Fueling for Optimal Performance

I’m excited to announce that I am a now an Ignite Naturals Ambassador and Athlete.  Why Team Ignite?  It comes down to my desire to fuel for optimal performance, and to do it with healthy, natural ingredients!

One principal that I have adopted in my training philosophy is that to achieve premium performance the body requires premium fuel!  Now, there has been a lot of studies done about fueling and nutrition for marathon training, and while I am not a scientist, nutritionist, or dietitian, I think most will agree that what a person / athlete puts in their body has an affect on their training, performance, etc.  My personal experience using the Nutribullet showed me what I was capable of when properly fueled.  More quality training miles led to fitness gains, those fitness gains led to better performance.  My experience training with Team Nutribullet helped me to achieve one of my major goals as a runner, one that was always elusive and seemingly unattainable for me, qualifying for The Boston Marathon!

There is something about reaching a difficult goal that helps to build confidence.  After the LA Marathon I decided to try for a new 5k PR, and in the process try for another goal that has been elusive to me, running a sub 18.  Though I finished shy of my ‘A’ Goal (18:07), I came close enough that I shattered any notion that I cannot achieve a goal that I have in my mind.  I believe I can, and will go further!  While I have come closer than ever to performing to my full potential, I don’t think I’m anywhere close to hitting my limits.  In fact, one saying that I share with others, and truly believe is that the only limits we have, are the ones we put upon ourselves!

As a member of Team Ignite Naturals, I’m joining a group of founding endurance athletes, nutrition specialists and doctors who are obsessed with revolutionizing sports nutrition using real food ingredients.  Ignite Naturals products include everything from hydration products, pre-workout nutrition, energy gels, recovery products and so much more.  I can chalk up my recent successes to my training and key workouts.  In a given training week I run hills, track repeats and speed work, tempo runs, progressive paced and long slow distance runs.  Quality workouts takes energy, it also takes its toll on the body and this is where nutrition, hydration, fueling and recovery products come in.

For sure my daily Nutribullet blasts have played a huge part, but experiencing the benefits of proper nutrition has led me to make other changes in my diet as well, being more conscious about the things I put into my body and strategic about fueling.  I don’t want to neglect anything that will allow me to train my hardest, perform my best, and be ready to do it again the next day.  I also don’t want to put just anything in my body.  Honestly, I have been reluctant in the past to use supplements.  It seems that just as often as there’s a new magic supplement, there is a new harmful ingredient discovered.  I much rather use a product with Natural Ingredients!

From here on out, I will continue to push my limits, strive to set new PR’s and break down more barriers to redefine what’s possible for me!

 

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Leveling Up as a Runner

“It never gets easier, you just go faster” – Greg Lemond

The above quote was made by a cyclist, but it definitely applies to running as well.  Is it true?

I do believe there is truth to this statement, increased speed is a byproduct of hard work and training.  Where running is concerned I believe this statement is a little limited.  Obviously speed is not the only factor to consider, there’s strength, endurance, experience, mental toughness, etc.

You can even draw some parallels to the video game concept of leveling up.

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In some cases the “Leveling Up” is very literal.  Nike+ has a system that assigns a specific color as your total miles increase.  The color system is definitely a great way to encourage motivate runners.  Some runners take it further and participate in challenges as well.

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Then you have the  ‘Level Up’ training system developed by Adam and Kara Goucher and provided by Run The Edge.  The program structures the runner’s training as an actual game in which you accumulate points by completing a mix of different workout options, all assigned a certain number of points.  Accumulating a specific number of points will allow you to Level Up and move on to the next level!

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For those who grew up playing video games, all of this Leveling Up can appeal to our gamer sensibilities and to a degree, our competitive nature.  One common theme I’ve noticed is that after a certain level is achieved, there are more requirements to achieve the next level.

For me, the concept of Leveling Up in running relates to fitness, and other gains that I mentioned early in this post, (speed, endurance, strength, experience and mental toughness).  Initially these gains can make running feel easier.  The key is recognizing when we achieve these gains and stepping up our running and training accordingly.

Post LA Marathon I discovered that I had leveled up, in different areas of my running.  My tempo run pace felt much easier to maintain, previously challenging hills were no longer kicking my butt, etc.  I couldn’t help but test my new fitness during some workouts, resulting in some personal bests.  Since, I’ve decided to make some adjustments to my running and my goals.  I signed up for a 5k ready to run a new PR.

Here are 4 points if you have recently “Leveled Up”

  1. Challenge yourself – If workouts that were once considered challenging are much easier it may be time to step it up.  Feeling stronger?  It may be time to add more hills or more challenging workouts to your training.  Increased endurance? It may be time to start training for a longer race!  Faster?  You may benefit from a new pace group or training with some of your faster friends.
  2. Increase your mileage – To continue to see fitness gains it’s often necessary to increase weekly mileage as well.  Think about going from a Novice level training program to Intermediate.  Though there are different mileage options on training plans to accommodate those with busier schedules, generally more advanced training programs will include increased mileage.
  3. Recover – While stepping up your training efforts as a result of fitness gains its also important to consider recovery.  Being able to perform more quality workouts also means that it will take a toll on your body.  And while increased fitness may lead to taking less rest days during the week, recovery should not be neglected.  Whether its in the form of a complete rest day, an easy run, or cross training, its important to give your body a chance to recover to avoid over usage injuries, especially while you’re pushing yourself to new limits!
  4. Adjust your goals – I’ve touched on goals in a previous post and they will be different for everyone.  For many runners this means attempting to run a PR in a race.  For others it may mean racing a new distance be it a 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon, or Ultra.

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If you are struggling with leveling up and achieving fitness gains there may be different things to consider.

  1. Nutrition – Fueling your body is just as important as your training.  If your nutrition is suffering your performance will also suffer, at the very least, you will not be performing to your full potential.  For those struggling in this area it can be as simple as making healthier choices, for others it may not be so simple and I’d recommend consulting with a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist that’s familiar with the needs of endurance athletes.  I, personally saw great improvements after I incorporated using my NutriBullet and made other changes to my diet.
  2. Mix up your training – If the majority of your runs are the same distance, pace, terrain, etc. mixing it up is a great way to see improvement.  Longer runs should be slower, while shorter runs, faster.  Incorporating hills, trail running, and intervals can activate different muscle groups and lead to improvements.  Running on different surfaces is also a good idea.  A good running coach can identify areas on improvement and recommend different types of training, workouts, runs, to help get you to the next level.
  3. Rest / Recovery – Once again I must harp on rest and recovery.  If you are not seeing fitness gains one possibility is that you are not giving your body enough time to recover from hard workouts.  In addition to rest days, post run recovery is key.  Getting proper nutrients, proteins and carbs following a tough workout can help speed up recovery and maximize your fitness gains.

Best of luck to everyone, whatever your goals are, no matter what level you are at.  I believe that running should always be enjoyed, but its always nice to see progress!

Happy Running

– Eddie D

 

 

 

The Journey Part 1

Everyone’s life is a unique journey, and the same goes for running.  Its easy to appreciate someone’s accomplishments in running.  Runners, after all, are a still a minority, marathon runners even more so, and then you have triathletes and ultra-marathoners.  Many who don’t run are impressed at anyone covering any distance, regardless off the time. They may not always understand why we do it, but they respect the effort nonetheless.  Those who do run and participate in these sports have a little more insight about what it takes and can relate to the hard work put in.  Then there are others who are hard to impress, those who judge harshly and only recognize an accomplishment if it meets their specific criteria.  This narrow minded point of view is unfortunate.  To them I say: You can’t accurately judge someone’s accomplishments without knowing their journey!

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During my training with Team NutriBullet, I had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people and hearing lots of stories.  I was constantly inspired by their stories and by their accomplishments.  I learned the journey that brought them to Team NutriBullet, and I was also witnessing the journey that would lead them to the starting line of the 2014 LA Marathon.

Weightloss? Check! Overcoming personal hardships? Check! Overcoming health risks? Check!  Motivating family and friends to live a healthy lifestyle! Check!

When I look at what my Team NutriBullet teammates have overcome through their Journeys, it inspires me to strive for new heights, it makes me want to challenge myself even more!

My own journey may not be the most exciting, but it got me to where I’m at!

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I was pretty active as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s (even with my bad coordination), though I somehow never ran track or cross country.  I played basketball, softball, touch football, and other sports with my friends (though never good enough to make it on a team).  I biked and played handball with my dad, I was a cub scout and a boy scout, I took martial arts for nearly 5 years.

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I first started running in senior year of HS.  I ran and worked out with the Delayed Entry Program every Saturday morning to prepare for Marine Corps boot camp.  I somehow managed to run 3 miles in 18:30 in Boot Camp, but I didn’t get any faster.

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Though I occasionally enjoyed running, the Marine Corps also made me hate it at times.  Big, company formation runs were slow, dull and boring (even with cadences).  Give me a hard, fast, ridge run instead!  Give me a challenge!  Give me some adventure!  Early in my enlistment there were plenty of those, but later on they were few and far between. Eventually I got tired of running and when I got out after 8 1/2 years I stopped.  I stopped running for close to a year, though I wasn’t doing much of it anyway in my final year of enlistment.

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For much of my 1st year out of the Corps, I was pretty out of shape.  I not only gained weight, but I got slow and sluggish.  While I was enlisted, I didn’t worry much about what I ate, my metabolism was fast and I stayed active.  But now my bad habits had caught up to me. Eventually I got tired of feeling the way I felt; I didn’t like what was happening to me, and I wasn’t going to let it continue.  I decided to get in shape the best way I knew how… running.

When I started running again I started out with 1 mile, okay a little winded but not so bad, 2 miles, yeah, that sucked!  I wasn’t expecting the 18 year old kid who ran that 18:30 3 miler, but at least I could run a 7 minute pace?  Nope, not even close!  This was like starting from scratch, I was slow, winded and yes I was sore the next day!  And that was from only 2 miles!  I sucked it up and kept trying, I tried to commit to running, though I wasn’t consistent.  I had to retrain myself to get up early and run when I didn’t feel like it.  Eventually I started running with music to help motivate and distract me.  Though the first big step I took in my running came in ’08 when I started using Nike+ iPod!

… To Be Continued…

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A moment of gratitude

As the LA Marathon approaches its impossible not to reflect on the journey that led me to this point!  I have been vocal about saying that this is the best season of Marathon training that I’ve ever have.  I have Team NutriBullet to thank for that, but before more than just thank the whole group (which I do), I also want to thank individuals!

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Jasmine Diaz – My loving and encouraging wife.  I wouldn’t be able to take on this commitment to Team Nutribullet if it wasn’t for her understanding and support!  I know its not always easy for me to be out on Saturday Mornings when we may want to make other plans, but she understand my passion and goals and always has my back!

Thank you Jasmine for being the best wife a guy could ever have!

John LaPointe – It was John who reached out to me to be a pace group leader for Team NutriBullet.  I started running with John back in 2012 to train for the Malibu Half Marathon.  It was that group that allowed me to rediscover the joy of running.  This experience, however, has taken it to another level.  John served as the Running Coach for Team NutriBullet and has been responsible for instilling the principals of proper running form!

Thank you for everything John!  I’m glad to call you a friend!

Kenton – Kenton is a dynamic person, he’s the life force behind Team NutriBullet whether its up close and personal or behind the scenes! When you really find out all that Kenton does for NutriBullet, its amazing that he’s able to take care of all of the runners, but he’s always there for us!  Not only does he do it all with a smile on his face, but with an amazing energy that infects everyone!

Thank you Kenton for all that you do!

Sarah Lefkowitz – Sarah, Team NutriBullet’s registered dietitian, is not only helping to make sure that all of the runners are getting optimal nutrition for our demanding training schedule, she is training with Team NutriBullet as well!  I have had the pleasure of leading the 10 min/mile group for 2 weeks, picking her brain and soaking up her nutrition advice!  It is her NutriBullet recipes that have fueled me on my runs, allowing me to push past my “limits”

Sarah, thank you for keeping us fueled for success!

Monique – Monique is our trainer and responsible for making sure that our bodies are strong enough to both keep up with the toll of the Marathon training, but also perform at its very best!  She helps in a variety of fitness areas including strength training, core strength, endurance, injury prevention, and more.  Though I have not taken advantage of her weekly sessions I have really taken to the idea of core strength and have been planking almost daily.  All of the yoga sessions I have attended have been so dynamic that honestly I wish I attended more.  The real proof is in the pudding and for those that really need and seek her help, she has been heaven sent!

Thank you Monique for molding our team into lean mean running machines!

Jeremy – The guy behind the scenes handling the production and making sure we all look good!  Its all fun and games until you’re caught on camera acting a fool!

Thank you Jeremy for capturing the entire experience!

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My 8 Minute Pace Group Members – David, Luis, Laura, Freddy, Marko, and Peter.  Its easy to lead a group like this!  This group has changed a bit since training first started.  However, down the stretch we have had our core members to count on!  The conversations on our runs have been great!

  • David – you were the first motivated one to join the 8 minute group!  You were committed to run a BQ and I was committed to get you there!  You rep ARC hard but also represent Team Nutribullet well!  I wish you all the best and hope you achieve your goals!
  • Luis – I think I approached you about running with the 8 minute group and you were more than willing and motivated for the challenge!  You’re not only a strong runner, but a great RD as well!  You are definitely a more capable runner than you give yourself credit for!  I hope the LA Marathon is a confidence builder for you; I see you doing big things!
  • Laura – It was great having you with the 8 minute group!  You have such a strong running background with such elite company and you have been generous about sharing all of the things you’ve learned!  You’ve also come up with some great discussion topics during our runs to keep things fun and free.  I hope your injuries are behind you and kill it at the LA Marathon!
  • Freddy – The famous runner who has graced us with his presence and his big heart!  Your pictures are the stuff of legend!  It has been my pleasure to get to know you better as a runner and as a person!  Thanks for letting me carpool with you, and thanks for running with the 8 minute group even though some of the rest of us had a hard time staying on pace!
  • Marko – Thanks for bringing your energy to the 8 minute group!  You’re always up for a challenge and sometimes that meant leaving the rest of us in the dust when someone faster is up ahead (usually Peter).  Even still its great to see your enthusiasm for running and your confidence.  Its amazing that you’re so swift on your feet at 200+ pounds!  Hope that epic fartlek run doesn’t bite us on Sunday!
  • Peter – You’re the Team NutriBullet Veteran along with Freddy and a few others.  You are also an incredible runner and sup-athlete.  It was running laps around Hazeltine park with you that really boosted my confidence at the peak of our training!  Thanks for all of the advice and motivation.  I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it!  Go kill it!

Crispin and Cynthia – I’ve been following all of your feats and accomplishments with LASP and it’s definitely been a motivator for me to step it up with my own running.  Having the both of you run with the 8 minute pace group, if only for one Saturday, was inspirational.  I wish you all much success with “The Speed Project” and thank you again for your motivation and support!

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To all of the Team NutriBullet Runners – You guys have been nothing short of an inspiration to me!  All of you with so many different stories, and goals.  You’ve over come so much to get to this point.  I’m proud of you all and want to see each of you cross that finish line proudly Sunday at the LA Marathon!  After the culmination of all our training, its time to execute on race day!

Happy Running!

-Eddie D

Strategic Focus or Taper Madness?

The LA Marathon weekend is 2 Weeks away and if reality has not kicked in for runners, it will very soon!  For me, this LA Marathon is about taking the next step!  I have, during the past few months, stepped up my efforts in training and nutrition in an attempt to finally get over the hurdle and qualify for The Boston Marathon.

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A Boston Qualifier has been a target of mine since I finished my first Marathon in 2009, although back then it didn’t quite seem possible!  In 2010 it was something I was striving for, and when I completed The Philadelphia Marathon only 2 minutes shy of this goal it was a full on obsession!  I came way shy in my BQ attempt when I ran The Pasadena Marathon in 2011.  To be honest, although I was telling myself I wanted to qualify for Boston I was not training like a runner who really wanted to qualify for Boston.

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My training schedule was a mess, with holes all over and no consistency whatsoever.  I thought I’d make it because I had some speed, but I didn’t respect what it really takes to reach that goal! There were other factors as well including a Vitamin D deficiency that I didn’t know about until before the 2012 Malibu Half Marathon.

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Fast forward to 2013, I ran my first marathon in 2 years at The Ventura Marathon.  At the time I needed to run a 3:05, a tall order for sure, but I was up for the task.  I didn’t have a Garmin during my training only a stop watch, which was both good and bad.  Good: I learned how run by feel!  Bad: Running by feel concept didn’t work during the race when I got swept up with Half Marathoners and went out too fast.  Despite my horrible execution on race strategy, I still managed to run a 3:16 which gave me a lot of confidence for not having run a marathon in 2 years!

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There are a lot of factors in play that, I hope will lead to me reaching my goal at the 2014 LA Marathon.  I’ve posted about my experience with Team NutriBullet, and while I won’t get into all of those details again, I will say it is this training experience and change of mindset that has put me in the position to reach my goals.  Training, proper running form, proper nutrition, in addition to a smart / balanced training strategy has all paid off in a big way!

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The final part of the puzzle is race strategy, and this is where I have been obsessing a bit!  (Okay, maybe a lot!)  Since I attribute my “blow up” at the Ventura Marathon to poor race strategy, I refused to let that be the case once again!  I have a Garmin now, so that should help me from going out “Too fast”, but what about after?  Do I just wing it from there?  No, I refuse to leave it to chance for my big race!  I just had to break down the miles, not to mention I’m also taking a college math class so I’ve been manipulating numbers for weeks!

The rough plan: Run the 1st 3 miles at 7:30 pace; the next 3 miles at 7:15 pace; the bulk of my miles at 7:00 pace, and the final 4+ miles at 6:45 pace if I’m feeling good!  I broke it down and it puts me under 3:05 (about 3:04:36), and if I cant run 6:45 for the final 4+?  I’d still come in about 3:07, still sub 3:10.

So then the question is, can I actually execute this plan?  According to my training its feasible!  I’ve been able to hold a 6:30 pace pretty well on my tempo runs so the 7 min/mile pace should be very manageable.  7:30 for the early miles is slower, but not that slow, it averages out pretty nicely after running all of them 7 minute miles.  (Does it sound like I’m obsessing?)

LAM Course Map

So then there’s the part about negative splits.  According to my plan I’ll run the first half at about 1:33:15 and my second half at about 1:31:21 (Obviously numbers are never exact)  a 2 minute negative split is not a huge stretch right?  After all I have run a lot of progressive paced runs during my training to prepare for just that!  As I continue to crunch these numbers it may be easy to second guess myself, or try to alter the strategy.  I mean even as I type this I was thinking of ways to modify the plan.  With 2 weeks left is this just another form of Taper Madness, or is it the type of Strategic Focus that I’ve been missing for my previous races.

To be honest my training has been very solid and focused, my mileage has been the highest, and most consistent that it has been since, ever? And once again the x-factor is my nutrition!  All of my previous marathon successes have come despite my training shortcomings, now its time to see what I can do when I’m doing things the right way!  Who knows maybe writing all this in my blog will get it all out my system.  Yep, then I can move onto obsessing about other things, like the the race day weather! 😉

LAM Weather Forecast!

Happy Running!

Team NutriBullet – The Final Stretch!

With three weeks left until the Asics LA Marathon, I’m literally in the final stretch of my training with Team NutriBullet!  If you missed my previous posts and am unfamiliar with Team NutriBullet, you can read about my training here and here!

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Team NutriBullet!

This Saturday morning was Team Nutribullet’s final long run before the LA Marathon.  We ran from Joes gym to Marina Del Rey and back one of our rare long runs that did not include a tribal run or loops around a park.  It served as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the LA Marathon.  We were all wearing our Team NutriBullet gear, we stayed in our groups and ran our paces.  I had the honor of “leading” the 8 minute pace group!  I say “leading” because at this point in our training we are pretty much a well oiled machine!  We stayed together and hit our target pace for most of the run, though some nagging pains forced a couple of runners to fall back a bit.

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All Smiles Halfway Through 20 Miles

I had the honor and pleasure of running with 2 sub-elite athletes and members of the Los Angeles Speed Project (LASP) Crispin Lazarit and Cynthia V Zarate, who were both original Team NutriBullet Members!  For our groups final 20 miler this was a great opportunity to pick their brains and get some great marathon advice from 2 runners who have both qualified for Boston many times.  For me, personally, it was a huge boost of motivation to run with them and I just felt the positive energy and good vibes!  As happy as we all were to run with them, they were both very gracious in joining our group and running those miles with us!

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This 20 miler was the culmination of a training program that started in December and will bring us all to the starting line of the LA Marathon as stronger, healthier runners!  As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about Team NutriBullet, we have lots of expertise at our disposal, from dietitians and nutritionists, to strength and fitness trainers to running coaches.  All of this, to impart wisdom to all of our teams runners, to help us all to be more balanced as athletes.  In short, all of these areas are important, proper diet, strength and core training, and running form all make for a much more successful running experience when applied!

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8 Min Group w/ Coach John LaPointe

When I was asked to be a member of Team NutriBullet, I was also asked to be a pace group leader, which was a great honor for me, and not an opportunity I took lightly!  I was asked to pace the 8 minute group, which was a bit nerve racking in the beginning since I didn’t know how many runners would actually be in my group!  For the first 2 group runs there really wasn’t a set established 8 minute group, but slowly the group came together!  Looking at what it is now, all of the runners are exactly where they need to be! Being able to keep a conversational at a specific pace is one tell tale sign that its the right pace for a long run!  As much fun as I’ve had pacing the 8 minute group throughout this training program I have been willing to do what has been asked of me!  Some weeks this meant running as a “tribe” during the first few miles of our long run!  This “tribal run” helped to unite the group and give runners in different pace groups, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to run together or strike up a conversation to do just that!

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Tribal Run

I have also had the pleasure of leading the 10 minute pace group for 2 weeks due to necessity by the group.  I’ll be honest, in a small way I dreaded my first run with the 10 minute group because I thought it would be much too slow for me, but something happened, I settled in and enjoyed it!  Actually, I enjoyed it a whole lot!!  So much so, that when I was asked to pace the 10 minute group again the next week I was happy to take the task!  I have learned that every pace group brings their own energy!  Their own goals, and their own experiences!  When I went back to running with the 8 minute group it was bitter sweet!  I was thrilled to re-join my 8 minute group, but sad to leave the 10 minute runners as well!  I almost wished both groups would run at a happy medium pace, but that wasn’t realistic for anyone involved!

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10 Min Pace Group

So what’s next?  It’s time to taper and rest up for the LA Marathon!  We still have a few group runs left before March 9th, but the core of our training is complete!  I am extremely proud of everyone who has trained with our group, and am hopeful that everyone will reach their goals!  Whether its a first marathon, a PR attempt or a BQ attempt I believe everyone is now in a better position to achieve what they are set out for!  For those runners dealing with nagging injuries, now is the time to heal up and get healthy for race day!  I am thrilled to share my LA Marathon experience with this group, and when I wear that Team NutriBullet logo on my chest and back I will be representing the entire group proudly!

There are so many great people in Team Nutribullet so in my next point I will try to share about some of these amazing individuals!

Happy Running!

~Eddie