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Its Not Rocket SURGERY- by Jeremy Wallace

Run Faster - Las Vegas Runners

Run Faster - Las Vegas RunnersI have a secret to tell you and you’re not going to like it, especially after everything you’ve read in running magazines.  You know, the articles that promise new speed if you add a tempo workout, fartlek, interval or other type of run.  They make you believe you’ll lower your PRs if you lift weights, do yoga, eat chia seeds, never eat bread, change your shoes, drink milk, don’t drink milk, skip heavy lifting, add mileage, stretch, skip the stretching, land mid-foot er… um forefoot and lower your mileage.  I’m sure you’ve read some of these articles right?  Well, I hate to break it to you, but these articles fail to mention the secret, which is THERE IS NO SECRET, but most of us have not reached our running potential.  Why?  With all the information AND misinformation out there, we have no idea how to reach it or we maybe we just don’t want to do the work.  Don’t get me wrong, the above methods work, but maybe not for you.  I’ve worked with and studied athletes of all backgrounds and abilities and there are certain characteristics of a fast runner.  Lucky for you I’ve put it all together in this article and you will now have the knowledge to run a 2:30 marathon.  Well…….. maybe not, but you can certainly run faster than you do now if you take a little of this advice.  Don’t want to run faster?  Don’t read any further.

-FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU-
You’re not like any other runner, ever.  Not in your stride, landing pattern, arm swing, nutrition, family commitments, mileage and sleep needs or flexibility.  So why are you following Shalane Flanagan’s training plan that you read about in Runner’s World when you haven’t even studied your own gait?  In order to reach your potential, you should have a carefully designed training plan based on your specific needs.  If you’re a runner who gets injured often, maybe 80 mile weeks aren’t for you and you need to cross-train more.  If you can bend over backwards and put your head between your legs, you probably don’t need to spend a lot of time on flexibility, being more mobile might even make you run slower.  If you can’t even touch your shins with your legs locked, you could probably use a flexibility routine.  If your arms flail wildly to the side like a Pterodactyl when you run, you might use some core activation work.  My point?  Just because your running buddy does 25-mile tempo runs leading up to his 10K doesn’t mean you necessarily need to follow suit.  Find out exactly what you need then work really hard at it.

-DON’T RUN SO HARD-
I work with a runner who we’ll call Beth.  She’s a great athlete.  She regularly places high in her age group or overall in the events she completes.  Beth always completes her assigned workouts, eats well, recovers well, and used to run really HARD….. all the time, which many of you also do, which might also be why you’re not getting any faster and why Beth started to have problems!  No joke.  If you’re always running hard, it can be very difficult to recover between workouts.  It can also make it difficult to run hard when you really need to.  Most runners have a mentality that in order to be fast, they have to run fast, which is true, but you can’t run all of your training mileage at race pace and expect to perform well in an actual race.  Two things: (1) You don’t get faster during your workouts, you get faster during your recovery time.  (2) Hard workouts should be carefully planned and spaced to make room for recovery.  Every workout that isn’t hard should be easy.  How easy?  So easy you think it’s too easy.  Deena Kastor, the US record holder for the women’s marathon, ran that record at a 5:12/mile pace but was known to regularly complete her easier efforts closer to the 9:00/mile range.  If she was feeling particularly tired, she might even replace her run with a walk.

-……or RUN HARDER-
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the athlete who does all of his runs at a leisurely pace, taking care not to tax his body to the point of breathing hard or sweating, enjoying the run and smelling the flowers, content with his daily 5 miler at the same pace over the same terrain.  Sound familiar?  I’m not knocking the routine, it’s actually very healthy but if you actually want to improve your run fitness and run fast, you’re going to have to occasionally RUN FAST.  Hard running improves your cardiovascular fitness and works your muscles in a way that easy running just won’t.  I tell my athletes this, “hate the workout because if you go any slower you’ll be dead OR hate it because you feel like you’re going to die of exhaustion.  Pick one or the other, nothing in between.”

-BE PATIENT-
Let me give you a scenario.  Runner approaches coach to inquire about training, coach asks runner what he’d like to train for, runner says he’d like to train for a big marathon PR and qualify for Boston and he’s ready to begin training, coach asks when the event is, runner says 6 weeks, coach slaps his head in frustration and out comes a big sigh.  Sound silly?  It happens to me ALL THE TIME.  We want to run faster, right now, but run fitness takes time.  Years in fact to build to our potential, and months if you want to train for an event in the right way.  So set long-term goals and be willing to commit long-term.  After you’ve found your weaknesses, be patient with yourself and learn to enjoy the journey.  You have the rest of your life.

-BE CONSISTENT-
They say it takes about 7 years to build to your running potential.  You can’t train 6 weeks for a ½ marathon then take 6 months off and expect to be faster when you return.  On the other hand, those of you who are constantly injured because you want it now, who refuse to listen to your body and/or fix deficiencies in your form/flexibility/nutrition etc, it’s very difficult to be consistent when you’re sidelined.    You know who you are!  You’re the person who runs 18 milers with a patellar knee strap, limping the entire way, running until you’ve compensated so much you wind up with another injury you can’t run through.  Have knee/IT/back/whatever pain?  Guess what?  It doesn’t have to be that way but you need to do your homework to find out exactly what’s causing that pain, then work diligently to fix it, not just put a band-aid on it.  Sometimes it’s not obvious (ie knee pain caused by weak glutes).  Some things can’t be fixed without surgery, like arthritis or torn tendons, but most running injuries can be taken care of in a fairly simple way if you take the time to figure it out.

-BE ACCOUNTABLE-
For such a simple sport, distance running is bio-mechanically complicated.  Get a coach, if not a coach, at least a good friend who has a solid background in running who can help motivate, instruct, fix your deficiencies and offer advice.  This motivator doesn’t have to have a doctorate or even be a certified coach.  I’ve learned that there are some people with a lot of knowledge who make terrible coaches.  Find someone you respect, who works with you in a way that makes you a better athlete and be willing to take direction.  Most of the best runners (and athletes in most other sports) in the world have coaches.  What makes you think you don’t need one?

-BECOME A STUDENT OF THE SPORT-
The fastest runners generally know exactly what makes a fast runner.  Have you ever watched video of an efficient runner?  Have you ever videotaped yourself running?  What’s the difference?  Now, how are you going to find your efficiency?  Have you looked at the commonalities of great distance runners?  If you don’t know what’s going to make you better, how will you ever get better?  Hint: It’s not all about running harder/faster/longer.  Know the area where you could use the most improvement, then focus.

-FIX YOUR FORM-
The best runners in the world don’t necessarily work harder than you, they’re just more efficient.  Their strides look effortless because they almost are.  Their legs, glutes, core, ankles and arms have learned to work so efficiently and fire so rapidly and precisely it can seem as if they’re floating.  Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to fix everything.  Women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has a very distinct, very inefficient head-bob when she’s tired, but If your running style resembles more donkey than gazelle, there are lots of things you can do to make it better, but it will take time, consistency and A LOT of effort.  COMMIT!

-FUEL TO TRAIN-
Meb Keflezighi, the fastest US marathoner ever, runs 100+ mile weeks and enjoys a single snack-size Snickers bar after particularly hard efforts during training.  Why do you think you can get away with chowing down half a birthday cake after a 5K?  Begin to think of your food as fuel for your next workout.  I’m not a dietitian and don’t pretend to know all there is about nutrition and I’m definitely not a food saint.  In fact, those of you who know me also know I indulge in the occasional donut, but there is a simple fact I’d like to share with you: most of us eat way too much of the wrong thing and weigh more than we need to for fast running.  You don’t need to eat like a rabbit, but you do need to pay attention.  There is also a definite correlation between body weight and running times.  Bottom line: If you want to be a faster runner, fuel better and weigh less.

-GET MORE REST-
You can follow the above advice and run until you’ve chafed yourself into runner’s bliss, run so hard you’re going to puke and so many miles you go through a pair of Kinvaras every week, but if you don’t take down time, you will not reach your potential.  The exercise is the stimulus, the down time is when you get faster.

-BELIEVE IN YOURSELF-
Generally, if you really want it, you can have it.  Believe that you are not too slow, old, young, fat or weak. You’re not.  Whatever you don’t have, you probably just haven’t been willing to go get.  Decide you actually want to be faster, then go after it with a passion and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it.  Am I promising that you can run a four minute mile if you work really, really hard?  Well, no, but I am promising that you can be a lot closer to it than you are now.

Well, did I share anything with you that you didn’t already know?  We are runners and naturally want to work ourselves hard, but if you’re not doing things to make yourself a better runner, you’re not training, you’re just jogging hard.  I know the “J” word is offensive to some but some of you are stuck in Jogger’s Paradise.  Find what works, work smart, be patient and consistent, be accountable, fix your problems, stop eating so much, sleep more and believe in yourself.  You don’t have to listen to me.  I’m not an Olympian and I haven’t run under 2:30 in the marathon (yet).  Hell I don’t even have an exercise degree.  I’m just a run coach with a love for the sport, some modest but respectable PRs and a donut habit but I can tell you for certain that it’s not rocket surgery……. or brain science!

Happy Running!
Jeremy Wallace
Assistant Whip Cracker
USATF and RRCA running coach


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Running Long, Not Fast

Las Vegas Running Long Not Fast

Las Vegas Running Long Not FastBy: Melissa Farrell 

How many times have you gone out for your long run, only to look down at your watch and realize you’re running a PR pace?  Yeah, I think we’ve all made that mistake.  As runners, we sometimes get into a mentality that we need to ALWAYS be fast.  In trying to always BE fast, you aren’t allowing yourself to GET fast.

Long runs are one of the cornerstones of any running program, whether you’re training for a half marathon or a 50 miler.  One day of your run week is usually dedicated to a long run.  I think it might be helpful to understand the purpose of this run when you are trying to get those legs to slow down.  We all want to be fast-ER, but that 15 or 18 miler is not the time.

Let’s start with the fact that it is your LONG run.  It’s simple purpose is to get your body used to running long.  You can have all the speed in the world, but if your legs can’t carry you the full distance, what good is it?  This is a good time to think about your running form, your stride, your breathing, your nutrition, your weekly schedule, or why you decided to sign up for that 50 miler.  I can tell you that personally, this is one of my favorite runs in my program.  Maybe it’s because I can mentally distract myself or as some people say, maybe cause I’m just nuts!  I will say, to embark on a 50 mile run, there needs to be some level of crazy going on in here!

The longer runs will also help in strengthening your heart.  By having to work harder and longer to send oxygen to your legs, core, and upper body, the heart will over time become stronger and more efficient in completing this task.  Test it out.  Wear a heart rate monitor on one of your earlier long runs.  As you approach race day, try it again and see what the difference is.  You should notice that you have an easier time maintaining a moderate heart rate on stints that before may have caused it to increase.  Like your overall training, give it time and be patient and you will reap the benefits.  No good thing happens overnight, it takes time and perseverance just like your long run.

I’m sure most of you will love this fact, that the longer runs can help train your body to be better at utilizing fat as a fuel source.  I don’t care who you are, there is NO WAY you can eat enough the day before a 20 mile run to sustain yourself through its entirety.  There needs to be a level of efficiency in the way you use the energy you DO have stored, as well as the energy you are able to put in during your run. I can’t remember the last time I saw a runner out for an 18 miler chowing down on a loaf of bread.  it ain’t happening folks.  Be prepared by training your body for the conditions you will encounter on race day.

Long runs, just like tempo runs, track workouts, recovery runs, have their place in your training.  Try to use these runs for what they are meant for.  Talking with a few runner friends of mine, who also like longer distances, we decided that there needs to be an indicator light on your forehead that tells other runners what mile you are on.  This would help avoid that 1 mile power runner flying past you, only to find himself walking by mile 10.  Don’t feel like you need to race me during your tempo run, I’m on mile 17.  And remember, it’s not all about how fast you go, as long as you finish.  I’ll see you at the finish line!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners
Ultra runner & World Championship Duathlete
www.LasVegasRunners.com

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Look Into Your Future: Setting Your Running Goals for the New Year

Running Goals

Running GoalsBy: Jeremy Wallace

I remember the day I ran my first big race, the 2009 Portland Marathon.  That day I had dreams of qualifying for the holy grail of amateur distance running in the US, The Boston Marathon.  I had a coach and trained hard in the months leading up to the race.  I was able to run one 6:50 mile and had some mileage on my legs to back it up.  Race day I set out at a 7:10 pace which would put me in the finishing chute in 3:07.  I felt that with some grit I’d have no problem hitting my Boston qualifying time of 3:10.  There was only one problem.  It’s name was Mile 17.  I hit a wall so hard it might as well have been made from brick.  By mile 18 I was walking some.  By mile 21, I was asking the nice Portland spectators for food… seriously.  The truth is I wasn’t in shape to run a 3:10 or even a 3:30 that day and if I knew then what I know now, perhaps my pace would’ve been a bit more conservative (…or maybe not.  I’m a hard-headed man, after all.  Just ask Melissa).  That first race I learned a hard lesson.  Know what you’re capable of in a marathon and shoot directly for that time.

So, how do you figure out what you’re capable of?  As it turns out, you don’t need a crystal ball.  We can predict your marathon (or 1/2 marathon, or 5K) finishing time pretty accurately based on your current fitness.  For example, my 6:50 mile a few weeks prior meant that, with proper training, nutrition etc, I would be capable of running a 3:49 marathon.  My actual finishing time in Portland?  3:51.  Don’t believe me?, look it up:)  These days I can tell you with 95% certainty that if you can run a 10K in 49 minutes and you train properly, you can beat 4 hours in the marathon, or if your 5K time is 30 minutes, your dream of running a 2 hour half marathon isn’t ready to become reality.  Here’s the thing:  With targeted training, proper nutrition and a well-laid plan, you’re not that far off.

So what does that mean for you, your training and setting goals for 2014?  When looking forward into the New Year, be honest with yourself and be ready to set realistic goals.  What’s your current fitness?  How hard are you willing to work this year?  Do you have an actual plan or are you just winging it and hoping for a miracle on race day?  If you’re happy with your current fitness level and not looking to improve much over the next year, sorry for wasting your time.  Stop reading now and go for a run.  If you are seriously ready to take your fitness up a notch, here are a few tips:

– Have a plan and make it specific.  As in life, a dream without a plan probably isn’t going to happen.  That being said, the best running plans are ones that are specific to you and your fitness.  It’s difficult to follow a generic plan and have real success.  Need help?  Ask me.

– Test yourself semi-regularly.  The people who know exactly what they’re capable of, are those who test themselves every once in a while.

– Be ready to gradually improve your performance by occasionally stepping outside your comfort zone.  Running fitness develops over months, not one workout.

– Work on your limiting performance factor.  Strength, flexibility, running form and nutrition are super important in distance running.  Guess what?  Runners are notoriously weak, inflexible and have crappy eating habits.  I know I’ll get some flak for this one, but I’ll save the explanation for another blog post.

– Don’t forget the mental aspect.  Distance running requires a degree of suffering.  Look for it and be ready to embrace.

– Be realistic and patient.  If you’ve run 10 marathons and your PR is 5:30, a sub-three hour event this year isn’t likely.  Next year?  Eh, anything could happen.

– Think big.  You’re capable of achieving more than you think.  Just be ready to put in the work.

So what’s the number one thing I want you to take away from this?  Have a specific goal with a specific plan for success to match and you won’t end up begging for food in Portland.

Happy Running
Jeremy Wallace
2:51 marathoner
Las Vegas Runners Coach and Certified Personal Trainer
www.lasvegasrunners.com

USATF and RRCA Running Coach, Jeremy Wallace

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Las Vegas Runners Representing at Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll

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Gino Gugino, Kat McPherson, Isaac Easley, and Las Vegas Runners Co-Founder Melissa Farrell(banana!) as they prepare to take on the Las Vegas Rock N Roll half marathon!

On Sunday November 17th at 4:30pm, Las Vegas Runners and 30,000+ other runners set off down the Las Vegas strip for one of the largest half marathons & marathons!  It was a run filled with lights, costumes, Elvis impersonators(MANY!), a KISS cover band, DJs, hundreds of volunteers, and so many fans!  One of the most fun filled and motivational races I’ve ever done and one that is an experience for all who enter.  

If you ran and want to share your pictures from the event, we would love to see them!  Please email lasvegasrunners@gmail.com and we will get your pics up! 

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Laura S. after completing her half marathon at the Rock N Roll Las Vegas series. Face of relief!

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Stephanie after completing the Half of the Half at the Rock N Roll series race in Las Vegas.

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Stephen Grande after completing yet ANOTHER full marathon. Stephen has been a supporter of St Judes and runs for them in each race. Way to go Stephen!