Saturday, October 16, 2010 works

"It's the road signs, 'Beware of lions.'"
Kip Lagat, Kenyan distance runner, during the Sydney Olympics, explaining why his country produces so many great runners

Hi guys - OK, I broke out the long sleeve this morning. Orion is overhead. Halloween is around the corner. Guess I have to concede that winter is on the way. I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it. They say there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, so be sure you're stocked up. In the coming weeks, I'll write more specifically about materials and what you're going to need when it really gets cold (as opposed to this coolness that I call cold). Just be sure to stay away from cotton - it's the material from the devil! If you're running or walking short, well then, OK, but if you're doing a long training session, once you start to sweat, it's curtains! The sweat won't dry. It'll get cold. You'll be miserable, and even a hot shower and coffee won't warm you up! Once again, I plug the Trak Shak because that's where you'll get the best advice if you really don't know what to look for. Those guys are trained, they run, they want to help, and if you're with TNT or the Birmingham Track Club, you get a discount.

Well, tomorrow TNT's Nike Women's Marathoners and Half Marathoners hit the streets of San Francisco. I ran with several of the trainees last week, and I know they're nervous wrecks right now and it's almost impossible for any coach to calm them down - Good luck Prince! Some nervous energy is actually a good thing, but worrying yourself sick is definitely going to be throwing the pre-race balance towards the dark side. For you guys training for the Mercedes Marathon and Half, just remember that every time you lace on your shoes and pound the pavement, your body is going to learn something about endurance training - how to produce energy, how to strengthen ligaments and muscles, how to have the most efficient stride, how to "go" in the woods, how to spit know, everything! The point is that it does learn and adapt and there's no magic about it. As we get stronger, the long distances don't get shorter, but they do get easier. The muscles don't just get stronger, but they learn to fuel the muscles more efficiently so you're getting more coal in the engine.

Tomorrow, many of you training for Mercedes will be doing 11 miles for the first times in your lives. And this is only the fifth week of training. It sure makes a coach look good when you improve, but most of the time, my most important duty is to make sure you don't try to run too fast or do too many miles, or forget to drink. George Sheehan once said "We are all's just that some of us are in training and some us are not.". Well, now you're in training and the number one, most important element of training is consistency. We've got essentially 4-5 months of training weeks, and these weeks should consist of one long day and 4-5 other days that are shorter, easier days. Don't worry about speed. It literally takes years to build up the tensile strength in your ligaments and tendons to take the pounding of a HARD marathon. But we're not talking about HARD marathons. We're talking about learning to run a very long distance. When I first started coaching marathoners 26 years ago, generally, I was coaching runners who had run for a couple of years and had done 10k's and Half Marathons. But then, in 1995, I was asked to become Leukemia's TNT Coach. At first, I didn't have much faith in a program that was going to take folks that literally had never gone over 4-5 miles and whip them into shape to run a marathon in 4 -5 months. They didn't even offer half marathon events back then. So, it was a learning experience for me too, and what I learned was that if you slow down (always run at a conversational pace), run moderate, and not high, mileage, ice your aches and pains right away, pay attention to proper athletic nutrition, and stay in contact with your coaches so your schedule can be flexible, then it was amazing what you can accomplish. I'll bet the success rate of the TNT runners that Ken & I have coached has been at least 95%. But. coaches don't do the sweating - we just tell you the things that will make you sweat. After the months of training are over and you're standing at the starting line of some race in some town, just let your body take over. As far as it's concerned, this is just another in a long line of training runs that you've been doing for week after week. There's no magic, no voodoo, no secret supplement. Just good old fashioned hard work and grit.

Yes, there's a ton of hoopla going on around you, and you should be excited, but scared, no! If you're new to long distances and train with us at the Sunday training sessions, you'll be surrounded by runners who have done this many times, but are still learning. But you know what they like to do 2nd best (to running)? They like to talk to new runners about running. So, ask questions. I'm not saying all the answers are 100% accurate, but they are helpful. Once, we all took our first steps just like you and were scared witless. Now we're just witless. Show up, ask questions, eat your vegetables, don't run with scissors and most of all, pat yourselves on the back for getting that first foot out the door. When that San Francisco group crosses the finish line tomorrow, they'll wonder what all the fear was about. They'll be tired as all get out, swear they'll never run another marathon (that promise will last about 10 minutes), and be proud beyond words what they just accomplished. Until YOU cross that finish line, you'll just have to take my word.

Ok, so for you Mercedes guys, tomorrow is 11 miles for the full and 7 miles for the half. Check out the 11 mile map at Now, remember, when I reference a map, this is the map AFTER the 7 miles we do every week, so this map will be a 4 mile map to add onto that initial 7. I hate to keep repeating that, but it saves me answering a few predictable emails.
Hope to see a crowd out there. Dress warm and I'll see you on the road - AL

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

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