Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marathon Training Programs

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is on October 13, 2013, and one of the official sponsors is Nike. As part of their sponsorship, the coaches at Nike have put together three different training programs that you can download to get you to the finish line in Grant Park on race day. The schedules range from 18 weeks for novice runners looking to complete their first full, to 15 week programs where intermediate runners can set a new PR or advanced runners can run with the best athletes in the sport.

Having run Chicago three times, I know first hand what a premiere road race this marathon is. While I'm not a certified coach, upon first glance, these plans provide a solid foundation for runners to hit their marathon goals. I know for sure I'm going to be using a modified version of the "PR Plan" when I'm training for my local fall races. However, what's even cooler is that while some large races charge for this training benefit, these plans are FREE! Check them out at the above links, or CLICK HERE for the official Chicago Marathon training page. Even if you didn't commit to the already sold out Bank of America Chicago Marathon, these plans could easily be adapted for your fall/winter race schedule!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Armadillo Dash Trail Run 5K: The 2013 Recap

As a runner in New Orleans, it's not summer until you’ve had a post-run snowball, killed an iPod with sweat, or run a trail race through the Bonnet CarrĂ© Spillway. This summer, runners have the opportunity to run the path through the trees twice, thanks to two races taking place on the site twenty minutes outside of New Orleans in Norco, Louisiana. The first of these two races occurred this past Saturday morning with the Armadillo Dash Trail Run 5K, a race that’s part of the NOLA Trail Run Series.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Spirit of the Marathon II : A Review

There’s no question that running a marathon is a journey. No, I’m not just talking about the 26.2 miles that it takes to get from the start line to the finish. There’s the training that goes in to being able to complete the feat, the emotional and mental evolution that a runner goes through to undertake such an endeavor, and in some cases a trip to get to the destination where the race is being held. These journeys are all chronicled in the new documentary “Spirit of the Marathon II,” which I had the opportunity to see at a screening last week with my friend Katherine.

As in the first “Spirit of the Marathon” movie, viewers get to experience training for and competing in a marathon through the eyes of a runner. With this installment, viewers are transported to Europe to partake in the marathon of Rome. Each of the seven subjects up for inspection come from various skill levels and have distinct marathon goals. Interspersed with segments on the history of the marathon and gorgeous views of the Italian capital, the competitors share their stories about why they are undertaking the marathon. For some it is a first attempt at a marathon; for others, this race is a qualifying event to be a part of a 2012 Olympic team. The common denominator between them unfolds as you witness the challenges and unforeseen circumstances that come between the competitors on their journey. The moral of the story inevitably is that this undertaking is not without risk no matter how experienced of a runner you are, but the ultimate reward is worth the pain.

Regardless of the runner, viewers quickly become invested in each. Cheering them on as they approach the finish line of their journey is inevitable, and something that can be appreciated by runners and non-runners alike. Katherine and I agreed that it is a perfect homage to the sport, and better explains the motivation behind why runners do what they do. The “Spirit of the Marathon II” screening was part of a one night special event, and was the exclusive chance to see it on the big screen; however, if the first installment is any indication, the documentary will be available on DVD and through various in-home streaming options in the near future. Runners could definitely use this as a last minute reminder of what they are about to accomplish, and non-runners could use this as motivation to consider a lifestyle change to be one of “those guys.” For both groups, this is great insight in to what a tight knit community is all about.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run: The 2013 Recap

Thanks to a quick search on Wikipedia, I now know that Gephyrophobia is anxiety brought about by the fear of bridges. I’m personally not sure if it’s a specific phobia brought on by a fear of height, fear of water, or a fear of going over the side, but I’m certain that I’ve known people who suffer from it hardcore. These people, my mother included, avoid bridges like the plague and find alternate routes to get where they need to go. After this past Sunday’s Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run 5K, there’s no question that a fair number of people in the New Orleans area have a clean bill of mental health, at least when it comes to Gephyrophobia.

Monday, June 10, 2013

CCC Bridge Run: The 2013 Recap

There are a few iconic symbols that define the New Orleans skyline. Obviously the Mercedes Benz Louisiana Superdome is the first structure that comes to mind, but a close second are the unmistakable double arches of the Crescent City Connection Bridge that span the Mighty Mississippi. This is the site that annually hosts the mid-summer CCC Bridge Run four miler that occurred the evening of Saturday, June 8th.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Up For the Challenge

On a recent race re-cap covering two halves that I completed in December, reader Nicole questioned training for back-to-back races. With the rise of "challenge weekends" that are being introduced to running events across the country, this question is being posed more frequently. The team at runDisney has single handedly put terms like "Dumbo Double Dare" and "Dopey Challenge" on the tip of the tongue of many a runner; but in my opinion,  the training plans they provide to get in shape to complete the races give only half the story on how to prepare.

Please note that I never claimed to be an expert on any subject when it comes to training, because everything I say comes from experiences leading up to my own endurance events. I have no medical training outside of a couple misguided semesters of pre-med courses in college, and I have no license to officially coach anyone on their road to racing. That being said, the experience of running multiple distance events on the same weekend or on consecutive weekends speaks volumes on what I think universally works for runners.

Nicole is planning on running the Louisiana Half Marathon in Baton Rouge in late January, and turning around to run the Rock'n'Roll New Orleans Half Marathon two weeks later in early February. What many training plans lead runners to believe is that training with decent mileage on consecutive days is key in preparation. I agree that this is true for building the stamina and endurance, but even more importantly it conditions a runner to innately know what their body feels like and what its capable of. Only you can tell how you feel on any given race morning and how far you can push yourself. Mentally preparing for back-to-back races is the piece of the puzzle many training plans lack.

If you want to go by the book and follow a training plan for back-to-back races, renowned running coach Jeff Galloway has put together a plan for runners of the Dumbo Double Dare 10K / Half Marathon in September. You can check out that plan HERE to adapt for the events you want to run. For me, as I do with most of my back-to-back ventures, I'm continuing my marathon training plan. Knowing that the miles I will put in training for fall full marathons will be sufficient to get me through Dumbo is comforting, and not varying from a plan that gets me to my ultimate goal is going to be the method I stick to.

With four Goofy Challenges under my fuel belt, I know that I may have to sacrifice some performance expectations to achieve much broader and realistic goals. Regardless of how much you train, your body can withstand only so much. You're not going to PR at every race. Running multiple events close together while remaining healthy is possible, and should be what you most want to achieve. Remember, these challenges are meant to be enjoyable and personal.  Prevent injury. Race to see another day. And most importantly, have fun. Finishing is a win, regardless of what the clock says.