Archive for January, 2014

Everyone Is A Running Coach…

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Feeling at home on the track.

Feeling at home on the track.

Are you surprised by how many people offer you advice once they learn that you’re running the Boston Marathon? People that haven’t even run the marathon seem to have words of wisdom for you. They can range from diet, shoes, avoiding injuries, managing the course…the list is endless.

It can be so confusing and overwhelming because, aside from the volume of opinions, it’s difficult to decide what information you should follow. My suggestion is to simply follow the advice that Paul, Greg and I offer you. While these people are well-intentioned, I recommend that you rely on the information that we share at training, in our weekly communication and on my daily blog.

I’ve always marveled at the pattern of communication I have with runners. There’s always a core group that regularly communicate with me but there’s also an equal number that either don’t attend training or ever communicate with me.

If you were taking a college course and knew the professor was providing regular answers to the final exam on their blog, would you take the time to obtain that information? The primary purpose of my blog is to educate you about running in general and the Boston Marathon in particular. Inevitably I eventually hear from the runners in the final weeks that I’ve had little or no communication with and it’s never as comforting for them as I would like. Their questions tend to mirror the questions that I’m commonly asked in the first month of training, not the final weeks. This can cause a state of panic at a time where they should feel more comfortable and confident.

As the marathon approaches the volume of opinions tends to exponentially increase. You will be well-served if you focus on the training techniques that we have offered throughout training. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of your training please notify us and I’ll provide further clarification. I’m always comforted when I hear stories like this from a former runner:

“Rick, I couldn’t wait to share this story with you. One of my colleagues, who has run more than 10 Boston marathons, learned that I was running Boston and began offering a battery of recommendations and asking an equal number of questions. He seemed particularly shocked that I had answers for every question and was also familiar with every recommendation he offered since Boston will be my first marathon. I just want to thank you for all the support, encouragement and inspiration that you’ve provided all of us the past several months. I’m convinced that I am in good hands and right on track with my Boston preparation.”

As a coach, there’s no better endorsement than that. Keep all the advice that you’re being offered in perspective and let us know if there’s anything that we can do to support you!

Many runners spend the last few miles of training runs and races thinking about one thing…the end!  Consequently, the cool-down is the most overlooked aspect of running.

A thorough cool-down is as important as a gradual warm-up.  It’s important to allow your body to gradually return to normal levels of recovery.  Shifting the focus in the closing miles of a run or a race to a proper cool-down will yield signficant benefits.  The most effective cool-down should include at least a mile of running at less than 70% effort of your hardest miles, followed by a thorough routine of dynamic or static stretching, rolling  muscles out thoroughly with the Roll Recovery R8 and a well-thought out recovery meal.  My best runs include a good warm-up and cool down on my spinning bike accompanied by 10-15 minutes of yoga.

It’s equally important to maintain perfect running form in the closing stages of each run.  You are likely at your most fatigued and probably thinking about all you need to accomplish once the run is over.  Consequently, your focus has already shifted to the remainder of the day.  The combination of extreme fatigue and focusing on things other than maintaining perfect form can be a recipe for an injury.

In terms of recovery liquids and food, I like to replace sodium quickly and pickle juice is a great choice.  I know that doesn’t sound any more appealing than an ice bath but the truth can be painful!  Chocolate soy milk or chocolate flavored coconut water also have the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein and have always been my top choices as a recovery drink.  Almond butter is always a great option; either on a bagel, an almond butter and jelly sandwich or in a Bananarama (i.e., yogurt, bananas, protein powder, ice and almond butter).  Whole wheat salted pretzels are another good choice.

Giving more thought to your cool-down will provide tremendous benefits to your running.  You’ll be more flexible, less likely to become injured and better prepared for subsequent runs.   Your work doesn’t end at the last step of each run, it ends after and thorough cool down routine is completed.

It’s also a great time to reflect on how fortunate you are to be a runner!

Transformational Running

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
Sharing my love and passion for running.

Sharing my love and passion for running.

One of the most enjoyable extensions of coaching large groups of runners for the Boston Marathon the past 18 years has been private coaching.  I had so many runners request individual coaching but I didn’t think I would have the time, but I finally relented and I’m so thankful that I did.

Yes, it’s extremely time consuming but the rewards are exponentially greater than the time and effort required.  It’s wonderful to connect with individual runners in a private setting and offer Transformational Running clinics.    The basis of this relationship is to assess their ability and establish realistic goals.  The ability to effectively connect those two deltas allows a runner to realize and maximize their potential.

These are the topics that provide the basis for my private coaching:

  • Developing proper and efficient running form
  • Proper shoe and clothing selection
  • Nutrition 101
  • Proper fueling
  • Gait Analysis
  • Avoiding injury
  • Injury prevention
  • Staying motivated and managing the demons of doubt
  • Simplifying your approach to training and racing
  • Feel based training
  • Establishing a mindful and purposeful approach to training and racing
  • Phase based training
  • Developing an effective race strategy
  • Maximizing performance on race day
  • Getting the greatest return on your investment of time and energy
  • Fostering a lifelong love and passion for running

More recently, I have been asked by several running stores to provide these clinics to a larger group of their customers.  It’s been wonderful to conduct several clinics at Miles To Go Sports in Sutton, MA and Greater Boston Running Company in Swampscott, MA.  Ironically, both stores are either owned or managed by runners I have coached for various marathons.

When I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time in 1979, I never imagined that I would be living here and coaching to this magnitude.  I never take it for granted…not for a moment.

It has been an honor and privilege to help thousands of runners realize their dream of running marathons throughout the world,  especially the Boston Marathon.

I look forward to sharing my 40 years of running and racing experience along with nearly 20 years of coaching with as many people as possible.

Runners are the most amazing and inspiring people I know and have ‘transformed’ me into a far greater coach and a much more appreciative and grateful person!


Boston Marathon Checklist

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Perfect preparation gives rise to the thousand-fold forms that express physical and mental inferiority and insecurity!” -Alfred Adler

It’s never too early to begin planning for Marathon weekend and beyond. Here are my recommendations that will hopefully provide some basic guidelines to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the marathon. This checklist has been developed over 17 years of coaching marathon runners for the Boston Marathon.

I hope that you will offer any additional recommendations!

Marathon Weekend Checklist

• Rick Muhr •

Copyright: Rick Muhr•Head Running Coach•Marathon Coalition ©

Be sure to bring your driver’s license and your Number Pick Up Card when picking up your marathon number.

ŸSave the bag that your number comes in as this is the bag that you will drop off at the buses returning to Boston once you leave the Athlete’s Village for the starting area.

ŸWhen visiting the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo DO NOT INGEST ANY OF THE SAMPLES BEFORE THE MARATHON!

ŸMost of the Boston Marathon apparel that you see in local stores and at the Expo will be on sale after the marathon at significant savings.

ŸDon’t wear anything that you purchased at the Expo in the marathon.

ŸTry to get your number and Expo visitation over sooner rather than later. As the weekend progresses this area becomes far more hectic. You want to minimize the stress as much as possible before the marathon.

ŸSaturday night is your most important night of sleep. The odds are that you will not sleep as well Sunday night.

ŸDon’t introduce anything new or different into your diet before the marathon.

ŸStart organizing EVERYTHING that you think you’ll need before/during/after the marathon now.

ŸCheck your shoe laces to be sure they don’t require replacing. It can be disheartening to break a lace just before the marathon.

ŸWhen you affix your number to your singlet DO NOT attach the bottom of your number to your shorts. You will understand why if you have to use the restroom.

ŸYou can improve the circulation in your legs if you elevate the foot of your bed several inches Saturday and Sunday night before the marathon. This results in your legs not feeling as tired.

DO NOT WEAR THE SHOES YOU ARE PLANNING TO WEAR IN THE MARATHON TO THE ATHLETE’S VILLAGE. I have seen countless runners walk through wet grass in their marathon shoes before the race. Wear an old pair and change into your marathon shoes after you leave the Athlete’s Village and are on pavement.

ŸDouble knot your shoes but not too tightly because your feet are going to swell during the marathon.

ŸBring several large garbage bags to Hopkinton (several to sit on in the grass and one to punch a hole in the bottom and use as a poncho. I large piece of folded cardboard to sit on will also help to conserve your energy.

Bring a marker if you want to write something on your arms or legs before the marathon.

Ÿ Writing your name on your singlet may seem like a good idea if you think you’ll benefit from the encouragement but I would not recommend it. You want to recognize the people who REALLY know you when they call your name from the crowd. It gets a little annoying, especially for the people running near you, to constantly hear your name being called.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and be sure to apply it even it’s going to be overcast. The back of the neck and the back of the knees are two areas extremely vulnerable to sunburn.

Coat your feet and areas of friction liberally with Body Glide before the marathon.

Remove all jewelry before the marathon. Fingers and toes tend to expand quite a bit during the marathon.

Wearing sunglasses will keep your face relaxed and will actually conserve energy.

I carry a small sponge with me to douse with water and wipe my face during the marathon.

ŸI also carry a small straw with me to sip through at the aid stations. You want to avoid taking in excess air as it can upset your stomach.


Leave the Athlete’s Village for the starting line no later than 9:45 a.m. and enter the corral that corresponds with your race number. You will be allowed to move back to a corral with higher numbers but you cannot move forward.

ŸIf you plan to check a bag in Hopkinton and retrieve it in Boston, you should do this on your way to the starting line. The buses will have a range of numbers posted on them so simply go to the bus that has your corresponding number.

Your official running time will not begin until you cross the starting line and activate your Champion Chip. None of the times posted on the marathon course will have any relevance to you so simply monitor your watch if time is important to you.

ŸHere is my strategy for running Boston: Run the first 5 miles extremely conservatively, allowing my body to completely warm up and minimizing the damage of the extreme downhills. I will then do most of my faster running from miles 5-15. I will throttle my pace back as I drop down into Newton Lower Falls just after mile 15 and until I get to the top of Heartbreak Hill (Mile 21). I will then evaluate how I’m feeling and then push again the final 5 miles.

ŸThe best way to complete a marathon is with even or negative splits. Negative splits simply mean running the second half faster than the first. This is not very easy considering the second half is more difficult than the first. But if you run conservatively the first half you’ll improve your chances.

ŸYour goal should be to get to mile 15 in relatively good shape/condition.

ŸIf you have friends and family meeting you along the course be sure you know which side they’ll be on as you are running. I recommend having them carry a helium balloon so you can spot them immediately.

ŸI don’t recommend taking aid from any of the spectators. While good intentioned, there could be bacteria on their hands (remember the aforementioned samples at the Expo) that could adversely affect you.

If you wear a watch during the marathon please don’t shut it off as you cross the finish line. You don’t want your finisher’s picture to be of you shutting your watch off. You will get an official time after the marathon so the time on your watch is really meaningless.

ŸBe sure that your number is completely unobstructed as you approach the finish line. Otherwise, you risk not getting a picture of your finish.

ŸOnce you finish your goal should be to continue moving and eat and drink as quickly as you can. Be sure to accept the mylar blanket the volunteers will wrap around you.

ŸTake a moment to glance down and appreciate the medal they will also place around your neck once you finish!

ŸCheck it with your respective Charity to let them know you have finished and are okay. My cell phone is 508-353-6699 and I will be monitoring this number all weekend.

ŸI don’t recommend running after the marathon until the pain completely subsides.

Ice baths, hydration, clean eating, plenty of sleep, walking and cross training will be instrumental in your recovery.

Take the time to thank all the people who were instrumental in helping you accomplish this incredible achievement.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in your amazing accomplishment…thank you!


Enjoy The Journey…

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Everything in life will seem easier after completing the Boston Marathon…but only the complacent will find any comfort in this. Most runners, particularly charity runners, will be inspired by the experience and will embark on even greater challenges and accomplishments.

Too often we focus on the destination at the expense of all the small details that define the experience…the journey. It’s difficult to balance our desire to enjoy the rewards awaiting at the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon and beyond with the commitment necessary to get there.

The daily challenges of preparing for each run teaches discipline and the importance of sacrifice and commitment. The reward is becoming healthier, more fit and getting together with the Marathon Coalition TEAM each Saturday to share in a common effort. This effort is fueled by the most important aspect of this journey…to provide hope and opportunity to improve the lives of so many!

Yes, I know that crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is the crown jewel and having the finisher’s medal is a prized possession. But those that enjoy the journey will not view Boylston Street as the finish line. The Boston Marathon finish line will actually be the beginning of a much longer and equally rewarding journey of believing you can make an even more significant difference in the world!

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”
– Juma Ikangaa, Tanzania

Most of the runners I am currently coaching for the 2014 Boston Marathon are first-timers.  Every training run that they’ve completed for the past several months has been their longest.  The unknown of what they are capable of achieving, mentally and physically, is both exhilarating and unsettling.

When training began nearly 2 months ago they never imagined 10 miles would be an easy run. We will increase our next 6 weekly long runs by 1 mile increments before we take a significant step back in mileage. This will allow their bodies to recover and their minds to begin to believe they can actually handle the rigors of marathon training and move into the final stage of training.

I am a huge advocate of running in the moment.  It’s important not to obsess on how many miles are remaining but-it’s more beneficial to focus on your form, breathing and having a positive attitude.  Too many runners allow negative self-talk to dominate their thought process and suddenly they become consumed by how uncomfortable they are and how miserable running is.

But there are times where you need to remove yourself from the moment and visualize what Marathon Day will be like.

Imagine arriving at the Marathon Expo with your Boston Marathon confirmation card and your driver’s license.  Walking up to the volunteer and presenting your credentials provides a moment of incredible pride…you begin to realize the magnitude of the next several days.  You’ve worked extremely hard to arrive at this moment and begin to feel you’re one of the chosen ones…rightfully so!

You step into the Marathon Expo and become immediately overwhelmed by the magnitude of products.  There’s a special aura to being close to so many runners that you’ll be sharing the journey from Hopkinton to Boston.  Enjoying carbohydrate-rich meals in the final days with people who have supported you for so many months and admire your commitment, allows one to appreciate how special the marathon journey is.

Arriving in the Athlete’s Village and realizing you’re on the verge of one of the most amazing experiences and significant accomplishments of your life is incredibly powerful.  Suddenly you’ve entered your assigned corral and you realize it’s show time.  You hear the Star Spangled Banner and the fighter jets fly over…the gun sounds and there’s a sea of runners as far as you can see.   The feeling that you have at that moment is what all the months of difficult training are all about.

The experience of running Boston simply cannot be adequately described in words…you have to experience it.  I have always said that,’When you cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon you will realize, possibly more than any other time in your life, who you truly are and what you’re capable of achieving!’  I suspect the finish line of this year’s Boston Marathon will be the most magical and empowering in the 118 year history.

So when you are battling the headwinds, hills, traffic and snowbanks on yet another seemingly endless long run; remove yourself from the moment and consider ‘why’ you are training for the Boston Marathon and the impact it will have on the remainder of your life.  One day your finisher’s medal will be tucked safely away in a drawer but the benefits of enduring the challenges of training for and completing the 2014 Boston Marathon will pay significant dividends forever.

You cannot earn this experience without the will to prepare!

Getting Out The Door

Posted: January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

My wife is the most dedicated runner I know so I’ve asked her to share her thoughts on getting out the door every morning:

Let’s face it, winter is knocking on the door, and the cold temperatures are here to stay. It will only get colder, and add to that some wind, snow, sleet and of course, darkness, and you have a recipe that will make you want to stay in bed when that alarm goes off in the morning. How do you get out the door when the cozy warmth of the bed, not to mention the temptation of another hour of precious slumber, is pulling you back under the covers? Well, it’s not easy… getting out the door is the hardest part, but there are some things that will help you resist the urge to hit the snooze and forego the run.
1. Get your mind ready.
The very most important factor that needs to be in place to get you out the door in the morning is your mind set- and that needs to be in place before drifting off to sleep the night before. You need to be ‘ready to run’ mentally before you go to bed, and committed to getting up in the morning. While having your gear in place will help you feel prepared and get your mind thinking positively, you still need to remove the doubt. So, as you are drifting off to sleep, tell yourself that you are getting up when that alarm goes off and doing your run- there’s no other choice. Think of it as having a season’s pass to running… you want to get your money’s worth from your investment and that means making every run. No is not an option.
2. Get your stuff ready.
Set out your gear (shoes, running tights, tops, outer layer, hat/headband, mittens, neck warmer (this is my most important piece), reflective things, headlamp (optional) and socks) so you won’t be looking for things in the morning darkness- everything will be there, ready to go. Fumbling around in the morning looking for your gear wastes precious minutes that you could otherwise be spending on your run- it also gives you time, and an excuse, to change your mind and go back to bed. If you have a heater in your house, you might choose to put your things near it so that they are warm when you slip into them. (We have a pellet stove and I like to put my clothes on the couch by the stove- they are always nice and toasty when I put them on.)
3. NO snoozing.
When the alarm goes off, do NOT hit the snooze button. If you snooze, you lose, literally. Do not even take a moment to think about it, your decision was made last night and you committed to it. You cannot afford to have a ‘maybe’ attitude. Get up! Set your clock away from your bed if necessary so you have to get out of bed. Get dressed and brush your teeth- there’s no turning back now. This is the time to hit the floor to do some pushups (or pullups or any other activity)- start with 10 or 20, then add a few more to get your heart rate up and your body warmed up. Doing pushups fully dressed to run will warm you up so quickly that you’ll want to get out the door to cool off- and that is exactly what you’ll do, every day.
Make it a habit and you’ll have no problem getting out the door for your run in the morning… you’ll be so glad you did!
Lori Muhr

Maximizing Your Training Effort

Posted: January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Many runners focus on completing the scheduled distance of their runs at the neglect of equally important components.   Focusing on every aspect of your run will allow you to maximize the time and effort you invest in each run,  provide greater results and keep injuries at bay.

The first two miles can be the most challenging as your mind and body adjust to the rigors of running.  This is the perfect time to reduce your pace by 60-90 seconds per mile of the pace you expect to average for the remaining miles.  This approach allows you to establish a rhythm of proper technique, relaxed breathing and proper mental focus.  Structuring each run in this manner, whether a feel based run, hill repeats, tempo or intervals, establishes a foundation and methodology for running success.

Conversely, a run doesn’t end when you complete the scheduled distance. Focus should be on the recovery stage of training.

Be sure to maintain your form and focus during the final mile. You are more vulnerable to injury during the final mile because your level of fatigue is highest and your form is likely the worst-that is a dangerous combination.

Refueling, hydrating and stretching during the next 30 minutes helps with your recovery and prepares you for your next workout.

Developing a strategic approach to manage every aspect of your run increases your enjoyment and likelihood of success.



Managing Winter Running

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Running through the New England winter can certainly be challenging and dampen your enthusiasm for running outdoors.  Relying too much on the treadmill eliminates the muscle memory of outdoor running so it’s important to run outdoors at least twice per week.  The discipline you have for running outdoors in January-March will determine your degree of success in April.

Here are a few recommendations for managing the challenges of winter running:


• Dressing for temperatures 15-20 degrees warmer will prevent you from becoming too warm in the latter miles of the run.

• Avoid cotton entirely. Wicking material will keep you dry and reduce the likelihood of hypothermia.

• Wear a thin base layer close to your body and add layers based on the conditions.

• Most of your body heat will escape through your head, hands and feet. Fleece and wool are great choices for hats, gloves and socks.

• Zippers allow you to regulate your core temperature. Begin runs with the zippers fully closed. As body temperature rise, unzip them. Close them again in the closing miles as resources are low and the need to retain body heat is greater.

• Wear reflective material, particularly on your wrists and ankles, as the movement from these body parts is more likely to catch the attention of motorists.

• Change into warm and comfortable clothes immediately upon completing your runs.


• Trail Running shoes are a great option on snow and ice covered roads as they tend to have more traction and structure and may even have a Gore Tex lining.

• Yak Trax and similar outsole options are great for ice covered roads.

• You can also place small screws into the lugs of your outsoles where your feet strike the road. This can become problematic when you’re running on a dry surface, however. I recommend this option for the worst possible conditions.

• Placing duct tape over the front/top of your shoes will help keep your feet warm on arctic days.


• One of the more common misconceptions is that you don’t have to hydrate as much in colder temperatures. I actually stay more hydrated in the winter as the lack of humidity is problematic. It’s also far better for your skin.

• Runners tend to be less disciplined with sunscreen during the winter months. I recommend protecting your exposed skin as much as possible. Wearing proper sunglasses is equally important.

• On extremely cold and windy days apply vaseline to your face to prevent chafing.

• Begin your runs into the wind so that you will have some reserves for the closing miles of your runs.

• Avoid roads with heavy traffic when signficant snow forces you to run more in the road.

Winter running can be extremely enjoyable. Running on trails will protect you from the wind. And if you really want a challenge, try running on snowshoes as the return on the investment of time and effort is considerable. The degree of enjoyment you experience through winter running is closely tied to your attitude and approach.

Embrace the winter and realize you’ll be better prepared for the 2014 Boston Marathon because of the challenges you have overcome!

Woohoo…Macie Jo!

Posted: January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

I had a perfect start to the New Year by running the 1st Day 5K in Whitinsville with Lori, Rider and Macie.  It was the first race the entire family ran together.  I’m confident it will be the first of many.

I wasn’t planning to participate but Macie decided she wanted to run and I’m certainly going to support her interest in running.  This would be her third 5K in as many months.  I agreed that I would run with her.  This was the first race in nearly 40 years that I wouldn’t be flat out racing…I knew it was going to be interesting.

She looked like a little Lori in her black running tights, black headband and her Altra Zero Drop running shoes.  Once she had her number pinned on we began our warm-up.  We laughed more than we warmed-up.  I love her personality and she kept offering one liners in rapid succession.  I kicked a bottle cap and she mentioned that I dropped by glass eye.

When the race started all I wanted to do was go to the front.  My competitive nature was raging but I tightened the reins and stayed by Macie’s side.  A runner next to us said, “Wow, another Muhr is a runner!”  I mentioned we were like the Chinese army, we are endless!

I tried to satisfy my competitiveness by pointing our several runners in front of us that I knew we could catch.  Macie kept complaining that she was too hot but I didn’t want to stop and lose time removing her jacket.  As always, her relentlessness won over my resistance and we stopped briefly as I tore her number off and quickly removed her jacket.  Then I told her it was time to roll.

Just after passing Mile 2 I told her we were going to run the final mile like Kenyans.  Just as I finished that sentence I found myself tumbling down the road.  I have no idea how I lost my footing but I rolled several times.  Macie ran by and asked, “Are you okay, Elvis?”  Although she was clearly tired, she hadn’t lost her humor.  I picked myself up and checked the condition of my shoes and running tights.  Their condition concerned me more than the golf ball sized bump on my elbow.

I regained my composure and we began to push to the finish.  When most parents tell their children to be quiet, it’s because they are speaking too loudly. When I told Macie Jo to be quiet today it was because she was losing her form in the final mile.  She immediately regained her form and was completely silent. It was touching when she asked, “Is that better, Dad?”

I was so proud of her effort.  She continued to push and pass people in the final mile.  Lori joined us with a little over a half-mile remaining and we finished together.  It was so special to enjoy the finish line with the entire family and many of our friends.

I cannot think of a better start to the New Year!