Category Archives: coaching

stuff coaches say…

Marathons – The Mental Part

Marathons are tough! I’ve run more than 50 of them so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what is involved. About 15 months ago I set my sights on Boston. I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to qualify on my own and realized that I could use some help.

I started working with Coach Val in March. She did an initial evaluation and worked with me on running form to improve my efficiency. She built a custom training plan designed to make me faster and managed to squeeze some pre-existing races into the schedule. We looked at both heart rate and cadence and set targets for those. We discussed diet and worked to improve the type and quality of food that I was eating. We also looked at sleep and I made an effort to get more consistent rest.

My training went really well. I had one week where I missed most of my runs, but otherwise I stuck to the plan. During the final two months of training, I put an even higher priority on getting the miles in. There were some aches and pains along the way, but Val managed to keep me injury free. She also worked with me on mental preparation towards the end, which is crucial to marathon success.

When race day came, I arrived at the start line better prepared than I have ever been. The course was mostly flat and the weather was cooperative, a bit humid but overcast. I was excited to get started and had a fairly high confidence level in a successful outcome.

The plan going in was to run even splits and focus on individual miles, not overall time. It is good to have some checkpoints, but it’s far too easy to get obsessed with overall time. Everything is great when you have time “in the bank,” but things often get challenging mentally when you start to use some of that buffer up.

I’ve always said that marathons can be divided into thirds: the first 10 miles, the next 10 miles, and the last 10 kilometers. 

The first 10 miles went well. I kept an eye on pace and things were fairly consistent. I felt good. Towards the end of the next 10 miles I started to feel a bit of fatigue. My splits were still in the target range, but I was working harder to maintain pace. Looking at the data after the fact, my average pace was 7:43 for the first 10 miles and dropped to 7:45 for the next 10 miles.

The last 10K was tough, especially miles 22 and 26. Those were the miles where I reminded myself that Coach Val believed in me and replayed in my mind all the times that she had told me “you’ve got this.” I also thought about the conversation that I would have after the race with Coach Val and didn’t want it to be about what I could have done differently. I knew that I had to dig deep and push through. Average pace dropped to 7:52.

In the end, I was able to run a strong race and meet my goal of qualifying for Boston. My second half was 30 seconds slower than my first half. That’s not the holy grail of negative splits or my race goal of even splits, but it’s pretty amazing based on my history.

Training is about more than just knowledge. Even if you know what to do and how to do, you need an external force to hold you accountable and keep you motivated. That’s where a coach comes in…

It’s also a huge benefit to have someone knowledgeable assess your readiness. Again, look to your coach. They know you, they know what your training has been, and they’ve helped you every step of the way. If they say you can do something you can be pretty certain that they know what they are talking about.

It’s great when your mom tells you that you can do it, but she’s your mom. What’s she supposed to say?


Coach Larry

NOTE: If you plan to look at individual splits on your watch rather than focus on overall time (which I highly recommend), you need to take 2 – 5 seconds off your target pace. That’s because of the extra distance that you wind up running. My Garmin always measures longer than the stated distance. In this case it was 26.34 miles which is pretty efficient, but this was a small marathon. That extra distance translates to about 2.5 seconds per mile, so my overall time was about a minute longer than predicted by the individual mile splits.

Running By Feel

SweatTracker TTT7/15/14

Tuesday Training Tip:

In “Run – The mind-body method of running by feel”, Matt Fitzgerald talks about striking the right balance between listening to your body and following a training plan to the letter. Learning to listen to your body is really important in running. Some days, you’ll have the energy for a tempo run even if your plan calls for a short run and other days, you will barely make it through a few miles when your plan calls for a long run. Be ok with it! As long as you complete all of your workouts and you don’t overlook rest days, running by feel will allow you to better understand how your body reacts to external factors (lack of sleep, bad food, tough day at work) and adapt. Mentally, you will still get a sense of accomplishment and you will look forward to the next workout knowing that there is an option to do something different based on how you feel that day.  – Coach Val

#TuesdayTrainingTip #SweatIsSexy #TrainingTip #Fitness #Coaching

Hot Sauce Is Boss: The Secret To Eating Healthy

Hot Sauce

Tabasco, Tapatio, Cholula, Frank’s, Sriracha, Crystal, Valentina. Besides sounding like a reunion of my father’s side of the family, all these names share only one common description, hot sauce.

As an athlete, personal trainer, and run coach, I realize the importance of fueling your body with the proper nutrients in order to replenish the muscles and promote increased strength. Do I enjoy eating steamed broccoli and carrots, with a side portion of brown rice? Um, no. But can I dash a few drops of my traveling Tapatio 5 oz. bottle on top before? DOWN!

3 Reasons To Add Hot Sauce To Your Meal

  • Eat Healthy Foods!

You’ve been listening to it for years, in order for you to have the six-pack like the peeps on the Abercrombie poster, you have to drop the burgers, hotdogs, and pizza for healthier foods such as cauliflower, tofu, artichokes, quinoa and spinach!?!? It’s not the fact that we don’t want to eat healthy, it’s just that double bacon cheeseburger, dripping with extra ranch and bbq sauce tastesso much better! Well, coming from somebody who didn’t have his first onion until his girlfriend made him eat one during junior year of college, I have found a solution! Mask the flavor, or should I say lack of flavor that veggies, grains, and beans have, with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce! The best thing of all, hot sauce contains ZERO calories! So, if you’re still tasting “healthy,” just add more!

  • Kickstart Metabolism! Burn Fat!

The reports of two separate studies, Oxford Journals in 2011 & American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2006, found that “capsaicin and capsiate both augment energy expenditure and enhance fat oxidation, especially at high doses.” Capsaicin is the active component found in chili peppers and is responsible for the burning sensation you feel when consuming them. Enhanced fat oxidation is a fancy way of saying, you’re burning more fat! It’s simple. Eat hot sauce, kickstart your metabolic system, burn fat!

  • Increase Daily Water Intake!

The recommended daily intake for water is 1/2 of your body weight in oz. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs. then you should be consuming at least 90 oz. of water daily. The human body is roughly 60% water, and needs water in order to maintain a state of homeostasis and keep all the body’s processes, pathways, and systems running smoothly. Most people don’t even drink half the recommended amount of water they should, and certainly not every day. Spicy makes our mouth burn, and cold ice water cools it down. Eat Spicy, Drink Water!

Can you say, having your cake and eating it too? Let’s recap, you get to enjoy eating a healthy meal by adding some spice to it. Then, you get to kickstart your metabolism and burn some fat. Finally, you get to ensure you’re getting enough water by constantly relieving yourself of the fire occurring on your tongue. That’s it! I’ve solved the roadblock to eating healthy
Instead of ending this article with a cheesy 90’s song title reference, I will simply encourage you all to take a tip from one the greatest pop bands ever, and “Spice Up Your Life!”
Bon Apetit!


– Coach Jon