Friday, August 20, 2010


"I admire runners older than I - they are now my heroes. I want to be like them as I grow older." - Frank Shorter

Hi guys - Reading that quote above - the way I'm running lately, I must be like a God to Frank Shorter!! Watch out what you wish for, Frank.

Once again, I'm winging my way northward to see my son Michael, daughter-in-law Joanie, and Grandson, Adam. When Adam was born 10 months ago, my wife, Wendy, and I decided to spend our son's inheritance on roundtrips flying to Boston every two months. So, this week's RWA comes to you from 35,000 feet! Whoa, and I thought 7000 feet of New Mexico was high.

Whether you're training for San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or any other fall marathon, you might want to take a quick look at the calendar - IT'S GETTING CLOSER!!! Seven weeks (Chicago) goes by pretty quickly, especially when the last three weeks are a taper. Some quick New Jersey math tells me that leaves only 4 more intense weeks of training. Now, if you're going to Tupelo, well, then looking at the calendar might give you quite a start as that's only 2 weeks away!! Training for the marathon is not Rocket Science folks, but it's not a "fall-out-of-the-bed-and-decide-to-race" thing either. Many of you will be diving into the marathon world for the first time and as with anything else, it's probably best to follow the road paved by previous divers. The schedule I put out is one of a 100 different ones you can find, all of them with their merits and criticisms. Several times in the past mine was said to not have enough 20 milers, not being specific enough about speed or not telling you how much to do each day. I aim my schedule totally towards the first timer and is based on putting miles in your legs, but can be modified any way you want. I don't think a new runner needs to get too hung up on tempo runs, intervals, or even a bunch of hill training. Put miles in your legs to build endurance, because without that foundation, your house-of-cards training program will come crashing down. If you'd like a copy, drop me an email and I'll gladly send it (

Being consistent with the training and knowing when to cut back to allow a little rest are by far the two most important aspects of training. I have always felt that the most important distances to do in training are in the 13-17 mile range. This will get most runners in the two and a half hour range. The 20 miler is mostly a dress rehearsal test, and most of the benefit is more psychological than physical. In doing 13-17 miles, you teach your body how to spare the stored and ingested carbohydrates, and how to burn fat much more efficiently, without beating yourself up. When you do your first 20 miler, you will cry "How will I ever go another 6?" Trust me, I wouldn't leave you unprepared to get to the finish. If you're training for a fall marathon (or half), from here on out, every run you do, whether it's 20 miles or 5 miles, you should be picturing in your mind that the marathon will feel like this. Try to picture yourself IN the race itself. Visualization teaches your mind what to expect long before you toe the starting line. The topic of visualization will be blog all by itself, but for now, just know that all this physical AND mental training will NOT make running a marathon easy, but it will make it easier (physical) and it will prepare you how to accept all the potential obstacles the marathon will throw at you (mental). If you don't try anything new on race day (ah, there's the rub), you're there. I'm not saying things won't go wrong, but when they do, it'll frustrate you, but not catch you from left field, and through your training, you'll handle it. Last week, I got caught in a thunderstorm, and it poured on poor little me, but somewhere down deep, I learned a little more about how I respond to a hard rain. Ok, I acted like a little girl when it thundered, but that's another issue. If you have a bad run, get through it and try to figure it out later. When you go into a tailspin, you're in survival mode, and you have to salvage your run somehow. Do you pick up the pace? I don't think so! Drink more? Now you're on the right track! Get some sugar in your system? The track just got righter! Try to run/walk? If you can, great! Run fast and try to get back up to your original pace? Good luck! The point is all the aspects of training will get you to the start line, but more importantly, don't treat training like it has no flexibility. The final few weeks of training before the marathon is the culmination of all the training you have done previously. I took a cooking class once, and the instructor was teaching us how to make risotto. Everyone, including me, was trying to watch his every move and measurement so we could duplicate his delicacy. The best thing I took away from that class was that by the end of it, that instructor had imprinted into our mind "Don't memorize the recipe, learn the technique!". Don't get hung up in the specifics of training - learn the principles. If you don't like Gatorade, learn that it's not the gatorade that's the key, it's the carbohydrates from the sugar. So figure out another way to get that sugar - gel, sports beans, candy. If you can't drink a lot at each aid station, learn that it's not that you have to drink a lot at once, but you have to drink, so carry a bottle or water belt and sip along the way. Learn the technique - why you do things, and then individualize.
Man, sorta feel like I've weaved all over with this week's posting, but as you know, once a week, I sit in front of the computer and type whatever comes out (thank God for the delete key!).

For those of you thinking of training for the Mercedes full or half marathon in February, I will drop some schedules off at the Homewood Trak Shak this week and we'll get them posted on the Mercedes site soon (I hope). Anyway, training begins September 19th at Brownell at 6:30am. No, you don't have to sign up. There's no fee and it's well worth the price. You won't get a training shirt, and nobody will hold your hand. But, Ken Harkless and I will answer all your questions, and provide a person each week to say "go". I'll have maps on line before the first week, put out coolers, but if you have any burning questions, email me.

Now, it's about time for "wheels down", so it's close to go into Grandpa mode. I swear, the only word Adam can say is "Grandpa", but everybody else says it's just a curdling scream. What do they know? Be back Tuesday and I'll see you all on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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