Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

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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.

 ______________________________

“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

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How Running Makes Us Happy

“If you aren’t enjoying running, then you are doing it wrong.”  — P. Mark Taylor

My friend Von asked this question the other day:

“Why am I not as happy on the days I don’t run?
Even if I don’t run, I’m still working out.
So, why does it have to be running?”

I know that Von works out hard on his non-running days.  This just makes it crystal clear to him that something about running is unique.  It makes his whole day better.  Even though that other exercise is important and good for him, he doesn’t get that same full-day benefit from his non-running exercise.  Well, Von, here are some of the many ways that running makes us feel better.

A Simple, Soothing Break

Despite the beliefs of many, running actually relaxes you in some important ways.  One of the most important is simply getting your muscles AND the mind to relax.  The gentle rhythm of running in proper form provides a soothing beat.  With each step, gravity pulls on your muscles and loosens them up a little.  Much of the tension built up through the challenges that you face day-to-day seem to slip away gradually.  It is almost as if gravity is giving you a massage while you are working to get healthy.

Running is not just physically soothing, but also mentally soothing.  On a run, one can get lost in the sights and sounds around them.  Some people hear the rhythm of their feet.  Some tune in to the birds and the breeze.  Other choose to run through scenic landscape.  In this way, the sights, sounds, and smell of a run provide an escape from the world, a mini vacation.

You will not get this kind of soothing break from all kinds of workouts.  A high-intensity workout will not produce the same results.   While it may be highly productive for health, an intense workout lacks the soothing, rhythmic effect of a run.

Endorphins

Endorphins can be released through many different forms of strenuous exercise.  Technically, endorphins are “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”  Your body releases the endorphins to counter the stress created by the pain of  the exercise.  Beyond the time of the exercise, the endorphins hang around long enough for you to be a bit more relaxed.  This “endorphin rush” can set a positive tone for the rest of the day.  Running has the edge over most other exercises in that more endorphins tend to be produced, especially in people that run nearly every day.

Runner’s High

As wonderful as endorphins may be, they do not cause runner’s high.  This is a common misunderstanding.  Runner’s high is due to a completely different system with a very different effect.  Runner’s high is actually caused by anandamide.  Anandamide is another substance that is created by the body to guard against pain.  Both endorphins and anandamide serve the same purpose of allowing us to continue our efforts in the presence of pain.  The difference is in the timing.  A second line of defense, anandamide tends to be released after longer periods of ongoing exercise.

A second difference is the particular effect.  While endorphins impact your system in ways similar to morphine, anandamide acts more like HTC.  HTC is the chemical present in marajuana.  In this way, runner’s high really is high in exactly the same way as smoking marajuana.  While endorphins do not cross into the brain, this is where anandamide does its work.  Runner’s high is stronger and longer lasting than an endorphin rush.

Here again, it is possible to get runner’s high from other sports, but you are much more likely to find the “sweet-spot” for anadamide while you are running.  If you want to increase your likelihood of getting runner’s high, you should 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.

Conclusion

Like many other sports, running can make you happy through setting & meeting goals, by helping us get healthy, and by being happy & proud of our consistent efforts.  Like other sports, there are things about running that help us relax.  As far as setting the tone for a happy day, however, running edges out the competition.

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

_____________

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

My Unreasonable Running Goals for the Next 5 Years (don’t judge me)

These are running goals I would like to accomplish within 5 years.

No, they are not reasonable for my current level of fitness.

This is my dream.

Encourage me or keep it to yourself.

Thanks,

P. Mark Taylor

Distance  

Goal Time

   Why

400 meters

0:54

   Training for the 800

800 meters

1:58

   US record for 50-54 age group

Mile

4:29

   Because it is faster than 4:30  ;)

5K

15:12

   Training for 1/2

10K

31:35

   Training for 1/2

½ Marathon   

1:10:25

   This is my main goal.

Marathon

Sub 3

   At Boston.  Pride mostly.  :)

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

 

Wise Running: More on Motivation

I recently posted a blog about motivation, an excerpt from my 2nd book about to be published.

http://wiserunning.com/2013/07/27/wise-running-models-of-motivation/

 

Today’s post adds a little and is a response to the requests of two fledgling runners that are trying to find the motivation to be more consistent.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose and role of running in your life?
  • Why did you start?
  • Why do you continue?

When you have answered these questions, write the answers down and post it on the wall.  When it is time to go for a run, read these before you decide whether you will run or not.

The second thing that I want to share is consistency leads to rewards.

Remember This:

If you run consistently, running will reward you with endorphins, health, the satisfaction of meeting goals, and connections to a network of positive people.

If you only run once in a while, running most often feels like a punishment.

 

The final thing to add is a quick note about runners high.  It is an awesome feeling that is different from a rush of endorphins.  Running becomes easy and you feel very relaxed and happy while you run.

The more consistent you are with your running, the more likely it is that you will experience runners high.

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Now it is time for our fellow runners to share!

  • What benefits do you get from running more consistently?
  • What tips would you give to runners to help them become more consistent?

Post your response in the comments below.  Thank you!!

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

wise running logo 7_25_12

Putting the Stopwatch Away: Running Bliss

I’m putting my stopwatch away.  Not forever, mind you.  I will get it out for track workouts a couple of times each month.  Other than that, I don’t want to know.  I run for fun.  I run because I enjoy running.  Paying attention to the stopwatch is sometimes fun, but more often than not it has been the source of stress and disappointment.  This was not the case a few months ago.  I have trained for two marathon in the last two years and my times at all distances are gradually improving.  All of that was done ignoring the stopwatch and enjoying the run.

stopwatchSo how did I get into this negative cycle of setting my sights too high and having them torn apart by the reality of the stopwatch?  Success.  I have not won anything recently (not in the last 25 years), but my times have steadily gone down.  In large races, I am now “in the hunt” for age-group glory.  I may be 46, but I am kind of fast for a 46 year old.  I have gotten close a few times and started craving more success.  Worse than that, I started craving it faster.  I want it now!  This is NOT a healthy mindset.  It is not the kind of thinking that allows for enjoying a good long run.

I am going back to:  “Enjoy the run and the results will come.”  This is what brought the meager success that I have had recently.  I will still wear my stopwatch at the track and try to get faster, but not on the long runs.  Not on the pace runs and tempo runs.  Not on the hill training.  No.  I will listen to my body.  I will enjoy the freedom that running offers.  I will bask in runner’s high.  I will run with friends and family without pushing too hard.

I still expect to get faster, albeit very gradually.  If the results don’t get drastically better over time, then so be it.  At least I will have enjoyed the ride.

Happy Running!

Park

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 http://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!

_____________

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

A Word to the Newbie Runner

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
                                                              –   George Sheehan

I recently sent out a message on Twitter asking what questions my fellow runners had.  I received a few interesting topics that I will blog about, but this one struck me.  The tweet from Tricia was this:

 @Wise_Running “what i want to know is how to start from scratch at 40yr old woman”

I followed up by asking, “When is the last time you ran 1 mile?  2 miles?  more?”

Tricia responded, “ummm….. college 20 yrs ago :0) I walk couple miles day and elliptical – I really did mean from scratch (correct shoes etc)”.

Wow!  That is a big request.  Moreover, this is an absolutely critical juncture for Tricia.  She wants to transition from a walker to a runner.  Her experience in the next month or two will determine whether she likes running or not.  No pressure, right?

So here it is.  This blog post is for all of the newbie runners out there.

______________________________________________________________________

Step 1:  Realize Who You Are

You become a runner when you take that first bouncy step, that first longer stride.  You don’t have to be fast.  You don’t have to run forever.  If you start running, you are a runner.  Welcome to the club. :)

Step 2:  Get Good Shoes

Running can feel torturous if you have the wrong shoes.  Do not begin any serious attempt at running until you have shoes designed for running.  Everyone has different needs, but I will not leave it at that.  Go to your nearest running store.  Do not go to a sporting goods store, a department store, or a discount store.  Go to your nearest running store.  The workers there run.  They are runners.  They want you to enjoy running and they have a way of analyzing your needs and helping you select a good shoe to get you started.  You can go discount or online AFTER you have found your good running shoes.  For the first round, have the experts help you choose and reward them for their effort by buying the shoes from their store.

What other running gear do you actually need?  Not much.  There are many kinds of clothing and accessories available, but if you are just beginning there is no need to get it all.  Let your needs arise and inform your purchases.  If the weather is nice, all you need is shorts, a t-shirt, and supportive undergarments.  As your needs become clear, your local running store can steer you the right direction on the gear that address these needs.

Step 3:  Set a Goal

If you aim for nothing, you are bound to achieve that.  You have to determine a goal before you can decide how to proceed.  A good goal is specific, measurable, & just a step or two ahead of where you are today.  If you have not been exercising at all, your goal will be much lower than the newbie runner who has been seriously walking, using the elliptical machine, or doing aerobics.  If you have lived a sedentary lifestyle, I strongly urge you to become a walker first and gradually graduate to becoming a runner.  If you have been vigorously exercising, then you may be more prepared than you think.  If that is the case, then plan for your first 5k.

Important Note:  Signing up for a 5K or other road races does not mean that you are committing to try to win.  Most runners are racing themselves; they set goals and use a race to check their progress.  It is also a social occasion to meet fellow runners and celebrate each others’ progress.

Step 4:  Get a plan

Do not just run what you feel like running on the days you feel like running.  Get a plan.  If you try to make the plan yourself, there are two major mistakes that newbie runners commonly make.  One of these would be going too far and/or too fast.  That leads to injury.  The other mistake would be to go too short and/or too slow.  Since everyone has a different level of fitness at the beginning, I can’t say in this blog what will be right for you.  Carefully find your level of fitness and get a plan that fits.

There are several training plans that you can find out on the internet for free.  I like the free plans on http://www.halhigdon.com/training/, but there are plenty more out there. Some of these will fit your stage of development as a runner.  Find the one that makes sense to you.  You can also have a tailor-made plan developed for you by a running coach.  A running coach is like a personal trainer, but specializes in running.

Step 5:  Follow the Plan

Once you find or purchase a plan that fits your particular needs, it is time to step out and do it.  As a newbie runner, your main goal is to just get running.  It is not to be speedy; that can come later.  For now it is enough to go forth and run on the days that your plan says to run.  Just follow the plan.  You can tweak it later, after you build some experience.

REMEMBER:  Fast progress leads to injuries!  Slow progress leads to health, happiness, & achievement!

Step 6:  Join a Club

Fellow runners are your greatest source of encouragement and knowledge.  Track clubs and road runners clubs have members of all skill & experience levels.  It is a great place for newbie runners to get connected with other newbies as well as some veterans that can help guide their journey.  My club has several weekly running groups that meet and run anywhere from 7 minute miles up to 12 minute miles.

Step 7:  Have Fun

Yes, running is hard work, but you should enjoy the ride.  Run with friends, laugh, joke, share.  Enjoy the bonus of endorphins.  A good workout will reward you with this form of natural high.

Don’t beat yourself up over a missed run, a bad run, or an injury.  We all have bad days.  Running is no different.  If you have more good days than bad days, eventually you will accomplish your goals. You will begin to build confidence as you gradually become a better runner.  Enjoy the process!

Stay safe.  Stick with it.  Get connected to other runners.

 

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

_____________

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

How I feel after setting a Personal Record (PR)

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