Sunday, September 26, 2010

Running Questions and Answers

I know lots of people who are getting into the sport of running which is so awesome. Here are some responses to questions that I sometimes get asked:

How do you find time to train with a job and family?

I try to do everything possible to not have running take away from time with my family. Family is definitely the priority. So for most of my runs I either go early in the morning before they wake up, or at night after they go to sleep. Of course this usually means getting less sleep, but if I go early in the morning I usually have more energy the rest of the day.

As I side note, I think this is part of the reason why crossing the finish line of a half marathon or marathon is such a huge accomplishment. It’s not just the fact that you just ran 26.2 (or13.1) miles. It’s also about all the sacrifices that were made during all those months of training. You are doing something hard. You are giving up valuable things that most people won’t give up (time in front of the TV / sleep). If it were easy everyone would do it. It’s those many months of preparation that make the race such an enormous accomplishment.

What training program do you use?
I like the training schedules from Salt Lake Running Company (CLICK HERE for their Half Marathon and Marathon training plans).

My main focus is to run about 4 times per week which includes 3 shorter runs and a long run on Saturday. I prefer to have enough time to build up to a race where I can increase my long run by one mile every other week. That way you are building very slowly which I think is the absolute most important thing to prevent injury. I also like to ride a bike once or twice a week to cross train.

What do you take with you when you run a marathon? And how do you carry everything?
I bring Gu packets to eat about every 40 minutes. They help replace the calories and carbs I’m burning and hopefully keep some gas in the tank. I’ve used Sport Beans and Cliff Bloks, but Gu seems to be easiest and fastest for me. I also bring some hard candy. My favorite right now is Werther’s Originals.

I also bring a camera with me. My running camera is a 12 mega pixel Panasonic Lumix. It is compact enough to be manageable and still takes good pictures. The problem is that this makes for a bunch of stuff to pack for 26 miles. I have an actual running pack which fits better and is more compact, but it’s not big enough to hold a camera AND Gu. So for marathons I usually take a fat, ugly $1 fanny pack I bought at the thrift store. It is hideous but it serves its purpose.

What do you think about during a marathon?
My brain does weird things during a marathon. It’s almost like it turns off. Often it takes such physical and mental effort to just put one foot in front of the other that I’m usually not thinking about much. In fact, sometimes I’ll eat a Gu, then a few miles later think to myself “Wait. Did I just eat a Gu or was that 10 miles ago?” For the Top Of Utah Marathon I planned when I would eat one, and I wrote the miles on my arm so I wouldn’t need to wonder whether or not it was time for one.

But I also have moments where my mind starts to wander to other things. I love when that happens because the miles just float by. Usually toward the end of a race when it gets really hard, I think about all the hard work I’ve done to get to this point. I think about my family and the people I love. I think about how awesome it will feel to cross the finish line. Those thoughts help me get through rough patches.

I want to eventually run a marathon but I can barely run 5 miles. Is a marathon even possible?
As long as you’re willing to work for it, a marathon is completely possible. The only major consideration is making sure you have enough time to build up slowly so you don’t get hurt. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. They will do what we want them to do, as long as we don’t overload them and we give them enough time to adjust to the new demands.

I remember how proud I was when I first ran 5 miles. It was such a huge accomplishment. Then after a few weeks I pushed myself to do 6 miles. But 7 miles seemed out of the question. But….a few weeks later I pushed myself to do 7. And if you keep doing that, eventually you’re running farther than you ever thought possible. When you first get into running, it’s easy to get overly ambitious and try to run too far too fast. I did that too. And then I got hurt, and it took me three years before I could be ready for a marathon. Just take it easy, have fun, and the distance will come.

HERE is a link to a previous post on some tips for running a marathon.

What advice do you have for people just getting into running?

Don’t give up. It’s hard at first because your body is getting used to the challenge. Again, the key is to build your mileage slowly.

Do you have books you would recommend?
I like Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes and Lore Of Running by Timothy Noakes. But Born To Run by Christopher McDougall is my favorite book by far. Not only is the book an entertaining (and true) story, but it is bursting with helpful running tools and tips. It is also so motivational. It makes you want to just want to walk out the front door and GO.

"I definitely want to show how beautiful the marathon can be. I am the opponent of all those who find the marathon bad: the psychologists, the physiologists, the doubters. I make the marathon beautiful for myself and for others. That's why I'm here."
~ Uta Pippig


  1. I love your tips.... Thanks for helping me through my journey.... Your da Bomb good luck this weekend. I will see you guys at the finish line.

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