Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Boston Marathon Course Tips

Here is a course description I put on my facebook page. I plan to post more information
like this leading up to race day. So if you find this helpful or if you are looking for a
coaching plan for an upcoming race then check it out. If you could go to the page and
like it then that would be great as I would appreciate that! https://www.facebook.com/Coachbrendonrunning/
Hopefully you find it helpful. I also included Jack Daniels tips on the course at the end
of my write up as he is one of the best running coaches around. Enjoy!
This is just my overview on the course and some tips that may be helpful.
Start- Mile 5
*The first mile of the course is a steep downhill as you will drop over 100 feet in this mile. Don’t get carried as run relaxed and use this as a warmup to get your body ready for the
rest of the race.
*Miles 2-5 will have you leaving the town of Hopkinton and entering Ashland. This
stretch of the race is slightly downhill as we go from 350 feet to 200 feet in elevation.
* If you are a little quick don’t panic but make sure you are staying relaxed and within
five seconds of goal pace. If you are keeping the effort consistent then it is ok to be a few seconds faster than goal pace on the downhill and a few seconds slower on the uphills.
An example is if your goal is 7:00 pace you should not be running 6:40’s; 6:50’s would
be ok but any faster than that may be trouble later on! So pay close attention to those
early splits.
Mile 5-9:
*Most of this stretch is through the towns of Framingham/Natick and it is slightly
rolling to flat. You will pass the Framingham Train Station and that section of the course
will have some deep crowds.
* As the course flattens out, resist the urge to run faster than you planned. Remember,
the idea that you can “bank” minutes here for the second half of the race will bite you in
the backside in the late miles.
Mile 9-10-
*Around mile 9 you will pass Lake Cochichuate and the crowds are a bit light in this area. It is pretty much a flat stretch of road but this may be the first time we you start noticing some fatigue and negative thoughts.
* I tend to struggle on this part of the course. You have just run the first 9 miles that was pretty much downhill. The effort will seem real now so focus on hitting those mile splits
and taking it one mile at a time. Stay positive by using a power word like “toughness”, “fighter”, etc. to get you through those rough patches.
Mile 10-11
*You will enter Natick Center and the crowds will be large. Hopefully this will give you a boost of energy! The course is pretty flat during this mile so just focus on hitting you
Mile 11-12.
*The course will have a slight uphill to start this mile. Towards the end of this stretch you
will be in a wooded area with light crowds. But use this time to prepare yourself for the
noise that is upcoming at Wellesley College as you will hear it before you see it!
Mile 12-13-
*This will be one of the loudest sections on the course. Don’t get carried away as you run
by the Wellesley College students but hopefully it will give you a boost of energy.
* I like to run right next to the crowd as the noise gives me a little boost. You may
remember Ryan Hall doing this at Boston in the past.
Mile 13-14
*This stretch of road has you entering downtown Wellesley. Crowds will be strong and
you will be passing the half marathon mark. It is mostly flat so try to get back into
rhythm especially if your last mile was a little quick.
* I think it’s ok if your half marathon is a little faster than goal pace. I am a believer in thinking the first half can be about 90 seconds faster than goal pace since it was
downhill. When I ran my PR of 2:29 I went through in 1:13 and change and came
back in 1:15 and change. So don’t panic if you are little quick but it should not be any
more than 90 seconds- 2 minutes if you have run the course the right way.
Mile 14-15
*Another mile of road with great crowd support. It starts by going by athletic fields and
then a small section of shops before going over route 9. Use this stretch to gather
yourself for the hills that are approaching!
Mile 15-16-
*Right about 15.25 miles you will have a large downhill into Newton Lower Falls.
The course drops from 150 feet to 50 feet during this stretch. Don’t get carried away
with this downhill but it is a good chance to let the legs open up a bit just to stretch out.
But brace yourself as the hills are about to begin. You’re going to be climbing and
dropping for about the next nine miles. None of these hills, up or down, is a killer on its
own. It’s the cumulative effect and the fact that when the uphills start, your legs
already have 16 miles on them.
Mile 16-17
*This mile you leave Newton Lower Falls and head up over the highway overpass.
This is the first real uphill and its one that a lot of people are not prepared for as they
often forget about this climb. I personally find this to be the most challenging of the
hills. From 16 to 16.5 you will climb about 70 feet as you make your way over the
highway. This stretch is not very scenic and the winds can be nasty off the highway.
Hill #1 is now done.
*You have close to a mile of flat running before hill #2 so use it to recover
and get back into your groove. I really recommend that you break the hills into 4 parts and focus on staying positive by saying you have a mile of flat/downhill running in between each climb!
*My advice on the hills is to shorten the stride and keep your effort the same.
Yes this will mean your pace is slowing down but you can make it up on the downhills.
Too many people try to keep pace or push the uphills and they pay for it later on.
Mile 17-18
*At 17.3 you will make a right hand turn at the Newton Fire House. The crowds and
energy will be great here so get ready to battle through this hilly stretch. Hill #2 is approaching as it is from 17.5 to 18 miles you will climb about 60 feet.
Mile 18-19
*This mile is slightly downhill with a drop of close to 50 feet. Use this time to recover
and get back into your pace.
*Once again you have about a mile of flat road before you approach hill #3. Use these
flat areas to regroup and get back on your pace.
Mile 19-20
*Hill # 3 is approaching as you run by Newton City Hall. Around 19-19.5 you will again
go uphill for a 50-60 foot elevation gain. Just keep your effort the same shorten the
stride and focus on just getting through the hill.
*Once you again you are going to have a flat stretch of road to recover before one
more hill. From about 19.5 to 20.2 will be flat road to recover and regroup.
Mile 20-21
*Heartbreak Hill. It will be a half mile climb where you gain approximately 90 feet as
the course goes from 150 ft. to 240 ft. elevation. It’s not the biggest/steepest hill but
it’s at 20 miles so you will be feeling it! Keep your breathing relaxed, shorten your
stride, and just look at the road ahead of you instead of looking up at the hill.
*The crowds will be huge with the Boston College students so feed off that energy.
Just get through this last uphill and once you’re at the top take a deep breath to
regroup as you are through the toughest part of the course. The final miles will give
you the chance to pass a lot of people so stay positive and focus ahead on
catching runners who are struggling!
Mile 21-22
*This mile drops about 90 feet during this stretch. This is a good chance to open the
stride up a bit as the stride will be tight from the uphill’s. Don’t get too carried
away on this downhill though as if you’re too aggressive the quads/calf’s can cramp
up on you. Work you way back into your pace during this stretch.
Mile 22-24
*You will take a left turn into Cleveland Circle. Careful on the trolley tracks just be
aware they are there so you do not trip! Once you make that turn you can see the city buildings ahead of you. This is my favorite part of the course as you can pass a lot of
people over these next few miles. Even if you are having a rough day gives yourself a
goal of catching a certain # of people each mile. As you will feed off the energy of crowds during this stretch and with every person you pass you will get a bit of an energy boost!
*The course drops from 150 to 25 feet during this stretch. If you ran the course smart
you can be real aggressive during this part of the course as you let the downhill do
the work for you!
*Somewhere around mile 23 you will notice the famous Citgo sign, this means you
are almost there!
Mile 24-Finish
*Right before mile 25 you approach a small bump by the Fenway area. It’s not huge but
at this point in the race any uphill can be a struggle. The bump is only about (15 seconds long) so just get through it.
*Right after mile 25 you will take a right turn and be on Comm Ave. There will be a small dip and then a quick climb(5-10 secs) as you go under Mass Ave. Don’t let this bother you
as you are about to make the famous right hand turn onto Hereford Street and then a
quick left and you are on Boylston Street and the finish stretch.
*The final straightaway is a bit longer then you expect but use this as a chance to take
it all in. The crowds will be huge so enjoy this stretch whether it was a good race or bad.
As you are about to finish the Boston Marathon and that is an accomplishment in itself!
Jack Daniels Thoughts on the Course from 2017
“Main thing to concentrate on in those early miles is good leg turnover and don't let the
easy downhill running lead to stride lengthening, which will result in the quads taking
a beating early and feeling not so good later on. Don't concentrate on going faster early,
but if it happens without any extra effort, it shouldn't be too bad. Typical weather at
Boston is a head wind (coming off the ocean), so even having slight downhill may not
result in a faster early pace. Got to go by feel and remember that most mistakes in races
are made early, so run with your head for about 18 or 20 miles then with your heart
the final miles. Weather could be hot, could be cold, could have head wind or tail wind,
so run by feel and quit thinking how far you have to go, just be present think about
what you are currently doing.
The course is a little downhill, but with some definite uphill running along the way. As
with any course, especially during the spring, weather conditions can vary a fair bit.
Often there is a breeze coming at you in Boston, since you are running toward the
ocean to your East, and ocean breezes often blow inland. Now and then Boston can get
a pretty solid tailwind when a weather system is blowing in from the northwest.
Maybe most importantly, the first five miles of the Boston course is downhill and
it is easy to put in some faster-than-average mile times in those first five.
It is not bad to take advantage of those early downhill miles, but it is usual for your
quads to take a beating as a result of downhill running and if you are not used to it,
the latter miles at Boston can be a real struggle. The idea is to take a little advantage
of the first five miles (by going a few seconds faster than you plan to average over
the entire course), but to realize you will also be losing some time between miles 16
and 22 when there is a fair bit of uphill running to be done. However, if your legs are
used to some downhill running and the early downhills
don’t cause a problem later on, the final 3 or 4 miles are also downhill and you can take advantage of those toward the end of the race.
Overall, on a calm and nice day, and with a nice steady effort, the Boston course can
allow you to run a little more than a minute faster than a perfectly flat course will allow.
The key is to do some training over undulating terrain, including some prolonged
gradual downhill running so your legs are used to doing that and will not let you
down over the Boston course. Remember that the weather of the day can have major
effect on performance so be prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Take advantage
of the advantages and minimize the disadvantages that you have to face.”

Friday, March 9, 2018

Product Reviews!

I  recently got two products to try out for recovery and injury prevention purposes. I just wanted to thank those companies for their generosity. Below is a quick overview of each product.

The first product I got was a compression ankle sleeve from sleeve star. There are a lot of these on the market currently but this one is very affordable and comfortable. I am using it to treat my plantar fascia on my left foot and so far I am waking up with less stiffness. They make other great compression apparel as well so give their site a look at www.sleevestars.com

The other product I received was the CTM Band. I got this product to try out since I have been dealing with a sore heel/plantar fascia for a few months now. This is a new product that was created by a sports chiropractor who is also an avid runner. Here is a quick overview on the product.

So far I have enjoyed testing this product out as it shows a lot of promise. So if you are having any injury issues  in the knees, hip, or feet check out https://ctm.band/   for more information as it is very affordable at $40.

What Does The CTM Band Do?
Using our new and innovative approach, the CTM Band:
- Relieves Muscle Spasm
- Releases Knots
- Speeds Muscle Recovery
- Breaks Up Scar Tissue
- Increases Range Of Motion
- Activates Muscle 

Why Does The CTM Band Work Better Than My Foam Roller?
Myofascial Release needs three things to work: compression, tension, and movement. Think about this: a foam roller/stick roller/lacrosse ball combines tension and movement, but no compression. A floss/compression band combines compression and movement, but no tension. The CTM Band is the first to combine all three!

So thanks for reading and if you could do me a favor I recently set up a facebook page for my running. So if you could like the page I would greatly appreciate it! https://www.facebook.com/Coachbrendonrunning/

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Workout of the Month!

Tempo/ Hill Combo

Most runners at some point have done a tempo run or hill workout before as they are common workouts. However, not many runners have done a tempo/hill combination workout. This is one of my favorite workouts as it is working on your endurance and muscle power (speed) at the same time. It is a short effective workout that gives you a lot of “bang for you buck”. This is an effective workout that can be used whether you are training for a 5k or an ultra marathon. There are many variations of this workout and I will share some examples below.

Basic version:
3 mile tempo @ 10k-Half marathon pace.
3 minute easy recovery jog
5 by one minute hill repeats with jog down rest. Run the uphill’s at a hard effort and focus on attacking the hill. Your legs should be struggling towards the end of this!

* If you are a beginner runner feel free to do a 10-15 minutes for the tempo run. 

More Advanced option( tempo/hill/tempo)
2 mile tempo run @ 10k-HM pace
3 min easy jog
5 by one minute hill repeats with jog down
3 min easy jog
2 mile tempo( try to beat the first time).

Marathon Version of the Workout( longer hills). 
4 miles @ Half marathon pace.
4-5 by 2 min hill repeats with jog down rest.
*Good midweek workout during marathon training.

So if you are looking for something new then give this workout a try. I promise you will get a lot of bang for your buck as you will be working on your endurance and muscle power all in the same workout! 

*Also I am in the process of accepting new clients. If you are training for a 5k, 10k, HM, Marathon,  Ultra, or Triathlon and want to take your training to the next level shoot me a message. My coaching is done through the finalsurge app( finalsurge.com)  and I am in the process of setting up a facebook page as well. Sometimes just changing the type of training you are doing is enough to get you to achieve those goals! Thanks for reading and feel free to message me with any questions you may have. 


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Making Big Decisions in Training!

Running marathons takes a big commitment and a lot of time. I have been running two marathons a year for the last 8 years. Some years injury forced me to skip a marathon as training at a high level does take its toll on the body. I ran the NYC marathon this past fall and then in December I started to train again as I prepared for Boston. However, the first week of January I hurt the back of my knee and it has caused me to run with a shorter stride. I have not done any speed work  in the past month and every time I try that area instantly locks up. I have also noticed it is forcing me to land on my heels when running and I have been experiencing heel pain in both feet. I toke a three day break hoping that would fix things but it has not. I told myself if I can not start doing workouts by the first week of February then I would change my racing plans this spring.

So here we are on February 6th and I have been battling the mental part of this decision for the last week. Last week I was pretty sore as I was having heel pain in both feet and definitely walking with a limp. I debated this all weekend but I forced myself to get out the door and run even though motivation was lacking. I found myself thinking about what to do constantly and these last two days I was actually hoping the knee tightness would get worse so I could shut it down and get 100% healthy. The fact I was thinking this way and was totally unmotivated to run for a week straight now is a sign that I need to listen to. I love running as my life is not the same without  but if I am hoping pain/soreness gets worse so I can back out of a race then that is a sign that I am not invested in it.
So I am going to take some down time(week off) and most likely skip Boston this spring. The way I look at it is if I have not been able to run with a normal stride for the last month then I am probably doing more harm then good as I have had shin and heel soreness pop up because of this. This is a sign that the body is trying to tell me something as training for a month without improvement shows that rest is probably needed.

I have also been losing interest mentally in the marathon the last two years as I have been debating and talking about doing an ultra for the last two years. The only reason I had considered Boston this spring was to go all in and go after a sub 230 one more time. I know what it takes to accomplish that and right now I just don't have the proper buildup going for it and I have no passion for racing it right now. This is the bigger reason why I think I am making this decision. I am suffering through mental burnout right now as trying to train when things are not going well or are not 100% healthy has just taken its toll on me. I am going to listen to my heart/mind and take a week off and then go after that ultra marathon goal that I have been debating for the last two years. You got to follow your heart and right now mine is telling me to go the ultra path instead of running Boston at 75%.

Just typing this blog up right now has taken a ton of stress of my shoulders. I have not been sleeping great over the last few weeks as I have been debating this. I am confident in this decision and my advice to everyone is to follow your heart and to listen to the body! I am sure I will miss Boston a little on race day but I have done it five times and running fast is more important to me then just taking part in this race. Marathon Monday will still be a great day as I will get to cheer on four athletes that I have running this race and who knows maybe an American victory! Who knows I am still entered in the race so if my mind changes and things improve quickly I can jump in last minute.  But by making this decision today I feel like  I have ridden myself of a lot of unnecessary stress I was dealing with!

Thanks for reading and remember a bit of mental burnout can happen to all of us so listen to your body and make sure you are having fun and are excited for your upcoming races!


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dealing with Injuries

Injuries are a frustrating thing to deal with but every runner will most likely have them occur at some point in their lives. It may be a major injury like a stress fracture or it could be something like tendinitis or a muscle sprain. I find the tendinitis and strain injuries to be just as frustrating. The problem with these injuries is a lot of the time you can train through them by just dealing with the pain. Sometimes you can heal the injury and not miss time but other times you have to shut it down. My general advice is if the pain gets worse as the run goes along then that is a sign to stop. A sports chiropractor( Dr. Tom Michaud) that I see who is famous in the running industry has a general rule that if the pain gets worse then a 5 on the scale of 1-10 then stop. So these type of injuries can be tough to deal with as you debate whether you should keep training or shut it down completely.I constantly struggle with these two options when dealing with an injury.

I am writing this blog today as I am dealing with some minor issues currently. I had been dealing with a minor knee issue that prevented from doing speed work the last few weeks. Anytime I tried to push things it would flare up on me but I could run an easy pace with no issues. Then about ten days ago on a run I had a freaky incident happen. The wind blew my hat off and I had to turn around and grab it off the street. When I resumed running I instantly felt a sharp stabbing pain on the outside of my left heel. So I finished that run and toke two days off as it hurt to walk. I then resumed training last week and had a 105 mile week but no speed work still. Things were going well but over the weekend I had started to get pain in the heel area again. Actually it was in both heels but I have a chronic issue in my right heel so I expect that to flare up from time to time. However, the left heel was getting very stiff in the morning and so after dealing with it for three days I decided to take some rest. I toke two days off and today I struggled with the decision  of taking one more day off rest or to return to running.  I debated this for over an hour and was actually dressed to run! However, I finally toke it as a sign that if I was debating things this long then I should trust my instincts and take one more day off. Was this the right decision, who knows!  Although I am comfortable with the decision I made as I think you should always go with your gut and trust your instincts. The younger me would of gone out and run today no matter what. As I age I tend to be more conservative and listen to my mind and body more often. So, if you are ever going through something like this my advice to you is to go with your first instinct and to trust your gut. There is a reason you were thinking that way so when in doubt go with that initial thought. One other rule I tend to follow is when I think I am ready to return from injury like today then I always take one more day to be safe. As runners we can have high pain tolerances and sometimes this is good but other times it is bad as you are just harming your body. So by following this rule it just prevents you from being too aggressive which I know I usually am.

Hopefully I can return to hard training by the weekend but who knows as its up to the body to heal itself. Thanks for reading and happy/healthy training to everyone out there!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

1/1 Fartlek Workout!

I am a huge fan of fartlek runs as after a long day at work I find them less stressful then typical track or tempo workouts. I find I don't stress about covering a certain distance as I just focus on listening to my body and running by feel. A lot of the time I actually get a better overall workout in then if I did a straight tempo or track workout. My favorite fartlek session is the 1/1 fartlek that is used regularly by a lot of the Kenyan training groups. Athletes like Eliud Kipchoge use this workout and he is known for doing 25-30 repeats of one minute fast/ one minute easy. A lot of the time he will average up to 12 miles during that hour of fartlek running. The most commonly used version of this workout for most runners is 20 repeats of one minute fast/ one minute easy. Although if you have never done this before I would recommend doing 10-15 repeats of  this. If you are a high mileage runner I feel you can do 20-30 repeats of this workout once you get used to it. It can be implemented into a training program for the 5k all the way up to the marathon. This will be a great workout both physically and mentally. 

The first time you do this workout do not worry about how fast you do the recovery jog. However, the more you do this workout try to run the recovery jog a little quicker each time. The goal should be eventually to get the recovery jog down to your normal training pace on your recovery runs. When I am able to do 25-30 repeats of this workout and average marathon pace then I know I am really fit and ready to go! So next time you have a scheduled workout on the  schedule give this workout a try and I promise you will get a great workout in!

Versions I typically do:
20 by min on min off
25-30 by min on min off ( Kipchoge favorite)
5-20 minute tempo/ 3 min jog/ 20 by min on min off
20 by min on min off + 20 by 30 seconds on 30 second off( Moses Mosop/Abel Kirui workout)

Any questions on this workout or if your interested in a training plan for a specific race shoot me a message at coachbrendon229@gmail.com . Thanks for ready and happy training!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Year in Review!

End of the year Reflection

2017 was a challenging year for me running wise. I had a lot of setbacks and obstacles that I had to overcome. I was having persistent heel pain from a Haglund’s deformity and insertional Achilles tendonitis pain from December 2016-May 2017. This injury caused me to miss 45 days of training during this time period. It was a constant struggle and nothing seemed to be working. The first doctor I went to told me it was the largest bone spur he has ever seen and that  I needed surgery to fix it. I wanted nothing to do with this as haglunds surgery can be a long recovery process and some people claim the achilles is never the same after that. I then went to  Michaud chiropractic in Newton as they specialize in running injuries. After a few months of going there they found weaknesses in my big toe and calf which  was causing the swelling and pain in the heel. So after two months of visits I was finally able to start running consistently again. It was at this time I decided to run the New York City Marathon.  I ended up placing 67th at NYC , which was not the time I was looking for but I was just grateful  to be healthy! Last winter I was not sure if I would ever be running competitively again at a major marathon so this was a gigantic victory for me.  This past year showed me that we should be grateful for every race we compete in and to not take them for granted. Even a bad race day is better then no race at all  so cherish all those races that you take part in!  I ended up running 4, 125 miles for the year which was a bit down from the past few years but it was my 7th straight year over 4,000 miles. 

As I look on to 2018 I have set some goals already. The first is to try to stay healthy and stay on top of my heel issue. As this is an injury that will flare up from time to time so I have to stay on  it and not skip the little things in the treatment plan of it. My main goal as of now is to have a strong showing at the Boston Marathon. I missed this race last year of injury and I really want to take a crack at a sub 230 again. My pr is 2:29:18 and my last few marathons have been in the 2:33-2:35 range so I would love to try to crack that 2:30 barrier one more time. I want to give the marathon one more good shot before I look for that new challenge! After Boston I have a goal of moving up to the ultra marathon distance during the summer or the fall . I have always had the desire to run an ultra and I feel like as I get older and find it harder to PR at the marathon distance that I want to test myself with a new challenge. 

Outside of my own running I have a goal of building my own coaching business. I currently coach a dozen athletes online but I would love to take this business to the next level. Coaching has brought me so much joy as seeing an athlete PR brings me so much joy. Running is such a big part of my life and making a career out of it would be a dream come true for me.  It would also be my way of giving back to the running community which has given me so much!

So if you have ever though of taking your running to the next level shoot me a message and I would love to help you achieve your goals! Good luck to everyone in 2018 as I hope you all achieve your running goals. 

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Coach Brendon

Boston Marathon Course Tips

Here is a course description I put on my facebook page. I plan to post more information like this leading up to race day. So if you find t...