Run Long Run Strong Endurance Coaching, LLC

Holly C.

30 Nov

Run Long~Run Strong: How old are you?
Holly C: 27 for the 20th time, hahahahaha

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
HC: I’m in a relationship with a man who is very tolerant of my exercise schedule.  I started my 2nd career 3 years ago as a medical lab technician.

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
HC: I started running in my early 30s and realized that it satisfied my need for self-flagellation.

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
HC: I love the feeling I have after finishing run.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
HC: I love to write fiction. Someday, I will write the story of a feckless heroine who overcomes injuries and a myriad neuroses to complete a marathon.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
HC: The Twilight Run at Bluff Point park.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
HC: I would love to do a marathon in foreign country.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
HC: One year, during a Bluff Point race, a gnarly June bug flew into my mouth.  I kept my cool and carried on, but I could feel it crawling around in my throat.  Later in that same race, I saw a deer and got all excited and than fell on my face.

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
HC: Finishing my 1st half marathon.

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
HC: Running inspires certain bodily functions and the most inconvenient moments.  It’s best to sit on the toilet with a magazine for 20 minutes before a race.

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
HC: Make sure to consistently stretch and massage. And honor your body when an injury crops up.  Let your body heal when it needs to.

Ben N.

19 Nov

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Ben N: 46

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
BN: Daughter and 2 grandkids. Married to Laura.  She understands my mental state quite well!  I am a physician assistant and have been so for 24 years.

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
BN: I started running consistently 10 years ago after several of my patients convinced me to train for a half marathon. I have been addicted since.  

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
BN: Signing up for the next race!  Running with my dog. She is a pound rescue and she helps keep me motivated to get out there even when it is -10.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
BN: Hunting and anything to do with the grandchildren

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
BN: Teton Ragnar Ultra relay.  That was an amazing trail race with the most awe inspiring views! I would never change up my team of 4. Second would be Glendo WY trail 30K I ran with my dog. She was the true winner of the event. She set the K-9 course record even though it was the inaugural year. Third would be Lean Horse 50K in Custer SD.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
BN: American Heroes Ultra.  I signed up for the 100 miler for Sept 11, 2020.  I would like to do a destination marathon like the Great Wall event.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
BN: Being chased by a cow moose was not funny at the time!

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
BN: Winning my age for the Lean Horse 50K.  Introducing my love of running to me eldest brother, he is addicted to the run. 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
BN: Proper nutrition and hydration during ultra events. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
BN: Sometimes it is important to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the views.  Slow days are very important. Pay attention to nutrition and hydration.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just NEVER GIVE UP” – Dean Karnazes

Lesa D.

19 Nov

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Lesa D: I am 50 years old and will be 51 in November. I love the fall (not the shortened days tho) not only because it’s my birthday but the weather is chilly, the colors are spectacular and I love Thanksgiving! 

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
LD: I am twice married now to my soul mate. Or at least I like to think so. We have no children but a rescued Carolina Dog. Of course we guess that’s what she is because ‘someone said so.’ Her name is Mebbie after Meb!!!

I am a social worker at a VA hospital in NC and currently work with service members (mostly combat) that are transitioning off active duty into the VA Health Care system. I’m originally from W. PA just North of Pittsburgh.

Believe it or not, I totally use to hate running, I mean, LOATHE it!! But, I found that I can have fun and now that I found ultras – Mind Blown!! I can walk if I want to. 

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
LD: I started trying to run in the summer/fall of 2012 and failed miserably. I didn’t know what the crap I was doing and ended up getting horrible hip pain all ITB crap. I saw a group doing run/walk intervals one day and I thought for sure I could do the same. The winter of 2013 my husband signed me up for an all Ladies beginners running group and I learned to use run/walk. I actually was a group leader for the same group for 6 years. 

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
LD: Signing up for races. I think I would crap out if I didn’t have some form of race to motivate me. Plus, I like to travel for my races.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
LD: I read, but I need more hobbies. Do you have suggestions?? We keep talking about joining a group that helps build fences for dogs but we never do. I suck. 

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
LD: Oooo. This is a tough one. I love MCM but the Flying Pig Marathon is a close second. 

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
LD: I don’t have one. (coach’s note: Yet.)

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
LD: Meeting up with a friend, who I was supposed to train MCM with and didn’t. Out of 30K runners we bumped into each other at the porta-potties and we ran 23 miles together. 

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
LD: Shoot.. getting the DFL award at the Algonquin 50K race this past Feb. Like, I literally had two seconds to spare when I crossed the finish line. It shouldn’t really be my proudest race moment bc I spent way too long screwing around at aid stations but it was an EPIC finish! 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running
LD: Stretch, stretch and stretch and foam roll. Oh, and don’t buy the pretty shoes, but shoes that work for you. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
LD: Don’t compare yourself to other runners because if you do you will take the fun out of running for yourself. Bad runs happen and they are bound too, but you keep going. Forward, relentless, motion. 

Heart Rate Variability: A Valuable New Metric for Athletes

20 Sep

Have you ever wondered why you feel so exhausted the day after a stressful day at work or school?  Did you know that this stress can affect your workouts as well as your health?  What can you do to ensure that you can hit that hard workout tomorrow, despite having a tough day at work today?  Heart rate variability (HRV) could be the missing link to help you unlock your potential and have a healthier future.

What is HRV?

HRV is the measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. This variation is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is divided into two components, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism and the rest-and-digest response, respectively.

The ANS works regardless of our desires (hence the name autonomic) and regulates a variety of metabolics, including heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion.  A higher HRV means more variability between heart beats and indicates a healthy and rested system.  Conversely a lower HRV means less variability, meaning the body is overly stressed or may indicate a brewing illness.

Why is HRV important?

The clinical importance of HRV was first recognized in 1965 when doctors noted that fetal distress was preceded by changes in heartbeat intervals before any change occurred in heart rate itself. During the 1970s, researchers devised a number of simple bedside tests used to detect autonomic nerve damage in diabetic patients and this furthered our understanding of the connection between HRV and overall health.

The association of higher risk of death after a heart attack with reduced HRV was first shown by researchers in 1977, and in the late 1980s it was confirmed that HRV was a strong predictor of death after a myocardial infarction event.

So, what does this mean for us as athletes and how can we relate HRV to training and performance?  It’s actually quite straightforward.  If we are stressed, our HRV goes down and we are less able to perform a strong workout. If we are recovered and relaxed, our HRV goes up and our bodies are primed to hit the hard intervals or the weights.

How do we measure HRV?

There are several devices on the market (WHOOP, which I personally use, and Oura, for example) that measure and track HRV.  You can also measure HRV using a standard chest strap heart rate monitor and any number of apps available on your smart phone.

If using the chest strap and app method, the measurement needs to be taken upon waking, before eating or drinking anything. Measurements should be done 4-5 times a week in order to get a proper baseline and trend.

If using one of the devices available, your job is even simpler.  The device automatically reads your HRV during your sleep phase and records it to the device’s platform.

What controls HRV?

HRV responds to changes in the autonomic nervous system activity associated with stress. Studies show that HRV changes in response to stress induced by various methods.  Some contributing factors to changes in HRV are the amount and quality of sleep, healthy eating habits (or lack thereof), a stressful day at work or a relaxing day at the beach.

The ANS responds to all of these inputs by sending signals to either the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) or the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest), and HRV will reflect the most active system.

Myocardial infarctions (heart attack), diabetes mellitus and heart transplants are just a few health issues that can cause long-term changes to normal HRV.  Some drugs and supplements can cause short-term changes to normal HRV and should be taken into consideration when tracking HRV.

High HRV equates to proper recovery and effective management of stress. 

We can counteract the effects of life and training stress by getting plenty of sleep, eating a variety of high-quality foods and hydrating properly.  Avoiding alcohol and caffeine also seem to contribute better recovery and subsequently, higher HRV.

Long-term stress contributes to a persistent low HRV because the body is in constant fight-or-flight mode, and may indicate overtraining syndrome or simply a need to reduce overall lifestyle stress.

How can we use HRV to train effectively?

Tracking HRV is a great tool to motivate change. It may encourage a runner to get more sleep or drop that extra tempo workout if his or her HRV is unusually low.  Conversely, it may motivate a runner to work a little harder at those intervals or push a bit to get those last few miles of a long run if his or her HRV is high and the body is primed to take on extra strain.

While monitoring and training using HRV obviously can’t help us avoid stress, it could help us understand how to respond to stress in a healthier way by adding meditation or by aiming to get a little more rest.

The body doesn’t know miles, or hours at work, or a fight with our spouse.  It knows stress.  By tracking the body’s response to stress, we can create a training program that works to progress the runner without overdoing it.

Since HRV is a marker of all life’s little stressors, altering the training plan according to a higher or lower HRV is more appropriate than rigidly sticking to a plan that might ultimately be the runner’s undoing.  In this way we can potentially avoid overtraining syndrome, illnesses or injuries that often accompanies hard training without getting enough recovery.

Further Reading:

Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being

Heart Rate Variability Standards of Measurement, Physiological Interpretation, and Clinical Use

Stress and Heart Rate Variability: A Meta-Analysis and Review of the Literature

Natalie D.

09 Sep

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Natalie Dielman: 43

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
ND: I work at a library doing programming for adults.  

RLRS:When and why did you start running?
ND: About 10 years ago – I never understood why someone would run for fun and then one day I decided to try it. No idea why!  

RLRS:What keeps you motivated to train?
ND: RI love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a race (or long run).  I’ve never considered myself an athlete but I’m constantly amazed by what my body (and mind!) can do when running.

RLRS:What are your hobbies outside of running?
ND: I love to read, hang out with my family, and explore new places.

RLRS:What is your favorite race?
ND: I loved the Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon – great course, fun support, and a wonderful city.

RLRS:What is your bucket list event?
ND: Reykjavik Half Marathon!

RLRS:What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
ND: I’m a pro at posing for race pictures – even if I’m so over the race at that point, I can get a big smile on my face for the picture.  At the Dublin race, mile 12 or so, I started my race picture pose and the photographer said something like “smiling! Very impressed!”, lol.

RLRS:What is your proudest race moment?
ND: Finishing my first half marathon (Disney) was surreal and amazing.  

RLRS:What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
ND: That it is so mental!  I really have to make sure when I think I’m ready to stop that it’s not my mind talking (and it usually is my mind telling me I’m tired, not my body).

RLRS:What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
ND: You can do it – really!  And the more you run, the better you get.  

Lisa B.

08 Jul

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Lisa Brown: 51

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
LB: I have two kids, ages 20 and 25. Right now, I’m in the middle of a move to Ohio where my guy is starting a job at the University of Cincinnati. I’ve been a librarian for about 20ish years, the last 14 in public schools. Not sure what I’ll do in Ohio, so stay tuned!

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
LB: I was originally a road runner and triathlete when I started. It’s funny because when I finished my first 5K, someone mentioned that I should do a marathon. I remember shooting that idea down – and now I have two successful 50Ks under my belt. Oops. A couple years ago, I went totally to trails. Never looking back!

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
LB: My weight! Seriously, I love to eat and running makes me happy and calms my anxiety. The woods are my happy place.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
LB: I’ve rediscovered a love of cooking – see what I’m saying? I like to read, hike, bike, travel, pretty much anything outdoors.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
LB: I don’t think I’ve had one yet!

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
LB: I really wanted to do Twisted Branch this year, but nagging injuries have plagued me. It’s still on my list of “I really want to do this race!” 

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
LB: I was delirious during the end of the Dam Yeti 50K last year. About a mile or so from the finish, there was a dead raccoon who’d been struck by a car on the grass next to the trail. Out loud, I said, “guess you should’ve run faster.” Unfortunately it was out loud, so the other runners around me heard it, and cracked up. Lightened the moment and we still talk about it!

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
LB: It’s a tie – my first race six months after back surgery, and crossing the finish line at Algonquin 50K – my first successful race of that distance. 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
LB: I’m not sure. I research everything to death (hello, librarian), so I like to think I’m sorta well-informed. 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
LB: Go your own way. Be open to advice and criticism, but realize that you’re the one who has to be disciplined enough to get out the door. Kick your own ass and be proud!

Susan G.

05 Jul

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Susan Gilstrap: 44

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
SG: Married 12 years to a wonderful, supportive husband, Ken. I have two fur babies, 1) 5yr old purebred American Bulldog who is a meathead and loveable and 2) Winnie a 10 year old Corgi mix who just wants to lick you to death! We live in Dallas, TX. I work in advertising in downtown Dallas as a Sr. Art Director. 

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
SG: I started many years ago, around 2006ish and just wanted to get into shape.

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
SG: Honestly, I’ve lost motivation throughout the years especially after my marathon in 2015. I’ve started again and it’s the feeling I get after waking up in the morning (and I’m NOT a morning person) and knowing throughout the day that I got my workout done! Plus, I love seeing the green after I’ve completed a workout in TrainingPeaks!! hahaha

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
SG: I love horses and use that passion to create handmade cards/art.

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
SG: Not sure I have a favorite. Depends on where I’m at with my training. A good 5k is always great for motivation because the distance doesn’t kill you and you get a medal!

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
SG: Ooh, maybe the Honolulu Marathon and a 50 miler. (although the 50M seems almost impossible!!)

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
SG: During my marathon in 2015, we did it in Eugene, OR where my husband is from. About mile 15, both my sisters-in-law and their kids were driving up and down the street in their grandma’s old Caddy screaming out the window! Then, some of them jumped on course with me!! Mile 15 was when things were still funny! (not at mile 19 though!)

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
SG: Crossing that marathon finish line!!!

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
SG: Don’t stop believing in yourself!!

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
SG: Take it workout by workout. Try not to get overwhelmed by your goal race. “My race, my pace.” To try and not compare to others paces.

Cynthia T.

08 Jun

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Cynthia Thompson: 50 years old

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
CT: Two sons, ages 31 and 20.  Oldest is married and has given me three adorable grandchildren (5 and 2-year old boys, 6-month old girl).  Single. Work as a purchasing manager in the chemical industry.

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
CT: I started running at the young age of 46 when I realized I was playing in two different tennis leagues but still felt like I was out of shape – and I quickly learned that I was even more out of shape than I believed! I put myself through an unplanned C25K and . . . kinda got addicted!

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
CT: I love the friendships I have developed running – having so many amazing women to train with keeps me going even when I am having a rough time.  I also love a challenge – once I have committed to a race, I hate the idea of letting myself down!

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
CT: Wait, there are things to do outside of running? OK, OK.  I still play in a Summer tennis league, I try to get on the water as often as I can with my kayak, I live the dream as Mimi to my grandkids whenever I can . . . and does binging Netflix crime series count as a hobby?

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
CT: I try to never run the same race twice – I like the adventure of trying new and different things!  I have to say that Big Turtle 50 miler is my favorite to date – but maybe that is because I am so very proud of the accomplishment of it.  It was a beautiful course too in the Daniel Boone National Forest in KY.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
CT: There are too many races to run! I love the idea of the Volcanic 50 which circumnavigates Mt. St. Helen’s – I so vividly recall watching that volcano erupt, and the idea of running it fascinates me.

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
CT: Hmmmm . . . I was struggling with IT band pain during the Carmel (IN) Marathon, and there was an aid worker with pain spray – but I couldn’t pull my compression pants up far enough for her to be able to spray the outside of my knee!  So  . . . yeah, I kinda pulled my pants down right on the side of the course (yes I was wearing moisture wicking undies – no mooning my fellow runners)! Sadly, it didn’t even help much and I ended up finishing the half instead of the full.  But hey, it was quite the moment!

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
CT: Crossing every finish line for a distance PR has been a proud moment – but I definitely became the most emotional when I finished my first full marathon (Little Rock).  I will always be thankful to my friend Cari for running the entire 26.2 with me, motivating me, and even singing Disney tunes to me LOL.

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
CT: I wish I knew that every runner has insecurities, fast or slow is a matter of perception, and your only competition is yourself! (Sorry, I know that’s more than one.)

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
CT: Join a run club and run with friends!  I have formed some of the most amazing, supportive friendships through running, and the training is so much nicer when you do it together!

Laurie C.

04 Jun

Run Long ~ Run Strong: How old are you?
Laurie Chick: 53 (54 in July)

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
LC: I have been married to my husband Jack for nearly 21 years.  I have two daughters, Jessica (from a previous marriage) and Kailey.  Being that my husband has some years on me, I have been fortunate to have shared the life and love of 5 Granddaughters (from his grown children).  I left the workforce to stay home and raise my younger daughter who is now 15.  It was then I snuck in some schooling and received a degree as a Certified Surgical Technologist.  I worked in the OR for a period of time before returning to more familiar territory when I took a Human Resource job doing payroll for the State of CT.  

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
LC: I started running with a friend of mine when I was about 40.  For many years, we met in the early morning hours several days a week and pretty much stuck to a three-mile route.  From there I added more distance and eventually started signing up for various runs. 

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
LC: I stay motivated by my desire to stay active and to improve as a runner.  Creating challenges for myself provides further motivation.  This year I signed up for the New England 10 Miler Series. It is this type of challenge that leaves me no choice but to get out and run.  Having Coach Faith to be accountable to is a huge motivator. Above all, it’s the quiet time spent during a run and the way I feel afterwards that keeps me lacing up my sneakers.

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
LC: I love photography, kayaking, taking day trips – whether it be to Maine or Vermont, NYC, or a ferry ride to a nearby island.  I enjoy sitting on the beach in Kennebunkport and hope to do a lot more traveling to faraway places in the years ahead. 

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
LC: I’ve enjoyed all the races I have taken part in, but I think the race I had the most fun running was the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving in 2017.  It was the first time I had run with my sister and we had an awesome time. I especially loved the energy along the route.  It felt great going home afterwards and putting a Thanksgiving meal on the table.

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
LC: My bucket list event isn’t just one event.  I have a crazy idea of wanting to run a race in each State across America.  Not sure how realistic, but I haven’t given up on it yet!  A more realistic bucket list item is to run another half marathon – a Disney Half, perhaps Disneyland Paris. 

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
LC: Can’t think of anything at the moment.

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
LC: My proudest race moment was running the Falmouth Road Race with a very special friend.  We ran for the benefit of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and in honor of her young daughter who was battling cancer at the time.  It’s a very special memory for me.  I’m happy to add that after 7 years, I’ve made it through the selection process and will be returning to run again this August.

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started running?
LC: The value of working with a great coach.

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
LC: Whatever your goals, your journey as a runner isn’t always going to progress the way you would have hoped. Each day will bring new challenges and along with your accomplishments may come possible setbacks.  Never give up on your dreams, but don’t be afraid to explore a different path if the one you are on isn’t working for you.  Success as a runner looks very different for each of us.

Tips for the time-crunched athlete

28 May

Time.  It’s the one thing we all have the same amount of, and it’s the one thing we all wish we had more of.  How is it that some people seem to get more done than others?  Why do some of us struggle to get half of our activities done only to run out of daylight?  The answer came to me when I started taking a course on life coaching.

As a running coach, I am put in a particularly sticky situation.  My athletes look to me for guidance and motivation as they set their sights on a particular goal.  When they join my team, I have them fill out an athlete profile where they answer questions regarding their goals, their lifestyles, and the time they have to devote to training.  It helps me to devise a plan that fits into their lives, but it also shows me where their running goals and their time to train might not be in alignment, especially when you add in strength training, yoga, or other complimentary activities.

Prioritizing is often thought of as a dirty word.  It usually means we have to assign importance to the myriad of things we have to deal with on a daily basis – and this is a problem for us because we think everything is important.  But the truth is there are some aspects of our lives that must get top billing, and that means that something has to be at the bottom of the list and might need to get booted if we run out of hours at the end of the day.

I fell into the trap of overbooking myself while training for the Hartford Marathon in 2015.  I was working full-time, going to college, and aiming for a marathon PR which meant speed training, long runs, and strength training sessions.  I chugged along, running six days a week and cramming in 3-4 days of strength training.  Unfortunately, I forgot about an important aspect of training – I’d neglected to plan in rest and recovery time.  As a result, I arrived at the start line fatigued, and my marathon suffered.

So, what is important to a runner and how do we figure out what we need to be a strong, healthy athlete while juggling family, work, and other obligations?  To get some perspective, I asked a couple of my friends to share some of their advice on what to do and when to do it.   

Professional runner Mike Wardian says, “I am a runner, so my focus is running.  I do some cross training by cycling and/or swimming, but mostly I run.”  He continues on to say that while he believes that running should be a priority, he also understands that a runner can benefit by weight training to create a more rounded, healthier athlete.  “My weight training sessions have become non-negotiable, and it really comes [down] to when I need to get up,” Mike claims. “I try to be as efficient as possible.”  He calls some of what he does “invisible training,” meaning he will run or bike to work and get some miles in that way, or he would run or walk with the stroller when his kids were small. By heeding Mike’s advice, it’s easy to see that by incorporating some of life’s daily chores into our workouts, we can alleviate some of the time-crunching that inevitably occurs in a busy lifestyle.

“You’re asking a good and important question, one that all runners must come to grips with,” says Amby Burfoot, former editor of Runner’s Worldmagazine and winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.  He continues, “The answer depends on several things, but mainly, what is your current primary goal?”  Amby feels that if your short-term goal is to attain a PB at an upcoming race, then your focus needs to shift to your running workouts.  However, he agrees with Mike on strength training, and advises that “regular strength training is important for its anti-aging effects; we all lose strength as we age.”

Okay, so we all agree that runners need to run, and that to be well-rounded we need to strength train.  Prioritizing – that dirty word again – needs to be implemented so we can be efficient in our training and still have time to play with our kids, sleep, and enjoy time with our spouses.  A great way to do this is to set up a plan, so we can evaluate all the activities that need to happen and in what order they need to happen in.  We can also look to see how we can combine certain activities (as Mike mentioned above) and maximize our training time.

Amby also offers some different ideas on getting that training in. “Don’t overlook steady-paced walking; it’s a great workout,” he says.  So, how about a quick power walk at lunch?  Or during your child’s baseball practice?  Or maybe a family hike on the weekend?  Mike thinks “having the family involved is so cool,” and feels that is an important way to combine training and family activities. “Everything is possible,” Mike says. He has two boys, a dog, a full-time job as an international ship broker, is a coach, and a full-time professional athlete, so finding ways to train that have a minimal impact on family and work obligations is key for him.

Taking Mike’s and Amby’s advice into consideration, what could I have done differently in my marathon training that might have resulted in a better outcome?  First, I could have dropped my running down to 5 days a week to give me a little more recovery time.  Second, since I was targeting a PR, I could have dropped one or two strength training sessions a week to focus more on running.  Finally, if I had made a plan for all my projected activities before I registered for the marathon, I may have realized that I didn’t have the ability to properly train for that goal, given everything else I had going on.

Having a job and a family and being an athlete can be a struggle, but if we plan it right it can be extremely rewarding.  Sometimes we may need to forego a run or a strength training session, but this will not make or break our race and shouldn’t be worried about. The bottom line is that running and working out should be enjoyed and not be a source of stress, but it can be a difficult journey if we try to wing it.  If you’re not a planner, it’s time to become one so that you won’t have to give up your sport, miss your child’s soccer games, or anger your spouse for not making them a priority.  In the end you’ll have a happier family and you’ll be a healthier (and less stressed-out) athlete – and you just might find that you end up with more free time than you thought you had.

Mike Wardian is an ultrarunner and marathoner.  He has a long list of accomplishments to his name, including holding the record for the World Marathon Challenge and wins at the US 50K, 50M and 100K championships. He lives with his family in Arlington, VA.

Amby Burfoot is a marathoner who grew up under the coaching of legendary runner John J. Kelley. In addition to his win at the 1968 Boston Marathon, he holds the record for the most consecutive completions of the Manchester Road Race at 57 times and is the former editor of Runner’s WorldMagazine.  Amby lives with his wife in Mystic, CT.