Sunday, February 24, 2013



      As you plan your 2013 running year, you are probably asking yourself and your training partners a lot of questions, for instance: “What are my goals?”  “Is this a year to get a coach?”  “How do I know if I need a coach?”  “How do I find and choose a coach?”
      Finding a coach is a little like finding the right running shoes.  I know how that sounds but think about it. Just like running shoes, there are lots of different options but the shoes must fit the runner. After all, for the coach/athlete relationship to be successful you must find someone you trust, someone you can easily communicate with, and someone you can work with.  In the end, you must believe in your coach and your coach must believe in you.  
    Five different coaches have coached me and I believe that each one helped me gain more knowledge and improved my running. In addition, I have been coaching other runners for 5 years and have my USATF (USA Track & Field) and RRCA (Road Runners’ Club of America) coaching certifications. So why do I have a coach? Why don't I just coach myself? Some of the reasons I work with a coach are that my coach holds me accountable, my coach keeps me from over training, my coach helps keep me motivated and injury free.
     Whether you are training for the marathon distance or 5K, there are plenty of different coaching philosophies out there:  more training miles, fewer miles, cross train or not, heart rate training, 2-a-day workouts, more or less speed work, long taper, mobility training and on and on. The real key is how the coach puts all the pieces together creating a unique plan specific to you, the athlete. For instance, I may have the same coach as someone else but each of us probably will be coached differently based on our strengths, weakness and abilities.
       A good coach will assess each athlete and figure out what he or she needs. Now, if your coach doesn’t do that it is time to find a new coach! I have experienced this situation firsthand. I had a coach who believed in high mileage for marathoners. I gave it a try even though my body was giving me negative feedback to the mega-mile program.  Guess what? I got injured.
     Because that coach really believed in his training plan and wasn’t taking my feedback into account, I knew I needed to move on. He just didn’t understand the type of training that I needed to improve and stay healthy. 
      Now I have found a coach that has a top priority of keeping me injury free. It helps that he a chiropractor and a runner. In the past I have hired the well-known coaches with impressive resumes that are also top elite athletes. I did on-line coaching with them. What I realized is that they were not able to see who I really was as an athlete, my strengths and how to push me to overcome my weaknesses. My coach right now might not have written a book or currently coach world-class athletes but I feel he has helped me more than the other coaches I have had in the past.
      Do your research, write down what you expect out of a coach and interview them before starting to train with them. Keep your goals in focus and do what is best for you.  Remember, if the shoe fits…!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



 It is that time of year again when the running magazines include a special listing of the races that are happening for the rest of the year. It is always very exciting for me to look at all the races and start planning. How do you decide what race to run and what distance?
     Since I am usually training for a marathon I like to do races every few weeks as a way to see where my conditioning is leading up to my goal race. The races I choose are usually part of a hard workout so I don’t taper for these “training races.” Most of the races I do while training for a marathon are 10K or longer. When I am incorporating the race in a long distance workout, I may start with 10 miles at a moderate pace then the 10K race at HM (Half Marathon) or MP Marathon Pace).
      The most important thing to ask yourself is, “Why am I running this race and what is the purpose?” I feel that racing gives you more experience.  For me, doing races helps keep me fresh.  Each race gives you the opportunity to practice pre- and post-race routines. If the race is part of your training for a longer future race, it is a good time to try out nutrition products and trying to eat them while running at that pace.
     The best way to learn racing skills is to race.  For example, I learned the values of “drafting” during races. I never really thought about it until my friend Dan explained that it is always easier to run as a group and even easier when you are following someone when there is a headwind. That’s why you will see groups of racers running together at the same pace during a race. In many races I have run, some of us have talked before or during the race about taking turns leading the pack however, for the most part it seems to just happen. It is an amazing feeling to be working together as a group. If a race has pacers provided I would highly recommend sticking with that pace group especially when you have a headwind. You will save a lot of energy running at the back of the pack. You can always pick up the pace later in the race and leave the group.
      Running tangents is another aspect racing that I like to practice. Before I started racing I thought about tangents while teaching math problems to students. I never thought I would need to think about them while running. A few years ago I learned that the shortest distance around the course is how each race is measured. So rather than measuring wide around corners they measure the shortest distance around corners. So if you do not run close to the line that was used to measure the course you will add a lot of distance to your race, especially the marathon. This is just another example of what I tell my kids, “Math is everywhere!”
      Sometimes the purpose of doing a race is to just have fun and be with friends. It also might be to try something new like a cross country or trail race. It is good to have these kinds of races planned as a way to keep everything in check. I like to do my fun races with my kids and family. 

    Always keep learning, improving and having fun!!!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Recovery Boots


Over the past couple of years I have bought a lot of different devices that have helped me recover faster, get rid of an injury and run faster, or at least that is what I thought when I was purchasing the item. I am sure it has happened to many of us where we have bought something and were disappointed with the results.  

In the five years I have been running I have been injured a few times and when I am desperate and want to get back running is when I sometimes get reeled into buying these items.  That’s why I would like to share with you an item I came across when I was injured with shin splints.

In fall of 2011 my goal was to run the Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time (2:46). However, shin splints were going to keep me from competing in my goal race! I had been running more training miles on tired legs and my running form broke down causing the injury.  I was very upset, to say the least. After completing all of my training and with only one month to go, I knew I had to find a solution.

Being an older athlete I knew that my recovery generally takes a little longer. I had done the ice baths many times but I needed more. So, I searched the Internet for ways to recover faster.
In my frenzied search, I came across a YouTube video showing a triathlete doing a “brick” workout and in between he would get into a pair of thigh-high compression boots to speed his body’s normal recovery process. I have learned that if you want to know about the latest and greatest on recovery and nutrition look to the triathlon world.
After doing my investigation I found out the boots were made by NormaTech. The company’s website showed many athletes that were promoters of the product. It was also very interesting to read the science and technology of how the boots worked. 
I decided to go for it and order the boots. I knew that if I did not like the product I would be able to return it so that helped justify my purchase. Like a child at Christmastime, I was so excited when they arrived.

It’s hard to explain how bizarre I looked in my new compression boots.  Of course, my kids thought they looked funny but I did not care as long as they worked.
I started out at level 4 out of 10 for compression for about 30min. I felt the boots inflate a chamber at a time with 5 total chambers. It did not hurt but I could feel it squeeze my legs and the pulse of my blood moving through. After a few weeks and running a few harder workouts I knew they really made a difference. My legs felt fresh and the inflammation disappeared. I noticed it the most after the race when I spent every day in them for a week! 
In this instance, I feel my purchase was worth the price. With all the bills from doctors, PT and MRIs I had racked up previously, it makes the boots look like a bargain. This is one purchase I continue to use on a regular basis.

To find out more about the Normatech Recovery products here is the link for you to do your own investigation: