Archive for June, 2013

No, I didn’t just take a trip around the world.  These were road signs I encountered on my recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina for the BMW Rally at the Biltmore Estate.

I rode 1,009 miles in 15 hours and 15 minutes from Asheville, NC to home on Saturday.  Riding distances of this magnitude is similar to running an ultra marathon.   I recall hallucinating after 20 hours of continuous running during my last 24 hour run.  I certainly questioned whether I took a wrong turn when I saw the road sign for Damascus 12 hours into my recent motorcycle ride.

Riding 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours on a motorcycle is the most sought after benchmark in the long distance riding community; similar to qualifying for Boston in the running community.  Being able to exceed that standard by 9 hours is something I’m extremely proud of achieving.  It requires the same virtues required to qualify for Boston…discipline, determination and mental fortitude.

Next month I will take my endurance riding to an entirely new level and will solidify my reputation within the long distance community.  I will attempt to ride from Grafton to Miami (1500 miles) in less than 24 hours on the first leg of a Four Corners Tour…one of the most coveted achievements in endurance riding.  I am required to ride to all four corners of the United States (Madawaska, Maine-Key West, Florida-San Diego, California-Blaine, Washington).

The next benchmark I will pursue within the Four Corners Tour will be to ride coast to coast (from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California) in less than 50 hours.

What does endurance motorcycle riding have to do with running?  Running and motorcycling are two of my greatest passions.  They are certainly quite different and I’m definitely an anomaly in both communities.  Runners tend not to ride motorcycles and fewer motorcyclists are runners.  However, I’ve discovered they are incredibly similar; particularly when you pursue both to the degree I have.  Endurance pursuits in any arena test the outer limits of one’s physical and mental ability.

During my recent 1000+ mile ride, I had to ride in the moment and not obsess about how many miles remained.  It’s the exact reminder I give Marathon Coalition runners during the marathon.  You have to run in the moment and focus on your breathing, your rhythm, your breathing and properly manage your attitude to arrive at the finish line in relative comfort.

I am excited and nervous about next month’s 13,000+ mile ride around the United States on several levels.  I am concerned about the exposure to the elements and inattentive drivers, coupled with the fatigue I will encounter after seemingly endless hours of riding thousands of miles.  But I’m excited about accomplishing something so significant.

On my next endurance ride, I may actually be riding in Damascus, Syria…Dublin, Ireland…or Newfoundland, Canada!

I am staying in a postage stamp sized room at the Empire Hotel in NYC.  It costs three times what I normally pay and is a fraction of the size and quality of what I’m accustomed to.

The upside is I am only a block away from Central Park, there’s an amazing Whole Foods just two blocks away in the basement of the Time Warner building, and I’m a 15 minute walk from Polo Ralph Lauren.

I brought the Acela Express from Providence into Penn Station yesterday for two days of meetings with upper management from Polo Ralph Lauren.   Part of my responsibility is to grow the collegiate program so I will be at Columbia later this morning.

Thankfully I chose to sit next to someone on the train that was nothing short of absolutely pleasant.  I knew I chose the right seat when I noticed she was wearing a Reach The Beach Relay jacket.  She was working on her computer and listening to her iPod so I settled in with The Cool Impossible: The Coach from Born To Run Shows How to Get the Most from Your Miles-and from Yourself.

She eventually asked me if I ran marathons and our conversation continued until we said goodbye at Penn Station.   Her husband Brian coaches the Community Running group in Boston (I definitely need to connect with him).  Charlotte rowed at Harvard (Division 1) and holds a marathon PR of 3:13…which she ran in NYC wearing a Winnie The Pooh outfit…wow!

She knows several of the runners I’ve coached for the Marathon Coalition.  Meeting her was the perfect start to my trip.  What I enjoyed most about our conversation was hearing her talk about their 5 month old daughter, Scout.

So now I’m off for a run in Central Park.  I look forward to my continued preparation for two marathons in October.  I’ll spend the first two miles focused on establishing a rhythm to my run and practicing absolutely perfect form.  As a result, I will place less stress on my body, utilize less energy, experience less chance of injuring myself, and get a far greater return on my investment of time and effort.

I hope you have an awesome run today and that it’s in an amazing location…location…location!



Performing On Race Day

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is so gratifying to coach runners to compete consistently on race day and establish personal bests.  Race day performance is the ultimate validation of months of hard work and the effectiveness of a training program.

I ran my first in 1978 so my racing history spans 35 years.  When I ran my very first marathon in 1978 the Boston Marathon qualifying time was 3 hours…I ran 2:59:55 at the Richmond Newspapers Marathon in Virginia.

I’m certainly proud of my marathon PR of 2:33 which I ran 3 times on several courses during different years.  I’m proud of my Boston PR of 2:38 and having qualified for Boston at Boston in four consecutive decades.  I’m looking forward to making it 5 consecutive decades in 2014 0r 2015…depending on when I can get it.

But I am most proud of my consistency, longevity and ability to perform on race day…every time.  I have run 31 marathons with an average finishing time of 2:51.  My first 24 marathons were all sub-3 hour efforts.  Every time I showed up to race, regardless of distance, I performed to my ability on that day.

Here is a list of my PR’s at various distances:

  • 5K (16:05)
  • 5 miles (27:04)
  • 10K (32:25)
  • 10 miles (54:49)
  • Half-Marathon (1:12:12)
  • Marathon (2:33:13)
  • 50 Mile Trail Race (7:06:36)
  • 100K National Championships (8:41:47) 5th place
  • 107 miles (24 hour race)

I attribute my racing success to physical and mental preparation.  I trained smart and adequately prepared for every race.  I went to the starting line prepared for battle and I expected to run near or at the front.  What I lacked in physical ability, I made up with mental toughness.  I was willing to go deep into the well of pain and discomfort to maximize my performance.

This is the first time in 17 years of coaching that I’m focusing on my running and racing.  I’m looking forward to a half-marathon in September and two marathons in October.  In 2014 I am planning to run 100 miles in 24 hours on the track and then race ultra distance trail races.

It’s been nice to look back and reflect on my racing career.  But I’m far more interested in coaching and helping others to write their own racing history.  Nothing I have done will ever compare to what the runners I coach accomplish.

I would trade all that I’ve accomplished to help just one runner achieve more than they ever imagined!

Running can be so consuming.  Since the Boston Marathon, I have been consumed by my private coaching.  Just prior to the 2012 Boston Marathon I began coaching a few runners privately.  It was something new and added a different dimension to my coaching from training nearly 200 Marathon Coalition runners.

Since then, it’s developed into a far bigger enterprise.  I receive numerous requests each week for private coaching from runners primarily interested in improving their running performance.  Their goals range from breaking 4 hours in the marathon, qualifying for Boston, or improving their PR by a considerable margin.  Each person requires an individualized training program based on their ability and their goals.

I begin every relationship with a Transformational Running clinic that covers every facet of running in approximately a two hour period.  I provide a running methodology for each runner so they establish a purpose for every run.  Most runners focus on covering a specific distance without much additional thought.  Taking a far more meaningful and purposeful approach to training will yield far greater results.

The majority of runners train within their comfort zone most of the time.  To achieve significant results, runners need to train harder on days when they’re completely rested and easier on days when their bodies require an active or complete rest day.  Surprisingly, runners have more difficulty training easier as they don’t see the benefit.  A much-needed and well-timed rest day is as important to a successful training program as a great training run or race.

At the center of my coaching approach is teaching runners to improve their running economy through efficient technique.  Many are so surprised when they realize they can run faster and longer with less effort when their form is perfect.

Although this new coaching endeavor consumes most of my free time, it has been so rewarding to spend more personal time with each runner and help transform their running to an entirely new level….with more meaning and purpose!

Marathon Coalition sports psychologist, Grayson Kimball, writes about the recent Run To Remember half-marathon:

All the Years Combine, They Melt Into a Dream….

Over 6,000 runners recently completed the Boston Run to Remember Half-Marathon. The weather certainly wasn’t typical for the annual Memorial Day Weekend race– mid 40’s and light rain, but it was perfect for a half-marathon. As I crossed the finish line and acknowledged my time, I couldn’t help but reflect on my previous half marathons and begin the dreaded self-comparisons. I ran a respectable 1:50:56 but felt that I could have performed better (as most runners do). There are always numerous “what-ifs” that go through a runners mind. What if I had been at the front of the pack as opposed to the back when the race began? Would my first couple miles have been faster? What if I didn’t have to take the annoying pee-break? That would have saved me precious seconds, right? You could go on forever about what may or may not have influenced your race. Curiosity was killing me so I went back to the archives to look up my past races. Was I accurate in my perceptions that I was “slow” today? Or was I having the all-too-common “distorted perceptions” about what I really achieved? Well, what I discovered was rather telling: in my 11 years of running Half-Marathons (7 total), the difference in finishing time from my first (when I was a young, spry 29 year old) to this most recent (as an older, more experienced 40 year old) was all of 1 minute and 16 seconds. Guess I’m nothing if not consistent…which led to my next thought – why was I so consistent? Well, what are the differences, if any, between the 29-year old me and the 40-year old me? At 29, I was eager to immerse myself into the world of long distance running. My life revolved around training for races – marathons, half-marathons, 10K’s, 5-Milers, etc. At 40, I am immersed in changing diapers and my life revolves around getting the kids down to bed at a reasonable hour (and hoping they sleep past 6:00am). I certainly don’t have the freedom to run when I please or to cross-train at any point during the week. I have to take advantage of the time I can carve out for myself and make my workouts as efficient as possible. But one aspect of my training hasn’t changed – and that’s the mental training.

While many runners discard the true importance of being mentally prepared for a race, I’m constantly “thinking” about the next challenge. When it came to running this half-marathon, I knew from the get-go that regardless of the training program I was following, numerous deviations from the plan would occur – such is life when married with 2 kids. But I didn’t let those skipped days bring me down mentally. I would use the time to visualize the next workout. I would reconfigure the workouts for the remainder of the week to help make up for the lost runs. I would constantly engage in positive self-talk and reaffirm my belief that I will be as ready as can be for race day. So it was during the race that I relied on my mental training more than my physical training. It took me a good 6 miles to break away from the cluster of runners and find some space to finally hit a groove…my target time of 1:50 seemed out of reach when I passed the 8-mile mark at exactly 1hr 11min. Some quick math told me it would be 8-minute miles for the final 5 to hit that time…I didn’t do any speedwork during my training so I couldn’t rely on that – I had to rely on my brain (and IPod)…the combination of Jerry Garcia, deep/controlled breathing, positive affirmations, and more Jerry Garcia pushed me beyond my perceived limitations and across the finish line within 1 minute and 16 seconds of where I was 11 years ago….Has anything really changed over the years? The body may get older but the mind will always have the ability to take you a little bit further than you’ve gone before.

For more mental training tips, check out

I am extremely pleased to introduce Paul Crockett as the newest member of the Marathon Coalition coaching staff.

Paul Crockett

Paul Crockett brings extensive running experience, including twenty marathons, to the Marathon Coalition TEAM. Paul has been running with the Marathon Coalition TEAM since 2011, and joins the coaching staff for the 2014 marathon. He is passionate about running as a way to transform body and mind, as well as foster camaraderie among team members.

Paul has a particular focus on running form and efficiency. He is also well informed on strength training, injury prevention, and nutrition.

In addition, Paul has experience running and fundraising for charities. He is excited to share what he has learned to help Coalition TEAM members become more efficient runners and strategic fundraisers.

Personal Running Highlights:

  • Twenty marathons, various triathlons up to the half-iron distance, and countless other running races.
  • Sub three-hour marathoner, including Boston.
  • Six consecutive Boston Marathons (marathon PR Boston 2013).
  • Currently training for the Vermont 50 mile ultramarathon.
  • Paul is three continents into his goal of running a marathon on every continent.