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 Run Finished Even if I Crawled

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While the Clarendon 10K was originally on my redemption list this year, I decided to forgo it and embark on a personal run. There is something about the past momentarily haunting me, resulting in the feeling of being woefully unprepared for any race, even a downhill one (makes no sense, right?).  Perhaps I will add it to my 2017 bucket list….to finally finish THE race I quit.

Instead of Clarendon I decided to go on a 10K excursion by expanding my usual 5K route.  I love this route because it’s an eclectic mix of just the right amount of traffic and other runners.  You know the cliché, “the best laid plans”? Well for the first time EVER, there was 5K happening on part of my route. What? Who holds a race here? As a result, I had to redirect myself via inner GPS to more travelled paths. So the redirect route resulted in a hotter (less trees), hillier (yep, more of those) run than originally anticipated. 

What do people think about when they run? I can tell you all I could think about was…

“Wow…who put all of these hills here?”…. 

”What WAS I thinking?”…

“Why didn’t I just run Clarendon, at least it would have been downhill.”….

 But what kind of challenge would that have been; taking the “easy” way out on my journey to a marathon? Different mantras soon followed…

“Just make it to that next tree”…

”Think of how fabulous you will look all marathon-toned ready”

“You really DO want to finish that marathon don’t you?…DON’T YOU?”

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”OH MY GOSH, it’s REALLY hot out here.”…

”When does that Fall season actually start?”…

“Did that person really just pass me?”…

Regardless of the inner workings of my mind, I realized a few things…

I need to find a better breakfast/runner fuel for a morning run. That banana wore off at mile…ok half a mile in.

I need to eat better overall.  Fueling the body seems like it is important as to not fall out at mile 2…ok at a mile one.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…So important, not just for the long runs but training too…and forgetting my water bottle and ending up using one of the hot, water bottles that I drank a sip out of earlier in the week, but left in my car, just doesn’t cut it.

The importance of sleep. Sure it’s the weekend and I should be able to go to bed later, but if I plan to run early, I need to get enough sleep the night before…tiredness does kick in somewhere around…ok…really as soon as I get started.

A lot of lessons learned as I crawled the last two miles of what ended up being a 6.5 mile “run”…while contemplating life as a slow, hot, yet determined runner.


Either way…I did it! I’m proud and another run in the books as this grandma heads to her fourth half and very first full. Run on grandmas!!!


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.

Hurry up and SAVE! Jeff Galloway 13.1 race registration price increases on September 2nd! Join the 3rd Annual Jeff Galloway 13.1 Race Weekend! December 9-11, 2016

Register now –  Beat the increase

Shedding my Running Insecurities


This is a tough one for me to admit and an even tougher one for me to write. I’m going to admit it to the world. I have runner insecurities….phew… there, I said it!

I hated going to the gym when other people were there. Were they watching me? Judging how fast (o.k. really slow). I was running? There was always someone there faster, slimmer, definitely younger. I would always time my workouts for when I knew the gym would be empty. (Well O.K. another reason is that they always had either sports or news on the TV). This phobia often meant that I was going to the gym at 7 or 8 at night – not very conducive for getting ANYTHING done in the evening.

OutsideI hated running on the roads. My imagination would tell me that everyone was watching how fast (O.K. slow) I was running. When I needed to take a walk break, I would wait until there were absolutely no cars on the road to watch me transition to a walk. It didn’t matter that they were passing me at 50 mph and probably didn’t even see me. I guess this was actually a good thing, because it meant that I was running further.

The only time I really felt “comfortable” was amongst other runners during a race – I know, weird right? I had joined a running group and wasn’t comfortable, yet in the midst of 1000’s of runners I was more comfortable with my cloak of invisibility. No one really paid attention to me and I could run MY race, MY pace.

Earlier this week, as I was wavering on what time to go to the gym (it was ridiculously hot outside) and a feeling hit me. “So what?” I need to embrace my grandma gait and just go. So what if there were people running a 7 or 8-minute mile on the treadmill? I went to the gym jumped on the treadmill and did my thing. Suddenly a sense of new found freedom hit me. Wow! It doesn’t really matter that all of these people are here.


A couple of nights ago, however, was the true test. I went to the gym right after work, instead of waiting for the “all clear”. There was only one guy there and he was using the elliptical next to one of the two treadmills. Of course the treadmill, that I just used the night before wasn’t working so my only option was to use the treadmill next to elliptical guy (or pretend that I only came to use the weights). (First time in YEARS, a treadmill wasn’t working…talk about a “sign”)

What I discovered – it wasn’t bad. He was in his zone. I was in mine. We chatted  for a few minutes about a news segment (which I was proudly able to do – while still running – and didn’t get breathless). Right at that moment, I felt almost all of those insecurities fading away. I know it’s a work in progress and I still might have those days, but now I know I can overcome them. Imagine the huge strides this will make with my training! I’m pretty excited!   think-positive-100224537.jpg

Running Means No Left Turn


When I don’t run in the morning, I have two choices when I leave work. The first choice is to make a left at the light on the corner of the Parkway. You see, I live about a mile from my office. That mile is a convenience for which I have felt truly blessed with for the past 11 years. It’s so easy, at the end of a long day, to make that left and head home after being mentally exhausted from the job. (I’m an HR manager so mental exhaustion is a natural occurrence when I sometimes have to disconnect what I WANT to say to someone with what I’m supposed to say to someone…legally) …anyway I digress… My other option is to go straight and head for the employee gym about a half mile further down the road. (It’s too hot during the day)

So picture this. I’m in the middle lane …the lane to my left, makes the left turn home. My current lane and the one to the right go straight…hands are on the steering wheel…kind of twitching to make that left turn. However, what I realized is that I really wanted to run. I really, really did! I don’t think I’ve ever had a prouder training moment (mentally) …I WANTED to run. What is this feeling? Whatever it is…I must say…I LIKE IT!

Uphill in the Heat – Marathon Training

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Training for a 10K or even a half is not easy. Training for a marathon is work! I’m trying to get the right mix of hills and flat in an attempt to be ready for the marathon target just a little over four months. FOUR MONTHS! Did anyone else’s stomach just flip over into enough gymnastics to compete in the summer Olympics?

Anyway, today’s decision was a training toss-up between the cool, entertainment-stocked (i.e. two T.V’s), empty employee gym or the deceptively cool, beautifully blue sky of an outside run. I say “deceptively” because as I was making the decision, there was a cool gentle breeze wafting through the air, just begging me to ditch the gym and stay outside. Yes, I fell for it.  After all, it was 9:00 on a summer morning and the temperature gauge on the car said a mild 75 degrees.

LIAR! About five minutes into the run, the heat turned up full blast. A loop around the parking lot of the Potomac National baseball field, an up and back around the water office, down and back up a side street and then a final down and back onto another street.  All told, my Fitbit registered that I had climbed 14 flights of stairs. I truly think this time it was uphill in both directions. I know this would probably be easier with a running partner, but either way I am GOING to get this done. I will cross that finish line.

Feeling like a Newbie Run


My plan was to go for a run at 6:30 this morning before the heat and humidity turned the roads into a desolate waste land of air-conditioned cars. Unfortunately, my latest round of T.V. binge watching kept me in bed until 7:30 this morning so I didn’t get out until 8:30. Not to be deterred, I decided to tackle the route that included an uphill start of 1.5 miles.

At about mile, I decided that perhaps this wasn’t the wisest choice since heat cramps threatened to take over at least one leg. I didn’t quite make it to the regular turn around point, which unfortunately shaved a half mile off my distance.  My intent, however, was to really “speed” back on the downhill. Wobbly, heat-compromised legs prevented me from moving more than slow shuffle. The up and back only totaled about 2.75 miles instead of the usual 3.1, but I figured I’m make it up on the second stretch which is usually a 3 mile down and back.  The plan was to complete a 10K, but with sweat-burning eyes, a dripping wet shirt and no other runners on the road, I felt it wise to perhaps cut the run a little short. 5 miles total.

I haven’t felt this wobbly or totally drained after a run in a LONG time. I’m actually feeling like I’m back at newbie runner status. The combination of heat, humidity and hills seems to have taken their toll and I find myself with the strength of a wet noodle. Actually a wet noodle might be a little stronger than I’m feeling at this point. With all that said, however, there is still an underlying sense of accomplishment in making today a No Excuse Day for getting out there and getting it done. It might not have been a 10K day, but at 5 miles….I’ll take it!

A Hot and Hilly Morning Run


My son started working about three months ago. The plus side? He has his own cash now. What parent doesn’t love THAT!  The downside for me? His job starts at 5 a.m. Since it’s only about 1.5 miles from the house, he sometimes walks, but being the mom I am – most days I tend to get up, throw something on over my p j’s (it’s still dark enough to hide my Mickey outfit) and drop him off. While that may sound crazy, I do have a plan in mind – a morning run. The problem is that it always sounds so good about 8 the night before, but every morning all I manage to do is crawl back in the bed with the hopes of at least another two hours of sleep before I have to get up for work. The difficulty, however, is that I tend to be more tired trying to squeeze in another two hours of sleep, than if I just stayed awake.

This morning, however, I finally did it! I dropped him off at work, came home, sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes to contemplate life – then I got dressed, threw on my sneakers and headed out for a morning run. WHAT? It was only 5 am. WHAT? It was still dark out! So many routes to choose from, so little time (otherwise known as “so early in the morning”). I ended up taking a route that, of course, had many hills in the short two miles I managed before the humidity finally overtook my consciousness.

The time wasn’t great, but any time there are hills involved I feel like it was a major win. Besides it’s good practice for two hilly upcoming fall races. Feeling pretty accomplished and extremely happy that I won’t have to plan my evening around what time I think the gym might be empty so that I can hit the treadmill.

What will happen tomorrow? I don’t know. I’d like to think I can make this a two-day streak, but I also know that tomorrow is his one day off from work so there’s no need for me to rise so early. Can I do it? Will I do it? Stand by…

5K a Day Weekend


Training for the half and the full is in “full” swing. I really challenged myself this weekend. I decided how cool would it be to run a 5K a day for three straight days – Friday, Saturday AND Sunday. I must admit, what sounded like a great plan on Friday, didn’t seem like such a great idea by Saturday morning. I hate when that happens! Determined to follow through, I finished my plan for the weekend. In fact, not only did I complete a 5K each day, but I managed to knock off two minutes a day!

Not only did I manage my 5K a day, but I also managed to stay hydrated with the help of my trusty Nuun. If it’s one thing I learned from my last half is that hydration plays a big part when running.

The weekend is almost over. I get to bask in the goal of my accomplishment. Feeling pretty good today, because now I know that I can finish a 5K a day for at least three days in a row. I’m wondering if I should try for a fourth day tomorrow or rest with a cross training day. Either way, this grandma is on the move…getting it done. The fall season is full of races and I’m determined to be prepared! Here I come #mcm10K #runDisney #marathonweekend, #Princesshalf.

My Running Self-Training Program Day


There are so many training programs out there, each one promising to train me better than the next. Promises to make me half marathon or marathon ready in five to ten weeks. So here is the problem, which one do you choose? Is there really any difference? Some are three day programs, some are four day programs – they all include cross training and rest days. Is one any better than the other?

Just for today, I created my own training program. It was supposed to be a run day, since I’ve been cross-training for the past two.  I just wasn’t in the mood to run in 90 degree weather, yep I’m a wimp. No running in heat, no running in cold…so I headed to the gym. No real plan in mind, just a determination to stay at least an hour.

It’s Sunday. The building was supposed to be empty, but there was one person and she was on my favorite treadmill and looking at the sign in sheet, she had only been there for five minutes.  Oh well, let’s see self-train. The first 30 minutes I used free weights and the machines…arms and legs…not bad. I didn’t think I would work up the sweat I did, but I did and it felt good. It’s going to hurt later and there might be some bruising, but while I was doing it, I felt like a boss.

Next 30 minutes, she finally got off MY treadmill and had moved to an elliptical, but I would have felt funny jumping on the one she just vacated, not to mention the fact that she didn’t clean it off. I hopped on the front treadmill and worked the next 30 minutes a combo of running, walking and speed incline walking. Not sure what possessed me, but I feel like I was making headway. I got my hour in.

Back at home, I was feeling pretty accomplished so I decided to pop in a CIZE DVD since I hadn’t done one in a while. I chose the 34 minute – Full Out session. Another 34 minutes of getting it done.

All in all, it was a good day.  Will there be soreness tonight? Most likely, but just for today I did my own thing. My own training program and it was a good day. A proud day. #countdowntofirstmarathon