2018 Marine Corps Marathon training blog
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2018 Marine Corps Marathon training blog Live

WTOP's Sarah Beth Hensley shares her Marine Corps Marathon training journey.

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    Coaches share running safety tips

    Running safety is always important, but the recent death of a woman fatally stabbed during a run in D.C.'s Logan Circle is a reminder of some of the things runners should always keep in mind when they head out.
     
    Even the most experienced runners have to keep safety in mind, said Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann, co-founders of the running coaching company Run Farther and Faster.
     
    One of the most important things runners can do is run in a group or with someone else, Sapper said.
     
    “Running with other folks is an automatic protective mechanism that allows people not only to feel safer, but they actually are safer,” Sapper said, adding that when runners aren’t able to run in a group, they might choose to run in a busier, more populated place, such as a track.
     
    Runners should be wise about the gear they bring, too. Don’t leave the house without a fully charged cellphone, Reichmann recommended.
     
    “Not only for personal safety to use if you are in danger yourself, but if you come across a runner or a pedestrian or a car or someone else who needs help, having a fully charged cellphone with you is really important,” Reichmann said.
     
    Read more of their tips on WTOP.com:
    (Getty Images/iStockphoto/jacoblund)
     
     

    Tips to prevent 'runner's knee' and other common running injuries


    Aches and pains associated with runner's knee plague many runners. "Runner's knee" is a catchall term for numerous conditions that cause knee pain, and many have felt its effects.

    Injuries suck. They can knock the wind out of a promising training season, or prevent racing entirely. I've coped with Iliotibial Band Syndrome, (aka IT Syndome), which has sidelined me in the past.

    As a runner vulnerable to knee pain of my own, I had some questions about runner's knee as well as other common running injuries. I turned to Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, medical director of MedStar Sports Medicine, who shared tips for spotting runner's knee, identifying its causes and preventing it.

    Read in on WTOP.com:

    Marathon training: What to eat during long runs

    I think a lot about eating -- especially when I'm running. As I crank up the mileage, I dream of pizza, yearn for cake and ruminate over where I can get a burger.
     
    I know that those aren't the best things to fuel my body during a long run, and they certainly don't pack well either.
     
    While I've ruled out chowing down on some things during my runs, I still had questions about what the best types of foods to eat during longer runs and when it should be eaten.
     
    I turned to Andrea Goergen, a clinical dietitian at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, who helped answer my questions and gave me some tips about eating during long runs.
     
    Read in on WTOP.com:
    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
     

    Training plan woes

     
    We are about two months out from the Marine Corps Marathon! And the race draws closer, it's vital to stay on top of training plans.
     
    Unfortunately, I'm not wild about my training plan. This year, I'm kind of working off of a "Frankenstein" training plan that combines parts that work for me and my life, and the training plan built by Olympian Jeff Galloway. I like the Galloway plan generally; his marathon training plans for the Walt Disney World marathon are hugely helpful (and free), so I've leaned on them for most races I've ever done.
     
    However, this year I opted for a more demanding version of the plan that aims to shave off time. Let me say this: I'm up for a challenge, but perhaps not up to the mileage. Its longest run is 29 miles. That's right, 2-9. Uhhhh, what? Last time I checked, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Anything more than that distance seems pretty loony tunes.
     
    So needless to say, I'm shaving off some mileage during the longer runs. An upcoming run calls for 26 miles -- which to me means 20-something and calling it a day. I think that's pretty good pre-marathon no matter what!
     
    I do like that this training plan incorporates some speed work. I've been doing some mile repeats, a taxing experience, but a welcome change up, too.
     
    Still, I stress about my training plan and worry I'm over training, or fret that I am not running enough. I wonder, are my long runs too long? Are my weekday runs too short? I second-guess so many of these choices. But I've learned to approach training plans with flexibility and manage expectations.
     
    There are going to be days I will skip runs, and it's OK. There will be times I feel fine running 15 miles, and other days where running 5 miles is a chore. There is no perfect science when it comes to training for a race, and listening to your body is vital.
     
    No matter what the training plan, I can't stress how important rest days are. I take the rest days very seriously, and embrace any chance to take a breather. I love running, and training can be fun, but rest days can be the best days.
     
    So how is your training coming along? What plans are you using? Tell me in the comments or tweet at me!

    Time management tips to help you make it through marathon training

    Running makes me happy, but it takes some serious time. I often feel like it's one more thing I have to do on my ever-growing list of tasks.

    Just because it's something I enjoy doesn't mean I'm not exempt from putting it off, prioritizing other things ahead of it or just not feeling up to it. Marathon training means longer miles, which can suck even more time no matter what you're up against. Chores, work, commuting, time with friends and family and other distractions can often leapfrog my running plans.

    Regardless of my own excuses, I know it comes down to time management. Running might by one more thing in a busy schedule, but it can be possible to work it in.

    Here are some of my tips for making time for running:

    --Come up with a plan. At the beginning of the week, map out how many miles you have to run on which days, where you want to run them and any other scheduling conflicts you may have. Knowing your time constraints and making a plan for how to overcome that can be crucial. Have an early Monday meeting? Plan to run in the evening. Doing carpool duty in afternoon? A morning run may suite you best. Can't squeeze a run in? You may have to set that alarm for even earlier. Having a plan can make you feel ready to take on any obstacles.

    --Work out in the morning. I'm 1,000 percent more likely to get my run in if I do it in the morning. If I wait until later in the day, I'm bound to have excuses: I'm too tired, my stomach is upset, I spent too long at work, plans came up or Netflix beckons to me. Get up and knock it out. You'll feel better, be more accomplished and won't have it hanging over your head all day as one more "to-do."

    --Think outside the box. Take any opportunity you can to book your run. Try running at lunch; run to or from work. Taking the kids to soccer practice or getting your car serviced? Pack your running clothes and do it while you're waiting. Think about 30-minute segments where you can add running into a jam-packed day.

    --Minimize distractions. This is my biggest challenge. I can get lost on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, emails or just going through photos on my phone. The time that I have blocked off for a run can dwindle as I get lost in my phone. My advice is to put your phone by the door and don't grab it until you're ready to head out for a run (if you take your phone with you.) Otherwise, leave it behind. Keeping it out of sight can keep you focused on getting ready to head out the door to run.

    --Lay out your running clothes. Having your running clothes set out ahead of time can save the precious moments you have and may have spent looking for your socks, running shoes or that perfect running T-shirt.

    --Just say "no." Remember, you signed up for this. That means you may have to say "no" when people ask you to go out or take on a task that interferes with your running plans. I'm not saying you should pass on your family BBQ to run, but it may mean happy hour has to take a back seat to that 4-mile run you know you need to tackle.

    What do you do to help manage time and train? Let me know! Tell me in the comments or tweet at me!

    Pass on a training group? Here are 7 tips for running alone

    Running alone -- it's something I do more often than I'd like. But there are ways to stay safe and make it less boring. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
     
    Marathon training is tough -- and going it alone can leave runners feeling isolated, bored and apathetic.
     
    And that's where I often find myself during this Marine Corps Marathon training period. I tend to run alone -- and not necessarily because it's my preference. I work a slightly in the afternoon/evening hours at WTOP and find that during the work week I run at times when many "normal" people have long been at the office. On the weekends, however, I am regretful I haven't joined a group with companions to push me and keep me company.
     
    Earlier this year, I joined a training group for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler race, and I found it extremely helpful! Not only do groups provide training plans, but they also offer group runs and an outlet to meet new people interested in the same hobby as you. It's a helpful support network where coaches give you detailed routes, advice and methods help prepare you for a race.
     
    Many of the running groups in the D.C. area started their training plans weeks ago, but it may not be an issue to join one for those who are still interested.
     
    However, for those who may have missed the boat, here are my tips for solo running:
     
    1. Safety first! It's crucial to be aware and prepared when running alone. It's wise to run in bright clothes on well-lit, well-traveled routes. Let a friend/significant other know when you're running and where. Running without headphones will increase your awareness and is always a good idea -- but some people may find that virtually impossible when running alone. I know I'm fueled by podcasts, audiobooks and music on my long runs. To keep safety in mind, keep one earbud out, turn down the volume or try an "open" set of headphones, where music is played through bone conduction instead of through an earbud in the ear.
     
    2. Recruit a friend. The D.C. area is rich with runners, so find a friend, family member or coworker willing to jog with you. Even if they're not training for a race, they may be interested in tagging along.
     
    3. Meet halfway. There are times that I can't convince my friends to join me on runs that are more than a few miles long, and I get that! So if they're interested in running, I have them meet me in the last few miles of my longer runs. It's a pleasant distraction when I need it most, and it gives me some company.
     
    4. Stick to what you know. Don't try a new, unfamiliar route when you're running alone. It's not a time you want to get lost or find yourself in an unsafe area.
     
    5. But change things up. If you're getting bored, try something new for your run. One option is to add in some intervals -- meaning pick up the pace for a shorter distance. Pick out a landmark ahead and kick it up a notch until you reach that marker. Then slide back in to your regular pace. Rinse and repeat. Also, if you typically run the same loop, try running it in the opposite direction -- you may see things you hadn't going the other way.
     
    6. Carry identification. It's important to have your ID on you just in case of an emergency ... or you need a beer toward the end of your run. One time my husband ran with his ID while we were on vacation. Naturally, the slim piece of plastic fell out of his arm band, leading to an all-day endeavor to find it before a flight home. My advice: secured that ID! Or get ID tags that can go on bracelets or shoes. Here some of the many options on Amazon.
     
    7. Try positive self talk. If you're bored, tired or hurting, try a little pep talk to get through the rough patches. The Runner's Resource recommends mantras such as “Today is a great day,” “I believe in myself,” “I am ready,” or simply, “Breathe, Relax." What works for me? "You can do this, Sarah Beth!" It's super corny, I know, but it helps gets me through the leg cramps, hot days and hills!
     
    What helps you get through runs when you're solo? What tips do you have when you're headed out alone? Tell me in the comments or tweet at me!

     It's training time!

    It's that time of year again -- time to lace up the running shoes, do some stretches and mentally prepare myself for running in D.C.'s unrelenting summer humidity! I'm running in the Marine Corps Marathon again!

    It's my third year running the Marine Corps Marathon, which takes place Oct 28. Although I've run the race before, I learn something new about myself through every training cycle. I learn about fortitude, attitude, ambition and perseverance. I also learn some harder lessons too -- like don't have that third cup of coffee before heading out for a jog (hello, jitters!), and don't put off a long run until the afternoon during summer's sweltering heat.

    Whatever I'm taking away this year, you'll read about it here. I'm planning to share details about my training plan, diet and obstacles. I'm also seeking answers to my own questions: I plan to speak with the pros about shoes, doctors about foods and trainers about rest days.

    While I'm looking forward to another race, I'm not always thrilled about the whole training part leading up to it. Running is hard work; running 26.2 miles can feel like a death wish. I'm hoping this blog inspires others who are on their own training journies, no matter the distance. 
     
    So stick with this blog for more, and be sure to comment on this blog if you have any questions or thoughts. You can find me tweeting about running on too -- follow me here.
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