Archives for May 2015

Disney Girls Trip: Part 4

On Monday, our last full day in Walt Disney World, we got up and headed to the Magic Kingdom, my favorite! We again had beautiful weather, and I was excited to see some of the new areas of the hub were finished. I love the way it turned out!

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Of course, we had to properly caffeinate before we started the day.

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We had a fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion, and we also rode the people mover and Pirates of the Caribbean.

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We had lunch reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern, and we hit up the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before heading out of the park.

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Oh, after lunch I also had a dole whip float. However, I was very disappointed to find out you can no longer get the vanilla soft serve with the pineapple juice, only pineapple ice cream. They said the vanilla soft serve was “not popular enough”, but based on everyone’s sad messages on my instagram photo, I do not believe this is true at all. The good news is you can apparently still get the vanilla ice cream at the Polynesian.

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We got back to the resort mid afternoon so Jen could do some work, and I decided to go for an easy 3 mile run. I love running in new places, it keeps me occupied to have new surroundings to look at.

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It had definitely warmed up and I got hot quickly, and considered hitting the pool but decided to just hang out in the shade outside instead.

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That night we headed to EPCOT to have dinner at San Angel Inn. It was May 4th, so we were being Cinco de Mayo festive a day early.

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The next morning we had one last breakfast in the food court and one last Mickey waffle before Magical Express came and picked us up to go back to the airport.

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I had a great time and am so sad it’s already over, we have been talking about this trip forever! It was just the little break I needed in my favorite place.

QOTD: Have you ever been on a girls only or boys only trip?

Disney Girls Trip Part 3: After the Race

I left off with my recap of the Expedition Everest Challenge. The next day was Sunday, and we had plans to relax! We slept in and then decided to go to Downtown Disney for lunch at Earl of Sandwich. Jen had a Groupon, so of course we had to go, duh.

After we ate, we hit up Starbucks. (In case you weren’t aware, regular Disney coffee tastes awful, so I’m super happy Starbucks invaded the “world”).

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We shopped a little then headed back to the resort to go to the pool. I really like the pool area at Caribbean Beach, and we even scored two chairs under an umbrella mostly in the shade. Hooray for saving our skin!

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It was cool enough outside I didn’t even sweat nor did I need to get in the pool to cool off. This worked out because I was way too lazy to get out of my chair.

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We sat and chatted a few hours then got ready for dinner at Narcoossees at the Grand Floridian. Jen and I are both big lovers of this resort, and we thought back to a girls trip we took in 2009 when we stayed there. Hopefully one day we will get to stay there again! It’s so beautiful, but also really, really, expensive. If I ever win the lottery, this is where I am going. I guess I need to start buying lottery tickets if I want to win…

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We were given a nice table by the window and we had a delicious meal!

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I had to get a chocolate martini since that’s what we got when we ate here on our last girls trip. It was very good.

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I had steak for my meal, then finished it off with almond crusted cheesecake. I wasn’t even hungry but this dessert is so good, I got it anyway (and proceeded to eat the whole thing). Everything was really good and we had a great time!

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We are pretty boring old people so we took a cab back to the resort and went to bed. We had a big day coming up at the Magic Kingdom!

QOTD: What is your favorite dessert?

The Average Joe Runner

Every runner has a story. You might think you don’t, but you do. Your story may not be glamorous, it may not include a huge weight loss, coming back after an accident or injury, or anything you feel is important, but it’s still YOUR story. If it is what got you running, then it IS important and inspiring.

I consider myself an average American girl. I have always felt like my “story” was boring. In an age where the more exciting or emotional your journey is, the more opportunities you get, it can be tough to say “well, one day I just decided to start running, and I’m still doing it.” Does anyone else know what I mean?

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Don’t get me wrong, comeback, weight loss, and other stories of the like are truly very inspirational and amazing to read, but where does that leave the average Joe? Well, let me tell you. It leaves you right where you are supposed to be.

My friends, your story doesn’t have to be what the world considers interesting for it to matter. All that matters is that it changed you. It is absolutely amazing to be able to help, encourage, and inspire a large amount of people. A true huge bonus. But at the end of the day, if you are motivating and inspiring to YOURSELF, then I would call that a win.

Running is something I never thought I would be doing at this stage in my life. It was not something I loved in school, but something I had to do to play other sports I participated in. But as I look back over the past six years I have participated in this sport, I see how intricately it has been woven into my life.

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When asked the question “why do you run?” I feel like I could answer in 100 different ways. For my health. For my sanity. For my family. For my blog. For fun. Since the conception of this blog, I have tried my best to be honest and real with you, my readers. I am nothing special, I am not fast, and I make a lot of mistakes. However, I have always felt like I had a connection with the everyday person. The average runner who doesn’t see a lot of the spotlight.

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Today, I want you, the average runner, to know that you are one of the reasons I run. I want others like me to know that it’s ok to not win big awards, or impress people with your running. As long as you are impressed with yourself, and running has changed you, then you are a rockstar in my book. So, don’t compare yourself to other runners, but run for yourself, and for other regular people like you and me. Together, we can inspire, and have a lot of fun running while doing it!

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Another reason I run? I LOVE racing. I am always looking for new races, and I particularly like ones I can make racecations out of. The Zappos Bay to Breakers race is this coming weekend in San Francisco. I would love to run this race one day!

Zappos is the title sponsor for this race, and they have an amazing selection of athletic apparel and shoes on their website. They have over 150,000 styles from more than 1,000 brands! It also doesn’t hurt that they have free shipping and an amazing 365 day return policy.

I hope some of you are getting to run this race. I hope you have a blast wherever you are running this weekend. Just keep going!

QOTD: Why do you run?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge 2015

I have participated in all of the east coast runDisney races. Up until this year, I had done them all except the runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge.

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The Everest Challenge has always been somewhat of a mystery to me….”So you run..and there are clues…and it’s a scavenger hunt…and there are obstacles?” All super confusing and there isn’t a lot of information out there about it. I decided to record us running parts of the race to help explain it better. Sadly though, this was the last year they did the race so it’s kind of a moo point now (any FRIENDS fans in the house? The point is MOO!)

Anyway, Here is a recap, video, and then my final thoughts at the bottom.

Jen and I were staying at Caribbean Beach resort which was a host hotel for the event. The race started at 10:00, so we hopped on a bus about 8:30ish. We arrived at Animal Kingdom around 9:00, and there were a bunch of folks milling about in the parking lot. We decided to not check our bags just yet since we had so much time, and asked a friendly runner to take a photo of us.

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I was checking my phone and reading Facebook when I saw there was an earthquake very close to my house. Huh? I quickly called Bobby to see what was going on. He said he felt several rumbles but had no idea it was an earthquake. Crazy! Never have we felt one in Mississippi before. Luckily, Emma Kate had slept through it.

Anyway, after hanging out a bit longer we decided to check our bags and hit the bathrooms before getting into our corral. Bag check was easy and smooth, and we even found port-o-potties with no line. Always an amazing thing to find at a runDisney race, and a very rare one at that! We made our way over to corral B and listened to the DJ and hung out until it was time to start.

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We were waiting on our corral’s turn to go when one of the announcers came down into the crowd. I was thinking “please don’t come talk to me” in my head when of course he walks right over to us, asks our names etc. and if we were running as a team.

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It was finally time for us to go, and off we went through the parking lot. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I was busy taking videos.

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The hay bales were the first obstacle and they were in the parking lot. We made it over those and headed into the park. The second obstacle was crawling under a net, and this was right near the turn around in the park. Going back out into the parking lot, we found the last obstacle, and ran through the tires before making it to the finish line. The course was short, around 2.8 miles. We were given water and cooling towels along with our first clue. We also got a sharpie and a mini flashlight. We walked to the next clue station as we tried to figure out clue number one. It was a tough on!

We got it though then headed to clue two, which we TOTALLY were overthinking. Once we asked a volunteer about it, she helped us make sense of it and NOT overthink it, and we were able to solve it and continue on.

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We got three and four pretty quickly, and then got our final clue. It was a word search that involved the answers to all the previous clues, and told us to find the hidden yeti on a clue card. Again, we were over thinking it and COULD NOT figure it out! We were getting really frustrated and then I finally found the little guy. We ended up mainly walking from clue to clue because we weren’t trying to place or anything.

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You had to hold up your final answer at the last checkpoint in order to make it through to the finish line.

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Here we are sitting on the ground trying to solve the last clue.

We finished the race, and got our really cool medals.

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We headed all the way back into the park for the after party, it was tricky trying to get to the party when there were still runners and hunters on the course.

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There were food stands and the like open, and there was a DJ and some characters out dancing. Some of the rides were open too, but we were really tired so we took a couple of pictures and headed to the bus.

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Who recognizes Slim? I had never seen him out before!

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We also saw this guy who was a dance machine!

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Leaving the park was very difficult because the path was narrow, and most people were just coming INTO the party as we were leaving, so it was like trying to swim upstream trying to get around all the people going in the opposite direction. We made it back to the resort after midnight and hit the hay. Another race complete!

Final Thoughts:

As I mentioned before, I had always been so curious about this race. I have been thinking a lot about what to say about it so I will do my best to put it into words. The race was a GREAT idea in theory, but I felt like it was seriously lacking in execution. Because everyone is running at a different pace and the corrals are staggered out, when we came through with our first clue there were still runners going by. Everyone was running into each other and it was kind of chaotic. They had signage telling runners to stay to one side etc. but people were not following directions. There was one point we literally had to cross over the lane of runners to get to the other side and it was like playing Frogger. That coupled with the darkness in the park and people reading the clues as they were walking and not paying attention to where they were going, it was kind of dangerous.

The volunteers were great, they even had some characters on the course, but I just feel like it could be done in a different way. I’m not saying I have any idea how to change it for the better, but it just didn’t flow very smoothly if that makes sense. Some people were confused about running the 5k first then doing the hunt, and were trying to get clues the first time around the park. Also, with the after party being in Dinoland, we ended up having to enter the park three separate times that night. Also, like I said, it was confusing trying to walk to the party while there were still runners coming through.

I hate that they got rid of the only family/scavenger hunt event because I can see how kids would be all over this thing, it had a fun family atmosphere for sure. Maybe a different park? Maybe in the daylight? Maybe not have the 5k cross paths with the hunt portion? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do hope they introduce something similar for families with better logistics. Oh, also some of the clues were really hard, and one was even written incorrectly and was throwing people off.

I loved running through the part, the volunteers were great, there were two water stops, and the medal is really really fun, but I can see why it is being discontinued. Oh, also the obstacles were optional, so for the people “racing” to place, they could have skipped them and gained several minutes (the net obstacle took a while to get through). We were in corral B so there were no lines at the obstacles, but I can imagine in the further back corrals there would be a back up of people.

If anyone has any questions about the event I would be happy to answer. I am so glad I finally had the chance to participate and get the compass medal! I hope you enjoy my video and I hope it helps explain the race a little better.

 

 

QOTD: Have you ever run a scavenger hunt race? Thoughts on this one? Do you hope they reintroduce something similar?

For more information on runDisney races, visit runDisney.com

Disney Girls Trip Part 2: Before the Race

I left off with our packet pickup at the Animal Kingdom Parking lot. From there, we hopped a bus to EPCOT. We had some fastpasses and then dinner reservations at Via Napoli. We were there during the Flower and Garden festival, so it was fun to see all the topiaries.

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Hi Epcot!

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First things first, we needed some caffeine. I tried the new S’mores Frap at Starbucks. It was delicious!

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Then it was time to laugh at our funny pictures on Spaceship earth They did not disappoint.

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We rode Soarin, then headed over to the World Showcase to make our way to Italy for dinner. We really worked up an appetite with the long walk.

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I rewarded myself for a job well done on the long walk with some yummy food.

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PIZZA! We may or may not have eaten the whole thing…

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After being sufficiently filled with carbs and lots of cheese, we waddled towards the exit and called it a night.

The next morning started off the way every day should start, with a Mickey waffle!

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Hello Caribbean Beach resort!

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We got on a bus for Hollywood Studios, ready for our first full day.

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it was so strange with the hat completely gone.

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Once again, we caffeinated, then we hit up Toy Story Mania.

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For some reason I thought the coach was being taken away in April, and was bummed I forgot to go get a photo during Princess. However, it was still there, so we stood in line of course.

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We had lunch at Mama Melrose. I have note eaten there in about 7 years, and it was surprisingly better than I remember. I had some pasta to get me fueled up for the big race, and then we headed back t the hotel to nap. It was such a gorgeous day outside that I decided to nap outside our room in a hammock. Ever have one of those naps where you aren’t really sure if you fell asleep or not? That was me. Oh well.

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We grabbed some dinner at the food court and then just hung out in the room. It was so odd waiting around for a night race, we didn’t need to be on the bus until about 8:15, which, let’s be honest, it normally when I am about to start heading for bed!

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Next up will be my race recap, stay tuned!

QOTD: Have you ever run a night race? Do you prefer it? Favorite ride at Hollywood Studios?

Arriving in Disney and Everest Challenge Packet Pickup

My friend Jen and I got back from Walt Disney World this week. We were there to participate in the last runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge. I have always been curious about this race, and since it was the last time it was being run, I knew I wanted to try to go. We were able to make a girls trip out of it, and so off to Orlando we went!

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We arrived Friday around lunch and after meeting up at the airport, hopped on Disney’s Magical Express.

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We arrived at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which was one o three host resorts for the event. I was excited to stay here because it was my first time, and also because they just refurbished the rooms and added in queen beds.

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I loved the look of the rooms, they reminded me of the rooms at the Polynesian.

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After getting settled in, we headed over to the food court for some lunch before going to packet pickup for the race.

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We then hopped on a bus to the parking lot of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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The packet pickup in a word was….underwhelming. However, I was expecting it. Knowing that this was the last Everest, runDisney of course wasn’t going to put a ton of resources into it, I get it. Also, having not run this race in the past, I have nothing to compare it to as far as size of the packet pickup of years past.

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There was one kind of shirt (an I did it shirt with the map on the back) then a generic runDisney hat and maybe a lanyard if I remember correctly. New Balance was there with the latest runDisney shoes, and that’s about it.

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We picked up our bibs and our shirts, and since there was honestly nothing else to do, we headed back to the buses.

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I know there was a lot of talk about the lack of well, anything at packet pick up. I see both sides. After being at the amazing expos runDisney usually puts on, it was almost comical to be at this packet pickup. However, the other expos are in conjunction with massive race weekends with a 5k, 10k, half, and sometimes full marathon. Also, there are kids races and challenges, so of course the expos are much larger because of the huge number of participants.

With that being said, I do think a little more effort could have gone into it, but oh well, it isn’t being run anymore so there honestly isn’t really a reason to get upset about it. The race was fun (more on that later) and that’s what matters!

QOTD: Have you ever been to an outdoor packet pickup/expo?

*I entered the Runner’s World Cover Contest, you can vote for me here. Thanks so much for your support. 🙂

Mother’s Day Treats

This Sunday I will be celebrating my first “official” Mother’s Day. I have always celebrated as a fur mom, but this year it’s a little different with an actual human baby. When I think back on my pregnancy and first few months as a mom, I remember being so overwhelmed and having so, so many questions. I am really proud of “making it” this far, so a delicious treat is in order, right?

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However, when I think back on this past year, I also think of another mom who has continually been there for me and answered my DAILY pregnancy and parenting questions. This friend not only has given me advice on countless occasions, but also basically supplied my maternity wardrobe and Emma Kate’s newborn wardrobe. She made me feel normal when I had feelings of sadness, and encouraged me telling me I was a good mom when I didn’t feel like one.

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I knew I wanted to share my treats with her, because she definitely deserves a decadent Mother’s Day treat!

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While we were in Disney World this past week, Jen and I indulged in some delicious Shari’s Berries together for Mother’s Day. It was a great way to say “thank you” for all the help and for her friendship. We had so many amazing treats to choose from, but the strawberries and the cake truffles were our favorites!

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In honor of Mother’s Day, and my own amazing mother and my friends that are mothers, I tried thinking of some reasons why moms rock, and traits of a good mom. Here is what I came up with:

-Unconditional love

-Always there for you

-Patient

-Encourager

-Teaches you the hard but good lessons

-Listening ear

-Selfless

So here is a “Happy Early Mother’s Day” to all the amazing moms out there like mine, and like my friend Jen. I hope you all have a wonderful day celebrating YOU!

QOTD: What is something you would add to my list? Do you like chocolate covered strawberries?

Disclosure: I was provided with these special treats by Shari’s Berries to share for Mother’s Day, however all opinions are my own.

ASICS LA Marathon Video

Hey guys, I made it back home! Do you remember back when I ran the LA marathon with ASICS that I mentioned I would be recording the race as I ran? Well, I got the finished product back the other day and wanted to share it with you. It’s crazy to see over three hours of footage condensed down into less than three minutes, but I love it!

ASICS LA marathon video:

QOTD: Have you ever recorded yourself while you run? 

Five Ways to Run Faster 

Hey guys! I’m still in Disney until tomorrow. I have a lot of fun stuff to share with you when I get back, but for now enjoy these tips from Olympian Jeff Galloway!  

 


Longer Long Runs

Increasing the length of the longest long run has produced the greatest amount of improvement that I’ve seen among my coaching clients.  Several surveys have shown more than 13 minutes of time improvement when runners increase their longest long run from 20 miles to 26 miles before a marathon.  Comparable time improvements are experienced in 10K runners and half marathoners when they increase their long runs above race distance as noted in my YEAR ROUND PLAN book that covers all the distances.  Long runs must be at least 2 min/mi slower than current ability, with liberal walk breaks.  The slower the pace, the quicker the recovery.  I suggest doing the long runs every 2-3 weeks.

Speed Repetitions—increasing the number

My runners have improved by an average of over 6 minutes in a marathon (3+ minutes in a half marathon) by increasing the number of speed repetitions to 14 x 1 mile for the marathon, and 14 x 800 meter for the half marathon.  I recommend that each of these be run 30 sec/mi faster than goal pace.  The recovery interval is a 5 min walk between miles and a 3 minute walk between 800’s.  These workouts prepare one to maintain or pick up pace at the end of the goal race, instead of slowing down.  See GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS & HALF MARATHON books for details (www.RunInjuryFree.com).

Improve Running Form

Most runners I’ve monitored have improved several minutes in a marathon by fine-tuning their running form.  As the mechanics become smoother and within one’s limits, there is a significant reduction in aches, pains and injuries.  The two best ways to improve form are water running and cadence drills.
•        water running uses the same basic motion as when running on land, using a flotation device so that the feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool.  When done for at least 15 minutes, once a week, the legs find a more efficient path through the water—eliminating extraneous motion.
•        The cadence drill is done for 30 seconds, counting the number of times the foot touches the ground.  This drill is detailed in most of my books.  I’ve found the key to improving speed on the mechanical side is quicker turnover.

Race in Shorter Events

Dropping down a standard distance or two can improve your mechanics for running faster and your ability to handle a higher level of oxygen debt.  On non-long-run weekends, during a half marathon program, try some 5K or 10K races.  When training for a marathon, race at the 10K or half marathon distance.  At first, the faster pace of the shorter distance may seem awkward.  But after several short races, you will adapt—especially if you do some speed training for the shorter/faster event.  These performance improvements can translate into faster times in the longer distances.  My book 5K/10K details the training and the racing strategies for these events.

Hill Training

The only way I’ve found to build strength for running is to run hill repeats.  On a moderate grade hill, start at a jog and pick up the turnover rate of the feet and legs as you go up the hill, shortening your stride.  Walk down the hill for recovery.  Don’t sprint, and follow the other hill training guidelines in my books and at www.RunInjuryFree.com.  The strength from hill training will allow you to perform better in speed sessions which will help you improve in your goal race.  You’ll also run faster on hilly courses, during your races.


QOTD: What is your best tip for getting faster?