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.


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.

Boston Marathon 2014 Qualifying Times

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.

Ventura Marathon Official Pic2

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!


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!

TNB Group Pic3

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!

TNB Group Pic 2

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.

TNB 8 Min Pace Group2

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!

Eddie Luis Freddy David Josue Laura

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!

TNB 8 Min Pace Group

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!

TNB Tribal Run

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!

TNB 10 Min Pace Group

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!


How can I achieve success in running?

Success means different things to different people, and its a motivating factor many areas of our lives.  Before one can strive for success, the individual must first define what that “success” looks like.

Since this is a running blog, we’re focusing on success in running.  There are many tips and training programs out there that promise to elevate your performance to new levels, but what’s right for you?  That depends on what you want to accomplish!  Every runner has different goals, for example:

  • I want to lose weight; get fit; etc.
  • I want to run at least once a day #runstreak
  • I want to train for my first… (5k; 10k; half marathon; marathon; ultra; etc.)
  • I want to achieve a time goal… (PR or PB; qualify for Boston; etc.)
  • I want to run faster; longer; more often
  • I want to run to promote my charity
  • I want to race more frequently (12 races in 12 months, 1 race every weekend, 2 races in a single weekend, etc.)

As you can see (and probably noticed if you’ve been in the running community for some time), many runners run for different reasons.  But what is success and how do you achieve it?

First lets look at what success is.  Success can be defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  In running there is not just 1 singular aim or purpose, every individual has to define what it is they want to accomplish.  For many, success is measured by achieving specific goals.  But depending on the goal it’s recommended that runners have an A goal, B goal and sometimes a C goal.

Lets be honest, every Olympic athlete has a goal of winning a Gold medal, but does that mean they wouldn’t be happy with a Silver or Bronze?  For example if you have a goal of qualifying for Boston, you may come up short of that goal, but set a PR in the process.

Once you set your goal(s), its time to determine how you will work to achieve them.  A specific training/nutrition program? Calendar reminders?  Joining a running group/community?  Hiring a trainer?

One of the best ways to learn how to achieve a goal is to learn from someone who has already achieved that goal.  Better yet from someone who has an established track record of success in that area.

For many runners success is not about achieving a single goal, rather several goals over a period of time.  Resist the urge to tackle too many things at once.  Focus on 1 goal at a time, and/or make sure your multiple goals make sense together.  It may be easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but the runners who are successful focus on what is necessary to ensure their own success.

Personally, I don’t sign up for very many races throughout the year because my focus is to train for a fast marathon to qualify for Boston, but  someone who has a goal of running 12+ marathons in a year may decide not to race every one in order to ensure they will successfully make it through them all.

Finally, sometimes to achieve success it’s necessary to take a step back.  If you are an often injured runner for example, or always coming up short of your goal in races, it may be a wise decision to step back and analyze your strategy.  Do you need to adjust your running form, add or subtract from your weekly mileage, add cross training, modify your race strategy? It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, don’t let stubbornness hold you back!

I’ve seen many runners achieve amazing things!  Make sure your goals are realistic and you are willing to what it takes to reach them and you can achieve amazing things as well!

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