25 25 January Note

Hello Beginner Runners,

Raquel and Niyani, thank you so much for hosting our get-together on Friday night.  It was so much fun to see everyone in their finest glitter!  You are all gorgeous!  And goodness, we are a talented bunch.  Charlotte’s paintings are absolutely incredible and Mary’s book is a top-notch thriller (I still can’t believe that twisted serial killer story came out of sweet Mary Bracht’s mind).  We might should be keeping a closer eye on her!!!  Seriously, this is a group of interesting, educated, highly accomplished women.  I’m very impressed with ya’ll (that’s my lead-in to the next topic).

Kirk and I have finalised our plans and will be leaving London in just over a couple of months.  As most of you know, Kirk is working on a 3 year contract with Rio Tinto which comes to an end 31 December 2013.  Recently, the company asked to extend that contract and (after much discussion) Kirk agreed as long as he could work from Texas. For us, this is wonderful opportunity - much better than we could ever have hoped for.  He will continue to travel a lot (he's usually gone about 60% of the time), but when he's home, he'll be able to start easing into retirement.  As this was our choice, the timing is completely up to us.  I’ll stay in London through the Bratislava trip - it’ll be my last “hurrah”!  Then we’ll pack up and depart probably that next week.  Ladies, you are a wonderful group of women.  I love this running group and I love doing what I can to help you with your training.  I will miss you all!  I feel incredible fortunate that our life paths have crossed through this running group.  Please keep in touch - let me know how you’re doing.  I’m the last person in the universe who hasn’t been converted to Facebook, but my email will remain the same so you can contact me that way.  

For our training, we are truly on the home stretch now.  It may not feel that way, but think of this.....  we have only 5 long runs left before race-day (90, 100, 110, 120, 130).  That’s it!  It’s very important that you get those runs done.  Use our Google Doc (Click here for the link) or just email the group to pair up when you can’t join the group run on Thursday.  Most of our remaining long runs will be destination routes.  I understand that eats up a lot of time and isn’t always convenient.  Route selection is tricky.  When setting the route, I’m thinking more of avoiding hills, choosing a distracting route so beginners won’t think too much about being tired and finding the right mix of non-stop vs. street running.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be easing into more canal/river path running which usually leads us away from SJW.  When doing a long run, to run out the canal and turn around and come back is psychological torture for new runners.  So, for those of you who don’t like destination running, I apologise for all of these route selections!  I promise there is a method to the madness - careful consideration goes into the routes.

I’ll bring the gels on Thursday to Starbucks.  You’ll need no more than 10 gels in total (probably more like 8-9) for training runs and race day.  Once you decide which gel you like, consider joining up with someone to buy a box of them.  They are much cheaper when purchased in bulk.  With these gels, you need to drink some water.  Our runs are getting long enough that you really, really need to be taking in fluids.  Runners Need has a bunch of different options for hydration belts/bags.  Consider running there on Tuesday if you still need a hydration system or new shoes.  Here is a route that will put you at the store in about 45 minutes:
Remember to tell them that you run in our group and they will give you a 10% discount.  This is the last Tuesday run which should be 45 minutes long.  Beginning, Tuesday, 5 February, the mid-distance run should be 60 minutes long.

This past week I mentioned to several of you that there was an interesting article in Runners World about beginning to run.  I’ve scanned it (so illegal!!!) and this is a link to the pdf version.  It’s really funny and I love the one paragraph that says:
Keep your blinkers on.  Don’t be in any hurry to learn your pace and put it in perspective.  There is only one road:  the one you’re on.  There is only one body:  yours.  Until you hear about a guy named Dean Karnazes, you’ll think you’re moving mountains.
The author says, much more eloquently than I ever could, what I’ve been trying to tell you for months now.  Don’t worry about pace, don’t think about pace.  Learn how to run and learn how to enjoy running.  If you enjoy it, you’ll keep doing it and that makes me happy.  The nicest thing you can ever do for me is to keep running.  That’s all I want...  just that one little thing....  for you to keep on running!

This week our 90 minute route takes us to Vauxhall.  This is a perfect way for us to ease into more non-stop running.  We’ll run down to Hyde Park the normal way (via Lisson Grove and Seymour) and continue on to Battersea Park via Sloane St.  Both Hyde and Battersea parks will provide for straight running without street crossings.  In addition, the stretch along Sloane St. doesn’t have many stops.  There is a very large Starbucks at Vauxhall station.  Usually it’s not a problem for everyone to sit together for coffee so stay on if you have time.  From Vauxhall, it’s an 18 minute tube ride home on the Victoria line to Green Park then the Jubilee line to SJW.  I look forward to seeing you Thursday!

                                                               Happy Running,                                                           

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlPYNmKuXK9DdHRLeE1vMGd3SlktSURoWkJ2dUFTQlE https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlPYNmKuXK9DdHRLeE1vMGd3SlktSURoWkJ2dUFTQlE https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1PYNmKuXK9DTEJVZ0dtUEQ2NW8/edit https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1PYNmKuXK9DTEJVZ0dtUEQ2NW8/edit


Did Danja really run with us on Thursday or did she sneak into Whole Foods for the post-run coffee?????  She looks too good to have just run 6.7 miles!!!

25 January Note

Friday, 25 January 2013


16 January 2013 Note

Hello Beginner Runners,

I apologize in advance for what will be a very long email this week. Sorry! We have a lot of information to cover. Let’s start with Thursday’s run. We’ll be doing 70 minutes of non-stop running. It is a critical run this week and there are a number of other critical runs in the next few weeks. If you are training for the half-marathon, you will need to do these runs and it’s best to do them with your coaches (if at all possible). We will be giving you instructions as we run and will be ensuring you are running the correct pace. When you are not able to run with the group, try to pair up with someone else. You are all doing a great job of that (finding a buddy to run with). Thank you for that! The route tomorrow will take us out the canal in an easternly direction to Islington. At that point, we’ll come off the canal and head down Farringdon Road south. We’ll turn right (or west) on Theobald’s Rd (which may be called Clerkenwell Rd at that point – we learned that the hard way!!!). That road merges into Oxford St. and we’ll carry on running until we reach Selfridges. For those of you who have time, we can go up to Starbucks in Selfridge’s (on the 4th floor) for a coffee post-run.

Bratislava Half-Marathon
Shoot, I think I’m about to be fired as trip organizer! I thought I had done a good job of negotiating a great rate at the Sheraton, but now I see that the Bratislava Marathon has secured an even better rate! I’m working with our contact at the hotel to figure out how to proceed. The rate from the Bratislava Marathon also has a late cancellation option which is great for us (for any last minute cancellations due to injuries/sick children/etc). We did not have that option. I was managing our numbers with them to allow for a couple of cancellations. Once I hear back from the hotel contact, I’ll let you know what has been decided.

Information on Gels
Wow! The time has come to start talking more about mid-run fueling. Most runners can handle sessions up to 80-90 minutes without “topping up” fuel. Our long runs will be of those lengths in the coming weeks. Ladies, if you are not interested in understanding the science of exercise fueling – no worries. I’m serious about that. Your coaches will tell you what you need to do, when you need a gel, etc. If you want to understand why we must take in carbohydrates while we’re running, read on….. Let me preface this by saying the information that follows has been highly simplified for ease of application/understanding. I apologize to any doctors/scientists/nutritionists among you (you’re probably cringing at my examples and over-simplified explanations). Most female runners have approximately 1000-1200 calories of readily-accessible “fuel” for exercise.  Think of that “fuel” as being a tank full of petrol. Most of us burn between 600-900 calories per hour running (so we’ll need between 1500 and 2700 calories to fuel a half-marathon). So, we can go for runs up to 80-90 minutes without “topping up the tank”. Just like cars get different gas/petrol mileage per litre/gallon, no two runners will burn/require the same number of calories even if they are running the exact same pace (so these numbers are just guidelines).  As a general rule, if two runners are side-by-side running the same pace, the one more comfortable with that pace will burn less calories (or need less fuel) than the one who is pushing herself.  Weight and fitness levels also play into the equation as do your general well-being at the time. If you are feeling unwell or particularly anxious on race-day, your heart-rate will be elevated and you will burn more calories. This fueling issue is one of the reasons I constantly ask you to “find your pace”. If you are pushing your pace, your body will require more fuel (which can complicate fueling for a first time half-marathoner). As a runner develops and has more experience, there are some good reasons to push the pace, but beginners are best served by finding their “comfortable” pace and sticking with it. Once a runner has burnt through the 1000-1200 calories of readily-accessible fuel, it is necessary to top up the “petrol in the tank”. The easiest way to add fuel to your system is with gels. Gels are simple carbohydrates. They come in small packets, are made by a range of companies and come in a variety of flavours. Most of the gels have similar formulas so when deciding which gel to use, most athletes chose the gel that is most palatable to them. I’ll bring some gels to the run tomorrow and next week so you can chose one that sounds good to you. A lot of women chose the gel based on the consistency of it. The following is a description of some of the most popular gels:

GU – easily available in the UK, Europe and the US. Comes in a wide range of flavours – some ladies really like the Espresso flavour. In my opinion, GU doesn’t taste as sweet as some other gels (some other brands are sickly sweet to me). The Roctane gels within the GU line of products has a sort of time release on carb delivery so are particularly good for extreme endurance events. They were originally designed for athletes racing/training 8-10 hours but lots of runners love to use this gel for events like a half-marathon. If you are sensitive to sugar, the GU Roctane line is a good choice (you get less of a sugar high/drop). GU Roctane is not as easy to find as the basic GU gel and it comes in less flavour choices. The consistency of all GU products is mid-range (not real liquidy but not as firm as some other gels).

PowerBar – PowerBar Energy is hard to find in the UK but is readily available in the US. Some runners who prefer a more “liquid-like” gel highly prefer this gel. It comes in 4-5 flavours and I like them all. To me, these gels taste like the syrup poured over sno-cones. PowerBar Gel (not Energy, but just Gel) is a favourite of many runners. They come in a wide range of flavours and also are available with added caffeine and/or sodium.

Clif Shots – are the best choice for anyone who is gluten intolerant or needs to avoid maltodextrin. I understand the citrus fruit flavour is the absolute best for anyone with Celiac’s disease. I do not have any of these gels to bring on a run. You can find them in the UK, Europe and the US. They come in a half dozen different flavours and also are available in gel or shot blocks (blocks are between a gummy bear and jello jiggler consistency). Personally, I don’t like the blocks – they are too big; I feel like I’m choking on it (but that’s just me!!!).

Torq – I love this gel and most runners agree with me. They taste good, the consistency is like a runny pudding, and they are easy to find in the UK. They come in 5-6 different flavours and everyone seems to have a favourite. There are countless more gels to chose from. These are just the brands that I am most familiar with. All gels weigh about 40g, they all have 100-110 calories, 25-29g of carbs and about 10g of sugar. Those numbers don’t change much between brands. Some gels have added caffeine and/or sodium. If you sweat a lot, you might consider a gel with added sodium (or talk to me and I can give you some slow-sodium tablets to take while running). A lot of women love gels with caffeine. It seems to give them a bigger boost. With all gels, a runner should feel a lift usually 8-10 minutes after taking one. Gels work like magic. They don’t taste that great, but they give runners a boost that is fabulous. After they kick in, you’ll feel lighter on your feet as though you’ve just caught a second wind.

Here’s the deal…… it’s almost impossible for a beginner runner to complete a half-marathon without taking in carbs during the race. Some more experienced runners can (particularly those who are running a race slower than they could) because they have taught their bodies how to use fat as fuel. For example, your coaches who normally run at a quicker pace may not take a gel during our race. If they are running what is for them a very comfortable pace, they’ll be using primarily fat to fuel that exercise. So you’ll need to do at least one gel during the race (two for some of you). You really need to try gels before race-day so you know what to expect and you know that your body won’t “reject” it. As we discussed before, sports drink is an alternative to gels but is difficult to carry during the race, we don’t know for sure which sports drink they will be using, we don’t know what formula they will have used to make the drink (how watered down or concentrated it is) so we won’t know how many grams of carbs are in it. To take a gel, you rip off the top, put the gel between your lips and roll the gel package up from the bottom (like rolling a tube of toothpaste). You need to do the entire gel (not just part of it). It is best to drink a bit of water (50-100ml) after taking a gel which brings us to hydration systems. Our runs are getting very long! We all need to be carrying water. We can do another run to Runner’s Need if some of you are still needing to purchase a water bottle/belt/pack. Let me know!!!

Weekly Routine
If you are training for the half-marathon, a 3rd weekly run will make things easier for you on race-day. Ideally, you should be doing the weekly long run on Thursdays with the group, then doing a 45 minute run each week and a 35 minute run on the weekend. Beginning in February, the 45 minute run should be bumped up to 60 minutes. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Happy Running,


6 January 2013 Note

Hello Beginner Runners,

I hope you’ve had a fabulous holiday season. I’m still enjoying some time in Texas with Kirk and Adrian. We’re having a blast but I am ready to get back to London and get back to our routine. I miss you all!!!!

This Thursday, 10 January, Betsy and Bonnie (and Syma if she’s back from an unexpected trip to the US) will lead the group on the route we did on 20 December. It’s a loop that takes the group back to Starbucks in SJW (see map). You will be running down to Hyde Park via Lisson Grove/Seymour entering the park near Speaker’s Corner. The group will exit Hyde Park at Brook St. and run across to Regent St. The route turns north to run up to Regents Park then back to Starbucks. This route is all familiar territory for you – hopefully that will help those of you who have been away and/or not running much over the holidays. The run is a 60 minute non-stop session but has a lot of street crossings (so you’ll have little mini-breaks throughout the route. If you weren’t able to run much over the holidays, don’t fret!!! We’ll all struggle through this together. It will take a couple of weeks to get back into our routine. Please don’t not come out to join the group because you’re worried about having lost fitness over the break. I promise it will be OK. You won’t be alone!!! If you have trouble during the run, slow it down but try not to walk. Jog so slowly that power-walkers could pass you (but don’t walk!!!!).

January is hard for everyone. Even our strongest runners in the Mon/Wed/Fri group have to fight to get back into a running routine in the new year. Don’t give up now! You can do this!!!! I’ll be back in London on Sunday, 13 January, but am checking emails here in the US. Email me if you have any concerns/questions – I’m happy to help however possible.
Happy Running,