Tag Archives: goal setting

5 Things Your Training Plan Needs

Training is tough.  Once you’ve picked that goal race getting there can be kind of crazy.  There are potential injuries, there’s bad weather to power through, there will be soreness and bad days.  A good training plan will help you overcome these challenges and toe the line on race day with all the tools you need to be successful.  Here are five elements your plan needs.

Miles.  You have to have an aerobic base to be successful at any racing distance.  The further and faster you want to go the more important these miles become.  While we don’t all have time to log the number professionals do, running 100+ miles per week, but you do have to push yourself.  Running those ‘easy’ miles makes you better at processing oxygen and increases mitochondria density.  That’s code for more energy production and better ability to use it.  More time on the road makes you mentally tougher while also building stronger muscles and making your stride more efficient.training plan

Speed Work.  To run fast you have to run fast.  Not only does running faster than race pace teach your body how to work hard, it gets more comfortable at those faster paces. There are big benefits to incorporating speed work into any training plan.  You’ll get stronger, faster and more efficient while having a little, or a lot, of fun with each workout.

Strength Training.  Being a stronger, more durable athlete means you’re going to be a better runner.  Work with your coach to develop a plan that will work for you.  Maybe a day with weights and a day of pure plyometrics will suit you best.  Squats and sit-ups after a run count and so does anything that challenges your body in a different way than running.  A solid strength plan will focus on muscle groups that help you run faster like hamstrings, glutes, lats and core.

A Recovery Team.  This team can be as simple as you and a foam roller or as complex as you’d like to make it.  Taking into account your nutrition, sleep and body care are incredibly important.  You might consider meeting with a nutritionist at the start of your plan and regularly throughout it.  A weekly trip to the massage therapist is never a bad idea to loosen up tired muscles and keep them that way.  Give yoga or pilates a try to keep muscles happy.  Your plan should include finding which methods work best for you and sticking with them.

Flexibility.  Potentially the most important element of a training plan is flexibility.  Bad weather, injuries and life can all happen at the worst moment.  That peak mileage week or prep race you’re running might not pan out the way you wanted it to.  That’s OK.  Being flexible with what’s on your weekly schedule will help you deal with an extra day off when your foot is sore or a shortened workout because it started thundering.  Maintaining flexibility means you are confident in the work you’re doing and don’t need to sweat a missed mile here or there.

Most important of all is keeping a record.  Whether it’s online with Strava or Garmin Connect, a spreadsheet or handy customized notebook, there’s nothing more valuable than looking back to see how far you’ve come.

Coach Meredith

5 Ways To Keep Your 2017 Fitness Resolution

There are all kind of new year’s resolutions out there.  Save more money, maintain a healthier diet and get more sleep are all wonderful goals for the next 365 days.  More than those, however, lots of people make fitness resolutions.  Things like shedding unwanted pounds, running that first 5k or getting serious about yoga practice are surprisingly common.  Unfortunately, just as quickly as those goals are set they often fall by the wayside.  Don’t let it happen to you!  Here are 5 tips for setting a fitness resolution you can stick with all year long:

Make a commitment.  A resolution is defined as “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc”.  A commitment is defined as “the act of committing, pledging or engaging oneself…a pledge or promise; obligation.”  The difference between two is clear.  Resolutions carry little emotional weight and are easy to move away from.  A commitment asks for you to invest, making it tougher to go off track without noticing.

Start small.  Running a marathon is a great way to get healthy.  It’s also a great way injure yourself and get frustrated.  Shedding 30 pounds is fantastic but it’s very hard, slow work.  No matter what your goal is, getting in over your head will lead to frustration and likely failure.  Setting small step wise goals like running 2 miles or loosing 1 pound a week that happen quickly keeps you feeling positive about your progress.  Lots of small goals also add up to some pretty big accomplishments!

Have a plan.  Since you’ve committed to becoming better in 2017, you will definitely need a plan.  Knowing how you’ll get where you want to go is half the battle when it comes to keeping your fitness resolution moving forward.  Take some time to figure out where your training will fit in your schedule, what you want to accomplish each week and what kind of support you’ll need.

Track your progress.  Write down what you do every single day.  Track the way you felt, what time it was, the weather, what you’d eaten before the workout along with what exercise you actually did.  It’s a great way to see you’re getting closer to your goal even after a bad day because that bad day is probably still an fitness resolutionimprovement over a few weeks ago.  You can never have too many reminders of how far you’ve come and how much further you can go.  A journal will also help you see how things like sleep, nutrition and mood can play a big role in how a workout goes.

Celebrate.  Make a celebration part of your plan.  Whether it’s registering for the race and drinking all the free beer afterwards or taking a vacation somewhere special for a recovery week, you’ll have earned it.  Yes, taking that fitness resolution to the point of success is a prize in its own right but…  After months of planning, hard work and unexpected challenges, a reward is a nice way to reinforce your success.

No matter what your goals for 2017 are Team ECRP wants you to rock them.  Use one or all of these tips to beat your 2017 fitness resolution and set the bar even higher in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Coach Meredith

3 Comeback Tips for a Bad Race

Having a bad race is pretty much the worst.  Yes, there are horrible things going on in the world but the moment you cross that finish line after a less than desired performance can get emotional.  With fall race season rapidly approaching it’s important to remember that bad races happen and don’t mean the end of your running career.  Look how gracious Meb was after a bad racenot-so-wonderful Olympic experience!  We’re not all that talented but we work hard for those PRs and it hurts to miss a goal.  Here are 3 ways to bounce back after a challenging race:

Vent:  Be angry.  Be sad.  Be mad.  Feel all of the feelings.  Let it all out so you can move forward.  It might take one beer or four days but failing to move on will impede your next training cycle by lowering your confidence and sucking up your motivation.

Evaluate:
Your pre-race ritual:  While you can’t go back and change anything that happened during the race, you can change what happens before.  Did you eat right the nights before?  Were you sleeping enough?  Was your taper adequate?  Did your travel plans give you time to adjust to the altitude and time difference or recover from flying?  Each of these factors can change your body’s ability to perform at its best.

The Weather:  There’s only so much anyone can do about weather.  Which is a whole lot of nothing.  High winds, freezing temperatures, loads of humidity and heat waves can all have a major impact on your performance.  Sometimes a bad race isn’t all your fault and remember, everyone else out there had to deal with it, too.

Your goal:  Was your goal really reasonable?  Aiming to shave 30 minutes off a marathon over one season is noble but probably not attainable.

Your training:  How did your training go?  Did it include enough speed work?  How about a long enough base phase?  Did you train for the terrain you would be racing on?  Take a good hard look at your journal while examining what workouts were good and which ones weren’t.  Most importantly, make sure you weren’t overtraining or pushing through an injury.

Move on:  At the end of the day, OK, it was a bad race.  Was it the worst race ever in the whole world?  Probably not.  Look at all the things you learned!  Focus on positive parts of the event, make sure you’re emotionally ready then sign up for another.

Coach Meredith

 

Durability: Mental Toughness

Mental toughness sounds cool, even useful, but what exactly does it mean?  A mentally strong athlete is dedicated, comfortable suffering and driven.  When the going gets tough they hunker down, embrace the suck and remember what they’re working for.  It’s someone who has the ability to cope with many demands in a consistently superior way to their opponents while remaining focused, confident and determined.  That’s the kind of athlete East Coast Run Project builds.

An invaluable asset in competition, mental toughness is more than just being dedicated.  Yes, believing in your goals is a huge part of succeeding butmental toughness ‘mind over matter’ isn’t just something people say for the sake of saying something.  It’s true.  Your brain is programmed to sell you short.  Ever feel like you can’t run one more step then accelerate when the finish line comes into view?  A big fan of the status quo who’s adverse to pain and suffering your brain will shut things down long before your muscles.  Here’s a study that explains it in detail.  In short, your mental state does not always reflect your physical state.  You are truly stronger than you think you are.

Part of mental toughness is about accessing everything you’ve got.  Most importantly it’s finding the strength to use your brain to beat, well, your brain.  After you’ve accepted that your body can do more than your mind wants to you can use it perform at a higher level.  By misleading cyclists about a competitor’s speed this study discovered they magically had the ability to perform at a 2% (!!!) higher ‘maximum’ speed.  They pedaled faster than their ‘100%’ because they thought they weren’t there yet.  Their brains were tricked into thinking it was status quo when it wasn’t.

The fastest way to trick our brains?  Positive self talk.  Instead of muttering ‘this sucks’ or ‘is it over yet?’ in the middle of a muscle shredding workout, smile.  Saying ‘I got this’ or ‘this workout feels good‘ can actually make it easier.  It’s been shown that a repeated positive statement can give you the extra push you need to hit a new PR, finish within the time limit or conquer that fear.  Step one in developing mental toughness is finding that phrase.  Find the words that will keep you moving forward when things get hard and learn to use them.

Coach Meredith

Note: Telling yourself you’re fine when you aren’t isn’t always a good idea.  Injury and over training happen when we ignore and push through pain signals from our bodies.  Part of being a mentally tough athlete is listening to your body, knowing the difference between good pain and bad and knowing what’s on the line if you push past it.

Durability: Physical Toughness

Entry fees are paid, a hotel is selected and celebratory champagne brunch is booked!  You are financially invested in and 100% dedicated to your athletic goal.  Now you have to prepare to fight for it.  You must become durable.  The term durability refers to one’s ability to “resist wear, decay; [to be] lasting, enduring.”  A durable athlete maintains a steadfast course towards their physical toughnessgoals with a combination of physical toughness and mental toughness.  Both are assets East Coast Run Project seeks to create while helping you become a better athlete.

Physical Toughness

Physical toughness is more than just fighting it out for a sixteen week training cycle while avoiding injuries and staying focused.  Another term for mind over matter, physical toughness means bearing down and making your way through uncomfortable situations without any thought of quitting.

Physical toughness is not just strength.  You can be plenty strong without having much toughness.  The ability to overcome challenging situations and still perform well is the trademark of a physically tough athlete.  They can adapt to difficult terrains, continue functioning after a misstep and recover quickly.  This kind of grit, however, does not develop overnight.

You have to be disciplined and dedicated.  You must acknowledge that you are capable of more than your mind leads you to believe.  Push yourself each day to give your body a new challenge: shorter rest, a workout outside, a run through the deep sand.  Each test will make your body physically tougher.  Ultimately, the key to being a physically tough athlete is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  And that takes practice.

Finally, physical toughness is not blind.  It has a soft side.  A tough athlete knows how important it is to listen to and respect your body because the last thing they want is to push it beyond its limits into over training or injury.  Challenge your body while being sure to give it the water, food and rest it needs.

East Coast Run Project is here to guide you on your journey to becoming a more dedicated, physically and mentally tougher athlete.  We can’t wait to have you visit again!

Coach Meredith