Recent Read: Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons

As you may already know, I hit a bit of a rut with my training a few weeks ago. Before the bout got better, it got worse…by a lot. Eventually I did nothing — no swimming, no biking, no running. I was pretty low on motivation. I couldn’t get friends to join me. I was also under a lot of stress. I remember reading somewhere in Runner’s World magazine about Kara Goucher‘s book that was published awhile back (Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons). It was geared towards women runners and was said to be a great resource, so I dusted off my nook, bought the book, and began reading.

I spent one weekend devouring the book. I couldn’t put it down! The three sections that I found most helpful included:

  • Balancing running with family and work: she gave tips and first hand advice on how to manage different commitments, deal with setbacks and guilt, and the positive reinforcement system
  • Finding the right training program for you: understanding that everyone has strengths at different distances and that you don’t have to race to be a runner
  • Building a successful support team: how to speak to your loved ones, friends, and family and help them help you during training, even if they can’t run every step alongside you

As I flipped through the pages, what was most helpful was that her authentic voice came through. It was incredibly genuine. It didn’t feel like I was getting advice from a world class Olympian. It felt like I was getting advice from an older sister.

My favorite piece of training advice: run three days a week. The three runs should include one easy day, one hard day, and one long day. Anything else outside of that is just gravy. With that mentality I’ve been able to schedule my runs in a lot easier, and it takes less mental preparation if I’m not so busy worrying about times, pacing, distance, route, etc. Easy/Hard/Long. Super simple!

Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

Recent Read: Teach Yourself How to Run a Marathon

This was one of my most favorite marathon books to read.

It was very snappy, straight forward, and to the point. The content is well structured and the information is poignant. It’s a fantastic resource for the newbie runner and marathoner (like myself).

The content helps get you acquainted with…

  • The time, mental energy, and commitment required for someone to take on such an endeavor
  • How to choose a marathon
  • How to run for a charity
  • How to make the time to train
  • How to keep a training log
  • The importance of rest
  • Gear
  • Stretching
  • Events, clubs, training with others
  • The importance of cross training
  • Nutrition
  • How to fundraise for a charity
  • Race countdown
  • What to do the day of
I would wholly recommend this book to anybody and everybody looking to run their first marathon! What I especially loved about this book was all of the information it provided me in regards to fundraising for charity, and how important it is to use this sport to give back to the community.
Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

 

Recent Read: Complete Guide to Women's Running

This was an interesting read, designed to help women ease themselves into the sport of running. It provided some great emotional comfort while addressing common questions and issues that females encounter while on the road.

I skimmed this book and found it slightly informative. After reading it I unfortunately don’t remember much, which might speak to the type of information it contains.

By the way, I read the older version (as noted by the dated cover), not the most recent one that is being publicized by Runner’s World.

Leave it on the shelf! My rating: 6/10

 

Recent Read: Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul – How to Create a New You

I’m currently working through an amazing book by Deepak Chopra on how people can essentially reincarnate in real time by making small adjustments to their thinking and being. It’s something I’ve believed is completely possible (see previous blog: My Theory on Reincarnation) but it was great to actually read it from someone else!

Change is difficult. The body fights for stasis, whether or not it’s bad or good. By humming along at the status quo, people don’t achieve what they aspire to. Just know that you can take small steps and change your thinking to achieve this.

Here’s a great snippet on the connection between mental activity and ability:

The researchers were elated with their findings, because this was the first time anyone had shown that mental activity alone can alter the brain. It was already known that the brain could be trained in its physical performance — athletes, for example, get better the more they practice. We praise them for having talent, will, and courage. All of that may be true. But, to a neurologist, the greatest runners, swimmers, and tennis players have highly trained their motor cortex, which is responsible for coordinating the complicated movements needed in any difficult sport. Now it could be shown that the mere whip of desire — in this case, the desire to be compassionate — trains the brain to adapt in the same way.

Early in the book, Deepak discusses that the nonphysical aspect of life is stronger than the physical. “Once you stop clinging to the idea that your body is a thing, you realize what should have been obvious: your body is the junction between the visible and invisible worlds.” The way to affect change is to take subtle actions. He lists five ways for people to make this happen:

  1. You go inside and make your intention known.
    i.e. I’m going to swim/bike/run the LA Triathlon…and survive. 
  2. You believe in getting results.
    i.e. I will make a tri training schedule and hold myself accountable. 
  3. You don’t resist the process of change.
    i.e. Everyone in my life gets annoyed that I can’t hang out as much because I train in my spare time. I deal with it. 
  4. Your body shifts effortlessly at the physical level.
    i.e. My sleep regulates itself. I have more energy and am overall more cognizant and alert of my physical being.
  5. You repeat your subtle action until you have mastered the change you desire.
    i.e. D-Day (well, I suppose it’s really T-Day) is only 72 days away!

By quietly encouraging the change you really want, you are able to achieve it.

How are you trying to change your life with subtle action? Is it working?

Recent Read: 50/50

I was in the thicket of planning the inaugural Dress for Success Worldwide-West’s 5K when I was hunting for resources to guide my efforts. I needed something that went through race logistics from both an organizational and runner’s perspective and was lucky to stumble upon this great find.

As usual, Dean is a fantastic writer. This book was written a different style than Ultramarathon Man. It was a little less upbeat and more serious. The idea behind 50/50 was that he was chronicling his Run Across America campaign. He raced 50 marathons in 50 days. The pace of the book was fast: the pages were upbeat when he was recollecting something he enjoyed. They were a bit whiny when it hit a pain point for him. It seemed more like a post-experience chronicle of his experience but all in all it was still a very good read.

The content itself was a little scattered. When writing books it’s difficult to make the judgement call to organize by chapters, topics, or by chronology. Since he organized the book by chronology the topics seemingly came out of nowhere but they all had their place in time during the 50/50 challenge. He discusses tips on nutrition, hydration, and technique that he has found helpful in his running career. He also extensively discusses the racer’s experience when it comes to runs, so for me, being able to go through the motions with him through each of the 50 runs helped me anticipate race needs for my power walkers, sponsors, volunteers, and other organizers. This special focus on logistics is really what helped me most, as it mentally prepared me as a race organizer and as a better runner.

Pick it up! My rating: 8.5/10

Recent Read: Ultramarathon Man

This is a fantastic book! I found it when I started running early on and it was helpful to see that someone else was going through the same things I was experiencing. Dean is a fantastic writer — the pace of the book is fast but it keeps you in the moment with anecdotes and stories of his motivations, family, experiences, and perspective.

Without giving away too much info, my favorite part of the book was definitely the beginning. He chronicles his “EUREKA” moment and his first run, recounts his experiences in vivid detail, and flashes back between the present perfect and the past seamlessly.

I would highly recommend any newbie runners looking for extra motivation to pick up this book. Most serious runners scoff at him since he’s a marketing machine, but in my perspective he is just using his talent to promote the health and well being of children. To me he is more of a cause/fund-runner since most of the time, he is promoting his charity, Karnos Kids.

Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

Recent Read: Born To Run

I started this book today waiting for the Metro to take me home from my just-completed 13 mile point-to-point run from my apartment to the ocean. It came highly recommended by a client who also happens to be a triathlete.

I’m about halfway through it so far and I’m impressed — it’s linear insomuch that it reconstructs the chronology of particular chance encounters but also spins off into sub-chapters explaining the characteristics that each of the ultrarunners bring to the game. I’ve excerpted a few of my favorite passages below.

(Update: I’ve finished the book and it was great! I loved the storytelling aspect as the writer follows many different runners on their journey. The only part I didn’t like was that there was one small portion where the author was hypocritical: he makes a mention of an unsaid runners code of ethics, but then manages to slam another professional runner a few pages later. I wonder why the editor let that one slide by!)

Pick it up! My rating: 8/10

* * *

“Lesson two….think easy, light, smooth, and fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooth. You don’t have to worry about the last one — you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

* * *

Was Zatopek a great man who happen to run, or a great man because he ran? Vigil couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but his gut kept telling him that there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding. Sex and speed — haven’t they been symbiotic for most of our existence, as intertwined as the strands of DNA? We wouldn’t be alive without love; we wouldn’t have survived without running; maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other.”

* * *

That fall, a photo appeared in UltraRunning Magazine. It shows Jenn finishing a 30-mile race somewhere in the backwoods of Virginia. There’s nothing amazing about her performance (third place), or her getup (basic black shorts, basic black sports bra), or even the camera work (dimly let, crudely cropped). Jenn isn’t battling a rival to the bitter end, or striding across a mountaintop with the steel-jawed majesty of a Nike model, or gasping toward glory with a grimace of heartbreaking determination. All she’s doing is…running. Running, and smiling. But that smile is strangely stirring. You can tell she’s having an absolute blast, as if there’s nothing on earth she’d rather be doing and nowhere on earth she’d rather be doing it than here, on this lost trail in the middle of the Appalachian wilderness. Even though she’s just run four miles further than a marathon, she looks light-footed and carefree, her eyes twinkling, her ponytail swinging around her head like a shirt in the fist of a triumphant Brazilian soccer player. Her naked delight is unmistakable; it forces a smile to her lips that’s so honest and unguarded, you feel she’s lost in the grip of artistic inspiration.

* * *

Ann liked to tell her friends that running huge miles in the mountains was “very romantic.” But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it because they’d never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it.

Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget that you’re moving. And once you break through that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s when the moonlight and champagne show up.

* * *