Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Different Kind of Pain

I had gone through so much just to get into the kind of shape where I could 'complete' 2-4 miles on a regular basis. But, I was venturing into uncharted territory as my team's first 5K race of the season rapidly approached. I had no idea what a 5K looked like or felt like. Ignorance and naivete can be wonderful things.

I had played lengthy tennis matches finding myself dehydrated and cramping by match point. I had battled through soccer games that went into overtime and left me exhausted. But, the aforementioned activities always included some kind of break, no matter how brief. Typically, there were many breaks-halftime, a ball would go out of bounds, or you'd change sides of the field/court. There was always an opportunity to catch your breath.

One of the toughest things I learned during the crucible of pre-season training was to run in such a manner that I could 'sustain' motion for an extended period of time. I knew how to sprint from playing tennis and soccer, but I didn't know how to run for an extended period of time and my body wasn't adapted to it.

As race season approached, I had developed at least some vague sense of pacing that would enable me to complete the assigned distance. But, I had so much more to learn. Our first race arrived and I was extraordinarily fortunate to not know what was in store for me.

Legions of awkward, gangly 14-16 year old boys in every conceivable state of development warmed up, stretched, and engaged in bizarre pre-race rituals that included just about everything short of animal sacrifice.

Flying (or running) blind, I just followed the lead of those who seemed to have more experience than I did. I did a few windsprints, stretched out a bit, and did a few buttkicks (which seemed vaguely homoerotic at the time).

None of this activity allayed my pre-race nerves, but I assumed this was just part and parcel of 'being a runner'.

Lining up at the start was undoubtedly one of the most tense moments of my young life. I had no idea what I was doing or how this was going to unfold. All I knew was that I didn't want to be last. For all I knew, the race officials were about to unleash a pack of rabid, frothing hounds that would eviscerate all but the fleetest.

While this did not happen (somewhat disappointingly), there was still ample pain and suffering to go around for all. I honestly don't remember vivid details from my first race other than it hurt like nothing I'd ever experienced before pretty much from the very first stride I took. This was the purest, most visceral pain I had ever felt in my life.

Lungs afire and legs leaden, I careened across the finish line. I was far from victory, but the last runner wouldn't come through for quite some time. What I gained was a profound appreciation of just how tough one has to be to be a good (or great) runner.

Unquestionably, football and hockey are TOUGH sports that can be extraordinarily painful. But neither of these sports involve CONSTANT discomfort and pain for extended periods of time. I challenge anyone who plays football or hockey to run 3.1 miles as fast as they can. I promise the definition of pain you referenced previously will change markedly and permanently.

The Crucible

While by my own admission I fell pretty hard for running, the 'courtship' phase had more than it's fair share of arduous and exhausting moments. This 'romance' was spawned in a stiflingly hot and humid summer in Kansas.

Pre-season training for cross country was a veritable crucible of heat and humidity. While I had always been a relatively athletic kid, I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up to run.

The first 2-3 weeks of training were an exercise in pure survival. It's hard to imagine looking back on the 2-4 miles I logged just how destroyed I felt when my mom would pick me up after practice.

Each run was immediately followed by consumption of nearly a gallon of Gatorade, several bowls of Goldfish crackers, and a lengthy nap. At this stage of the game, the 'runner's high' was a mythical concept to me as all I really knew was soreness and fatigue.

At practice, I merely tried to hang on for dear life. I wasn't the fastest kid on the team, but I was determined to not be the slowest. My fragile ego couldn't handle being last, so I would put myself through hell to end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Presumably my body started to adapt to the act of generating 3-10 times my body weight per footstrike as soreness and fatigue gradually started to give way to something new and unfamiliar, a vague feeling of lucidity and peace.

Labored and ragged breathing became a bit smoother. My legs seemed to move with a bit more ease and perhaps even a modicum of grace.

The season arrived too soon for my taste, but remarkably I found myself running in stride with the varsity squad roughly where I'd been during the summer....in the middle of the pack. This was encouraging, but I had yet to experience an actual race.

A Love Story

It seems most love stories begin with a 'moment' or epiphany. Maybe it's an exchanged look, a shared laugh, or just a feeling of ease in the presence of someone else.

I've often wondered how many people really experience love this way. My first love didn't happen this way. Sparks didn't fly. I wasn't enamored immediately. Butterflies were conspicuously absent.

For me, it was more of a slow burn. I can't point to an exact moment when I knew, but like anyone else I knew it when it arrived.

I was 15 years old struggling to find any kind of comfort or solace in my own skin. Vaguely estranged from my parents and generally uncomfortable around most of my peers, I was a portrait of teen angst.

Finding 'love' was the furthest thing from my horizon, but I suppose it found me. The first few furtive flirtations would eventually give way to a seemingly boundless affection. Once I got a taste, I couldn't get enough.

For the first time in my life, the awkwardness seemed to disappear. The discomfort and angst faded if only for a few miles.

When I was on the road, I felt comfortable. I felt in control. I felt at ease. The miles I logged were an escape, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of hope.

Often confronted with a home filled with anger, conflict, and instability, I suddenly discovered I could find solace and peace only a few miles away.

If I wanted to run fast, I could. If I wanted to run far, I could. There were no limits, there were no constraints, there were only opportunities. I was free to do whatever I wanted and I wasn't beholden to the challenges I experienced at home or at school.

I came to embrace running unconditionally. Some days this was not reciprocated as I would finish a run feeling exhausted and spent. But, more often than not I felt exhilarated and inspired.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


The blood, the sweat, and the tears will all pay off on Sunday! Your focus this week should be on taking care of yourself and making sure you've got all your ducks in a row. The content below should have you good to go on race day!


-Identify your race day wardrobe. Make sure whatever you choose is something you're comfortable running in. Plan for the weather conditions! Take a look at the extended forecast and plan accordingly! You may want to bring a few different options.

-Nail down your travel plans. You want to plan on getting to the race start ABOUT 45-60 minutes in advance of the actual start, ideally. BART may be your best option for getting to Oakland, but bear in mind that MANY people may have the same idea, so give yourself ample time! It appears there's a BART station near 19th Street which is quite close to the start of the race.

Arriving well in advance of the start of your race will give you time to use the restroom, warmup, check any baggage you want at the start, and make your way to the start.

Here is a link to the race info. page which includes details around the start time of the race (9:15) and other relevant details-Oakland Half Marathon Race Info.

I'd encourage you to warmup as you would for any other long run. Only this time, you'll have a few more people running with you :) 


-Scout the course. Check out the Oakland half marathon course map. What I can tell you is our training has prepared you well for what lies ahead.

-Lube if necessary. Some of you have complained about blisters on your toes/feet and chafing during the course of our training. Well, there's a handy product out there called 'Body Glide' that you can apply to your feet, thighs, underarms, or any other area where you encounter friction based irritation that will help reduce/eliminate this. It may be time to invest in some. Alternatively, you can use Vaseline, but it can be a bit on the greasy side.


-Schedule a sports massage. Some of you may have some residual soreness/tightness that has been bothering you these past few weeks. Now is the time to be a bit self-indulgent.

In addition to taking an extra day off and/or cutting a workout short, indulge in a nice sports massage to help knock out those last few kinks. I'd recommend scheduling one for Thursday or Friday,ideally.

PSOAS Massage & Bodywork always extends us a 10% discount

-Nail down race nutrition items. I introduced you to GU and a few other products throughout the season and hopefully you managed to identify the items that work best for you. Remember that you should be consuming one of the aforementioned items approximately every 45-60 minutes during the race to keep performing at a high level.

If you anticipate being out on the course for 2 or more hours, this means you will need 2-3 gels/shots/blocks/etc. Water and some kind of sports drink will be provided at the start and at various during the race, so try to coordinate consumption of gels,blocks, etc. in conjunction with the water stops.

FYI, there are '8' aid stations along the course.

Just a reminder that roctane, chomps, gels, bloks, etc. should be washed down with WATER, NOT A SPORTS DRINK.


-Focus on complex carbs. OK, we're a few days from the race and now is the time to start making some adjustments to your diet to help insure you're properly fueled for race day. Think whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat bagels, organic fruits/vegetables, etc.

Some folks only 'carboload' the day/night before an endurance event, but the reality is that carboloading this late in the game won't give you much bang for the buck. If you start a few days prior, your are insuring that your glycogen stores(primary fuel source) are topped off.

This doesn't mean eat carbs EXCLUSIVELY! But, if your diet normally doesn't include much of the aforementioned, make a conscious effort to include more at this juncture.

-Hydrate properly. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one way you can identify whether or not you are properly hydrated is by looking at the color/quantity of your urine. In short, 'clear' and 'copious' is what you're looking for, respectively.

You should start making a conscious effort in making sure this is what you're seeing in the days leading up to the race. While we're not anticipating a hot day, you still will lose fluids even if you're not sweating profusely. Make sure you're getting plenty of water, sports drink, juice,etc. in the days leading up to the race.


-Get a good night's sleep. Given the early start time we have on Saturday and some pre-race nerves, it's not unlikely that you may not get a ton of sleep the night before the race. Ultimately, this isn't a big deal and has not proven to have a significant impact on race day performance by and large.

So, don't sweat it too much. BUT, try to make a conscious effort to get a solid night's sleep on Friday. Make it a quiet evening of quality, complex carbs, rest, and relaxation!


-Get your race bib. You CANNOT participate in the half marathon without a race bib! You can pick up your bib on Saturday between 9AM-5PM at the Oakland Marriott City Center.

For more race bib/packet pickup info, check out the following link-Race bib/packet pickup info.

-Eat dinner early.  I'd encourage you to target 5PM or 5:30PM to get in your final meal of the day.

You probably want to focus on complex carbs for this meal and try to stay away from anything that is spicy or markedly different from anything you would normally eat. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you may want to plan on bringing your own food for this meal.

-Lay out your outfit for race morning. I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to lay out all the items you need for race morning on a chair or on the floor next to your bed before you go to bed.

This includes your shirt, your hat, shorts, shoes, gels, socks, race bib, etc. Have everything laid out so that when you get up in the morning, you won't have to even think about it, you can just put everything on and you're good to go.

-Set your alarm clock, set your alarm on your cell phone, and request a wake up call from a friend or two (if they're willing). This three pronged approach virtually GUARANTEES you will be up in the morning on time!

You should plan on being near the race start area ABOUT 45-60 MINUTES PRIOR TO START! Make sure you allow enough time to at least have something small to eat before you head out for the race. This may mean getting up EARLY.


-ARRIVE AT THE START AREA ABOUT 45-60 MIN. PRIOR TO THE RACE! I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to arrive about 45-60 min. early. This gives you time to warmup, use the bathroom, change clothes, get your race bib (if necessary) and get positioned near the start.

Do your standard warmup routine as you do before any long run.

-Pace Accordingly! OK, so you're probably going to feel pretty amped when the gun goes off, but please HOLD BACK and PACE ACCORDINGLY! You 'should' have a solid handle at this juncture on what you can maintain for 13.1 miles.

RESIST the urge to go out fast. If anything run a bit SLOWER the first few miles and EASE into your comfortable, conversational pace. I want to make sure you have something left in the tank those last few miles!

-Take water/sports drink at every opportunity. Even if you aren't necessarily feeling thirsty, TAKE IT ANYWAY! Some of you may have heard of 'hyponatremia' which is often associated with taking in too much water.

Let me emphasize that 'hyponatremia' is MOST PREVALENT in marathons where elapsed time on the road exceeds 4-5 hours. So, this means that there is virtually zero chance of this being an issue for any of you.

-How to handle water stops/stations on race day-There will be several of these along the course. Typically, there are several tables laid out. DO NOT GO TO THE FIRST TABLE YOU SEE!

Let the other runners slow down and bump into each other to get their water and sports drink. Try to go to the LAST TABLE you see at the water station to avoid slowing down or possibly stumbling. Certainly you can walk through the water stations if you like.

-How to drink water and/or sports drink on the run-When you get your cup of water or sports drink, pinch the top of the cup closed and fold one of the corners over so you effectively have a small, narrow 'spout'.

Pour carefully into your mouth. If you don't want to walk through water stops/stations, this is the best way I know of to drink while running.

-Take a gel, gu, clif shot, clif block,etc. every 45-60 minutes. Make sure you get some simple carbohydrates (gels, gus, clif blocks,etc.)in your system every 45-60 min. This will help you continue to perform at a high level. Make sure to wash any gels, gus, etc. down with WATER not sports drink.

-Be mentally tough! You've done the work. You've endured the long runs. You've tapered. You know how to fuel/hydrate properly. Remind yourself of all the hard work and preparation you've done those last few miles when you might be feeling a bit tired. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YOU ARE READY FOR GLORY!

-Expedite race recovery. As quickly as possible, get a quality combination of carbohydrates/protein in your system (remember 4 carbs: 1 protein is OPTIMAL for recovery. Chocolate Milk has this ratio.)

I'd also encourage you to walk around for a few minutes to help increase circulation and help flush the lactic acid out of your system. ADDITIONALLY, make sure to rehydrate as soon as possible! Get some water, heed, and/or other fluids in your system ASAP! If you have a stick or foam roller handy, spend some quality time with it!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Enter Taper!

Just because the toughest run of the season is behind us doesn't mean you go back to sitting on the couch, eating chips, and watching television.

That being said, taper is about dialing back the mileage, the crosstraining, and allowing your body an opportunity to heal, recover, and get ready for race day in a couple weeks!

Rest assured that you will NOT 'lose' any fitness you've gained these next few weeks as you taper for race day. This is NOT the time to 'make up' runs, 'make up' workouts, or 'cram' for race day. YOUR BODY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

In short, I've done everything in my power to get all of you ready for conquering 13.1 miles. The best thing you can do at this point is simply savor the taper, take care of yourself, and take that extra day off if you need to!

While I've done everything in my power to prepare you 'physically', preparing 'mentally' is important as well. These next couple weeks you may find yourself feeling anxious, nervous, and questioning whether or not you can run 13.1 miles. Did missing that one workout hurt my chances of running 13.1? I felt really crappy on that last long run, I don't know if I can make it a couple more miles on race day?!!?!

EVERYONE feels this kind of anxiety to one degree or another. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Try to remind yourself of all the hard work you've done over the past weeks! The early Saturdays, the Tuesday runs, the Thursday workouts, and all the days of crosstraining in between.

You've suffered through ALL OF MY LONG WINDED EMAILS AND LENGTHY PREAMBLES! If that doesn't prepare you for enduring 13.1 miles, NOTHING will! ;)

In all seriousness, now is the time to remind yourself of what you have done to prepare. For many of you, this will be your first time running a half marathon and you're venturing into the great unknown, but I PROMISE if you've stayed fairly dedicated and committed to the training thus far, you have everything you need! At the end of the day, this is 'just' another long run with a few extra people ;)

Saturday(1/22) Run Course Description

Here is a link to the course map for Saturday:

Saturday's Course Map

Here's a verbal description as well:

Everyone will head NORTH along the Marina towards the Warming Hut. Roughly half a mile into our run (near Baker Street) we will make a RIGHT TURN and cross through the volleyball court area into the Yacht Club parking lot and TURN LEFT onto the Marina Promenade. This is a gravel/dirt path that heads towards the Warming Hut.

Upon reaching the Warming Hut(roughly 2 miles), you will run past the Warming Hut and take an IMMEDIATE left to head towards LONG AVENUE. Long Avenue is effectively a short hill that heads up towards Lincoln.

Everyone will head up Long Avenue along the shoulder until you reach a stop sign. This is LINCOLN. Take a right on to the paved cyclist/pedestrian path and follow this path to your right. Stick to this path as it heads towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Make sure that you are on this path and NOT on Lincoln. You do not want to be running on Lincoln for this course.

You will follow the path for roughly 1/2-3/4 of a mile. There will be a few points at which the path may fork, but stick to the MAIN path. You will soon see the Golden Gate Bridge approaching.

You will reach a point where you can continue running and run underneath the bridge or take a hairpin LEFT and wind your way up to the pedestrian side of the bridge. You want to do the LATTER and turn left and head onto the pedestrian side of the bridge. PLEASE BE CAREFUL! THERE ARE TYPICALLY A REASONABLE NUMBER OF TOURISTS WHO AREN'T PAYING ATTENTION. BE SMART AND BE POLITE IF YOU NEED TO GET AROUND SOMEONE.

Everyone will continue to the end of the bridge to the Visitor Center. This is 4.5 MILES. Stop here to grab some water, use the restroom, and/or take a gel, clif shot, etc. Everyone will turn around here and return to the monkey bars.

Upon return to the monkey bars, EVERYONE will continue running SOUTH along the Marina towards our favorite hill by the Marina Safeway. Everyone will crest the hill. Beginners will turn around just before the hill starts heading downhill into Aquatic Park and return to the monkey bars for 10 MILES!

Intermediate, Advanced, and Race level runners will down the hill ALL the way to the end of Aquatic Park at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf. Intermediate level runners turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 11 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue into Fisherman's Wharf. As always, beware of tourists! You will be running on Jefferson and continue until you get to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. There's a big GAP store on the right of this intersection. Advanced level runners will turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 12 MILES!

Race level runners will run through Fisherman's Wharf and on to the Embarcadero. Run past the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay (next to Houston's restaurant) and continue all the way to the main entrance of the Ferry Building. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 15 MILES!

Mental Preparation, Part Two.

Mental Tricks For Fighting off Fatigue/Discomfort

Fatigue and discomfort limit performance. This is a physical reality. Anxiety and fear MAGNIFY fatigue. Once fatigue has taken charge, it's a LONG way to the finish line!

The key is to ACCEPT discomfort and fatigue as part of the deal and be confident you will run well despite it. At this stage of the game, ALL of you should know this. There's just no way to run for an extended period of time and NOT experience some level of discomfort/fatigue. So, this should actually be a bit 'easier' for you than it was several months ago.

But, let's say something comes up during the run (or race). The best thing you can do is 'heighten your awareness' in the area where you're feeling discomfort or fatigue. So, if your right quad is feeling a bit fatigued/tight, consciously focus on this area, tighten your quad momentarily, and RELAX. This reduces anxiety, helping fight off fatigue with relaxation.

I raced a 5K a couple years ago and ran into some fatigue and discomfort (quite literally!). Racing a distance this short REQUIRES a level of discomfort/fatigue that you just don't experience when you're doing an EASY run. About halfway through the race, my lungs were really hurting.

It was an uncomfortable sensation, but I reminded myself that I had been there before and I just needed to stay focused and RELAX! While the discomfort didn't disappear, the latter part of the race was manageable and I even managed a little surge right at the end DESPITE the discomfort.

Telling myself to relax was a big part of this. Come up with some kind of 'relaxation slogan'. 'Calm, calm, calm' or 'Breathe, breathe, breathe.' 'Chill, chill, chill.' Whatever works for you.

Another tactic I use (and is recommended) is focus on your posture, biomechanics, and form. REALLY tune into where your feet are landing, how your arms are moving, what your breathing feels like, etc. This dovetails with the whole concept of 'associating'. In the latter stages of a tough run or race, form sometimes falls apart and by consciously FOCUSING on how your body is moving, you can stave this off to a certain extent. If you're running on fumes, the WORST thing you can do is start running inefficiently and WASTE what little juice you have left!

Talk to yourself. Remind yourself of EVERYTHING you've been through since you started training. The countless miles logged. The aches, the pains, the hot days, the windy days, etc. Don't forget the bar nights you've survived, too ;) In all seriousness, this is REALLY important!

If I'm in a race and I'm REALLY HURTING, I will start thinking about things I've endured (while running or in life) that have hurt worse. Almost invariably, I can find a run/race or life experience that puts things in perspective. This pretty much always helps me get through the discomfort/fatigue.

Getting angry/aggressive in this context can actually be a good thing. A sudden rush of adrenaline provides a psychological boost and may help break the hold of fatigue.

When I first started running cross country in high school, I developed this odd habit of letting out a 'war cry' in the latter stages of a race when I was really hurting and really digging deep to find one last surge. Literally, it was something out of 'Braveheart'.

During the state meet my sophmore year, I came charging up the final hill and saw LEGIONS of runners in front of me with about 400 meters to go. Something in me just snapped and I let out the 'war cry' and somehow found an extra gear outkicking about 20-30 people in that home stretch.

While I don't necessarily employ this technique anymore (maybe I should!), it was effective.

Hopefully, the content in this section has given all of you some good food for thought and a few ways to manage the challenges you've faced and will face on race day.

I've given all of you just about all of the knowledge and so-called wisdom I have, it's up to you now! :)

Sunday(7/5) Run Course Description

Ok, folks! Only ‘2’ long runs left before we dial things back in preparation for race day. We will run a lengthy stretch along the Great Highway FIRST (this is actually the LATTER part of the race) and get our remaining mileage in Golden Gate Park LAST. You will be logging between 9-14 miles depending upon your training level.

Here is a map link for Sunday's course-

Sunday's Run Course.

Here is a description of our course:

Everyone will head SOUTH from the Beach Chalet on the paved path running along the Great Highway. Everyone will run ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE GREAT HIGHWAY! The intersection of Great Highway and SLOAT is the end of the Great Highway. There’s a controlled intersection here and the paved path effectively ends. This is a 2.35 mile stretch. If you need to use the restroom and/or grab a drink of water you will need to cross the street and head WEST over to the rest area (this will be clear once you get there).

Turn around and head back to the Beach Chalet. This is admittedly a challenging stretch as it seems to go on FOREVER! But, this is GREAT preparation for race day. Once you conquer this stretch you will know what to expect in the latter stages of the race! Once you get back to the Beach Chalet, you will have 4.7 miles under your belt. Again, feel free to stop, knock back a gel and/or some water, use the restroom, etc.before you head into Golden Gate Park for your remaining mileage.

Head NORTH from the Beach Chalet and promptly take a right turn to get onto JFK. You will run along the dirt path for about a half a mile until you come to a stop sign. Turn LEFT at this stop sign at the pedestrian crosswalk onto the dirt path running along JFK. I will try to put some chalk down at this intersection indicating where to go.

You will continue running along this path for some time. As you close in on the first mile you will see the 'Bison Paddock' on your left. Shortly after you pass the paddock, you will see Lake Spreckles on the left. If you need water, cross the pedestrian crosswalk over
to Lake Spreckles and you will see the water fountain on your left.

Continue running on the dirt path for close to a mile and you will eventually come to a 4 way stop at the intersection of JFK/Transverse. This is roughly 2 miles from the Beach Chalet. If you cross over to the LEFT side of JFK, you will find another water fountain.

Continue running on the RIGHT side of the dirt path past JFK/Transverse for another 200 meters are so. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR A PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET AND A ‘FF 9’ IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH! Beginners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 9 MILES!

Everyone else will continue running on the paved path through the park. Roughly half a mile from the aforementioned crosswalk and ‘FF9’ you will see DeYoung Museum coming up on your RIGHT. It’s kind of a funky looking building, hard to miss. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR A PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET AND A ‘FF 10’ IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH! Intermediate runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 10 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue running through the park. Roughly half a mile past the ‘FF 10’, you will come to an intersection in front of the Flower Observatory. This is JFK/MIDDLE DRIVE! There is a stop sign here. I will also put down a ‘FF 11’ in the middle of the path at this point. Advanced level runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 11 MILES!

Race level runners MUST cross over to the OTHER SIDE of JFK once you pass the ‘FF 11’! Continue running on the paved path until you reach the intersection of JFK/STANYAN. This is a controlled intersection with stop lights. You will need to cross over onto the panhandle that runs between OAK and FELL Street. You will run on the RIGHT side of the panhandle which is adjacent to OAK Street. KEEP RUNNING!

Keep your eyes peeled for the cross streets that intersect Oak Street. You will run for three quarters of a mile before you come to the intersection of OAK and LYON! LYON is 2 blocks past MASONIC. The intersection of OAK and MASONIC is controlled with a 4 way stop. This should make it easy to identify.

I will put down a ‘FF 14’ in the middle of the path at the intersection of OAK/LYON. Race level runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 13 MILES.

To pick up your extra mile and give you 14 miles for the day, you will want to run ACROSS the Great Highway via the pedestrian crosswalk as you return to the Beach Chalet from the park. Cross over to the other side of the Great Highway and run on the OCEAN side for roughly half a mile until you get to the base of a large hill that heads up towards the Cliff House. Turn around and head back to the Beach Chalet for 14 MILES!

Tuesday (6/30), Saturday (7/18) Running Route Description

You will be logging between 4-7 miles depending upon your training level. The link below should give you a relatively clear sense of where we're going. I've also included a verbal description beneath it:



We will head north along the Marina to the intersection of Mason/Halleck. This right next to Crissy Field Center and is 1 mile into our run. Everyone follow the pedestrian crosswalk and turn LEFT on Halleck

You will be running uphill for about a block until you reach a controlled intersection with a stop sign. This is the intersection of Halleck/Lincoln. Turn RIGHT onto Lincoln and run along the sidewalk. Stick to the sidewalk on the right and follow Lincoln.

Everyone will continue on Lincoln. You will eventually see the cemetery on your left and Lincoln will curve to the left. Lincoln curves around to the left and downhill slightly. You will find yourself at a 4 way stop at the intersection of Lincoln/McDowell. Look for chalk markings indicating 'FF 4'. Beginner runners turn around here.Turn around and head back to the monkey bars for 4 MILES!

Everyone else will continue past the 'FF 4' chalk markings and continue on Lincoln as it curves around to the right. Eventually you will get a spectacular view of the Marina/Crissy Field off to your right near the intersection of Lincoln/Long(there's a stop sign here at the top of Long). There's a stop sign here and you will see an 'FF 5' in chalk right before Lincoln starts heading uphill. Intermediate runners turn around here. Head back to the monkey bars for 5 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue running uphill on Lincoln on the right hand shoulder. You will run along the shoulder for about half a mile. This is uphill most of the way.

After you run under an overpass look to your left for a series of small buildings and a street sign indicating 'Ralston'. There are actually '2' instances of 'Ralston'. Run to the 'second' instance of Ralston and you should see 'FF 6' on the ground in chalk. Advanced and Race level runners will turn around here.When you get back you will have logged 6 MILES!

Race level runners will continue SOUTH along the paved path past the Marina Safeway and up our favorite hill. Crest the hill and continue running until the path starts to head downhill towards Aquatic Park. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 7 MILES!

Mental Preparation, Part One.

You’ve done a lot to prepare PHYSICALLY for 13.1 miles, but is your head in the right space to tackle 13.1 miles?

Prior to one of the biggest races of my life I WAS VERY FOCUSED. I WAS IN THE ZONE MENTALLY. I had already run the race several times in my head. I knew where the toughest parts of the course were and how I was going to deal with them. I reminded myself of all the hard work I had done to get there. My success was completely within my hands. I knew I was going to suffer a bit those last few miles, but I was prepared to gut it out. I didn't think I could conquer this race, I KNEW I COULD.

Sports psychologist Dr.Jerry Lynch asked a number of Elite runners what is most important: natural ability, diligent training, positive mental attitude, or good coaching. The key to success by an overwhelming majority was positive mental attitude.

If you enter a race (or run) in the same physical shape as another runner, most often the one who finishes first will be the one that's stronger mentally. Even if your goal is just defeating the clock, mental training offers benefits. So, how do we do this?

The Stimulus-Belief-Response System.

All behavior comes down to a stimulus producing a response. But, before you respond to something there is ALWAYS a 'brief' moment in which you think about it. During a race, things will happen. While you should try to mentally rehearse some of these things (a water stop is out of water, you accidentally stumble and fall at some point in the race, you get a cramp, etc,), it's possible something may come up that you hadn't anticipated or planned for.

You can control these events or let them control you. The key here is maintaining a positive mindset. This helps build a powerful belief system. So, when 'things happen', you won't let it derail you. You will believe you are capable of enduring and overcoming.


There's no way to overstate staying confident. There is a direct link between psychology and physiology. If you don't BELIEVE you are capable of doing it, your body probably isn't going to do you any favors. I've worked with personal clients before who train and do the work necessary to perform at a certain level, but when race day arrives, they just fall apart mentally. They don't BELIEVE they can perform at a certain level. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. BELIEVE in yourself!

Confidence also enables you to overcome obstacles on race day. I trained HARD for six months several years ago to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was the focus of my life. Race day arrived and I felt STRONG. I ran the first 13 miles and everything went SWIMMINGLY.

However, at mile 14 my stomach started to complain. I gutted this out for about 2 miles, but was forced to take a pitstop at mile 16. I wasn't too concerned because I still had a shot at qualifying. I didn't let this minor setback derail me.

I got back on the road and was rolling again from mile 16 to mile 21. I was feeling some fatigue, but I knew I had enough left to finish and qualify despite the earlier mishap. Then, I promptly suffered the worst ankle sprain I'd suffered in years. After screaming a few expletives and hobbling about 200 meters, I realized the ankle wasn't broken, I had 5 miles to run, and I STILL had a shot at qualifying!

I adjusted the lacing of my shoe on the injured ankle to provide some additional stability/support and started running. It wasn't fun, it hurt, and it was probably the toughest 5 miles I've ever run.

But, 5 miles later I crossed the finish line and QUALIFIED for Boston! I attribute this performance almost EXCLUSIVELY to my CONFIDENCE and my ability to manage two events that I hadn't planned for.

Positive Affirmations and Self-Talk

Stuart Smalley (from SNL) said it best, 'I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people LIKE ME!' :)

In all seriousness, negative thoughts are insidious and they can creep in at the WORST possible time. Learn to combat them! Develop a list of positive self-talk (aka-affirmations).

For me, whenever I'm hurting/struggling, I always remind myself that I've been through tougher workouts/races (which is pretty much ALWAYS the case).

If you have negative thoughts that regularly come up, write them down and see if you can turn them into positive thoughts. Rehearse this during your training runs and last remaining long run(s). These affirmations should be positive and in present tense-'I will run relaxed' versus 'I won't get tense'.

Creative Imaging

Sports psychologists often encourage forming creative images of what you feel like when running well. The idea is to combine the feeling of confidence with that of moving strongly and smoothly. Visualize 'running fast like a cheetah', 'gracefully like an antelope', 'smooth like an ocean stream', etc. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I've done this and it DOES work.

Pre-Race Anxiety and Arousal

We all feel it. It's just a question of what you do with it! It doesn't always feel good, but it's actually ESSENTIAL for a good performance. Think about when we were hunters/gatherers. If we didn't get anxious/aroused before hunting a mastodon, we probably would never have performed well enough to feed our families!

A lack of pre-race anxiety and arousal can lead to disinterest and suboptimal performance. Too much of this and you get overwhelmed by your own emotions. What we're shooting for is 'the perfect storm'.

We're looking for a balance (optimal arousal) in which you get psyched up for the big effort and become stimulated to do your best, but don't get overwhelmed by the emotions and have an 'anxiety attack'!

Start developing your mental toughness NOW!

Saturday (5/24/14) Run Course Description

On Saturday, you will be logging between 4-7 miles depending upon your training level. The link below should give you a relatively clear sense of where we're going. I've also included a verbal description beneath it:



In short, we will head NORTH from the Marina Green Monkey Bars on along Marina Boulevard for roughly 1/2 mile until we reach the grassy, volleyball court area on the right. Take a right and cut through the volleyball court area and run through the parking lot behind it. Turn LEFT onto the Marina Promenade which is a fire road/dirt trail.

Continue running on this path for roughly a mile. Eventually, this path will veer to the right towards the Warming Hut. Continue running towards the Warming Hut. For the uninitiated, the Warming Hut is A BIG WHITE BUILDING WITH TABLES AND BENCHES IN FRONT OF IT. Hopefully, it will be hard to miss). The Warming Hut is 2 MILES. Beginner level runners will turn around and head back to the monkey bars for 4 MILES!

Intermediate, Advanced and Race level runners will continue past the Warming Hut onto a paved road that goes past a series of buildings(including some Restrooms). You will pass these buildings and continue running along this path next to the water towards the base of the bridge. The path curves around and dead ends at 'Hoppers Hands'. This is 2.5 MILES. Intermediate level runners turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 5 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will also turn around here and continue running SOUTH PAST the monkey bars along the paved path past the Marina Safeway and UP the hill we crest for our wildcard workouts

Advanced level runners will crest this hill and go a bit further until the road JUST starts to head downhill towards Aquatic Park. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 6 MILES!

Race level runners continue downhill into Aquatic Park and run along the sidewalk adjacent to Aquatic Park until you reach the end of Aquatic Park/edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. There is a big cul-de-sac/turnaround that should make it clear you’re at the end of Aquatic Park. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 7 MILES!

Post Run Refueling, Rehydrating, and Recovery.

All of you are about to enter a more challenging phase of training and it's actually during 'recovery' from your runs that your body becomes stronger and better adapted to the act of running. So, here are a few post run refueling/hydrating tips for speeding recovery from your runs and one of my favorite tricks for recovering quickly!

Consuming something with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is a great way to speed healing of microtears in muscle fiber AND replenish your primary fuel source.

Chocolate milk (or chocolate soymilk) is a GREAT beverage you can drink after your run that has this magical ratio.

Post Exercise Refueling:

To optimize muscle glycogen (aka-carbohydrates-your primary fuel source)replenishment, you should consume carbohydrate rich foods and beverages
within 15-30 minutes after your workout.

During that time the enzymes responsible for making glycogen are most active and will most rapidly replace the depleted glycogen stores. The current recommendation post-workout lasting greater than or equal to 90 minutes is 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.

To get your kg, take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. For example, someone who weighs 130# or 59 kg needs totake in ~90 grams of carbohydrate post exercise. One
gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, so 90 grams of carbohydrates converts to 360 calories.

For example, a bagel and 16 ounces of Accelerade provides 90 grams of carbohydrate. A little protein (6-15 grams) eaten along with carbohydrate is thought to help with muscle repair (remember the magical 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio!).

So, you can add a few slices of turkey to your bagel. Once 2 hours has passed, you
want to repeat the recommendations of 1.5 grams of carbohydrate/kg of body weight along with 6-15 grams of protein.

Again, the most important thing to do during your training is to try different foods and fluids out because everyone's tolerance level is different.

Sports nutrition is all individualized- so practice now and develop your race day nutrition strategy to optimize your performance.

Hydration Tips:

Tips for encouraging drinking before, during, and following exercise:

1) Take fluid with you. Wear a bottle belt or fluid pack.
2) Know the warning signs of dehydration (unusual fatigue, lightheadedness, headache, dark urine, dry mouth).
3) Know where to find fluid (water fountains, stores,etc)
4) Drink early and often, but don't overdrink.
5) Better hydration means better performance.
6) Practice drinking during training.
7) Pouring water on your head does nothing to lower body temperature.
8) Drink by schedule.
9) Prehydrate to produce a light-colored urine.
10) Plan for fluid intake during competition.
11) After activity, drink 16-24 ounces for every pound
lost during activity.

Useful Equations:

1) To get from weight in pounds to kilograms, divide weight in pounds by 2.2. For example: 140#/2.2 = 64 kg
2) Take in 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of exercise lasting greater than or equal to 90 minutes of exercise.
3) 1 gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories.
4) Within 15-30 minutes post-exercise, take 1.5 grams of carbohydrate/kg of body weight along with 6-15 grams of protein. 1 ounce of protein = 7 grams. Once 2 hours has passed, repeat the recommendations.

Ice Baths

Ok, ice baths have virtually NOTHING to do with fueling or hydrating properly. BUT, they are a CRITICAL part of my recovery routine. In short, after every tough race/run workout, I fill my bathtub full of cold water (and ice if the water isn’t cold enough), and submerge my lower torso for 10-15 minutes. It’s NOT fun, but I PROMISE it will speed recovery.

What do you do when you have a bruise and/or contusion? You apply ice. Taking an ice bath is really no different. You have microtears in muscle fiber and inflammation. Apply ice will help REDUCE this and increase circulation which acts to expedite the healing process.

I know it sounds uncomfortable, but it does work. Think of it as a ‘mental toughness’ exercise. Wear a wool sweater on your upper torso, get a hot cup of coffee (or tea), and a magazine to read and the 10-15 minutes will go by quickly. Truly, it’s the first few minutes of an ice bath that are really brutal and then your body starts to adjust to the cooler temperature.

Saturday (7/17) Running Route Description

Everyone will be logging six miles on Saturday. Below is a link to the course map. I've also included a verbal description beneath it:



We will head SOUTH along the Marina towards the hill on which we do our wildcard workouts. Crest this hill and head down into Aquatic Park. Run along the waterfront into Fisherman's Wharf. You will be on Jefferson.

Please keep a watchful eye for tourists, cyclists, and other traffic in Fisherman's Wharf. Continue running to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. There is a large GAP store on the right. This is 1.5 miles.

Continue running along Jefferson which will eventually turn into the Embarcadero. At the intersection of Embarcadero & Bay there is a Hillstone's restaurant on the right. This is 2 MILES.

Continue past Embarcadero & Bay. 1/2 a mile later you will encounter the intersection of Embarcadero/Green. This is 2.5 MILES.

Continue running along the Embarcadero all the way to the MAIN entrance of the Ferry Building. This is 3 MILES. Everyone will turn around here and head back to the Marina Green Monkey Bars for 6 MILES. Feel free to stop at the Ferry Building, grab some water, use the restroom, etc. before heading back.