TROT Guest Blog

How to find motivation to train daily?

The Hot Hairy Breath of Motivation

Guest Blogger: Rachel Adamson

As an endurance running enthusiast, I’m frequently asked a laundry list of questions. However, the questions always tend to circle back to one topic. Motivation.

“How do you find the motivation to put in your training?”

Well, folks, I’m no expert, and I’m certainly not an elite, but I can attest to one thing. Brushing my teeth. Yes, ma’am (or sir), it’s really that simple. And we all do it. Frequently. We brush our teeth daily, because we want to have healthy gums and teeth. We certainly don’t want to knock down people we meet throughout the day because we’ve been slaying dragons with our bare teeth. No?

Same principle applies when pursuing endurance goals. You wake up, you do the work. You set goals. You set big, huge, fantastic, and sometimes even—scary goals. And then you do the work. Every day. Granted, we all have days when we roll out of bed, drink that first cup (or pot, don’t judge me) of coffee, and just don’t want to, and that’s completely normal. Everyone has those days. I even hear rumor that the elites sometimes feel this way (probably only a fraction of the times I do, but still).

But, guess what? You still get up and brush your teeth, right? So why not go ahead and slay that workout. Because the secret is-- doing it anyway IS motivation. It might not feel like it at the time, but that’s exactly what it is. Being consistent is motivation. You do it because you don’t want to show up on race day and find you’ve knocked yourself over from a lack of training. You do it because all of those workouts you’ve got on your schedule will ultimately culminate into a strategically planned race in which you do just as well as you’ve trained.

Now, with everything said about doing it anyway, let me be very clear: I’m not saying ignore injury and power through your workouts only to ultimately make things worse and then set your training back a few weeks. That’s stupid. That’d be like brushing your teeth for an hour straight and then whining that your gums are bleeding and your mouth is raw. Don’t be stupid. Don’t brush your teeth for a solid hour either.

How does one stay motivated? Simply by doing the work. Motivation isn’t some unseeable unicorn that exists in the outer limits of this universe. It is the daily grind. It is getting up when you’re knocked down. It is finishing that race despite being hours behind your goal time and then finishing DFL. It is every little workout that you finish in order to make those goals happen. Motivation is the daily grind. It is showing up and being accountable to yourself every single day.

As for brushing my teeth, that’s a labor I do simply because I love my trail running family; that or they would all grow exceedingly tired of being chased down by my hot, hairy breath.

Now, go be motivated, and don’t forget to brush your teeth.

Why trail run and what should I know before a trail race?

 

Guest Blogger: Marc Henn

 

Most runners don’t normally  start off as trail runners.  In fact, there are a lot of road runners that are actually kind of scared to try trail running because they insist that they are more likely to hurt themselves on the trail.  Sure there are roots, rocks, and other obstacles but the reality is people don’t fall or twist their ankles all that often and you are more likely to sustain injury road running vs trail running.  How can that be?  The answer is the repetitive motion of road running is far more likely to causes an overuse injury.  Even worse, statistically, you are more likely to get injured on a treadmill or track because of overuse injury.

 

Our bodies were made to walk and run on the uneven surface.  There are lots of different stabilizer muscles that often don’t get used or atrophy when you run in a straight line on even surfaces which then make you prone to imbalances and then injury.  So don’t be afraid to unlock your inner primal beast and go for a trail run. 

 

OK…so now you are running trails and maybe you want to try your hand at a trail run or even an ultra?  Awesome!  You will find the trail racing experience different than the road racing experience.  Sure trail runners can be just as competitive as road runners but on the trail, you’ll find that it’s also about the overall experience of being in nature and seeing the beautiful surroundings. 

 

So what should you know really?  Well first off, don’t be intimidated at all.  Trail runners are like one big family and really look out for each other.  So ask lots of questions…I’ve never found a trail runner….or runner in general for that matter that doesn’t like talking about running and if you ask them a question they will be more than happy to talk to you.  Here are some other tips:

 

·         Do your research before a race. Yes…you know all those emails and race documents that the race director takes the time to put together, list on their websites, and email you…yeah go ahead and read all of it.  Look at the course map…figure out where the aid stations will be and what will be on them.  Also, keep in mind trails are not like roads so weather can have an impact causing an RD to change the route or other details of the race so stay informed and watch for updates.  You spend hours and hours training spend an hour researching the race you want to run.

·         Bring your own hydration system.  Depending on the race you may want to use a handheld, hydration pack, or a belt of some sort.  What you use is a personal choice.  Unlike road races where you might have an aid station or water stop every mile, mile and a half or so in trail races it’s pretty common to go 4 or 5 miles between aid stations….sometimes shorter and sometimes much longer depending on many factors.  Some races are held in remote areas where it’s very difficult to set up aid stations.  In addition, some like all Trail Racing Over Texas races are cupless so you have to have your own water container.

·         Don’t litter!  In a road race, runners will run by aid stations, grab a cup, take a drink, and throw it on the side of the road.  No…not so in trail races, in fact, littering can be grounds for getting a DQ in many trail races and in my opinion rightly so.  If you see something on the ground it’s also not a bad idea to pick it up even if you didn’t drop it. 

·         Don’t complain!  Every race will have it’s adversities and that challenge is actually what you seek.   As they say….Embrace the suck!  Races where really bad weather or conditions make for better stories.

·         Take care of yourself and your fellow trail runners.  Not everything always goes right for a runner in a race.  Remember on the trail you could be in a spot that is remote so if you are not feeling well, in bad shape, injured, etc….let someone know.  No race is worth long term injury much less getting into a life threating situation.  Scared…don’t be it’s unlikely to happen but so is getting into a car wreck but we still wear seat belts.  If you’re running along and find someone else who is in bad shape offer aid…again your race isn’t more important than the overall wellbeing of another person.   Most of the time people don’t need much and just need to take a breather but, if appropriate, you may need to go ahead to the next aid station and alert a volunteer.  Get the runners name and bib number so the volunteer can alert the RD in able for them to help the runner.

·         Volunteer!  To me when I run a race it’s my day…it’s about reaching my own goal and facing my own challenge.  Clearly that is very rewarding but it’s taking.  There is nothing wrong with taking but every now and then try to give back by volunteering.  The reward of volunteering and helping others reach their goals is also very gratifying and fulfilling but obviously in a different way.   Some RDs offer nice rewards to volunteers like t-shirts and discount to future races which is a very nice perk.

Clearly these tips are not exhausted, I could go on and on, but hopefully it’s a starting point.  If you’d like to dip your toe in and run a trail race then just do it.  You’ll soon find yourself hooked on trails!

Hard Earned Heat Training Tips

Hard-earned heat training tips

Guest Blogger: Julie Koepke

Almost four years ago, I loaded up my car in Minnesota and drove about as far south down I-35 as I possibly could, down to San Antonio.  One big reason I moved from MN is that I can't stand cold weather; I'd much rather run in heat, and since moving, I've enjoyed running the Capt'n Karls 60k night series every summer, and even managed to get through the Habanero Hundred 100 mile race last summer (race report here).

Ever since my first run here, on a 100-degree day, I've picked up a lot of ideas about running in heat -- mostly from doing things very, very wrong and learning from my mistakes.  As we head into the summer, a few folks have been asking me for tips on surviving Habanero Hundred or other hot races, so I figured I'd share what I've learned.

Caution: I'm not a doctor, or even that smart.  Everything I write here is simply picked up from my experiences racing in Texas summer heat. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to others, but don't blame me if it doesn't work for you!

 Here's what I've learned works for me to successfully run in heat:

  • Ice, ice, and more ice!
    • During summer races, I take a few moments at aid stations to request a scoop of ice down my shirt.  Then, as I continue running, I steal some cubes from my bra to put in my hat and mouth, or rub on my face.  On a 96-degree night during a 60k, this feels amazing!
    • I'm also excited to try my new insulated water bottle from Nathan.  It's supposed to keep ice and liquids cooler 20% longer than other insulated bottles.  Ice-cold water tastes so good during a hot race!
  • Apparel designed for heat:
    • Ice bandana -- I use one from zombierunner, which is designed specifically to hold ice close to your neck.  It's the best!
    • Cooling towel -- you know, the ones where you get it wet and it's supposed to stay cold and wet for a long time?  I don't use one of these anymore.  I made a huge mistake at a Capt'n Karls race one year; I had this great idea of cutting a head-sized hole in one of these and wearing it for the race.  I thought it would keep me cool while I ran.  It ended up being the worst -- I felt like I was running with a hot, heavy poncho, and I was stuck with it until the end of the loop.  I think I threw it away after that disaster.
    • My friend Rich also has a hat with a zipper pocket on top to store ice in your hat, which he purchased from zombierunner.com.  I haven't tried this, mostly because I think I look weird enough with my awkward running form, and wearing a zippered hat would only strengthen the impression.  But this is trail running, not a photo shoot, right?
    • Cooling arm sleeves -- I use Columbia brand sleeves.  They seem to work well.  In the film This is Your Day, Rob Krar is shown stuffing ice cubes in his cooling arm sleeves while slaying the Western States course.  I haven't tried this technique yet, but I look forward to trying it out this summer.
    • Of course, wearing a hat and sunscreen is helpful too.  Reapply the sunscreen often!  At Habanero, I was so dazed that I forgot to put my hat and sunscreen on for the first daylight loop of Day 2, and I fried a little bit.  Thank goodness for Rob, the race director, who gave me his own hat!  So it's probably a good idea to make a "cheat sheet" for yourself for a long race like that, with a reminder of what to take with you for certain loops.
  • Training
    • Since I am training for hot races, I try to make it a point to train in the heat.  Instead of only running in the morning when it's cooler, I'll go for runs at lunch time, in the afternoon, or in the evening, when the temperature drops a bit, but the humidity kicks up. 
    • I also enjoy hot yoga, and I hope this helps with acclimating to the heat.  I sure sweat a lot, anyway.
  • Salt and electrolytes
    • I know a lot of runners swear by s-caps and e-caps, but I never take these.  If I'm feeling like I want salt, then I eat something salty at an aid station.  It's advice I got from Liza Howard, and she's never steered me wrong yet.  
    • Ever since Habanero, when Rob and Rachel tried to bring me back to life with Pedialyte, I've kept a bottle in my Victory Sportdesign bag at all times.  During hot races, I take a gulp whenever I reach my drop bag.  There's nothing scientific about how I use it, it just makes me feel better.  However, I've recently started using Tailwind again, which has electrolytes, so I feel less dependent on Pedialyte now.
  • Chafing prevention
    • When it's humid, chafing can be really bad.  (Again, read my Habanero report!)  I used to use Vasoline as a preventative method, but for my last half a dozen ultras, I've used Trail Toes tape instead.  I apply it anywhere I usually have chafing, and it sticks really well for the entire race -- even up to 100 miles.
    • I also keep a small jar of Trail Toes cream in the pocket of my hydration vest, just in case of emergency.
    • My year-round anti-blister tip is to wear two pairs of thin socks.  My friend Edward gave me that tip a few years ago, and I haven't had a blister since.
  • Hydration
    • One thing I think I did really well at Habanero was my fluid intake.  I used the Liza Howard/Tim Noakes rule of simply "drinking to thirst."  I kept looking at my fingers to see if they were swelling up, which might be a sign of hyponatremia.  Every loop, when I weighed in with medical as required, my weight was right on the dot, the same.  To me, and the medical staff, this indicated I wasn't getting dehydrated or retaining too much water.  I always think of Liza's tip: if plain water sounds good to you, then you are thirsty, and you should drink more.  If plain water doesn't sound good, you don't need it; don't force your body to drink it.

Well, I think those are the only hot tips I've learned in these four years.  I'm sure I will continually be adding to this list, as we all learn something from every race and every long training run.  Thanks for reading!  May your post-run beverages be icy, and your body chafe-less!  Hope to see you this August at the Habanero Hundred!

 

Read more of Julie's blog posts at http://runningasprayer.blogspot.com/ 

How to Run ALL the Races - Frequently Racing Marathons and Ultras

Daniel Bucci 

Team Trot Guest Blogger

Take one look at the TROT race calendar, how can you not be excited?!?  If you want to run them all and are wondering how your body can handle that, then I have some tips for you.  Frequent racing is a topic that is near and dear to me.  Over the last few years I have become the addict, the guy that runs more weekends than not.  In 2015 I managed to race 27 weekends out of the year, and 19 of those weekends were marathons or ultras.  In 2016 I'm going for 25-30 marathons/ultras.  So, here are my thoughts and tips on how to get your body ready to run ALL the races.

1.  Build a Strong Base - This is number one because it is the most important tip.  I spent a solid year building a base for my return to racing at the 2013 Houston Marathon.  In early 2012, after a nearly 2 year break from marathon running, I decided to go for a BQ in Houston in 2013.  My body had not raced in a long time, and I knew I would need to slowly build up the miles.  I began a program in the spring that had me slowly build-up my long run distance, however this was not a traditional marathon training plan (where you peak with a 20 mile long run once or twice).  When I say build a strong base I'm basically saying get your body used to running long distances frequently.  This requires slow, steady and methodical running.  You have to get your body where the point where a 20 mile training run at long run pace feels normal and requires little recovery afterward.  Do this enough times, and your body will eventually adapt.  I've found that if you can run 20+ mile long runs for back-to-back weeks for a few months straight, you are likely ready to attempt a more frequent racing schedule.

2. Ease Into It - Running 20 marathons/ultras in a year did not happen overnight.  It was a slow steady effort.  In 2013 I ran 4 marathons (Jan, March, May, November).  In 2014 I ran 9 marathons (Jan, Feb, March, April, July, October, November, December) and last year was 15 marathons and 5 ultras (ran at least one in every month except June).  It took some practice and experimentation on how best to recover.  As you race more, your body adapts and you notice faster recovery.  The important thing is to not go from running one or two marathons or ultras a year to running 20.  While I have seen this work for some people, in general people who try this rapid increase end up with some type of injury and end up sidelined for an extended period.

3. Do Some Cross Training - Cross training is an important part of maintaining your body's flexibility and strength.  Cross training does not need to be intense.  I do some simple stretching and strength exercises 4-5 times per week for 10-20 minutes.  It's nothing special, but it keeps core muscles strong and flexible.  

4. Don't Race All the Races - While I run a number of races to compete or go for PRs, some races are run either for fun or as slightly harder effort training runs.  The best way to get used to racing is to practice racing at races.  Using races as training runs offers an awesome opportunity to practice fueling strategies and have supported runs to test out different strategies for PR attempts or attempts at longer distances.  For example, I used a 3:15 marathon pacing gig at the Grand Lake Marathon in Ohio as a final hard paced long run 2 weeks before a PR attempt in Chicago.  As it had been over 3 months since my last road marathon, this practice race was a test run of Chicago race day (on a very similar flat course).  The 3:15 pace ended up feeling like an easy effort run and was a huge confidence builder that got me mentally ready to PR in Chicago (and I did PR running a 2:52).  Recently I used a 50k to test fueling strategies and pacing for an upcoming 50 miler.  Using races for fun and/or training gets you used to getting up early and going through the race routine and help to ease race day jitters when the goal race does come around.

5. Listen to Your Body - Running frequent marathons and ultras requires a certain level of discipline of knowing when enough is enough.  There will be days when your body says no and you need to listen to it and rest.  There are times when I feel really good and can continue to push the training hard, and there are times where my body needs rest and I simply do some easy short runs, or take multiple days off.  When you frequently race, you will find your body does not lose fitness very fast, and you can afford to take some time off from hard training.  Most important thing is to rest when you feel you need rest.  No single day of training is worth sacrificing the greater goal.  Because of this I follow a generally unstructured training plan, and only work in a hard training day when I feel I can handle it.  Other than getting long runs in on a weekend, I'm pretty flexile on what days I do speed work, etc.  Each recovery from each race is different, after some races I feel great and can run hard a few days later.  Some races require more time.  The important thing is to listen to the body, and pay attention to the warning sings of injury of excessive fatigue.  Rest is not a four letter word, it is necessary.

6. Most of Your Runs Should Be Easy - Aside from races, I do 1 or 2 other hard training runs per month.  On weekends when I don't race, I do an easy to moderate pace long run, at a pace and distance that does not leave me feeling drained.  During the week, most of my running is done at 1:00 to 1:30 above marathon goal pace and most runs are in the 5-6 mile range (nothing too long).  Once every two weeks or so I'll do a fast tempo run to maintain speed.  Basically, your races are most of your hard runs.  By doing mostly easy/moderate running during the week, you will allow your body much needed recovery while maintaining fitness.

7. Be Willing To Compromise - What I mean by this is that you may not reach your fullest potential.  For example, if you target to run only 1 or 2 marathons per year as your A races, and you do rigorous training for these 2 races, you will probably run a better time than you will if you run marathons every two weeks.  If you are going to race frequently you may not reach your fullest potential as you need to dedicate a lot more time to recovery.  It depends on what you want.  I enjoy racing, so I race a lot.  If you are after a particularly ambitious time goal - it may be better to train more and race less so you can stick to a more structured training plan.  The one item I dislike about frequent racing is that I have lost some structure to my training - but again - be willing to compromise.

8. It's OK to miss a race - If you don't feel it, don't race it.  The great thing about frequent racing is there is always something on your calendar.  If you are feeling ill, hurt, or just aren't up for racing that weekend, then it's probably best to rest.  While I don't DNS often - it is inevitable that you will at some point when you take on a frequent racing schedule.  Last year I DNS'd one race (personal reasons), this year I had to DNS a 50k because I had the flu.  Stuff comes up in life, don't feel guilty about a single DNS.

So that's it, those are my tips.  Like any advice I give about running - I'll give you my common disclaimers.  What I wrote above works for me, it may not work for everyone.  I am of the opinion that running is a very personal sport, and different people respond differently to training.  A routine that works for me, may not work for you.  I tried to keep these tips fairly generic for that very reason, and not get into specifics on details of the workouts or exercises that I do.  Like I said, my training is generally unstructured.  What I encourage you to do is slowly experiment.  You will find something that works for you.  It won't come without some growing pains, but with focus and decent training you can run ALL the races, while still setting PRs, running longer distances, and evolving into an all around better runner.  

10 TRICKS TO GET YOUR ASS OUT THE DOOR WHEN YOU'RE FEELING LAZY.

Guest Blogger: Pat Sweeney

I genuinely love to run I can’t remember ever regretting the decision to do so but sometimes it’s hard to get started. You may be in a funk and it’s easy to sit on your ass, so to combat your excuse to be lazyhere are a few ways to stay motivated and get your butt out the door.

1. THE BREAKFAST RUN (Follow your nose)

This one is for all you people living in the city or in suburbia.  I'm not much of a big breakfast person plus I don’t eat meat but I still love the smell of cooking bacon.  One of my favorite times to run is early morning on the weekend. Every home you pass provides opportunity for a different smell,  from waffles and Syrup to ham and eggs.  Let your nose be your guide.  Go smell the localcoffee shop,  the bakery or local diner and if you wanna stop to eat?  Go for it. Just make sure you are not to stuffed to run home afterwards.

2. Bird Watching    (ornithology)

Awhile back ago I got small chart of the local birds where I live.  There are about 25 different birds I see on regular basis.  A few years ago I even saw a Blue footed Booby. Little things can bring you great joy.  I watch the squadrons of pelicans sail by when a storm is coming and enjoy the awesome mohawks of the local terns.  Most of the birds where I live do not migrate but when I see the few that do returning in the fall it’s like seeing an old friend and that brings a big smile to my face.

3. Audiobooks

(Nobody has to know you are listening to “Fifty Shades of Grey” and not Dr.Dre)

When I know I need to get in miles and it doesn't matter how long it takes nothing beats a good a Audio Book.  If you got the bucks to spend Audible is pretty awesome and they offer a couple credits to first time subscribers. some of my favorites include Ready Player ONE, The Martian or guilty pleasures like Harry Potter, Twilight, or the Hunger Games series.If you are too poor to purchase from Audible try Librovox all their book are free and in the public domain.

 

4. Start a collection (Shovels are cool)

Last week I found 41 during shovels during one run (a New world record). if you follow my instagram (Bourbonfeet) you will see a lot of shovel pics   I repurpose the shovels as one of kind finisher amulets to races that I hold.  In 4 years I have given away over 500 of them.  The rest I give away to children. I never Imagined I would find such joy in shovel collecting.  If I wasn’t there to pick them up they would get thrown away or destroyed by the tractors that comb the beach leaving pieces of litter that gets washed out to sea. It’s pretty ridiculous, it’s stupid, it's silly and it is yet another thing that keeps me motivated. You never know what you are gonna find

 

5. Destination run (Earn your happy hour.)

 Run to your favorite bar or Restaurant or on the other side of town. If you hankering for some crappy food or beer you might as well burn some calories first. It’s also good practice for running in an Ultra since the longer you run the more you gotta eat. It’s probably a good idea to get at least 2 orders of guacamole so that you have enough energy to run back. .

6.Start a blog (You might get some groupies.)

 

Do people actually read this crap "HaHA!" Well you do, so maybe someone else does as well :)  Write about daily run, do gear reviews, (chances are you get some free stuff in the process) or write about that collection of crap started hoarding. It’s good outlet to be creative and even if your mom is your only reader she will be proud of her now famous running kin.

 

7.  Searchfor art. (It’s Everywhere)

 Art and inspiration can be found almost anywhere.  “Wake Up and Frolic” is pretty much my mantra for life. 

8. Learn to forage. (No need to carry gels anymore)

Just be careful where you pick you dandelions .I know of at least 20 different fruit trees in my town. Sometimes I will watch an avocado for weeks waiting for it to grow to maturity(exciting stuff I know)and if it hanging over into the public domain.  Well I consider it fair game.  There is so much to eat out on the trail you just got to know what to look for.  You can even make money at it if you know the right kind of mushrooms to collect. 

 

9. earnLay Away ewLay anguageLay.

Learn a New Language

(Spectacular is part of my vernacular) 

Although I have yet to grasp the english in my first 36 years of life .  I have started listening to some spanish lessons and well?  “Me Gusta!”

10.Get a fitness tracker

Some people love strava and that’s cool.  I just like to draw pictures with my gps (Too bad I lost that domain name Doh!)  Earlier this summer I found a fitbit on the beach and I actually really dig it. That reminds I gotta get some steps in.



Training Through An Injury

Training through an Injury

From Team Trot Runner and Gust Blogger Julie Koepke

Recently, I’ve been struggling with knee pain.  It began during a 100-mile race in October 2014, escalated to the point where I took an entire month off of running in March 2015, and then crept back again in October 2015.  I was able to run through it until I did a 50-miler in November; after that, the pain was so bad that sometimes I’d go for a run and only be able to make it a half a mile.  This was especially frustrating, as I had made the Bandera 100k USATF National Championships a goal race, and was really hoping to PR and get a top-10 place in the Championships.  Fortunately, I was able to do things – other than running, for the most part – during the month or so leading up to Bandera, which led me to reaching these goals after all.

Note that just as every person is different, so too I think every injury is different.  What works well for one person won’t necessarily work well for another.  Furthermore, what works well for one person with one injury might not work well for that same person the next time they’re faced with an injury.  However, I think there is value in sharing what has worked well for someone.  I know that I enjoy trying out various methods – especially when I’m desperate; and what injured runner doesn’t feel desperate at times?  Then I keep the things that I liked and discard the things that didn’t work well.  I hope my tips can be helpful in a similar way. 

Here are 3 things I did that I found helpful:

1.       Cross training

Not running is hard, and I admit that I’m not good at it.  Here is a screenshot of a few weeks of my training plan.  Notice how I should have been resting from running, but continued to stupidly aggravate the injury for weeks.

The following week, I wrote: “New plan: no running for a week.”   What a concept!  Stop doing the thing that hurts.  I continued doing cross-training activities that did not cause me knee pain, including hiking on the treadmill at maximum incline, hiking with a weight vest, swimming, strength training at the gym, yoga, and bicycling.  I also walked stairs on two separate days during this time.  On both days I did 90 flights; the second time, I wore a 20-pound weight vest.  I returned to running gradually, only when it no longer hurt at all to run, and beginning with barefoot running on a beach.  Since my goal race was January 9, this didn’t leave a lot of time for any runs at all, but at least I felt confident that I was in good shape aerobically and that I was strong from my cross-training.

2.       Reading an inspirational and useful book

During this time, I read Matt Fitzgerald’s book, How Bad Do You Want It?  In it, Fitzgerald shares the stories of certain elite athletes (runners, triathletes, and cyclists) who have cultivated mental toughness and “coping mechanisms” that have led to their successes in their sport, and suggests how the reader can be his or her own personal sports psychologist, trying out these tactics himself or herself.  Fitzgerald writes that no athlete can ever truly give 100% effort; we always hold something back.  The key is to try to push as close to that wall as possible.  He says that how far the wall is depends upon your physical ability, but how close you’re able to approach that wall depends upon mental toughness. According to Fitzgerald, an athlete coming back from injury might actually be able to perform just as well as an athlete in top physical condition if the injured athlete has greater mental toughness, and so is able to push further towards the limit.  I definitely reminded myself of this at various points throughout my race at Bandera. 

Some of the specific coping mechanisms Fitzgerald discusses felt especially powerful for me, especially the idea of “bracing yourself.”  Leading up to Bandera, I consciously “braced myself,” telling myself, “This is going to be hard.  There is going to be a lot of pain and suffering, because you are undertrained.  The knee pain will probably come back during the race.”  Fitzgerald says this strategy is effective because it lowers the perceived effort during the race.  Since I was already expecting pain, when it happened during the race, I was able to tell myself, “That’s no big deal, I knew that would happen.  I can push through it.”  I have to say, too, what really helped lower my perceived effort during this race was getting to run so much of it with my TROT teammate Matt, listening to music, and feeling gratitude – there were my effective coping mechanisms.

To me, there is benefit during a time of frustrating injury to reading any book that may inspire me to persevere through challenges. (Chrissy Wellington’s book, A Life Without Limits, and Haley Scott DeMaria’s book, What Though the Odds, are other go-to’s for me).

3.       Journaling

Last June, I started a routine of journaling before every race.  I found that this helped me sort out all my different emotions – of which I have many before a race – and eased my nervous tension, simply through identifying and acknowledging how I felt.  The night before Bandera, I did the same thing.  Here is an excerpt from my entry.  (Sorry that the writing is so messy – I was lying on my side in bed as I wrote it, not at all thinking that I might later decide to post it here for the world to see.)

The first emotion that came to mind was nervousness.  And I was right to be nervous: my body felt sore pretty early on, probably due to my lack of consistent running over the last few months.  My left knee hurt from about mile 10 on.  And running in general felt harder than it should.  But somehow having already processed this nervousness in my journaling made me calm during the race when these problems cropped up.  When something somewhat troubling happened, I’d think to myself, yep, that’s happening, but it’s okay – I expected that.  (I’m not showing the other part of my entry, where I wrote that I felt excited about the chocolate muffin I bought for my pre-race breakfast.  But it’s there.  J)

I tried other things, too, during this time, some of which were helpful, and some of which were not.  But these were the top 3 things I can look back on as directly leading me to achieving my race goals, despite not getting the amount and quality of training I would have hoped for.  I’d love to hear what has worked for you, too: what additional tips would you share?

Read more of Julie’s blogs at http://runningasprayer.blogspot.com/

Runner and Pacer Dialogue Decoded

RUNNER AND PACER DIALOGUE DECODED

Guest blog: Gia Madole

                Have you ever heard a runner and pacer talking, or been the pacer or runner, especially at the end of a hundo and wondered what they really meant? Following is an exclusive guide to decoding a pacer’s and a runner’s conversation.

At the Aid Station - Pacer Pick Up


Pacer “You look great, let me refill your water and we will get going.”

Translation – You look like crap. I’ve seen corpses look better than you!

Runner “Thanks, I’m just going to sit for a min.”

Translation – I feel like I am dying. Can you just shoot me and put me out of my misery?

Pacer “Ok we need to go now.”

Translation – Get your butt up, I’ve been waiting to run all day and you’re just sitting there.

Runner “Ok I am going.”

Translation – Are you sure you can’t just shoot me?


A little further down the trail

Pacer “Where would you like me to run?”

Translation – Please say in front, please say in front, I really want to run.

Runner “I don’t care, I guess in front.”

Translation – Maybe if you run in front I can hook a rope to you and you can drag me. That’s legal right?


A mile later….

Runner “Maybe…. run beside me?”

Translation – Are you freaking kidding me!! There is no way I can go that fast I can’t even feel my legs!!

Pacer “OK”

Translation – Can I get a cattle prod and run behind you then?

Runner “Sorry I am running so slowly.”

Translation – I really do feel bad you have to run so slow, but I really am happy you are here with me”

Pacer “Don’t worry this is a great pace. You have a lot of miles on your legs today”

Translation – This is horribly slow, my grandmother with a walker goes faster than this!

Pacer “I think the next girl is about an hour behind you.”

Translation – I know the next girl is 5+ hours behind but she is real competitive, maybe this will help?

Runner – No comment

Translation – S*@! Ok… I found a new gear.

Pacer – No comment

Translation - YES!!! We are running!

Runner “I have to puke.”

Translation – Good thing you are on the other side of me this is going everywhere.

Pacer “Maybe ginger ale at the next aid station will help?”

Translation – If you would learn to puke as you run it would really save time.

Runner “Do you see those eyes in the woods?”

Translation – Maybe whatever it is will come and snatch me and put me out of my misery.

Pacer – “What eyes? You’re imagining them. Oh that… it’s just a frog, keep moving.”

Translation – Yup there are about 20 sets of wild animal eyes staring at us. The plus side is I can run faster than you right now so you will be diner not me.

Runner “I really don’t care about a stupid buckle!”

Translation – I really do want that buckle but I also want to stop.

Pacer “Yes you do turn around and keep moving.”

Translation – I am out here all night to help you, you are getting that buckle even if I have to drag you across the finish line!

Runner “When did you turn into the Devil!”

Translation – I hate you, I love you, I hate you, I love you!

Pacer – No comment, laughing inside.

Translation – You think I am the devil now, just wait if you don’t keep moving you will see the real devil come out.

Pacer “We are getting close only a few more miles.”

Translation – Well technically a few can be rounded up so technically 8 miles can be called a few

Runner “Ok”

Translation – Maybe I will survive.


A guy runner passes

Runner “Crap”

Translation – Double crap how is he running so fast! Oh, I just found another gear; no way is another runner going to pass me.  

Pacer – No comment

Translation – YES!! And we are now running!!

Runner “This pace isn’t so bad, why was I not running like this before?”

Translation – Everything in my body hurts and hates me, even my pinky finger!

Pacer “You’re doing great!”

Translation – You really are doing great!

Pacer “I see the lights at the finish line, time to go get your buckle.”

Translation – I’m not going to have to drag you across the line, woo hoo!

Runner – “Yes!”

Translation – Adrenaline is such a wonderful thing!

Runner and Pacer Cross the finish line

Runner “Thank you”

Translation – Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! Even though you turned into the devil for a little bit you helped me so much!

Pacer “Anytime”

Translation – I really did have fun and I am proud of how well you did. Plus it gives me a funny story to tell later.

                The mystery dialogue is now solved. You will no longer have to wonder what a runner or pacer really mean in their conversations. 

Recalculating: When to adjust your race day expectations


Recalculating: When to Adjust Your Race Day Expectations by Team TROT runner Lauren Ross

 

I wanted to race well so badly. I’d had a full month of running since I was injured, and a few really quick efforts that felt good. I’d been sick the week before, but could breathe through my nose again! Everything was totally shaping up. Race day morning was 20 degrees warmer than it had been and nearly full humidity, but I’d run through the Houston summer – this was nothing! Right?

Wrong. Mile 1 was a blur. Mile 2 was slower, but I felt okay. Mile 3…ehhh…at least I was still second. By 5 miles in, my race was clearly no longer a race. I couldn’t put my finger on it either: my legs felt heavy but they weren’t screaming, my lungs felt tight but I’d breathed harder before. Something just wasn’t right. I stopped to walk and felt dizzy. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the upper respiratory infection that hadn’t quite cleared, but I really thought it wouldn’t be this way. The difference between what I had imagined happening and what actually happened during the half at Brazos Bend 100 was so different that I let it get the best of me for a few minutes and felt pretty rotten. Luckily, the other runners out there reminded me it’s all for fun, so I chilled out and enjoyed the scenery and camaraderie for the remaining miles.

So what did I do wrong?

I failed to adjust my expectations going into the race. As runners, we want every race to be perfect. We put in the work, and we want the outcome to reflect that. Makes sense. Unfortunately, we can’t control every detail. While it doesn’t take everything going perfectly to have a great race, many factors impact your ability to run your best. Being realistic about this is key when it comes to modifying your race strategy.

The week leading up to the race, be honest with yourself. Consider all variables to determine how to attack the course. Slowing down a little bit (or a lot!) or changing your goal from one based on performance to “get as many high fives as possible” is sometimes a good idea. I am normally too stubborn to admit when I’m not in a position to have a good race. While this optimism can be a good thing, it can also lead to a little bit of mid-race soul crushing, which can in turn lead to silly things like thoughts of DNFs even when I’m totally capable of finishing. A better method is to go into the race knowing that I need to change my game plan, run it a little bit slower and keep those spirits up the whole time!

Now, before I get down to it, let me be clear that I’m not advising you to come up with excuses for why you shouldn’t run your hardest. Truly racing is a scary thing – to toe the line between going really fast and blowing up is enough to make anyone hesitate. There is physical discomfort to deal with, but that is not cause to hold back. The reasons listed below are things that are out of your control – your ability to deal with the pain of exertion is not one of them.

1.       Sickness – While Tracie Akerheilm may be able to bust out a 1:33 half with bronchitis (beastly performance, Tracie!), I’m tellin ya it’s not for everyone! When you’re sick, everything is going to suffer. Your body is focused not on performance, but on healing. If you do decide to run, know that you’ve got to slow it down.

2.       Weather – Maybe you’re in hot and humid Houston. Maybe you’re up North with ice and snow covering the trails. Maybe it’s super windy. While you’ve still gotta give it your full effort, that effort will not get you to the finish as fast as it would if conditions were great. Don’t worry about being off your anticipated paces, just keep on crushing.

3.       Injury – If you’re injured, go take care of yourself! But if you’ve just come back from injury, that’s something to consider too. With a few months of training behind you, you’re in a very different place than you were at your pre-injury peak. That’s okay! You will definitely get back there, but in the meantime don’t try to pick up right where you left off. Be conservative with your expectations and measure yourself against your post-injury workouts.

4.       Other life stuff – Stress is a real thing with both psychological and physiological consequences. If you’re planning a wedding, working long hours, moving, dealing with a loss in the family, having relationship issues, or any other stressful life event leading up to your race, you’re likely not at your physical or mental peak. It’s really tough to quantify the effect of these stressors, so keep that A-goal in mind, but also have a B-goal and a C-goal, and listen to how you’re feeling on race day.

5.       Lack of sleep – Sleep is when your body recovers from training. If you haven’t been sleeping well leading up to a race, you may be less ready for it than your training indicates. Sometimes we are in control of our sleep and sometimes we aren’t. Work and social obligations, kids, colds, the neighbor’s crazy dog…there are a bunch of things that could get in the way. While it’s frustrating to admit that these factors have compromised something as crucial as your sleep, be conscious of it going into race day.

Consider these factors leading up to your next race, and stay positive! You’ll never find a better atmosphere than in the trail running community, and that’s really what we’re all here for.