Training For A First Race

If you have committed to start running in 2018, congratulations!

Hopefully one of the things that you have done to help you towards this goal is to commit to a race. If you haven’t been a runner up til now, working up towards a 5k, a 5 miler or even a 10k can be a daunting task. But let’s not fret, with some patience and perseverance you can absolutely get there. In fact, I try to instillΒ in most people that not only will you get there but you are going to enjoy it so much that you are going to want to do this again and again and maybe even on a bigger scale! With that said, I decided toΒ list some key points to keep in mind as you prepare for that first race. These are from personal experience and I am sure they will help in your prep. In fact after all of the races I have done, I still follow these when I start to increase the distance of my races to distances I have never run before!

Give yourself enough time to prep for your big day – race day!

 

  • Plan right.Set a race date far enough out into the future that allows you adequate time to prepare for. Its perfectly ok to be excited and eager to get to your first race date but if you are new to running, you want to give yourself ample time to prepare. 3 months is a reasonable time to prepare for a race like a 5k (3.1 miles) or something comparable. If you have chosen something a little longer adjust the time frame accordingly.
  • Start slow. If you are new to running, please do not try and run your scheduled raceΒ distance in the first month of training runs. For example, if your first race is a 5k, build up to the 3.1 miles slowly. Start in the first couple of weeks to run one mile without stopping. When that feels comfortable work up to 1.5 miles and so on and so on. Also, do not be afraid to walk in the beginning. There are some people that find it beneficial to take a short walk and continue running. This is your race and no one else’s! Your goal is to finish the race and feel good! Also, very important that most new runners overlook is stretching. Stretch 5-10 minutes before each of your runs as well as a few minutes after your runs.
  • Listen to your body. If your body isn’t accustomed to running, certain muscles will talk back to you at first. Don’t feel the need to run everyday. Allow your muscles to recover before going out for another run. At first, run every other day to allow your muscles to recuperate. Do not feel the need to run 7 days a week. For older runners, you may need two days off between runs. That’s perfectly fine because while you want to run your target distance on race day, we also don’t want you injured while training for it!
  • Keep it interesting. Many people shy away from running because they say it is boring. I cringe when I hear that because sometimes they give up on running before ever running a race! I firmly believe that if you stick with your running until you have conquered that first race, you may get addicted to it. So how do we keep it interesting? Listen to music while you run works for me. Also, don’t run the same routes every day because that can get boring. Sometimes I say that running is the best sight seeing in your neighborhood. Also running with a friend or a group can keep thinks interesting. If you are engaged in good conversation, those miles will pass by fast! Finally, pick a running application to track your runs. The stats on these things are amazing and they actually can add a sense of fun to your runs. Check out Strava (in my opinion the best) or Map My Fitness by Under Armour.
  • Change up your routes and become a sightseer in your area while you run!

  • Ignore social media accomplishments. Yes you are reading my blog and you might follow my social media and I am telling you to ignore me! But wait – don’t ignore me all together! Ignore the accomplishments of other runners. Don’t be fixated on the distances or times that other runners are running and posting on social media. As I mentioned before, this is your journey and no one else’s. Don’t get me wrong, I think its good to follow runners on social media to see their experiences, to see what works for them and to learn from their mistakes. But sometimes new runners, say “well I am never going to run that time” or “gosh, my times for a mile or so much slower than theirs”. Who cares!! All of these runners started out somewhere and now you are! Your progress is what is important so while its good to follow other runners, never ever compare yourself to anyone else!
  • Trust the process and see it thru to the end. As I mentioned before, so many folks start to run and then give it up. I cannot stress how wonderful it is to run that first race. And then to run the next one. And the next one after that and so on. The experience has so many emotions. The nervousness before the race. The comraderie with other runners. The struggle of the race itself. The sense of accomplishment when you finish. There may be even more emotions for you as well and this continues to happen with each race you run. But lets not get ahead of ourselves – just get thru the first race!

The year is just getting started and with so many races that 2018 has to offer, your possibilities are endless. Hope the above can help you get on track towards your first race. Drop me a line and let me know how it went. Oh and hope to see you are the finish line!

 

Stick with the process and maybe I’ll see you at the finish line!

 

 

 

Trying Out Virtual Racing

There isn’t a weekend that goes by where I don’t run. Of course some weekends, I even race. However with winter having NYC in its grip, I haven’t run a race since Thanksgiving and that is a long time for me! Last week, I once again looked at the New York Road Runners website hoping there was something sooner than February 4th that filled my needs. They have a half marathon coming up this weekend, The Fred Lebow Half Marathon however I don’t think I am half marathon ready yet.

The lack of races made me look at something that I had overlooked and flat out ignored on their website, their virtual racing series. Virtual racing is basically a fancy name for “do it at home” racing. This particular race was a 5K distance. The way it works is they give you a length of time to complete the distance. In this case, it was two whole weeks and at any time during those two weeks, you can run the 5k and track your run using the Strava Application, which is a free download. Once you have run your race, your time gets uploaded to the Strava site and NYRR then throws your time into a pool of all of the other runners running the virtual race and they rank you by time. No traveling on your part. You can do this in your neighborhood!

I took part in the virtual 5k and allow me to break down the pros and cons of this type of race and maybe it will help you decide whether this is something you want to part take in.

PROS:

  • There is no traveling involved and no schedule to adhere to. You don’t have to worry about commuting to the race or driving to it, or being stuck in traffic or even parking! Just strap on your shoes and go.
  • This particular race was free. Free is always good!
  • You can run this race wherever you want. No need to deal with a hilly course if you don’t want to. Just pick out a flat course and fire away!
  • No dealing with crowds

CONS:

  • For me, there is no adrenalin rush of the crowds, the spectators or even the starters gun. It was me hitting my watch and just saying “go!” lol
  • I don’t know that the timing on a Strava app can be that accurate. I enjoy the fully automatic time of most races.
  • It was a pro above, but for me its also a con – you can run this race wherever you want and get away with a much faster course for the distance than what you may usually run. I chose to run the 5k on a track for example. No hills at all. Is that cheating? There were no rules against that! I think by being allowed to do this, it discredits time, placing etc.

PERSONAL TAKE AWAY:

Look, I ran the race because I was desperate to run a race. I ran it on a 400 meter track. I don’t think I have ever run a 5k on a track (lol). This presented a flat course with no hills. Guess how I ran? Personal record for 5k by 8 seconds (22:31 to be exact). Strava app says I PR’d but do I count it? If you are looking for a good workout and looking to see how that workout compares to others, then this might be a good “race” to run. Another thing I wasn’t a fan of and this may be isolated to New York Road Runners, they actually tried to charge for a variation of this race. As this was their first virtual race of the year, they have an incentive, that if you ran 6 of these virtual races, then you automatically qualify for next year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. The catch however is that if you want these races to qualify for the half marathon, then each virtual race costs you $20. That’s 6 races at $20 each and ending up costing you $120 to qualify for a race that you will pay another $100 for. I’m sorry but that is just not for me. I have no problem paying a race fee when I get the full experience, the adrenalin, maybe a medal and a fully automatic timed race. But $20 for me to run in my neighborhood to be timed by a free app – I just can’t justify a fee for these.

Will I run these virtual races again? I don’t know. I guess it depends on how my race schedule looks at the time. I enjoy racing for the full experience. The commuting. The buildup before a race. Having to use the bathroom countless times before entering a crowded corral with thousands of other runners. Hearing the national anthem before the race, hearing the starting gun, then having all of these other runners push me along the course. Finally, nothing like coming down the home stretch of a race with spectators cheering you on. Thats the race day experience for me!

Anyways, I thought I would share my “virtual” experience with you. Have you run a virtual race? What was your take on it?

Well It Is Official..

After 4 years of entering the lottery and hearing nothing back, yesterday I got the message I had been waiting for. I finally got accepted to run the TCS New York City Marathon! Yes, I eventually got into this race because I ran 9 races last year and volunteered for one through the New York Road Runners “9+1” program. Yes, I had a hunch that I was running this race this coming November. But there is nothing in the world like absolute confirmation. I was very worried since I ran my 9th race for them last October and had not heard anything since then. I was sure that they would keep their word but hey, you never know right? I can put to rest any doubts on this. God willing I can stay healthy and complete this race. As a runner, its been something I have wanted to do my entire life! While I need the time to train for it, I also wish November was already here!

Before I start my training for the marathon, I do have plenty of races still to complete. the competitive side of me will want to go all out during these other races but I have to remember that this will be a long road of preparation for November. There will be so much planning and training that will go into this. I know I will need the assistance and patience of my family along the way to deal with long training runs and crazy thoughts as I go thru this. But I can’t wait to see how this all has turns out.

Is anyone else about to run their first full marathon this year? If so, is it NYC or is it another? For those who have run marathons before, do you remember your first? Any great stories? Do share in the comments below!

Have a great week everyone!!

Long Weekend Ahead!

Happy Friday too all my friends out in the blogosphere!

Hopefully for most of you, there is a long weekend in store that includes Monday off for Martin Luther King!

Coming into this Friday, I thought I would go back to my β€œFriday Free For All” posts that I had done last month. So here goes!

NYRR Virtual 5K

They gave me a bib for the virtual 5k but I think I will pass on wearing it!

 

Earlier this week, I decided to sign up for the NYRR Virtual 5k. I did it pretty much because it was free. There was an option to pay $20 if you wanted this particular virtual 5k rece to count towards qualification for next year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. I believe you needed to run 6 virtual races with NYRR in order to automatically qualify. However, I started to think about this – six virtual races at $20. That’s $120 in virtual races just to qualify for the Brooklyn Half and it would be for the 2019 Brookyln Half and knowing NYRR, I would likely still have to pay the race fees for that race which is listed as $90 for NYRR members. So over $200 just to run a half marathon? Ummm no thank you. I will just run this virtual 5k for free! Most likely I will get out and run my 5k on Sunday. It’s supposed to be cold again on Sunday so I’m not looking forward to a fast time. Let’s see how I rank on the virtual race leaderboards!

Stanner Games At The Armory NYC

I cannot tell you how nice the armory is!

Its no mystery but I love running. My love for running doesn’t stop only at road races, I actually love Track & Field as well! Next month, I am hoping to get to the Millrose Games on February 3rd, which will be held in Manhattan at the Armory Track & Field Center. But before we get to the Millrose Games, this Saturday I will be assisting with a very well attended high school meet which will also be held at the Armory. For folks outside of New York City, the Armory is a state of the art indoor track and field arena in Washington Heights New York City. It’s a great facility and it produces some great track meets and some even greater results. On Saturday the high school that I graduated from Archbishop Molloy high school, will be hosting its annual track and field meet, The Stanner Games. They lean on former track and field athletes from the school to work the meet and each year more and more track alumni come out to assist. The meet has become one of the biggest high school track meets in the North East. Last year Olympian Sydney Mcloughlin ran at the meet as a senior in high school and I had a chance to meet her and chat with her a bit. I don’t think any Olympians will be there this year but for me, the vibe of the meet and seeing these younger kids compete at a high level is inspiring for me! I remember as high school kid being nervous at these meets but then using that nervous energy to surprise myself and run strong. It will be a long day 8am to 6pm, but I enjoy it so much each year! So if anyone is at the Armory on Saturday, come down to where the relays are being checked in- I will be there all day!! πŸ™‚

Celebrating Martin Luther King

If you have a chance – read Bryan Stevenson’s book!

 

As I mentioned above, hopefully many of you will have off from work or school for Martin Luther King day! Earlier this week we had a speaker, Bryan Stevenson, come to my job to give a talk on social injustice and criminal justice. His 70 minute speech was very profound and resonated with me a lot. Mr. Stevenson is a lawyer whose work is centered around prisoners on death row. He’s worked with so many inmates over the years, including children. When he came to our job he didn’t come to talk about the issues with social injustice but rather how we can all help to fix them. He outlined 4 points. The first was we have to be proximate to where there is poverty and injustice. If we aren’t exposed to it then we can’t see the issues. Second, we have to learn to change the narratives that we are always given. Third we have to create hope for those that don’t have it. Lastly, we have to be willing to do uncomfortable things, like visit inmates or impoverished in struggling neighborhoods. I won’t go into too much detail here but I thought it was very fitting that a few days before MLK day, I was hearing Mr Stevenson kind of carry on the work of MLK right in front of me. Mr. Stevenson is the author of a New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, a Story of Justice & Redemption. If you have some down time this weekend and want a good read, pick this book up! And if you don’t, take some time on Monday to reflect on Martin Luther King!

Have a great weekend my friends!!

Teaming Up For A Cause!

First off, I just wanted yo start the day today by simply saying THANK YOU to all the folks who have chosen to follow this blog. Whether you have been with me from the beginning a few months or ago or recently joined. Today isn’t a milestone or anything for this blog. I just felt like recognizing all of you who read this because to be frank, interacting with you all here and on social media makes this all the worth while!

Having this blog and having my social media pages has allowed me to meet some great people in the running world. Almost every day, its ether new conversation with a runner I had never known before, a new story I learn about someone, a new product I try from a company or in today’s instance, a new charitable cause that I learn about. If you have read this blog then you very well know that thru my running I am not only looking to inspire people and increase awareness to running, but I am also looking to increase awareness to charitable causes. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I came across the app Charity Miles and how I decided to raise money for “She’s The First” via any of my runs that I complete whether it was a training run or a race. This time I am taking a bit more of an aggressive approach in helping a cause.

Many people always tell me that I have too much energy. My wife implores me to sit in the living room on the weekends because I am always running around doing things around the house instead of resting or spending time with the family. I can’t help it (lol). That’s how I am! I also know that many people sometimes just need that push or motivation just to “get things done”. Many times, my posts will reach people and give them that boost of energy or inspiration needed to put a nasty spell behind them or to just simply get with it and do something to make themselves better. I have learned over the past year or so, that my posts, or the posts of other similar minded people cannot help certain people who are more than just stuck in a rut. They are diagnosed with depression. The National Institute of Mental Health defines depression asΒ “a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working”. The mood is so severe that it can last long periods of time. One thing is to be diagnosed with it. Another is to rid yourself of it and that can be difficult for some.

Recently I was approached by the organization Depression2Extinction.orgΒ  (D2E) about becoming an ambassador for their cause. I found their organization appealing because of what their mission is. Rather than focus on the diagnosis, they would rather let members share their feelings and emotions and help those with depression cope in the co-creation of a unified world. As a relatively new nonprofit organization, they are turning to runners like me to help raise awareness for their cause and their organization. My aim with this blog is to help as many people create better versions of themselves. I know that depression is serious and I am in no way an expert in that field. However if i can create awareness to an organization such as D2E, then I can hopefully help some folks struggling with depression to cope a bit.

In the next week or so I will likely come forth with more details of how I will be helping D2E. I may be reaching out to the running community for help on my venture and I hope that many of you will help.

Runners are blessed with an ability to have strong will. Many people don’t like to run. Heck runners themselves probably have minor doubts when we go out for that first half mile or even full mile! But our minds push us to overcome. Lets not forget to help those around us who may need hope for whatever reason!

Keep running and keep helping my friends!

Listening To Your Body

Happy hump day my friends!

I am a firm believer that in order to reach any of your predetermined goals, you will have to push your body to do things that it never has before. Sometimes that means forcing it to do things that may not be natural or may even hurt a little. You all know the old saying, “No pain, no gain” right?

A good challenge for yourself whatever your level of running is, can always be a good thing. For those starting out it can be just running a mile without walking. For more advanced runners it could be breaking 2 hours for a half marathon and so on.

Since the beginning of 2018, I have pushed myself toΒ gradually increase my mileage as I prepare for the 2018 United NYC Half Marathon. My goal for that half marathon is to runΒ my personal best which would be under 1 hour and 51 minutes. A great day would be to break 1 hour and 50 minutes! In the midst of doing that, as many of you have read, it has been frigid in New York City. In my mind, I know what pace I will have to run at the half marathon in order to meet my goals. I also know that right now given the weather in New York City, it’s difficult for me to run that pace. Icy conditions, wind and more layers of clothes than I prefer, are just making that pace close to impossible.

As is the reaction for most people in cold air, my breathing in the cold weather is not optimal. Further, the turnover in my legs right now is just doesn’t happen as fast. There is truth in the fact that the cold air does drop the temperature in your legs slightly lower to the point where the blood does not circulate as fast and they tend to feel a lot more sluggish than in warmer temps. Maybe its that or maybe its mental or maybe it’s the tights I am wearing but I am definitely feeling slower in this cold during my training runs. I’ve come to accept that this will have a direct impact on my pace in this weather and to be honest, that is perfectly fine! For me, right now, there is no need to push the body and risk injury my pulling a muscle. A couple of weeks ago, I felt soreness in my calf when I tried to go full tilt. No need to risk a calf injury. Instead I can focus on increasing my distance which is what I have been doing.

My pace isn’t as fast in this cold – but its ok!

 

The alternative to listening to your body is listening to that bad alter ego of yours that tells you to sit it out and do nothing. We definitely do not want to listen to that! Take pride inΒ stepping up to the challenges or goals that you would like to achieve but listen to your body. The road to your goals is yours alone and if you have to alter the process a bit because your body is telling you something that is perfectly fine.

My wife recently took up running in the past 6 months. She has never been much of a runner as she is asthmatic. In doing some reading on her behalf I found that asthmatics can run, they obviously have to watch their breathing and try to avoid cold air. Her near term goals are to run a 10k and she is working towards this still. But I told her that there is no rush to get there. At times her breathing has been hampered in the cold. At times her knee has bothered her. All things to take seriously and to obviously listen to the body. Still that doesn’t mean its time to go back to the couch. She’s altered her running workouts to work on cardio at the gym on the elliptical and has focused on working her core and some strength training also. When your body talks back, it isn’t the end of the world. Just listen to it. Cooperate withΒ your bodyΒ by altering your workouts, maybe take an off day or two and your body will reward you in return!

There will be obstacles in every road no matter who you are or what level you are at. No one is immune to them. Β How you handle them will determine your outcome. So if your body talks back to you don’t get discouraged – it happens to all of us!

Stay positive and keep moving towards those goals!

Stay focused no matter what obstacles may come!

This Guy Is Getting Antsy

The older I get, the more I despise winters in New York City. The last few years my angst has been more about the snow than anything else. By all means you can say the same thing about this year as we have already had 5 instances of snow this winter and it has driven me nuts!

This year however, the winter has frustrated me because it seems like forever since I have run a race. I was supposed to run a race this past Saturday but it was cancelled due to the pretty bad snow storm that we got smacked with! Aside from the informal 5k that I ran on New Year’s day, which for me wasn’t an official race since there was no clock to keep track of it, I have not run a race since Thanksgiving. That’s the longest drought since I started racing over a year ago.

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The focus on race day is real!

 

For me, races are what keeps me going! The adrenalin that I get from races makes all of the runs worthwhile and it keeps me hungry. That is not to say that I am losing the desire to run – not at all! However for me, races bring out something more in me. My times are definitely reflective of that. There are times where I will do a training run and look at the pace I have run and compared the same distance to a race and wonder to myself, how did I ever run that much faster during a race? That’s what a race does. The other runners, the adrenalin, the fact that you are focused on nothing else at the moment but that race is what makes all the difference when compared to training runs.

These days also, my training has been impacted by severe cold and snow, I have been forced to do more treadmill runs which I really do not like to do. Side note, a friend recently sent me a link for some treadmill reviews that they did. I thought I would share it here with all of you in case treadmills are your thing! Back to my training runs, since I am doing more treadill runs and less races, I am becoming a very cranky runner lol. I need some racing in my life!

Winter has made me do more treadmill running than I would like to!

 

So I decided to try something different. Something that when I first saw it two weeks ago, I admitted to saying it was “stupid”. Earlier on Tuesday, I signed up for a “Virtual 5k” via the New York Road Runners club website.Β  A virtual 5k is a 5k race that you run on your own, at your time and leisure. You must measure your time and distance with one of their pre-approved apps. In the case of this particular race, they are using the Strava app to record your time. On the Strava website, they are tracking everyone that is doing the virtual 5k. The person with the fastest time is obviously the winner of the race. So this weekend, most likely on Sunday, I will wake up and go thru my regular prep for a race. I don’t know if I can mentally psyche myself up for a race when I am the only one running it in real time, but I guess you can say I am desperate at this point!! I will let you know how the “virtual race” goes!

Aside from the virtual race I am hoping to run a 4 miler on Super Bowl Sunday. When NYRR cancelled the Joe Kleinerman 10k this past Saturday, they offered me a free race or an automatic entry in this year’s “9+1”. I took the free race since I personally am looking to record times for my races. I opted for the NYRR Gridiron/4 Mile run but I haven’t been confirmed on whether they will accept my entry for that race. So the wait for my next official race continues. Never have I been this antsy for a race – it’s almost comical!

Is anyone out there running any races soon? If so which ones? I may hop on a plane just to go run one! (joking lol). While I wait for my next race, I will remember a favorite quote of mine that the great sprinter Jesse Owens once said. When I remember this, I am reminded that re-focusing on our workouts and training runs is not a bad thing!

A great quote by Jesse Owens!