I decided to sign up for the DC Road Runners Marathon Training Team a few months ago, when I still couldn’t fathom completing –let alone training for– a full marathon. Since then, summertime vacations and events took me away from D.C. on multiple occasions so I missed the first few weeks of training. But when I emailed the team two weeks ago in fear that I had failed my training program, the coaches reassured me that no one who even considers to complete a marathon is a failure and that they would help me to get back on track. Just the words I needed to hear!
So on Saturday, my first day with the team, we had a short pow wow in front of the Potomac Running Store and were introduced to our coaches. The group of 25-30 runners was divided based on pace, and I decided to run with the 10:00 minute milers. The head coach of my group was “Big Guy,” who’s been coaching runners for over 20 years. He reminded me of a cool uncle, except no uncle of mine runs marathons. The other coach was Carl, a very tall runner who has completed like 50 ULTRA MARATHONS. So suffice it to say, I was in good hands. Before, during, and after the run, both coaches shared a wealth of knowledge with us. I will definitely be catching up with them during this weekend’s 15 mile run (GULP!) to learn a bit more. Here are the 5 things I learned along my first run with DC Road Runners:
1. Run When you Can: I was telling Coach Carl that I could not find 5 times a week to run. He suggested that I just run whenever I can and not to stress over doing what other runners are doing. He also advised that I make running a part of my commute, so that it’s like killing two birds with one stone. Even if I were to divide my miles up in two runs in one day, miles are miles, he said.
2. Respect the Hills: Both Coach Carl and Big Guy advised that we slow our pace by 30 seconds at least for a hill. Otherwise, you will expend energy that you could have used later in the race. I’m known for sprinting hills and this is a big NO NO in these long runs like marathons. On Saturday I didn’t slow down for most of the hills we faced, and it definitely hurt me later on during the run! So…NOTED!
3. Lean into hills (in both directions) This was new to me. When running up hill, you want to lean into the hill. I mean, typically gravity will force you to do this anyway. But even on the way down, the coaches advised that we lean in going down, just as if you were on a ski slope. Leaning back is fighting gravity and will just wear your already tired self out
4. When eating on the run, pick gels and snacks that go down easy– According to Coach Carl, and any running expert, all you need is glucose in your body to keep your fat-burning engine going. This is why Gu is so popular, since it’s easy to swallow and doesn’t take much energy to digest and be absorbed by the body.
5. Run with a pack. This one I learned for myself. Everything about running long distance is better with a group. My pace improved in a big way, I had people to talk to (mostly listen to), and I was never bored. When I felt like walking after losing the leader pack in the last mile, I slowed up so I could run with another runner who pushed me through to the end. So as much as I can, I will be training with this or another group to push me (literally and figuratively) along the run.
Thanks to my coaches and I will see you all tomorrow!
Keep it moving!
Copyright August 2015