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

 

 

 

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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

Running the LA Marathon to Support Veterans – Why I need your support!

A new year is upon us and with that goals and resolutions.  Most people make resolutions on things they want to accomplish, and how they will better themselves.  It’s reasonable that people focus on self improvement (heck, I have my own goals as well) but what about helping others?

Early last month I posted about how I was running the 2014 LA Marathon to help raise money in support of Military Veterans.  Since then I have received plenty of support, kind words and donations.  My ultimate goal is to raise $2014 (2014 in 2014).  But I also want to raise awareness for the cause.

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Brenai Foundation has been working hard to support Military Veterans.  Founder Keaver Brenai started the organization because of her own experience as a Military Family member.

From the Brenai Foundation Website:

BRENAI FOUNDATION™ Linking Our Troops Through Music is a nationwide project bridging our Veterans with military focused employers, transition housing, and music therapy tools for Veteran children.

We provide critical information services to Veterans and their families. Life after deployment transitional assistance, separation guidance for children and families, as well as linking disabled and low-income Vets to resources to secure their quality of life. Our team is well equipped with military Veterans, military children, educators, and others ready to help with a passion for service.

I, myself am a military veteran (Marine Corps), and know how difficult transition to civilian life can be.  I was fortunate that I was granted an opportunity shortly after I got out, but many don’t have it that easy.  I have many friends and family members who have struggled after getting out of the military to find good paying jobs to support their families.  Disabled Vets have it even tougher, and while there are some extra benefits for their disability, most of them continue to struggle.

Why should our Military Veterans suffer after giving so much of themselves to support our country?  Brenai Foundation is doing the hard work to make a change.  Instead of just talking about the problem they are taking action!

To reach this goal of 2014 in 2014, I am upping the ante and stepping up MY efforts as well!  In addition to Running the 2014 LA Marathon:

  1. I will commit to running 2014 total miles in 2014.
  2. I will shave my head and facial hair “Boot Camp Style” when I reach my goal of $2014
  3. I will have special giveaways!

Stay tuned for more details on all of this including a current “before” picture of me with all of my hair!

I’m also open to suggestions!  I am very committed to helping this charity and willing to work for it (including doing some crazy things!)

Check out my fundraising page! If you are inclined to do so, please give what you can and donate to this wonderful charity!! – http://www.crowdrise.com/2014forveterans/fundraiser/Eddied80

Once again, to learn more about Brenai Foundation visit their website: http://Brenai.com

Thanks,

Eddie