Next Level Running: Adding Power to Each Stride [post 1 of 10]

form sprinting playingOnce you have become a strong runner, you may be looking for new ways to improve. You may have learned to keep a cadence of 180 steps per minute. You may have done hill repeats, intervals, repeats, and all kinds of other things to get faster. These are all great and important. Each time you add one of these to your arsenal of workouts, you probably found improvement. After a while, however, those improvements get smaller and smaller. As you read this, you are probably nodding your head because you understand. You have lived this scenario and you are looking to break that pattern.

How do you get to the next level?

  • Do effective workouts you have never done.
  • Increase your power supply through a change in form.
  • Increase your power supply through strength training.

I will blog about the 1 and 3 in future blog posts. For this blog post, I will begin a discussion of #2.

Increase Power through Form

Almost all runners do a good job activating and building our quadriceps. These are the muscles on the front of your upper legs. They are huge and very visible. They are strong. The quadriceps activate to straighten out your legs. They are used in running by landing with bent legs and using the quads to straighten the legs. If you are leaning forward, then this propels you forward.

If you’re a bit more advanced, you may be using your hamstrings. Hamstrings are the muscles on the back side of your upper legs. They are not just on the opposite side from the quadriceps, but they also serve the opposite purpose. They bend your leg. Since the quads propel you by pushing, the hamstrings propel you by pulling.

If you coordinate the quads and the hamstring just right, they can work together to propel you forward. What is missing from this scenario? The glutes, calves, and core. The calves activate to push your foot down. If your foot is behind you on the ground, activating this movement means being propelled forward with a bit more power.

The core includes all of the muscles between your ribcage and your legs, all the way around your body. This includes your lower back, your abdominals, and all of the stabilizing muscles all the way around your midsection. The core muscles hold your position. They allow you to align your body to get the biggest push from your quads, the biggest pull from your hamstrings, and the added push-off from your calves.

Hip Drive: The Key to Next-Level Power

The highest level of coordination that leads to the greatest power, however, does not stop there. The gluteus maximus and minimus can combine to be your number one source of power, exceeding even the mighty quadriceps. When activated, they serve to straighten out the bend at the waist which pulls the upper leg backwards. In this way, they can coordinate with the action of the quads and hamstrings to propel you forward. The motion created by the glutes and stabilizing core is called hip drive. Hip drive requires all of the aforementioned muscles to be coordinated AND the added power of the glutes and nearby hip stabilizing muscles.

Alas, many runners barely activate their glutes. That means minimal hip drive. That means that almost all of us are missing out on reaching our full potential.

 Remember This:
Glute activation and proper hip drive the key to attaining
the next level of performance for the vast majority of runners.

In post 2 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • How to activate your glutes
  • How to strengthen your glutes

In post 3 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • How to coordinate your muscles to create hip drive
  • Full and proper running form

Until then…

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

Boston Marathon 2015, My race report

Boston 2015In 2014, I ran my first Boston Marathon.  I had a bad day, taking nearly 5 hours to finish.  It wasn’t just one thing, but a combination of things that slowed me down.  Nerves, time off for a knee injury, getting hit by a car, …  I set out to run as close to 3 hours as possible, but went into survival mode at mile 6.

As I lined up for the 2015 Boston Marathon, I was much more confident.  I had gone injury-free for a year.  My training was going well.  I had created a “NEXT-LEVEL” training program that helped many runners achieve their goals in the last 9 months.  I used a variation of that program.  I was healthy, calm, and ready to get this done.  The weather forecast was cold and wet.  That forecast was showing itself to be correct, so I knew that I should go with my B-Goal.  My A-Goal would be a personal record of around 3:11.  In the cold, wet weather I expected to struggle a bit more, so I set my sites on just BQing (qualifying for a future Boston) by finishing faster than 3:25.

I aimed to start the first mile at 7:30 and then gradually whittle that down to a 7:10 pace by the halfway point.  I did average about 7:20 for the first 3 miles, which fit the plan fairly well.  At mile 12, I was on course with a 7:10 average pace.  That, however, was when I first felt a cramp coming on.  My left hamstring twitched during one stride and I slowed just a bit.  I made a quick stop at a port-a-potty during mile 13, but I was still very close to the goal pace for the first half.

I spent the second half of the race managing the cramps.  I never went into a full cramp.  I know what it feels like when I am about to cramp.  I know how to ride that line, going as fast as I can without going into a full cramp.  I discovered a relationship between the timing of these “pre-cramp twitches” and when I took in calories.  I stopped fueling at that point and drank only water.  I took in as much water as I could without stopping.  I soon found out how much was too much.

From that point on, I used pace and water to manage my conditions to avoid cramping.  I knew that I would not get a personal record, but I was still as a good overall average.  If I allowed myself to slow down just a little each mile, I would still keep the average under the time I needed to come in under 3:25.  With each uphill, I reminded myself that it was okay to slow down.  With each downhill and flat, I reminded myself that it was safe to press the pace just a tiny bit.

By the time I reached the 25 mile marker, I knew that I could run a 9 minute mile the last 1.2 miles and still be under my goal time.  Still, I pushed as hard as I could without cramping.  Then I saw that beautiful sign: “Hereford Street.”  I was still on pace and had two turns to go.  Right on Hereford, left on Boylston, and on to the finish!

I can’t tell you that I passed anyone on that last stretch.  Maybe I did.  Maybe I didn’t.  I didn’t care.  I had just spent the last 26 miles with thousands of others runners, but I was only racing one the entire time.  The race was against my limitations.  I had pressed my limits and managed my resources to get the most out of my body.  In the race against my limitations, I won.  I finished in 3:23:39.

The Real Story

This race was not won on emotions.  This race was won by suppressing the emotions and staying focused.  In particular, I won the race against my limitations because I had stayed in tune with my body.  I ignored the crowd.  I kept a laser-sharp focus on the road 20-30 feet ahead of me.  I felt every muscle and mentally went through a checklist of every body part in an ongoing scan.  When I did get emotional, I talked myself down and re-focused on doing my best in that moment.  I did what I needed to do to get the best possible performance.

 

My story is one of overcoming obstacles, overcoming past performance, and overcoming my own fear of failure.  I did this by staying focused over the last year and staying focused during the race.  After the race, I shivered wildly.  I realized just how cold and wet I had been for the last 3 hours.  I shivered and shook all the way to Boston Common, when I could finally stand in a heated place long enough to regain control of my hands.

That is when it hit me.  I did it.  I beat Boston.  I had come back to the course that defeated me last year and I was triumphant.  I BQed at Boston.  In fact, there was now only one marathon course which I have run, but not had at least one Boston qualifying time.

As with most races, the first thing I did is set my sites on the next big goal.  I had run my first 2 marathons at Knoxville.  I have BQed on every course after that. [not always on the first try, but eventually].  I think it is time to return to the Knoxville Marathon next spring so I can reach 6 out of 6.  If I can run under 3:25, I will have qualified for Boston at least once on every marathon course I have ever run.  That sounds pretty good.  Challenge accepted.

What Did I Learn Between 2014 and 2015?

A)  As an introvert, I need a plan to deal with the noise and distractions.

Many runners are encouraged by all of the fans, signs, and noise.  I, on the other hand, am an introvert.  I had to learn to drown it all out.  If you look at my photos, I am always looking slightly down at the ground about 20-30 feet ahead of me.  I was busy tuning out of the crowd and tuning into how I was feeling.

B)  I need to run my own race.

I was well aware that the people in my corral all had about the same qualifying time as I did.  That does not, however, mean that we can expect to run the race together.  Some will go out too fast for me.  Some will be going too slow.  I take the uphills slower than most of that same group of runners.  I make up for it on the flats and downhills.  If I had tried to stay with the equally capable runners that I started with, I would have charged the hills too fast and faded early.  In fact, there were only a few instances when I stayed with a group of specific runners for more than 20 seconds.

C)  I belong here.  I can do this.  I need to remind myself of that.

You have to qualify for Boston.  Most marathon runners don’t.  Despite the fact that I had already qualified for Boston on four different marathon courses, I still had my doubts.  Last year’s struggle did a lot of damage to my self-image.  Throughout this year’s race, I had to give myself positive affirmations:

“Just because they start out fast, doesn’t mean they are faster than me.”
“This pre-cramp feeling is just a sign.  I will deal with it and keep moving at a strong pace.”
“I am still on pace for a BQ.  I have this.  Keep pressing the limit.”
“I can average a 9 minute pace this last stretch and still get a solid BQ.”
“Yes, this is a slight uphill, but the finish is just around this corner.  You can keep pressing the pace.”

D)  I can still get faster and stronger while only running 3 days per week.

I had been doing my NEXT-LEVEL” training program and it had prepared me for the challenge.  I typically run 3 days a week, ride my bike 2 or 3 days per week, swim once every other week, and do a lot of strength training.  In the year between the 2014 and 2015 Boston Marathons, I gained 10 pounds and became a stronger runner.

I praise The Lord for helping me learn these lessons and getting me through this race.

Now on to the next challenge.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

Every Finisher’s Medal Has a Story

IMG_0734medals 2I have earned many finisher’s medals since my return to running in November of 2009.  On the right is a small photo of most of them.  Each medal has a story, a context, a tale of triumph, defeat, friends, and laughs.

Why would I only display 9 of them on my medal rack?  Because some memories/achievements are bigger than others.  These are the stories I want to remember.  These are the stories I want to tell.

From left to right…

Knoxville Marathon 2010:  The first medal represents my first marathon.  In March of 2010, I was less than well-informed about the needs of an endurance athlete.  My training was sparse.  I had no nutrition plan.  I had taken one drink of water on one training run.  That was it.  Nothing else had passed through my lips on a training run.  No calories.  One drink of water on one long run.  If you know anything about endurance nutrition and hydration, you know where this led.  I ran reasonably well until mile 17 and the bottom fell out.  My legs locked up and I could barely walk.  The skies grew dark and a cold, windy rain set in.  I walked the rest of the way.  I shivered.  I must have looked pitiful, because the medics checked on me frequently for the rest of the marathon.  I was determined that I did not need help and I would finish.  I did.  5:34:38.  Then I could barely move for a week.  Good times.  I am not a quitter.

Knoxville Marathon 2011:   The second medal happened 1 year later.  One year of studying running.  One year of reading and studying.  One year of training.  One year of learning about hydration and nutrition.  I only ran two races between my first and second marathon, but I trained.  I didn’t train every day, but I trained all year.  This time when I got to mile 17, I could feel that my body was being challenged, but I knew how to pace myself.  I paid close attention and ran as fast as I could without cramping.  I gradually slowed down, but never stopped.  3:55:59.  More than 1.5 hours faster than the first try.  Consistent studying and training pays off.

7 Bridges Marathon 2012:   In the fall of 2011, I ran my third marathon, the Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN.  I had done more studying and a lot more training.  I managed to shave another big chunk of time, finishing in 3:27:27.  This was great progress and I was very happy, but it was also painful.  I cramped hard in mile 26.  I was on pace to qualify for Boston until that moment.  I could see the finish line, but I could not get to it.  I had to stand and wait for my legs to calm down.  My time was 2 minutes and 27 above the Boston mark for my age group.  But this medal is from the 2012 Seven Bridges Marathon.  Why this one?  It marks my victory over two things: cramping and gluten.  I had started the 2012 Knoxville Marathon in April, but had to stop.  I had been getting weaker during my taper instead of stronger.  I tried to ignore it, but I could not.  I spent more than half of 2012 trying to figure out why I was sick.  Finally in September, I was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant.  I stopped eating wheat for 6 weeks.  Then I ran the 7 Bridges Marathon.  Even though I had been weak for 6 months, I had trained anyway.  I was hoping that the slow paces would pay off because of the big efforts that it took to fight through my weakened state.  That gamble paid off at 7 Bridges.  My slower, weaker, but valiant attempts at training during my illness led to a finish time of 3:22:44.  I had beaten gluten.  I had beaten the cramps.  I had qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time.  This medal will always have a place on my medal rack.

Shamrock Marathon 2013:  After that, I was healthy and ready to score another big PR.  I had now studied three very different marathon training strategies.  I had even written a book about running.  I was laser-focused.  I had very consistent training with a very consistent strategy.  It paid off again.  Even though I still gradually slowed down, I did my best job of pacing ever.  I did cramp just a bit, but I was 100 yards from the finish.  I jogged it in for a 3:13:22.  My second BQ (Boston-Qualifying time).  Not only that, but I had BQed by more than 9 minutes.

Indianapolis Marathon 2013:  This one was only a PR by 37 seconds, but this is amazing in and of itself.  Why?  Because my training strategies varied greatly.  I was starting to play with speed.  I ran shorter distances and did a lot more speed-work.  I was reading and studying like always, but I was testing out my own theories about training.  I was also racing A LOT.  It was a couple of months from the marathon before I started getting a bit more focused.  I was gambling that my endurance base was maintained through out all of the different training strategies.  That gamble paid off.  Even though I did not make significant progress, I did show that I could maintain my fitness level.  This is remarkable because I was 45 years old.  At this age, we are expected to gradually become slower.  I had not slowed down.  I was 15th place overall.  Not bad.

Boston Marathon 2014:  This was one of my worst races ever.  I knew by mile 6 that I was not feeling well enough to run a good race.  I gradually slowed from under 7 minute pace down to trying to maintain a 12 minute pace. It was physically and emotionally painful.  As painful as this was, I understood that this was just a bad day.  I tried to smile and wave to the crowds a lot.  I knew my wife was waiting for me.  I knew she was worried as my splits kept showing slower times.  Every time I crossed a timing mat, I was telling her “I’m okay.  I’m still moving.”  I spent some moments of anguish in the medical tent until I recovered.  I vowed to return.  Just over one week from now, I shall.

Savannah Marathon 2013 & 2014:  I didn’t really set out to race Savannah in 2013.  It was about a month after the Indianapolis Marathon and I would not expect to PR.  I was, however, excited to run with my new wife, Muna.  We “eloped” on the way to Savannah.  We were newlyweds running together.  I paced Muna to 3:52:25, her first sub-4.  In 2014, I raced.  Even though I was doing my first triathlons that summer, I made sure to include enough specific training to prove that the performance at Boston was a fluke.  I would at least qualify for Boston again.  That is where I aimed and that is what I earned.  3:22:43.  BQ by just over a minute.  I walked away with the confidence of knowing that I know just how much effort it takes to earn the result I want.

Shrimp and Grits 5K 2015:  This is the 5K associated with the Charleston Marathon.  I ran a 19:28.  Nowhere near a PR, but that was not the goal.  I just wanted a fun run.  I usually check my pace regularly while aiming for some very specific time. Instead of aiming for a PR, I decided to race. I simply sized up the competition over the first mile and decided who I could catch by the end.  I met Tony at the start line.  He was 57 years old and in great shape.  He started out ahead of me, so I spent more than half of the race chasing after Tony.  I eventually got him in the last mile and then just held my position.  After the race I jogged down to the 14 mile marker of the marathon so I could run the rest of that race with Muna.  She was having a rough time, so my support was more important than ever.  She toughed it out and still finished with a great time considering the illness with which she was battling.  After we finished the marathon, I found out my friend Ethan had won the marathon and I had won the masters division in the 5K.  That’ll do.

These are not all my best races.  They are not all personal records.  They are, however, all significant.  Each one has a story that means something to me.  I could leave all of my medals up, but it would be very crowded.  I want to see these particular medals when I walk by… and to remember.

 “Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Product Review – TIUX Compression Socks

I occasionally review products that are sent to me, but only if they fit my criteria:

  • it was a product that I actually wanted to try for myself
  • and as long as I was not OBLIGATED to blog about it.

The first condition is because I want the product to be useful.  Why post it otherwise?  The second condition is because I only want to post reviews that are positive AND reviews for products I in which I truly have trust and confidence.

I am happy to report that I recently received one such product:  Tiux Compression Socks.

About Compression Socks/Gear:

Recent research shows that compression gear does not enhance performance except as a placebo effect.  There are two areas where compression gear still prove to be very important.  First, that placebo effect is big.  That feeling of protection that some folks get when they wear compression socks during a race is very real.  You should try it a few times to see if it helps you.

The most universal and important positive effect is not during a race, but after.  Recovery is expedited by better flow of blood.  That is the main purpose of compression socks.  The snug fit with a firm grip does not allow blood to pool in any one particular area.  The blood must flow.  Better circulation leads to quicker healing.  That is a huge advantage.  I wear compression socks or sleeves after every race.  After big races, I might wear them for several days.

Bottom line: Compression socks work.

tiux 5About TIUX Compression Socks:

TIUX is a start-up company that is dedicated to quality compression gear.  That being said, I came into this experience with a critical lens: Could this start-up produce a quality product to compete the big companies?

I put them on the minute my new TIUX Compression Socks arrived.  The first thing I noticed was the fit.  I usually wear size medium in compression socks because larges are too loose.  This pair was large and in charge!  They were clearly large in size, but they gripped my calve, ankles, and feet firmly.  Good start.

The next thing I noticed is that they felt extra thick.  After wearing them for a day, I was thinking that these thick socks might be best suited for winter. After the first wash, however, I changed my mind.  That feeling of thick socks went away.  That first time through the washer and dryer seemed to magically transform my TIUX compression socks to the perfect thickness.

Still, I refused to draw any firm conclusion until I had worn them and washed them many times.  How did they hold up?  Extremely well.  They still have that snugly, yet firm, grip.  They still fit exactly the same.  They still feel just right.  I have used them to recover from a tough race and several tough workouts.

The final report card:

Quality = A
Durability = A

TIUX compression socks have one more feature that is outstanding:  price.  TIUX has chosen to cut out the middle-man to save you money.  You can only get TIUX Premium Performance Compression Socks by visiting their web site at http://tiux.co.  [That is NOT a typo.  There is no “m” on the end of the web site.]

tiux 4

 “Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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“You have earned my respect, Runner.”

Which runners do I respect?  The ones that have earned it.

To the one that is running regularly for the very first time:  your kind of crazy

There may be a lot of walking, but you are out there doing what you can to improve your health and fitness.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the one that is just jogging to lose weight:

It is great that you want to be lighter, but you are making efforts towards running that puts you waaay ahead of the folks still on the couch.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the one that only runs for the social aspect:

Yes, you always run at “conversational pace” and you seem to be more happy at the beer garden after the run, but you are still out there.  You are there two or three times a week.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the one that runs EVERY 5K because races are fun:

Yes, you, … you 5K freak!  Even if you only run once a week, you are out there consistently.  You participate, you run, you help raise funds for charity, and you are a part of the running community.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the Half-Maniacs:

You know who you are.  You are the one that does as many half marathons each year as you can afford to do.  You supplement your appetite for half marathons by running more half marathons.  At whatever pace you choose, you are out there doing it.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the Marathoner and the Ultra-Marathoners:

People think you are nuts.  I think they are right.  I love you just the way you are.  You have earned my respect, Runner.

To the speed-demon, driven by the quest for age-group glory or more:

I get it.  You push long and hard.  Sometimes you overdo it.  So what.  You rock the world and sometimes the world rocks back.  To me it matters less that you win; it matters more that you try to improve.  You try with all of your might.   You have earned my respect, Runner.

To everyone that tries to run, for the ones in wheelchairs, the ones with guides, the ones with knee problems,… people of all shapes and size, people of all ages, genders, … anyone that runs in any way, shape or form:

 You have earned my respect, Runner.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Runners Wanted: “Next Level” Training for 5K and Beyond

“I feel the need, the need for speed!”  — Maverick & Goose [Top Gun]

I mentioned a while back that I wanted to write my 3rd place in 1 mile 7 1 2014next running book about how to attain the next level.  I want to answer the question:  “When you have reached a plateau, how do you break through to faster personal records?”  I have done a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting over the last year.  Not everything has worked out… BUT, I think I have finally found a combination of research-based techniques that will do it.  This combination will bring runners to the next level!

Is this a magical elixir?  

It is certainly not magical and it is not a quick-fix.  It requires hard work and a precise combination of specialized training.  In other words, you can’t just go run whatever you want.  You also can’t skip days or change workouts based on how you feel.

What kind of workouts will it include?

My “Next Level” training for breaking plateaus is a combination of 4 types of workouts.  Each of the four workouts have a very specific set of purposes.  Each of the four workouts have been proven to be effective for those purposes.  What is truly new about my program is the combination of the workouts.  In his book Running Science, Dr. Owen Anderson identifies 7 variables that impact running performance:

  • Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 Max or VDOT)
  • Running Economy
  • Minimum velocity for maximal aerobic capacity (vVo2 Max or vVDOT)
  • Velocity at lactate threshold
  • Maximal running speed
  • Resistance to fatigue
  • Running-specific strength

Of course the variables overlap, with each one affecting several if not all of the other factors.  Still, any balanced approach to enhancing your performance in running must account for all seven.  If you design separate workouts for each variable, you would not have enough time or energy to get them all done and see the changes you are seeking.  Hence, the real trick is in finding specific workouts that lead to significant positive changes in several of these variables.  For the purposes of the Next Level training system, we will call these types of workouts “Super-Workouts” because they do super things for several of the variables.  Like superfoods, superworkouts are powerful.  The right combination will make you much more fit and help you break through to the next level.

Runners Wanted

Before I publish that next book and share the specifics of this new system of training, I need to assemble a group of 20 runners who want to try out my Next-Level Training System.  Interested runners would hire me as their coach for the next few months, following the fee structure outline on my coaching page.  We would start by discussing the specifics about your current level of training and performance.  I would then tailor the Next Level Training System to your specific needs in terms of your paces, goals, and lifestyle.  Then we would closely track your progress and tweak the program as needed.  Runners that stick to the program will then be featured in the book about the Next Level Training System.

Eligibility:  Are you ready to go to the next level?

Runners at all levels are welcome to participate as long as you are willing to stick with the program for at least 8 weeks.  16 weeks is preferred but not required.

Reply Now by emailing me your request to participate.  I will take the first 20 runners regardless of current performance level.  Send me a message as soon as possible to make sure you are included.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

 

Gluten Free Supplements for Runners and Other Athletes

Living gluten free can be challenging.  Food labels are often vague or simply do not mention gluten, wheat or allergens.  Does it include wheat, barley, malt, or gluten?  If not on the ingredient list, was it manufactured in a facility that also processes foods that have these ingredients?  If it fails to mention anything about any allergens, should you trust the product?  It gets very old, very quickly.  I am worn out by the constant need to be vigilant.  Eating out can be a minefield for the gluten intolerant or Celiac.   Things are getting better, but at most cooks and waiters still have precious little knowledge or understanding about gluten and the needs of the consumer.

Now enter the world of an avid fitness fanatic and/or athlete.  The same issues arise.  If it is a pill, it is possible that there is hidden gluten used as a binding agent to form the pill.  How about whey protein?  Shouldn’t that be safe?  Why would there be wheat or gluten in a milk product like whey?  Guess what?  There is gluten in a large portion of the whey protein products available.  At one local store, I found that 9 of 10 whey protein powders could possibly contain gluten.  Only one safe protein supplement in the store.

Thankfully, I have found a brand of nutritional supplements that is almost entirely gluten-free.  Muna heard about it from other fitness trainers and we investigated it together.  I started by using the basic Genesis Pure products like the Daily Build liquid multivitamin, the Goyin balancing Blend, and the Liquid Cleanse.

For my fitness and performance needs, I also use these general supplements:

  • Mila (Chia Seeds) – omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and minerals
  • Coral Calcium – extra calcium and magnesium for bone strength and muscle function
  • Organic Sulfur – joint health
  • Greens – wheat grass (no gluten here), spirulina, and about 30 other natural nutrition sources

recoverySpecifically for the athlete, Genesis Pure offers the GPS line:

  • Moomiyo Edge
  • E2 – Energy drinks for before training
  • Pro-Arginine – Muscle health
  • Hydration mix – Electrolytes and fuel during training
  • Recovery – To maximize recovery and growth after the training

The products are effective.  Moreover, I like the convenience of getting all of my gluten-free supplements from the same trustworthy source.  If you are looking for gluten-free products, Genesis Pure products are worth trying.

Where to Find Genesis Pure Products

You will not find Genesis Pure products in retail stores.  You can get any of the products online at Amazon.com, but the prices are higher there.  The best and most affordable way to order Genesis Pure products is by using  the 25% membership discount.  There is a $39 initial enrollment fee, but then you are free to order at the discounted rate.

Once you join, you will also have the choice to turn your membership into a business opportunity if you are so inclined.  Most importantly, your membership can save you both time and money by finding all of your gluten-free supplements in one place.  :)

For More Information

If you are interested in learning more about Genesis Pure, the supplements, and/or the business opportunity, you can watch the 23 minute introductory video at:  http://wiserunning.com/about-us/gluten-free-supplements-and-business-opportunity/

You can also email me at pmark.runner@gmail.com.

Let me know if you have any questions about nutritional supplements, their purpose, or how to find if they are gluten-free.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Next Level Nutrition: The Food is Fuel Mindset

“You are what you eat.”
“You can’t outrun or outwork poor nutrition.”

Going to the Next Level

I have searched for years and I finally found it.  I have found the combination of running workouts to maximize the benefits of training.  I know how to train to get faster while putting the least amount of stress on my body.  That is awesome.  I could not be happier!

Still, I have this black cloud that is hanging over my head.  I know that to reach my full potential in the next level of running performance, I have to eat and drink wisely.  Unfortunately, I am guilty of the high crime of eating what I feel like eating.  Sometimes that means I am eating very healthy food.  Sometimes that means I eat junk.  It is a crime against me and my goals.

Why so negative?  Is this really a crime?  What about happiness?

If I had no goals for my health, eating what I feel like eating would be good enough.
If I had no goals for my running, eating what I feel like would be good enough.
…but I do have goals.  I have BIG goals.  The crime is that I am hurting my health and my progress towards goals.cupcakes

The Food Failure Mindset

The unhealthy mindset thinks of food and drink as something emotional.  It is a reward for being good.  It is feeling cleverly sneaky while we “cheat” our healthy diet.  We eat because we want to elicit some specific emotional response (happiness, relief, …) or to avoid feeling emotions (frustration, sorrow, shame, …).

These brief moments of “positive” emotions only last as long as the food or drink lasts.  Does it work?  For a moment.  The pain, frustration, sorrow, resurface as the effects of the indulgence wears off.  Then comes the shame and self-loathing.  So did it make you feel better in the long run?  No.

Even if it is a real hunger that we have, we must remember that cravings are for nutrients, not for junk.  You may feel like you want the entire box of ice cream, but your body is craving calcium and or calories.  If you are skipping meals, your body will not have what it needs.  Of course you will start craving!

Whether your cravings are for real nutrition or for emotional relief, eating what you feel like eating is almost always a road that leads to frustration and shame.  You steal the progress you could be making.  You steal your health.  You steal your own joy.  That is the crime.  In this mindset, you end up both the perpetrator and the victim.

The Food as Fuel Mindset

What food and drink ARE NOT:

  • Food and drink are not rewards.
  • Food and drink are not escapes.
  • Food and drink are not quick fixes for emotional problems.

What food and drink ARE:

  • Food and drink are fuel for a healthy body.
  • Food and drink are long-term fixes for long-term health problems.
  • Food and drink are tools to use towards your goals.

Eating wisely takes a lot of thought and preparation long before the meal or snack.  If you want to get to the next level of running performance and health, you must plan and follow through.

Although I have tried to eat well, my journey of meal planning and preparation is just beginning.  It is my next step to getting to the next level.  As my personal meal and snack planning adventure unfolds, I will blog about it here to let you know what is working for me.  Stay tuned!  :)

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

 

 

Revisiting Long-term Goals and Setting Goals for 2015

What you get by achieving your goals
is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Henry David Thoreau

It is time to check in once again.  Although I had some setbacks that made 2014 a challenge, I still need to reflect on the good things that happened.  I also need to remind myself of the Unreasonable Running Goals for the Next 5 Years that I set back in September of 2013.  I have some crazy-high expectations on that list.

3rd place in 1 mile 7 1 2014The two biggest goals are at very different distances.  The first is running 800 meters in 1:58.  The second is running a half marathon in 1:10:25.  All of the other goals listed on that post are interesting but not critical.

Although I listed the half marathon as my main goal in that list,  I am thinking that the 800 meter goal will need to occur first.  Here is my reasoning: I must build my raw speed and power to a whole new level before I can maintain a fast speed for the half marathon distance.  In most half-marathon training plans, the speed work comes in the first phase.  The second and third phases are more focused on elements of endurance.  Likewise, as I look at the next 3.5 years of my development I know that I must get faster.  Although I still have a few longer races on my schedule, they will not be the focus.  My training must focus mainly on speed at least until I break the 2 minute mark in the 800 meters.

This being the case, my main goals for 2015 all revolve around faster speeds at short distances.  My personal records within that last 5 years are as follows:

Running Records (since 2009)

800 meters

2:23

2013

1 mile

5:21

2013

2 mile

11:58

2013

5K

18:35

2013

10K

39:43

2013

Half Marathon

1:27:42

2013

Marathon

3:12:45

2013

You will immediately notice that they were all set in 2013.  The only PR I set in 2014 was at the 15K distance.  Why is this?  I had a knee injury from weightlifting in November 2013 and took off all of December 2013 to recover.  Then I suffered a concussion when hit by a car while riding my bike in February of 2014.  These two instances set me back.  It has taken all of 2014 to make it back to a point near my fitness level of 2013.  What are the good things that happened this year?  I ran my first Boston Marathon and I regained my fitness!  If I can stay healthy throughout 2015, I expect to see the personal records begin to fall once again.

Since my main focus is on speed, I will be happy if I can manage a big PR in both the 800 meters and the mile.  Any other PRs set in 2015 will be a happy side effect of my focus on these distances.  These goals, however, are rather vague.

Remember This:

If you aim for nothing you will surely accomplish your goal. 

Goals must be specific enough to know when they have been accomplished.  Here are my specific goals for 2015:

  • 400 meters – 0:59.99
  • 800 meters – 2:11.50
  • 1 mile – 4:59.99 (on the track)

Any other personal records set this year will just be icing on the cake.  I will race distances from 800 meters up to marathon in 2015, but mostly for fun.  The only specific goals are at 1 mile and shorter.

Your goals may be quite different from mine.  How do you go about setting goals for 2015?  Here is what I suggest:

  1. Define your goals for the next 5 years.  They do not have to be time-oriented.  It could be distances.  You may want to run a 100 mile race 5 years from now or you may want to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  These are YOUR goals.  You define success.
  2. Think about the multiple steps that it will take to achieve your main 5 year goals.
  3. Choose the first steps and write them as goals for 2015.
  4. Double-check your goals to make sure they are specific enough.  How will you know if you reached your goals?
  5. Revisit your 1-year and 5-year goals next year.

What do you want to accomplish?  How can I help you get there?

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“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

Getting to the Next Level: The Role of Patience in Your Training Plan

I am guilty as charged.  The crime?  Lack of patience.  The evidence?  My training plans from the past.  They are riddled with inconsistency.  Why?  Because I am a tinker.  I like to tinker with plans and try to perfect them.  Why is this a problem?  Because it takes months for a plan to fully unfold.  A balanced plan will have stages.  It will allow for the development of new speed as well as moving your lactate threshold, running economy, and much more.  You can’t do all of that at the same time.  Bottom line: It takes months to improve the variables that impact running performance enough to see a measurable difference.

What have I done wrong?  I have continuously tweaked programs based on how I was feeling rather than sticking to the original design of the training program.

Remember This!

You should stick to your training plan without major changes for at least 3 months.

It takes ten days to get the full extent of adaptations from a workout.  If your plan is ideal, then four weeks of work could possibly show a measurable difference.  That means that it takes about 1.3 months to see a perfect plan work.  Now throw in the idea that we have good and bad days.  If you have a bad day in the race where you expect to see the results of 1.3 months of work, you might reach the wrong conclusion that it did not work.  It is only after about 3 months of steady progress that you will see a significant change even if you have a bad day.  That is why I say 3 months is the standard.  Follow a plan with multiple stages and complete 3 months as it was designed before you draw a conclusion on whether it worked or not.

Looking back at my own running over the past 5 years, it becomes clear that the times I made the most progress were the times that I stayed with a program most consistently.  That is true regardless of the program I was following.  When I first started, I followed programs from Hal Higdon.  When I wanted to get faster, I followed the plan of Dr. Jack Daniels.  Then I heard about the innovative work of the Hanson Brothers.  I followed their program and got another big improvement.

Since that time, I have been tinkering with different types of workouts.  I have found several workouts that work well on changing some of the variables of running performance.  I have gone through several and been frustrated by my lack of overall improvement.  I just keep changing things.  When I was on a coordinated program for at least 3 months, I made progress.

training program picWhile I was tinkering with my own programs, I have developed training programs for many athletes during the same time.  When they have stayed true to the program I developed for at least 3 months, they have seen the improvements they sought.  Now I need to practice what I preach.  I have developed my Next-Level Training Program and personalized it for many runners, including myself.  I know that if we stick to the program, we will get the results and move on to the next level.  I just have to stop tinkering.  I have to wait for the program to develop.  I have to wait for all of the changes that come with all three stages of the program.  I have to stop evaluating the program in the moment and wait until for my next training schedule to make any changes.

I know that my Next-Level Training Program is a balanced approach that will get me where I want to go.  The components and stages are all first-class, trustworthy workouts.  The stages are in the right order.  I just have enough trust and patience to stick to the program.

 “Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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