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My Half Marathon Lessons in Miami

My Half Marathon Training Lessons in Miami

From the World Spinning and Conditioning Conference in Miami Florida

Written by Jamie Cocco
UESCA Certified Running Coach

Life is Full

In Miami, life is full of moisture in the form of humidity, which I know all too well because I am sweating while sitting in the shade writing this on a lounge chair.  Miami is full of fun, nightlife, got my salsa dancing on, amazing food (Fratelli Milano, best Italian food ever!!), and this weekend knowledge at the World Spinning and Conditioning Conference.  Here are the lessons I learned about running and training for a Half Marathon while I was there.

Enjoy that fullness

All of the amazing master instructors from the Running, Spinning, Yoga, and Conditioning worlds have several things in common, but the one that stuck out the most is to enjoy life to the fullest.  What does that mean?  We are on a journey, whether that journey leads us to that Half Marathon we are training for in October, (hint: Happy Valley Half Marathon) a laugh filled easy run with friends, or that run to the store before it closes for the pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, because it is a Chunky Monkey kind of day.  Enjoy the process!!  You may ask me, “Jamie, what is the process?”  That process is the small steps you take today for race day.  Each run you take, the moment after you have completed your run, foam rolling session (Scott Samford from Peak Pilates) to recover, and game planning session for the next run. Take a moment to explore, to laugh, and to be in the moment.

Training for a Half Marathon is a Marathon

Improve gradually was one of the biggest tips I received from Jason Karp the founder of Revo2lution Running and author of 8 books, including the Running a Marathon for Dummies, and articles and interviews featured in Runners World, Runners Connect, and so many more.  His advice is to only increase by 1 miles/day/week max.  He goes further by explaining that every 3-4 weeks should include a recover week, where you decrease your total mileage by 1/3.

Comfort in Training

In my training, I want to push the pace every time.  We want to get the most out of every workout, right?  Most of your training should be in a comfortable zone with interchangeable levels of intensity sprinkled in.  If a person pushes the pace every time, they increase their chance of burnout and injury risk.  Jason suggests that we train in the 70-75% of our max range a majority of the time, so we build up our aerobic base.

Increase Distance or Intensity?

You can do both, but not at the same time.  Jason explains that we need to give our body one or the other variable to adapt to, because too much change at once can cause more harm then help.  If you had to choose one of the two, which should you do?  He tells us to focus on increasing distance, because half marathons and marathons are about distance, and setting yourself up for race day is essential.  This does not mean you don’t focus on intensity at all, because a good training program incorporates both to fuel the best adaptation, just not at the same time.  Hill sprints once a month or every other month is a great way to include higher intensity training to your routine.

No surprises

The purpose of training is to eliminate or lessen the opportunity for surprises that can derail your grove and get you away from your Zone, where everything flows.  Throughout your training, simulate race day.  Know what you are going to do to fuel ahead of time, how many water stations there are, what gels you are going to use, and practice.  Tip for gels:  Jason suggests that you don’t use gels too often ahead of time, because you want your body to adapt optimally without them, before using them.

What it all means

Training for a half marathon is a marathon, metaphorically.  You improve gradually with distance and integrate intensity changes all the way until taper.  Don’t worry, we will talk about the taper in a following article.  You prepare yourself mentally and physically for race day throughout your training by simulating the environment.  You fill your training predominantly with easy runs and all of your runs are part of the process to race day.  Take a moment throughout the process to be in the moment, right now, yes, this moment, and during each run.  Because, in the end it is all about enjoying the work you put in today, and the journey of getting to where you want to be.   Some days it is also about the Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.

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My Four Lessons of Running 

My Four Lessons of Running

Written by Jamie Cocco

The birds are chirping, the sun is beaming through the trees, and you pass by a cow who stares at you right before you have to convince yourself for the tenth time that there is light at the end of this running tunnel.  Running is not easy!  Whether you are a seasoned runner, have a couple half marathons under your water bottle belt, or have written down on a piece of paper somewhere, you can’t remember where, but are pretty sure it is in the kitchen, that you are going to complete your first 5K this year.  So where do you start, where should you be, or where are you going?

As a certified running coach who is also on a running journey, here are four lessons that I have learned so far:

Meet yourself where you are but push a little further each time.  Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or your middle to someone else’s 15-year journey.  We get stuck in the rut of seeing someone who inspires us or a friend who has been doing it for a while and try to match them.  I catch myself trying to push too far too fast to keep up with more experienced runners.  Running is a marathon, literally and metaphorically.  Some days you just have to drag yourself out of the house and do your best.  When you get to the place where your body pushes back, push a little bit further, and you will get so much out of it.

Gradually increase your distance and speed.  In the past as a runner, I have pushed myself to injury because I am too competitive with myself and progress.  If you are a beginner, go down the street to the nearest stop sign, farm, crossing, 10thmailbox, ding dong truck, or something close enough to be achievable, don’t stop, walking counts, and head back home.  The next time go 10-20% further.  Then the next time go 10-20% further.  That means if you go out for 10 minutes today, then go for 11 minutes on your next run.  It is the small steps in the right direction over a long period of time that make the difference.

Make every third week a recovery week, where you don’t increase distance or speed.  It took me awhile to understand that shifting my focus from always gaining on my run to flexibility, balance, and strength can improve my running.  Our muscles adapt faster then our connective tissue and injuries can occur when we don’t adequate recovery time.  So give your muscle a short vacation, not to Fiji with those fruity drinks and colorful umbrellas in them, more like a relaxed binge watching session of Stranger Things, where you maintain your distance and speed, focus on flexibility through stretching, one of the other focal points to holistic health, and do some myofascial work (foam rolling).

Before, sometimes during, and after running, hydrate.  I have been caught on both ends of the spectrum with dry mouth, wondering if the water station ahead is a mirage or not, and standing in line for a porta potty when I could be running.  It is important to drink a lot of fluids the night before a big run, the day of your every day run, during a long run, and always after a run.  Drink about 16 ounces of water in the 1-2 hour before you run and start to slow down your water consumption to 8 ounces during the final 30 minutes before your run, to avoid bathroom breaks.  Drinking 5-15 ounces for every 15-20 minutes of running is recommended by Runner’s World.  Click here to read more about hydrating from Runner’s World.  More likely than not, if you do a road race, there is going to be a beer waiting for you at the end.  Don’t worry.  I am not telling you to not drink the beer, just drink water slowly first.

Remember, you can do it!  Running is hard, so use these lessons I have larned to make it a little easier for you today.  Please comment and let us know what worked for you.  Thank you for reading my lessons and stories!

Jamie Cocco
UESCA Certified Running Coach (United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy)

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