Training and Racing

Extra, Extra, Run All About It

Extra Extra By  Peter Washkowitz

As profiled in the Wall Street Journal on June 23rd, when he's not ensuring the safety and security of all New York City residents, police commissioner Ray Kelly is protecting his body...from becoming out of shape. On average, the head of the NYC police works out four times a week for a least a an hour. A knee operation three years ago made Kelly switch from running outdoors to using a treadmill while he jogs on for 30 minutes unless his knee is bothering him wherein he will walk on a treadmill at a speed of 4.4mph. When he's not running, Kelly weightlifts. When asked what his workout weakness is, Kelly responded that he doesn't, "stretch enough...I know I should do it more, and I'd like to do yoga, but I just don't have time". Whether it's running down a suspect or running for fitness, it's nice to see that the top NYC brass shares a similar view of fitness and exercise as I. I'll keep that in mind should I have find myself having problems with the law!

As profiled on Examiner.com on June 25th, maybe the 'Bridge To Nowhere' is actually the 3-mile route Alaska Governor Sarah Palin runs every other day. While she isn't the smartest runner int he corral, Palin is an avid runner and admits that she, "usually write[s] my best speeches
and letters [in my head] while out running". I cannot believe I am writing this, but I have to agree with the governor in that I usually have some of my best thoughts while I am running and can certainly understand what she means. Besides that, however, I tend to disagree with everything else she says.

As reported on CBSNews.com on June 25th, according to Ian Shrier MD, PhD, a specialist in sports medicine and Associate Professor at McGill University, stretching before working out, contrary to popular opinion, "...does not improve performance. It makes you run slower, jump not as high, and makes you weaker...stretching definitely can hurt people if you overstretch; people do it all the time if they force the stretch". While Shrier is not a big fan of pre-workout stretching, he does believe that warming up is crucial, "If you start running at full speed without warming up, your body will produce lactic acid. Lactic acid can impair muscle function for awhile, preventing you from sprinting efficiently at the end of the race". I rarely, if ever, have stretched before runs and have always wondered why so many people do so. From the way people contort their bodies before races, I was always amazed that more people did not injure themselves before the race had even begun. Thanks Dr. Shrier for proving my intuition correct!

As reported on BBCNews.com on June 26th, a pair of Scottish club athletes (one man, one woman) were banned from running in the Edinburgh Marathon for life after they were caught swapping entry numbers. The man, running with the woman's bib number, finished in a time which put the woman in the top 10 female runners. After a member of the pair's running club saw the finishing times, he altered the club and noted that the woman's finishing time was far too fast for her. Noting how disastrous it could have been had the man needed medical attention while wearing the woman's bib, the Scottish Athletics association released a statement noting, "the use of borrowed competitor numbers not only undermines the integrity of results, prizes and rankings issued by the sport but potentially has serious implications in the case of medical treatment to an athlete and alerting next of kin". Aside from being banned for life, I'm sure the man got punished in a second way as well: he has been the butt of many jokes from his friends for his lady-like finishing time!

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Next Weekend's Marathons

Saturday, July 4th
Foot Traffic Flat Marathon (Portland, OR)

The Thrill of Running Relays

This guest post was written by our running friend Teri, a runner with arguably the most enthusiasm we've ever seen for relay races.   She's pouring her heart and soul into her new site related to relays and we admire her relay passion.  In this post, Teri discusses some legendary relays and we can't help but wonder how we can find our way on a relay race soon.

GEDC0221 The Hood to Coast Relay

Perhaps you’ve heard of a little tiny race we have out here in Oregon called the Hood to Coast.  Every August, 12,000 runners converge on the slopes of Mt. Hood and start a 197 mile journey over the highways and byways of Oregon, through sleepy towns with names like Jewel and Mist, to finally make it to the Oregon Coast at the town of Seaside.  Runners begin their journey during the heat of Friday afternoon and run through the night into the next day, before finishing in the late afternoon.  For many, the Hood to Coast is a race on their lifetime must-do list, and for good reason.  It is the “Mother of All Relays” after all.  Competition to get in to this race is so fierce that entries are chosen by lottery in October;  it has filled on opening day for the past 11 years.

The Secret About Relays

But let me let you in on a little secret.  The magic is not in the Hood to Coast event.  The magic is in the relay race itself.

When Running Becomes A Team Sport

The Hood to Coast is wildly successful for two reasons:  it was one of the first overnight relays, and it is a whole lot of fun to do.  Established in 1982, the Hood to Coast isn’t the oldest relay (that honor goes to the DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay, founded in 1965), but it was one of the first to go long and overnight.  As new runners were introduced to the event over the years, they became the event’s biggest cheerleaders, often starting their own teams in their enthusiasm to spread the word about this fun new way to run together.

WWR2006_0318_jpg So why is a relay so much fun to do? 

I think it is in part that relays provide the runner a unique experience.  In a sport where you are often alone to face the miles, relays offer a chance to take on a race as a team.   Your individual performance matters, but only to a point.  In a relay, you become part of something bigger than your own mile split.  You spend your time cheering on your team mates, swapping running stories, meeting new friends, and creating a lifetime of memories.  Any time you spend 24 hours in a van with your friends (old or new), doing the thing you love, while battling the elements and sleep deprivation, you’re going to have a few stories to tell.  I have not yet met anyone who hasn’t loved doing a relay.  I have met plenty of people who decided to try one on a whim and who return year after year because they had so much fun.  It’s the nature of the race.

But What Is It Really Like?

A typical relay will have a series of legs – usually between 3 and 8 miles long – that travel along roads and trails much like a typical road race.  Many relays capitalize on scenic highways and less traveled sections of road through areas that typically don’t see many races.  In a 12 person relay like the Hood to Coast, teams are split in to two vans, so that one van does their set of six legs, swaps off with van #2 and takes a rest, then does their second set of legs, rests again and then does their final set of legs before hitting the finish line and waiting for their team.  As a runner, that means you will be running between 13 and 16 miles over a 26-27 hour period.  Training-wise, it’s a lot like training for a ½ marathon (if you want to be serious about it!!!).

But the best part of the relay is the team camaraderie that develops while spending many long hours in a van with fellow runners.  Along the way, many inside jokes, crazy stories, and general nuttiness ensues.  Your individual time becomes less important to you; it’s just a fun way to go out for a competitive run.  For seasoned teams, decorating the van, dreaming up creative team names, and developing costumes becomes paramount.  It’s also not unusual to develop long-standing rivalries with teams you see from year to year.  In fact, my running group was founded by a two groups of runners who met many years ago at the Rainier to Pacific relay.  That just doesn’t happen at a typical road race.

As one participant in the Wild West Relay (Colorado) said, “I just have to let you know that this was the very best race I have ever run in. I usually bypass races because I get too nervous, but this race was so much FUN that I am going to run it every year until I keel over.”  That’s the kind of magic you find in a relay race.

WWR2006_1321_jpg So Many Options

Because I am such a big fan of running relays, and I realized that I actually knew a bit about them, I decided to start a blog dedicated to running relays.  One of my first tasks was to start compiling a list of relays across the United States.  I knew that there were a few besides the Hood to Coast, but I was shocked to learn that there are at least 37 other long distance relays (over 150 miles) and 54 mid-length relays (27 miles – 150 miles) currently on the race schedule, not to mention countless marathon length and less relays.  They take place in every month of the year, except for December.  The options for running a relay are plentiful.   There are even several choices for those who would prefer to walk a relay.  And the race docket continues to grow every year as race directors realize how popular relays have become.

Are You Excited Yet?

If running a relay sounds like something you’d like to do, start checking out the calendar of events and see what races might be in your area.  Most races have a bulletin board where teams post their need for runners (which always happens at the last minute) – this can be a great way to learn about what a relay is like and give you the confidence to start your own team.  You can also check in with the local running clubs; many will send teams to the races in the area, and you may be able to join the club and get on the team.  If you are a great salesperson, you can round up your own team and go for it.  You can always use the relay forum in the Runner’s Lounge to ask your questions and get more information.

Happy running!

Getting Faster Part III: Threshold Training

This is the third in a series of articles on Getting Faster.

The first article explained Repeat Training and stressed the importance of taking full time to recovery between repeats.

Puzzle pieces The second article on Interval Training stressed that the "interval" is not the distance we run but the amount of recovery time and how essential it is to limit the amount of recovery between runs.

Slowing we're unraveling the puzzle of speed work. 

Another way of talking about Getting Faster is improving our ability to not slow down.  One of the best ways to not slow down is through threshold training.

While it’s considered speed work, threshold training is actually endurance training.  Threshold training extends our body’s ability to hold a higher level of intensity for a longer period of time.  It’s known as "threshold" running because we run near our “lactate threshold,” the rate at which lactate acid—the stuff that makes us slow down—builds up in the blood stream faster than we can eliminate it.

Before we can understand getting faster we also have to know a little about what slows us down.  We’ve all experienced those moments running when everything seems to be clicking.  Breathing, let turnover, and overall comfort is going great.  We think to ourselves, “Wow, if I can just hold this pace, I’ll be rocking!”  Then, unexplainably, things go wonky.  We start to feel a little slower, but we try to fight off the wonkiness.  Then, we try applying even greater effort only to slow down more.  We’re working harder, moving slower, and it feels like someone handed us a piano.

All this slowing down happens because lactic acid accumulates in our bloodstream faster than we can get rid of it through respiration and blood flow.  We feel sluggish because our bodies can’t produce energy as fast as we’re consuming it. That level of lactic acid build-up and elimination is our “threshold,” and it’s the threshold that we are trying to increase in training.

So the goal is to increase the “threshold” or level that we can run without accumulating so much lactic acid that it grips our muscles and cardio system.  If we run at or slightly higher than our lactate threshold, we expand our ability to hold a strong pace.  

Our lactate threshold is roughly the pace we could run for about an hour, or as some call it, “comfortably hard.”  The most common form of threshold training is a tempo run, a run ranging from 20 – 45 minutes.  

To stretch our ability to hold a pace, we have two options.  Option one: Repeat the same tempo run distance once a week for several weeks and increase our ability to run it more comfortably, confidently, and with easier recovery.  Option two: increase the distance each week by half a mile or by 3 – 4 minutes. Both approaches to tempo runs accomplish the same benefit—stretching our ability to run at threshold pace.  Plus there is a huge psychological benefit.  After a well-executed tempo run, we should feel tired, but not spent, challenged but not as if we just finished a race. After my best tempo runs, I actually feel that if I had needed, I could have run faster or longer.

With the right threshold training, we should feel energized.

To effectively do a tempo run, most runners head to a track and wear a watch to monitor their time, making sure they don’t run too fast.  There are no rewards for finishing a tempo run faster than the goal pace. Like in racing the challenge of tempo running is to not go out too fast.  The early part of a tempo run should seem very manageable. The negative outcome of threshold training comes in trying to run tempo runs above or below the threshold.  If we under or overdo it, the benefit is missed.

Daniels Run Formula Again the critical question is how fast do I run tempo runs?  To learn what pace to run your interval workouts, check out this training pace calculator.  You'll be advised precisely which pace to run tempo runs based on the research and expertise of Jack Daniels, recognized as “the world’s greatest running coach."  As for how much, threshold training is typically limited to no more than10% of weekly mileage. Begin with a warmup of easy running and strides.

An alternative to traditional tempo runs are "cruise intervals," which are runs covering 5 - 12 minutes or one to two miles with about 3 minutes recovery between runs.  They accomplish nearly the same benefit but offer a break to look forward to between runs.  There are plusses and minuses to recovery in cruise intervals.  The biggest plus—they make the difference in completing the workout at the appropriate pace.  The biggest minus—they're  unlike races, which don't offer a recovery break.

Next in the series: Where to Hills and Fartlek fit into speed training?  And when do we schedul all these different elements of training—repeats, intervals, tempo runs—into our training routines?

Getting Faster-Part II: Interval Training

This is Part II in a series of articles about Getting Faster.

Part I discussed Repeat workouts and explained these points.

  • Repeats are generally shorter distances, e.g., 200s, 400s, 600s run at faster speeds that we can repeat multiple times without sacrificing intensity;  we “repeat” the distance with the same quality at the end as at the beginning of the workout
  • Repeats improve our anaerobic capacity, develop new muscles, build speed, and make us familiar with more rapid, efficient, and fluid leg turnover
  • Recovery between repeats is subjective, giving ourselves enough recovery to hit our time goal on the next repeat
  • Recovery guidelines for repeats are generally two to four times the amount of time spent running the repeat

Daniels Run Formula Intervals

Interval training is what many runners have in mind when we talk about speed work.

The key difference between repeat training versus interval training is the recovery period.  In repeat training we allow full recovery; in interval training we limit the recovery time.

Contrary to popular belief, the “interval” is not the distance we run, but the time between runs spent recovering.  So if you say you’re heading to the track to do 800s, that doesn’t make them intervals.  Again, the “interval” actually refers to the time spent recovering, not running at a high intensity.

The goal for interval training is to “accumulate” time spent running at a very high level and increase our body's ability to adapt and eventually run at a sustained, higher anaerobic pace for longer periods.  Over time interval training helps us string together multiple demanding efforts into that dazzling 5k or half marathon PR .  

Interval training is marked by running at a challenging pace, stopping to rest—but only partially recover—and then resume running while our heart rates are still elevated—and while we’re still sweaty.  Let’s say we’re doing 800m interval training.  By running five 800s at 4-minute pace, we accumulate 20 minutes of anaerobic training (high heart rate).

Recovery For interval workouts, a general guideline for the amount of recovery time between runs should be equal to or less than the time spent running. For example, if we’re running those interval 800s at 4 minute pace, then our recovery time is also four minutes or less before starting our next 800.   Between runs, active recovery, a blend of walking and jogging, helps prevent stiffness and keeps heart rate elevated. I remember as a high school and college runner our coach would holler for us to step up to the line for the next 800, while we would cling to and plead for every last second of recovery.

When designing our interval workouts, we can choose any distance we prefer ranging from 400 meters to 1200 meters, or a better rule of thumb might be runs ranging three to five minutes.   Regardless of the distance, we run roughly the same pace.  If we run our 800s at 4-minute pace, we would run our 400s at 2-minute pace, 600s at 3-minute pace, 1000s at 5-minute pace, etc.  The challenge and the benefit of running intervals always comes back to controlling the recovery time, not running faster.

I like to schedule intervals into my training after three to four weeks of building up my speed by running repeats.  I’m ready to ramp up my interval workouts when I’ve successfully run my workouts for three to four weeks or if I’ve proven my fitness level in a race. 

The biggest unanswered question is “how fast?”  To learn what pace to run your interval workouts, check out this training pace calculator, which is based on the research and expertise of Jack Daniels, recognized as “the world’s greatest running coach."  As for how much, interval running is typically limited to no more than 8% of weekly mileage. 

In his book Daniel's Running Formula, he provides a great deal of useful information about all forms of training, including tables and charts of what paces and intensities to run speed workouts, and tips for when to include speed work into your training schedules.  He also provides sample training schedules for popular racing distances for all levels of runners from beginner to elite.

Next in this Getting Faster series: Threshold Training

Interval recovering on Flickr by Gordon McGregor

Getting Faster: Understanding the puzzle of speed work

Running miles over and over gets you better at what?  The answer: it gets you better at running miles over and over.

And so it goes that running faster gets you better at, you guessed it, running faster.

Puzzle pieces But what is speed work?  What are repeats?  Aren’t they the same as intervals? And how are they different than tempo runs.  And where do Fartlek and hill training fit in?  Finally, when do we run different types of speed work in our training schedule?  Why? And how do we do speed work right?

This week at Runners’ Lounge we’re focusing on getting faster, which happens less as a result of running our friends’ workouts or old high school coach’s workouts.  Instead, getting faster happens by understanding and applying the right types of training.

For years I confused and threw around common terms of speed work interchangeably.  It wasn’t until I read Jack Daniel’s Running Formula that I more fully understood the different types of training and how to put them together in my own training plan.  So this is the first in a series of posts about how the whole puzzle of speed work comes together.

Part I: Repeats

Repeats are not intervals.  When we do intervals, the term ‘interval” actually refers to the time spent recovering.  More on intervals later.

Repeats are generally shorter distances, e.g., 200s, 400s, 600s that we run at faster speeds that we can repeat several times in a workout.  Repeats improve the speed, efficiency and fluidness of our leg turnover.  Repeats don’t improve our ability to run sustained speed; those improvements come with interval and threshold training. We run repeats to become familiar and comfortable with a higher intensity of running. 

The key to repeats is being able to “repeat” the distance with the same quality at the end as at the beginning of the workout.  For example, if you’re running repeat 8 x 400s, the goal should be to hit the same finish time pace for each 400.  However, if you’re trying to run each repeat a little faster each time and get a scorching PR on that last 400 to brag about, then you’re not doing repeats and you’re missing the maximum benefit of the workout.  

To do a repeat workout well means managing the recovery time. Rather than limit your recovery to a specific amount of time for recovery (that’s running intervals), you manage a repeat workout subjectively giving yourself enough recovery to hit your time goal without hitting the fatigue that slows you down. 

A general guideline when running repeats is to take two to four times the duration of your repeat to recover.  Between the first several repeat 400s you might need around three minutes to adequately recover.  But between the last several repeat 400s, you might need closer to four minutes. That’s okay because the goal is to run each 400 at a comparable stress level, not faster.

Simply, we should take enough recovery time to be ready to run each distance with the same quality as the first—so you can repeat the intensity and quality of the running!  We should step up to the line feeling confident we’re able to perform the next run as well as the ones before it.  That’s what makes it a repeat!

The downside to running repeat speed workouts is we can become a little tight and stiff while recovering. Plus the overall time for our running workout takes longer to perform.

The great thing about repeat workouts is you can create lots of different combinations.  I like 200s, 300s and 600s, but I don’t care for 400s—flashbacks of my high school track workouts.  A favorite workout of mine is 3 x 200 + 1 x 300, and do a couple sets of these. You can also do longer repeats such as 800s, 1000s and 1200s, when they fit into the race distance for which you’re training.  

A rule of thumb is to limit repeat training to about 5% of total weekly mileage.  Any more than 5%, plus any other quality speed training, leads to diminishing the quality of running the rest of the week, to overtraining, and to the likeliness of injury.

Daniels Run Formula Repeat training is often included more in training for 5k – 10k races.  In terms of placement in the training program, repeats generally come before interval training in order to help the body adapt to running faster with full recovery before adapting to limited recovery.

For the past few decades I’ve read everything about running I could get my hands on.  Overwhelmingly, some of the best technical information, explained in practical terms, is found in Jack Daniel’s Running Formula.  In the book, he provides a great deal of useful information about all forms of training, including tables and charts of what paces and intensities to run speed workouts, and tips for when to include speed work into your training schedules.  He also provides sample training schedules for popular racing distances for all levels of runners from beginner to elite.

Next in the series: Interval Training

Puzzle on Googe Images by Lydia's Old Disks

Spring Training Tips

I hate winter, I yearn for spring, I enjoy summer and adore fall.  So it should be no surprise that my running follows the same path.  

Because my good intentions during winter rarely result in an equal amount of good running, I find myself impatiently trying to catch up in spring.  I push my running, trying to make up for lost time and lost runs of the winter.  Those runs I abandoned to instead stay warm under a quilt with a cup of hot chocolate or those runs I cut short because I thought my head would explode if I took one more step on a treadmill. 

With the first hint at reasonable weather, I am back running in full force.  I try to pick up where I left off an entire season ago.  I tell "rest" to take a hike and "recovery" it isn't worth it and try to pack in the miles and quickly build a base.  Because I just know that the faster I build a base means the faster I can do more and go faster.

Yeah right.

"Quickly build a base" shouldn't be allowed to be used in the same phrase.   If I "quickly build a base" I will generally find myself just as quickly searching sportsinjuryclinic.net to find out why my knee hurts or hip has pain.   And if I run through the warning signs, I find myself even more quickly wishing I hadn't rushed into spring training.

Based on my lessons learned the hard way, my spring training tip is to give yourself the time and luxury of building a base, one run at a time, which leaves you feeling stronger and with more enjoyable runs.   Don't push it, don't cram them in, and be smart about recovery and rest.   Run more slowly and planfully in the spring so you can enjoy summer and fall running at your peak.

If you are brushing off the cobwebs of your running, don't forget to pick up a few more tips from other runners as well from the Know How section:

13 Words of Wisdom

Great Posts on Lessons Learned

Great Posts on General Running Advice

Great Posts on Obvious Running Mistakes

 And stop by Take It and Run Thursday and leave your spring training tips!

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My Cardinal Sin of Running

Smart training makes you better. 

Not so smart training makes you injured. 

There is a fine line in between the two that is made up of the word 'recovery'.

I cross the line everytime.

Running gods, can you forgive me this one time?

Stop by Thursday and drop off your running sins as part of our Common Mistakes and Cardinal Sins of Running TIaRT.

How Do You Learn?

Over my years of running, I have come to realize that all my great running lessons have either come one of two ways.  The easy way or the hard way,

If I sit down and count up and sort out all of my lessons, I find that I have a big pile of lesssons learned the hard way.  I have learned them, or how I like to think about it - earned them - myself.  These lessons came because I ...

  • ran too much,
  • too little
  • too fast
  • too slow
  • didn't eat enough
  • ate too much
  • didn't stretch
  • didn't listen to my body
  • didn't listen to reason
  • didn't know better
  • should have known better
  • didn't think
  • over thought
  • and on and on...

Runners can be stupidly stubborn people when it comes to running. And I think I can say that because I find myself falling into that category most days.  I am a perfectly logical, rational person - until it comes to my running.   And because of that, I have taken myself to school many times to learn the lessons of running.

But I also have a nice pile of lessons learned the "easy way".  Each lesson in the stack has been passed on by another runner.  Lessons of recovery, moderation, hydration, training, racing, stretching, strength training, great music.   These free lessons in running have been passed on quickly and generously from other runners.  Many times, they were lessons THEY learned the hard way and now want to share them with others.  

Before the Lounge, my pile of lessons learned the easy way was quite small.  I had some running friends, but not the 1000's I know and love today.  Now, I find it much easier and less painful to reach out to many of you for advice and information on how to make my running better.   And for that I am thankful and lucky.

This theme in the Lounge this week is "Runners Helping Runners".  From the podcast tomorrow which talks about the support of virtual races, to Take It and Run Thursday which asks runners to post their running questions for others to answer - we hope you can find some lessons you can share and use.  The goal of the Lounge is to make sure your pile of easy lessons always out weigh your earned "hard lessons".    

So how do you learn best?



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Don't Underestimate 5 Minutes of Strength Training

I am a relatively reasonable person.  I know the logic that shows that a stronger core equals better running.   And even if I wasn't swayed by the scientific arguments, I surely would be reminded as I reach for my monthly edition of Runners World and see the great abs of world class runners.

But even with the healthy doses of logic and emotion, I must admit that vigorous strength training falls to the bottom of my list of running to do's.  I had tried to add it into my running training, but find that I could conveniently find myself out of time or energy before I completed what I needed to do.

In an effort to outsmart myself, I finally found a way to marry my running and strength training in a consistent manner.   Now, after all my short runs (for me, anything under 6 miles), I have a pact to take a 5 minute "active cool down".  For 5 minutes, I alternate sets of pushups and situps, resting 15 seconds between sets.  When I started, I found that I could do small sets of 5-10 of each.   But as the weeks went on, I found the size of my sets and repititions have increased.   I still haven't swayed from the 5 minute deadline.  I find it is fun to see how many I can pack into 5 minutes versus the prior week or prior workout.

And when the 5 minutes is done, I treat myself to a 30-60 second stretch on my back.   It feels so good to lay down and stretch out!

While I still try to add in a more traditional strength training exercise day, I have found that these 5 minute sessions have made me a bit stronger.   I don't underestimate 5 minutes anymore.

This week in the Lounge, we have strength training as our topic for Take It and Run Thursday.  Take a few minutes to jot down your strength training tips and drop them off in the Lounge Strength Training section or as part of Take It and Run Thursday.   Show off your advice of how you fit a good strength training routine in a few minutes a day.

Here are a couple great articles you might also enjoy:

Strength Training - Keep it simple for runners

5 Tips for a Healthier, Stronger Core

How to do a pullup when you can't do a pullup

Airsquats


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Reasons and Excuses

There are two things that stand in my way of each one of my running goals:  Reasons and Excuses.

Reasons are those things mostly out of my control to change in the short term that I need to find a way to manage and plan around.  Reasons can be traveling for work or work deadlines, family activities, my kids schedules, constraints of winter weather, my running speed, other obligations that take a much higher priority.   In the first few years of running, I tried to bulldoze the reasons and work against them.  These reasons would frustrate me and make it feel impossible to hit the running goal I desired.   As I got smarter about my running and my training, I learned to accept those things that I probably couldn't change and find ways to manage and plan around them and with them.  

I have mastered the art of managing around reasons.

But excuses - they are a completely different issue.  Excuses are slippery, slimy, sneaky intrusions to my running that catch me off guard.  If I let my defenses down even a little, I find my excuses take over my running schedule and eat through my running motivation.  That makes me mad somedays because unlike reasons, excuses are controllable.  In fact, they are probably even preventable.  If I choose to treat them like excuses and don't turn them into faux reasons.

And it's hard because I am full of excuses to not run during this time of year.  Because I am "too tired", "too busy".   Or because it is "too cold", "too snowy", "too dark", "too hard", "too long".   Or even because I think there is something of a high priority or urgency than my runs.   What could be more important than taking care of me and my health?   Heck, what is more important than running?

As many years as I have been running, it is the excuses that derail my running much faster than the reasons.  

But in my running career, in those times when I have managed reasons and exiled excuses, I have found that I am able to reach goals that I once thought unreachable.   This week in the Lounge as we talk about "Boston and beyond" which translates to taking on big, hairy, audious goals - I know that the key to my success lies in recognizing the difference between a reason and excuse and then running around and through all of them.

Join us tomorrow for Take It and Run Thursday as we talk about "secrets to boston" and how to take on your big running goals.

And until then, do me a favor and stop by Nancy's blog today and wish her well as she manages through a reason that she can't run.  She could use some good cheer!

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