Change your mantra to find success

challengedWe are to that point in the year (already!) where the enthusiasm over New Year’s Resolutions begins to wane. The goals that started out as great intentions, a fresh start, a new outlook, just don’t seem so bright and shiny and exciting anymore. Or maybe you are one of the 8% who is hanging tough, working toward your goals. (Yes, just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions!) Will you be one of them?

I have a great group of runners in my Online Boot Camp that started January 1. We’ve been talking about what we can do to stay motivated. Often  “I just don’t have the time”  becomes the mantra. And, sometimes, it’s true. We need to step back, rest, relax and spend time with family, rather than pile on more “stuff” to do. Only you know if that’s you. Chances are, a little clean eating and a bit of exercise will improve your outlook and energize you.

If you, or someone you know, falls into this category, change your mantra to find success. Here are some things you can do to change the mantra from “I just don’t have the time” to “This lifestyle is a priority.”

 If you are a morning exerciser (or want to be) here are some things you can do to get off on the right foot:

  1. Set out your workout clothes (some people who have difficulty getting up even sleep in them), shoes and any gadgets and gear you need.
  2. Meet a friend. Plan to meet a friend. (You wouldn’t bail on someone who is expecting to see you, would you?)
  3. Text / FaceTime / Skype / Call. Having trouble getting out of bed? How about asking another early riser to make some noise by forcing you out of bed to communicate?
  4. Set the alarm across the room, preferably next to your shoes.

Plan ahead:

  1. Rely on your calendar. This one is so simple, it seems cliche, but it has saved many a workout for me. If the workout is important, get it on the calendar. I have a masters swim class I like to attend twice a week at lunch time. I kept missing it because I was scheduling lunch dates during that time. Now, it’s on my calendar where I won’t forget.
  2. Know the workout you will do. Don’t waste time trying to figure out what exercise you will do. Get out of bed and get it done. I use Final Surge to schedule workouts for my clients, and each night, they receive an email with the next two days’ workouts. Wake up. Follow the list. Log the results. (They have free athlete accounts, and there’s even an app)

Chunk it up:

  1. Use a checklist. Know the workout you want to complete for the day. Then, check off each piece as you complete it throughout the day. This works great for body weight exercises. Let’s say your list is:  2 sets of 60 second planks, 25 squats, 30 lunges, 50 push ups. You could knock out the planks before you leave for work, the squats during a conference call, the lunges on the way to your car for lunch, and the push ups to break up the monotony of doing dishes or laundry at night.
  2. Think in 10s. What can you do with just 5-10 minute increments? If you are starting a walking or running program, walking a few times a day for 5-10 minutes is a fantastic start. You are not locked into a time consuming workout just because the magic number of 30 minutes has been drilled into our heads, or because your friend is logging 6 miles a day. Think about a 5-10 minute walk around the building during your break. Walking the stairs for 10 minutes over lunch, if you work in an office building, 10 minutes of body weight exercises while you help kids with homework. It CAN be done, if you find ways to work fitness into your life in little chunks of time.

Get the family involved:

  1. Exercise with your family. Of course, the best way to make fitness work is to exercise as a family. Everyone’s involved. Everyone has similar goals. It’s a built in support system. But in the real world, that doesn’t always work: different schedules, different abilities. different commitment levels, different paces.
  2. Include them in your plans. At a minimum, include your family and friends in your plans. Tell them about what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. Ask for their support in achieving your goals. Once they understand your fitness goals are important to you, hopefully they will help you find ways to make even more time to exercise.

So much of our success is dependent on the stories we tell ourselves. Change the story you tell yourself to:

I can do this!
I want to be fit!
This lifestyle is my priority!
I am good enough!
I did my best today!

What are your tricks for making exercise a priority? And what mantras should we add to the list?

If you want more help staying focused and motivated, join one of my Online Boot Camps. The next one starts February 15, 2015.

***

Kim Peek is a running coach certified by RRCA, USATF, Lydiard and Newton Running. She offers one-on-one and online group coaching. Visit her site at www.PowerOfRun.com or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/PowerOfRun

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The Benefits of Having a Coach (What I’ve Learned After One Month with Mine)

photoFor the first time ever, I am a coached triathlete. And, one month into it, I believe it was a BRILLIANT decision.

Sometime in November, I met with a coach. I have always known cycling is an issue for me, and I wanted to get better. (Swimming and running have their “issues” too, but cycling is where I think I can make the biggest gains.) At the time, my biggest question was… would he be able to handle me? After all, I am a coach too. And I wondered if he would think I was too big a pain in the butt to deal with.

Know what he told me? “Coaches need coaches too.”

And he was right.

I used to write myself a training plan, just the same way I wrote one for my clients. And then…. I would wake up in the morning, and throw that smart plan out the window. I had a million great excuses, usually related to the weather or the kids’ schedules.

“It’s too nice today to swim. I’d rather run outside.”

“I have so many places to be. Maybe I’ll just do a quick workout at home.”

“I can’t make myself run at 5 a.m., so I will do an Insanity DVD and run later.”

You get the idea.

My new coach writes smart plans too. And he expects me to follow them. And in that month, I’ve already made some great gains.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far (from an athlete’s perspective):

1) My coach writes great plans… that I PAY FOR… so I do what he says. I was really afraid I’d mess this one up right off the bat with all my questions and my independent (um…. bossy?) ways.

2) I LIKE having someone else in charge. This one surprised me because I LOVE writing training plans. I LOVE being the boss of myself. And yet, here I am, allowing someone else to tell me what to do. But, just like with the plans I wrote for myself, I have faith his plans will work. IF I ACTUALLY DO THE WORK. And so I do.

3) I do the work. Aside from a few technical glitches the first week … my bike needing a tune up, the battery on my bike computer being dead (What?! That sensor has a battery?!), watches and HR monitors not being charged at the right times…. I am doing the workouts exactly as written. And that means, I’m not slipping back into my old ways of “mixing things up” and doing whatever workout I please.

4) I like logging my workouts. I like checking a workout off my list. And, I like that someone is expecting to see that workout checked off. Accountability.

5) I can’t be a crazy person. I will always have a certain amount of crazy, but when it comes to workouts, I can no longer over do it. THIS was a huge reason why I hired a coach. I wanted someone to hold me back. If five miles is good, seven is better, right? Wrong. I log my workouts, share my watch data. Track heart rates. Time portions of workouts. All knowing that someone is looking and expecting that I do NO MORE than what the plan calls for. (I have plenty of friends willing to hold me accountable this way, but it has never worked for me. THIS does.)

6) Lots of sharing. The more you can tell a coach about how a workout went, the more they can help you. For me, a lot of that feedback sounds competitive right now “Susan is lapping me on the pull sets.” “Did you know Marcia kills me on the hills?” But that type of feedback helps the coach identify strengths and weaknesses and they can design future workouts to help you become even stronger.

7) It helps me focus on what I CAN do, instead of what I CAN’T. I’m still recovering from another one of my setbacks (It’s been such a year full of medical issues that make me so happy. Not.) But, my coach has me so focused on getting in each scheduled workout, I’ve barely had time to think about the ones I am still not allowed to do.

One month into it, I’m very happy with my decision to hire a coach. He’s keeping me accountable, tracking my progress, and keeping me on track.

 Have you ever hired a coach? Has it helped? What did you look for in a coach?

***

coaching packages2Kim Peek holds coaching certifications from USATF, RRCA, Lydiard and Newton Running.

Interested in personal coaching? Email Kim for details (PowerOfRun@gmail.com)

Thinking about the ONLINE Boot Camp Option? The next group starts February 15th. Details here.

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A Running Form Breakthrough- How to Work that Butt

It is said that elite runners spend almost as much time with strength training, form drills and recovery activities as they spend running. Not me. I always had the mindset of the typical runner…

I’m busy. I run. I’m in great shape already. Have you checked out my quads? Surely, I can focus on what I like best… running… and skip all the rest, right?

After missing yet another marathon due to injury, I have been forced to completely buy into the idea that some of us (ME!) need to spend much more time than we currently do with activities that help us become (and remain) stronger runners.

Every single time I back off the strength training and stability exercises, I get hurt. Yes, every single time. Let’s hope I have finally learned.

A lower mileage runner might be able to get by without the strength and stability work. But, have you ever wondered why some runners get injured every time their mileage starts to climb? Or why your friend, the marathoner, starts getting weird aches and pains (and injuries) about the time those 16-18 mile runs appear on the training plan?

Higher mileage will eventually expose those little muscle imbalances, those little wobbles that act as braking forces, the hip dips that cause you to pound the ground harder on one side, the inefficiencies that make your arms do funky things as they try to stabilize your body. Yeah… not that I have personal experience with any of that... 🙂

See how my hip drops when I take a step?

See how my hip drops when I take a step?

I have had a whole mess of problems over the past several months. A lot of that is related to hip weakness. See that photo? That is from a video I took of myself running one day when I was obsessed with trying to get to the bottom of things. I wanted to wait until the injury healed. Why shoot video when I already knew my form was messed up, I thought. I broke down and set up the camera. I just had to see what was up.

And this hip drop was what I saw.

That and a foot that almost hit the back of my knee with every step.

Oh, and a massive heel strike and overstride I didn’t even think I had!

After a TON of work, and thanks to my fabulous doctor*, I feel like I am finally on the tail end of this setback.

This week, I made some huge improvements. I added my glute exercises to my pre-run warm up routine, which helped to “wake up” my glutes before I started running. Then, I listened to my metronome app set to 180 steps/minute for the duration of my run.

Waking up the glutes with some band exercises before a beautiful fall run

Waking up the glutes with some band exercises before a beautiful fall run

By waking up the glutes first, and then by forcing myself into a faster cadence, I made the necessary form changes. My steps were smaller, which led to less ground contact time, and it kept me from heel striking… which meant no new pain. As I focused on cadence, I also noticed that my glutes and hamstrings started to burn. This was good news because it meant I was finally using the right muscles.

I’ve been complaining for months that I look and feel so awkward when I run. And today, at the very end of six miles, I  started to feel like a normal runner, like I was running naturally.

Know what happened? My arms have had this very stiff, open motion. My running looked…  stiff, robotic, difficult… really sad. Suddenly, today, they moved naturally. Once I got my legs moving the way they are supposed to- with the glutes doing the work- my arms quit trying to compensate with all the awkward motions. And, for the first time in months- maybe all year- when I ran, it felt easy, the way it is supposed to feel when your body isn’t fighting itself.

What can you learn from this little story?

1) Do your exercises. Don’t think you are too strong or too cool. Strength exercises are not just for beginners or injured runners. Everyone can benefit.

2) Practice your form drills. They might seem silly or a waste of time, but these little movements practiced daily reinforce the elements of proper form.

3) Have someone shoot video of your form from time to time, even if you know (especially when you know!) your form is “off.” What you see provides clues about what is going on with your body. And you can address these things with numbers 1 and 2 above.

4) Hire a coach and/or find a good doctor. I had so much going on, it was beyond what I could fix alone. I have a fantastic doctor who has helped me with ART, chiropractic, Graston, needling,  neuromuscular training, and physical therapy exercises. (If you’re in the KC area, there is no one better than *Dr. Sindorf at Advanced Chiropractic and Rehab.)

5) KEEP doing your exercises, even once you are strong again. You’ll need to adapt the program depending on where you are at in the season. But don’t make the mistake of “just running” without any supplemental exercises, drills or cross training.

***

Kim Peek is a running coach who doesn’t always do a great job of following her own advice, or the advice of the medical professionals she calls friends. She hopes you will be like her clients, who rarely have injuries because they adhere to the five tips above. If YOU are in need of a coach to help you plan out your training year or to keep you on track, contact Kim for more information.

Click here to see what some of Kim’s clients have to say.

I am a quitter. And I’m proud of it.

My daughter had an awesome trip seeing the city with a theater friend who lives in Minneapolis.

My daughter had an awesome trip seeing the city with a theater friend who lives in Minneapolis.

I am a quitter. And, I’m proud of it.

I got my first DNF in a race last weekend at the Twin Cities Marathon. The Twin Cities Marathon starts in Minneapolis and ends in St. Paul. They offer a full marathon and a 10 mile run. I have been rehabbing an injury for about 8 weeks, which means my training didn’t go as planned, and I didn’t train consistently or get in enough long runs.

When I inquired about dropping down to the 10 mile run (which has an entirely different route from the full), the race officials replied by sending me a copy of the waiver I’d agreed to, which stated that entries could not be transferred. That’s cool. It’s a big race. I understand.

I had this great trip planned with my friends and my daughter. And if I was going to drive all that way, I needed to run.

I studied the course map. And then I hatched a plan to quit.

Yes, I quit. And, I’m proud of it.

'twas the night before race day, and all through the cities..

’twas the night before race day, and all through the cities..

On race day, I lined up in my corral with all the full marathoners. I ran 1 mile, then 2 and 3… and was thrilled to discover I was not having any pain. For a few miles, I toyed with the idea of run/walking the entire 26. 2 miles and finishing the race. But, I knew that was a stupid move.

I pressed on, running as hard as I could for my current fitness level, which is not great considering my lack of training. Once I crossed the 13.1 mile timing mat, I pressed the stop button on my Garmin and jogged over to the aid station to get a drink.

Next, I walked to the official in the first aid area and told them I was dropping out. Because Twin Cities is a point to point race, and people get injured and have to drop out, they had drop out points and transportation at certain locations on the course. The official called to the bus at the top of the hill and told them a runner was headed their way.

I was pretty cool with it all… up until that point. Dropping out at 13.1 was my plan, after all.

But , quitting got really hard the moment I stepped onto the bus. The driver opened the door, and I was greeted by another race official who asked for my race number, documented it… and then PUT A GIANT “X” THROUGH MY RACE BIB!

Take that, you QUITTER.

Sitting on the drop out bus with a bib that tells everyone I am a quitter

Sitting on the drop out bus with a bib that tells everyone I am a quitter

I sat on the bus with the other runners who dropped out, all with injuries or illness, and one who was pretty sick, but who had refused the ambulance.

No mylar blanket. No drinks. No post race snacks. Just a bunch of tired runners who were cramping and cold, all with a big, black X through their race numbers.

We waited and waited. And then had to wait for the sweeper bus to go through to pick up the runners who didn’t meet the time requirements. And some of those runners joined us too. (Cheers to the happy woman who had just started running in February, who didn’t make the time cut off, but still had a positive attitude because she was getting faster. That’s what it’s all about, lady!)

Then we waited more. I started receiving text notifications as my friends passed the 18.6 mile mark, the 24 mile mark… and the finish line.

Then I started to panic. And I wanted to cry. My friends were done, and I was still sitting on a bus at 13.1. My warm coat and my friends were at the finish. What if they left me? (Which would be totally understandable because now they were wet and sweaty, and it was cold outside.)

Once they got through the finish line (with multiple BQ times in the group!), got their medals and their drop bags, I started getting texts. They would wait for me.  No crying necessary. Whew.

Finally, our group of drop outs arrived near the finish. Another race official got onto  the bus, asked if anyone needed medical attention, and then said, “Do you all have an X on your bib, so you don’t collect your….” Her voice trailed off. Once again, the voices in our heads said…

Take that, you QUITTER.

I got off the bus.

And when saw the smiling faces of my friends, I was once again proud to be a quitter. And here’s why I am telling you this story:

Too often in sports, and in running, we cheer for the person who perseveres against the odds. We live in a no pain, no gain society. We root for the underdog. And, that is all great. There is definitely a time and a place to push through, to battle that part of your brain that tells you to quit, to tell those tired legs to shut up.

And then there is the time you look to the future. I’ve missed a lot of running this year. First, from my surgery. And then because I pushed too hard to make a comeback for a race. I am on the road to recovery. And I still have another race this year. Running beyond my threshold last weekend would have put Vegas Rock and Roll at risk. I opted for staying healthy so that I can have a stellar 2015.

It’s hard to admit that I’m not a young runner. I can’t just rush back from an illness or injury. When I do, I pay with forced time off. Consistency is key in racing. Slow, consistent progress is better than rushing things. Pushing beyond the body’s limits usually means getting hurt, and watching  fitness gains disappear. Two steps forward and three steps back- the injury cycle- turns out to be slower than having the patience to make slow, consistent gains.

And that is why I am proud to be a quitter.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you too can find the courage to be a quitter.

***

Kim Peek is a USATF, RRCA, Lydiard and Newton Certified Running Coach. Learn more about Kim and her coaching services here.

Excited about FOOD!

I cooked a lot of veggies in a foil pack on the grill. Just butter and spices and whatever veggies I had on hand.

I cooked a lot of veggies in a foil pack on the grill. Just butter and spices and whatever veggies I had on hand.

I’m trying to get back into the blogging thing. It seems my life just won’t slow down. And, if I have to choose between blogging and my workout, I’m going to choose the workout every time. I have to tell you about my latest experiment because it has really changed how I look at food.

Back in 2009, I lost 50 lbs. The only major life change I could attribute it to was running (to this day, I don’t think it was any major dietary change that did it).  For the past few years, I’ve been a triathlete. I swim, bike and run. I’m very active. But recently, my weight has started to creep up.

I had been reading a lot about Whole 30, and I have had friends who lost weight following the plan. So, when the weight hit that magic number that makes my eyes bug out when I see the scale, and I was wearing sweat pants every day because my clothes were getting too snug, I decided to give Whole 30 a try.

For those of you unfamiliar, there’s a ton of information on their website. And there’s a book. But, the basic idea is that for 30 days, you eat fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts and meat. You don’t eat dairy, processed foods, any foods with added sweeteners or artificial sweeteners… including my beloved Coke Zero. I’ve done similar diets before, but never while giving up soda. It’s my favorite. I honestly wasn’t sure I could go a month without so many of my favorite things.

I’ll admit, the first 10 days I had a horrendous headache. I was lethargic. I Netflix binged on several seasons of “Weeds.” Then, on day 11, something magical happened. I felt like I was on speed. (No, it was not the Weeds 🙂 ) And, I’ve had tons of energy ever since. Yeah, the carb detox part was tough. But I’m glad I stuck with it.

I’m not going to argue with anyone about “you shouldn’t do any diet that asks you to give up entire food groups.”  Got it. Thanks. Noted. I learned a lot through this experience. Most importantly, I “reset” my body and am not making the food choices of a carb-addicted junkie looking for her next hit.

1) The biggie: I learned that a lot of my eating is dictated by social situations. I can find an excuse every day to have lunch with a friend, take one of my kids for frozen yogurt, have drinks by the pool or celebrate something random with cake or cookies. I’m really good at the all or nothing thing, so the strict boundaries of this diet worked for me… in part, because everyone who knows me knew what I was and wasn’t eating.

One of my favorites. Sliced sweet potatoes, dipped in olive oil, sprinkled with garlic and pepper and baked for 30 minutes. On top, scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon.

One of my favorites. Sliced sweet potatoes, dipped in olive oil, sprinkled with garlic and pepper and baked for 30 minutes. On top, scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon.

2) I have more energy. I no longer feel like I need a mid-day nap (no more sugar comas!) I am waking up in the mornings feeling rested. (This is huge. I was having a horrible time sleeping before).

3) After day 10, this became a lot of fun. I discovered some new recipes and met some cool Whole 30 and whole-food-eating bloggers. (On Instagram, follow Whole30 and Whole30Recipes or the hashtagg #whole30 for some great meal ideas. On Pinterest, search Whole30.)

4) My family got into it. Maybe more like… they were supportive. I didn’t require my family to give up any foods or to join in, which also increased the difficulty of the diet for me. The “junk” was still in the house. With each day, it got easier to ignore the carb-filled goodness sitting in the pantry.  And by supportive, I mean… no one gave me a hard time about my choices. I made one meal at night, with an occasional modification for myself, and everyone enjoyed the new foods.

We bought a spiral veggie slicer and spiral sliced apples, zucchini and potatoes. This photo is a casserole I made of leftover spiral sliced zucchini and sweet potatoes with eggs, onions and chicken apple sausage. A hit with the kids too!

We bought a spiral veggie slicer and spiral sliced apples, zucchini and potatoes. This photo is a casserole I made of leftover spiral sliced zucchini and sweet potatoes with eggs, onions and chicken apple sausage. A hit with the kids too!

5) What I miss most is cheese. If I had to guess, I would have said I would miss the sugary snacks or the pop. I continue to be surprised that what I really want is a good slice of cheese. I’m already looking at meals differently, thinking that this cake or that cookie, or such-and-such casserole recipe with the packaged base ingredients will taste funky after a month of eating REAL FOOD.

6) It’s all great in moderation. I’m happy I found this diet because now it’s a tool I can use when I feel like I’ve lost control of my eating habits (The holidays are coming, everyone!). I discovered some great foods and a way to get back on track when I get in that “my life is a party” mode. (And honestly, we could all have worse problems than feeling like we always have an occasion to celebrate, right?!)

7) My palate has changed. Now, when I crave sugary foods, I can grab a peach or an apple and feel satisfied. I don’t need to rip into that bag of Skittles (another favorite that I’m still kinda missing!).

Another sweet potato favorite. Sliced sweet potatoes, dipped in olive oil and baked for 30 minutes, along with rosemary, cilantro, walnut, garlic "pesto" with shredded chicken. Add this mixture to the potatoes before baking.

Another sweet potato favorite. Sliced sweet potatoes, dipped in olive oil and baked for 30 minutes, along with rosemary, cilantro, walnut, garlic “pesto” with shredded chicken. Add this mixture to the potatoes before baking.

8) One of the coolest moments was when my 10 year old got up early to go to the Farmer’s Market with me. She enjoyed selecting her own fresh vegetables and taking them home to prep them. That day, you would have thought my kids had never eaten a vegetable in their lives. They devoured veggies all day. We made homemade salsa for breakfast (?!), which they really enjoyed making and eating.

A few of the things we found at the farmer's market. (And then went home to use the fresh cilantro and tomatoes to make salsa)

A few of the things we found at the farmer’s market. (And then went home to use the fresh cilantro and tomatoes to make salsa)

9) I still have 3 days to go, but I can say… I LOST WEIGHT! It looks like it will be 7-8 lbs total in 30 days. I ate nutritious, delicious food and never felt like I was starving (except for the times I forgot to plan ahead and thought I would die before I could get somewhere that I could make a more nutritious dining choice… or the day when all I could find was Coke and felt like I was crawling across the desert. If you’re wondering, I made it home to my water with lemon and mint.)

10) I will continue on this path. If you haven’t guessed, I will continue down this path, with slight modifications.  As long as I am able to eat this way 95% of the time, I’m not going to stress about the times I want to join in on a celebration by eating junk! Or about the times when I want a quick protein drink or gel for training purposes. It’s all about a lifestyle you can live with. Whole 30 got me back on track.

***

My October fitness challenge is coming up soon. Check out my Facebook page for details this week. Find me on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest @PowerOfRun

Kim Peek is a running coach certified by USATF, RRCA, Lydiard and Newton. If you’re looking for a coach, drop her a note.

Strength Challenge- Improve Running Form by Strengthening Your Weak Links

Just because I’m a coach doesn’t mean I am good at following a training plan. This morning I woke up and realized it’s been a LONG TIME, way too long, since I’ve done the very same strength and stability exercises I assign my coaching clients. I did a little workout that I’m sure I will feel tomorrow. But, I thought it would be way more fun to have a little accountability group.

I’m not big on waiting until a Monday to start something. If I have an idea, I want to get going NOW. So, here’s the plan. Over the next 28 days, should you choose to accept the challenge, we will work toward a 2 minute, thirty second plank, 100 push ups and 125 squats. (Yes, you can always break these into sets. Start and end where YOU are happy!)

The exercises on this list are not the ONLY way to build a stronger core and strengthen your behind. But this will help keep you focused! (And, you can always do more and mix it up a bit!)

strength challenge

 

 

If you want to join the free challenge group, click here to join the group. (Please be patient as I add you. We have a swim meet tonight 🙂 )

I’ll post daily reminders. You can check in on your progress. You can talk running and meet other runners. And, I’ll include some training tips here and there to help you prepare for the fall race season.

Hope to see you in the Power of Run Strength Challenge Group!

Kim Peek loves to run and loves to help other runners reach their potential. She holds coaching certifications from USATF, RRCA, Lydiard and Newton Running. If you are looking for a coach, send her an email and talk!

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of a Run/Walk Strategy

never everI haven’t always been a fan of the run/walk training and racing method-for myself. But then I had an unplanned surgery that messed up all my racing plans. As a coach, I decided it was a good opportunity to experiment on myself and find a way to participate in a race season that I would otherwise have to watch from the sidelines.

What have I learned? It works! Six weeks after I was cleared to run, I completed a half marathon run/walk style. It wasn’t a PR. But I finished. I felt good and I was able to continue training Monday after because I wasn’t sore. The exciting part was that, due to so much time off, I hadn’t built my mileage up again. Yet, I was able to run long, and strong, for my level of conditioning.

Since then, I’ve lost a little motivation in the heat and humidity. (I’ve always claimed to LOVE running in the heat, but I admit, this summer I feel it!) On days where I am lacking motivation to run, I get myself out the door by promising myself I am “allowed” to complete the mileage using run/walk intervals. And you know what? It hasn’t hurt me a bit! I ran a July 4th 5K and have a new 5K PR! (I did not use run/walk for the 5K)

Following are my tips for when you might want to try run/walk and why:

1) Coming back from injury, surgery or time off. When you find the right run/walk interval for you, the rest breaks give your muscles and tendons time to rest before your form degrades. (The body is super smart. When you get tired, your form changes and other muscles take over… but these might not always be the muscles best suited for running. Let’s say my right foot starts hurting. I might compensate by putting more weight on my left foot and that foot isn’t used to carrying more force, and the left glute isn’t strong enough to handle the extra weight, and I start popping my hip out… etc. Before you know it, you’ve created a whole new issue...) Run/walk gives you a way to ease back into things as you build both strength and endurance.

2) In the heat and humidity. I know a number of runners who have lost motivation to run in the summer heat. Rather than quitting, or even cutting back mileage, try using intervals. I’ve been using run 3:00/ walk :30 sec. I know I can push myself for 3 minutes, and that the :30 second walk break is just enough time to bring my heart rate down. Today, I cut that in half to run 1:30/walk :15  (same ratio, just shorter intervals). The temp and humidity were roughly the same as my run yesterday, but I cut :45 seconds off my average pace. That :15 second walk break was enough to make my heart rate drop about 15 beats a minute- just enough to get comfortable again. So, although I walked, I still received the training effect.

3) To trick yourself into running. Some days you just don’t feel like running. Set your watch for run/walk intervals. And give yourself permission to have an easy day. All runners know how this goes: you eventually start to “feel it,” and you’re happy you got out the door.

4) New runners and older runners. Contrary to what you might have learned growing up, or what snobbish runners might say, there is nothing wrong with walking! What IS important is a fit lifestyle and that you enjoy your exercise of choice. Run/walk makes it easy to get started… and then you can take advantage of all the benefits of the running lifestyle. Friendship, fitness, fun, community and accomplishment.

Will I continue to train and race using intervals? Probably not. I still think there is value in building enough endurance to run 30 minutes, then 1 hour, and two hours without stopping. But, I do think run/walk is a great way to continue running when life throws obstacles in your way. It’s also a solid way to reset your mental and physical game in training, or during a race, when you just aren’t feeling it anymore.

What I do wish is that people would lay off the judgement and just let people enjoy running on their own terms. If you run, you are a runner. Period. Don’t let the bullies into your head 🙂

If you would like help with your running, or would like help getting to your fall half or full marathon goal, I can help! Here’s the basic scoop. Email me if you have additional questions.

Kimberly Peek loves running and enjoys helping runners of all ages and experience levels improve their form and their time while finding joy in the sport. She is a RRCA, USATF, Lydiard and Newton certified running coach.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover… a smart athlete’s guide

hard battle

If you’ve spent any amount of time at the gym, running, in the pool, or on a bike– you probably are well aware that you can’t judge a book (or a runner/biker/swimmer/lifter/cardio-blaster) by its cover.  For one, you don’t know the battle someone else is fighting: Do they have an injury? Have they already lost half their body weight? Are they in a less-competitive time of their life? Are they fighting a medical condition? And second, what you look like has little  to do with your fitness level. I know plenty of larger women who can easily lap me in the pool, and just as many tiny, skinny women who can lift more than I can.

There are a few blog posts circulating online this week that touch on the topic of fitness bullying.

My personal favorite is this one, “Gym Bullies, Don’t Make Fun of Me,” where the author catches a woman at the gym who is attempting to take a picture of a larger woman… and then shames her into deleting the photo.

And this one, “To the Fatty Running on the Track This Afternoon. This one looks like it was originally posted in December and then went viral.  In many circles, this writer was applauded for being a cool runner.  I disagree. I think it was rude. Here’s a response from this week from the “fatty” they singled out… who might not the the actual runner seen on the track, but who is a prolific blogger and athlete who has lost a lot of weight.) (UPDATE: 3/13/14– here’s the follow up from Tony, the guy who penned the response.)

For the record, I think the “compliment” is HORRIBLE. I’ll explain why after I share text of that Facebook post that got so much media attention:

To the fatty running on the Westview track this afternoon:

You, whose feet barely lift off the ground as you trudge around the track. You, who keeps to the outside lane, footslogging in the wrong direction. You, who stops for water breaks every lap, and who would probably stop twice a lap if there were bleachers on both sides. You, whose gaze drops to your feet every time we pass. You, whose sweat drenches your body after you leave, completing only a single, 20-minute mile.

There’s something you should know: You f**ing rock.

“Every shallow step you take, you carry the weight of more than two of me, clinging to your bones, begging to be shaken off. Each lap you run, you’re paying off the debt of another midnight snack, another desser, another beer. It’s 20 degrees outside, but you haven’t let that stop your regimen. This isn’t your first day out here, and it certainly won’t be your last. You’ve started a journey that lasts a lifetime, and you’ve started it at least 12 days before your New Year’s resolution kicks in. You run without music, and I can only imagine the mantras running through your mind as you heave your ever-shrinking mass around the next lap. Let’s go, feet. Shut up, legs. F**k off, fat. If you’d only look up from your feet the next time we pass, you’d see my gaze has no condescension in it.

“I have nothing but respect for you. You’ve got this.”

So, yeah… they eventually get to the point that this person rocks and they respect them. BUT… do they? In what world do you rip a person apart, judging them by making up your own version of their life story, before giving them a compliment? Not mine.

I’m sure you’ve received an apology before that goes something like, “I’m sorry I got mad at you and yelled and stormed off. But, I did that because you… (and then lists all the things they think you did to deserve being treated that way.)” If you’ve experienced this before, you know it negates the entire apology. It says, “I’m sorry, but I’m not really. It’s still your fault.” To me, that’s how this compliment sounds. “I think you’re fat. And I just made up a story about you that I think is true. Oh, by the way, nice job, Fatty. I respect you.”

I post all of this to say, be careful who you judge. And, stop with the fitness bullying.

This one feels personal to me at this point in my training. As I have mentioned before, I had surgery and a blood transfusion in early February. Before that, I was pretty anemic, so my workouts weren’t going all that great anyway. Basically, I’m not in the shape I was in last summer, and it shows. My doctor allowed me to start swimming at 3 weeks post-op. I was excited to go back to the gym to swim, but that first day back, I sat in the parking lot texting a friend. I couldn’t make myself go inside. I was afraid of seeing people I knew. I was afraid I would be judged by people who didn’t know about the things my body has been through the past few months. And, I was so upset about it, I wasn’t even sure I could have a conversation about it without crying.

I did eventually go inside. I didn’t see anyone I knew that day. I made it through my swim, and I’ve been swimming ever since.

But I still worry about seeing people on the street who know me, or who know I’m a coach, who notice my lack of speed or muscle tone…

I still worry about running my next few races with a timing chip on…

Why? Because people like to judge.

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me. I am following my doctor’s orders. (And I just have 1 1/2 weeks left until I can START running and lifting again!)  I have a plan for the come back. I am not jumping in. I have an injury history that tells me I need to ease back into running. And that building core strength and lifting will be key to a successful fall race season. So, yes, while I plan to participate in races this spring and summer,  I have my eyes set on fall.

In the gym, at the track, in the pool, elementary school playground rules still apply: Be KIND! You don’t know that athlete’s story… unless they share it with you!

Preparing for your first RACE DAY experience!

golden rulesIt’s March! And, although many of us are still buried in snow, spring race season is officially here! I’ve been busy getting my coaching clients ready for their big days, and I’ve compiled some race day advice.

(While you’re here, take a look at Golden Rules of Race Day, a popular post from last year.)

Take a look at these race day tips, and then share your tips in the comments.

1) Don’t waste energy at the start. The beginning of the race can get quite congested. Line up near your expected pace/finish time, and don’t waste a lot of energy the first half mile weaving in and out of people. Your first mile can (and should) be slower. Think of this as your warm up. You can pick up the pace after the first half to full mile.

 2) Run the race with “even effort,” meaning you can cut back on pace on the up hills and pick up the pace on the flats and down hills. You don’t want to waste energy working too hard on a hill… rather, you want it to all feel about the same effort. (If your race uses a Smart Pace team, this will sound familiar)

3)  Stick to a pace range you know you can finish with. If you’ve been following a plan, your training paces were likely based on a time trial or a recent race. Using the McMillan Calculator, you can estimate your race finish time. A person with a 30 minute 5K time would finish a half marathon in roughly 2:18:54, which is a 10:36 pace (weather, fueling, pacing, course conditions, course terrain, how you feel that day, would all affect the outcome, of course.)

It’s easy to get caught up in race day excitement and start too fast. Don’t leave it all on the course in the first half. There’s no reason to believe that you can suddenly run a half marathon at a 9:39 pace if that is your 5K PR.

It never works to push as hard as you can in the first half and see how long you last. Runners who do this always run out of steam in the last miles of the race and wind up with a slower time than if they had paced themselves based on what they’ve been known to do in training.

 4) If you want to push the pace, run negative splits. If you want to push the pace, plan to pick up speed the last half of the race. If you’re still feeling good near the end, that’s the time to kick it into full gear.

5) Think about music. Will you use it? Do you have a plan to carry it?

6) What about friends? Will you run with them? The whole race? Or just the start? Have you discussed what will happen if one of you “isn’t feeling it” and needs to slow down?

7) Fuel. Will you carry your own gels or fuel? Do you have a way to carry them? Will you walk through all the aid stations?

8) Extra clothes and gear. Does the race have a gear check? Will you use it? If you need warm clothes at the start, what’s your plan?

9) What will the temperature be like at the start and finish? (See my recent posts on race day attire and cold weather running for some ideas)

 10) Remember to have fun! We all have those races where, no matter how much we plan, things fall apart. Go with it. There will be other races, so keep it in perspective. I have a great friend whose big race didn’t go as planned. He cheered for other runners, socialized with spectators, stopped at a home for BBQ, jumped on a trampoline at a house on the route, sang happy birthday to an elderly woman, clowned around … yeah, with a clown. And he made sure his race day was still a fun experience.

What race day / first raced day tips to you have? What do you wish someone had taught you earlier?

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Kimberly Peek is  a USATF, RRCA, Lydiard  and Newton certified running coach. Click here for more information on her coaching services.

Are you in it for the LONG RUN?

recoveryRECOVERY and CONSISTENCY. These might just be the two most important elements of any training plan.

Our good intentions and minds cannot will our bodies to do more than they are capable of. (Well, they can, like at the last push at the end of a race, but I’m talking about being smart while training). Push your body to do too much, and eventually it gives out and forces you to become sidelined.

Because we are approaching that time in spring training where mileage starts to increase and injuries start to show up, I wanted to take a moment to highlight two thoughts I shared on Facebook this week.

There’s been a lot of recent chatter about the LONG RUN. Should you run it fast? Is the long, slow run dead? Is the long, slow run just “junk miles”? (Ditch the Long, Slow Run is one of those articles, with at the very least, a misleading headline.)

The thing people tend to forget is that the average runner does not run as many weekly miles as the elite runner. Those of us who are mere mortals cannot afford to run the bulk of our miles at race pace… unless we want to risk spending much of the season injured.

After a long effort and after a hard, fast effort, your body needs to recover. A high mileage runner will recover from those runs faster than someone with a lower mileage base. A newer runner, or a runner with a smaller base,  can’t  look at the elite training plan and apply the same training intensity.

Alternate days with hard effort (sprints and race pace runs) with days of easier efforts (recovery runs and slower paced runs).

Those slow days are not wasted. Time on your feet is important. Your slower efforts build mitochondria and capillaries, teach your body to burn fat as fuel and create muscle fiber adaptations.

Consistency is also critical when it comes to solid training. If your long run leaves you injured or too sore to complete your next quality workout, it wasn’t the right workout for you at that time. Consistency especially becomes an issue when the 16-20 mile runs start showing up on the training plan.

If you find yourself taking 2-3 day breaks after the long run. And then 3-4 day breaks the next week, that then turn into 3-6 day breaks the following week… the plan is broken.

The long run is not THE ONLY run you should complete each week. EVERY run on your plan should have a purpose. If you’re skipping your speed work or your tempo run because your long run left you too sore…. the plan is broken.

Why? Because all those rest days mean you are not running consistently.

What do you do about it?

You take a break and evaluate the plan.

When we have those little aches that turn into nagging pains, runners like to show what they are made of and push through the pain. “No pain, no gain” is usually not a smart way to train. The longer you run (and the more times you’ve been injured!) you begin to learn the difference between a pain you can train through and a pain that warrants a rest day.

Sure, you have a training plan to follow. Yes, you have a race to prepare for. But, you aren’t going to get to the start line if that little pain becomes a big injury.

The best way to deal with those pains that pop up is to take a rest day or to cross train with an activity that gives the muscle group a rest. (And when necessary, see a medical professional and follow their advice)

You are training for a lifetime of running, not a single event. You will get to race day in better shape by paying attention to your body and adapting the plan accordingly.

-Coach Kim

Kim Peek holds coaching certifications from USATF, RRCA, Lydiard and Newton Running. Is your plan broken? Did you get “stuck” this year? Do you need a new strategy so you can excel next season? Talk to Kim and see if her coaching is a good fit for you!

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You might also like: Fueling and splitting the 20 mile training run

and The 20 Mile Training Run. All Hype or Necessary?

and What is the best 5K (10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) Training Plan?

Looking for a coach? I am a Lydiard Level II Coach and a Newton Running Coach. More info here.