Beginner Running Group 18 March 2012

Good Morning Runners,

We’ve made it!  It’s our last week of training and I think you’re going to love the plan.  If I’ve caught you before your run today, do nothing more than 60 minutes today.  Tuesday will be another 60 minutes and Thursday will be 45 minutes.  The pace this week is critical – don’t push yourself.  Although these runs are shorter, they should not be “tempo” training.  The goal this week is to enjoy your running.  Go somewhere interesting, window-shop while you run, enjoy your group, be happy….  all of this will help you relax and not get too worried about the weekend.  If you push the pace this week, there will be some residual damage in your muscles on Sunday.  It will make your legs feel a bit heavier than normal (you may have noticed this on your weekend runs – it’s “left-over” from the long Thursday run).  I hope this convinces you to take it easy this week!  You are ready for this race.  Your training is done – this week is about finding the joy in running (is it normal to put “joy” and “running” in the same sentence????).
This is the plan for Lisbon…..  if I change my mind about any of this, I’ll email you again this week.
On Sunday morning, we’ll be boarding our bus by 8:15am for a short ride to the train station.  I’m trying to avoid the temptation to make us all hold onto one of those ropes like the kindergarten classes do, but know that’s the image I have in my mind.  If you have time, go onto the race website ( and look at the gallery of photos – particularly those of the race start (at the bridge).  First of all, they are super cool photos, but most of all, it will give you an idea of how many people are racing.  It’s insane.  Basically if we get separated from each other, it’s going to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  If you get separated from the group, chances are you are running the race alone.  My plan is for us to hang together from the hotel to the race start (bus/train/walk to start).  Do this however you want – just watch out for each other.  You’re all mothers.  You know how to do this – you’ve been counting heads for years (some of us longer than others!!!!).  
At the race start, we will find a good place to group up and we’ll plant ourselves there.  There will be portable toilets at the race start.  Once we have established our “waiting area”, people can go off to the toilets and will know where to find us when they return (the matching running caps will help you find us).  There are always very long lines for the toilets.  Depending on the weather and what you decide to wear for the race, you might consider wearing an old sweatshirt over your race clothes.  Minutes before the race everyone tosses these old clothes to the side and the race comes behind us to collect them for the homeless.  
A few minutes before the race start, I want you to order yourself as you normally do several miles into a training run.  Syma will be leading us – so if you are usually in the front of the pack, group yourself near her.  Syma will set the pace and no one should get in front of her.  You need to really watch where you are running.  It’s going to be packed.  People will be shuffling instead of running for the first few minutes.  Becky will be following behind Syma by 10-15second per mile (pace-wise).  If you are normally just behind the front pack, then settle in next to Becky.  Bonnie will be following Becky and I’ll be in the very back.  Sherry – most of the bridge is concrete, but there are areas which are metal grate (you can see through to the water below).  I think the metal area is to the far right hand side but I can’t remember for sure.  With Menieres Disease, running on the metal grate couldn’t be a good idea.  There is concrete – so seek it out.  Last time I ran this race, they had laid out carpet over some of the grate so this may not even be an issue.  
Your trainer will take good care of you.  They know what pace to run and they know when you should be doing gels (on an individual basis).  Each of you should carry 2 gels.  Most of you will only need one gel, but it’s always best to be prepared.  Sometimes nerves can increase your metabolism and you’ll burn through your reserves more quickly than normal.  Read through the information on hydration in the Lisbon Update email.  This is really important.  Most of you have become comfortable running with a water bottle.  If that’s the case, I would carry it.  It’s going to be warm – you’ll need more fluids than normal and it’s nice to have that water bottle with you.  That way you can just sip on it as you go.  Also consider carrying some jelly beans or tootsie rolls with you.  Treats can be a powerful motivator.  Some runners “reward” themselves say every 20 minutes with something good to eat.  Whatever works!  
We can continue to talk about race psychology when we’re together in Lisbon, but here are the basics…..  the more you can let go of any negative thoughts, doubts, nagging concerns, etc – the easier this will be.  You will have a trainer with you who will take care of the details – all you have to do is run.  Try to enjoy it.  I know that’s easier said than done, but try.  Look around, look at the people, look at the other runners, congratulate yourself on getting this far, and keep on running.  The race will be marked in kilometers (21.1 kilometers in a half-marathon).  There will be a sign at each kilometer so you’ll be aware of your progress.  Some races do not mark kilometer 19/20/21, so don’t worry if you’ve passed the 18k sign and the 19k sign seems to be never appearing.  They may or may not mark the last few kilometers.  Sometimes it’s helpful from mid-race on to think a bit backwards – instead of saying “I’ve run 16 kilometers” say “I only have 5 kilometers to go”…. then 4k, then 3k, then 2k…..  Some runners find it helpful to translate that remaining mileage into a route you are familiar with.  If you have 5k left to run, that’s about one loop around Regent’s Park.  If you have 10k left to run, that’s the loop we’ve done many times in Hyde Park.  We’ve run back from Hyde Park by the US embassy quite a few times – that’s about 2 miles or 3k.  It may help for the last 3k to think “OK, I’m leaving the US embassy behind and Oxford St. is just up there in about 3 minutes.  Now I’ve crossed Oxford St.  M&S is on my left and I’m running towards Marylebone Road.  I have about 6-7 minutes until I reach Baker St. tube station, etc.”.  There is something helpful about creating familiarity in your race environment.  That’s one reason why it’s always easier to race on your home territory.  You know what’s coming.  You can create that familiarity in your mind.  
As for nutrition, eat well this week.  Make sure you’re taking in enough food.  It’s more important what you eat all week than what you eat the night before the race.  While you are in resting/recovery mode this week, you’ll need to continue to keep protein intake high (target 1.6-1.8g protein per kg of body weight – so somewhere around 90-100g per day).  But most of all, just keep your protein/carb/fat intake steady and as “clean” as possible (whole foods – avoid packaged foods) and get those nutrients from a variety of sources.  The night before the race, we’ll be having an Italian dinner at La Trattoria.  Eat whatever you normally eat the night before a long run.  If you normally have a glass of wine, drink a glass of wine.  You’ll be fine.  
That’s it for now.  Ladies, this is going to be a blast!  We’ve worked so hard and it will pay off.  I promise.  Running a half-marathon is huge – it’s hard, but it’s doable with the right training.  We’re ready.  Keep visualizing the finish – see yourself crossing that line, having a medal put around your neck, and seeing all your friends around you.  It will be magical.
Please call or email with any questions you have.  You aren’t bothering me.  I’m happy to help however I can (except run the race for you – can’t do that!!!!).

Beginner Running Group 11 March 2012

Hello Runners,

Goodness gracious – last week was eventful!  We had a fabulous run to Wembley, a not-so-fabulous injury along the way, and a great party Thursday night.  Thank you so much Sujatha for hosting the dinner.  What fun!  I’m hoping that this week we’ll continue to have good times but skip the injury bit.  At this point in the training, things often start to hurt.  Knees become achy, IT bands tighten up, hips start to complain and the rest of the body can follow suit.  We are running some seriously long distances.  Please be diligent about stretching after running and try to do some stretching each evening.  It will pay off.  I think most of you have purchased styrofoam rollers – if you don’t have one, consider buying one.  (  They come with instructions/exercises, but I’m happy to further explain how to use one.  Email me with your questions.  No worries!  Also many of you have already met Victor St-Ange.  He is a good physio who knows our group well and may be able to help you with injuries (or injury prevention).  The spa at Esporta at the O2 on Finchley Road makes his appointments – 020 7644 2400.  There are many good physios in our area – please don’t feel obligated to see Victor.  I like him and I trust him, but there are other physios around who are very skilled.  If nothing is hurting and you have no “niggles”, there is probably no need to set up a physio appointment now.  
Beginners, we’re ready for this half-marathon.  Seriously!  We have one long run this Thursday, then we’re on cruise control next week.  The run this Thursday is not important.  It’s long, but it’s not important.  Let’s not worry about it.  Our route will take us all over London.  We’ll start by heading down Charlbourg to Prince Albert Rd.  We’ll run sidewalks/streets until we can drop down to the canal in Primrose Hill.  Then we will carry on running until we reach “The Wall” in Islington.  We’ll take Farringdon Road all the way to the river then run beside the river back to Chelsea Bridge.  From there, we’ll run through Chelsea, Pimlico, and by Victoria station.  We’ll finish at Westminster tube station and take the Jubilee line back to SJW.  If you read nothing else, read this…..  find your pace on this run ladies.  I understand that these long runs are intimidating, but they are much less scary if you are comfortable with the pace you are running.  On the run to Wembley, I caught up with Mary, Randa and Sujatha just before the finish.  They were tired but they were still chatting.  We ran and talked and I was amazed to listen to their voices.  It was as though we were sitting having coffee instead of finishing an 8 mile run.  It was incredibly impressive.  Their fitness levels have sky-rocketed.  It made me so happy.  I think most of you have done the same.  By the time I arrived at the Wembley station, you were all stretching and acting as though you had been for a walk in the park.  It’s great.  You are all so much stronger than you’re giving yourselves credit for.  It appears that your recovery time is down to minutes or less.  Experts say that if you are “back to normal” in less than 60 seconds then you are “uber-fit”!!!  So congratulations!!!!
I’ll look forward to seeing you this week,

Beginner Running Group 4 March 2012

Hello Runners!

My goodness – we had a fabulous run to Kew this week.  You are all troopers!  That’s not an easy run – particularly the longer version (10.5 miles instead of 9.5 miles) which is what we did.  We now have only 2 weeks of serious training, then the last week before Lisbon we’ll take it easy.  This Thursday we are running to Wembley Central and will take the tube home (Bakerloo to Baker St. then Jubilee to SJW).  It’s about a 90 minute run.  Although we are “only” running 90 minutes, this route is tough.  After we get on the canal in Maida Vale, we’ll be running without street crossings/red-men for miles.  It will give you an idea of what Lisbon will feel like – no stops, no walking, no red lights, etc.  For the next 3 Thursday runs, we will start running from Starbucks so you may want to jog in place a bit or walk briskly to Starbucks.  This is how the race will work – we’ll gather at the start line, the gun will go off and we’ll start running.  We won’t do our normal 5 minute walk to warm-up so let’s get used to it!  
Thank you so much for your input on where you fit into the group and who you feel comfortable running with.  Your group is quite different prior years beginners.  You often hang together for a lot of the run.  I’m thinking we will group up at the race start (all 22 of us).  The race will begin and Syma will lead the way.  We’ll go back to the duckling rule and no one will be allowed to get ahead of Syma.  She will set a steady pace for us and will adjust that pace for the front of the pack based on how they are doing.  I’m guessing that after a few miles the group will string out.  With your group, we usually have the same group in the back – so that pack will run with me.  Sometimes you end up with a large front pack and medium-size middle pack and sometimes you end up with a smaller group at the front and a large group in the middle.  So…… Becky will be next in line.  She’ll either hang out in the back of the front pack (if that’s the large group) or the front of the middle pack (if that’s the larger group).  Bonnie will be next in line.  She’ll either be running alone with a small middle pack or at the back of a large middle pack.  Who knows?  We may end up running in 4 packs which will also work out perfectly.  However it works out, please be aware of which coach you are running with.  If you start to drop back, let your coach know.  Chances are the group behind you is not that far back and you can end up running with them.  Most of all, I don’t want anyone running alone.  It’s no fun – why join a running group if you end up running the race alone?
You will have seen the information about temperatures in Lisbon on the trip update I just sent out.  For this group, I would bring a lot of running clothes options.  Don’t wear anything new – particularly shoes!  If you want new shoes, buy them immediately.  You have just enough time to break them in before the race.  Don’t wear new clothes – test them first on a training run.  You never know if things will rub or irritate you.  Figure out now what you are going to eat for breakfast before the race and try it out one morning before a run.  If there is something particular that you like for breakfast, consider bringing it with you if possible.  If you still have questions about gels, let me know.  You are not bothering me!  I would rather get this stuff sorted out now than mid-race.  Some of you have asked about water during the race.  You have options.  We are all running now with water bottles on the training runs.  If you like the idea of having water when you want it and being able to sip on it, then run the race with your water bottle.  If you don’t want to carry your water bottle, there will be water stations on the course every 2 miles or so.  When making this decision, also think about whether you like to stop/start or not.  If you are getting your water from stations along the way, you’ll have to slow down a bit at the station, maybe walk a few steps as there are often groups of people around the water tables.  Some of you like having a little rest like that, some of you hate it.  Also, carry your running shoes (and anything else that is critical) with you on the plane.  Don’t check it in your suitcase.  If the airline happened to lose your bag, it would be awful having to piece together a running outfit (particularly shoes).
I’ve decided that we will do one more long run on Thursday, 15 March.  I’ll let you know the route once I’ve set it.  
See you Thursday for the run and for the party!