how to run

how to run a marathon – part 2

Learning to run great distances is a -DIY- do it yourself adventure. Meaning have fun and experiment with options. You will learn not only about your body and mind and spirit, but also open yourself up to a whole new universe of extreme sports. Every time I thought I had nothing more to learn, some challenge arose which caused me to discover more. Not only do you get to be outdoors in nature for hours at a time (i did exactly zero minutes zero hours in the gym), but you get to experience deeper breathing, the runner’s high, and comradery with fellow runners. There’s a lot of physical pain that accompanies extreme sports, so it takes a certain kinda person to subject themselves voluntarily to running a marathon. And many people think we are crazy ’cause we don’t get paid. We have to cover the costs of entrance fees, shoes and equipment, yes. I had at least a half dozen perfect strangers over the past 6 months tell me I must be crazy. Haha-ha!

All I can say is I am 43 years old and probably in the best shape of my life. I rocked 26.2 miles and got a ton of love from spectators, family, friends, and other runners. I spend countless hours along the most beautiful river in northern California, which I otherwise might have wasted online staring at a computer or worse. And I have a huge sense of accomplishment which carries over to confidence I have in everything I do. Now if that’s ‘crazy’ – please – make me insane!

I try and keep things simple or minimalist: no watch, no headphones, no camelbacks while running. Garmin makes watches which track your pace and heartbeat and distance and many runners have them, but you don’t need them if you’re concerned only with having fun and finishing, not with racing. It’s all up to you. A flipbelt will hold up to 10 GU gels around your waist, which is all the energy you need for 26.2! You can keep stuff in a wristband, too, including S-caps and even powdered supplement mix or gatorade in a plastic baggie for when you find a water fountain. I used GU Roctane during the marathon, which has sodium, caffeine, and extra amino acids. I also took S-Caps (salt and potassium pills) to keep safe from dehydration. My method was 1 GU every 40 minutes, 1 S-Cap every hour, for 5 hours. Just before my long runs, I drank a bottle of water mixed with Apex pre-workout mix (1 scoop) and Old School’s ‘Vintage Blast’ pre-workout (1 scoop) in lieu of GU. During the marathon I drank water and/or gatorade/nuun at every aid station, approx every 3 miles. When training on your own, you must find water fountains or hide a water bottle ahead of time, if you do not carry water. Don’t go more than 6 miles without fluids! Bananas and oranges were offered along the CIM course and I always took them.

Your energy level will go in waves! When tired, shorten your stride and ease back on your pace. When energized, I say go for it and pick up the pace. Listen to your body. If you suffer runner’s knee or other joint pain: KT-Tape is the bomb! Use it. Carry it. Negative splits are better than positive splits! Meaning run the first half slower than the second. I hit a wall hard after running 10min miles for the first half of my first race, which was a 20 miler one month before the marathon. My natural pace is 11 min/mile, but I had a lot of adrenaline and was pushing hard. I learned quickly the dangers of the positive split. My legs were so tired by mile 16 I could hardly continue on. But experiencing this wall over the next 4 miles was probably good for me, because I learned how to run on tired legs and finish.

You can discover your pace by knowing your distance and time, checking the clock before you set out and after you return.  Just subtract any time you took for water/bathroom breaks. You can easily map out your route distance beforehand by going to google maps, right clicking your mouse and selecting ‘measure distance’. Then you divide your total minutes ran by total distance ran, to get your pace. It’s that simple. I found that I consistently ran a natural pace and could chip away at it on shorter runs.

how to run

how to run a marathon – part 1

Having run the CIM 2016 (my first marathon) in 4:58, I wanna to show some love and share my experience with any runners who wish to take on the challenge. I got so much wonderful and free advice online from so many bloggers along the way! I am so grateful. Here are some things that worked for me in my adventure. I hope they work for you, too…

If you are starting from scratch, give it a 4-6 month training window. Go ahead and find a tried and true schedule and post it on your wall. I used Hal Higdon’s 16 week intermediate marathon training schedule. Let yourself stray from the schedule based on your instincts. Everyone has their own personal challenges which will impact daily life. Just know that if you keep running, your legs will get stronger. 10% increases in mileage per week is considered the gold standard. Many runners alternate weeks increasing their sunday long runs to new distances, then falling back to rest the legs. I started out running totals of 15-20 miles a week, then worked my way up to 50-60 miles (with a 20 mile longest sunday run) in 12 weeks, then used the last 4 weeks to taper back down to 20-30 range, letting the legs recover before the big one. Cross-training is essential. I chose cycling and hiking. If I felt I needed a day off, I took it. If I could run 5 days straight, I did. The back-2-back concept is very helpful for learning/feeling how to run on tired legs. Hitting a wall here and there is good for you to experience the pain and try and run through it. Psychological/mental conditioning.

There is such a thing as over-training and it’s dangerous! Keep to the schedule if you can. You could injure yourself. New runners can be prone to injuries because your body is still adjusting to the high impact sport of long distance running. What happens with a new runner is your body tries to acclimate to the stress of impact, and often expends energy trying to stabilize/protect your legs. Experienced runners will find that, once acclimated, the body will be able to use those energy channels towards forward momentum.

Buy quality running shoes that are made for long distances. My personal favorite shoe and the one that got me through: Brooks’ Launch 3! A ‘neutral trainer’ that is very supportive but not too heavy, and has the kind of midsole cushioning which pushes back to help your forward momentum. Be aware of ‘pronation’ and have someone check your stride. Shoes wear out in 300-500 miles. Have an alternate pair and keep track. Faster runners tend to run on different shoes than they train on. Hokas are cushiony and good for recovery runs. The Pegasus 33 Nikes are good but a bit heavy. There are tons of useful shoe and product reviews all over the internet. Use them.

Use anti-chafing sticks like ‘Body Glide’ for surfers. Long runs will rub raw your arms, feet, inside of your thighs, anywhere there’s friction. Experiment with socks. They do make socks these days which prevent blisters, but moleskin helps, too. I experienced a knee injury while breaking in my Hokas which caused me to need new shoes only days before my race, and the ‘Swiftwick’ socks I was offered kept the blisters at bay. If you do get blisters while training, there are safe ways to pop and bandage them and keep running without delay. Don’t forget suntan lotion if you are fair-skinned. Nobody loves skin cancer and you may be out running for 3-4 hours at a time…

murder. in broad daylight

The sun was beating dust into the bricks, the world snug inside its atmosphere. Young students typed away on tablets, phones and laptops inside one of Portland Oregon’s more popular coffeehouses. Within striking distance of an accredited local university favored for its substrata of adult summer coursework, all DIY-focused. If you wanted to learn how to build a computer from scratch or make a zoo from scrapped metals, this was the place to be, circa 2003.

The owners of the café were a man and woman from Pennsylvania and Alaska, respectively, and had established a friendship from their days past as bike couriers in Seattle. She wore her hair mohawk. He was recovering from an attempted reverse mohawk. Never let someone on acid near your head with a pair of shears, was the lesson-du-jour. Even if it’s your best friend in the whole wide world.

The barista girls were counting out change behind the steamship enterprise, and drawing maple leaves out of foam in each and ever latté. This particular morning saw well-spirited banter in between giggling laughter. The aforementioned victim of reverse mohawk had arrived, wearing pantyhose on his head, to conceal the crime.

At exactly five minutes after eleven am, pacific standard time, all fingers hovered motionless over virtual and physical keyboards, inside the café.

All eyes turned toward the long faux marble counter, behind which an irreverent prankster of a girl from Alaska, with blue and green spikes of frozen hair touching sky in a five-pointed inline star cutting through steam and coffee aromatics, was holding pantyhose just out of reach of the grasping tatted arms of her famed partner and co-pilot in the steamship enterprise.

A cheshire cat grin extended across her lips, as she shielded her prize with her body, shouting: LOOK EVERYBODY, IT’S MY BROTHER FRIM ANOTHER MOTHER!

The tragedy became complete, when our poor beloved Pennsylvania transplant turned to face the student body, with only the counter between him and them, and not tall enough to hide the DIY fail. His eyes tried to follow the path the others all took, and rose toward the sky. The sun set red hot on his face, then…

Murder. In broad daylight.