Tag Archives: attitude

Keeping Things in Perspective: Down, But Not Out

“On your worst day of running, you still inspire someone.”  This is what I remind myself when I get down.

Unfortunately, I have been down a lot lately.  Just over a year ago, I made a mistake while lifting weights.  I hurt my knees.  I ran the Secret City Half Marathon last year on hurting knees, but then I took almost the entire month of December 2013 off to allow my knees to recover.  2013 had been a year full of personal records.  I was up, up, up and flying high.  I was strong and fast.

secret city 2013I entered 2014 by racing a 5K on New Year’s Day that was considerably slower than my recent 5Ks.  This was not a big surprise since had just taken a month off.  What did surprise me was that it would take me a full year to get back to the shape I had been in before the knee incident.  I suppose that bike wreck and concussion in February didn’t do me much good either.

I trained hard and fast.  I took breaks after the longest races.  I did many things right.  Still, I have been plagued with “bad days” time and time again in 2014.  At my first Boston Marathon, I struggled very early.  I started out as planned, but got slower every mile.  I finished nearly 2 hours slower than my goal and required medical attention.

I focused on shorter distances in the summer more than ever before.  Still, I fell short on the personal records set in 2013.  I was getting closer as I went into fall, but my fall marathon had the same difficulties I had experienced a couple of years ago.  I struggled to maintain pace after the half way mark and gradually faded.  I managed to qualify for Boston 2016, but just barely.  I finished about 10 minutes slower than I had in both of my marathons in 2013.

The only course PR that I set this year was at the Townsend 15K.  I believed I had finally gotten my speed back by the end of November 2014.  I was training very well.  I expected to compete for a PR or come very close at the Secret City Half Marathon in 2014.  Unfortunately, I was ill on that day.  I was nauseous on the way to the race.  I tried to ignore that and started the race as I had planned.  I was fine until mile 4.  I slowed from 6:28 in miles 2 and 3 to a 7:30 in mile 4.  I considered stopping.  I considered puking, thinking I would probably feel better if I could let it out.  I decided to press on and make the best of it.  I pushed myself as hard as I could.  I managed to squeak out a 7:00 average pace by the end of the half marathon.  It was not race-day jitters.  I was ill for the next 36 hours.

I am frustrated.  I am as fast as I have ever been, but I just can’t seem to show it.  Staying positive is the only defense against such thoughts.

  • I am grateful that my knees did recover.
  • I am grateful that I survived the bike wreck (car involved) without anything but a concussion.
  • I am grateful that I have made a strong comeback, even if I have not shown it in a race just yet.
  • I am grateful that I have a loving wife who is patient with me as I go through all of these struggles.

Not everyone has these things.
I am privileged.
I am blessed.

I am frustrated, but I will not give up.  My training is working.  I am enjoying running.  I can’t let performance on race-day detract from that.

“On your worst day of running, you still inspire someone.” This is what I remind myself when I get down.  That is when I find the strength to stop the pity party and keep running.  They are my legs.  It is my effort.  It is my time.  Still, it’s not all about me.  That makes it worth the effort no matter how I do.

 

“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

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Wise Running Shirts & More

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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

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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Wise Running Shirts & More

Find yours HERE:

I love running shirt

 

2014 Progress Report on My Own Training & Performance

In the midst of watching my run coaching clients make progress and set personal records, I have forgotten to reflect on my own progress as a runner.

A lot has happened in the last year or so.

  • I injured my knees in late November of 2013 and did not run for 4 weeks in December.
  • I was clipped by a car while riding my bike in February 2014, suffering a concussion.
  • I ran my first Boston Marathon in April, which turned out to be my second slowest marathon time.
  • I focused my summer training on the 800 meters and 1 mile distances.
  • I competed in my first “USA Track and Field” sanctioned track meet.
  • I became a RRCA certified running coach.
  • I ran two mile races on the road and 5 track meets in the summer.
  • In between track and mile events I also completed my very first triathlon, the “Storm the Fort” Half-Iron Distance.
  • I did a total of three triathlons in 2014, two half-iron distance triathlons and one sprint triathlon.

Townsend 15KSetbacks

Due to the time off from the knee injury and concussion, my fitness level suffered.  I lost a lot of progress.  I have been pushing hard all year just to get back to level of fitness that I had a year ago.  I have loved the training.  I enjoy pushing myself.  On the other hand, it has been extremely frustrating to work that hard and not achieve any personal records.  Very discouraging.

Progress

Yesterday was a big victory.  No, I did not win a race.  I was even a full minute behind the winner in my age group.  Still, it was a big victory.  I set a personal record (PR) in the 15K distance (about 9.3 miles).  That feels pretty good.

I still have a ways to go.  I am still a bit behind where I was in February of last year.  That is when my fitness last fully peaked.  I ran a 1:27:42 on a hilly half marathon course.  This is 9 seconds per mile faster than the 15K I ran yesterday.  Hence, I am close, but not quite all the way there.

When will I get there?  Well, I have 2.5 weeks left before I taper (ease up and heal) for the Savannah Marathon, which is on November 8.  I will have 5 key workouts in that 2.5 weeks.  I may not reach a PR at Savannah, but I should be very close at that point.

Conclusion

Whether I peak at Savannah or not, I know the time is very soon when I will be able to earn a few more personal records.

  • My training is balanced, pushing just the right amount.
  • I am eating healthier than ever.
  • And, most importantly, I am enjoying my training.

When I am not enjoying it, I change it up.

Remember This:

Enjoying the run comes first!
It is more important than progress and personal records.

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“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

_______________________________________________________

Wise Running Shirts & More

Find yours HERE:

I love running shirt

Getting Into the Best Shape of My Life

A few months ago I set a few Unreasonable Running Goals that are even faster than I ran back in the day.  Among other unreasonable goals, I want to run 800 meters in 1:58.

My goal is overarching goal is to reach some of the same benchmarks that I reached back in my prime.  I have been working towards this goals for several years.  I am not competing with anyone else.  I am competing with myself.  I am working towards being in the best shape of my life.

At my first athletic peak…

  • I consistently ran 1600 meter races (about a mile) in 4:45.
  • I ran 3200 meters in 10:17.
  • I ran a half marathon in 1:20:48.
  • I could bench press 150% of my weight.

I thought I would be a great marathoner by the time I hit 21 or 22 years old, but I got sidetracked with an injury that wouldn’t go away.  I could not run on a regular basis.

I have worked hard in the last several years.  I have also worked smart.  I learned as much as I could about running and applied everything that made sense.  I have faced a few bouts of injury and illness, but I have made good progress.

Unfortunately, in my 6 month illness due to gluten sensitivity, I had become quite weak.  I thought my long distance muscles were fine since I was still getting faster.  I learned recently that this is not the case.  Even though I can run fast, my legs were weak.  I just had no idea because I had not challenged them.  Without noticing, I had stopped doing things that required strength.

This was revealed to me about a month ago when I was challenged by Muna to cross-train more, to build more strength to support the running muscles.  I had been resisting this idea for quite some time.  I was putting everything I had into running.  I had some soreness in my legs most of the time.  I loved my run training and racing, but it was taking everything I had.  How could I ask my body for more?

I tried a little weightlifting and injured my knees in the first week.  I had only used weights that I thought were quite small.  I had been running and doing push-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis, so I thought I was at least okay with tiny weights.  No.  I should have started the exercises with no weights and gradually added a few pounds at a time.

Even though the injury was caused by weightlifting and not running, I was able to lift weights but not able to run for the month of December.  I used that dilemma to begin cross-training hard.  I lifted weights.  I swam several miles each week.  After a couple of weeks, I was able to work on the elliptical machine.  At that point, I was also able to do more and more leg exercises.  Throughout December, I challenged every part of my body to get a little stronger.  I started moving towards a more balanced fitness.

Yesterday, I reached a milestone.  It was both exciting and humbling:  I bench-pressed my own weight.  For some, this may sound like quite an accomplishment.  For me, it is a huge slice of humble pie. It felt like starting over.  I was the 98 pound weakling from Jr High all over again.   I am nowhere near the best shape of my life in terms of strength, but I am improving.  I will get there.

This season of injury has given me the chance to have the rest of my body catch up with my running mechanisms.

  • I want to be a more balanced athlete.
  • I want to be strong, but not big.
  • I want to run even faster.
  • I want to jump high.
  • I want to remain injury free and enjoy the ride.

Over the last several years I have set many goals.  Some goals I have exceeded.  Some goals I have failed to meet over and over.

Greatness is not determined by how fast you run.  Its training.  Doing what others are unwilling to do.  Failing, failing, and eventually succeeding.

I know that persistence makes champions, so I keep trying.

“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

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

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life (2nd book)

Wise Running Book 2 is now available via in paperback and e-book. 

Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Wise Running is the follow-up to P. Mark Taylor’s first book on running: The Gift of Running.  While the first book focused more on getting started as a runner, this second book is more about how to move to the next level. P. Mark Taylor tells us how to think about running in ways that will help you be more consistent and improve.

Running is a great metaphor for life. It takes effort. It takes motivation. You have to stay healthy. If you stick with it long
enough and smart enough, you live a more rewarding life. So it is with running.

In Wise Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The ebook includes:

  • goals, fitness, & health
  • how to think about training
  • designing a race and training schedule
  • aligning your efforts with reality
  • eating for health and fitness
  • a runner’s view on special diets
  • running-specific nutrition, including marathon nutrition
  • the effects of heat and humidity
  • the social aspect of running
  • motivation and encouragement

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The Gift of Running, the first book in the Wise Running series by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

 

Slaying the Specter of a Bad Run

I had a horrible run yesterday and it was killing me.  Not during the run, mind you, but after the run.  During the run I was merely overtired and dehydrated.  That was bad enough, but this bad run was hanging over my head… calling me names…taunting…telling me that I was not good enough.  The hills were huge.  As I remembered the contours of each hill, they seemed to come alive, grimacing and laughing at me.

cross country shoesHow can one run haunt me so much so quickly?  Probably because I have chosen some lofty goals and a short timeline.  With all of that pressure, I had no time for a bad run.  Bad runs, however, are inevitable.  We can’t control all of the things that life throws at us and we are certainly prone to making mistakes.   Logically, this was not the end of the world, but it felt like it.

How did I slay the specter of the bad run?  I rested up for a day, I was well-fueled and hydrated, I set a realistic goal for today’s run, AND… most importantly, I set the course for today’s run in the toughest part of yesterday’s run.

I looked those grimacing hills straight in the eyes and shouted, “NO!  You will not win. I may not be as fast as I want to be, but I am on my way.  You will not win. ”

I did not set any new records today, but I did run a reasonably good time for course and conditions.  I faced the specter of doubt cast upon me by yesterday’s fiasco.

Tomorrow looks pretty darn good.

“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

Wise Running: Models of Motivation

Note:   This is an excerpt from my second book on running, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life.  (to be published some time in August 2013)

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“A setback is an opportunity for a glorious comeback.”

I rarely meet my ideal goal for a race.  I almost always have some ideas about how I could have run the race a little faster.  I rarely satisfied with my performance.  In an effort to be supportive, my friends will try to cheer me up.  They say things like, “That’s a lot faster than me.”  or “I would love to have a time like that.”  I greatly appreciate their hearts as they are trying to care for me.  The thing is that being not okayunsatisfied on a regular basis does not mean that I am unhappy.  I may not be smiling.  I may be very frustrated.  That does not mean that I am not enjoying the process.  I have a different model for motivation.

This frustration cycle is a part of what makes me successful in running.  Let me explain…

Typical Motivation Model for Runners

With most runners, the key to motivation is a series of small successes.  “Celebrate every victory,” is the mantra that keeps them going.

For beginning runners:

  • each time they run a little farther is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they complete a race without quitting is a victory to be celebrated

For the most runners:

  • each time they get a personal record for a distance or race, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they have a particularly strong run during training, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they enjoy running with friends, it is a moment to be celebrated  :)

For aging veteran runners:

  • each time they get a personal record for the year or for the decade, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they can run with and mentor younger runners and contribute to their success, it is a big victory to celebrate
  • each time they celebrate another birthday with a training run or race is a huge victory to be celebrated.

Deficit Model of Motivation

While I have some of that type of motivation going on, I tend to be more motivated by the moments when I do not succeed.  How does this makes sense?  Despite how I look and act after a not meeting my goal in a race, I am not disappointed and I am not discouraged.  In the initial moments after the race, I am frustrated.  My frustration develops into anger.  Within a short amount of time, usually less than 30 minutes, my anger morphs into determination.  That determination fuels my training.  It is not like throwing a log on the fire.  If I fall short of one of my big goals, that frustration turns into fuel that is more like the equivalent of refueling a nuclear plant.  I train as hard as I do because I am that motivated.  I get that level of motivation not by meeting my goals, but by falling short of meeting them.

I set high goals for two reasons:

  1. So I can accomplish big things.
  2. So I can experience failures, which sets myself up for motivation of nuclear proportions.  The determination created by not meeting my goals eventually leads me to meeting those huge goals.

It is not my little successes that fuel my fire the most; it is my deficiencies, my failures.

Next time you see me getting frustrated after a race, smile and realize that my frustration will morph into the determination that leads to huge success.  Be happy for me.  It means that I am one step closer to achieving great things.

Everyone is different.  Figure out what drives you to succeed and operate within that framework.  Let your friends know, so they know how to contribute to your success.  Life is a team sport.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

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The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com

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The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
 
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How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”

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 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

What Runners Do: Courage and Encourage

wise running logo 7_25_12Running takes courage.

  • It takes a lot of courage to look in the mirror and decide you need to change.
  • It takes a lot of courage to take the first step.
  • It takes a lot of courage to run out where everyone can see you struggle.
  • It takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and set a high goal.
  • It takes a lot of courage to face tough speedwork.
  • It takes a lot of courage to choose to run up a steep hill on purpose.
  • It takes a lot of courage to run that extra mile to run a distance you never imagined you could run.
  • It takes courage to register for a race.
  • It takes courage to pin that numbered bib on your shirt and step up to the start line.
  • It takes courage to finish when you do not believe you have the strength.
  • It takes a lot of courage to decide to walk when your pride says to run.
  • It takes a lot of courage to choose a DNF because you do not want to make your injury worse.

Courage is what we runners do.  It is who we are.  Courage defines us.  Courage makes us stronger.  Courage molds us into a new and better person.

Runners know this about courage.  Hence, when we see a racing 1potential runner or a fellow runner that is having doubts, we encourage.

  • We encourage our friends to run because we know what it will do for them.
  • We encourage our friends to run a little farther, a little faster.
  • We encourage our friends when they are injured and let them know that resting is smart and that they will run again soon.
  • We encourage those that are struggling, on the run or in life.
  • We encourage newer and/or younger runners & become their mentors for a while.
  • We encourage others with our presence.
  • We encourage others by sharing our struggles and our successes.

Encouragement is what we runners do.  It is who we are.  Encouragement defines us.

Remember This:

Courage without encouragement will fade. 
Inspire and encourage future and fellow runners. 
I promise that the running community will
pay back what you gave and much more.

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Train wisely, eat well, & enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99