Blame it on the rain? I wish.

Life in the fast lane.

shoes

Blame it on the rain? I wish.

 

I don’t race you. I race me.

Oh, wait. Let’s be honest. If you come up out of nowhere and try to pass me at the finish line – the race is on. Just ask my best running buddy. She will tell you that its all fun and games until that moment. A character flaw on my part? Perhaps. But 99% of the miles, it is just between me and whatever crazy goal I have gotten into my head about how fast (or slow, as the case may be) I would like to finish any given race.

Sometime last summer, I was coaxed into running the Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon by my buddy, Julie of Run. Walk. REPEAT. Julie is an ambassador for the race and she assured me that there it was a flat and fun course and the race wasn’t until April so I had plenty of time to prepare. She had me at flat. You see, that’s when the “PR POSSIBLE” (that’s personal record, not public relations) fireworks went off in my head! I registered immediately.

Now, here’s the thing. When one decides that they would like to run a race for a personal record, one should train with that PR in mind. Am I right? Or let me rephrase that. One should train. Period.

corral sign

For half the race, these were my people, but alas…

It’s not like I didn’t train. I just didn’t train enough – far enough, fast enough, enough enough. Something about it being our busiest season at work. Something about taking a 10 day european vacation with my daughter. Something about it being cold. Or rainy. Or the barometric pressure was too high or too low or something. Or something about something. You get the picture.

Long story short. I ran the race. It was indeed a flat and fun course. But all those “somethings” came back to taunt and haunt me while I was out there on that flat and fun course. I would love to blame my virtual collapse at mile 8.5 on the humidity that day (in my defense, it was brutal), but I have no something to blame but myself when I crossed that finish line almost 3 minutes behind my PR rather than 3 minutes ahead of it.

finish

This picture tells it all.                    It was rough.

Yet, like every good little runner does, I’ve gotten up. Brushed off my Mizuno Wave’s. Put on my favorite “fast” shorts.  And asked Jeff Galloway for some advice on how to run a little faster next time I decide that a PR is in my future…which, let’s be honest, is probably the next race I register for because I am, after all, my own best competitor.

Here’s what Jeff has to say about running faster!

FAST AND FUN—It’s a state of mind

Why is running faster a good thing?  Short and fast segments not only help you run faster in races.  If you run a few faster segments each week you can improve your running efficiency while receiving a better attitude boost.

How long should you be running before you add some faster running in?  After 2-3 months of regular running some short accelerations can be added with minimal risk of aches and pains.

Is it possible that running fast can actually be fun?  Yes.  The secret is be creative and limit the length of the fast segment at first.

How often should you run fast? Playful speed can be done once or twice a week.

mickey

One of the bright spots on the course! She was an awesome chEARleader!

Four Faster, Fun Workouts
1. Speed play that you can do on your own. ACCELERATE AND GLIDE.  After an easy 10 minute warmup of slow running, pick up the pace for 10 steps, then coast off the momentum for 10-20 steps.  Don’t be obsessed about the number of steps as this is just a guideline.  Don’t sprint–be playful.  Gradually pick up the pace, and then glide back down to a jog.  Repeat 2-3 times on your first attempt, and take a one minute walk break.  Each week you could increase the number of accelerations as you wish, with a recommended walk break of 1-2 minutes between each.

1. Speed play you can do with one friend—CHASE game.  After an easy 5 minute jog together, one person takes the lead.  As the leader changes the pace (speeding up, then slowing down, speeding up) the follower tries to stay close but not pass.  After 3-5 minutes, take a 1-2 minute walk break and repeat with the other runner leading.  Repeat as many times as desired.

2. Speed play you can do with two friends—SURPRISE game. Following the same format as game 1, the follower tries to surprise the leader by passing gently but quickly.  While there should be no sprinting, it is OK to run fast for 10-30 steps to pass.

3. A speed play workout you can do with three or more friends— FOLLOW the LEADER RUNNING.  The group is running single file for a minute or two at an easy pace.  Then, the last runner, passes all of the other runners and takes the lead for a minute or two.  The current leader sets the pace, and takes a walk break.  When the running resumes, the last runner starts to move to the front.  Each runner gets to take the lead at least once in this game.

*I’m honored to be a part of the Galloway Blogger program. They provide tips for bloggers like me to share. Go check out the Jeff Galloway Official Website and find out more about the man and program that got me running and keeps me going!

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When did this happen?

There are people who know you better than you know yourself. You know those people, right? A best friend, a longtime co-worker, a spouse or other family member. You know who your people are.

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These nuts are a few of “my people.”

I have just begun to realize that my daughters have become two of “my people.” I knew it was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. And I didn’t think they would realize it was happening before I did.

I’m one of those people to my mom. Or at least I think I am. I remember riding in the car with her on the way to drivers ed. It was before school, early enough for her to drive me on her way to work which was a rarity. Maybe that’s why it sticks in my memory or maybe it was the conversation. My mom is a saint and she never gives herself enough credit for being the amazingly strong person that she is.

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Me & my Mom at Disneyland. My love of Disney comes honestly.

So, in this conversation that dark morning, my mom said something like, “I should have done…” It was an expression of regret about something. I don’t remember what that something was, I just remember that she thought she “should have” done something else. And, in the wisdom of a snotty nosed 14 year-old, I remember almost yelling at her, “Shoulda, woulda, coulda, whatever! Just do it!” Seriously, I was so smart wasn’t I? But somehow I knew that my mom was capable of much more than she thought she was.

Though I was a complete jerk at the time, it is that conversation that has helped me as an adult to understand my mom better than she understands herself. It took me a long time to realize that I had insight to her that she didn’t even have of herself – that she should be more forgiving of herself, for one thing. I wish I’d realized this before I hit adulthood because I’m pretty sure that would have made me a better person – at least a better daughter.

Fast forward to my own girls. There is nothing like traveling together to help you get to know someone better. My oldest and I have had the privilege of doing that a lot lately. And I realize that she knows a lot about me – the good, bad and ugly. And she usually smiles about it when she points it out. For instance, she knows what will set off my tactile defensiveness and she seems to be completely intrigued by this crazy part of me. She knows that I have a bizarre fascination with how things work and why people do what they do.

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One of my favorites. Warms a momma’s heart.

And my younger daughter, well she shows serious signs of getting me, too. Just yesterday, she turned to someone and said she “needed a Dr. Pepper” and that she realizes why I “need” one when I do and she said it in such a way that it warmed my heart.  She understands why I go nuts when someone does a bad parking job. And this girl understands exactly how to make me run faster at the end of a race.

And yes, they both know what makes me use curse words – which is probably not the reasons you may be thinking. They know that I could easily cry at the drop of a hat and I’m pretty sure they know why I usually don’t succumb to the urge to do so. They are beginning to get me better than I get myself – and most days I need that kind of understanding from people in my life. Who doesn’t? 

When did this happen? I’ll admit it is a bit sobering because it means that they are growing up. And I guess that it also means that we will figure out this whole “adulting” thing together.  I thought they would have to drag me kicking and screaming to this season of life, yet I think I’m ok with it. So, let’s do this…but let’s take our time, shall we?

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Deciding who wins.

Our family has always held travel – everywhere from other parts of our state, to developing countries, to the “great sites” of the world – as one of our core values. Travel may seem like an elitist thing to value. And maybe it is. We don’t take for granted that we have the resources and opportunity to travel that11885325_10153195094177149_4024024933767817571_n not everyone has. Yet, seeing how the rest of the world lives, meeting people from around the globe, and debunking the “ugly American” stereotype (or at least we try our best to do so!) are ways that we can make a difference in the world.  Again, I hear it. There is some sense of pretentiousness to it.

Our hope is that through travel, our daughters will grow to have a different view of the world than they would otherwise. Though the world seems small the moment a pop up on our cell phones notifies us of explosions in Brussels just minutes after they happen, the reality is we inhabit a world full of variety, disparity and vastness. It may sound trite, but it’s a big world and it is difficult to understand this big world and its people if we stay in our cocoon and never spread our wings to explore it.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to conversations about the risk of international travel. I’ve had friends who have asked if we want our daughter who is studying abroad to hurry up and come home or if our younger daughter is still making her trip to Europe next week. I’ve been asked if I am worried. Yes, I am. But not so much for my daughters’ safety. I’m worried about us. All of us. I’m worried that we will give in to fear and in so doing, we decide who and what wins. And it isn’t us.

Here’s the deal. Yesterday morning, just as news of the second explosion in Brussels came in, I was boarding a flight to Paris on my way back to the US after visiting our daughter who is studying abroad. At the same time I was boarding my flight, I learned that my husband was involved in a road rage incident that involved a man waving a gun at him and at someone in another car –  less than a mile from our home in our little suburban neighborhood. Terror can strike anywhere and in many forms.

Both of these incidents are incongruent with our view of how the world should be. These events fly in the face of all that we hope to teach our girls through travel.  It seems we have been confronted with the need to make an unwelcomed choice.  And so, though we are not risk takers, we have made the decision to do our best to not live in fear and to not let terror – at home or abroad – have the final say. I don’t know. Maybe we are foolish, but something tells me this is about more than our personal safety.

Of course, we all have to make our own decisions about where we have to draw our own boundaries and we must respect and encourage one another in the process. But make no mistake about it – we get to decide who wins. My hope is that we can all be bold enough to help each other be brave in the midst of all that world might hurl at us. I feel like we owe it to our children and to the world.

I’ll have cows with lunch.

I'll have cows with my wine.

I’ll have cows with my wine.

Have you had one of those moments, I don’t know what they call it, but I know it must have a technical name. That moment when something or someone reminds you so distinctly of something or someone else that you can almost feel it – like deep inside your bones, straight to your core, mind-blowing FEEL IT?

It is more than this “gift” that my youngest born and I share. I think that thing is called “olfactory memory.” When you smell something and it reminds you of something else. My daughter smells a certain smell and immediately thinks of specific places in Walt Disney World. I smell bacon and I’m a 3 year-old transported to my grandmothers black and white kitchen, standing behind my mom, hugging her legs and tracing the yellow patterns in the red carpet with my eyes. Yes, my grandmother was an avant-garde decorator in her day.

But this feeling is more than that. And it happened to me one day in the middle of buying a lunch of cheap sushi in The Fresh Market store.  It was a pretty tumultuous time at work – which also means in my life, because the two are inextricably bound together in this crazy incestuous (not the illegal kind) by the grace of God kind of way. You can understand more about it here. I was feeling overwhelmed at that moment, angry, hurt – and maybe add a little more anger in there for good measure.

And somewhere between the deli cheese and the gourmet chocolates it happened. I wheeled my mini-shopping cart (you know the kind, that is designed to pick up a couple of items, but usually gets so overcome by all the pretty items that are just clamoring to go home with you that things start spilling over the sides and into someone else’s space?) so, yes, that kind of shopping cart. I wheeled it straight into the shins of an elderly woman who was minding her own business nonchalantly passing through the wine section. Of course this led to the explosion of my cart and my overpriced box of crackers ($6.99 for crackers??) flew onto the floor.  I thought I was going to lose my cool right there next to the gruyere.  Just as my eyes went from the floor to this woman’s face I did, in fact, lose my cool. Something about her was my grandmother. Something about her. Something about her made my eyes immediately fill with tears. She smiled at me and then she moved on. Something about her.

Don't hate me because I had a pony.

Don’t hate me because I had a pony.

Trying to collect myself, I jerked my cart to the right and then ran straight into them. The cows. The most beautiful cows on the label of a wine bottle. Would you believe me if I told you that something about them, those cows on a wine bottle, reminded me of my grandfather. You see, he was a cattle rancher. So many of my days growing up were spent at the feet of my grandfather, rustling through fields feeding cows, delivering calves, counting them over and over to make sure not one was lost. Loving these big bovines like they were puppy dogs – calling them by name, rubbing their ears, feeling their lick on my face (that part is a little different than the feeling of a puppy tongue, I’ll admit). And  when I see cows like the ones on that bottle, I’m pretty sure that my grandfather isn’t far away.

It was at that point, that more than loosing my cool, I was overwhelmed by this strange sense – this incredible feeling of embrace. That kind of feeling you have when you are a small child and you’ve been riding for hours trapped in a car with your older brothers poking and prodding and wrestling for the valuable backseat real estate until you consider the merits of opening the window and hurling yourself out, but just in the nick of time you pull up into the driveway of the place that is, without a doubt – even though you don’t live there – the place that is home. And you jump out of the car, your box of Lemon Heads spilling out on the concrete, and you run to the front door but before you get there it is already flung wide open and waiting there are the four most best, biggest, fabulousest arms reaching to scoop you up before you can even leap off your feet to get into them and those arms embrace you.

That kind of feeling.  Just from an old woman who sacrificed her shins and some cows on a wine bottle at The Fresh Market. And let me tell you. That is exactly what I needed to feel.

 

 

 

 

A lovely view from Stazione Centrale Ovest. Disclaimer: I took this on my way in, which was a good thing since I had no time for such things on my way out!
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The best ever Italian adventure…Italian trains & the people who ride them

Italy: Day Two
Italian trains & the people who ride them

as of 9:47 a.m.

A lovely view from Stazione Centrale Ovest. Disclaimer: I took this on my way in, which was a good thing since I had no time for such things on my way out!

A lovely view from Stazione Centrale Ovest. Disclaimer: I took this on my way in, which was a good thing since I had no time for such things on my way out!

After a harrowing thought-we-would-miss-the-train kind of morning, we are on the train headed to our next Italian locale.

One of the biggest pre-trip debates we have in our house is whether or not to get the currency of the country we are traveling to prior to departing. I always say yes, especially when you are talking euros. Our local bank has plenty. It’s not like they are Bhutanese Ngultrum (just go ahead and click the link). Someone please tell me when I will start listening to my own advice? I  knew I should have gotten euros because my daughter was out of them (thinking I would bring more!) and we needed them.

I’m not exaggerating when I say not even the pan handlers in the train station will take US dollars. Not kidding. If you want to feel completely awkward, ask someone to exchange a USD. They won’t and they won’t even pretend to not laugh at you when you ask.  And now, none of our credit cards will work in the metro kiosks even though they worked like a charm yesterday. At this point, I don’t know if the cards work at all. But that question will have to wait for another day. Why worry about that now?
So, we ran back to the hotel and asked the front desk lady for the nearest ATM. She said it was a 5 minute walk to the bank. Well, that chick needs to be a professional speed walker because we had to run to an ATM at a bank that was over a 1/2 mile from the hotel. It wasn’t 5 minutes. And, thank goodness I turned my head at the exact moment we passed it and saw it because it was completely unmarked.

You can't miss this. Just pray you have euros when you get there.

You can’t miss this. Just pray you have euros when you get there.

Seriously we would have never seen it. Can someone tell me why every pharmacy in Europe can be spotted a mile away due to the huge, neon, green, flashing cross signs while banks are hidden away like some 1920’s speakeasy?

We resorted to using my daughter’s debit card, which I’m certain will deplete her college funds with the fees the bank is going to charge for that transaction. Fortunately the bank was across the street from a metro station even though the stupid kiosk there wouldn’t take a 20€! Seriously, how do people function around here? Luckily the newspaper stands sell tickets, but only take cash (of the coveted Euro variety, of course). I’m starting to think that the proprietors of those little shops jack with the kiosks to make them not work. I’m considering calling Anderson Cooper to do an exposé on it.

After navigating the metro during rush hour, we got to the Milan Central train station and the kiosk there would not print our train tickets to our next destination. There is a theme at work here.

Milan Central Station. My on the run photo skills at work.

Milan Central Station. My on-the-run photo skills at work.

Thank God (and I’m not saying that lightly) that the Trentalia employees took pity on us and moved us to the front of the long line (much to the dismay of others) and printed our tickets and our tickets for tomorrow. We ran up the escalator and to the platform where our train was waiting, but the train would only open from one side and we, as the day would have it, were on the wrong one. If that train were to pull away before we got on it, I would have thrown myself in front of it.

Once on board, a kind man helped us find the right seats on the train, thankfully just moments before my daughter had a nervous breakdown and just before I began cursing Italy with a string of explicatives that even Scarface would have been impressed by. All with 30 pound packs on our backs.

And now we are sitting in a train car with a couple who are freakishly rubbing each other’s feet. Take that nonsense and your bizarre tattoos (truly, you know, the kind you might get if you lost a bet?) to the next cabin, people. But do leave your flip flops that have a beer bottle opener on the bottom of them – with which he did just open a beer at 9:46 IN THE MORNING. And I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking that the bottom of those nasty flip flops just touched his hands and the top of that beer. Never mind, take those foul things with you, too. And, lady, you do realize that you can silence the sound your cell phone makes when taking a picture of your hubby opening that beer as if it is the first time he has ever done so, don’t you? It would let you be ever so discreet so that we, and the lovely Italian ladies seated next to you, don’t look at you with discontent and perhaps a little horror.

Tortona, Italy. Really a picture of nothing. This is what one does on Italian trains when you want to avoid looking at fellow passengers.

Tortona, Italy. Really a picture of nothing. This is what one does on Italian trains when you want to avoid looking at fellow passengers.

Let’s be honest, the Italian ladies are about to toss their proverbial biscotti into their fabulous Gucci handbags over this whole exchange. But, I digress.

So after an episode of our version of the Amazing Race, we are on our way to Cinque Terre. No signs of jet lag for me yet. Oh wait, unless that is the reason this morning went so far off the rails. I’ll have to contemplate that. The weather is lovely. Wish you were here. 😉

Nothing like a view of the Swiss Alps from above!
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The best ever Italian adventure…

There is no doubt, that you have been sitting there just waiting for this moment – the day that I finally share the best ever Italian adventure. Now, it has taken some time for me to get it together. Actually, I wrote every word in real time. Riding on trains. Waiting in lines. Contemplating in cathedrals. Noshing in restuarants. Collapsing in bed. But honestly, I needed a little down time between me and this adventure. Well, that and the fact that I totally lacked the band width to post on the move. Oh, and forgetting my blog password didn’t help, if I’m being really honest.

But now, without further ado, or excuses, I offer you Day One of the best ever Italian adventure, as it happened!

Italy Day One

The first lunch and the Last Supper

As of 10:30 pm

Nothing like a view of the Swiss Alps from above!

Nothing like a bird’s eye view of the Swiss Alps!

I’m off to meet my Daughter who has been living the high life in Europe for two months via her amazing college scholarship program. I figure that getting to meet her in Italy to travel for 9 days is my reward for all the morning sickness I had while pregnant with her. I’m doling this thing out, of course.  My plan to hopefully meet her in Spain next spring will be the reward for the stretch marks. The next trip will be for going into labor and the next for delivery and so on. Seems completely reasonable since that is how this whole scholarship possibility got started in the first place. I figure I’ll have traveled the world with her before we even get to weaning her from nursing. But seriously, she is one smart, hard working cookie and I’m lucky to get to join in on her adventures.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

By the time I arrive in Milan, I’m too excited to be tired. I mean, I did just see the Swiss Alps up close and personal like from my plane window! We head out the door and begin to explore after a little lunch at a restaurant that I’m pretty sure was serving Stouffer’s meals from a microwave, but who cares? I’m looking at the Duomo!

And the Duomo. I’m only a little concerned that they allow people to walk on the roof. It is already supporting the weight of enough stone that some village somewhere is missing all of its mountains and now I’m up here? So I tell myself, “Just look. Don’t think.” Of course, that philosophy has led to all sorts of ill conceived events in the past, but I’m going for it.

And then, one of the things I came to Italy for (besides my child, duh) –

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

The Last Supper. It was fabulous. Bigger than I expected. More beautiful than I expected. And more moving than I expected. My daughter says that she is certain that I’ve never been more excited about seeing something in my whole life. And she just may be right. Perhaps the most iconic piece of art in all of Christianity and I’m. Standing. In. Front. Of. It.

Unequivocally thrilling. So glad I drug myself out of bed months ago at 3:45 in the morning to get tickets. And p.s. Am I the only one who, before researching it, thought it was hanging in a gilded frame behind a flocked rope in a museum somewhere rather than painted on a huge wall in a simple church? Come on, be honest.

Then we wandered; turning down whichever street looked promising. There were plenty from which to choose.  Fountains. Gelato. Parks. People. Gelato. It was perfection.
Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Now, I have a rule on vacation. It is better to sit down to eat before you get hungry. “Hangry” is a common emotion in our house and it is never pretty. Ever. So we set about finding a restaurant before the bewitching hour. After a non-stellar lunch, we were hoping for something better. Our first option sounded great and close by and they were giving 30% discount if you booked ahead on The Fork app (which is my favorite European travel app that I discovered last year in Paris) according to TripAdvisor. What could be better?

As we approached we heard the clanging of plates and the sound of friendly chatter. But when we arrived, they were closed (30% off of nothing is still a discount I presume). The dinner time banter was actually emanating from the second floor of an apartment building across the street. As I looked up smiled at them, the residents didn’t seem at all interested in feeding us. So, another swing around the block.

The reservation that wasn't. But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

The reservation that wasn’t.
But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

We found ourselves in that no man’s land between happy hour, which was going strong around us but a recipe for disaster for the potential jet lag facing me later, and the civilized dinner time of most Europeans. After resigning ourselves to a place called “OK pizza” (was there not a voice of reason in the naming process?), I gave Trip Advisor another look and came across an establishment that we had earlier discarded because it was listed as $$$, though it got rave reviews for delightful service and good food.  Delightful service can make up for mediocre food in my opinion.   And at that point I didn’t care what it cost. I was about to have two women on my hands with hangry issues, but yet who simply couldn’t bring themselves to eat at “OK pizza.” Even hunger has limits. The ethical conflict of it all.
But our dilemma was worth it once we sat down on a beautiful patio overflowing with Italian charm…and amazing food.
I had Eggplant parmesan which was as beautiful as it was tasty.  The server drizzled it with olive oil and fresh parm, “Because it is delicious!” he said and I didn’t argue. There were copious amounts of bread with olive oil that was to die for. For real, was there someone in the back pressing olives off a tree? The service was warm and energetic by the two young men who seemed to actually enjoy us being there. The tables filled up with Italians. Families and friends and even a dog (which really, Italian dogs get around and I would like to be one when I grow up). It was a sign of a good find.
At the end of our meal, a little jar of chocolates was placed on our table like it was our birthday. A business card for the restaurant was tucked into our dinner check and I asked for another as we left, which brought all sorts of excitement from the kitchen, but somehow I lost both of them along the way! I’ll keep searching and let you know.
We happily made our way back to the hotel and collapsed into bed with visions of gelato dancing in our heads. So, until tomorrow, arrivederci!
Push ups weren't part of our training plan - but they happened!

Prior proper planning provides pixie dusted performance

Let’s get something straight here. I register and run races not for the medals, not for the t-shirts (though runDisney does make it enticing!), or even for the competition. Likewise, I don’t set time goals for a race so that I might win my age group or even to beat the person standing next to me on the starting line.

I do it so that I have to train. Plain and simple. I do it so that I can say, “here is what I have to do for the next 10 or 12 weeks or so to make it happen.” I’ll admit it, I’m not a runner who will just wake up every day and be excited to go out for a run “just because.”

Push ups weren't part of our training plan - but they happened!

Push ups weren’t part of our training plan – but they happened!

I love running. It keeps me sane and provides all sorts of benefits, but it is the first thing to go when I have to take something off my list in order to get life done. Unless, of course, I have a goal in mind (sometimes that means just finishing in the upright position!) and have to work for it. And working for it always – and I mean always – requires a training plan. 

Always have an extra spring in my step when I've trained properly!

There’s an extra spring in my step when I’ve trained properly!

Jeff Galloway has been my go-to guy for training. His run-walk-run method has worked for me every time and his sensible training plans keep me motivated without killing me.

So, if you are anything like me and you want/need/must have a training plan to keep you on track, but aren’t sure how to make it happen here are some great tips from Jeff himself to get you going.

THE TRAINING PLAN

WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN?  When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation.  Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual,  tend to improve more, with less injury risk.

WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN  Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice.  This leads to confusion and more aches and pains.  The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.

KEY TRAINING ELEMENTS:

1) A longer run builds endurance, 2) A hilly run builds strength, 3) Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more.

WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER?  The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal.  Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts.  To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual.

EVERY OTHER DAY!  Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day.  This allows for the “weak links” to heal.  The very slow long run is usually on the weekend when there is more time available.  Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example, Tuesday and Thursday)

SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don’t have to exert yourself on non-running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat.  So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking.

DOES VARIETY HELP?  Changing things a bit can improve motivation.   You don’t have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.

WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit.  Hill runs build strength.  Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form.  Long runs produce stamina and endurance.

WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS?  Take it easy on these days.  Do little or no exercise, don’t over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.

SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY?  Not Recommended!  It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves.  While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.

IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation.  Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience  more burnout and injury.

Galloway 13  Want to get started by registering for a Half Marathon or 5k? Register for Jeff and Barb’s races coming up in December! 

For individualized training plans for any race/distance/pace, check out Jeff’s Customized Training Plans!

*I’m honored to be a part of the Galloway Blogger program. They provide tips for bloggers to share. Go check out the Jeff Galloway Official Website and find out more about the man and program that got me running and keeps me going!