Monday, May 26, 2014


I mentioned back in January that I finally joined a running group. Despite having run two full marathons and almost 20 half marathons, I have never had a formal coach. Plus, this group uses a kinder, gentler training program called the Galloway Method

Established by Olympian Jeff Galloway, the training program uses a less-is-more approach to running: two 30-45 minute maintenance runs, two cross training days, and one long run that progressively increased in mileage each week. The long run includes walk intervals, with the walk/run ratio determined by each runner's average pace. My ratio was four minutes, walk one minute.

This was really hard for me to buy into at first. Only three days of running? You have to be kidding. When I trained for my marathons, I was running 5 days a week, and logging around 40 miles a week at the peak of my training. I suffered from bulging discs afterwards, but hey! I was a marathoner, right? The notion of walking goes against every fiber of my being; every time I took walking breaks previous to this training method, it sabotaged my remaining mileage. The rest of the run was sluggish or I ended up walking more than I ran - that is, if I was able to keep running at all. 

The key is to use a wristwatch with an interval timer, and only walk for 60 seconds. During the information meeting, Coach Rob explained the premise behind the walk intervals. It flushes out the lactic acid from the muscles, which shortens post-run recovery time. Also, and surprisingly, it improves performance. A person who runs 5 miles without stopping will actually finish slower than a runner who breaks up their mileage with walking intervals would.     

Coach Rob went on to discuss the basics of running, and laid out all the stuff I had to learn the hard way...right there at the information meeting, for free. Hydration, wicking fabric, and proper shoe fit were all covered. Had I gotten a coach 13 years earlier, I could have spared a half-dozen toenails and much chafing. My apologies for the visual.

I had also hoped that the running group would make me more accountable. Typically, training for an event gets me out running. But as I've gotten older, creakier - and more likely, lazier - training for a race has proved to be less of a motivator. After running fewer than five training runs for my last (miserable) half marathon, I knew the motivation of a race alone was no longer sufficient. I hoped to make some new friends, and even possibly find a running partner. We met each Saturday for 12 weeks, training for a half marathon called Mountains2Beach. 

Warning. Rant ahead. 

Mountains2Beach? The absence of spaces make me spitting mad. I mean, really. It reads like a bad text. You know, back in the day when everyone had crappy data plans? Everyone was limited to a ridiculously low number of characters, and had2resort2usingnumbers&nospaces4brevity

The running group planned on meeting in a designated spot prior to the start time. It was so wedged with bodies, aside from briefly running into the other coach, Tom -- who is just about the nicest person ever, and also happens to have the most magnificent arm hair and Caucasian afro -- I saw no one else from our running group.

Coincidentally, my best girl's friend Dana, who ran Dirty Girl and the Warrior Dash with us, was also running this race with her sister. We discussed meeting up at the race on Facebook, and I was able to connect with them. I figured we would chat a few minutes post-race, and then we would part ways once the race began. I was pleasantly surprised that they ran my pace, and we ended up running the whole race together. It was nice to have company, especially during one isolated stretch with an abandoned factory filled and rusty silos, 'Look kids! That's where you go to get hepatitis!' Dana proved to have a wicked fun sense of humor. 

The last three miles were pretty hard; there was so much concrete that my hips, hamstrings and knees were screaming. There came a point over the last mile where we saw runners looping back, but the turnaround wan't visible. For a moment, I panicked that we had missed it...and were actually on the full marathon course. We came into the last half-mile, and Dana's sister Breanna pulled ahead of us. I can say with certainty if I wasn't running with Dana, I would have broken and walked. As my friend Ange would say, it was a ride on the struggle bus - but we finished together with a time of 2:34:08. 

It turns out I did make a new friend and meet a running partner, after all. If all goes according to plan, we'll run the Star Wars half marathon at Disneyland together in January.

Right before the race...Go Babydoll!!

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