Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • Am I Ready?

    Posted on May 20th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments
    Those early morning runs make it all worth while.

    Those early morning runs make it all worth while.

    Every runner who has the completion of a marathon on their bucket list needs to ask the question, “Am I ready?” In my experience there are 237 things that need to be present in order for you to succesfully complete your first marathon but I’ve distilled it down to just a few things.


    I figured this one out first hand and in a very painful way. Any runner training for a marathon ideally should have been running consistently for a year. You not only need leg strength and a modicum of leg speed to successfully train, your body also needs to make many adaptations all the way down to the cellular level.

    In 2007, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. In November 2006, I ran my first 5K and when I signed up in April for the marathon, I had never run further than 5 miles. By September I was injured and on marathon weekend, I was recovering from knee surgery. I eventually finished the race in 2008 and ran it again in 2010.


    Experience isn’t enough; you need to consistently put mileage on your legs. If you are running 2-3 miles, 2-3 times each week, and jump into a 12-16 week training program, you run the same risk of injury as someone with just a few months of running under the belt. My suggestion is that your weekly mileage should be at least 15 miles/week and that you have worked up to a long run of 8 miles. 20+ miles and a long run of 10 would be better.


    Training takes time. During the summer, our group long runs start as early as 5 am to beat the heat. As you go longer, you will be weary when you’re done. You might be showered, have eaten breakfast, and joined your family again by 9 am but you may not have the energy that you normally possess. So, not only will you need the training time, your body also needs recovery time. You might find that some non-essential household projects end up on hold while you’re training.


    This is the number one thing needed to successfully complete the training and the race. Overall, that motivation needs to come from something inside of you. You must want to knock this out. You can’t do it because somebody else wants you to do it.

    During the course of training, motivation can come from many different areas of your life and a marathon training group can be a part of that. The Runner Dude points out that there’s nothing more motivating that to have a group cheering you on at the end of a 20-mile run. When you’re not feeling it, knowing that others are meeting your for a run can do a lot to get you out of the bed and on the road in the morning.

    Group Marathon and Half-Marathon Training

    Our Marathon Training Group begins July 7. We have a wide variety of runners that train with us. Some are first-time marathoners. Some are chasing Boston qualifying times. All are committed to working hard and encouraging others along the way.

    You are invited to join us.

  • Saturday Group Runs

    Posted on May 10th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    A few folks are gathering Saturday, May 12 for a group run. We’ll meet at 5:45 am for a 6 am start at St. Andrew’s Church in the Old Village of Mt Pleasant. The planned route is 9 miles and will take us to Sullivan’s Island and back. Everybody is welcome - we usually have a range of paces and many end up doing less mileage. We’ll do a few more group runs before our marathon training kicks off on July 7. Sign up for our newsletter to keep track of when we’re meeting over the next few weeks.

    Find more runs in Mt Pleasant, SC

    For those that have run with us before, please note that this not a supported run. You will need to carry your own water or obtain it while out running. There is a convenience store around the midway point of the run on the island.

  • May Race of the Month

    Posted on April 29th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    The Contenders

    Plenty of races to choose from this month, including some new ones. Here’s my favorites:

    Bulldog Breakaway (begins May 17)

    The Bulldog Breakaway Series is a series of 5K races contested at The Citadel on Thursday evenings and put on by the track team as a fundraiser. Simple race against the clock. One lap of the track, one lap of the campus, one lap of Hampton Park (shaded!), and one lap of the campus to finish the race. Coaches Jody Huddleston and Kris Kut do a great job of encouraging and welcoming everybody. If you want to test yourself against the clock, this is the place to be.

    Race the Landing Series (begins May 3)

    We haven’t checked them out because it’s brand new this year but any race that ends with food and beer can’t be all be bad. You’ll be off the road and on the path Charles Towne Landing State Park. Races are on Thursday evenings. They’re promising a good time but do register before the race so they can order enough food.

    Hell Hole Swamp 10K Gator Run and Walk

    I look forward to the Hell Hole Swamp 10K every year, even when I’m not running. It’s run out in the booger woods in Jamestown, South Carolina this Saturday, May 5. Run 1.5 miles on a paved road. Turn right. Run 1.5 miles on a dirt road. Turn right. Run 1.5 miles on a dirt road. Be aware of the elevation change near the end of the dirt road - a railroad crossing. Run 1.5 miles on a paved road.

    Highlights of the Hell Hole Swamp Run

    • Mr. Roy Pipkin and his shotgun
    • Ice water on the course - with ice!
    • The Hell Hole Swamp Festival Parade
    • Race Director and Poet Laureate of Jamestown, Mr. Michael Lake
    • Gator Head Trophies

    gator-headNow, I could explain everything in the list above but you must experience these things to really appreciate them. In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I am privileged to drive the race champions in my truck in the Hell Hole Swamp Festival parade but I am sure I would pick this race as my race of the month, even if that were not so. (I’m thinking I might put some old school lawn chairs in the pack of the truck for them to ride in this year rather than having them sit on the wheel wells.)

    What’s you favorite race in May? You can find a complete list of races on our website.

    (The Charleston Running Club feeds our blog into their Facebook page and the opinions expressed here are only the opinions of two guys who love to run and inspire others to run. An endorsement here does not imply an endorsement by the Charleston Running Club, but it should.)

    Our Fall Marathon and Half-Marathon training kicks off soon and this year our marathon training includes registration for the Francis Marion Dirt Dash, a $59 value! Take a look at our training information.

  • Marine Corps Marathon Sells Out

    Posted on March 7th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    mcm-sell-outThe 37th Marine Corps Marathon sold out in a record two hours and forty-one minutes. That’s not a record for the MCM - that’s a record for any marathon. It was amazing to see the chatter on Facebook and Twitter about the race. If you didn’t make it in, you can still register via the charity partner program.

    Both Noah and I have been inspired by U.S. Marines to make fitness a part of our lives and both of us have run this race to honor those Marines. We’ve encouraged others who have been similarly inspired to do the same when they decide to take the step of training for a marathon. We’re very excited for our friends who have decided to run the race.

    If you’re looking for a training program, Charleston Runs comes highly recommended by our first time marathoners and our age group aces. We kick off our training for fall marathons on July 7.

  • PRs at Veterans Day Races

    Posted on November 15th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments

    Noah and Peyton at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime MuseumCongratulations to Coach Noah Moore, his son, Peyton, and to Chris Barnes on dropping their PRs (personal records) in 5K races last weekend. First up was Noah at the Run the Runway 5K at the airfield at Joint Base Charleston on Veterans Day. He dropped his PR to 22:59 - Noah said, “I was just kind of cruising along, enjoying running at the Air Force Base which is normally closed to civilains. As I came into the final stretch and saw the clock was ticking up towards 23:00, I realized I could set a new PR if picked it up.” If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll realize that Noah had run the Savannah Marathon the previous week. Read more about Noah’s race.

    At the Run for the Yorktown 5K on Saturday, the family tradition continued. Peyton Moore (8 years old) set a new PR for the 5K distance, placed third in 13 and under division, and finished his 100-mile Kids’ Ultra. Peyton started running because his dad started running and Noah does all he can to cultivate and encourage those healthy habits. You can read more about Coach Noah’s kids programs on his blog. In the future, he’ll write some more about kids’ programs and how you can encourage your children as well.

    Also, at the Run for the Yorktown, Chris Barnes shattered his 5K PR by running 18 flat, 1:10 better than his previous best. (5th overall, 1st in his age group) He seemed to be a little surprised at this but still felt great after the run. If you remember, he shattered his marathon PR by 20 minutes just two weeks previously. (3:38 - 3:18).

    As a coach, I don’t recommend racing - meaning an all out effort - within a month of a marathon. That’s a lot of stress on the body that’s still recovering from a 26 mile race. Notice that the PRs were a surprise to both athletes. They didn’t go into the race expecting to hit their best times. In fact, Noah was completely unaware about his speed until the final meters of the race. Last year, one of our other runners ran her best 5K and placed in her age group at the Race for the Cure. She was in the middle of training for the Kiawah Marathon. Again, even though she raced hard, she was surprised at how well she had done.

    Nailing the PR

    What did the runners have in common?

    Strong Runners - Each had trained consistently for at least three years and had completed multiple marathons. You don’t need to run marathons to be a strong runner but running longer miles helps a lot. If you’re training for a 5K race, you don’t run 5K each week and stop. Up the half-marathon, run beyond the distance for which you are training.

    Track Workouts - Each runner adopted a discipline of running track workouts consistently. Some athletes run track workouts as they can. Others don’t run them at all. The ones that are consistently at the top of the list are the ones who are consistently on the track, even when they know it’s going to be difficult. Ever run 5 x 2000m with minimal recovery between repeats in the middle of the summer? Noah and Chris did.

    Tempo Runs - Each of these three runners consistently do tempo runs where they combine speed and distance. They do them once each week and they push themselves. They try to run with others who won’t let them back off of the pace but at the same time they don’t run each other into the dirt.

    Disciplined - Each runner is disciplined in their approach to training. They work with a coach and at times they disagree with the coach and change what the coach gives them. As their coach, I think that’s a good thing because when they tell me what worked and what didn’t work, we both learn. Disciplined doesn’t imply rigidity but refers to what’s going on in your head. The best training plans are devised by the coach and the athlete.

  • New PRs for Charleston Runs Athletes!

    Posted on November 8th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments
    Cathy, Jennifer, Noah, & Annie proudly show off their finishers' medals.

    Cathy, Jennifer, Noah, & Annie proudly show off their finishers' medals.

    Marine Corps Marathon Report

    One of our athletes, Chris Barnes, garnered a new PR at the Marine Corps Marathon, dropping his time from 3:38 to 3:18 - that’s a 46 second/mile drop in pace. Al Cusick ran his race 13 minutes faster than his last marathon in 2009. A couple of the Marines that occasionally train with us completed their first marathons, both in under 4 hours.

    Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon Report

    In Savannah’s inaugural Rock n Roll Marathon, Ann Powell dropped her PR from 3:49 to 3:37, narrowly missing the Boston cut-off of 3:35. Cathy Rubinstein dropped her PR by 17 minutes, from 4:10 to 3:53. Ann, Cathy, and one other Charleston Runs athlete, Noah Moore, will be training for Disney’s Goofy Challenge, after a two week recovery.

    James Island Connector Run

    One of our newer athletes, Robert Morrison, has been running well lately after tackling weekly track workouts. He placed third in his age division at the James Island Connector Run and ran the fastest he has run in 25 years!

    Training for a Race?

    Contact Coach Greg ( for more information about how our athletes train.

  • The Final Days of the Taper

    Posted on October 27th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments
    mcm2010blogAs you enter the final days of the taper before a marathon, there are some things you should be doing to ensure that you make the most of race day.


    Go to bed as early as you can each evening. That’s tough when you’re a student or have little ones underfoot but don’t waste time with inane, non-productive stuff and you’ll be able to sleep earlier than you thought. The most important night of sleep for you will be Friday for a Sunday race. Saturday night you’ll be anxious and you’re getting up early on Sunday. You can actually bank good rest.


    Eat normally. Avoid things that you know give you gastric distress. If you are truly racing this thing - if you want to get under 4 hours, then your fueling will make a difference in your speed. If you are not adequately fueled, you can’t run fast because you’ll run off of your fat stores rather than stored glycogen. Forget about carbo-loading - It’s a very exact process that may (or may not) benefit elite runners. Instead, just increase your carb intake over the next four days. One extra serving of potatoes, rice, or other starch per meal over the next few days will keep your tank topped off. Also, by increasing your carb intake, you will retain more water - a bonus if hydration is an issue for you.

    Race Day

    Hopefully, you’ve been practicing race day nutrition. Most people need between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of prolonged exercise. That’s 120-240 calories. Your fueling should be consistent over the course of your race. One Gu (or other supplement) and one cup of sports drink is about 160 calories - that should be your minimum caloric intake per hour. If you’re going for speed, I recommend one cup of sports drink at 2 out every 3 water stops in addition to one Gu each hour.
  • Marathon Taper

    Posted on October 5th, 2011 CoachGreg 1 comment
    Put head on the pillow, even it takes you a bit of time to fall asleep.

    Put your head on the pillow, even it takes you a bit of time to fall asleep.

    The taper for a marathon usually is in the range of 14-21 days with the longest training run being done three weeks before the race. For most marathoners, especially first timers, the last 16-20 weeks have been particularly rigorous to say the least. Your body is probably pretty beat up, even if you’re feeling ok. The body needs an opportunity to heal as much as possible before your race.

    During the taper, mileage is reduced but intensity is maintained. You don’t want to start slogging through your runs. Instead, you want to get some zip back into your legs and run well.

    One place I do reduce the intensity is at the track. We move from sharpening speed to working on race pace. It’s important to start your race well and at the proper pace. Your body will course with adrenaline at the start and you don’t want to jack rabbit as you cross the start line. By practicing race pace on the track, you’ll get a great feel for what your pace should feel like and you have a chance to get that into your muscle memory. Hopefully, you’ve also thrown some race pace miles into your long runs as well.

    You will end up with a ton of energy during the final two weeks, especially the week before your race. The first week of the taper, you’ll be glad you’re not running as far and you’ll start to feel renewed. Do not remodel your kitchen, organize your attic, or pull out that row of azaleas you’ve been meaning to get to. The wife of one of my runners claims to hate the taper as her husband begins to bounce off the walls.

    The week before the race, I try to have my head hit the pillow 30 minutes earlier each successive night. So if you’re normally in bed by 11, on Sunday night, go to bed at 10.30. Your best night of rest should be two night before your race - Friday night for a Sunday race. You’ll get crappy rest the night before the race so the night before that is vitally important.

    If you’re an experienced marathoner, what’s the most important part of the taper for you? If this is your first marathon, what’s the one question that you have that remains unanswered?

  • Charleston Marathon and Half-Marathon Training

    Posted on September 5th, 2011 CoachGreg 2 comments

    Our group training for the Charleston Marathon and Half-Marathon begins soon. I recommend that those run the marathon start training with the group no later than September 17 and those training for the half begin training no later than October 22. As always, your training with Charleston Runs is always geared to you and is not a cookie cutter plan. Read more about our marathon training.

    I am very pleased to announce that Coach Noah Moore will be joining me in welcoming new runners to the Charleston Runs program. He is an accomplished runner and has done some pretty incredible runs including 50 miles in 12 hours and he also recently placed 2nd in a 50K race after getting lost (he would have won if he had stuck to the course). Did I mention he’s only been running for about 4 years and has lost around 100 pounds in that time frame? Read his blog.

  • Lordy, It’s Hot Out There!

    Posted on June 5th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments
    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    Being hot in the summertime isn’t news in Charleston. Heat and humidity go together here like butter and jam. Last week I was on the track in the evening. Being the smart guy I am, I was fully hydrated when I got to the track and I warmed up in the shade before I started my warm up laps. As I finished the warm up, I grabbed a swig of water and began.

    I was running 400’s. It’s one of my favorite repeats. If I’m doing them as a VO2 workout, I get gassed at about 250 meters but can hold on to my pace until the end of the repeat. Having not done these in awhile, I ran the first one for time and then tried to match the time in subsequent laps.

    Lap 2 was no problem and the first half of lap 3 wasn’t a problem but at about 250 meters, rather than feeling strung out, I began to feel ill. I knew the feeling well - I was pushing too hard and if I continued, I would end up on my hands and knees emptying what little was in my stomach. On this day, I backed off. I took off my watch, ran hard for 100 meters at a time and then recovered.

    In a nutshell, I wasn’t acclimated to that level of heat and humdity. Give me another week of exercising in this weather and I’ll be fine but last week, I wasn’t.

    Keys to Working Out in the Heat

    • Give yourself time to acclimate both seasonally and daily. Take your time warming up every day and give yourself at least two weeks to adapt to the onslaught of heat or humidity.
    • Hydrate. If your urine is any darker than lemon yellow before you start, you’re not hydrated enough to tackle the heat. Read my previous post on hydration.
    • Adjust your expectations. There’s a physiological phenomenon known as cardiac drift or cardiac creep. For the same effort level, your heart begins to beat faster due to the loss of blood volume caused by the decrease in body fluids due to sweating. In addition, your heart will beat faster so that more blood is circulated close to the skin to help keep you cool. When your heart is working harder, you can expect to slow down.
    • Seek to run by effort level. If you always run by the watch or GPS, you will get into trouble in the heat. When it’s not hot, learn what your effort levels feel like for each type of run. When it’s hot and your pace falters, make sure your effort level is consistent.

    What’s the one thing you do when working out in the heat?