Running 2018, 2017 rearview review

2018

The year 2017 is in my rear-view mirror. Not many races, very little training, even side-lined with plantar fasciitis. Of course I ran the usual suspects…the Marine Corp 10K, the Semper 5ive and the Across the Bay 10K. I even finished my first Disney Princess Challenge. My times weren’t great, but since my goal was usually to finish, I can proudly say, “mission accomplished”.

PF

Yesterday was the first day of 2018. My first grandchild is in kindergarten, so his energy is limitless. My second grandchild is on the way so I guess, in my mind, I have something to prove. I’m only as old as I feel and I’m feeling kind of spunky…the possibilities are feeling endless in the coming year.

My daughter and I joined Planet Fitness a couple of days ago (barely avoiding the January rush). One thing I discovered at this gym, was I don’t really mind the treadmill all that much. (Wait…did I just say that?) The treadmills are conveniently located at the back of the gym…a “no judgement zone” gym by the way…the time seems to pass by quicker – I’m sure it’s just my imagination. the price is also very right at $21.99 (plus tax) a month.

I guess all this to say, I’m looking forward to 2018. There may not be as many races, but my goal this year is quality, which means longer…slightly faster runs. I have so many races on my bucket list that I won’t get to in 2018, but my goal is to have them all completed by December 31, 2019 – budget willing. I think I can do this…says my little engine.

2018…I’m all in…Who is with me?running image

 

Fit Foodie 5K Race Review

OK. Recovered and ready to write about the experience. 

 

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Don’t let the arrows or the people walking to the festival fool you. The race started UP the hill.

 

The Fit Foodie 5k, from here on affectionately referred to as FF5K, has been on my redemption list for a year. I had signed up last year (who can beat a $25 entry fee?), but the weekend called for heavy rain. The FF5K was also one of those races I thought would have a very small field and I like getting lost in a large crowd. Figuring it was time to start addressing that increasingly long redemption run list, however, I signed up for the FF5K again for $25 before the prices increase ($55 race day registration). To be honest, the hype for the race sounded quite delicious. “Bites at every mile”, cooking demos, great food….etc… yum-my!

One important fact to mention about this particular race, however, is that everything costs extra…from the t-shirts to the special wine and beer tasting, but for the $25, I was OK with the lack of another technical shirt.

The good stuff:

 

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Great swag and post race treats!

 

There was a pretty decent-sized field of runners of just under 1000. All were welcome runners, walkers, strollers, pets. I find most runners a friendly bunch, however, this particular set of runners seemed friendlier than in some races. There were no corrals, so people lined up where they were. I was quite impressed that the faster runners were much kinder and did not bowl over the slower runners that ended up in the front of the field.

The not-so-good stuff:

 

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Pre-race exercise spot!

 

The race started on a hill. Not only did the race start on a hill, the entire course was much hillier than I had anticipated. What made me think “flat and fast”? A few parents were running with their children, unfortunately several of those children were crying after the mid-point. I saw parents giving piggy back rides, stopping to give their kids a much needed rest. Hot AND hilly is never a great combination.

Bites at every mile? Depends on your definition of a “delicious bite”. We were provided packaged beef jerky at the first mile and a Kind bar at the second, not quite the “delicious” I had in mind.  Frozen mini/MINI smoothie pops greeted us at mile 3.

There was only one water stop, but that is pretty typical for a 5K, but the race started at 8:00 a.m. so the heat was already picking up for the day which made the lack of water a bit hard to handle. I accept responsibility, however, since I chose not to carry a water bottle.

There was little direction at the finish line. I ran across the line, received my medal and followed other runners to the right. I was finally stopped by a very helpful volunteer who re-directed me back to the finisher’s area to get my water and swag bag.

There was no crowd support. Families and friends running together provided their own cheer squads. Strollers and pets were also allowed in the race wherever , they were allowed in intermingle anywhere along the start line instead of starting at the back of the pack.  There were a couple of overly-excited dogs, which made the starting line crush a little challenging.

Post race fair had many free bites including a delicious salad, flatbreads, prosciutto and cheese rolls tropical smoothie drinks and frozen smoothie pops. Very filling! This definitely made up for the “bites at every mile” hype.

Overall, the FF5K Festival was a lot of fun. Tired from improper hydration, I did not stay long, but headed back to the car with my pineapple medal and filled swag bag. The Fit Foodie Race is a pretty interesting race, running up the last hill I tagged this as a one and done, but it might not be. Though I’m not sure why, while it does look like there was more bad then good,  I could possibly add this to my race budget expenditure list.

 

Runner’s World Magazine Review

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What? Where do I get off reviewing a famous running magazine? Full disclosure, I cancelled my subscription to Runner’s World in March when I received the obligatory auto-renew post card, letting me know that my account would be automatically debited in April. I must admit, I have waffled over the decision to cancel for a couple of years now, but the deciding factor were the inserts that fell out of a recent issue that offered the magazine several dollars cheaper than I was about to be billed. I can be cheap like that sometimes, but after a more introspective look at the magazine it suddenly became even clearer to me. I am not their target market.

I think secretly I always knew. I’m not a slim, nimble 20-30 year old elite runner. I don’t have tons of money to buy the latest sneakers, nor to purchase the products that lurk in their glossy pages. Despite their one cover story issue last year of the plus-sized runner, there is very little for me. I’ve learned to stop drooling over the things I cannot have,  nor will ever be (again).  I have none of the characteristics that represent their true target audience.

I was thumbing through one of the last issues, looking for one of their cover stories and came across a story about a Couch to 5K success. It was supposed to be a motivating story about a 42-year old mom with two young boys. She wanted to shed a few pounds so she started with the C25K and now holds a trail run record, despite her busy schedule. She is a lawyer. My average woman-self, with a government job thought…mmm…she can afford things I cannot. I couldn’t connect when I thought of the advantages she would have over my own struggles. How about the advertisement to “Cheat Your Way to Lean”?  Second paragraph, “Last Tuesday was especially hectic, but I’d booked with my $200 per hour personal trainer…” Again, not me. How about Best Foods for Runners? There wasn’t a cheap item on any page.

All of this may sound negative, but it’s really not. I truly believe that Runner’s World has a niche market that works well for them. At my grandma age, I have no desire to be the elite “running with the 20-30 year old” market, nor the well-to-do older set. That is not my reality. I’m basically a barely paycheck to paycheck, grandma enjoying the run. So with that said, it’s important to realize that glossy pages, pretty pictures and well-toned bodies is not something that everyone necessarily needs or wants to see.

Does this mean that I will never pick up another Runner’s World magazine? No, there will still be some occasional interest…a headline that sparks my curiosity. To my friends, in that niche, it is definitely a good magazine for you, lots of helpful advice and exercises you can probably still do. 

I think that one day, someone will come out with a publication aimed at the beginner runners, the slightly over-weight runners, the older runners, the back-of-the-pack runners, the “not in my budget” runners – to let us all know we can still enjoy the sport too. It’s still a great magazine, but I am not their target market and I’m OK with that.

Fast Lane 101 – Jeff Galloway Blogger

JG

Neighborhood tracks are the most convenient place to run for most.  Whether you’re taking your first steps or wanting to improve your time, it’s easy to check your pace by timing each lap. Because I’ve spoken to many runners who mistakenly feel that they are not fast enough to run at the local oval, here are a few simple guidelines:

  • What is the distance of a lap?  Standard distance is 400 meters (@ .25 mile).
  • In which direction should I run?   In most cases, run counterclockwise.  A few tracks alternate direction from day to day,  so follow the direction of the other runners.
  • What lane should I use when running slow or walking?  The inside 3 lanes are reserved for faster runners and those doing speed workouts.  Most runners should use the 2 outside lanes.
  • How do I pass slower runners? Assuming a normal, counterclockwise pattern, move to the right to pass, with a smile.
  • Is it OK for kids to ride bikes and skate on the track? This is not a good idea.  Try to find another place near the track for these activities.
  • Do I have to pay to use a track?  Most tracks are free, but the hours of use may be restricted by the school.
  • Can I run on the track with an iPod? This is up to you but be aware of your surroundings and possible threats or faster runners coming up behind you.  Keep one ear uncovered.
  • Do I need special shoes?  No—you can use the same shoe for road, track or fitness trail—unless you are a competitor doing very fast speedwork.
  • Are there any times that I should not use the track?  If there is a track meet or organized track practice by the local team, find another running area.  Some track teams allow recreational runners to use the outside lane during their workouts.

Say What?
Repeats—These are the fast segments during a speed workout.  Each repeat (usually about 3-5% of the distance of the goal event) is run slightly faster than goal race pace, followed by a rest interval of  walking or slow jogging.  Through a series of workouts, the number of repetitions gradually increases.

The Fix
I always lose count of how many times I’ve run around the track! How can I keep track of it better?  Office supply stores sell “counters” that keep track of the number of laps as you click each time you finish a lap.  Another method: time yourself for the first 2 laps, for two laps in the middle and 2 laps at the end.  Compute an average of the lap times.  You can compute the number of laps by dividing the total time run by the average time per lap.

The Excuse
There are lots of fast-looking people at my track; I’m scared I’ll get in their way. 
 The inside lanes are for faster runners.  If you run in the outside lane, you will not get in their way.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

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“One and done!” I remember my sister uttered those exact words when she finished her first marathon in January. Pretty much how I felt by the time I finished the Glass Slipper Challenge on Sunday. For those who may not know, the Glass Slipper Challenge consists of a 10K on Saturday, followed by a half marathon on Sunday. I must say I fought signing up for the Glass Slipper Challenge for several years, happily instead, running a 5K on Friday and the half on Sunday, but for some reason I was feeling Iron Woman-ish and decided that this was the year…this was MY year!

A couple of things I have learned in just two short weeks:

1.       (Yes, there will be more than one). If I spend the entire week before the challenge walking an extraordinary amount, my legs WILL actually be tired after the 10K and be too tired for a half marathon the following day. In other words, roaming the  parks probably wasn’t the best idea.

2.       Don’t stop hydrating after the 10K, replacing those fluids lost during a hot 6.2 miles is doubly important. Remember the challenge isn’t over until after the half.

3.       Go easy on the 10K and save some “leg juice” for the half. I was so concerned because I was starting in the last corral of the 10K and not being swept after the balloon ladies, I exerted myself more than I probably should have. I should have saved some of that leg juice energy for the half.

4.       Bring the necessary amount of electrolyte replacements. I was good this time and made sure that I drank something at each water stop, but I ran out of salt tablets, gummy bears and pickle juice by mile ten. I made it all the way, but when I tried to put on a burst of energy to triumphantly race cross the finish line, the dreaded leg cramps set in. So my finish was more of a limp than the Iron Woman moment I envisioned.

5.       Most importantly, have fun. 19.3 miles in two days truly IS an accomplishment and something to be proud of. I finished!

6.       Never say never! My “one and done” mantra, lasted about seven days and I’ve already texted my sisters that I am ready for next year’s challenge. Sore muscles and pain are only temporary, bling is forever.

This year my plan is to not take a three month running hiatus! Training starts today.

be-fearless

Disney World Marathon Weekend

 

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The path I didn’t run.

Not sure why it took me so long to share my story about Disney Princess Marathon Weekend. Shock? Tired? Not really sure. Perhaps just because it felt sort of like a weird, misplaced weekend for a race I never felt really ready for despite the fact that I trained more in the past year than I ever had on any previous year.

It started innocently enough, pretty much like my annual February junket to my favorite place, except this time I rented a pint-size car for the trip and for a woman standing almost 6 ft. tall, it was constant challenge to maneuver, but it was fun.  Perhaps it was the extra-long, 45 mile per hour maximum speed through all 198+ miles of South Carolina. This was particularly painful since there isn’t a stop light or sign on I-95 for its entire approximately 1920 miles.

I digress, back to the race at hand. I had originally signed up for the marathon, but knew that was not going to happen, so when RunDisney opened up spots for the half, I immediately jumped on it. Most people complain that RunDisney does not give refunds, but imagine my surprise when my transfer was actually approved and money refunded despite the fact it was after the proof of time cut off. The only drawback was I was assigned to corral P because my registration for the half was after the cutoff, therefore my proof was entered after the cut-off. Despite many warnings to contrary about the lack of willingness to allow corral changes, my wishes were granted and they agreed to move me up a corral. Sometimes miracles do happen. A refund and a corral change! What next?  Wrong question.

For the entire week leading up to Saturday, threats of impending inclement weather threatened race day. The forecast called for lightening right around the time volunteers would be setting up for the half marathon.  Despite the fact that we were assured by the many seminar presenters there would be no chance of cancellation (and of course they couldn’t be wring, right?) the lightening started as predicted so the race was cancelled. While it gave me the opportunity to sleep in, it was kind of sad. I was feeling pretty positive about the race and wasn’t even too concerned about the corral.  RunDisney was a champ, not only would we get our medals, but they also offered reimbursement in the form of a free registration to a future half marathon, $180 gift card (the cost of registration), a chance to run the full or even two-one day park hopper tickets. What amazed me is despite their generosity, considering the waiver we all signed about non-reimbursements, people still complained. There were even some that wanted taxes and Active.com site registration fees and travel fees reimbursed.  What can I say…. It takes all kinds.

After the overnight storm, Saturday dawned clear and cold…and what sight did my well-rested eyes see? Hundreds of half marathon runners running the lake around the hotel wearing their costumes and bibs getting the miles in to earn their medal. Hotel guests and staff set up water stations and cheered runners on.  Of course, I couldn’t be like everyone one else (besides I wanted to get in and out of ESPN to collect my gift card).

 

sportlegs
Sportlegs – Works great!

Sure, I wanted to be different.  I waited after dinner, about 30 minutes after eating a steak and egg sandwich with double fries, to embark on my 13.1 miles in the cold, dark night. My sister came out and ran a mile with me and brought Powerade. I got to watch fireworks in the distance.  It took me forever – possibly my longest 13.1 EVER, looping and looping around the hotel well-lit pathways, the parking lots and the lake. I actually got cramps at mile 3 until my sister gave me Sportlegs which I HIGHLY recommend.

 

My Garmin threatened to run out of battery at mile 12.75, so I stopped and restarted it and ran for another half mile. Even though there were other runners on the lake, it was cold and dark in spots, but I finished. One thing I can say about this medal? #medalearned! Next month? Disney Princess Weekend! Bring it!  Congratulations to my sisters for running their marathon the next day!

 

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#medalearned

 

Saucony Product Review

I’m going to start this post by saying that despite what you may read here, Saucony is still my favorite brand.  They were the first sneakers I was formally fitted for in the Virginia Running Store and have helped me through three half-marathons, numerous 10K’s and countless 5K’s and hundreds of runs in between (not all the same pair as you will read shortly).

So what prompted me to write a review today? Back in October, I was preparing for the Marine Corp 10K and looking down at my sneakers, I decided that I needed to replace the pair I was wearing, despite the fact that I had just bought them a few months before. Now I could see if I was one of those runners who put in miles and miles of miles per week, but face it, I’m not. On a good week, I will put in twenty, most weeks it’s less, so why the problem?

 

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3 months old each

 

As you can tell from the photo, I get toe holes (the new official term). Every single pair, every single time.  Now seasoned runners always give the advice – you need to size up for your running shoes. Sound… makes sense… I get it, they don’t feel tight, but I’ll give anything a try.  I decided to buy a pair of men’s instead.  Roomy toe, the edge of my toes were nowhere near the top of the shoes, running or standing still.  Did I mention that I JUST bought this pair in October? Well it’s the end of December. I’ve been on a couple of 11 – 12.5 mile runs. An 8 miler, a few 10k’s and looking at the toe of my sneak last night….NOOOO!  What is with this brand? Another toe hole developing, this time on a sneaker I have so much room, my toes literally swim. I’m not understanding.  Now three weeks away from the Disney World Half Marathon and I’ve got another hole in the making. What gives?

 

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Men’s pair less then 2 months old.

 

I’ve tried on other brands. Brooks and Asics are too narrow. Hokas make me feel like I’m running on stilts. Nike aggravates my (always lurking in the background) plantar fasciitis.   Why can’t my favorite brand last longer than a couple of months? Who has $100+ to put down on sneakers that don’t last? I’m going to give my favorite brand one more try.  I’m always open to advice though…

 

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My $49 pair 2 years old JUST developing now.

 

I do have to give a positive plug though. I did spend $49 for a pair of Saucony and have had them for a couple of years.  They are the ONLY pair that lasted before developing a toe hole.  I feel there is a message in there somewhere.   

MCM 10K 2016 Review

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OK this review is just a little late, but you know the cliché…better late….

Wow! What an action-packed race weekend! Now before I give my review, please keep in mind that no matter how many “not so great” things I list, I LOVE this race. It’s my second time and it is the ONLY race in the past three )ears that I’m not nervous before and during or wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. In addition, the Marines put on an awesome event given the many challenges of orchestrating an event of this magnitude. So my disclaimer is, heck yeah, I will be there again next year…

What went down…the good, the bad, the ugly and the great!

DC metro safe-track situation may have been a deciding factor in the location change to the Gaylord. Despite all the negative comments on Facebook, arriving to the expo on Friday was a non-event for us. Plenty of police and their trusty cones directing the traffic flow led us to a $10 all-day event parking spot with no problem. I know that some people ended up paying up to $28 for the day.

After a short walk to the Gaylord we wondered around a bit until we finally found signs directing us to the expo (there was another convention going on at the same time). Coming down the stairs we saw others joining, what appeared to be, THE line. When we tried to follow suit, however, a security guard told US we needed to go to the back of the line. Just curious why he didn’t redirect the many that we watched as we made our way down the stair case. No worries the long line moved really quickly.

Received my bib from one of many very, polite marines (didn’t get any pins though  – again a non-issue). Received my race shirt in short order and was released into the expo.  The only problem is that following the crowd to the right, I was instantly immersed into hundreds of shoppers looking for gear in the race store. A bit of signage at the beginning would have saved me time, but again a non-issue since in my “awestruck-ness” I may have missed it. I had the chance to work the expo twice while I waited for my sister who spent time on a really long line to buy merchandise. (Slow system and so many on line). All in all, I enjoyed the expo.

Definitely on the not-so-great list, was the $15 pep rally. Last year’s rally was held in a separate location from the expo, parking wasn’t great but the rally was so much fun…you went into a room, checked in, grabbed a pom-pom went down into the pep rally, plenty of food! Great speeches, photo-ops and great swag. Fast forward to 2016. There were apparently registration people…but no one on line knew that was the check in desk. No one checked tickets as we entered the room; we were handed a pom-pom and went right in.

The food was not as good or abundant as last year.  MMM…shaker salad in a cup, nacho chips with an assortment of toppings, and chicken on a stick. Due to people loading chicken on plates, they ran out quickly and were not replaced (plenty of shaker salads left though). So for $15 we paid for??? It wasn’t very well attended. I’m thinking because it started at 7 p.m. and people didn’t want to stick around and pay to park all day (which we did 10 am until 8 pm or so). After a few people said a few words, people pretty much left. So I basically paid $15 to hear advice, like bring your own toilet tissue (which is advice I’m so glad I paid attention to – tell you why in a bit)

Race day parking. My sisters and I had the bright idea to park at the Gaylord to take the shuttle assuming that most people would want closer parking.  No police using their nifty cones directing traffic and no problem finding a parking spot.  It was a perfect plan in the beginning, despite another kerfuffle about which buses were for the regular folk and which were for VIP’s. The ride to runner’s village was super smooth.

Runner’s Village…now this one, I’m wondering about. I’m thinking perhaps the organizers didn’t take into consideration that the “village” would now be home to all 30,000 racers and not just the marathoners. The marathon started at 7:55 and the 10K started at 9:15. The port-o-potties ran out of toilet paper by 7:30, not a square to be had. That $15 advice really paid off, because I brought just enough to take care of business.

Off to the races…this year the entire 10K was run in Arlington instead of part in DC, which meant the first few miles were along the same route as the marathon…which further meant a super-killer hill! Unfortunately there was only one water stop at somewhere after mile 2 or 3, can’t remember it’s so vague now…water a ’plenty. The problem was that despite the predicted record high temps, the next “water stop” was somewhere around mile 5. I use the term “water stop” loosely. Apparently they ran out of cups so tons of marines had jugs of water. Unfortunately if you didn’t have a container you couldn’t get water…thought they would pour it in your hand or your mouth which meant….someone else’s sweat was already on the jug. No thank you…the problem is that I was starting to feel those dreaded leg cramps. I had to slow my pace to something much less strenuous to ward them off.

I finished…that is always the goal… The high fives from very enthusiastic young marines felt great. After our race, we stood near mile 26 to cheer on the marathoners as we waited for my sister to finish her race. 

Afterwards we discovered they were no longer running shuttles back to the Gaylord at 2:30 in the afternoon. We would have to take the blue line to the yellow line to get on a bus to go back. Sore from running, hot from record high temps…are you kidding me! Assuming that they had shuttles and we wouldn’t have to metro, I had left my metro card at home. Fortunately, I brought $12 in cash and a credit card. Despite the metro craziness, all went well from that point. We got back and spent a great time with family to celebrate.

Despite the lack of toilet paper, the incredible heat and a few other logistic kerfuffle’s…I would ABSOLUTELY run this race again…and again…

Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners Book Review

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“We have a powerful mind-body network that is interconnected.” Jeff Galloway.

As I head toward my first marathon, I realize that it’s not only about the body (yes, even a grandma’s body), it’s also about the mental stamina needed to get to the starting line, cross that line and make it to the finish line. As we barrel toward January, there are so many doubts. In fact, I considered downgrading to the half, but unfortunately, the half is now full…go figure.

Plan B… I was looking for material on stepping up my mental game when my sister mentioned that Jeff Galloway had such a book.  Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses, a rather long title for a book, but no worries, it all fits on the cover page.

Mental Training for Runners (I had to shorten the title), is 205 pages of Jeff Galloway’s best advice, all crammed into 205 glossy pages (literally…glossy). If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear Jeff Galloway speak at an event, you know he talks about the “monkey brain”. Now, before you go trying to decide if it’s an insult or not, the monkey brain is that part of our subconscious (reflex brain) that sends signals to the rest of our body (that’s how I interpret it anyway). This is the part of our brain that lowers our motivation and lose our focus. The purpose of Mental Training, per Galloway, is to override our monkey brain. This is exactly what I needed.

Mental Training for Runners covers a wide variety of topics and tips, as I said, many of which have been covered in Galloway’s books and speeches, but all in one neat package.  Think of it as a one stop shop.  The book covers everything from various running situations like recovering from injury or illness; what to do when a close running friend moves away and running in the morning or at night after work, just to name a few. It also includes inspirational stories from individuals who have survived cancer; a runner who ran a marathon after the age of 80; running for and after weight loss, and keeping journals.  If you need motivation – this book is definitely for you.

Fav Chapters

Chapter 6 – Setting a motivation training plan – This chapter discusses setting a reality check for your goals. “As you take one conscious step after another, you take control of your attitude and your running experience.” Now, that is what I needed to hear!

Chapter 11 – Cognitive Control over Nutrition – Fat Burning.  There is no denying that weight loss is one side effect I am hoping to achieve. Since kicking up my running, I am happy to report the loss of 10 pounds. (I like to think of it as the equivalent of a 10 pound sack of potatoes). “The monkey brain is programmed to keep eating when food is available-long after we have eaten enough nutrition for the next 24 hours.”

Not quite fav, but not bad…

Keep in mind, this is a Jeff Galloway production so there are going to be mentions of his books and products throughout.  You can look at it a couple of ways – mini-commercials, or the opportunity to read about additional helpful resources. For example, I saw a couple of books that sound like they might be my next purchase – Nutrition for Runners and also Running and Fat Burning for Women. Hopefully you won’t let these strategically-placed product endorsements deter you from taking full advantage of all this book has to offer.

Well, for me, I’ve found Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses to be extremely helpful in trying to tame my brain.

A FAMILY THAT RUNS TOGETHER

I’ve seen a lot of discussion on social media recently about running with spouses and questions about what age is appropriate for kids to enter races. As an official Jeff Galloway Blogger, it is my pleasure to bring you his latest article.  It’s time to make more healthy, family fun!

Family runs together

Kids think and learn better when they exercise regularly, according to research. Whether you run with your child, a niece/nephew/grandchild, or a neighborhood kid, you can make a positive impact on a young life.

True Confession: I was a fat and lazy kid, and a poor student, at the age of 13. Joining a group of cross country runners changed my attitude for the better, and challenged me to be a better student. The bonding of most running groups creates positive growth experiences.

Why is running with kids such a great thing to do? Most kids like to do things with an adult. By running comfortably with a child you can positively imprint exercise as a natural and expected part of the daily routine, that is fun.

What does running do for kids–better than other sports? Kids who run tend to have better self-esteem, better grades, and are happier. Unlike other sports, that require specific skills, any kid can run and walk. When running, you have one of the best opportunity for quality time. The most powerful reward for most kids is the special attention an adult gives to a child during and after a run.

How do I know when a child is ready to run? Running is a natural activity. Unfortunately, many kids have had bad experiences because they have run until they were exhausted. Tell the child that you really want to go on a walk/run with him or her. Offer a simple reward (a special snack such as juice, a toy). Insert walk breaks every minute, before the child huffs and puffs, and stop before the child is tired.

My kid runs around when she plays all the time—does that mean she’s actually fit enough to go for a real run? Yes! Short segments of running are natural for kids. Playing chase games is a great way to introduce running, such as racing Dad to the mailbox. Walk gently between running segments and talk about how good the exertion feels.

For kids ages 6 and under:

How long should I let a kid this age run? Usually between 10 and 20 seconds at first.

How much of our ‘run’ should be spent walking? Walk for a minute or two between run segments.

What should I be careful of? Most kids can run farther and faster than they should at this age. Make sure the segments are short so that there is no huffing and puffing. Make each session playful and stop before the child is really tired.

Ages 7 to 9:

How long should I let a kid run? Start with about a quarter of a mile (one lap around a track). Increase by 1-2 tenths of a mile each run until you reach one mile. For kids that really enjoy running, you could gradually increase the distance to 3.5 miles (one day a week) and enter a 5K. Be sure to keep the pace slow during the first mile of the first race, with walk breaks every 1-2 minutes.

What is a good run/walk ratio for a kid this age? Jog for 10-20 seconds/walk for 40-50 seconds. After two weeks, if this seems “too easy”, increase the amount of running each week by 5 seconds and decrease the walking by 5 seconds until you are using 30 seconds/30 seconds. For the kids that want more, gradually increase to one min/one min, then 2 min run while inserting 1 min walk. As kids want to run more, you can increase the running but walk when the child starts to huff and puff.

What should I be careful of (are they prone to going to hard and crashing and burning?) If you sense that the kid is struggling, walk more. This usually improves attitude and conserves energy for a strong finish. It’s OK to run a little faster at the end but don’t run all-out. It is OK to let the child “win” each run.

Ages 10 to 12:

How long? Beginner kids that are out of shape should follow the suggestion for ages 7-9 at first. For moderately active 10-12 year olds (soccer players, etc.) start with about half a mile. Increase by about a quarter of a mile on each run until you reach 1.5 to 2 miles—or whatever distance seems to feel comfortable but satisfying.

What’s a good run/walk ratio for this age group? Kids that are just starting, should follow the suggestion for ages 7-9. Kids that have been running (soccer, etc.) can jog for 10-20 seconds each minute during a 10-minute warmup and find the ratio that avoids huffing and puffing: 1-1, 2 min run/1min walk, then 3-1, and only 4-1 if a kid has no problem with this.

What should I be aware of (are they actually likely to kick my butt?) Many 10 to 12 year olds can run very fast at the beginning, and burn out later. Keep the pace slow for the first third of the run.

Is this age child old enough to run a 10-K? Most kids who gradually build mileage to 6.5 miles, once a week, will have no problem with a 10K if you help them start slowly, with walk breaks every2- 3 minutes or so.

How is it possible to get a real workout in when running with a kid? Don’t worry about your workout, try to make the child’s experience a good one. Many adult mentors run their workouts before or after running with the child athlete.

What’s the best way to bring a child along on my runs—even if she can’t keep up on her own two feet? Slow down and walk more. Playing games allows for the distance to go by quickly. If the child is laughing and running you have been a successful coach.

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