Tag Archives: running

Just Keep Running

23 Sep

So you registered for a race several months ago.  You found a training plan, plotted your strategy, and got to work.  Before you knew it, the training consumed you.  You found yourself talking about last weekend’s long run to all your friends, reading running blogs during your lunch break, and laying in bed thinking about tomorrow’s tempo.  Week in, week out, you train harder, get stronger, and come closer to your goal.  Then it hits you, and you get a little bored.

All of a sudden, the routes become a bit monotonous, you would really love a Saturday morning to sleep in, and the thought of a 20 mile run sounds a lot less exciting than going out with your friends.  But unfortunately for you, just when things get a little tough, you really need to be stepping it up.  So how do you keep going?  What keeps you motivated?

With both my first marathon and the one I’m currently working towards, I’ve done nearly all the training on my own.  While I’ve had family, friends, and a GF to lean on through the good times and the bad, it has been up to me to get out of bed and onto the road.  Some of you might be on you own like me, or maybe you have a running team, but either way, training can be very tough.  Keeping up that high energy and motivation is crucial.

Here are a few good ways I’ve discovered to help keep myself motivated.

Read: When you’re not actually running, why not be reading about running?  Usually books and magazines don’t talk about how horrible something is (and if they do…put it down), they build it up!  Which is exactly what you need.  I subscribe to Runners World and the Washington Running Report.  Both give great racing tips, interesting stories, and new techniques to help out with your running.  A few great novels, if you haven’t read them already, are Born to Run and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Watch: Nothing better than a good motivational running movie.  I recently watched Spirit of the Marathon with KFB.  It followed around 8 runners as they trained for the Chicago Marathon.  The runners ranged from elite to first timers, each with a unique story that brought them to the marathon.  It was a great reminder about why I love to run.  Another good running movie is Prefontaine, the amazing story about Steve Prefontaine, a record holding track runner.  I also try to watch all Ironman and Marathon coverage on NBC Sports.  Nothing makes you want to get off the couch and onto the trail more than a movie or show that makes you feel lazy.

Talk: This one is a no brainer, but I often find myself embarrassed to bring it up.  Don’t forget to keep talking about your training!  Share your excitement with your friends and family and they will get just as excited.  It always feels great when someone asks you about how many miles you did that week, or how many weeks left before the big race.  You have nothing to be embarrassed about, you are training for a race!

Ultimately, all training lies solely in your hands, which can be very scary.  Once you lose that motivation, your miles will start to fall flat.  Keep up the motivation, and keep running.

So how do you stay motivated to keep up your training?  Any other books or movies you would recommend?


Take Your Mark: The Parks Half-Marathon

13 Sep

Parks Half Marathon Course Map

I should start by saying one thing, this was just my second Half Marathon.  While I’ve run 13.1 miles many times in training, I haven’t raced that distance since I was in high school.  Back when I didn’t really run and wasn’t in shape, my family decided it would be fun to run the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  I crossed the finish line in just over 2:00, but came close to death in the process.  If you have ever run a Rock and Roll race, you know what is involved.  Lots of people, lots of music, and lots of distractions.  All of which can be great.  All of which are meant to take you away from what you came there to do.

The Parks Half Marathon was nothing like the Rock and Roll.  And it was awesome.  This race didn’t have cheerleaders at every mile, it didn’t have bands blasting throughout the race, and no Team In Training filling the masses.  There was no finishers medal, just a beanie with the race’s logo on it.  Instead what you had was just you, 13.1 miles of trail, and only about 2500 other racers.

The course is easily the most beautiful route I’ve run in a race.  After the first few miles of road, added mostly to allow for the pack to separate a bit, you file into Rock Creek Park and stay in the park the rest of the way.  I run a lot of my weekly miles through Rock Creak, but never make it to the northern part.  This section of the park is definitely my new favorite.  Nearly all of the 10 or so miles on the trail was far from any roads, deep under tree coverage, and extremely peaceful.

As you can see from the elevation chart below, most of the course is at a slight downgrade.  This allowed for fast starts and quick strides.  I went out a little harder than usual, feeling good and strong.  Somewhere around mile 5, I started feeling that speed a bit.  While I was still feeling good, I was concerned about my pace and knew that the climb was coming during the last few miles.  By mile 8 my legs were beginning to hurt.  For a second I considered slowing down, fearing to push myself too hard in the middle of my training.  Then I had an epiphany, and it sounded a little something like this, “Doug, you’re running a half marathon race, of course you are getting tired, and of course you are starting to hurt.  This is 13.1 miles!  Now get your ass into gear and move, damn it!” (yeah, I swear a lot in my head while running…).  Well it worked.  I picked up my pace even more and held steady through the finish line.

The race was rainy, full of mud, and farther away from DC than I thought, but I’ll definitely be running it again.  You just can’t beat the course or the vibe from the other runners.  It was everything distance running should be.

The Elevation Chart

Running Through Vacation

5 Sep

Mt. Katahdin, Maine

Well, you might have wondered where I’ve been the past few weeks.  I’m happy to report that I have been touring the North East on a series of mini vacations, moving apartments (more on that to come), and enjoying the summer.  August started out with a trip to Rhode Island, where I maxed and relaxed with KFB’s family in Narragansett.  This was my first trip to RI, and it was beautiful.  We had perfect weather, with the sun shinning bright and the breeze dropping temperatures to the low 80s.  The cool crisp mornings fulfilled the much-needed break from DC’s disastrous summer, providing the perfect atmosphere for a nice run.  After 5 days in RI, I came back to DC only to turn around and head to Atlantic City for a Bachelor Party.  This was also my first trip to AC, and well, I think I did pretty good for myself.  While running was at a minimum, I did almost pay for the whole trip in roulette winnings.  We did plenty of gambling, made plenty of funny memories, and of course drank plenty of beer.  To wrap up my August vacations, I headed to the mountains of Maine, for a short backpacking trip through Baxter State Park with some family.  In Baxter we climbed Mt. Katahdin, the final leg of the Appalachian Trail.  I’ve been through many parts of the AT, and I have to say that Katahdin was one of the most beautiful.  The mountain is very dramatic, with incredible views of the surrounding area.

For many people, running and vacation don’t seem to fit well in one sentence.  Unless, of course, “I’m not running on vacation” is the sentence.  But when you are in the middle of training, for whatever length, “I’m not running on vacation” isn’t always an option.  Having done a lot of it over the past few weeks, I’m here to say that my vacation runs (with the exception of AC…for obvious reasons) have been some of my best runs of this training season.

Running on vacation can be great.  Here are a few reasons way:

1)      It’s Fresh – So often I find myself running the same routes, several times a week.  I run past the same intersections, up the same hills, and through the same neighborhoods almost every day.  For the most part I could do it with my eyes closed.  This can be great, but can also be boring.  Vacation gives you the opportunity to explore this new town, city, state, or country that you probably don’t know very well.

Narragansett, RI

While in Rhode Island I went out for what I planned to be about a 10 mile run.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew that if I went out this one road, it would follow the coastline for several miles.  A few miles down the road, I found several cut-off streets that sent me right down to the water.  I saw some amazing views and explored some incredible neighborhoods.  Minutes and miles were flying by as I ran through these new streets.  Several times I even found a smile on my face, as I turned the corner to a new overlook.  I ended up running what I believe to be about 12-13 miles, and enjoying every minute of it.

2)       Change of Weather –  With a new location comes new weather.  Going on vacation doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to find cooler weather if your hometown is hot, or warmer weather if your hometown is cold, but it mixes it up!  Lucky for me most of my vacations were up north, providing some ideal weather conditions for a lengthy run.

Once I got off the trail in Maine, I took some time to go out for a run.  Even though my legs were well used throughout the hike and climb, I wanted to make sure I kept up with some miles.  I went on a jog around a lake in the small town of Winthrop.  The scenery was great, but the weather even better.  The cooler temperatures definitely helped power the senses and get me going.

3)       Lose the Mileage –  If you are anything like me, you often find yourself totally caught up in your mileage.  Too frequently I’m so focused on how many miles I’ve run this week that I forget to have fun.  I pick my routes for the length, not the enjoyment.  Because you usually don’t know where you are going when you take off for a jog while on vacation, it gives you the option to just go out there and run.  Don’t bother opening up your mapmyrun account, and just use the watch. Tell yourself that you want to go out for a certain amount of time, and take off.  Go wherever the road takes you, and explore whenever looks interesting.

Running through your vacation can seem like an added stress you would rather just leave at home, but if you look at it as a good vacation outing, it can be a real highlight.  Keep up your running, keep enjoying your vacation.

Anyone else do any vacation running this summer?

Enjoy The Hay Say? Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter!

Time for Tempo Runs

26 Jul

I modeled this year’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon after the training schedule I used for Baltimore last year. The major difference between the two years is the type of mileage I’m putting in.

Last year, when I started training I was not a very serious runner. I ran cross country in high school, but hardly ever ran more than 3 or 4 miles at a time after that. I hadn’t received much training, and never considered myself a very knowledgeable runner. Since then, I’ve become more self-taught. I’m often reading articles, learning how to get stronger, faster, and stay injury free.

One of the major changes to this year’s training over the last, is adding Tempo Runs to my weekly workout. I know that a lot of the traffic to my blog comes from runners like me, out training for one of their first long races, who have plenty of questions about what they are doing.  So I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned and what I’m doing.

Why do Tempo Runs? Simply put, tempo runs help you run faster.  These runs are not sprints, but they are harder than just going out for 5 miles.  There is plenty out there on the science behind tempo runs, but essentially you are pushing your body without burning it out.  John Hanc of Runner’s World Magazine puts it this way, “Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. ‘Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles,; says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, ‘but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.'”

What type of Tempo Running is good for Marathon training? Really, it depends on who you ask.  Some people say to stick to Tempo intervals, while others will tell you to just put in some miles at your Tempo pace.  What I have been doing is pretty simple:

  • The Pace:  a 10 mile race pace.  You want to be able to ask a question to your running partner, but not hold a conversation.  You should be comfortably uncomfortable.  Pushing yourself to the point that you would like to slow down, but not to the point where you NEED to slow down.
  • The Distance:  I have been adding my Tempo Pace to a 5 mile workout day.  I will start with one mile of slow, warm-up pace, then take off for 3 miles at a swifter Tempo Pace.  After roughly 3 miles I’ll slow back down for an easy mile long cool down.

These Tempo days have not been replacing my track workouts.  They should be added as a more difficult day to your running schedule.  I look at it like this, if I run 5 times a week, I have three hard days and two easy light days.  My hard days consist of a long endurance run, a track interval workout, and a tempo day.  The easy days are to help me recover while still getting in the miles.

Now, like I said before, I’m not in any way the most knowledgeable person on this topic.  I am, however, an average runner looking to improve on my previous race times.  I can say with absolute certainty that adding tempo workouts to the mix has both made me stronger and more confident pushing myself on the road.  I suggest you do your own research and come up with the perfect Tempo workout plan for your needs.  You wont regret it.

Like what you see? Follow the RSS feed here or Twitter here.

Bookmark and Share

In The News: Running

20 Jul

Last week NPR’s Diane Rehm brought on some of the big names in the modern running movement.  Christopher McDougall, author of ‘Born to Run’ and barefoot running activist, Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and Runners World editor, and Dr. Stephen Pribut, a sports medicine specialist, all sat down to discuses barefoot running, running trends, and the modern runner.  It is definitely a show worth checking out.

“Millions of Americans run to lose weight, stay in shape or relieve stress. But many suffer injuries that keep them off the road and out of commission. A look at barefoot running and other trends gaining traction.”

Like what you see? Follow the RSS feed here or Twitter here.

Bookmark and Share

Down Dog – Running and Yoga

13 Jul

Last winter several new things came into my life.  One of them was down dog.  As KFB was training to become a certified yoga teacher, I decided to start practicing yoga some myself.  As her teaching guinea pig, I found myself flowing through vinyasa sequences up to a few times a week.  I really started getting into it while the snow was falling throughout the bitter DC iceland.  It was a great way to get the body moving, the heat rising, and the mind grounded.  While it was miserable to run outside, it was incredibly appealing to practice yoga inside.

Now that the snow is long gone, the running shorts are back out of the closet, and the training has begun, yoga might not seem the obvious choice.  And of course, when I’m running 5 times a week, it is harder to find the time to step back onto the mat.  But as I’m putting in more and more miles each week, I see (and feel) more and more reason to make my way into the studio.  The benefits of yoga seem to be endless, but here are just a few ways that I see my practice on my mat affecting my practice on the pavement.

Balance – Yoga is all about balancing your body.  Everything you do on one side of your body, you mirror on the other.  You are working towards equality through each position.  Running should be the same way.  Each movement by one pace should be mimicked on the other side.  A good stride has balance.  If your hips are shifting in one direction, but your ankles another, knee problems are certain to arise.

Breath – Endurance running is all about breath.  If you are constantly trying to catch your breath, you’re miles will be limited.  Yoga makes the connection between breath and movement.  With every inhale and exhale comes a movement, a rhythm, and a flow.  Running is extremely repetitive, finding the connection between the flow of your movement and the natural flow of your breath will bring you directly to that sweet “zone” that every running is searching for.

Strength – If you’ve ever seen a yogi, then there is no doubting their strength.  While traditional yoga might not give you the same cardio workout as biking or swimming, it will certainlly work your abs, legs, arms, and everything in between.  Holding a deep lunge, down dog, or inversion long enough, and you’ll be twice as sore as you were from yesterday’s 8 miles.  Yoga works your core and your upper body, often left out of the typical running workout.

Mind – Long distance running takes a lot of focus.  With every pound of the foot, many runners get too focused on the distance left to travel or the incline of the next hill.  While that is only natural at times, I’ve learned through yoga to focus more on my breath, tune into each part of my body, and mentally dedicate that time and energy to something else.  Once you stop rocking out to yesterday’s top 40 on the ipod, and start focusing more on the movements you are making, the run can fly by leaving you with a strong body and clear mind.

While yoga might not be the first thing a male training for a marathon might think of adding to his weekly training schedule, it will undoubtedly add strength, depth and meaning to your workouts.

Like what you see? Follow the RSS feed here or Twitter here.

Bookmark and Share

Running Northwest

24 Jul

Running Northwest

Roommate and I have decided to take on a new blog dedicated solely to marathoning and running in the district.  We are calling it “Running Northwest” as it will chronicle the pains and triumphs of training through Northwest, DC.

Don’t worry, I’m in no way giving up The Hay Say, but I wanted to keep this site from becoming my running blog.  Running Northwest will be a completely joint effort between Roommate and Myself.

I hope that you will check it out and follow along as we approach 26.2.


Rockville Twilight

21 Jul
Rockville Twilight 8k

Rockville Twilight 8k Course Map

I don’t get out to organized races very often.  In fact this is the first one I’ve run in several years.  But as part of the marathon training, Roommate and I are trying to get out to as many as we can.  Race #1 came last Saturday at the Rockville Twilight 8k Runfest.  We had heard of horrible humidity and tough racing conditions, but this year couldn’t have been better.  With clear skies and about 75 degrees, it was a perfect evening to lace up our Asics and hit the road.

I was really impressed with the organization of the race, and all the excitement surrounding it.  About 2000 people showed up in ready to run.  There were people cheering at nearly every corner, families out in their front yards, a guy dressed up in a banana suit, and even a jazz band that popped up a few times.  The course itself showed us a few hills, keeping the runners challenged and reminding them to push themselves.  I was lucky enough to have a pretty large crowd armed with cowbells, making it impossible to miss them even in the dark.

The post race festivities were just as good as the race itself.  With registration came 4 free beers and band.  My group closed down the party, sticking around until after the stage was torn down and the lights off.  It was a great night, making me excited about the many races to come.

This weekend brings the Crystal City Twilight 5k.  They have big Twilight shoes to fill, let’s see how it goes.


12 May
The Goal.  The Plan.

The Goal. The Plan.

26.2 – A number that means so much for so many.  For me right now, it means, “crap, what did I just do.”

Tonight Roommate and I registered for the Baltimore Marathon.  We are now setting out on a 20 week adventure leading to the finish line.  As I thought about this idea today, I couldn’t help but think what that 20 weeks meant.  Since graduating from college, accepting a job, and moving to DC, I have had little-to-no real goals to work towards.  Sure, I dream of the perfect job, more money, and one day going back to school, but I have no real concrete goal or  plan of action.  26.2, that is a goal.  20 weeks of training, that is the plan.

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress.

%d bloggers like this: