a movement assessment, gait analysis with exercise prescription and train her for the 2018 San Diego Holiday Half Marathon. Leading up to the half marathon, she started to feel like her runs were getting slower and didn’t go into the race with much confidence. After the half marathon while chatting on the phone with her, I said, “If you are happy, I am happy”. Her reply, “I am not happy”. Really? I thought she had a good race, I didn’t see the problem. I am all about the long-term development of my runners. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I said, “What would make you happy”? Her reply, “To have a younger body so I can be faster”. Mercy! Anyone find the fountain of youth yet? This set the tone for me moving forward as I trained her for the Eugene Marathon.
Guess who didn’t do any hill repeats, speed, or tempo work to train for her marathon? That’s right, Sharon. She trained 100% in the aerobic zone only. She also took part in my nutrition training and my 8-week body weight resistance training program I offer my runners. Sharon has used every service I have to offer.
Sharon’s last marathon was Mountains2Beaches and claims to have had a miserable experience. A week before the race she was telling people she didn’t think she would finish the race. Last night she was telling me she was nervous and questioning why she signed up for the race in the first place.
How did Sharon do at the Eugene Marathon? She ran the first 5k as a warmup and then ran then next 20.1 miles at an even pace. She finished the race FORTY-SEVEN minutes faster than her last marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon by more than eight minutes! AND earned first in her age group!
I hope you all can find hope and inspiration in Sharon’s story. I am fortunate to have motivated clients like Sharon that want to be the best they can be and trust that I will eventually figure out how to help them be the best they can be. Thank you, Sharon, for allowing me and the rest of the Rwg virtual family to be a part of your journey!
Want to see what virtual coach can do for you? Check out the services section of www.runwithgina.com!
The other night I fell asleep thinking about how fortunate I have been to have truly awesome human beings requesting my coaching services. I wish I could take all the credit for them feeling stronger, getting faster, body composition changes, getting healthier and achieving small and big goals alike. But I cannot. It is the partnership of me and each runner as an individual, as well as the supporting cheer squad. It all adds up to something incredible. The growth of the Run With Gina (Rwg) community has been tremendous in a very short period of time. Some people want to compare my program to group training programs and it just is not the same, plain and simple, end of that conversation.
My program is based on several principles, some of which I have blogged about in the past, such as my brand of using evidence-based research as the foundation of performance enhancement and reducing injury incidence. I also subscribe to the theory of four ingredients for athletic success by former Olympian, Olympic running coach, exercise physiologist, researcher, and my exercise physiology professor, Dr. Jack Daniels. The four ingredients to success in the opinion of Dr. Daniels are; inherent ability, motivation, opportunity, and direction.
By the way there is not one college or elite level running coach that does not know Dr. Jack Daniels, his work and his contributions to distance training as we know it. Every book you can buy on marathon training should have his name/work somewhere as a reference. The four ingredients to success are not scientific principles Dr. Daniels is known for but have become guiding principles in how I work with my runners. Lets take a closer look at them and what they mean to Rwg.
Inherent ability; this is the genetic component. No matter what your talents are, there is a ceiling for your potential. I am not working with performance athletes, but I am working with people that took up recreational distance running and want to be the best they can be. It is my job to figure out where they are at and if their desires even match their inherent ability. If so, pave the road to get there over time and if not be truly transparent with them so we can find smaller goals to achieve and celebrate.
Motivation; athletes that use their inherent ability and those that may not have a high ability but keep working towards their personal best. The motivation of my runners is very high. Have you ever heard of the Hawthorne Effect, also called the “observer effect”? Simply put, it is the concept that behaviors change when one knows they are being observed. As a virtual coach, I have a proactive style. I am always watching what my runners are or are not doing via my coaching platform. They know this and complete more runs than someone might when they know the accountability from the coach is slim to none. I can honestly say that since the inception of my virtual half/full marathon coaching program, 97% of my runners have completed 90-100% of their run training in preparation for their races. That is pretty good statistics if you ask me, especially when sometimes my biggest competition is the couch and Netflix.
Opportunity; environment. The environment of the Rwg family is extremely motivating as well. I may be a virtual, individual coach, but the virtual family has provided more support and motivation to my runners and it is truly worth its weight in gold. There is A LOT of power in vicarious experiences. The proof is in the pudding with those that invest time in being their best. Naturally, it has others wondering what their possibilities may be. It has been incredibly awesome and humbling to watch the dynamic of the Rwg family evolve into something so inspiring.
Direction; coaching, training plans, and teachers. Ah, the last ingredient to success, the “direction”. Let’s get real, you can get a training plan online anywhere or from any group training program. What you won’t get is “my” training plan/coaching. Have you ever heard of pride of ownership? My name is on my plan, stickers, shirts, and hats. It is my brand. I take pride in what I have to offer others that goes leaps and bounds beyond just run training. I offer a mutually beneficial relationship built on honesty and trust. Skeptical about what a virtual coach can do for you? Only one way to find out. You invest in me and I will invest in you.
Ah the Boston Marathon. What can I say about the Boston Marathon? It is the world’s oldest annual marathon and an age-group runner’s dream to meet the qualifying standard. There is a saying in Boston, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change”. Sometimes it can be favorable, outright nasty, or bipolar. Who remembers the favorable tailwind of 2011, the inferno of 2012, or the headwind downpour of 2018? Although this blog post will be geared towards the age group recreational runner, Des Linden comes to my mind immediately because she ran the 2011 tailwind, 2018 downpour, and this year.
Let’s take a closer look at her performance in all three races. In 2011 with the assistance of a tailwind, Des came in second place, running 2:22:38. At the 2018 downpour she persevered the elements to come in first place with a time of 2:39:55. This year she finished in fifth place with a time of 2:27:00. What gives? Do you think she prepared more or less for each year? Likely not. Five minutes is a lot of time for a professional runner, by the way. The unpredictability of the elements in Boston can make that much difference. This year, Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia took first place female with 2:23:31, which is actually almost six minutes slower than her personal best at the 26.2 mile distance.
I also ran the 2011 tailwind and the 2012 inferno. I may still have PTSD after the 2012 Boston Marathon, which ended up being the second hottest Boston Marathon to date. I ran that race one hour and sixteen minutes SLOWER than my personal best in the marathon. Was that embarrassing or what? No, it wasn’t. I trained hard for the race. I followed the schedule my coach at the time gave me. I never missed a day and I did everything else right to support my training. It simply was what it was.
In yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I had three runners competing. None of them had their best race. As a matter of fact, all three of them had the cards stacked up against them from the start. None of their bodies were 100% going into it, but they got on that bus to the starting line in the dark, cold rain and eventually made their way to the finish line during the midday sun with hot and humid conditions. Hello bipolar weather and welcome to Boston!
As a coach, I have to sit back and do a critical appraisal of what I did or did not do for my runners. Did they run too much or too little? Did they train too fast or too slow? Why weren’t their bodies 100% if that is what we always want to strive for? A big part of my brand is the goal to reduce injury potential. The truth is, sometimes our bodies turn on us. Take me for example. I sustained stress fractures in both feet while training for my first marathon. Who was at fault, my coach? I don’t think so. It was multifactorial as many injuries and illnesses are, which is exactly what my runners were faced with from the start.
I am incredibly proud of my runners for their tenacity to cross that finish line regardless of what their finishing time would be. It takes a lot of courage and humility to put yourself out there to be “watched” by all your friends, family, and those that say they are cheering for you, but really may not. Remember, not all your followers are your fans. Speaking of humility by the way, do you know what makes a coach valuable? First, to have humility. Second, to have compassion and relatedness. I have been compliant with my training and fractured bones in my feet. I have been compliant with training and ran my personal best. I have been compliant with training and ran my personal worst. It is what it is yo! We are all human, which means we are not perfect. But the human spirit says, keep on keeping on because you never know when you will be at your very best. Never stop believing in your possibilities. Love to all my runners for believing in me, the same way I believe in all of them.
P.S. The picture is of me in the 2011 Boston Marathon medical tent. Mercy!
Back in February I wrote a blog post about a 3-week low sugar experiment that 31 runners participated in. Didn’t read it? It is a must read for the epic results and ah ha moments. Just return to the blog section of www.runwithgina.com to check it out.
As mentioned in the low sugar blog, the biggest ah ha moment for me was that many of the runners were eating like dieters and not athletes. The bottom line is, if you want to perform your best, your nutrition needs as much attention as your run training. As far as nutrition goes, I believe some recreational runners have fear based thinking. The fear of gaining weight, so they don’t eat appropriately for their level of activity. Many out of shape or overweight individuals will take up running as a way to lose or maintain weight loss and maybe it works for a minute, but if you chronically have higher energy output (exercise) and chronically lower energy in (calories), your body will get out of whack and the weight loss plateaus or like me when I trained for my first marathon, gain weight. You will also notice performance decrements after a while too. I gained 10 pounds when training for my first marathon, yikes! It was not muscle weight, as I have pictures to prove it.
The runners in my 3-week low sugar experiment were excited to move onto a second, longer experiment with all the improvements in objective variables; decrease in scale weight and inches off the hips/waist and equally important, subjective variables; improved sleep, clearer skin, less joint pain, no heart burn, less sugar cravings, less bloat, and less fatigue.
The second experiment was an 8-week experiment where each participant would have a goal of the same macronutrient profile. However, each runner’s calorie needs were calculated based on their age, sex, height, weight, and ACTIVITY level using the Mifflin-St.Jeor equation. When the numbers were crunched, the backlash began, and the excitement waned away. One participant felt the calories were too low compared to what she typically consumes. Many and quite honestly, I lost count, but let’s just say everyone that chose to reach out to me regarding their calories told me it was too high compared to what they typically consume. Why was this a problem? Fear based thinking…I don’t want to gain weight. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, after spending I don’t know how much time crunching numbers for 34 participants, most of them chose not to fully participate from the get-go. With that, I cannot give the best synopsis of the experiment over a larger sample size.
What can I tell you? During this experiment, I asked the participants to take pictures so we could see body composition changes. Five participants did and we did indeed see body composition changes. This is a shift in fat and muscle. The scale can remain the same even if you lose fat, due to a gain in lean muscle mass. This was one of the big lessons of this experiment. You can eat more, when your body requires more, and you will not gain weight back that you previously lost. The participants also took part in this study during ever increasing training mileage and didn’t miss training to fatigue or under recovery, which is where under fueling would fall.
If you participate in a sport at a recreational level and want to be the best you can possibly be, this requires a mindset shift not only with appropriately loaded training, but with fueling your body like an athlete. We live in a time when there is an abundance of information literally at our finger tips. As a healthcare provider, I frequently have listened to consumers (of information) tell me, “I read” or “I heard” this and that and it couldn’t be farther from the truth or a twist on the truth. One of my runners once told me, “Everything you tell me is completely different than what everyone else has ever told me”. How did that make me feel? It made me feel proud quite honestly. I don’t coach by tradition or trends. I coach by science and with it comes a feeling of pride and integrity. Do you want someone to invest in you the way you should invest in yourself? Check out the services section of www.runwithgina.com
P.S. I was going to include some of the photos of the participants (as I have been given permission), but I think I will leave it up to them to share if they choose when they share this blog post across social media.
If you read my last blog post, you know that I had a nutrition experiment going with a group of runners. The takeaway for me was, they don’t eat like athletes, but more like dieters. This subject has brought up nutrition awareness among my cohort but has also brought up performance and recovery nutrition. We live in the information age. We are surrounded by information, both accurate and inaccurate with more inaccurate information than anything. How people receive information, process information, and pass on information is heavily based on their emotions regarding the subject. This is true with religion, politics, sports, and just about anything, but especially nutrition. Nutrition is food, food is weight, weight has many of us in emotional turmoil with fear-based behaviors.
As an athlete centered coach, I invest time into making sure my runners have the appropriate information to make informed decisions about their training and race day strategies. I preached nutrition previously for improved recovery and performance. As a matter of fact, I covered runner nutrition in a blog post from 7/31/17 and can be found in the November 2017 archives on my website. http://www.runwithgina.com/blog/runner-nutrition-explained
But what about real-time race nutrition strategies? You must fuel your body to perform! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is common sense. If you are taking your car on a road trip, you would need to put fuel in it. Because of fear-based behaviors, runners don’t do it. “I don’t want the calories”. Guess what? You need the calories. “My stomach doesn’t do well with carbohydrate gels”. Guess what? You must train your gut to receive the nutrition. It is true, some people have runners’ colitis and can’t take in anything, but that is a small percentage of runners. Those people100% know if they fit into that category.
Carbohydrate utilization or what your body needs and uses is based on duration and intensity of endurance activity. I have been telling my marathon runners that the guidelines for carbohydrate needs during a marathon is 30-60 grams per hour. Most carbohydrate gels have 21-24 grams. If you are running a 4-hr marathon on a course that provides a sugar-free electrolyte replenisher, how many carbohydrate gel packs would you need to sustain your run? This is a matter of hitting the wall or not hitting the wall, because your muscles will run out of stored carbohydrates at 2-hrs and 30-minutes of running. I won’t do the math for you because this is something people really need to be thinking about. I know there are some of you that are thinking, “Well, I am a fat adapted athlete. My body utilizes stored fat as fuel”. Again, fuel utilization is intensity based. The lower the intensity, fat is used as fuel. The greater intensity, carbohydrates are used as fuel. This is why in marathon racing, the negative split is so important. Early on, your body uses fat as fuel with a lower intensity to spare the stored glycogen (carbohydrate) for later in the race.
What about the half-marathon distance? Yes, you need fuel if you are a recreational runner, running over an hour. In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine, stated that carbohydrate needs are 30-90 g/hr based on duration and intensity. You can see the infographic in the cover picture by Dr. Asker Jeukendrup.
Because I live in an evidence-based world, I must do my due diligence and cite research to back up the above information. In a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers studied two groups of recreational runners in the Copenhagen Marathon. One group freely ingested carbohydrate based on their timing preference, while the other group used scientific principles of ingesting carbohydrates at 60 grams per hour. The group that ingested carbohydrates at 60 grams per hour ran the race 4.7% faster. These were recreational runners that run 3:38-4:20 in the marathon. A 4.7% improvement at that duration is a difference of 10 minutes! Taking off chunks of time is not about running faster in training. It isn’t always about running more miles. Sometimes it as simple as how you fuel your body. By the way, GI distress was low in the two groups and there wasn’t a difference between the two groups in regard to GI distress.
Who wants to shave a lot of time off their half or full marathon time? I’m going to assume most people. Don’t let your tank go empty on race day!!!!!!!!!!
A few years ago, as I was filling up my car with gas, I found myself looking at an advertisement for the gas station. The add touted their gas and oil as being better for your car engine with cleaner emissions, therefore providing superior performance of your car engine. Did you know many mechanical devices we use daily, replicate how or bodies or other things in nature work? People that work in healthcare had to study science; anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry, biomechanics, the list goes on and on depending on the eventual field of expertise. Beyond expertise, it is a use it or lose it situation. As quickly as the information is memorized, it is gone unless it is used in daily practice or unless processes are understood vs just memorizing information. Interestingly, all the science subjects previously mentioned come into play with achieving your best as a runner. Seeing the gasoline advertisement really resonated with me, beyond the intended purpose of the advertisement. It was from that moment on that I started saying to my runners…back when I only had five runners, “On race day, we want your body to perform like a well-oiled machine”.
Last week I had 31 runners conclude a 3-week long nutrition experiment and I am really excited to give a synopsis of their results. Let me first disclose that I am not a registered dietician or medical doctor, but a healthcare provider, coach, and personal trainer, qualified in guiding the experiment without telling them what to eat. Each subject kept a three-day log of what they consumed to get an average of their individual macronutrient profile and how many calories they typically consume. Throughout the experiment, they were supposed to hit that average for macronutrients and calories every day and make up what they expended in exercise calories. However, the “experiment” was to reduce their sugar content to specific grams. This was a reduced sugar experiment, but they still had to consume just as many carbohydrates as they did prior to the study, therefore, changing the quality of some of their carbohydrate consumption.
Initially this was tough for many. They had to overcome their sweet cravings, pass on treats at weddings, parties, and the office break room. It was torture in a society that eats socially and takes comfort in foods, especially the reward center in the brain that responds to sugar. They became food loggers and their awareness for what they put in their body became a lifestyle. Grocery store trips took longer, and restaurant food ordering became complicated. It wasn’t easy at first anyway. They were forced to eat with intention. Consciously, not just habitually. Not habitually grabbing for the cookie in the break room or the “protein” bar that has more crap in it than protein content. Was all this trouble worth it in the long run? They were blindly following my lead after all.
To share the stats of all 31 of the experiment participants would be tedious, so I will share a glimpse into the magic. The results were incredible!!!! Both objective measurable data, weight and waist/hip circumference and subjective observations. In my opinion, the subjective observations, the ah ha moments were the icing on the cake. Okay, bad pun for this experiment, but you get the picture.
At the cessation of the experiment, everyone experienced some weight loss or loss of inches off their waist and/or hips. Many people lost more than one pound per week. The largest weight loss during the three-week experiment was 10 pounds, with several people losing more than 5 pounds. The largest loss in hip and waist circumference was 3.5 inches from the waist and 2.5 inches from the hips. Most of the participants lost at least one inch off their waist and hips. Hello saggy pants! Good thing the trend is in.
Not everyone had favorable results. The smaller someone is to start, the less weight they have to lose. But what about that icing on the cake? What about the subjective observations? Some of the experiment participants reported; improved sleep, clearer skin, less joint pain, no heart burn, less sugar cravings, less bloat, and less fatigue. Oh, and some of them love their new found, sexy waist!
But what about me? What did I learn? I learned I have been failing some of my runners. Not all of the experiment participants were following my training plan as some are friends of Run With Gina (Rwg). It was crystal clear in the three-day data collection portion of the experiment, many of these runners were eating like dieters and not athletes. Remember, in the intro to this blog, I said, to perform like a well-oiled machine you need to put fuel (food) in your body. Hello under eaters! Under eaters, yet some of them had pounds to lose? How does that work? Here is another interesting point, that gives a hint to the latter question. It turns out seven of the females in the experiment stand 5’1”. The female that runs the most in that height group, eats the least, yet weighs more than most of them. No, this is not a muscle weighs more than fat thing. One needs to eat to build muscle. This is too much energy out without enough energy in and chemical/metabolic processes in the body cannot work properly. Under fuel = under performance. Under fuel with excessive energy out = the body goes into survival mode and holds onto the body fat and chemical reactions that need to occur, cannot occur.
Just like your car, whether you are driving it fast or slow, it still needs fuel or a charge if you are driving an electric car. Your body expends energy (calories) whether you are running/exercising or not. The majority of our calorie needs come from basal metabolic rate (BMR). As a matter of fact, about 75% of our energy needs come from BMR. BMR is the rate at which the body expends energy to maintain basic physiological survival. For the average male that is 1500 calories just to fuel his day, not his athletic performance. Then there is the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF represents the energy (calories) required to digest, absorb, transport, mobilize, and store nutrients. You need those nutrients to fuel your body! TEF uses up about 10% of your calories. Lastly and the only thing people seem to think about is thermic effect of physical activity (TEPA). TEPA is only about 15-30% of your energy expenditure. So many people don’t even consume what their body needs for all the metabolic processes to occur. Including weight loss and athletic performance. No more under fueling guys!
The 3-week reduced sugar experiment was so much fun, informative, and successful that 32 people are moving onto a longer, more controlled experiment. I cannot share the details because I can’t give away all my success secrets. But here is what I hypothesize; the experiment participants will be consuming more calories than before. The participants that need to lose weight, will lose weight. The participants that are “normal” weight at the start, will see visible body composition changes. All participants will see improvements in recovery from their running/exercise, which will support better performance.
I want to thank all of you that take the time to read my blog and share my blogs across social media. Coach Gina, Run With Gina, Rwg is a healthcare provider first before all things and then a coach and personal trainer. I try my best to bring the “personal” into coaching. I have said it before, people don’t pay for coaching/training, they pay for the coach/trainer. If you are reading this blog on Facebook, check me out at www.runwithgina.com
It has been a long time since I have composed a blog and even longer since I composed one about injury. Injury is still something that plagues the running community, regardless of the billion dollar running shoe industries effort to make shoes to help buffer ground reaction forces or help you supinate more or pronate less. For example, have you been told that you overpronate, so you are told you need a stability shoe? Runners World Magazine just published an article in December about the best stability shoes for this problem. As a matter of fact, the authors made this statement, “’Bars,’ ‘rails’ and medial posts are buzzwords for the tech brands build into shoes’ outsoles to help with alignment and relieve your feet and legs from that constant rolling inward motion”. What type of material can be placed in the sole of a shoe that can redirect the force of more than double the body weight of the runner? Remember, Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That force comes right back at you and because it is equal and opposite, it will be the same if you are running on a treadmill, trail, or pavement.
I am a huge proponent of screening my runners for injury potential. In my experiences, I have found that through movement screenings, someone with poor movement patterns can strengthen their muscles to provide natural muscular stability. This helps appropriately direct the ground reaction force through their joint segments and allow for more appropriate kinematics through the hip joint that create the foot strike on the ground in the first place. My goal with my runners is to always reduce injury potential and increase performance potential.
In the picture above, you see John Doe. This picture speaks a thousand words and it is only one view of several things I am looking at. What does he need? He needs exercise programming, supplementary exercises to his run training, not a “stability” running shoe. Ever heard of Pronation Distortion Syndrome (PDS)? PDS is primarily characterized by excessive pronation, but some people just call themselves “flat footed” or that they have “knocked knees”. In a static standing position, if you have a flat foot, your shin bone will rotate in and then your thigh bone will then internally rotate as well. However, in the picture of John Doe, he is not standing there static, he is in motion. PDS not only comes from the foot but can also come from dysfunction at the hip. Strength imbalances at the hip allow for rotating and moving inward of thigh bone, which also puts strain around the knee joint. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, PDS can come from different origins, the hip or the foot and can create pain at the foot, hip, knee, and lower back. Individuals with signs of PDS (foot or hip imbalances) have an increased susceptibility to: foot and toe pain, Achilles tendon dysfunction, plantar fasciitis, anterior/posterior tibialis tendinitis, and patellar tendinitis. Yikes!
Again, in my experiences, I have found that exercise programming helps limit the above issues. Likewise, I have seen runners not follow their exercise prescription and end up with one of the above listed injuries. If you didn’t know, running breaks down your body and what you do when you aren’t running is what keeps it strong and healthy. Stay strong and healthy friends!
It’s a wrap folks!!! Last weekend was the last marathon of 2018 for Run With Gina (Rwg) runners AND it ended with a bang! Not everyone can always have their best race or achieve their goals, but that is the very reason endurance racing makes you come back for more. I hope the stories of my runners inspire you to reach out to me and share the Run With Gina website with your family and friends.
We had 8 runners at the California International Marathon on December 2nd, with four qualifying for the Boston Marathon and five running a personal record (PR). Two of the personal record races were by 25 and 28 minutes. Both of these humongous PRs were from experienced marathon runners and they both had a PR at their last marathon on a Rwg plan.
Their plan this year was not the same as their last marathon, as they rarely are. Just as everything in the world, we are dynamic, always changing. This is something that is a priority with Rwg plans. I do not have a group training program. I am a 1:1 “online” coach. I know each one of my runners mostly through virtual platform’s, texting/email. It is my job to know their work/family schedule, goals, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and anxieties and build their program with all that in mind.
Speaking of schedule’s, my 25-minute PR and first time Boston Qualifier actually had an 11-day taper! Why you ask? Because it was the only place we could get her last long run in, which by the way was only 18-miles. Because I knew how strong she is, I knew she could handle it. Not everyone would. Rwg is normally the home of the two-week taper. My runners choose 18 or 20 as their longest run. The majority of my people choose 18, because I push for 18. Guess what? It works. Why? Because science says it will work. The Rwg logo is a pseudo element from the periodic table of elements...science.
Our results are not by chance! My plans are backed by evidence-based research to decrease injury potential and increase performance potential.
I am so incredibly proud of every one of my runners. I don’t care if they didn’t run their best time, if they walked, if they cried. I am proud of the commitment they make to their training and if they can say, I gave all that I could give today, they are a winner!
Do you ever look at runners’ Strava or Garmin Connect data and wonder if they are training too much or not enough? That is exactly what most runners do, too much or not enough. If you have followed my blogs since the inception, then you know I always say too much is not better than just enough. There is a point of diminishing returns. No more bang for your buck. Writing checks your body can’t cash. It happens folks, I see it all the time. It is hard to know when to say when because that is different for each person.
My programs are like other programs as they have endurance work, hills, speed, and tempo. Everything other than aerobic work is considered “quality sessions”. However, my programs are customized to my runners needs. Often, even they don’t know what they need, but when I see their run data, I get a good idea of what they need. When I get to know their true desires, motivation, support system, and personalities, I know even more. My main concern as a coach is that my runners get around injury and improve performance and/or health. I don’t want to throw everything including the kitchen sink at a runner that is new to me. But that isn’t set in stone. They may be able to handle it. Same with my experienced people, I may find it is best to pull them back. There is always a time and place to progress and regress my runner’s program.
This brings me to the story of Chris. She recently trained for her third marathon with me. I first met Chris more than two years ago when I went to give a seminar to a running group she belongs to, the South Bay Sole Sisters. At that time, she approached me to ask about a pain she was having while training for a marathon that was a couple month away. She ran her race and a few months later she sent me an email with the title, “I need a coach”. We started working virtually together and she ran a 20-minute personal best at her race! Within days, she was talking to me about running another marathon. I said, “Why do you want to run another one”? Her reply, “Well, I think I can do better”. After a couple of months, training for her second marathon with me started. She ran another personal best, this time by four minutes.
As you can imagine, it was not long before the words, “another marathon” came whispering out her lips. After another couple of months, training for her third marathon with me began, which she just ran last weekend. About three months ago, she had a setback, an on the job injury that affected her running. She sought therapy with a chiropractor and I gave her exercises. Long story short, I had her take a week off running and took away all quality sessions when she returned to running. From that point on it would be all aerobic work. I told her that she could still have an awesome race with just easy, aerobic training. But why take away all those workouts that can benefit her on race day? She believed she had a work injury and I believed that we could not ignore that maybe her body is tired. Maybe she needed more rest between marathons. I knew what she did in the previous two training seasons and I believed her training needed to be regressed, not progressed. I knew she still had good chances of having an awesome race with easy running because I know all the quality work she did to prepare for the last two races. She trusted me because I had already earned her trust by guiding her to improvement in the past and putting her safety above everything else.
As you can see in the attached photo, she did in fact have an awesome race with another 16-minute personal best and achieved her Boston qualifying time off the NEW Boston qualifying standards. These results are not by chance my friends. They are from experienced, one on one coaching with personal relationships as the pillar to success. No, I don’t do group training, I do individual virtual training and it is in fact a labor of love.
Congratulations Chris! Her story is awesome. I hope you feel inspired to share with your friends on Facebook.
This week the recreational running community was floored by the change in the Boston Marathon qualifying standards for the 2020 race. The previous time standard change occurred for acceptance into the 2013 Boston Marathon. Changing of the standard over time is nothing new, however runners that were on the verge of “aging up” into a new (slower) time standard, remain working towards the same time goal that may be just beyond their reach, or at least it seems that way.
If your chosen marathon course and race day weather is favorable to achieving your best, you have trained appropriately and are conditioned to achieve your goal, the difference between you meeting your goal or missing it by seconds to a couple of minutes comes down to race day tactics. Notice I mentioned favorable weather to achieve your best. Who remembers the headlines from the 2018 Boston Marathon? Rain, wind, more rain, and more wind, which made for miserable conditions. Even with race day conditions that saw many of the elite runners drop out before the race started and the race winners running 12 and 20 minutes slower than the male and female course records, respectively, a record number of qualified runners applied for the 2019 Boston Marathon, yet were turned away, because faster runners in their age group capped off the accepted field.
The weather during the Boston Marathon is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; “you never know what you’re gonna get” until race day comes. This may be one of the many reasons that makes the Boston Marathon so special and runners return year after year if it is possible for them. Knowing how to handle adverse race conditions can help make it more enjoyable or less miserable, depending on if your glass is half full or empty. The 2018 Chicago Marathon is on the horizon and as of now, the forecast calls for rain. Rain? Will there be wind? It can’t possibly be as cold in Chicago in October as it can be in Boston in April, can it? I wouldn’t know, I live in San Diego.
Luckily, this blog post isn’t about what I don’t know, but about what I do know. Let me give you some information about the body and how it works and for crying out loud, do not run with a rain poncho when running a marathon or long distances!
I think everyone knows normal body temperature is 97.7–99.5 °F and when exercising, our body temperature rises, so we need to thermoregulate. This is a balance between heat production and heat loss to maintain core temperature. Heat loss works through conduction, convection, and evaporation during exercise. Moisture wicking materials allow for heat loss by convection and evaporation. Let’s get hypothetical for a moment. If you are running 26.2 miles in the rain in a rain poncho and it is only 65 °F as the Chicago forecast predicts for the coming up marathon, that poncho is going to act like an oven. It will not allow for convection, the transfer of heat from the skin to the air to occur or for evaporation to occur, which is how we lose 80% of generated heat to maintain body temperature. Rain poncho in the rain makes sense when standing around spectating, but racing 26.2 miles, no it does not make sense and puts you at risk for hyperthermia.
Don’t get me wrong, the above was not the scenario at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Due to cooler temps with the rain and wind, those runners were faced with hypothermia, which is low body temperature and it occurs when body heat loss exceeds physiological heat production. This is a hard one to visualize. You lose more heat than your body produces. This is about staying warm while exercising in the cold, but it is hard to visualize because how does one stay warm yet not too warm while exercising? This is why you have always read to layer your clothes in colder, rainier conditions. The layers matter though. You need to have moisture wicking materials as the base layer and you also need the outside layer to wick moisture as well. Some rain resistant materials do not allow for wicking. Just as those materials keep moisture out, they keep moisture on your skin and make you colder. The colder you are, the more your body will shiver as a response. Interestingly, in 2006 the American College of Sports Medicine noted that shivering increases your metabolic response by 5-6 times, which means your body requires more fuel to maintain the response. Who would have known that running in colder weather would require more fuel? It does anyway if you are shivering. I suggest that runners that wish to start with layers, start with a short sleeve shirt on the bottom and a long-sleeved shirt on the outside. The long sleeves can be tossed at some point. If you choose to have the long sleeves as the base layer, you are committed to the long sleeves for the remainder of the race. If you feel inclined to wear a light jacket because of rain, make sure it is wicking material and a quarter zipper pull over is a great option, so you can at least unzip a bit if needed or keep it zipped if needed.
Adapting to the elements on race day makes a big difference on how you enjoy the race or even achieve your best. If you didn’t read my blog post, “The sub-2, you, and the BQ” from 7-2-18 on runwithgina.com, please do.
Good luck to all those that are running the coming up Chicago Marathon. Race smart, including dressing smart!