Embracing The Human Spirit!

Posted: March 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

Nine months before the 2018 Boston Marathon, Neal Glatt couldn’t run more than a mile.  But he had a dream of running the Boston Marathon in support of the mission of Silver Lining Mentoring. Silver Lining empowers foster youth in Greater Boston to flourish through committed mentoring relationships and the development of essential life skills.

Neal contacted me to teach him to run with absolute efficiency.  We spent 90 minutes 1:1 on the track at Grafton High School.  I quickly learned that Neal’s determination is immeasurable.  I had no doubt that he would see the finish line on Boylston Street.

30822126_10102335487830867_2864258738186258352_oTrue to his spirit, Neal is determined to run the 2019 Boston Marathon even faster and have a greater impact.  His determination is a constant reminder that NOTHING is stronger than the human spirit, particularly when it is tested!

I hope you will listen to this short and extremely inspirational video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D9knZr5E2dwINTs3WJ0bCjSyxdSehe_X/view?ts=5c8907b9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping From The Silence

Posted: October 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

New Beginnings

I have devoted the past 23 years helping thousands fulfill their dream of completing a marathon!  It has been one of the greatest journeys of my life and I hope it continues for another 23+ years.  I have witnessed firsthand the resilience and the strength of the human spirit as a result.

Ironically, the runners I have been blessed to coach have inspired me to step from the silence of my past to reveal and embrace the things that have nearly paralyzed my hope for the future.  It’s time to take off the armor of my accomplishments and reveal ‘why’ I was motivated to chase such huge dreams throughout my life.

My silence has felt like a giant set of too tight handcuffs that never provided relief.  Because of the wonderful life I currently enjoy, thanks to my immediate family and the community of friends and runners I am blessed with, I am inspired to share what’s happened behind the curtain of my life in an effort to celebrate my journey and, hopefully, inspire others to embrace their past.

I realize we live in a world where certain things, particularly related to our families, seem taboo and should never be discussed or revealed beyond the confines of the four walls of where the darkness occurs.  But I cannot continue to carry the burden of silence any longer.

This journey of silencing the demons will be difficult, raw, painful and hopefully liberating.  I have no doubt it will be far more difficult than all the collective marathons I have run.  But it’s time to embrace getting comfortable being uncomfortable and confront the demons that have had such a hold on me.

I know I risk alienating my entire family but I have come to realize I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  My primary goal and greatest hope is my honesty will finally allow me to step from the shame and embarrassment I have been paralyzed by for far too many years and become a better husband, father, coach and person!

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

practice makes perfect

I have never heard a runner mention they were going to practice.  But practicing proper running technique will improve your running economy and minimize the risk of injury.

Perfect practice literally begins with the first step.  The first mile should be at least 60 seconds slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles.  This accomplishes two important things, it allows your body to gradually warm up and helps to establish a rhythm of efficiency.

This is the checklist for proper and efficient running:

  • Keep your chin up and your head balanced over your shoulders
  • Shoulders should be relaxed, down and back
  • Hands should be relaxed (imagine holding fluttering butterflies) and kept close to your torso without crossing your midline
  • Land with a slight bend in your knees to help distribute force
  • Focus on running with the highest possible cadence with short strides and quick landings (imagine running through puddles and keeping the splash to a minimum)
  • Establish a pattern of rhythmic and relaxed breathing
  • Lean slightly forward from your ankles
  • Maintain a positive attitude throughout and manage the ‘demons of doubt’

Taking a brief (30-60 second) walk break at the conclusion of each mile allows you to sustain perfect form throughout each run.  I never complete a run without taking regular walk breaks.  I manage my runs in 1 mile segments.  Rather than completing a 10 mile run, I run ten 1 mile segments.  This is mentally and physically beneficial.  When you run a sustained effort it’s very likely that your form will diminish considerably, placing you at greater risk of injury.

Aside from focusing on improving your running form and efficiency, you should also try to improve your mobility, balance and core strength.  The latter miles of the marathon will be far more manageable when your form is perfect; having a strong chassis will be central to this effort.

The sooner you establish a habit of ‘perfect practice’ and focus on running in the moment (abiding by the aforementioned proper and efficient running checklist), the quicker your running will improve and realize your running potential!

New Beginnings

Posted: January 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

New Beginnings

The first day of each new year provides the promise of a new beginning.  It’s an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and improve the areas where you may have come up short and to set new goals.

With respect to fitness goals, consistency and moderation reign supreme.  This isn’t a challenge for those who has been living an active and healthy lifestyle.  But gyms throughout the world are filled with people who are ‘finally’ going to make major changes after years of neglect.  This group will likely be back to their bad habits within 30 days because they have done far too much too soon and have become sore, discouraged or injured.

Listening closely to how your body responds to any new activity is extremely important.  An effective guideline is to not have two consecutive high intensity days.  HIIT (high intensity interval training) has gained popularity recently but it should be tempered with low intensity or active recovery workouts.  Developing a habit of taking your resting heart rate each morning provides the best feedback to how you are responding to your workout regiment.  It typically takes 7-10 days to determine your average resting heart rate that will serve as your baseline for determining the most effective approach to your training.  A well-timed and much-needed rest day is as important as a great workout!

The areas offering the greatest opportunity for improvement are nutrition, hydration, running form and efficiency, post-workout recovery, sleep and stress management.  I recommend rating on a scale of 1-10 (10 being perfect) each of these areas to effectively manage your time.  Most runners focus on the act of running at the neglect of the other areas and their performance ultimately suffers the possibility of burnout or injury increases.

Take your time and establish a solid foundation of health, wellness and fitness by being consistent and moderate in your approach. Setting realistic goals and recovering quickly from setbacks are important to staying motivated and progessing to your ultimate goal.

I hope your New Year is filled with great health, adventure and inspiration!

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Posted: December 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

Marathon Coalition Kick-Off 2017

 

The 2018 Boston Marathon journey begins this week with our kickoff at Tufts Medical Center on Thursday and our first training on Saturday.

I would like to welcome the following charities to the Marathon Coalition:

Be Like Brit

Best Buddies

Boston Fire Department Relief Fund

Boston Partners in Education

Boston Police Foundation

Bottom Line

Camp Shriver

City Year Boston

Dream Big!

Ethan M. Lindberg Foundation

Girls on the Run

Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts

MetroWest YMCA

Museum of Science

New England Center for Children

Silver Lining Mentoring

South Shore Health System Foundation

The ALLY Foundation

The Greg Hill Foundation

Tufts Medical Center

The Play Brigade

University of Massachusetts-Boston Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund

Year Up Greater Boston

Youth Advocacy Foundation

As I begin my 22nd year of coaching charity runners for the Boston Marathon, I am extremely grateful that my enthusiasm for helping others achieve a lifelong dream of crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is as strong as ever.

I look forward to helping the runners realize they are capable of achieving for more than they ever imagined.  Hopefully, this realization transcends completing the Boston Marathon and will be the foundation for a life filled with service to others!

You've Got What It Takes

 

 

 

 

BORN TO RUN

Posted: December 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

Born To Run

National bestselling book BORN TO RUN is my favorite book across all genres.  It was fascinating to learn about the hidden Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyon of Mexico and their ability to run 100 mile races at fast speeds and remain injury-free.

At the recent TRE (The Running Event) conference in Austin, Texas, I had the honor of meeting Arnulfo Quimare, the ultra-running Tarahumara hero featured in the book.  I received an invitation to participate in the Caballo Blanco Copper Canyon Ultra in March of 2018.  It promises to be one of the most unique running experiences of my life.  If I am able to participate I am sure I will return with a completely new perspective on living with greater simplicity, determination and appreciation.

Arnulfo I

RUNNING TRANSFORMATION

Posted: November 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

You've Got What It Takes

 

I prefer to live in the spirit of continuous improvement.  This requires maintaining a constant state of self-assessment that relates to all facets of my life…as a husband, father, employee, friend, coach and runner.

I have been plagued with chronic Achilles pain the past 5 years that has severely impacted my running consistency.  This is the first serious hurdle I have encountered in 43 years of running and I’m FINALLY back running consistently.  And now the competitive fires are burning again.

My running goals in 2018 are to run a marathon to achieve my 33rd consecutive Boston Marathon qualifying time.  I am targeting the Providence Marathon.  I last ran it in 2009 in 3:20:39 and finished 3rd in my age group.  One week later I’m planning to run the 50 mile Ice Age Trail race in Wisconsin.  I last ran this race in 1991 (it was my first ultra trail race), I finished in 7:06:36 (8:31 pace).  Later in the year I hope to finish a 100 mile race.  I haven’t decided which race I will run yet but the Vermont 100 miler is high on the list.

This seems like a lot considering I am just returning to consistent running.  But the competitive fires have been dormant for such a long time and I’m not getting any younger.

In preparation for this new journey I have completely revamped my nutrition and focused on a LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) approach that has allowed me to lose 25 lbs which feels wonderful.  I’m also making a concerted effort to improve my running efficiency and economy.  Additionally, I’m improving my mobility and balance and trying to improve my post-workout recovery, hydration and quality of sleep.

I’m so excited to be committed to these ambitious running goals!

I just hope they don’t diminish my plans to also improve as a husband, father, employee, friend and coach.

Running in Austin, Texas

Posted: November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Lady Bird Johnson Lake Trail

Austin is one of my favorite cities in the country, along with Portland, Oregon, Missoula, Montana and Asheville, North Carolina.  I enjoy the culture, music and food of this special city.

When I visit I start every day with a run on the Lady Bird Johnson trails, a unique venue in the heart of Austin.  The temperature @ 6:30 a.m. was 53 degrees and heading to 78.  After a great night of sleep I was well rested and ready to run.

I started conservatively and focused on establishing a rhythm of total efficiency, a pattern of rhythmic breathing and a positive attitude.  I’m on a quest to rebuild my running foundation so 90% of my runs are at a low intensity.  I recently attended a Healthy Running Workshop with Dr. Phil Maffetone and I’m following his recommendation of limiting my heart rate to 121 bpm (beats per minute) average based on the formula of 180-my age (59).

That has been a drastic change to my training approach.  I normally average 131-135 bpm while averaging 8:00 minute pace.  By keeping my average heart rate to 121 bpm I was running a pedestrian pace of 10:45 per mile.  Dr. Maffetone reassured me that my pace would gradually increase while still maintaining the recommended 121 bpm.  This morning’s average pace was 9:05 with the same effort…I AM A BELIEVER!

It’s counterintuitive to think I can run faster by running slower.  But, this experiment is trending in that direction.

I am in Austin to attend TRE (The Running Event), the premier event for the top running stores and vendors in the country.  I’m honored to be on a panel discussion this afternoon with Meb Keflezighi.   Meb is the 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist,  and winner of the 2009 New York City Marathon and the 2014 Boston Marathon.  He’s the world’s best ambassador for the sport of running.

I’m completely honored to be a small part of this significant event!

Meb Keflezighi III

Man's Journal

Laura Williams-Men’s Journal

“I sat there, nose-deep in a post-race hamburger, legs shaky, clothing drenched in sweat, when I heard the announcer proclaim, “The age-group winner for women 35 to 39 is Laura Williams!” I almost dropped my burger.

The XTERRA Rock Dallas 15K trail run had been brutal, featuring just over nine miles of mostly single-track, highly technical, rolling, rocky hills. At night. In the dark. In 90-degree heat with 65-percent humidity. It felt like running through 102 degrees of sticky, molten-lava air. About two miles in, my only focus was to finish the race without keeling over. Winning my age group felt downright miraculous, especially considering I hadn’t run, in the traditional feet-to-street sense, more than three consecutive miles in over a year.

A couple months before the race, I spoke with Rick Muhr, a long-time Boston Marathon running coach, lamenting the gradual breakdown of my mid-30s body. I loved to run, but the repetitive impact killed my back, and no amount of therapy or cross-training seemed to help.

Muhr got it. He’s been running races for over 40 years, and coaching them for over 20. He’s no stranger to running-related injuries. Then he made a suggestion: Why not try training with less impact?

“Thirty to 40 percent of impact is all you really need during training,” Muhr said. The notion sounded kind of like, “Why not try eating, but without ingesting calories?”

Then he explained. “If I do a long run outside, I’m on the ZR8 the following day, recovering,” he said, referring to the Octane Zero Runner — a specialized, zero-impact cardio machine he happens to know a lot about, given that he’s the company’s Zero Runner Coach.

Muhr gave me an education. The Zero Runner is different from other zero-impact equipment due to its hip and knee joints. These separate joints enable the user to adjust form with each step, accurately mimicking a natural running gait. Feeling hopeful that this might be the answer to my running problems, I got in touch with Octane Fitness and arranged to put a Zero Runner ZR8 to the test.

From the time I received the ZR8 to the time of my race, I had five weeks to train. I was in pretty good shape at the point, but not necessarily running shape. I put together a program consisting of four training days a week, heavily weighted toward the Zero Runner, with just two days a week of outdoor running. While Muhr suggested doing about 30 to 40 percent of my training with impact, I wanted to see if I could get away with doing even less. My training distribution broke down like this:

  • Week 1: 20 miles ZR8, 1.6 miles running — 1 percent impact training
  • Week 2: 23 miles ZR8, 3.2 miles running — 12 percent impact training
  • Week 3: 26 miles ZR8, 10 miles hiking, 5.4 miles running — 13 percent impact training
  • Week 4: 22 miles hiking (I was out of state and couldn’t use the Zero Runner, so I supplemented with long-duration hiking), 5 miles trail running — 19 percent impact training
  • Week 5: 25 miles ZR8 — 0 percent impact training

In total, I ran only 15.2 miles — a paltry 10 percent of my training. Cardiovascularly, I felt good about my prep for the race, and my back had held up nicely, but I really wasn’t sure if my legs could go the distance on varied terrain.

It had been over a year since I’d toed up to a starting line, and I was nervous. But when the whistle blew and the swarm of runners took off into the park, my nerves faded. My legs felt good. I tripped and stumbled a few times on hidden rocks and roots, but the hills themselves didn’t break my stride and my feet cycled through their paces without exceptional fatigue. There was just one thing I didn’t plan for: The weather.

The night of the race was one of the hottest, most humid nights of the year, and I don’t think a single runner was adequately prepared for the challenge.

Everyone was slow. Super slow. Even the all-around winner averaged almost nine-minute miles, while the fastest female averaged 12.5-minute miles. While I never stopped running, my pace slowed to a crawl, and I crossed the finish line in 2:18:31, averaging just under 15-minute miles. Not exactly a time I was psyched about.

That’s why I almost dropped my burger when I heard I’d won my age group, and why I was all the more surprised to find out I placed as the sixth overall female. Arguably, training on the Zero Runner worked. I completed the race, placed well overall, and my back survived to tell the tale. But I can’t help wondering how much better I could have done had I spent a little more time running outside to acclimate to the heat. It’s the one factor I didn’t consider, but plan to the next time around. I’ve already signed up for my next race.”

POST-MARATHON BLUES

Posted: April 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

Boston

The Boston Marathon was just over a week ago but it seems so much longer.  Many runners will be returning to work today after a week of celebration and school vacation.  The aftermath of significant accomplishments can be so difficult.  The effort to fill this huge void can seem as significant as the effort to accomplish it.

While the memory of the entire journey will last a lifetime, the reality of life needs to be managed now.  I’m inspired by so many that have already contacted me about training for the 2018 Boston Marathon and the charities that are interested in joining the Marathon Coalition.  The significance of the Boston Marathon has assumed meteoric proportions after the tragedy of 2013 and the amazing celebration in each subsequent year.

The memories of the 2017 Boston Marathon will sustain me until we begin training in late November.   Social media will allow me to stay in contact with those I respect and care about most.  As is the case with life, training for the 2018 Boston Marathon will be here sooner than we realize.

I’ve learned the best way to gain a sense of control over the passing of time is simply to live in the moment.  I try not to look too far down the road for the next big event.  Living in the moment of every second of the day, regardless of whether I’m enjoying it or not, despite whether it seems significant or not, allows me to feel every moment  is precious…because it is!

So, while there seems to also be a huge void in my life in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon, I’m going to focus on living in the moment, savoring the experience of training 250+  of the most amazing people I’ve had the honor and privilege of sharing the past 5 months with, celebrating all that we accomplished and allowing the memories of this journey to sustain me until we meet again.

Dr. Seuss

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