Training from the mile to the marathon.
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • First Marathon - The Marine Corps Marathon

    Posted on November 11th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    The following is written by Charleston Runs athlete, Melissa Field. She decided over the summer that she would like to train with a group and a coach. Melissa and I met to chat about her experiences and goals. She is a triathlete who does pretty well for herself at the sprint distance but this was her first marathon.

    I continue to be in awe of marathoning moms.
    ~Coach Greg

    The First Marathon

    mall20400 hours, the alarm rings after some tossing and turning, listening to the pitter-patter of rain outside the bedroom window. I was relieved to get out of bed and get a move on the day. Nervous as all get out, still wondering at every twinge in my knee if I would even make it one single mile down the road that day. Almost cried and/or yelled any time someone said “good luck!”. But now it was finally, time to get ready to go! My brother got up, too, and made us coffee while we got dressed and packed up, we made our breakfasts (peanut butter on w/w bread), took ibuprofen and debated whether to walk to the metro or drive. We finally decided to drive in case it was pouring rain when we got back.
    Runners were already gathering at the metro, all discussing the weather, what fare to get on their tickets and nervously checking their drop bags. We got on a train right away and all switched at the Rosslyn station, where there were suddenly not dozens of runners, but hundreds! Despite that, we were able to get on the next train and it was just a short ride to the Pentagon station, where we were all headed. Many runners were waiting in the warmth of the station rather than heading out into the dark, but I wanted to head Coach Greg’s advice to hit the port-o-potties early and often, so we headed straight for the escalators. On the way out, I spotted fellow Charleston Runs athlete Rob and chatted with him briefly - great to see one familiar face among so many strangers that morning! Wishing each other luck, we headed on toward the huge parking lots at the Pentagon. No lines at all at the port-o-potties, which was great.
    We still had about 30 minutes before we would need to head to the starting area, so we sat around, drank some water and people watched for a while. It was breezy, cloudy and maybe 58 degrees or so, pretty perfect running weather, we thought. When the sun was up, two Osprey airplanes flew over - really exciting! We took one more bathroom break, dropped our bags and headed to the start area. It was packed out there and all of the corrals were already full. My husband walked a little further so he could start with the 4:30 group, and I started somewhere near the 5:30 group. It seemed like no time at all before the Howitzer went off and a little while later, people started shuffling forward. I forgot to check the clock when I crossed the start line, but it was probably 20 minutes after the start, I think.

    After the Howitzer

    Finally running! Wow, what a feeling - so many spectators, so much to look at! The first 3 or 4 miles started with a few hills, heading out toward the river. I used my 3:1 run/walk ratio right from the beginning. That took some discipline, but I kept reminding myself that I was in it to finish - and I didn’t want to risk ANYTHING to improve my time a few minutes.

    Right at the start, the whole road was littered with sweatshirts, gloves, hats and headbands - I saw some nice looking stuff dropped, but resisted the urge to gather anything along the run. I ran right past a Lululemon headband in hot pink!! Mile 5 was up to a bridge to cross the river, and here I took my first fuel because there was a water stop on the bridge. My plan was to fuel every 2nd water stop, which I had worked out would be about every 5 miles or so. I took gatorade at the in-between water stops. Somewhere right after the water stop I looked down at my watch and it was deader than a doornail! Arg! How did that happen on a 100% charge?? I tried all my tricks to try and get it going before just saying - who cares about the time anyway?

    I should mention that the water stops were always fun. Tons of Marines and then always other volunteers helping out, either high school kids, boy scouts, a church, young, old, everything. The Marines were fantastic overall, besides being out at the water stops. They were often standing at strategic places shouting out encouraging words, or funny sarcastic statements, I loved that. I can’t remember a single thing I heard, but I do remember laughing and enjoying it a lot.

    So far, so good, on to the loop up to the reservoir and a pretty steep hill up. I loved the Marine Corps band at the switchback playing their hymn! Up the big hill, through some nice neighborhoods and up to the reservoir, then back down. Here was where I decided to walk downhill, the first and only unscheduled walk break. I think this next part was Georgetown, which was very busy and crowded, and the wind really started to kick up a bit here. The spectators were bundled up, but temps were perfect for us. Long section under an underpass, then up the other side toward mile 10-ish and the Lincoln Memorial, if I remember correctly. Somewhere there was the food stop with oranges, which I avoided like the plague. Didn’t feel like being any stickier than I already was. I kept thinking I would use some water at a water stop to wash my hands but didn’t remember to do that the entire time.

    I watched for my family at 10, because I thought they would be there, but later found out that they didn’t make it to that spot and headed straight over to 15/16. Oh well, it gave me something to look forward to the whole time, hoping that I would see a familiar face in the crowd. The next part was down to Haynes Point, around the golf course. I knew from my coach had told me that this part would be lonelier and it could be windy - both proved true. Some nice things here were the handwritten signs - probably over 100 of them, so there was always something to read. Another were the photos, names and ages of fallen in action soldiers - chilling - followed by a line of 20 some American flags held high. Whew! So though this section was not as “fun” as the others, I loved it, too.

    Halfway Through!

    Melissa on the National Mall

    Melissa on the National Mall

    The halfway point was when I began to feel my hip a bit. I knew it probably came from favoring that bum knee of mine, but it also reminded me that … hey… I don’t feel a thing from that knee! Good news, so I think it was here at the halfway point that I finally started to think, my knee is fine today, and it’s not going to stop me!

    After this, we ran through lots of pretty streets with trees, tons of people, and I saw my family for the first time. Awesome! I had somehow managed to miss my son, older daughter and brother, but saw my sister-in-law, nephew and younger daughter. I stopped to say hi, just awesome to see familiar faces.

    On to the National Mall

    The next big section that I remember was the mall. It was very long, very crowded, bands, music, people, kids giving high-fives, just all kinds of funny things. People handing out plastic spoons of vaseline? No thanks ha ha! Onward - I think I was a little foggy here, though I felt fine, just because I got confused about what mile we were on. The next big piece I remember was the bridge of “beat the bridge” fame. There were a few shouts of joy and relief that we had made it - but I found this part to be quite a let-down. So few spectators (we were pretty spoiled by then) and just a long, grey interstate with nothing much to look at. It seemed like everyone was walking here, and I found that to be demotivating. I really felt my hip here, my quads, my feet - just kind of wanted it all to be over. I knew it was only 1 hour until the finish, though, and that thought drove me on.

    Tears at the Finish

    When I finally got off of that bridge and started to head down into Crystal City, it was a relief! I loved Crystal City! Tons of people, great music, people handing out donuts, lots of fun stuff! Loved this part! I think we must have passed mile 24 here, and all that comes after that is back to the Pentagon and over the same road where we started. The long route around the Pentagon is tough - everyone was tired, I was pooped with a capital P, but feeling mentally good, so I didn’t let the long line of runners out ahead of me get me down. I knew I would make it by then. I saw my family again between 25 and 26, but didn’t even stop - I was so close to finishing! By the time I got to that hill up to the monument, by george, I ran up it all the way. My finish line pictures look terrible, but I felt great! It was a wonderful feeling to pass that line and get lots of high fives from all the Marines there! They have the finish area down to a science, I got my medal and salute (I cried), got my picture taken, got my post-race windbreaker and food, and the next thing you know, it was all over. Whew! Chip time was 5:27:33, or 7,314 out of 10,005 women. Woo-hoo! I couldn’t be happier.

    Sore quads, calves and mostly my left hip, but basically I had an excellent race!  I never regretted not bringing my ipod, there was never a dull moment, really. Now less than a week out from the marathon, and my knee has not felt this solid and good in ages. I plan to start running tomorrow, on the 1 week anniversary of my very first marathon.

    Thank you Greg! I could not have managed without your help!

  • Couch to 5K Program

    Posted on October 20th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    mo-cpc-2012We have two Couch to 5K programs beginning soon. The Couch to 5K program is designed for the beginning runner and the person who is returning to the sport. Our groups meet once each week for a period of instruction and a workout. We usually meet for about one hour.

    Friday Morning Training Group

    • 8 am, Fridays
    • Danny Jones Center, North Charleston
    • Begins Friday, October 26
    • For more information and to register, contact Coach Greg (CoachGreg@CharlestonRuns.com).

    Thursday Evening Training Group

    • 6 pm, Thursdays
    • Colonial Lake, Charleston
    • Begins, Thursday, December 6
    • Visit our Couch to 5K page for more information and to register

    Marathon and Half-Marathon Training

    If you are running the Charleston Marathon or Half-marathon, now is the perfect time to join our training group.

  • Race of the Month: Francis Marion Dirt Dash

    Posted on September 2nd, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    Here at Charleston Runs, we are in the middle of our marathon training season. Our first runner ran the Oregon Wine Country Half-Marathon on September 1 and we’ll finish with the Charleston Marathon in January. We put in a lot of miles. On the road.

    This Saturday, we will all be out at the Francis Marion Dirt Dash, three races that take place on logging roads in the Francis Marion National Forest. All of our marathoners are running the Half-Marathon but we also have runners in the 5K and 12K. Most of our runners will use this as an opportunity to practice their race day routine - clothes, pre-race routine, shoes, fuel, hydration - and will use it as an opportunity to measure their fitness. Others are a bit beat up and need a break from the routine. They’ll still practice their race day routine but will run this more as a training run.

    The race director, Chad Haffa, started the race in 2010. He’s a local firefighter who had been recently introduced to running in the woods. Out of that love for running on trails, he created the Francis Marion Dirt Dash and later, Eagle Endurance, a small race company that puts on races in the booger woods.

    Chad’s enthusiasm and passion for the sport is infectious. I am connected to a lot of races and he is the only race director who continually solicits feedback from runners and adjusts things accordingly. He’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t know it all and that the sport, along with the expectations of runners, are continually evolving.

    Race Registration

    Online registration for the race is closed but you can still register at packet pick-up at TrySports (1903 Hwy 17, Mt Pleasant) on Thursday, Sept 6, noon-7 pm, and Friday, Sept. 7, noon-6 pm.

    Runner Up - Carolina Children’s Charity 8000

    Our runner up this month is the Carolina Children’s Charity 8000 Meter run. The CCC 8000 Meter benefits MUSC Children’s Hospital. They have great volunteers, most of who have children who have benefited from the services of the hospital. We like it because of the story they tell and that it’s an 8K in Hanahan - there aren’t a lot of races in Hanahan and there’s not a lot of 8K’s.

    Tell us about your favorite races.

    (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.)

  • 10 Mile Loop on Saturday

    Posted on June 20th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    We’re running a 10-mile loop around Mt. Pleasant this Saturday, June 23. We’ll gather at St. Andrew’s Church at 5:45 am for a 6 am start. Anybody is welcome to join us. Over the last six weeks, paces ranged from 7:30 min/mile to over 12 min/mile. If you want to run a shorter distance, simply do an out and back - there’s no shortcuts back to the start for this route.

    Don’t forget that our Marathon and Half-Marathon Training Group kicks off on July 7. Click on the link above for more information. You can get started today if you need to and you can jump into the group at any time.



    Find more Run in Mt Pleasant, SC

  • 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.

    Experience

    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.

    Mileage

    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.

    Time

    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.

    Motivation

    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.

  • Cooper River Bridge Run Training

    Posted on January 9th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments
    Charleston Runs athletes on the Cooper River Bridge.

    Charleston Runs athletes on the Cooper River Bridge.

    We are pleased to announce that we will offer a Bridge Run Training Program for the Cooper River Bridge Run. Our goal is to gradually improve your fitness level whether this is your first or 31st Bridge Run. The only requirement for success is a commitment to stick with the training program.

    Find out more about the program.

    (The Charleston Running Club is kind enough to use the feed from our blog on their Facebook page. The offer of training comes from Coach Greg Shore and Coach Noah Moore, not from the club and the appearance of this post on their page is not an endorsement by the club.)

  • Nice Calves

    Posted on December 21st, 2011 CoachNoah No comments

    Nice Calves

    Nice Calves

    Flexing your calf muscles looks nice, but tight calves can cause a lot of problems for runners.

    Injuries such as Planter Fasciitis, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints), Achilles Tendonitis, Morton’s Neuroma, and Iliotibial Band Syndrome are all linked to tight calves.

    Much like other areas of your body, there are a lot of stretches that can be used to loosen up your calves.  Don’t be afraid to try a few different stretches to find out what works best for you and what fits into your routine.

    Last week at our Couch to 5K group workout I added a second calf stretch to our post workout routine.

    calf-stretch2

    Push Up Calf Stretch

    • Get into a push-up position
    • Put one foot on top of the other and put pressure on the bottom foot
    • You will feel the stretch in the back of your lower leg
    • Hold the stretch for about 20 ~ 30 seconds then switch to the other foot

    As always, there should never be any bouncing while you stretch.

    calf-stretching

    Cute Calf

    It might not be as cute as a calf stretching, but adding this stretch to your routine may help reduce the chances of a running injury.

    Coach Noah

  • Run the Wrong Way

    Posted on December 16th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments
    linebackerThis is the third in our series of Dynamic Warm-Ups. We’ve been teaching just a few each week at our Couch to 5K program. Part 1 - Dynamic Warm Ups. Part 2 - Zombie Warm Ups.

    So far in our routine we’ve awakened and activated the hip flexor, warmed up the quadriceps by putting them through a full range of motion, activated the small stabilizing muscles in the legs, and warmed up the hamstring and glutes. Backwards running and backpedaling bring power movements in to play while also getting the feet moving.

    Backward Run

    • Push with front leg
    • Reach with rear leg
    • Exagerate the arm motion and really throw them in front of you

    The backwards run fully activates the hamstring and calf muscles with the hard push off to propel your body to the rear.

    Backpedal

    This is the same motion that a pass defender uses in football as he moves backwards from the line of scrimmage.

    • Feet under hips
    • Hips under shoulders
    • Quick push off to the rear

    Fully activates quadriceps.

    By the time you get done with the eight exercises we’ve introduced so far, your heart rate should be elevated and except on the coldest days, you’ll probably be sweating a bit.

  • Kiss My Glute, Just Don’t Pull It!

    Posted on December 12th, 2011 CoachNoah No comments

    That soreness in your backside may not be your boss.  It could be that your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius are just tight (oh the jokes just keep coming)…pain-in-the-glute

    One of the places you may feel tightness and a loss of flexibility after you run is in your glutes.   This may lead to back pain and stiffness, especially when you get up from your office chair or first thing in the morning as you get out of bed.

    There are a lot of benefits to stretching each day and having an after run stretching routine.

    • Increased mobility
    • Reduced stiffness
    • Reduced injuries

    I shared a few simple stretches last week with our Couch to 5K group and added one more to the routine:

    Sitting Glute Stretchglute-stretch

    Sit on the ground with both legs stretched out.  Cross your left leg over your right leg while raising your left knee to your chest.  Gently pull your knee closer to your chest.  You will feel the stretch in your glutes at this point.  You can also slightly rotate your upper body (while holding your knee) to the right for a deeper stretch.  Hold for 15-20 seconds and switch legs.

    As always, there should never be any bouncing while you stretch.

    Add this to your routine and tell stiffness and injuries to kiss your gluteus maximus (and medius)!

    Coach Noah

  • Zombie Warm Up

    Posted on December 11th, 2011 CoachGreg 2 comments

    zombie-walkLast week was our first in a series of Dynamic Warm Ups for our Couch to 5K athletes. I call the next two exercises our Zombie warm up because both exercises are done with straight legs. (Why don’t zombies bend their legs?)

    Frankenstein Walk

    • Keep the legs straight and hands out front
    • Snap the leg quickly forward, driving the foot towards the hands

    Keep in mind that the goal is to feel the stretch in the hamstring, not to touch your hands. Your hands are simply a target. If you bend your leg in order to touch your hands, you won’t feel the stretch. Move forward for 10 yards.

    Straight Leg Deadlift Walk

    • Balance on one leg and keep it straight
    • Lift the other leg to the rear. As the leg goes back, the torso tilts forward
    • Straight line from ear to shoulder to hip to knee to ankle.
    • Keep the shoulders and hips parallel to the ground
    • Swing the rear leg forward and take a step and balance again
    • Do five lifts on each leg

    You should feel a stretch in the glutes and hamstring of the leg on which you are balanced.

    Next week: Lateral Moves