February 29, 2016
Guest blog post by Mike Machula
Starting my journey with runcoach was a lucky accident – using their training program this last year I not only set two PR’s in one race but I blew them away. There must be something to the program when you run your fastest half marathon ever during the second half of a full marathon.
I first met the runcoach team at the Houston Marathon Expo in January 2015 and they told me this incredible story about how the average runner training on their program improved 7%. They even claimed some runners felt strong at the end of their race and could have kept going. I wanted to believe it, but I was little skeptical because I had trained so hard using a lot of other programs and never seen results anywhere close to that. My goal for the 2015 Marathon was to break 4 hours. While I felt I could do it if I had a very good run (ran 3:56:57), I was not confident. Thinking I might not make my goal, I figured runcoach might be the way to make it the next time, so I decided to give the program a shot. I told them if I had anywhere close to a 7% increase I’d give them a glowing review. I am now more than happy to keep that promise. I think my training story and results will speak to the success of the runcoach program.
When I started the runcoach program in February 2015, I decided I just wanted to maintain my current fitness level for a little while and ran three days a week. Everything was going fine and I stayed with it consistently through the beginning of summer. Vacations, kids activities and the hot Houston weather made it difficult to maintain the schedule in June, July and some of August. In September, after chatting with coach Ashley about the Marathon being a little less than five months away, I ramped up my training to four days a week. At this point I followed the schedule pretty religiously.
The training to me never felt overly strenuous. That actually concerned me a little because I held the typical male belief in the back of my head that if you aren’t pushing yourself 110% and feeling it then you can’t be improving. However, I really trusted the runcoach team to know better than I did and so I kept following the program. The long runs were just that, long but not strenuous at all. I figured I was getting my improvement on the threshold and speed days. Those runs were challenging but never to the point where I felt incapable of doing it. Just when I felt like it might be too much, I completed the fast pace portion and had enough recovery time between sets that allowed me to keep going for the entire workout.
In November, two months prior to the marathon, I had a run that convinced me the program was actually working. The day was supposed to be an easy 5 mile run at a 9:30 pace. It was a pleasant evening but nothing special. I set out my 5 mile loop around the neighborhood and I didn’t pay much attention to my pace. At mile 1, my GPS watch vibrated and I looked down to see I just ran an 8:00 pace. I didn’t think much of it and kept going. At mile 2, the watch vibrated and showed a 7:35 for the previous mile. At that point I was a little surprised because I felt really good – like I was running my normal pace. I kept going and at mile 3, I completed a 7:40. Now I’m thinking to myself, the last time I ran a sub 8:00 pace over 5 miles was 5 years ago (I remember the day well because I’d accomplished a goal). Knowing I had 2 miles remaining I decided to keep up the pace and ran the 5 miles in 38:30 (7:42). Five years of running and I had never been able to repeat it and on that November day I did it without really even trying.
A month later, during my longest training run, I knew the training was working because at mile 20 I felt like I had a lot left in the tank. I had two more miles to go and I decided to pick up the pace by a minute per mile and see what would happen. I had no problem finishing at that high pace and could have kept going for much longer.
Race day in Houston was a perfect January day (45 degrees, light wind and sunny). I started out intentionally slow for the first few miles to conserve energy. Everything felt great as I picked up the pace to around 1:10/mile faster than my training pace. I kept it there for the rest of the race. At mile 8, I remember thinking to myself this can’t be right because it feels like I just started. I had to remind myself to take my energy Gu and often was surprised that the next water station came so quick. Halfway though I continued to feel good and missed setting a half marathon PR by 1 second (1:50:24). At mile 17 nothing happened. The previous year that’s the point I really started to become aware of my legs. At mile 20 I started thinking I hope I can keep this pace up. I had no idea what the wall would do to me at this pace or when it would come. Around mile 23 I felt the energy drain, but it wasn’t that bad. The previous year I slowed way down, but this year I managed to keep the same pace. I just had to concentrate on doing it. I would compare it to the same concentration it takes to force yourself to walk as fast as you can. Not bad at all. With a mile to go, I felt a million times stronger than the previous year, picked up the pace and ran my fastest mile of the marathon. I finished with a time of 3:40:20 (which happens to be a 7% improvement from the previous PR). Incredible! Thanks runcoach!
Published in Blog
November 24, 2015
Mark is a lifelong runner who got his start in high school and continued to run competitively in college. He ran his first marathon in 1968 and has run 56 total marathons. Mark found runcoach in 2015 through the Detroit Marathon. Mark’s most recent finish was 3:30:19 at the Detroit Marathon where he placed first in the 60-64 year age group! He recaps his experience at Detroit and his approach to training below.
With temperatures near 36° the morning of the race, I was concerned that the marathon would be brutal. Luckily there was virtually no wind which is really good for the marathon. The light snow flurries added something to talk about. The gun went off and after about a mile and a half I settled into a hard comfortable pace. On the return to the US (editor’s note – The Detroit Marathon cross into Canada for a portion of the race), I didn’t expect such a warm tunnel. Another thing to worry about, I was afraid that I would be cold getting back outside. It wasn't bad. My workouts gave me the confidence and strength that I could hold the pace, but you're never sure. To my surprise, I continued at the same pace beyond 22 miles. This was my 56th marathon, my 32nd since turning 50 and I still fear those last several miles. Although my legs were still doing pretty well, I started losing focus. I walked through a water stop and when I saw others walking up a hill, it looked like a good idea. I walked about 20-30 seconds up the hill. I never did get back on my pace, but was pleased with my run. Maybe next time I’ll fight the urge to walk.
Editor’s Notes: We think Mark’s perseverance and resolve are awesome. The fact that he walked through a water stop late in the race is a successful trait that we’ve observed even at the highest levels. Mark’s commitment to the sport and his health is a great example and we wanted to share it with all of you.
June 26, 2015
Originally posted September 6, 2014. Written by Dena Evans.
Technology has improved our lives in myriad ways. GPS devices have allowed us to track our endurance efforts, recording our pace, distance, heart rate, and many more metrics besides. While providing a wealth of information, our relationship with the technology can become complicated and far more entangled than we could have possibly imagined. These devices are best as a tool to help us train effectively and analyze where we have gone. While possible that your GPS device can provide some accountability, take this quiz and see where you are on the spectrum of maintaining a healthy balance and perspective with your wrist-born tech.
Do you always round off your runs or walks to an exactly even number (5.00 miles, 3.50 miles exactly, 40 miles precisely for the week, etc), even if you are doing a lap around the parking lot or go up and down your driveway three times?
If your answer is yes, you probably enjoy order over chaos, and completion of your goals. You might also like to look at tidy numbers on the screen. None of that is bad in and of itself, but it is always good to remember that training has a purpose and shuffling in circles for 27 meters to make a full mile doesn’t really make you any more prepared for the race. Consider spending a week where you purposely don’t end on an even number in any run. Encourage yourself that your achievement of the total includes the experience of the effort along the way and that your training need not be 100% perfect 100% of the time to be in a position to achieve your goals on race day!
Do you have a floor or ceiling pace under or over which you never go on training run / walk days?
If your answer is yes, you probably are trying to faithfully complete your training efforts at the paces prescribed by your runcoach pace chart. However, always make sure that you listen to your body. If you have a sore / tight muscle, feel tired from the prior day’s workout, are sick, or have another legitimate reason to be in true recovery mode, it is fine to slow dow. Occasionally what felt like your easy pace turns out to be 30 seconds per mile or more. Recovery is key to being prepared for the next hard day. Sometimes, that requires doing a little less and easing off a bit (and being ok with that when you look at your watch).
Now that you have a GPS device on your wrist or in the palm of your hand, do you find yourself checking your pace almost reflexively every 50 meters along your route?
If this sounds like you, you might be just excited to have a cool toy to consult. But, with constant reliance on the watch or app (which is not always 100% accurate due to trees, weather, and other factors), you might also be at risk for missing a chance to understand and gain a feel for what your race pace or other paces might be. While you might want to keep careful track of your mileage, occasionally pick a route you of which you already know the distance, and run it without your watch, gauging your effort based on what you perceive to be the pace. You can log the miles accurately as you have measured it previously and using your total time, can figure the pace. However, you have taken an opportunity during the run to stay in touch with your instincts and listen to your body.
Do you avoid certain routes because of spotty satellite reception (and the shorter distances/ slower paces you might be given credit for on your device as a result)?
If your answer is yes to this one, you are human! We all like to see our best selves recorded and the greatest return on our efforts. However, if the preoccupation with the numbers is causing you to miss out on tree covered paths, excellent trail running, and safe routes on bike paths that travel through tunnels, consider mapping these on the computer and manually entering in the distances, or just noting your estimated differences when uploading your info.
Data is helpful, but we should not become overly reliant on it. As humans, we can use machines and technology to help us to our goals, but nothing replaces the individual effort and commitment we all need to achieve our goals on the day. Continue to trust in your ability and instincts. Let your GPS devices and apps be tools, but only one of many, in your arsenal.
Time for an easy gourmet meal that is quick to prep and clean-up, but packs some great flavors and nutrition. Enjoy this dish for lunch or dinner as it’s sure to impress your family or guests. We take African spices of cumin and cinnamon and pair with some tasty ground lamb or buffalo, adding in short grain brown rice for a balanced and satisfying meal.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 ¾ cups cooked short grain brown rice
- 4 medium to large bell peppers
- 1 pound ground lamb or buffalo
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup currants (look near raisins)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ½ cups vegetable juice (eg V8)
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- Zest of an orange
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Wash and cook brown rice as desired (boiling on stove top or in rice cooker)
- Cut tops off peppers and de-seed. Put peppers into over on cookie sheet or other casserole dish for 15-20 minutes
- Cook beef in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up beef until no longer pink, 4-6 minutes
- Stir in currants, cumin and cinnamon, cooking for 1 minute
- Stir in rice and cook for 30 seconds more
- Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup vegetable juice, mint, orange zest, salt and pepper
- Spoon beef mixture into peppers, pour remaining vegetable juice into the pepper and serving dish and microwave for 1 minute.
- Calories: 451
- Carbs: 48g
- Protein: 36g
- Fat: 12g
We began with a great breakfast to jump start your day, then a tasty chickpea and egg dish for lunch or dinner. Now we have a flavorful vegetarian dish, perfect for lunch or quick dinner when you are on the go. This is another crock-pot meal, so you can just throw everything in and have it ready when you get home in the afternoon. It stores well in the fridge or freezer, making for a healthy, sustaining meal that is packed full of great flavors.
Brown Rice Quinoa Fennel Risotto
This dish, prepared with brown rice and pecorino, creates a gluten and cow dairy free recipe, while vegetarian, packs a lasting satisfaction with the addition of quinoa along with fiber. Just 30 minutes to prep, then slow cook for 4-6 hours.
Coat a 4-quart crock-pot with cooking spray. Crush fennel seeds and combine with diced fennel, brown rice, carrot, shallot, garlic, green beans, olives, lemon zest and mushrooms in the pot. Add broth, 1 cut water, wine, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until rice is chewy and risotto is thick and creamy. On high heat 2 ½ hours, or low heat 4 hours.
Before serving or storing, stir in pecorino. If it too dry, add water to loosen.
Nutrition: Calories 353; Fat 8g, Carbs 56g, protein 14g
Last week we helped you make your own mixed fruit steel cut oatmeal, now we want to fuel your lunch or dinner!
Our next meal to help fuel your life, and make eating well easy for you. This recipe takes a just a short amount of prep work, and cooks in one non-stick skillet. Quick to cook and quick to clean up!
Bringing together some great tastes with vegetables, shredded potatoes, curry and ginger. Topped with an egg completes the meal with a healthy dose of protein. Easy to prepare and inexpensive on the wallet too.
Total cost: $21.64
Servings 4, Calories 382
What you’ll need: cutting board, 10 inch non-stick skillet with lid, cutting knife, can opener, measuring cup, measuring spoons, vegetable peeler, spatula/turner
This is a great meal to satisfy your needs for a busy day. Easy to make and clean up, so no excuses for ordering takeout. You can even have extra for lunch on the go the next day. Reheats in 2 minutes.
movecoach Director of Operations, Ironman triathlete & caterer, Brett Miller, shares his tasty Mixed Fruit Steel Cut Oatmeal recipe with us as part of our new series – movecoach Fuel!
As busy professionals, athletes, moms, or anyone on the run throughout the day, breakfast is probably the most neglected meal. The go-to breakfast of a bowl of cereal, or that muffin at Starbucks as you make your way to work may satisfy the taste buds, but it leaves you hungry in an hour as your sugar levels spike and then energy levels drop. In our effort to help create a sustained energy level, and longer satiation of hunger, movecoach has some recommended meals that are easy, healthy and taste great! This can be your first step in taking out a big chunk of processed foods from your diet too!
Our first breakfast up is Steel Cut Oatmeal with Mixed Fruit. This breakfast can be made ahead of time, and kept in the fridge for 4-5 days so it’s ready when you need it with just a quick warm-up in the microwave. You’ll find your hunger at bay longer through the morning, as well as better managing your blood sugar, improving energy levels.
With just a few purchases, you can be ready to make your own tasty oatmeal. We love our Trader Joe’s here in the bay area, so the below prices are what they charge for your first batch, but easy substitutions can be found at all grocery stores. Total cost your first trip is $17.49, but your next 2-3 times cooking will be only $2.99 each.
This can be made dairy-free, as well as gluten free. You’ll have to find Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats on Amazon or a specialty grocer for the gluten free version though.
Servings: 4-6 8oz servings
For stove top
Now you have a batch of a healthy, tasty, balance breakfast, ready to go when you are! Make sure you fuel your body well for the long day ahead!
March 17, 2015
Guest Blog Post from Heather Tanner
There are many things to worry about in the final days leading up to a marathon. Like mapping out a race strategy in line with your fitness so that you don’t end up becoming intimately acquainted with the “wall”. Like taking care of the not so little things such as sleep, nutrition and stress management to ensure that you can get to the starting line healthy. Point is, fueling strategy really shouldn’t be one of those worrisome things. As long as you practice your fueling method in the long runs leading up to the race and have figured out a way to ensure regular carbohydrate replenishment during the race, you will be ok on this front.
During my first marathon experience (Columbus Marathon, 2003), I was a novice on many fronts and broke some major cardinal marathon rules (most importantly: don’t start a marathon injured, ever!). I had no idea what I was doing on the fueling front either and recall being alone at the expo the day before, trying to decide what type of fluids to try (water or maybe that new, strange-tasting Accelerade?) and how many gels I might need (is 1 or 2 enough?). As was inevitable, my hip injury helped me avoid hitting the wall, by slowing me down in the form of 8 stretching breaks. Not pleasant, for the record. Let’s just say fueling probably would have gotten the better of me had something else not have gotten there first.
Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some amazing runners over the last 10+ years and have since followed a few simple yet important guidelines in order to avoid the “bonk”:
Note: Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, US Olympian and VP of R&D for Gu, told me about me this slow Gu consumption method after she had a successful marathon in cold “frozen Gu” weather (CIM, 2001 – 2nd: 2:37:57). Her Gu had formed into a cold, solid state and she was only able to consume small amounts at a time as it thawed. Despite this, Magda felt properly fueled.
Logistically, slow gel consumption can present some challenges. I prefer to hold onto the packet and take a small amount every minute or so, i.e. “sipping” on the gel. It can become a sticky mess, and the only helpful thing I can offer here is that this is all less annoying if you are wearing gloves. If you prefer other types of fuel, there are options that are already conveniently partitioned into smaller caloric chunks. Think Sport Beans or Clif shot blocks. Always intersperse gel consumption at or near water stations and practice this slow fuel consumption method in training.3.) Ingest electrolyte-based drinks, not just water - This is another fairly obvious one, but not always followed. Research has supported evolution of sports drinks over recent years and many are purportedly optimal for electrolyte replenishment during the marathon. If you have the choice, it’s best to use beverages backed by science and your own experience. Osmo, UCAN, GuBrew and Nuun are some good newer beverage options with solid science to support their use. The more common beverage choices serve their purpose for most of us too though (Gatorage, Powerade, etc.).
The same slow carbohydrate absorption rule may apply for your electrolyte drink, but remember that these drinks are often significantly diluted, which can be a good thing. If the race-provided drink tastes too concentrated, try to balance it out with more water consumption at the next station. This may help your digestive system to absorb the carbohydrates more easily.
I try to remember these themes as I race, but do so in an unscientific way because, in most cases, there are many other elements you cannot control over the course of 26.2 miles. You don’t want to create an overly specific fueling plan in case it becomes difficult to execute. One missed water station and you could find yourself in an unnecessary tailspin of distraction. Based on your individual body composition, it is certainly possible to estimate the precise amount of carbohydrate, electrolyte and fluid you should consume over the course of a marathon. It is extremely difficult to make that precision happen in real life, particularly if you are not fortunate enough to have the luxury of elite water bottles placed at regular intervals over the course. Fortunately, by keeping these general guidelines in mind, you can still get pretty close to optimal fueling and feel good come mile 26!
Published in Racing
March 01, 2015
We're 2 months into the New Year. Seems like a good time to revisit the goals we set on 1/1/15. Here's a look back at a great article by Dena Evans from 2010.