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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Opinions Requested:Should I include traditional training plans in my newest book on running?

Conundrum.  Dilemma. Quandary.
These are all big words for the question facing me right now:

Should I include traditional training plans in my newest book on running?

Even though I have developed the plans, I am leaning towards no.

The Argument for Inclusionrevised-plans

Everyone has to start somewhere.  My experience tells me that traditional plans work.  When folks follow a plan that has all of the traditional aspect, it works for the vast majority of people who really do it the way it was designed. Most of the ideas in this book are followed in a traditional plan.

  • A gradual increase in weekly miles
  • Rest days
  • A balance of speed work, tempo work, easy and long runs
  • Rarely doing two hard days back-to-back

Heck, just being more consistent and purposeful with your workouts will help 80% of runners out there to improve their performance greatly.  In that respect, I am simply practicing what I preach in terms of including a coordinated plan of tried and true methods.  So why is there a question?  I should include traditional training programs, right?

The Argument Against Inclusion

The first and most important reason against inclusion is that it is unnecessary.  There are already a million solid plans out there, including free ones, that I know can work well for my readers.

I believe the content of my book is necessary because it pulls together so much information and delivers it to the reader in an understandable way.  I am not so sure about how much value is added by me putting out 4 or 5 training plans that would be similar.

Perhaps more important is the fact that what I am doing now is working for me, and it is not traditional.  I can’t include it yet, because it must be field tested with enough runners to be able to publish the plan with confidence.  I am only  sharing it with my personal coaching clients for now.

Please comment on this blog post to let me know what you think I should do?

Should I include some traditional training plans in my new book?
Why or why not?

Thank you for your input!

P. Mark Taylor
WiseRunning.com

 

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How to Run Faster**

{an excerpt from my upcoming book: Unwrapping the Gift of Running”}

“The most effective path to faster running is to run faster.”  — P. Mark Taylor

No, I’m not kidding.  It is still true over 4 years after I first wrote those words. 

It is possible to gradually get faster by running longer, but that is more effective for the newbie runner.  Once you reach a certain fitness level, the increases in speed that you get from increased mileage begin to dwindle.  When this happens you have only one choice: run faster.

To some this will sound like a catch 22 situation;  I can’t run as fast as I want to but you are telling me to just start running faster.  Well, it is more complicated than that, but for the sake of learning I will simplify my explanation.  I am telling you to run faster but we will change how far you run so that you will be able to run that fast.  Still seem like a puzzle?

The thing that allows you to run faster than you have been running recently, is that some of your runs should be in a series of runs at shorter distances. If you can run 4 miles at a 10 minute pace, then you can probably already run 400 meters much faster than that pace. That is the key.

Key Idea:  Doing runs at a variety of distances and paces will prepare your body to handle running faster and move you towards your goals.

If you thought of running as just going out and putting one foot in front of the other, you are right.  That is true with all types of runs.  Each type of run, however, has a specific goal & purpose.  If you want to get faster, the best way to do it is to do a little bit of each type.  The ideas in this article are true for runners at all levels and at all distances.  I use this way of thinking whether my goal is the 5 minute mile, which I plan to conquer in a few months, or the marathon.  If you are thinking about 5Ks or 10Ks, this advice will work for you as well.

Safety Warnings:  Before I go on to the details, I want to say three things about safety when it comes to getting faster.

1)  You should be relaxed & comfortable at any speed.  Yes, I said relaxed.  You can work really hard and still be relaxed.  By relaxed, I don’t mean loose and free-flowing, just that you should not feel tense while you run.  If you tense part of your body, then your form will suffer.  If your form suffers, then you are on the road to injury.  Nobody gets faster by getting injured.  Stay both focused & relaxed as you do your speed work.

2)  Too fast, too soon is hazardous for your health.  Exceeding the guidelines leads to injury… and nobody gets faster by getting injured.

3)  You can’t do speed work every day.  It is not safe & your muscles need to recover.  The newbie runner can do one speed workout each week.  More seasoned runners can do 2 hardcore workouts each week.  See the section on easy runs & rest days for details.

With these important safety notes in mind, let’s talk about different types of runs done at different distances:  Repeats, Intervals, Tempo Runs, Race-pace Runs, & Easy runs.  Not everyone would agree on these as the types, but that is what I am going with for today’s blog.  Within these categories there are dozens of styles and specialized types of training, each with their own suggested guidelines.

Repeats

Repeats are the fastest of the runs, done at the shortest distances.  If you are running for more than 2 minutes, then you are running too far to do repeats.  Yes, they are that short.  Any distance that is under two minutes could be a repeat.  If you are training for long distance, this might be 400 meters (1/4 mile).

  • Run your repeats at race pace or a little faster.  Race pace is the pace at which you could run a 5K now, NOT the pace that you hope to achieve later.
  • Be sure that you are fully recovered from the first 400 meter run before you start the second.  Walk it off.  Carefully stretch. Get a small drink.  When you feel ready and relaxed, then start the next one.
  • You don’t have to do 10 to get faster from doing repeats.  Some people do 4 repeats.  Some people do 10.  Do what you can do while still maintaining your relaxed form.

If your pace will not allow you to complete 400 meters in 2 minutes, then you might not be ready for repeats just yet.  You can start with Intervals.

Intervals

Intervals are a lot like repeats, but have a different goal in mind.  While repeats are about increasing raw speed, intervals are more about maintaining your new speed over a distance.  Because of this, intervals should be at a little bit longer distance.  Aim for a distance that you could complete in less than 5 minutes.  800 meters (1/2 mile) is a common distance for interval training.

  • Run your intervals at race pace, but no faster.  Remember: Race pace is the pace at which you could run a 5K now, NOT the pace that you hope to achieve later.
  • Instead of being fully rested as you did in repeats, interval training does not allow for full rest.  The time between intervals should be about the same time as you took to run the last interval.  Unlike repeats, you jog during the recovery time between intervals.
  • Since the distances are longer than the distance for repeats, the number of intervals that you complete in one workout should be less.  You can do 3-8 intervals as long as you continue to maintain your relaxed form.

Tempo Runs

If you are racing longer distances, then you will want to practice running faster for even longer periods of time.  This is the goal of a tempo run.

  • Run your tempo miles a little slower than race pace, about 80-90% of the full effort that you would use in a 5k race now.
  • Tempo runs can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness and goals.
  • You can choose to do one or more tempo runs as part of a longer run or have it as a stand-alone workout.  In either case, make sure that you run a warmup and a cooldown in addition to the tempo miles.
  • To get faster, seek the combination of distance & speed that pushes you consistently near the limit of what you can maintain.  If you can’t maintain relaxed form, you are pushing too fast or too long. 

Easy Runs & Rest Days

Will easy runs & rest days make you faster?  Probably not.

Are easy runs and rest days important for building speed?  Absolutely critical!

How does that make sense?  Easy!  If you work the same muscle group hard every day, the muscles will get weaker.  The muscles need time to heal.  Easy runs exercise your muscles as they recover from the stress of the speed workouts.  It gets your blood flowing & speeds healing, especially the day after the speed work.

Easy days are the runs in which you ease up and get in the rest of your miles for the week.  I define the “easy” pace as being around 2 minutes per mile slower than how fast you would run a 5K today.

As for rest days, some runners can run every day.  Most runners cannot.  I recommend at least one day of full rest for your legs each week.  As for me, I am 44 years old and moving closer to the next age group. 🙂  As my workouts have become increasingly challenging, I have increased my rest days from 1 per week to 2 per week.  Listen to your body.  Rest enough to heal quickly and prepare for more speed work!

In Conclusion

Enjoying running is more important than being the fastest runner in the park.  I want you to enjoy the challenge of getting faster while maintaining your health.  If you haven’t done speed work before or it has been a long time, then go into it carefully and slowly.  Stick to the guidelines.  Rest up.  Maintain relaxed form.  You will gradually get faster.

 

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

How I Improved from 5:35 to 3:27 in the Marathon in 18 months

[This post is an excerpt from the updated essay included in my upcoming book Unwrapping the Gift of Running.]

“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”   – Frank Shorter

Even though Frank was a world-class marathoner, I respectfully disagree.  I do remember my last marathon.  I remember all three of them.  If I didn’t remember, then I would not have learned from them.  If I had not learned from them, then I would not have returned for a second or third.  The name of my blog is Wise Running.  That is not a claim that everything I do is wise.  In fact, it is the opposite.  I am gradually becoming wise through the school of hard knocks.  The more mistakes I make while running, the wiser & faster I become

I am now in training for my fourth marathon.  I have my training plan and I am sticking to it as much as I can.  It is, to say the very least, vastly different from the training for my first marathon.  Looking back, I no longer consider that training.  What I did before my first marathon was haphazard and probably a little dangerous.

  • I was only running a few days a week, because my knees were always sore after a run.
  • I didn’t have a plan, I was just making it up as I went.
  • I only ran one 17 miler and one 20 mile run, everything else was 13 miles or less.
  • I took a total of three drinks of water during training runs in the entire “training” program.
  • There was only 1 run where I tried to consume any calories

Yes, that’s right.  I didn’t feel comfortable drinking while running, so I took a grand total of 3 drinks during the entire “training” program.  If you know anything about running long distances, you can probably guess what kind of experience I had in my first marathon.  Not good.

In April of 2010, I glided through the first half of the Knoxville Marathon in just over 2 hours and felt strong.  By mile mile 16, I knew I didn’t feel right.  By mile 18, I started cramping a little.  By mile marker 19, every muscle in my body was taking turns cramping.  I walked the last 7.2 miles.  It began to rain hard.  By the time I crossed the first bridge over the river, it was raining sideways because of the huge cross-breeze.  I was wet, cold, shivering, and generally miserable.  Thank God for nice people!  A volunteer under the bridge in the 20th mile gave me poncho.  It kept me warm enough to stave off the medics and gradually walk to the finish.  It was a humbling experience watching all of the pacers pass me one by one.  I refused to quit.  I completed my first marathon in 5 hours and 35 minutes.  I was in pain & suffering for the next week.

What did I learn from marathon number 1?  Plenty!

  • You had better have a training plan or you will suffer!
  • You had better have calories, electrolytes, and drinks or you will suffer!
  • I am not a quitter. 🙂

That is the beginning of the story.  What happened in the next 18 months? 

The first thing that I always do after a bad run is to plan my return.  You can’t let a course beat you.  The second thing I did was to start reading.  I had half-heartedly looked at training plans before, but now I was seriously shopping for one.  I read up on hydration, energy gels, shoes, & everything else I could find.

I did not start the marathon training right away.   In fact, I started where I should have started the first time.  I began to train for shorter distances first.  A couple of months later, I ran the Expo 5K in 21:55, a 7:03 mile pace & almost a full minute faster than my previous 5K time.  Next I set my sites on improving my half-marathon time.  I had managed to survive a 1:59:27 at the Oak Ridge half the previous year.  I began to build a mileage base running 4 days a week fairly consistently, which was not easy because my knees were still ailing.  In October of 2010, I ran the Secret City Half Marathon in 1:48:59.

The things I was doing differently than before:

  • I gradually built up my weekly mileage.
  • I did a speed workout at the track about once a week, running 400m or 800m repeats.
  • On my runs over 10 miles, I was experimenting with sports drinks and energy gels.

One more critical thing happened in late December of 2010.  I purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers KSOs.  These are extreme minimalist shoes.  They are not for everyone, so don’t take this as a suggestion.  The KSOs were important for me because they have no cushioning.  The lack of cushioning caused me to alter my running form to a much better and safer form.  The result was happy knees!  When I run in Vibrams or other shoes with no cushioning, my knees do not get any more sore than any other part of my body.  What a blessing!

Training for the 2011 Knoxville Marathon

Despite my best intentions of implementing the full Hal Higdon marathon training schedule, I found myself starting late.  I did, however, accomplish most of his Advanced 1 training schedule.  I started on the Advanced 1 rather than intermediate plans because of the mileage base that I had built.  I found that I could adjust this particular schedule just a bit and it pushed me just a little harder.  Just right.

The things I was doing differently than before:

  • I was following an expert’s marathon training plan that challenged me just enough.
  • I focused my track work on 800 meter repeats exclusively, running every 800 at 3:30.
  • I was taking electrolyte capsules to supplement the sports drinks & energy gels.
  • I ran three 20 mile runs in preparation for the marathon.

1 Year After My First Marathon

I returned to the scene of the crime a year later.  I was not going to allow a course to defeat me and get away with it.  I was here for revenge.  I had specialized training, energy gel, a fuel belt with my own Gatorade, electrolyte tablets, and cool shoes.  Yes, folks, I was back to kick some butt!

Did it all go as planned?  Of course not.  I had rumblings in my tummy before I had reached mile marker 5.  Thankfully, the Knoxville Track Club and the race director know what runners need.  There were plenty of porta-potties along the route.  I made prolonged visits to these facilities no less than four times.  That was glitch number one.  Glitch number two came when I dropped the electrolyte capsules somewhere in the first 6 miles.  Thankfully, I had taken several before the start so I wasn’t completely out of luck.

Despite these issues, I still finished the first half of the marathon at around 1:48.  The first part of the course has more hills than the second half, so I knew that I could cruise to a decent time even if I got tired and crampy.  This time the second half of the marathon did go much better.  I took the time to drink more, but kept a respectable pace.  I felt my body running low on fuel, but I had energy gel.  I felt sort of a pre-cramp feeling, so I chose to slow down my pace and try to relax my muscles.  I did gradually slow down more than I wanted to, but I managed to complete the course in 3:55:59 – about an hour and 40 minutes faster than in 2010.

I still felt as if I had been run over by a truck and my feet had a lot of blisters, but I had taken that course to school!  It had beaten me in 2010 and I beat it in 2011.

The Next 6 Months

It only took a couple of days to recuperate from the extreme soreness.  In that time, I was already beginning to plan my next race.  I knew that I would return to run the Knoxville Marathon in 2012, but I wanted to run a marathon before that.  I eventually found the 7 Bridges Marathon scheduled for mid-October of 2011.  It was just a short drive south to Chattanooga and the course looked to be flatter than Knoxville.  I did not wait for the 18 week marathon training schedule to kick in.  After resting and some gentle, short runs for the first two weeks, I began the process of cranking up my mileage and speed work.

  • IMPORTANT:  At this time, I learned that the most important way to handle running in extreme heat is to be running long runs as the heat increases from spring to summer.

In other words, in addition to precautions of extra water and electrolytes, you also have to gradually get your body used to running in increasingly hot temperatures.  If you begin to increase your mileage a lot when it is already hot, you may suffer a heat stroke!!!

Thankfully, that did fit my plan.  The official training plan that I used to prepare for the 7 Bridges Marathon was Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 plan.  It represented another increase in mileage and intensity.  By this time, I had shifted to running in Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS shoes.  I ran six days a week and felt pretty good.

I followed Higdon’s advice and used my marathon training to get some faster times in shorter races.  I ran the 2011 Expo 10K in May in 43:09 [6:56 mile pace] and the Fireball 5K in July in 20:41 [6:39 pace].

The things I was doing differently than before:

  • I ran 6 days per week & rested every Friday regardless of how good I felt.
  • I was following a new marathon training plan that challenged me just enough.
  • I was now doing my 800 meter repeats at 3:00, 30 seconds faster than before
  • I continued testing out new sports drinks & energy gels.
  • I ran more 20 mile runs in preparation for the marathon and even went 22.5 once.

18 Months After the First Marathon

I was beginning to fantasize about qualifying for Boston.  At my age, it would have taken a time of 3:25.  That would have been 30 minutes and 59 seconds faster than my marathon just 6 months prior.  At this level, it is not considered realistic or even smart to try to improve that much in such a short time.  On the other hand, I knew that I was getting faster and smarter.  I thought I had an outside chance if everything came together just right and the wind was at my back the whole way.

Rather than expect a miracle, however, I decided to say that 3:25 was my fantasy goal but that I would be happy to finish anywhere in the 3:30s. After all, 3:35 would be a big improvement over 3:55.  For the pace of my training, this seemed reasonable.

sprintingAt the start line, I was nervous!  I couldn’t decide between my two strategy choices.  Should I run at an 8 minute pace and then speed up on the back half to see what I could do?  Should I start out a little faster than “Boston pace” and hope to get close to that mark?  When the starting gun went off, I was thinking plan B.  I had to take a shot at Boston.  If I failed, I would still finish with a good time.

That is exactly what happened.  I finished the first half at a 7:24 pace that felt comfortable.  It did not feel like pushing it.  I drank and ate more than I had ever attempted in previous marathons in the effort to avoid the dehydration and nutrition issues that had slowed me down.  I was gradually slowing down throughout the second half, but with three miles to go, I could still run the last miles at a 9 minute pace and qualify for Boston.  Unfortunately, that is when I really started to slow down.  Despite my best training and my best drinking strategy, I was still dehydrated.

When I crossed bridge number 7 I had no gas left and that is when the cramps set in.  I gave up Boston and slowed down.  I was disappointed, but I knew that I had made a tremendous improvement and run the right race.  Looking back, the only change I would have made would be to drink 5-8 more cups of Powerade along the way.  It is just an educated guess, but I believe I would have finished 5 to 10 minutes faster if I had slowed down to drink.

As it was, I dragged myself across the finish line in a time of 3:27:27.  I had improved my time by a little less than half an hour.  Nice!

And From There?

Since I first wrote about this huge improvement, I have managed to whittle my marathon time down to 3:08:22.   I was 42 years old when I started this journey and 48 years old at the time of my current personal record for the marathon.   I continue to run marathons for fun and sometimes to compete.  The faster you are, the more difficult it is to make significant gains.  The good news is that gains do can continue as you:

  • Training consistently and wisely
  • Eat Well
  • And enjoy the run.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller

______________________________________

Maybe you knew all of these lessons already, but they were new to me.  If you have learned just one new idea from reading this, then I will be happy.  We runners have to stick together.  Its more fun and safe that way.

You can find me on the web:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wise-Running/223617527674175

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/Wise_Running     @Wise_Running

Daily Mile:  http://www.dailymile.com/people/PMarkT

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pmarktaylor/     @pmarktaylor

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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How to Make an Effective New Year’s Resolution (Goal)

wise running logo 7_25_122017 is a new year;
don’t make the same old resolutions. 

Change your mind.
Change your life.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more.  Unfortunately, those two resolutions usually fade off into the land of broken promises by the time February rolls around.  These two resolutions are well-intended but doomed to failure for several reasons.

A resolution must be a goal.  To be an effective goal, it must be specific, measurable, and have a timeline.

Remember This

If you aim for nothing, you will surely achieve your goal!

Bad Resolution 1 – “This year I will lose weight.”

Problems:

    • What will you do to lose weight?
    • How much weight?
    • When?

Improved Resolution 1 “This year I will lose 3 pounds each month by drinking water instead of my usual soda.”

Bad Resolution 2  – “This year I will get exercise more.”

Problems:

    • What kind of exercise?
    • How much?
    • When?
    • Will you do it all at once or gradually add more time/distance/reps/classes?

Improved Resolution 2  – “This year I will do at least 1 hour sessions of cardio exercise three times each week.  I will start in January with 1 group fitness course and gradually add courses, reaching 3 courses per week by July.”

Remember This

If you can’t say why a change is important to accomplish,
then your efforts are wasted and may even be dangerous!

Bad Resolution 3 –  “This year I will increase my weekly mileage.”

Problems:

  • Why? How will it help?
  • How much mileage is helpful and beneficial for your fitness and goals?
  • Will you make gradually increases or big jumps?
  • When?

Improved Resolution 3 – “This year I will increase my weekly mileage from 20 miles each week to abut 35 in preparation for marathons.  I will track this during my spring and fall marathon training schedules, which will gradually increase weekly mileage by ten percent or less.  My mileage will be lower in the weeks between training schedules.”

Yes, this last one got pretty specific, but there is a reason.  It gives enough specifics to know what to do, when to do it, and how to know if you are accomplishing the goal.  It also allows for time to rest the legs a bit and rekindle the love for running.

Remember This

A resolution that is a burden physically or emotionally is unlikely to be kept.
A resolution kept should improve your quality of life.

 

As for me, here is my very specific resolution for 2017:

I resolve to decrease my running mileage down to under 30 miles per week while increasing my weekly time spent on strength, power, and flexibility training.

  • My running time has traditionally gone up in marathon training, but this year I am going to streamline my training to only include the absolutely necessary miles and very specific sessions that lead to maximum benefit. 
  • I will include at least three strength training sessions each week, a minimum of 30 minutes each.  Leg day will be one of them, focusing on squats, leg presses, and deadlifts. 
  • I will continue to cross train with swimming (at least one hour) and biking (at least 2 hours), including intense sessions and easy distance too. 

I could make a resolution about eating more veggies, but this is my constant battle.  Every year.  Every week. Every day.  🙂

Final Thoughts…

Make resolutions you are willing to stick with for at least 3 years.
If you are not willing to go 3 years, then you will not last 3 months.

Will power and motivation, as most people understand them,
are emotions that do not stay constant.
Resolve and determination are there no matter how you feel.
Base your fitness decisions on them and you will march on to your goals.

2017 is a new year; 
don’t make the same old resolutions. 
Change your mind.
Change your life.

_____________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Progress Report on Revising and Expanding My Book

I have been working on an updated version on my book The Gift of Running.

So far, I have:

  • revised  it to update technical details based on new research and personal experiences
  • expanded it to include critical portions of my second book Wise Running
  • added some new content
  • revised the training plans to reflect the most up-to-date research

I will send it to a few runners for review and comment soon.

Getting excited!

front-pageWise Running Book COVER mockup

What Runners Do: Courage and Encourage

wise running logo 7_25_12Running takes courage.

  • It takes a lot of courage to look in the mirror and decide you need to change.
  • It takes a lot of courage to take the first step.
  • It takes a lot of courage to run out where everyone can see you struggle.
  • It takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and set a high goal.
  • It takes a lot of courage to face tough speedwork.
  • It takes a lot of courage to choose to run up a steep hill on purpose.
  • It takes a lot of courage to run that extra mile to run a distance you never imagined you could run.
  • It takes courage to register for a race.
  • It takes courage to pin that numbered bib on your shirt and step up to the start line.
  • It takes courage to finish when you do not believe you have the strength.
  • It takes a lot of courage to decide to walk when your pride says to run.
  • It takes a lot of courage to choose a DNF because you do not want to make your injury worse.

Courage is what we runners do.  It is who we are.  Courage defines us.  Courage makes us stronger.  Courage molds us into a new and better person.

Runners know this about courage.  Hence, when we see a racing 1potential runner or a fellow runner that is having doubts, we encourage.

  • We encourage our friends to run because we know what it will do for them.
  • We encourage our friends to run a little farther, a little faster.
  • We encourage our friends when they are injured and let them know that resting is smart and that they will run again soon.
  • We encourage those that are struggling, on the run or in life.
  • We encourage newer and/or younger runners & become their mentors for a while.
  • We encourage others with our presence.
  • We encourage others by sharing our struggles and our successes.

Encouragement is what we runners do.  It is who we are.  Encouragement defines us.

Remember This:

Courage without encouragement will fade. 
Inspire and encourage future and fellow runners. 
I promise that the running community will
pay back what you gave and much more.

_____________

Train wisely, eat well, & enjoy the run!

_____________

The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

The Gift of Running – a reflection on my first book about running

It has been just over 4 years since I published my first book on running.  It was written to gather all of the basic info about running into one easy to read source.  I just wanted to share what I had learned.

The response was surprisingly awesome.  I have heard from a lot of folks over the last four years that have gotten stronger and faster.  One of the things they often share is not about the technical info, but about my stories of trials and tribulations.  I never claimed to be perfect or know it all.  I just wanted to share what I learned.

Well, 4 years later I am still working on my third book.  I have been waiting for the time when I felt like I had a strong enough new message to make it worth the reader’s time and effort.  Well, I finally have the ideas.  Instead of writing a brand new book, however, I am going to update and expand the original book with new info and new stories.  The original book still stands the test of time.  I just have a few ideas to update and some new research based ideas to offer.

  • updated training plans
  • research insight: How long should the long run be?
  • low mileage and high performance
  • no more wasted miles:  placing effort where it will make the biggest gains
  • balancing the social and achievement aspects of running
  • strength training updated
  • cross-training and triathlon

The 2017 updated version of “The Gift of kindle book cover prototypeRunning” is under construction.  I expect it to be available for purchase early next year.

 

Here is the first book:

____________

The Gift of Running, the first book in the Wise Running series by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book.

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

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I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .
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26.2 Miles of Joy: Race Report for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon 2016

It was glorious:  26.2 miles of pure joy.
The level of energy was amazing all the way.
I had a sinus infection and I was on antibiotics.
I was fighting cramps from mile 3.
I was on pace to qualify for Boston until the last 6.2 miles, when it got really tough.

There is no conflict between these statements.  They were all true simultaneously.  What a great weekend!st-judes-2016

Why I Registered for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon

This story starts out many weeks before the race.  The race director for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon had a conflict that kept him from working the expo at the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon.  He contacted Muna and me to see if we would be willing to go represent our hometown marathon and our club, the Knoxville Track Club (www.ktc.org).  From our perspective the question could have been worded like this:

“Would you like an all-expenses-paid trip to Memphis where you can talk about a marathon that you love that is run in a city that you love speaking with new friends that you will meet who all love kids and/or love running?”

It did not take us long to make that decision!  🙂

Not long before we were to run the Savannah Marathon on November 6, we were told that KTC would receive one free entry into the marathon because we were an exhibitor at the expo.  We were asked if one of us would like to run it.  Muna had been working towards the Kiawah Island Marathon which was the week after the St. Jude’s Marathon.  I was not planning to run a marathon during this time, but I had plenty of training throughout 2016 and was certain that I could relax and run a Boston qualifying time at St.Jude’s.  With that in mind and a free entry, I registered.

And Then Reality Set In

In the weeks before this marathon, I was maintaining my running fitness while I worked on other fitness goals.  About 9 days before the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon, however, my throat was sore.  I waited it out.  I did not have any other symptoms for the first 4 days.  On day 4 the sore throat was worse.  On day 5, I had sinus congestion and a headache.  On day 6, I had a full-blown cold and a sinus infection.  I started on antibiotics the day before we traveled to Memphis.  I would be on day 4 of antibiotics on the morning of the marathon.  Not good!  Antibiotics can leave you a bit dehydrated and knock out the balance in your digestive tract.  Digestive issues during a marathon can be disastrous.  I had to decide:

  • Should I race at all?
  • Should I transfer to race the half marathon instead?
  • Should I run the full marathon and lower my expectations?

I decided to lower my expectations.  The plan if I had been healthy would be to aim for a 3:05 to 3:15 depending on how I felt during the race.  As race day approached, I knew this was no longer possible.  I tested my legs and I could tell that my lactate threshold was clearly affected by the sinus infection and/or antibiotics.  I felt okay, but I would not be able to go my fastest.  How fast could I safely go?

Race Day

After two days of meeting great folks at the marathon expo, I was motivated to simply give it my best shot.  I know my body well enough to know when it is being pushed too far.  (interpretation: I have made enough mistakes to know when I am am moving from questionable to stupid.)  Under normal circumstances, I would run by pace primarily for the first 20-something miles and then finish by feel. I decided to start the first few miles of the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon slower than I would usually run a marathon and then race exclusively by feel instead of pace for the last 24.2 miles.  More importantly, I decided that enjoying the race was more important than qualifying for Boston.

Enjoy.  To engage in and experience joy.  That is what I did.  Memphis and the supporters of St. Jude’s do an awesome job of supporting runners.  They are there cheering every step of the 26.2 miles.  The aid stations were always completely stocked with what runners need.  More importantly, they were filled with adults and kids that appreciated us for supporting St. Jude’s and going the distance.

Whether they were at the aid station, lining the streets, standing on the overpasses, or sitting on their front porches, Memphis and the St. Jude’s people gave all they had.

  • They thanked us.
  • They cheered.
  • They encouraged.
  • They rang those cow bells.
  • They reached their hands out to high five us.
  • They showered us with joy.

After the first two miles, I decide to spend the next 24.2 miles giving it back.  Yes, I watched my pace periodically.  Yes, I paid A LOT of attention to my body and how it was feeling.  I had to back off periodically.  I had periodic twinges of that pre-cramp feeling.  But I also gave back.  I gave enough energy to run a solid marathon.  But I also gave emotional energy back to our encouragers.

  • I thanked them.
  • I cheered for them.
  • I clapped for them.
  • Where there was music, I danced.
  • Twice I stopped for a few seconds to play air guitar.
  • I smiled and shouted, “More Cowbell!” countless times.
  • I reached my hand out for as many high fives as I could.
  • I smiled and looked them in the eye wherever possible, trying to beam joy back in their direction.

In the end…

I was fading faster than usual in the last miles of the marathon.  I had used up nearly all my energy.  High-fiving was getting harder.  In the last 1.5 miles, I had to be satisfied with a very small wave to the supporters instead of a high five.  I gave what little I had left to the fans and to finishing the race.

I had been on pace to qualify for Boston (BQ) until the last several miles.  At my age, a 3:29:59 would be enough to make the claim that I qualified for 2018.  I would have liked to accomplish that, but I did not feel disappointed when that pace slipped away.  I felt strangely satisfied.  Although I had kept it as a possibility and worked towards it, the BQ was not the real goal of the day.

Hundreds of supporters had made me smile.

I had made hundreds of supporters smile.

It was a glorious day.

26.2 miles of pure joy.

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Enjoy the run!

Coach P. Mark, WiseRunning.com

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.About St. Jude’s:

St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Please support the effort.
Start by visiting https://www.stjude.org/get-involved.html

 

Chasing a Seventeen-Year-Old Me (updated 11/30/2016)

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us.  They are essential to really keep us alive.”  — — Robert Schuller

‎”You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London
.
Call it a mid-life crisis.  Call it dreaming.  Call it whatever you want.  I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me.  I was 17 when I consistently ran 4:45 for 1600 meters.  I was 17 when I ran a half-marathon in 1:20:48.  I was 17 when I got tendinitis.  After a couple of years of doctors, specialists, & physical therapy, nobody could figure out why I had this tendinitis.  I would run once in a while, but my competitive days were done… or so I thought.
.
My tendinitis issues started in 1984.  Now fast forward to 2003.  I decided that I was getting out of shape and I started jogging.  This time, my tendinitis did not show up but I had knee issues.  Another specialist and another round of, “There is nothing we can do.”  I was told to stay off hills and run 3 miles or less.  So for a few years I jogged 3 to 7 miles on a feel-like-it basis, every so often.
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When my life was turned inside out back in 2009, I needed stress relief badly, so I turned to fitness.  I joined a gym and started training for a marathon.  Well, I should say that I started running a lot and hoping that would help me finish a marathon.  I can’t really say that I had a plan.  In the 2010 Knoxville Marathon, I totally bonked at mile 17 and walked the rest of the way…mostly in the cold rain…shivering..muscles locked up… but I finished.  5 hours and 35 minutes.  It was hell.  I was hooked!
.
I put the weights down and focused on training for the 2011 Knoxville Marathon.  This time, I followed one of Hal Higdon’s plans.  I modified the advanced I plan.  I also learned about electrolytes and Yasso 800s.  I felt fast enough to run 3:40 or so, but alas I had still not learned enough about electrolytes and nutrition.  I had to settle for 3 hours and 55 minutes.  Much better than the first try!
.
After this one, I followed Hal’s advice and used the momentum from this marathon to earn some personal records (PRs) in shorter distances.  He was SO right.  I had done very little speed training.  Most of my track work was about pacing more than speed.  Still, my training had made me much faster.  I found myself running a 5k in less than a 7 minute pace for the first time in over a quarter of a century!  A month later, I averaged a 7 minute pace for a 10k!
.
“What else can I accomplish?” This was the question That I asked myself.  Moreover, “What do I WANT to accomplish while I am still young enough to get fast?”
.
I set my sights on a 6 minute mile.  In the next 5k, I ran the first mile in 5:47.  I obviously couldn’t maintain that speed, but it was my first sub-6 mile in a very long time.  I ended up finishing the 5k in 20:46.  I kept pondering…”How fast can I get?”
. As of 11/30/2016, my best times (not including high school) are:

Marathon

3:08:22

Half Marathon

1:27:42

10K

39:43

5K

18:35

 1 Mile

5:23

800 meter

2:21

Full Triathlon (Ironman 140.6)

13:59:43

Half Triathlon

6:06:30
I am now 49 years old and I have qualified for the Boston Marathon on the courses at:
  • 7 Bridges Marathon, TN
  • Shamrock Marathon, VA
  • Indianapolis Marathon, IN
  • Savannah Marathon, GA
  • Boston Marathon, MA
  • The Seqouyah at Pinson Mounds, TN
At this point I am still wanting to achieve a sub-3-hour marathon.  It is not about the final destination, however.  It is about loving the journey.    🙂
.

Qualifying for Boston was just bucket list item #1.  Also on my bucket list:

  • Run 1 mile under 4:45.
  • Run a 5k under 17:40.
  • Run a half marathon in less than 1 hour and 20 minutes  ( I can probably make it faster, but this specific time would be enough to defeat the 17 year old me)
What I am not doing is setting time limits.  I obviously can’t wait forever, but injuries/mishaps will occur along the way.  I have to give myself that latitude or I will go crazy.  I set goals and display them publicly to push myself, but I want to enjoy the ride.
 .
I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me…
I am finally getting close enough to see him…
and I think I can pass him before this race is over!
.
Happy Running!

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