Tag Archives: attitude

Winners and Athletes: Runners Who Inspire Me

It is an honor to be the coach of any runner. To have that position of trust is a big deal. Runners love to win. Runners want their training to lead to special moments. It is an important position and I do not take it for granted. In the case of these athletes, it is a double honor. They are winners and athletes.

Winners

Runners at the race expo for the Farragut Half Marathon were able to sign up for a chance to win a 12-Week customized training program designed by me. Melissa and Vickie 4I had intended to award this prize to just one winner, but that is not what happened.  All of the names were written on little slips of paper sitting in a big bowl.  When the time came, I turned my head away and reached in to pick the winner.  At first I had to many pieces of paper in my grasp, so I shook my hand gently until only one slip of paper remained.  It only had one name on it:  Melissa Peplow.  I knew immediately that I had given the plan away to two people.  You see, Melissa is 1/2 of a running team; two people that run as one.  Melissa and her running partner Vicky Wallace register for races separately.  They wear two bib numbers.  Still, they run as one.  Two bodies on three legs and a wheelchair.  Each runner serves the other.  Melissa is legally blind.  Sometimes she can see things clearly, but other times she can’t see much of anything.  Vickie serves as Melissa’s eyes.  Vicky suffered a stroke and presently only has control over the right side of her body.  Vicky wants to use her one good leg to be a runner.  Melissa serves Vicky by pushing the chair from behind.  Two runners working together so that each can give it their full effort.  Every time they finish a race they are winners regardless of what the final standings say.

Athletes

It should not need to be said, but I will say it anyway: theseMelissa and Vickie 3 ladies are athletes.  Not everyone believes that.  The fact that each one has some assistance from the other is enough for a few naysayers to complain.  Any true athlete, however, will recognize Vicky and Melissa as fellow athletes. They are not heroes.  They are not zeroes. They are athletes the same as you and I.  They have grit.  They have goals.   Both of them are facing huge challenges.  Both are out there training to improve their performance.  Both of them give all they have during a race.  The vast majority of runners are not racing each other as much as they are racing against themselves, trying to get better.  That is what an athlete does.

Coaching

Every athlete I coach faces challenges.  Every athlete inspires me as they find new and intersting ways to overcome those challenges.  These two are no different.  Yesterday I met with Vicky and Melissa to have our initial coaching session.  I observed their form, discussed their training habits, discussed their goals, and talked about how to move forward with developing their training plan.  That is what I do with all athletes.  I usually meet with runners one-on-one.  These ladies run as one.  I looked at their form as individuals and as a team.  I am giving them strength training to do as individuals and run training to do as a team.  That is what they need to do to improve.  That is what they want.  They are not trying to beat you in a race.  They are in a race with their limitations… and they are winning.

You can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/With-a-Will-There-is-a-Way/581877085167519.

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

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

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Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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Going to Your Happy Place – Finding the Joy in Running

I drank some Gatorade Pro, but I didn’t want to.  I put on my running gear, but I didn’t feel like it.  My allergies were acting up, I wanted to take a nap, but I am in training for a marathon… so I begrudgingly trudged out the door.

parkAs I was driving to the greenways for a run, I was imagining which course I would run my 4 miles.  Hal Higdon’s Advanced II training schedule said I should run 4 miles at my target marathon pace.  Should I start out by the Earth Fair market and run down the 3rd Creek Greenway.  No.  I almost always run that.  I don’t feel like it.  Should I start out at Tyson park and run towards the UT football stadium?  Nah.  Just don’t feel like it.  Should I run Cherokee Boulevard, where I had “Slayed the Specter of a Bad Run” before?  No.  I really don’t think I’m supposed to run hills today.

I turned towards that one anyway.  “After all,” I reasoned with myself, “I’ve got to run somewhere.”  Thankfully, as I approached the parking lot near the zero mile marker on Cherokee Boulevard I saw something inspiring:  the cross country course at Sequoyah Park!  I have watched my kids run several cross country races there.  Each time, I was reminded of my own high school cross country career.  I always told myself that I would run the course and see how I would do.  Today was the day!

Seeing the park this morning triggered good memories of my kids and the good memories of my high school experience.  I was immediately drawn.  My body was a few minutes behind my heart.  I was a little stiff.  I jogged a few hundred feet and stretched just a little.  Right there and then, I decided that my body would just have to kick in because my heart was saying, “Go!”

I ran the full 5k course and added 1 mile.  I started out stiff, but trying hard and squeaked out the first mile in about 7:30.  I started to get a rhythm going and gradually loosened up.  I was running in my happy place…caught up somewhere between old memories, new memories, & the flat grassy area I was running on next to the river/lake.  I was caught up in several moments at once and all of them were good.  :)

I ran the final 2.15 miles at around a 7:00 mile pace and walked another half mile back to the car.  My goal for the day was to run 4 miles at around a 7 minute pace.  I managed to go a little farther, on grass, and kept it at an average of 7:08.  Not bad for a day when I just really didn’t feel like running.

The main accomplishment of the day, however, was capturing the joy of running when I didn’t seem to have it.

How do you get to your happy place?

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

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Runner’s High: How, When, and Why

It is a feeling like no other.  I recall floating along a 6 mile run one time just about 30 years ago.  I don’t have a very good memory, but I remember that run vividly.  I had slipped into a zone where running was more like floating.  I ran fairly fast, but felt no effort.  I felt happy and my body felt happy.  I was as high as a kite!  I never wanted that run to end.

Although I hadn’t been smoking marijuana, the same receptor in the brain that is triggered by marijuana was, in fact, triggered during that run.  I really was high.  I was high on running! Until recently, many scientists actually believed that runner’s high was a myth, a self-fulling prophecy based on a misconception about endorphins.  Endorphins, after all, cannot actually produce the kind of high described by runners.  The scientists were right about one thing: endorphins do not cause runner’s high.  Even so, runner’s high is real.

What causes runner’s high?  A fatty acid called Anandamide.  It triggers the same receptor in the brain that marijuana/THC triggers.  Not only does anandamide make you feel high, but it also dilates your bronchial tubes and the blood vessels in your lungs.  End result: you feel great, run better, and run longer.

How do you get anandamide?  Run!  As you run more regularly and intensely, your body tends to produce more anandamide.  If you want to increase your likelihood of getting runner’s high, you run at tempo pace, just a little faster than your 10K race pace.  This pace adds just enough stress to cause the body to produce anandamide but not so much stress as to overwhelm your body.  It is the “just right” pace for a great workout and a trip to La-La-Land.  :)

You can read more at Runner’s World:

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-243-297–1102-0,00.html

Enjoy the run!!!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

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Marathon Training: Love, Hate, and The Taper

“I wanna go fast!”  — Ricky Bobby

Tapering is a time of running lower miles and slower paces as you approach a long race, such as a half or full marathon.  It is designed to help us be ready for the big day…to help us meet our goal.  Amongst my hundreds of runner friends on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, however, there is a disdain (or at the very least a discomfort) that is often expressed towards the taper.

If the taper can help us meet our goals, why such negative emotions?

Why is it that runners have such a tumultuous relationship with the taper?

For most of us, it can best be described as a love/hate relationship.  Theoretically, we love the taper.  We know that we have been using and abusing our bodies in hill workouts, 20 mile runs, track workouts, pace runs, tempo runs, interval training, and many other torturous yet wonderful ways.  Struggling through these workouts and giving everything we have has built our muscles, our endurance, and our confidence.  Runners love to push themselves.  We pride ourselves on this kind of self-denial.  Push, press, strive!

Here is where the conflict arises.  I have now been training for this marathon for over 4 months.  I have pushed my limits and done all of the aforementioned workouts day in and day out for 17 weeks.    For 119 days, pushing it to the limit was my goal.  The days that I had to take off were horrible!  I was thinking about what I should be running.  Now… after all of this time… you want me to ease up?  You want me rested?  Fewer miles?  Less effort?  Are you absolutely nuts??!!??  Where is the “Dislike” button on this thing!  No. It is absolutely unnatural.  I don’t want to do it.

The conflict continues as our brain reminds us to check in on our body parts.  Feet?  Sore.  Knees?  Swollen.  Calves?  Do you even have to ask?  Hamstrings, quads?  Yes, they are communicating loudly as well.  We know that we need the rest.  We know we need the time to heal.  It makes sense.

In the meanwhile, our spirit cries out for more striving, not less.  Our habits call for more miles, not fewer.  Our hearts love the long run.  That is why we got into this.  We love endorphins.  Let’s go get some more, right?  Wrong.  It is time to taper and heal.  We must stifle the voice crying out for endorphins and go with logic.  Bottle up all of that energy.  Store up all those carbs.  Build up that emotional energy… and pop the cork on all that pressure on race day.

If we taper right, we will be like the champagne bottle coming uncorked on race day.  Our spirit will burst forth at the sounding of the starting gun.  The cap will fly off and all of that conflict, … all of that pressure that we allowed to build through the taper… if we can manage the flow just right… will end up in a PR & all of the endorphins from two weeks flow in one session.  Good times, but only if we taper.

Happy running!