Friday, May 03, 2013

Spring Training Tip #2
It's All ABout The Shoes

Buying New Running Shoes & My Top Shoe Tips

Sure there is a lot more to running than meets the eye but we can all agree that the most important thing to get right is your shoes.

I always say running is all about the shoes. So if you are still slogging around in the shoes you raced and trained in last year it's about time to get out and get a fresh pair. One of the biggest reasons I see runners get injured is running in worn out shoes with no cushioning or life left in them.

So here are a few shoe tips to try on for size 
this spring:

  • Log the date of purchase and the miles you put on each pair - Many experts say to limit miles to 500 miles or so but I like to jack that down to 300 - 350 or especially in hot climates like here in Houston.
  • Use the wobble test - This is a little test I learned from my good friend, running podiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Ross.  When you narrow your choice down to your top shoe pair pick set both pairs on a flat surface and thumb each one with your finger.  If the shoe wobbles or sets unevenly on a flat surface request another pair.  If the shoe comes out of the box with a wobble chances are it will not wear evenly and make create problems down the road.
  • If you have your favorite model buy two pairs and alternate between them on runs therefore increasing the life of each pair
  • After each run pull the inserts out of the shoe so they dry out quicker. This limits the moisture, salt, sweat etc that breaks down the shoe
  • Only use your running shoes for running. Not shopping, not cross fit, not playing soccer with your kid only quality running. Use your old running shoes or buy some cross trainers for other none running activities so you don't limit the life of your shoes
  • Forget about making a fashion statement. Make your decision on the best fit - ladies this is more for you but if you love pink and the shoes that fit you like a glove are lime green go with the lime green. A runner diva somewhere is rolling her eyes at me now but its about the fit not the fashion
  • Off season is a good time to experiment with shoes - Stick your neck out and try a new brand or model. Now is the time to experiment before the miles build for your next big race
  • Buy shoes for a variety of running purposes - You may find that one shoe works better for long runs, a lighter weight minimalist shoe works better for short runs, trail shoes work better on trails and hills etc. It does put more of a hit on your budget but a shoe for each purpose with your training can put less load on the body and keep you out of the doctor's office.
  • If you get wind that your shoe manufacturer is discontinuing your fav model jump on-line and buy an extra pair or two. Just don't over do it because even brand new shoes that sit in the closet too long with no wear will still loose their bounce.

I'll think of some more but that's a good start. Yes my friends it is all about the shoes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Training Tip #1
Don't Be So Focused On Pacing

Today's subject is on pacing and both our obsessive love and occasional hate of it.

Getting to Boston one day for all of us, God willing, is of course all about pacing because you pretty much have to be a badass runner relative to your age to get there.

But I see many runners of every pace put waaay too much emphasis on their continued almost weekly obsession to get faster. I already covered the #1 reason runners get injured which is too many miles (see tip #1 post below) but the other huge reason runners get injured and defeat themselves is putting waaay too much emphasis on pacing every week.

GPS watches like the Garmin are great tools but they are fueling this even more since we all know down to the second what our pace is. Pace is the end result of your effort not the beginning meaning if your legs, muscular system, heart and lungs do not have a base or are trained up properly pushing pace will get you hurt or not allow you to burn fat stores and drop the garbage weight that makes many of us slower.

Over pacing during training when your body is not ready for it would be like taking a mis-aligned Ford Pinto (I am showing my age here) that is not tuned up that well and rolling it down the autobahn. Guess what will happen? The engine will probably blow a gasket, fuel economy will suck and the wheels will probably fall off. Not to overuse the car analogy here but your body is your car and how you drive it truly counts if you want to keep the car on the road or trade up to a Jag one day.

So during this spring off season run loose and just get good quality lower miles in making sure you are rebuilding base, your pacing is appropriate and you have some variance between your mid week running pace and your longer weekend run. Your longer weekend run should be very easy and conversational.  I know, it's tough to do but the runners of any pace level who get that are the ones who I see excelling with their running.

I will give you upcoming tips over the next few weeks on other things to add to the mix during the spring including monitoring heart rate and foot speed or cadence, two things I will be preaching to my runners even more this next training season to minimize injury and become faster.

It's a tough job keeping runners in check with pacing but someone's gotta do it so I will continue to preach research running not just gut running. Remember all the running you do that is not on a race course is training and if your pacing during training is too close to racing speed then you are probably headed for an injury and we all get cranky when that happens. 

Don't worry we will handle ways to get faster (once again based on research not the latest get fast in 5 steps Runners World article) but during the spring just get the quality miles in, gently rebuild base if you have lost your edge and sneak in some strength training to build strength and toughness for the marathon training season that lies ahead.

Tough love man but I am a realist knowing that we are all wired around "how fast am I" or "how fast should I be". Take the pressure off in the Spring, get out the door more consistently and don't worry so much about pacing or mileage. In fact try running without a watch, Garmin or an Ipod and get a better handle of how your foot strike sounds when you run. Leave the gadgets home at least once a week. Tough to do but it is truly liberating!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cold Weather Running Tips
It's All About The Gear

Never thought I would be writing an article on cold weather running in Houston but here it goes. I am a native of Buffalo, New York though so I am more than qualified for this assignment. Nothing like today's rare Houston snowfall to spur this on. For those of you reading this in northern states you can start holding back your laughter now.

Houstonians pray for cool or cold temps when we race but we rarely get a chance to train or race in sub freezing weather. With the proper gear and preparation even a cold weather run can be rewarding. I have had some of my best running memories running in the cold and it does wonders for pacing because you really don't want to stop much. So here is a rundown of a few tips that should make that next cold weather run more comfy.

It's All About The Gear
Dress for the occasion and even a long distance cold run can be comfortable. The secret here is staying warm and layering clothing so if you heat up or the temps increase you can easily peel layers of clothing off. Many running jackets have ventilation built into the back so heat escapes. Just leaving your jacket or vest on and unzipping it a bit can help dissipate heat on the fly. Whatever you do avoid any type of cotton clothing and stick to micro-fiber, moisture wicking materials. Here is a quick shopping list of clothing and accessories you may want to invest in for those rare Houston cold runs. You may not use them much but it sure helps having them in the closet when you need them. I would recommend going to your local running store specialist like Fleet Feet Sports. Running stores clerks have much more running knowledge to share with you than sporting goods stores and carry gear that is runner specific. If you are starting to look like a superhero after you put this stuff on you are doing a good job.

Cold Running Gear Essentials
  • Skull cap or head band - There are some great new lightweight skull caps out by Nike, Brooks and other shoe companies to keep those ears from freezing.
  • Gloves - along with keeping ears warm keeping your hands warm is essential. Pick a glove that fits comfortably especially since you will be wearing it for a while during a long run. Many new gloves now have small pouches built in to stash your car key, a gel or money to buy snacks along your route. A new model by Brooks called the Vapor Dry 2 is Ipod friendly with a thumb that opens up to make it easier to adjust your Ipod controls
  • Tights or Running Pants - Yes real men do wear tights. You would too if it was 20 degrees outside. Tights keep the leg muscles warm, compressed and can minimize cramping and injuries when it is cold out. If you aren't into tights most running companies also have a line of running pants. These are usually looser fitting and lightweight.
  • Moisture Wicking Undergarments, Long Sleeve Ts & Tights - A tigher fitting moisture wicking under garment like those made by Under Armour are great. Slap on a long sleeve dry fit on top of that for added layering. Long sleeves with a short turtle neck are great too to keep out the wind
  • Socks - Once again make sure they are not cotton. There are some great wool blend socks by DeFeet which are thin but very warm on the feet. You can also find "high top" versions of some running socks so they cover the skin up to the bottom of your pants or tights. As long as you keep moving you would be amazed how much the feet stay warm.
  • Jackets & Vests - There are tons of great jackets and vests to meet your needs. Most jackets have some type of ventilation and are either water proof or water resistant. When it dips into the 20s and 30s I like wearing a vest over a dry fit T or tights so my arms are not as restricting in movement.
  • Arm & Leg Compression Sleeves - One of the hottest new trends in running are compression sleeves. Most assume that this are only for cold weather running but many runners use them in warmer temps also. These were first made famous by elite UK runner Paula Radcliffe. These are not just trendy additions to the runnign scenes but help compress muscles, aid with heating muscles up and improving blood flow. Check out the line of great compression products by Zensah at your local running store available in tons of great colors and styles.
Body Comfort Aids
  • Nip Guards - For the males Nip Guards are a must to prevent nipple chapping or bleeding. Sold in a 10 pair tube, Nip Guards stick on your nipples to avoid nipple friction. I sell them on my website at this link.
  • Bodyglide Lubricant -This is our top pick for chaffing prevention. Body Glide is a non petroleum based lubricant that you apply like a roll on deoderant. Apply it right on the skin where you usually have added friction like inner thighs, where clothing elastic meets skin etc. I highly recommend coating your feet with Bodyglide before putting your socks on no matter what the weather is like. Make sure you apply some between your toes as well. This will prevent blistering an rubbing especially if your feet get wet during a training run or race.
  • Vaseline & Lip Balm - To protect the face from cold and wind apply some Vaseline to exposed areas. I also like Vaseline's lip balm in a tube to apple to lips to prevent chapping and cracking.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Get Into The Marathon Mindset
Tips For Those Final Long Runs

Here in Houston we are just 10 weeks away from our Hometown Marathon on January 17th, 2010. Our group has already trained for 25 weeks but for those that have survived this far, execution and consistency are the keys to getting to the start line and having a great race. With that in mind here are some final tips to refine and get the most out of your weekly long run. These tips would work for anyone who is training for a marathon or half marathon, especially those who are about 2 months away from their goal race.

ake A Hot Shower Before Your Long Run
Allow enough time in the morning to jump in the shower and rinse off with a nice hot shower. This helps loosen and wake up your muscles before you ask them to perform. Treat Each Long Run Like A Simulated Marathon or Half Marathon
These final weeks are your final chances to practice what you will do on marathon day. How you perform on race day has as much to do with the small things as it does all of the physical training. Go to bed early and lay out your clothes the night before. Get up at the same time you would for the marathon. Practice eating a pre race breakfast. You get the picture here.
If You Are Going To Try New Things Now Is The Time
If you have not experimented enough with what carb snack works best for you during a long run do it now! Don't wait til race day. Go to your local running store and buy a selection of things to try out over the final weeks and stick with what works and feels best with your system.
Is It Time For Some New Shoes?
If you have logged more than 300 miles on your running shoes they may be spent. Another sign that your shoes are on their last legs are experiencing knee or heel pain that you have not had before. This is a sign that the cushioning in your shoes has worn down. I like buying a pair of shoes 9 -12 weeks before my race so I have some fresh shoes to tackle my longest long run in the 18 - 22 mile range. Then I would buy a second pair to break in a 1-2 weeks before your race as your official race pair. When you finish your race you will have 2 pairs to alternate in the off season when your mileage goes down which will make both pairs last longer.
Don't Mess Around At Fluid Stops - Keep Moving Forward
Get more serious about keeping your body moving forward during long runs. Do not spend too much time standing around our chatting at fluid stops with your training partners. Stop, take down your fluids and move on even if you are walking first before you get back into your stride.
Are You Running Your Long Run Slow Enough?
I know this sounds like a stupid question but I spend 80% of my time on long runs reminding people to run relaxed and SLOW. Long runs are meant to build endurance and should not be run in oxygen debt. Running long runs too fast literally trains your body to slam into a wall on race day. Run slow and controlled on long runs and you train your body to use fat more efficiently as a fuel source. That is a good thing on race day and if you play your cards right and consistanly run slower on these endurance runs you may drop a few pounds of fat before race day. Just reminder that your body cannot utilize fat as a fuel source in the abscence of oxygen. If you can't hold a conversation with your fellow runners drop them and run with a slower pack.
Are You Training At Your Pace Or Somone Else's?
This goes hand in hand with my point above but at this stage in the game if you have done the training and some racing you should know your pace. If you are consistently running with someone who is way off your pace (too fast or too slow) you could be setting yourself up for failure on race day. Know your pace, practice your pace and execute your pace on race day. Don't run someone else pace or race for that matter.
Become A Morning Runner Over The Next Few Weeks
Last time I checked most marathons, with the exception of Boston, are run early in the day. So if you are doing your long runs our even your shorter mid week runs in the pm you may want to shift them to the am. This will get your body used to performing in the morning when your race will be run. Also the best time to run is right after your body has been horizontal all night because important muscles like the calves are not yet fatigued from everyday activities. Most will find that their bodies will perform much better in the am. Of course caffeine always helps.
Add Some Terrain To Your Training Runs
In H-town we are lacking in the hills department. When you get a chance mix in some mid week rolling hill workouts by shifting your workouts from the flat Memorial Park loop to the trails of Allen Parkway. Freelance and add your own hills by randomly running off trail on grassy surfaces where it is safe to do so. You will be amazed how this will improve your pacing.
Ladies - Stick With Flats & Please No Pedicures!
Every year we have a running foot catastrophe when I get a report of one of our female runners whose foot is riddled with blisters following a pedicure. A pedicure will strip all of the foot calus you build up from solid training. Get used to it ladies your feet will not be as pretty if you become a long distance runner. Save the pedicure for after the big race. Other than that minimize the use of high heels and wear flats every chance you get!
Minimize Extracurriculum Sports
If you plan on finishing a marathon and doing well that must be your primary sport. Minimize playing other sports, pick up games etc because with all of the running you are doing this increases your risk of injury dramatically. Save the tennis, pick up basketball games etc. for after race day. No one wants and ankle sprain just weeks away from race day.
Book A Massage!
If you have not figured it out yet every distance runner should find a massage therapist. The mileage will take its toll on anyone and you want to work out the kinks, sore spots and problem areas during your training season before they become larger problems. Stick with a set weekly, monthly massage schedule you can afford. Also book your pre or post marathon massage now before you therapist gets booked up.
Fine Tune Your Training With Metabolic & VO2 Max Testing
If you really want some good data on heart rate and pacing book a metabolic test. There are two major types of testing. A RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate determines metabolism level and how may calories per day you need to fuel your life, workouts and weight goals. The Anearobic Threshold (AT) and VO2 Max test is performed on a treadmill and deteremines heart rate at which your body becomes anearobic or lacks adequate oxygen to perform well. Determining your true heart rate zones allow you to run a pace that will not get you in trouble or hit the wall.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get Ready To Be Inspired
"The Spirit Of The Marathon" Movie Explains The Madness & Excitement
That Is The Marathon

One Inspiring Movie That Will Stir Your Soul Thanks to one of last year's In Flight runner, Julie Vu, my soul was stirred by the sport of running once again this morning as she shared something on FaceBook which I had forgotten about. I hit the link to view this movie for free on this morning thinking I would just check out a few minutes. One hour and 42 minutes later the credits were rolling and I was feeling all tingley inside.This 2007 movie, "Spirit of the Marathon", chronicles the story of 2 elite marathoners and 5 ordinary people on their journey to the finish line of the 2006 Chicago Marathon. The movie captures the training leading up to the marathon and marathon day for world class runners American Deena Castor and Kenyan Daniel Njenga and 5 Chicago residents who accept this challenge head on. This documentary is full of interviews of marathon legends and pioneers like Frank Shorter, Paula Radcliffe and Bill Rodgers who breathe life into an event that is now run by over one million Americans each year. The movie also does a great job of explaining the history of the marathon and how it has evolved into one of the most popular athletic events in the world. "Spirit of the Marathon" will knock your socks off and get you out the door for your next training run with a quicker step in your stride. We all start this marathon journey for our own reason and the movie illustrates this in a big way. As a marathon coach I have seen this story unfold many times over as average runners train their hearts out, go the distance and accomplish what they thought was not possible. As I was watching this movie the faces of the hundreds I have coached and trained over the years flashed through my memory, especially those who thought this marathon was not a big deal until they crossed the finish line in tears. Every minute of this movie reminded me why I love coaching runners and how 26.2 or 13.1 are concrete numbers that change people's lives. It reminded me why we all sacrifice sleep, time away from our families and other things in life to rise before the sun and knock down the needed miles. There is no other experience in the world that comes close to finishing a marathon or half marathon whether it is your first or your 20th. This movie gives the marathon the respect it truly deserves and captures all of the human drama and emotion behind it. Watch this if this is your first marathon. Watch this if it is you 10th. Watch this if you want to be inspired and see the glory that lies ahead if you stick to the training and make the sacrifices along the way. Watch this if you are starting to feel like you want to throw in the towel. Just watch it OK? If running is in your blood I know you will love it. Hit the link above to view it for free at You will be glad you did.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More 5K Fine Tuning Tips

I love running and coaching runners but honestly one of my least favorite things is running short distance races like 5Ks. Why? Because they are painful, don't give you too much room for error and are over in the blink of an eye compared to a marathon. I know it sounds crazy but give me a half marathon or marathon to run any day. Longer races allow you much more opportunities to screw up but make the necessary adjustments along the way to redeem yourself in the end.

But you have to crawl before you walk, walk before you run and run 5Ks before you tackle marathons and half marathons. As a running coach I believe that racing is essential for building better runners. In a previous post I offered up some tips on Getting The Most Out Of Your Next 5K. After running a 5K the weekend after I wrote that post I realized I forgot a few things as I was rewinding how the race played out in my head. So here are a few more tips to help you reach that next PR. And remember, every race is a learning experience. So review your race in your head and set your mind on what you need to do the next time you hit the streets.

More 5K Fine Tuning Tips Everyone wants to run faster or destroy that old 5K time. Here are a few more tips that may help you get a new PR (personal record) at your next race:

Invest In Some Racing Shoes - They Make A Difference! I have raced for years and never tried running in racing shoes until my last 5K on July 4th. Racing shoes, sometimes called racing flats, are light weight running shoes with very little cushioning. These babies are built for speed and short distance racing and most shoe manufacturers carry a few models. Go to a running specialty store like Fleet Feet to find them as most sporting goods stores don't carry them. They are a little pricey with most selling for $100 plus retail but well worth it. Only use them for race days and you will get your money's worth. I highly recommend my racing shoe, the Brooks Racet ST 4.

Pull Back The Reigns & Smooth Your Pacing Out One thing we try to instill in our runners is being very aware of their pacing whether it is a trying run or it really counts on the race course. We don't coach negative splits (running the second half of a training run or race faster than the first). For beginner runners negative splits are a great way to blow up before you hit the finish line. If you can become a human stop watch as a runner and internally know your pace you will go far. Set a pace goal in your mind and try to nail it for miles 1 and 2. If you feel good, somewhat controlled breathing then build pace during mile 3. If your tank still has gas in it gun it at the end and take out a few runners ahead of you.

Did You Go Out Too Fast Or Too Slow The Last Time? As I mentioned above most people let adrenalin sabotage their running by running way too fast out of the blocks. Take a look at your pacing from the last race, have a realistic goal and try to start with goal pace. If you had a lot left after the last race you may want to go out a little more agressive and see if you can hold it

Communicate With & Thank Water Station Volunteers Your water stop strategy can be just as important as your pacing strategy regardless of the race distance. Many times the race brocure will not tell you how many water stops are available and when they are available. So before you pass up fluids at the first water stop always ask a volunteer what is ahead. That may be your only chance to take down fluids so you don't want to pass it up if it is the only water stop. Also always thank volunteers for coming out and helping. With volunteers most of us would be toast during a 5K race.

Adjust For The Weather - It Will Affect Performance Big Time If the weather is extremely hot, extremely cold or extremely windy don't expect a PR. Your pace may suffer and you have to bring down pacing to adjust or extreme weather will beat you in the end. On hot days which we have more of in Houston runners should make a point of hydrating as soon as they get up out of bed. Also if it is hot take down water at least once. Slower runners who are on the course longer should probably take down water every chance they get. A cup of water poured over your head in hot weather may also be good idea.

Use The 30 Second Countdown When Things Get Rough I learned this great tip from my run coaching business partner, Duval Ruiz, years ago and it still works like a charm. When the race gets tough and you have to press on break up the race in 30 second chunks but counting in 30 second intervals in your head. Count one one thousand, two one thousand, etc. until you hit 30. Then reset and count out another set of 30. You will be amazed how this will take your mind off the race or the pain you are enduring at the end. This is a great tool to keep moving forward when you would normally slow down or throw in the towel.

Now go out there and bust it! Hope your next race is a personal best.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

For Those About To Rock
Dallas Adds Rock n Roll Half
My Rock n Roll Marathon Memories

Just when you thought the addition of last year's inagural San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon & Half Marathon was enough to jumpstart your engine here comes Big D with a Rock n Roll race of their own. Competitor Group, organizers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, and the Dallas White Rock Marathon have announced a multi-year partnership agreement to host an annual spring half marathon. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon is set for Sunday, March 14, 2010 and is expected to draw between 12,000 and 15,000 runners. Click here for the full press release. Registration will soon be accepted on-line for the latest Rock n Roll offering while Houstonians continue to impatiently wait for registration to open on July 17th for our local Houston Marathon & Half Marathon. I love our local race but am kinda jealous that the other two Texas cities beat us to the Rock n Roll punch. If you have ever run a Rock n Roll race you know what a great experience it can be. If you have not run one I highly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

My Rock n Roll Marathon Memories
I have run two Rock n Roll races. My first was a road trip I put together for a dozen or so friends which landed us at the June 2001 San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. On September 2, 2001 after I ran the inaugural Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Marathon I was thrilled to have the chance to meet 1972 USA Olympic Gold medalist Frank Shorter. Frank was the last American to win a gold medal in the Olympics during the Munich games with a time of 2:10:30. I had traveled to Virginia Beach with a training partner of mine, Rusty Krause, who worked for Conoco during the 90s when Frank was brought to Houston annually as master of ceremonies for the Houston Conoco Rodeo Run 10K . This connection landed us in front of the swimming pool after our post race buffet talking to Shorter. He had just finished a run on the board walk and was thrilled to be running after completing a successful back surgery. At the time, Mr. Shorter was heavily involved with Elite Racing and shared his vision of a Rock n Roll race in every state in the country. Not a reality yet but with the addition of the new Dallas Rock n Roll Half they are off to a great start with a total of 11 Rock n Roll races in 9 States.

Along with the long distance running scene our conversation turned towards training techniques that Frank used in the 60s and 70s, the recent Kenyan dominance in long distance running and the problem posed by drug doping in pro sports. Frank's shared his passion for helping to create stricter and more standardized drug testing at every level of amatuer, pro and Olympic sports. That was one pool side running chat I will never forget and the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet a running legend. Before he left Frank kindly gave us his back stage laminants to the after race concert with the Counting Crows. We successfully scammed our way backstage, shares some drinks with the top few Kenyan runners (pictured above) and wormed our way to the first few rows of the concert. Rock, running, racing and meeting an Olympic legend made that summer of 2001 one of the best ever! Rock On!

In Flight & KSBJ Announce Contest Winners

Over the past couple of weeks In Flight Running and KSBJ 89.3 FM Houston partnered up and offered 5 complete training packages. Contestants submitted a short essay on why they deserved free training to prepare for a marathon or half marathon. After sorting through tons of entries we narrowed it down to 5 lucky listeners. Congratulations go out to our winners Amber Raley, Courtney LaFon, Eden Rule, Keith Otto and Kelly Crutchfield.

Each winner will recieve a free 35 week group run coaching package from In Flight Running, $100 gift card from Fleet Feet Houston and a moisture transfer running shirt from Brooks shoes.

These gutsy winners now embark on their journey to the finish line (no pressure). For more info on our winners check out the KSBJ Marathon Team Blog. We will be updating you on their progress on the KSBJ Marathon Team Blog and In Flight Running Blog throughout our 2009-10 training season.

Thanks to KSBJ 89.3 Houston Christian Radio, Fleet Feet Houston running stores and Brooks shoes for one great contest and the beginning of another great season of running in Houston.