Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • Words Fitly Spoken

    Posted on May 13th, 2013 CoachGreg 2 comments

    watchI am a runner … and I haven’t felt that way in a very long time. Don’t take that wrong - I don’t define myself as a runner. I learned to let that definition go when I set aside training for my first marathon to have knee surgery.

    Saturday, I ran from the Old Village to the top of the Bridge and back. Running across the Cooper River Bridge is one of my favorite things to do. Hot, cold, windy, raining - I enjoy it. Saturday - not so much. I was frustrated with losing running fitness - over a year’s time. A lot of self-talk about being patient with the process, reminding myself that I’m starting over in many ways, that I want to avoid injury - none of it helped. I got back to the start and felt a bit defeated.

    Tonight, I pulled out my running clothes and fished in my bag for my GPS watch and realized I left it at home. I almost didn’t run because I didn’t have the stinkin’ watch with me. How stupid is that? (Contrary to what Coach Noah says, runs that are not recorded still count.)

    I bumped into a friend as I left to run and though I didn’t realize it at the time, our conversation was a huge encouragement to me. About half-way through my run, I arrived at Alhambra Hall and grabbed a drink of water. As I began running again I realized I felt pretty good. The run wasn’t effortless but I didn’t feel like I was struggling. I felt great! I felt like a runner. I texted my close friends at the end - I AM A RUNNER!

    Some takeaways from tonight’s run.

    • If you planned to run, run.
    • When the opportunity is there, spend a few minutes with someone that loves you - you never know what you’ll receive in return.
    • Every run counts.
    • Pay no heed to doubt, defeat, or discouragement.
    • Running does not define you - good or bad. Running shapes you.
  • When Should I Get New Shoes?

    Posted on June 18th, 2012 CoachGreg No comments

    shoesThis is one of the most common questions we’re asked and the answer is highly individual but there are some indicators of the need to purchase new shows.

    Most of the running literature advises a runner to get new shoes when they have between 300 and 500 miles on the shoes. That’s a pretty broad guideline. I have a friend who is putting on over 100 miles each week. That’s new shoes every 3-5 weeks. Right now, I’m running about 30 miles/week and that maxes me out at about 16 weeks. At $100 or more for a pair of shoes, I would need to redo my budget if I bought them more often which I will do as I prepare for a fall marathon.

    In addition to mileage, you can also look on the wear on your shoes. If they are worn smooth in areas, replace the shoes. However, the lack of wear on the sole is not an indication that your shoes don’t need to be replaced.

    The cushioning - the midsole - that is between the sole and the foot is what usually is worn out first. On many shoes, the midsole is made EVA , which has excellent stress and impact resistance properties. It is filled with thousands of air bubbles but as EVA polymer breaks down, the bubbles collapse and the shoe no longer has adequate cushioning. For me, I know it when my feet start to hurt consistently when running and it usually happens between 12 and 16 weeks of using the shoes.

    What Shoes Should You Buy?

    That’s a question I can’t answer for you. Every runner is different and should be professionally fitted for the proper shoes. One of the things I’ve heard folks say is, “I can only run in Nike’s” or “I can only run in an Asics Gel Foundation 8″. By sticking by those kinds of statements, you’ve not only limited yourself, but you could actually cause yourself some frustration or harm. Every shoe is built on a form called a “last” and as long as the last hasn’t changed from year to year, you can usually continue to buy the same model with virtually no issues with fit. Shoe companies do change their lasts and when they do, they don’t always change the name of the model shoe. A more important question is:

    Where Should You Buy Those Shoes?

    A specialty running store. Included in this would be triathlon outfitters and other shoe stores staffed by runners.

    The running store knows runners. The owners and employees have probably already put a few miles on their own shoes before they came to work. They understand training - they speak your language. They get visits from factory reps who provide information and education on their product lines. The store has a better quality selection than the big box sporting goods stores. Bottom line - They’re passionate about what they do and they want to share that passion. That’s why they’re in the business.

    Where Do You Shop?

    I shop at On the Run in Mt Pleasant. Irv Batten, the owner, has become a trusted friend and is full of information about running, coaching, and local running history and running lore.

    Coach Noah shops at TrySports in Mt Pleasant. They have a friendly, knowledgeable crew who are also passionate about their sport. Personally, I’m not sure if I would even be a runner if it wasn’t for Jim Kirwan, the owner, who always has encouraging word every time he sees me out running. That attitude has been passed on to his employees.

    We also have friends who are fans of The Foot Store. They seem to carry shoes that others are not carrying and they freely share information on running via their Facebook page.


  • 4500 Calories - Ready, Set, Go!

    Posted on November 23rd, 2011 CoachNoah No comments

    One more day till Turkey Day!Turkey Day

    I had always been so torn around this time of year. I was happy to get a chance to spend time with friends and family, but the temptations of snacking all day and overeating were almost overwhelming…

    Did you know, according to the Caloric Control Council, that the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving alone? This is over twice the calories needed for an average person. Most of this is from what I fear the most, snacking.

    Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with taking some time to enjoy foods that you normally avoid. In fact, I was encouraged to do this when I first started to work on my eating habits (kind of like taking a one hour vacation from the food diary).

    One thing you can do to offset the Thanksgiving Day eat fest is to start the day with a run, walk or workout. A ton of people will be doing some type of Turkey Day Run in the morning. This is an awesome way to start your day off on the right track.

    Running has helped me keep my weight in check and made holidays a lot less stressful for me and my family. I started with walking and then worked my way up to short runs and eventually to the point where I am currently.

    Have you been thinking about making a New Year’s resolution to start exercising? Why wait? Starting your resolution before the New Year is the best way to keep it after the New Year!

    The Couch to 5K Program is a great way to get started. We are starting a new C25K group on December 1. The group will meet at Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston at 6 pm on Thursday nights.

    If you’re already a runner, this is definitely not the program for you. But you may know people who see what you have accomplished and want to get started on a fitness program. This program is perfect for them. It’s program that begins with walking and running for short periods of time.

    Don’t wait to make the commitment after Thanksgiving, make it today.

    Sign up at Couch to 5K

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  • 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.

  • Book #2: Daniels’ Running Formula

    Posted on March 6th, 2011 CoachGreg 1 comment

    Note: I’ve set a goal of reading a book every two weeks during 2011. I’ll review the running related books on this website and others on another blog I maintain for those who work behind the scenes in an organization: Be A Finisher.

    daniels-running-formulaRunner’s World once named Jack Daniels the World’s Best Running Coach and after reading Daniels’ Running Formula - 2nd Edition, I understand why. In the book, I’ve recognized the debt that others owe Coach Daniels. The Road Runners Club of America teaches many of the same principles as does Coach Greg McMillan.

    Coach Daniels provides programs for those running 800 meter races all the way up to the marathon but more than half of the book explains the programs and the science behind them. Certainly, any runner could pick up the book and skip right to the training program that they think is right for them. And they could slog through it but if they don’t understand the program, it’s doing things by rote. If that’s you, save yourself some money and time and go download a training program somewhere on the web.

    I’m an exercise science geek and I appreciate all of the technical explanations of  the body’s adaptation to training stress and the progression of workouts. As a coach who is always looking to learn more from other coaches about how their athletes train, this is a valuable resource but I believe it can be a valuable resource for anybody who wants to understand their training or who wish to self-coach.

    5/5 stars.

  • The Power of Your Running Partners

    Posted on July 29th, 2009 CoachGreg 1 comment

    I think this short video represents the benefits of running partners and group runs.

  • Friday Track Workout

    Posted on April 24th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    I have one athlete training for  the Hell Hole Swamp 10K Gator Run and Walk on May 2. Last Friday we worked on speed - same thing today but we umped up the speed just a bit. We’re talking about literally a few seconds difference in split times between last week and this week. Last week, his 400m split time was 1.52. Today we started at 1.48. 4 seconds/lap = 16 seconds/mile = 1:40/10K. That’s a lot when you’re looking to better your PR by over 2 minutes.

    This workout was designed to further tax the athletes system and push his lactate threshold. We 3×400, 3×400, 2×1200 with a one-minute rest in between. He really blew his pace during the first 1200 and then got it together on the last 1200 and nailed his pace. Physically, he is ready for next week’s race. He’s now ready mentally as well, if he remembers what he learned today about how his body responds to the increased stress.

  • Cooper River Bridge Walk

    Posted on March 22nd, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    We’re stil working on getting all the way across the bridge in preparation for the Cooper River Bridge Run. The athlete has been from each side of the bridge to the center of the span and back. Going all the way across will not be a problem for her.

    Any challenge in front of us that seems formidable I believe can tackled just one step at a time, in small increments. And it helps to have a trusted person alongside you. You can’t just be told that you can do it. You must see it for yourself.

  • From the Mile to the 5K - Attacking Short Distance Runs

    Posted on March 19th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    To race well in a short distance run, your mind must push your body. Your body will start whining & crying and beg you to stop. Your body knows that it cannot run long distances at the pace you’ve set. The problem is that your body assumes you will try to keep this pace up for hours.

    Do a good warm up before the race. I try to run at least a 1/2 mile and usually run a mile before a 5K race. My bones and joints creak and protest if I try to jump right out there at speed if I don’t.

    The key is practicing at race pace. In races as short as a mile, you should not be able to get out more than a word or two at a time if asked a question. You should be struggling without losing form or focus. You must force yourself to maintain the hard pace. Ultra Marathoner and Navy Seal David Goggin says that when your mind is telling you that you are done, you probably have a 40% reserve still left.

    Maintaing pace is especially crucial in the 3rd quarter of a race. This is the place where it can all fall apart. You must dig even deeper and increase your intensity. When you finish the 3rd quarter, you’ll find that you’ve only maintained your pace - that you didn’t go any faster. Once you’ve told your body that it can maintain the pace and it does, it will be much easier mentally in the last quarter of the race.

    As you approach the finish, depending on the distance, you can once again reach deep and push yourself harder again to speed up just a bit. It only takes a bit of a surge to speed up and drop more seconds from your time.

    Doing the Boot Camp PFT?

    For those of you in Boot Camp that run a mile PFT, push yourselves through the first three laps, checking your pace on your watch. When you hit lap four, dig deeper and push to maintain your pace during that lap - you’ll be surprised at two things - 1. You were able to push harder and 2. You only maintained your pace. You didn’t speed up and you didn’t collapse. Keep on going hard into the 5th lap. When you hit lap six, give yourself a just a bit of a speed boost. You might even focus on somebody ahead of you and work hard to overtake them. You will definitely drop seconds off your time if you do.

  • Bridge Walk

    Posted on March 15th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    What a gorgeous day to walk the Cooper River Bridge. I was hoping to run it with one of my athletes but she did a nine mile run this morning so we walked. She did great. We went from the Charleston side, which she had never done before, to the cables for the South Tower. I think we’ll get all the way across before the Cooper River Bridge Run.