3 Easy, Simple Fat Loss Tricks for Runners
Nearly all of us have found ourselves needing to shed a few unwanted pounds at one time or another. Whether you’ve got an upcoming race to lean up for, gone overboard at the holidays, continue to carry a few extra pounds post-pregnancy, experienced some time off due to an injury or illness or life has just tacked on some additional pounds fear not, there are some quick ways to get leaner.
Step 1: Run (or do your cardio) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your body will have depleted your glycogen stores during the night and will be forced to tap into unwanted fat stores as a fuel source, killing two birds with one stone. Not only will you be burning fat during this session but teaching your body to use fat as a fuel source for future runs, which would burn more fat in the future and help you run longer.
Step 2: Add black coffee. Caffeine will enhance fat loss and will also give you a boost of energy during those early hours when you likely need it the most.
Step 3: Add variety. Vary your pace with some intervals during your early run to further ramp up your fat loss. Intervals should not be done every day and do not need to be all-out efforts. Simply change up your speeds during your run and alternate easy and moderate pace or throw in some “strides” during your easy morning run. Adding variety to your pace will make the run more fun and more beneficial to your running and fat-loss goals.
The next time you need to shed some unwanted pounds (tomorrow?) use these tools to trim yourself up and get back to running and feeling the way you really desire. The leaner version of you.
What weight loss techniques and/or supplements have worked for you? Please leave a comment below and/or post this question at Twitter/Facebook.Read More
Bernard Lagat looking “relaxed” most of the way while running 8:13 for 2 miles
The phrase running “relaxed” can seem like a cruel joke to runners who are first starting out. They might think “relaxed” means slow or that certain people’s body’s magically look like they are running effortlessly all the time. Some runners do look this way but it didn’t happen overnight.
How did they do it? Practicing running relaxed.
Is it something others can learn? Yes. Here is how:
Based upon a number of books I’ve read, advice from fellow runners and coaches the skill of running relaxed is something that can be improved upon. Like any other aspect of your running it takes time. Two articles on the subject by Caitlin Chock (here and here) reinforced most of what I recall as being common themes on the topic. Caitlin is not only an experienced writer but a former U.S. Record Holder for the 5k at the High School level and ran professionally for Nike under Alberto Salazar. Salazar, for those who don’t know, coaches Mo Farah (Gold Medal winner in both the 5k and 10k in the 2012 Olympics) and Galen Rupp (Silver Medal winner in the 10k and 7th place in the 5k in the 2012 Olympics) as well as many of the other top runners in the world. Caitlin’s two articles and comments she shared with me helped me put together the reminders below.
1. Relax your shoulders - Make a conscious effort to let your shoulders drop down. It’s very easy to have your shoulders be shrugged up (towards your ears) and be unaware of it. This is wasting energy and inefficient. Practice relaxing your shoulders as often as possible, particularly when running strides, workouts and when going through a rough patch during a run. Remember to “run tall,” have your chest opened up and square your shoulders to maximize the amount of air you are getting in to your lungs.
2. Relax your hands - Let your hands be loose like you are holding a potato chip in them that you don’t want to crush (you might want a sweaty chip later). Once in a while let your arms drop all the way down at your sides and shake them out. Your hands and shoulders are generally linked together and you can often relax, or tighten, one by focusing on the other.
3. Relax your face - I remember reading this tip in York High School Coach Joe Newton’s book. If you aren’t familiar with the amount of success Newton has had please read here. During your run let your jaw relax (when you can remember) and let your cheek muscles relax. Other runners might confuse this as you having a smile on your face and having a little too much fun while running. That’s ok.
4. Relax your mind - Stop looking at your watch every 5 seconds. Just run. Enjoy the run and stop worrying about how much time you have left. If you need to think about what you associate with being relaxed (sitting on the beach maybe) then do it and keep moving forward. It won’t happen the first time but stick with it.
Also, do not fight your body. Let it run. If you need to run slower that day, run slower. If it is a workout day “let” your body run fast and just go with it. Don’t think about fighting against it and grinding away with gritted teeth to complete the run. In the long run you will be more successful being relaxed at a variety of paces, even if for short bursts initially, than just grinding away on runs and tearing your body down.
Below is a video to help you see how the fastest runners in the world stay relaxed while running fast. (:20-:35 in particular) Do they look like they are grinding? If they are staying relaxed at those paces so should all of us during our runs. Even if it feels awful during your run on the inside keep as good of form as possible and stay relaxed. Fake it until it becomes automatic.Read More
Greg McMillan is the founder and head coach of McMillan Running Company. Greg has a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and has studied and worked with some of the greatest running coaches of all time (including Arthur Lydiard and Joe Vigil). Greg has coached runners ranging from beginners all the way up through Olympians and has run some impressive times at a number of distances over his career including 14:55 for 5k and 2:31 for the marathon. Greg is a true student of the sport and has been published at Running Times and elsewhere and is known throughout the running community for his training camps, videos and of course his running calculator. If you have not yet used this calculator yet I strongly encourage you to head over to his site to check how your recent performances translate to other distances as well as his suggested training pace ranges. Greg has a book, his first, debuting at the Boston Marathon this year titled, “You (Only Faster)” this year which will surely be jam-packed with great training advice for runners at all levels. Greg was kind enough to share some of the wisdom from his book and his experiences in running below. Please enjoy!
Mark Eichenlaub: Greg, you are possibly most well-known for you running calculator, but you coach a number of top-level runners, run training camps, you’ve created training videos and more. Which accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
Greg McMillan: That’s a good question but a bit hard to answer. My goal has simply been to help people train smarter and run faster. With that as my goal, I’m just as proud of the times I’ve helped a new runner get to the finish line as I am of the runner I coach who wins the race. That’s the thing that is so great about our sport, not only is there victory by the first person that crosses the finish line but there are dozens, hundreds and at some really big events even thousands of victories going on within each race.
M.E.: Those are great answers. I 100% agree about what a rush it is to help people discover the runner inside of them that they didn’t think existed. You have a book on the way. How long has this been in the works?
G.M.: People have been wanting me to write a book for years but I just never felt I had time to do it right. Over the last year I simplified my life a lot and dedicated the time to put it together. It was a great process (I love writing) and I’m hopeful that it will help runners in their pursuit of their goals.
M.E.: With all that you have going on that must have been intense. You’ve said the book will debut at the Boston Marathon, can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from your book?
G.M.: The book is written as if the reader and I are sitting down together to build the perfect training plan. We begin with my training plans for 5K to the marathon then we do a full evaluation of the runner just like I do with the runners I coach. This is the critical part of my coaching and what I believe makes this book stand out in helping runners (and helps the reader go beyond generic or computer-generated training plans).
Armed with the individualized training plan, I then walk the reader through each and every workout so he knows exactly how to execute every run. I then present some of the secrets to success that I’ve learned over the years and use with my runners. The end goal is that not only does the runner have a truly customized training plan but he’s armed with the tools to go out and execute that plan, which even means how to modify it when life events get in the way. My hope is that it’s just like a one-to-one meeting with me where we really come up with a game plan for getting better. The book will debut at the McMillan Running booth at the Boston Marathon expo and is available on my website www.mcmillanrunning.com.
M.E.: Speaking of the Boston Marathon, how many of your runners will be competing in the race and what are your expectations for them?
G.M.: At McMillanRunning.com, we have dozens of athletes running the Boston Marathon so I’m excited for each of them. We’ve trained them to be ready for anything on race day so hopefully, everyone will have a great day. Plus, myself along with other members of the staff are running the race so I should be a fun weekend.”
M.E.: Good luck next weekend! Can you talk about how the runner you are most proud of coaching either because of how much they improved or for another reason?
G.M.: Coaches and teachers love when they see students dedicate themselves to getting better. I’m always so proud of athletes when they dedicate themselves, overcome adversity, stretch their boundaries and achieve their best. I’m lucky to experience this nearly every weekend with athletes around the world that I coach online so again, it’s hard to say one athlete stands out. I’m most proud of the fact that I’m able to continually help runners of all abilities. All the coaches I respect most are the ones that don’t just coach one successful athlete but the ones that can help many different athletes.”
M.E.: How did you create the McMillan Running Calculator? Is it based off of Jack Daniels vDot paces or something else?
G.M.: The McMillan Running Calculator was created in the mid 1990′s out of necessity because I was (and still am) coaching runners across the spectrum of the pack. None of the available ways to calculate training paces and equivalent race times did everything I needed it to or was as accurate as I thought it could be. So, using the research I was doing in graduate school at the time, I created my own. It is not based on Daniels VDOT or any other method but rather is based on my own research in graduate school. Those other systems operate differently and are based on factors that we know aren’t as powerful as what we know now. For example, at one time scientists thought VO2max was the most important physiological factor in performance which I suspect is why Daniels’ system is based on it. By the time I got to graduate school, we knew that lactate threshold pace was actually much more important so I focused on that in my research and my calculator uses this as a major part of how it works. There are a few other key differences in how it works compared with other methods but the bottom line is that I created it to help me be a better coach and I’m honored that over 11 million runners have now used it.
M.E.: Taking a step in another direction can you talk about how you got started running?
G.M.: My school system had what was called “county-wide field day” where each elementary school held a number of basic athletic events like the standing broad jump, softball throw and mile run. After practicing the events in each school, athletes were selected to represent their school in the field day against all the other schools, which was an amazing event with hundreds of kids, parents and others gathered to watch. I was selected for the mile run and won the event at the field day. I then won it every year throughout elementary school so the high school cross-country coach just waited for me to get older and invited me to join the high school team. It was a great development program that would work very well even today. Once I was in high school, I improved a lot, had a great coach and teammates, won a state championship and have been running ever since.
M.E.: What is something going well and going poorly in your current training?
G.M.: I’m getting ready for Boston at the moment and that has been going well. I wish I could train like I did when I was younger so that’s always a mental adjustment to respect that my body simply needs more rest and recovery than it did. But I’m trying to practice what I preach so that means training in a way that fits within my life schedule and respects my durability.
M.E.: Who have been your biggest influences as a runner?
G.M.: My biggest running heroes were Pat Porter, Rod Dixon and Steve Jones. Those where the best guys at the time I started running and the ones that I identified with so I always wanted to be like them. I’m actually friends with Rod Dixon and Steve Jones now so it’s been a thrill to get to know them in person.
I realize that I have been very, very fortunate to study under some of the best coaches the world has ever known. My six key mentors are: Arthur Lydiard, Joe Vigil, Guy Avery, Gabriele Rosa, Nobby Hashizume and David Martin. All have been instrumental in helping me understand how to better help athletes and I’m simply trying to honor them by carrying on what I learned from them.
M.E.: Wow, that is an all-star lineup of coaches who are responsible for much of what of the current running world knows. Moving back to your own running and away from coaching for a minute, what goals as a runner would you still like to accomplish?
G.M.: I want to race more. I’m hoping the Boston Marathon is a springboard to more frequent racing.
M.E.: Racing more is always fun and the time to test what payoff our training has gotten us. As a coach what do you still like to accomplish?
G.M.: My main goal is to help more people. The injury rate in running is staggeringly high so all of us coaches need to work to reduce this. We also need to do a better job of helping new runners enjoy the sport more and stay in it longer. I’d like to see more and better training of coaches as well. These are goals of mine going forward.
M.E.: Helping others seems to be a big part of why so many enjoy the running community. I agree that if we can get more runners the knowledge on how to minimize injuries and love the sport we can grow the community even more. As a coach it might be hard for you to train yourself. What are some piece of advice that you as a coach struggle to implement in your own training?
G.M.: Prehab. Like most people, I often don’t take the time to always do the injury prevention work that I should.
M.E.: Yes, foam rolling, massage, icing, stretching and strength work are too often the first things to go to the wayside when we are pressed for time. What is one piece of advice that you’d give to a beginning runner that they probably do not know?
G.M.: Insert pace change into the week. Too many new runners just slog along trying to increase mileage. (M.E.: Brad Hudson also said this during my interview with him here.) My advice is to have one day per week where they do a pace change workout like 6-10 times 30 seconds to 1 min faster followed by 1 minute slower. The faster segment isn’t a sprint but does help the runner learn effort, burn more calories and work on better running form.
M.E.: What is one piece of advice that a veteran runner probably needs to be reminded of?
G.M.: Evolve training across your career. Don’t just replicate the same thing over and over. Experiment with new ideas and adjust what you think is best based on your life schedule. I wish I could run 100 miles per week again but it’s just not going to happen. I’m better off not trying to do that but rather working on a plan that fits where I am in my running career now.
M.E.: What are your thoughts on the transformation of elite American running over the past 20 years?
G.M.: Over the las 15 years, we finally got back to volume. (M.E.: Which falls right in line with my philosophy of “Variety and Volume”) Exercise scientists did the sport a disservice when we started only talking about specificity. (I can complain about exercise scientists because I have a master’s degree in exercise physiology.) I remember in the 1990s there was a physiologist who told coaches that there was no need for elite runners to run more than 70 miles per week because they didn’t increase VO2max! Once we got back to coaches reviewing what has worked for athletes in the past (more basic fitness development before race-specific fitness) and away from the scientists dictating the training, we’ve been much more successful. I suspect this trend will continue and coaches will find the best volume and intensity for each individual athlete, with a smart build up toward that volume and intensity. Plus, the athletes are now focusing more on prehab training to increase durability. That should serve us well for years to come. We won’t dominate distance running (in fact, we haven’t since the sport went truly global) but we’ll see a few of our most talented athletes making an impact globally.
M.E.: It is interesting to hear why so many coaches reduced the volume their runners did and how almost everyone fell in lockstep with that trend. Where do you see the future of American distance running? Elite and otherwise.
G.M.: The elite side will be interesting. We’ll likely see a few special athletes able to compete globally. We’ll also see a lot more international athletes switching citizenship to the US so we’ll have some homegrown runners as well as some imported, which is pretty much what we have now (think Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat). I’ll be interested in the depth. We have gotten deeper in distance events of late but will that continue? I’m not sure. The economics are so out of balance (US runners compete for thousands of dollars whereas international athletes from poor countries can make the equivalent of millions and millions of dollars in the same races) that I worry a lot of second tier runners will drop out of the sport before they get to see if they can make the jump to the top-tier.
It will also be interesting to see if the running boom continues. We’ve seen marathon growth slow but shorter distances increase. We also see a lot of spin-off events that focus more on experience than competition and those are growing rapidly. I just worry that too many opportunists are putting on races without the expertise and care that a quality event requires. We already see some of these events in the news for all the wrong reasons.
M.E.: What are some recent advances in exercise science that have you excited that can be applied to running?
G.M.: I think we are getting closer to reducing running injuries. More and more experts are chiming in and we see the elite runners doing a lot of individualized prehab workouts. Hopefully, that will trickle down to the rest of us and we can find a few simple exercises that will help up avoid our particular injury.
M.E.: Yes, one of my favorite tools for avoiding injury is Jay Johnson’s “Lunge Matrix.” What is your take on the use of altitude in training to help runners take the next step in their training?
G.M.: No different from the smart use of tempo runs or hill repeats. It works which is why it’s hard to find an elite runner who doesn’t include altitude training in the plan.
Have you used the McMillan Running Calculator yet? How did it work for you? What questions would you like to see answered in Greg’s new book?Read More
Some runners rise early each morning to get in their daily run before they head off to work or start their daily responsibilities. The other 99 % of us find it difficult, if not impossible, to get out the door some mornings. A number of challenges stand in front of us each morning including fatigue, procrastination, a warm bed, email, breakfast questions, and more. Identify what is preventing many of us from running in the morning is a first step in overcoming these barriers. When these hurdles are cleared you usually feel better all day, knowing your run is done (and you can do a second run later in the day if choose). Here are 5 tips for automating your morning to include that early day run and overcome some of the most commonly used excuses. Following this regimen is much easier than attempting to rely solely on willpower in the morning.
- Set the coffee maker the night before. This seems to be common sense but having coffee ready as soon as you awake removes one thing that you’d otherwise have to spend precious early morning minutes doing. The sound and smell alone can sometimes be enough to get you moving in the morning. The caffeine jolt, coupled with the warmth of the coffee, will get you ready to move. If you don’t drink coffee tea can also be brewed through your coffee pot using the timer.
- Plan your breakfast the night before. Whether you eat your breakfast or drink a shake of some kind having it ready for you in the morning will alleviate the need to have to think about what you will eat and gather up all the materials to prepare it. Not only will you most likely choose something healthier to eat if you plan it out in advance you can make something that simply needs to be heated up or mixed right after your run. This will prevent you from using the “I won’t have time to make breakfast if I run” excuse.
- Have your running clothes set out next to your bed the night before. By having your clothes lying next to the bed you will see them as soon as you wake up and make the connection to head to the treadmill, gym or outside. This also eliminates the time and energy spent walking to a closet and choosing your running clothes that could be enough for some people to say “I’ll just go tomorrow instead since I have nothing ready to wear.” (A note on top of your pile of clothes reminding you about your next 5k, marathon or other race will also provide motivation.)
- Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier than you actually need to get up. Setting your alarm to go off 20 minutes or so before you actually need to wake up gives you a chance to still hit snooze once or twice and make it up for your run.
- Abstain from email, text messaging or internet surfing until after your run. This might be the hardest, yet most important tip to adhere to. These are absolute time-killers in the morning and can potentially halt any momentum towards getting out the door you had gained from the previous steps. Put your laptop, desktop, iPad, cell phone, etc. out of sight until after the run. You will be in a better mood to deal with what is on there after your run anyway.
- Bonus tip: Don’t sit down until after you run. If you absolutely must check email, text, or something online do not sit down to do this. If you remain standing you are far less likely to stay there and get lost in what you are reading.
Using these tips will help you out the door tomorrow morning and help you have a better day and a better year of running. What obstacles have you faced and overcome when it comes to morning or afternoon running? What techniques have worked for you in getting out the door for a run when distractions were everywhere?Read More
Brad Hudson has an incredible background as a runner and as a longtime coach, including former coach to one of America’s top runners, Dathan Ritzenhein. Brad was nice enough to share some tips on running with Teach to Run readers. Brad continues to coach today and has decades of experiences with runners of all abilities, including some of the best in the world.
Mark Eichenlaub: You have accomplished a lot as a runner and coach. Can you tell us about the start of your running career? I remember hearing an interview you did with (I believe) Competitor.com about running a marathon in high school. Is that correct?
Brad Hudson: I started running with the Mine Mountain Road Dept. at age 11. Mark Wetmore, the current C.U. coach, was in charge of it. I was running over 100 miles a week before high school. I ran my first marathon at age 12 in 2:50 in Gettysburg and ran 2:17 just after my 19th birthday in Chicago.
M.E.: Wow, those are some amazing accomplishments! What kind of race times were you running at such a young age at the shorter distances?
B.H.: I ran 29:36 and 48:55 for miles in high school on the roads! I had the H.S. Vancortland Park 2.5 record for quite a few years.
M.E.: Can you walk us through the rest of your running all the way up to today?
I ran at the University of Oregon after high school and ran 28:58 (10k) and 13:54 (5k) then went on to run 2:13:23 (marathon), won the Columbus Marathon 1992-1993 and the Detroit 1996 marathon.
Can you talk about who your greatest influence was when you were running?
(Arthur) Lydiard of course but also Alberto Salazar and especially Mark Nenow, John Gregorek and George Malley. I was a strength-based runner and still believe that philosophy today! Bob Kennedy and Todd Williams back in my day brought a change to the sport, showing a change in the sport of professionalism. Seeing Joan Benoit win the first ever women’s marathon are things that I won’t forget.
You wrote “Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon: How to be Your Own Best Coach” with Matt Fitzgerald (who has also agreed to do an interview with this site). Can you talk to us about how that process started and ended? A published book (a very good book that I own).
Matt Fitzgerald approached me about a book and we spoke on the phone many hours. He did an amazing job putting the book together!
I remember reading in your book first about “hill sprints.” Can you tell us where you got these and if they’ve always been part of your coaching arsenal or when you added them and why?
When I first started coaching I was looking for a safe way to use the C.P. system, other than plyometrics, and help with fast-twitch fibers. Specific strength. I actually got these from Owen Anderson and by using them myself. I was doing them on grass but with Canova’s influence I moved these to harder ground. When I first started coaching I literally read everything I could and to me these are the most efficient and safest way of improving speed and preventing injury while bringing a different system in to training.
Your style of coaching has been referred to as “starting with the extremes” (endurance and raw speed) during base training and work towards more specific race pace as you get closer to a target race. Would you say this is accurate? Would you say that is still your philosophy?
I am a strength-oriented coach but I include very aerobic stuff, long runs with progressions and sprints (hills) at all times! It is accurate that the goal is to keep getting stronger every year, every season and every phase of training even while developing Specific Endurance!
Can you talk about some of the top athletes you currently work with and have worked with in the past. What has that been like?
Steve Slattery, Shayne Culpepper, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jorge Torres, James Carney, Benita willis, Jason Hartmann are Sarah Schwald are some athletes I have worked with in the past. I am now working with (Fernando) Cabada, Carlos Trujillo, Adriana Pirtea, Adrienne Herzog, Mike Sayenko, Zach Hine, Molly Pritz….. Many more. I hope I have learned from all of them.
What do you think of the rise of American running over the past number of years after a long time drought on the world class scene?
It has been great and I have seen this coming since 2000. U.S. athletes have been training much more professionally with more volume and more intensity. The professional side has changed and so has the training. U.S. athletes are training in groups with coaches and being influenced globally, seeing what other athletes are doing through the internet. Also the value of U.S. athletes running Boston, New York and especially the NYRRC giving support and opportunity to U.S. athletes!
If you were to be put in touch with a very beginning runner, what advice would you give to them to make the most efficient use of their time, both for just gaining general fitness, getting faster, and possibly just losing weight.
I think first and foremost get them to enjoy the sport! Find out what motivates them!
Where do you see the sport of distance running going forward, perhaps in the next Olympics and beyond?
I think that road running is getting bigger and bigger! The Olympics are great but it is obvious that the best athletes have gone to the marathon and half-marathons where there is more money and more opportunity. I think the U.S. is getting closer! Galen Rupp winning a medal in the 10 km (In the recent Olympics) is definitely a big milestone. I see so many youth coaches and youth runners training so much smarter and I believe we will continue to make progress against Kenya and Ethiopia. What we need now is a male and female to win a major marathon again! Like Meb did! I believe it will have a huge impact. We need Kara, Shalane, Ryan, Dathan, Chris Derrick to not just be contenders but win NYC, London and Boston. I believe it can change the sport by making it much bigger in the U.S. For the races and the sponsors.
What are some underutilized tools (nutrition, injury prevention, footwear, etc.) in your opinion?
Nutrition of course. Supplements and using the many different types of foot wear and blood tests every couple of months are probably the most under-valued tools. Also, I think that athletes are being very professional in how they live their lives. Nutrition, naps, physical therapy, sprint drills, etc…..
What is your take on the use of altitude as a training tool?
I love altitude but I am still looking for a sea-level location. I like mixing the two and using sea-level in the last few weeks before a marathon.
Can you talk about the influence of Renato Canova on your coaching and running in general?
Canova, to me, is the most knowledgeable coach when it comes to world-class running. I think he has opened the eyes of many on the training methods of many of the world’s top runners. He is the one person I have met that really knew training. Many years of experience at the top. First, with the top Italians but now also the top Kenyans who have been dominating the sport. I think with the internet it has opened up the training of world-class athletes and that has made our college programs better as well. Canova was a great mentor for me personally. I came from a professional way of coaching, not from college and I was never an asst. coach, so he has helped me tremendously and has impacted running a lot more than people will say!
What is your favorite running distance as either a spectator or runner and why?
I like all distances.
Thank you so much Brad!
What else would YOU like to know from one of the top coaches in the world about training?
What training tips do you practice that you believe others overlook?
Who has been your biggest running influence(s)?Read More
Many runners gain inspiration from tales of Olympic runners challenging world records or gold medals and many runners gain inspiration from others who appear to be ordinary and live amongst us but achieve extraordinary feats. Many people would consider Katie Lozier one of those people around us. Katie was nice enough to answer a few questions for this website about her achievements and how she got there. How can YOU take advantage of her advice and experiences? Please leave your questions and comments below.
Mark Eichenlaub: How have you folks out in New York been recovering from the recent storm?
Katie Lozier: The city is definitely still recovering from the storm — parts of lower Manhattan and some of the outer boroughs are still damaged. Parts of New Jersey are pretty bad too.
M.E.: You mentioned battling weight all of your life, when did you turn the tide? Was there a certain event or moment that changed your path?
K.L.: I think I honestly just got tired of hating how I looked and how I felt. My self-esteem was at rock bottom and I would avoid seeing friends and family because I didn’t want them to see how overweight I was. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school in New York, and that definitely served as a motivator. One night I just decided that I had enough — I’ll never forget it. I bought a pass for my university’s fitness classes and went to my first one the next day.
M.E.: You said you lost 50 pounds and then trained for and ran your first 5k. How did you lose those 50? From running? Eating or avoiding certain foods? Is there any way you’d have been able to finish the 5k prior to losing that weight?
I didn’t start to run until I had lost about 40 pounds or so. I was so overweight that running was incredibly strenuous for me, so I very much doubt that I would have been able to finish at my highest weight. I lost the first 40 by going to my university’s fitness classes 6 out of 7 days out of the week. I primarily focused on Zumba — it was fun and tricked me into believing I was exercising. Eventually the classes became what I looked forward to every day and I realized that I actually enjoyed exercising. As far as food goes, I definitely restricted pretty heavily in the beginning — I used MyFitnessPal to determine how many calories I should be eating and what the nutrition content of those calories should be. After the first 30 or so pounds, though, I really focused on eating intuitively. I finally learned how to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full, not when I was bored or upset or frustrated. That’s when the transformation really began.
M.E.: Explain how you felt completing your first 5k? Would you have believed it was possible a few years earlier?
I’ll talk about my half too, since I finished it this morning
My 5k felt good, but it was still hard for me. I loved how I felt after I finished, and it definitely motivated me to keep running.
The NYC Half was the single most emotional experience of my life. I ran the entire race and truly loved every second of it. I was really nervous going into it because some of my training runs were downright bad — like a lot of people, I have realized I have a tendency to go out way too fast in the beginning and it ends up hurting me later. I really focused on pacing myself, especially in the first half of the race. I kept waiting on it to hurt, but I was having so much fun that it never did. When I crossed the finish line I was so overcome with emotion that I just started crying. I never in my life thought I would complete a half marathon and that I would really love running. My mom was able to watch me finish online, and that meant a lot — she’s been one of my strongest support systems.
M.E.: What kind of training did you do for the half?
K.L.: I used the Hal Higdon beginner program, but spread it out longer than the recommended 10 weeks. I signed up for the half in October, so I took it very slow. Being a full time graduate student, I can’t always fit runs into my days, so there were definitely some that I skipped. I mostly trained in Central Park, which I absolutely love.
You lost some additional weight from training for your running races?
I’ve lost 70 so far, but hope to lose another 30. The second 20 came off really easily between running, eating well, and living in New York City — I don’t have a car and I walk everywhere. It’s coming off a lot slower now, but I know that I will reach my goal eventually.
M.E.: What advice would you give to your former self?
K.L.: I think the biggest piece is not to be impatient with weight loss. It has taken me a year and a half to lose 70 pounds, but I’m in relatively good shape and don’t have any problems with extra skin or anything like that. Losing weight has definitely been a lesson for me in that instant gratification can’t always happen.
M.E.: How much has your life changed since transforming your body?
K.L.: SO much! My self-confidence is so much higher now. I don’t think about how fat I am when I look in the mirror anymore. I like pictures of myself. I don’t feel self-conscious around my friends. I have a healthy relationship with food and I love to run. I am so much happier and feel so much more in touch with myself.
M.E.: Have you been able to help anyone else repeat your results? Do you think your transformation is a repeatable process if someone followed certain steps? Which steps?
K.L.: A few friends at school have asked me how I did it and I definitely gave them advice, but I don’t think there are certain steps that will work for everyone. I’ve realized that weight loss is a deeply personal process and it involves so much more than calories in and calories out. I’ve had to transform how I think about food and exercise and really get in touch with my feelings about myself. I think that, to be successful, someone who wants to lose a lot of weight needs to not only eat well and exercise, but really go through the emotional journey. For me, the big personal change was my relationship with eating — it went from something I did when I was bored, upset, happy, sad, angry, or socializing to something I generally only do when I’m hungry. Distinguishing those feelings from hunger was really hard for me and took a long time.
M.E.: Have you had any setbacks along the way to where you are now? How did you overcome them if so?
K.L.: The first 20 pounds were hard. I remember calling my mom on my way home from the gym crying because it just wasn’t coming off as quickly as I wanted to. I hit a plateau this past summer where I was at the same weight for about three months — preparing for graduate school and a cross-country move alone totally consumed me for that time and I wasn’t able to fully dedicate myself to my goals. I just kept telling myself to persevere and eventually the plateau ended.
M.E.: How many times did you want to give up along the way? What kept you going?
K.L.: I remember feeling like I wanted to give up a lot when I was training for my 5k. I had a really hard time training myself to run, and I remember times when I would quit and walk home. The idea of finishing kept me going. I still sometimes wonder why I have had to struggle so much with my weight when there are people who have no idea what it’s like. I think it’s made me a stronger person and is definitely a huge part of who I am.
M.E.: Have you considered a full marathon yet or are you waiting until you run this half first?
K.L.: Definitely! My goal is to do a full by my 25th birthday. . . so I have about a year and a half left. I think it’s doable! I also want to do a triathlon — I got a road bike for Valentine’s Day and I can’t wait to dedicate more time to it once it warms up.
M.E.: What do you have planned for the future in terms of running and after graduating?
K.L.: I can’t imagine my life without running. I love it and how it makes me feel. My mom has starting running and I will be running a 10K with her next weekend in my hometown. I also signed up for another half in late April. I like having races to train for — it keeps me going!
After I graduate I will take a licensing exam to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and hopefully find a job somewhere as a counselor. I will be in a year-long internship next year and I am really excited about it!
M.E.: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
K.L.: My parents, my boyfriend, my friends, the fitness instructors at my undergraduate university who made the fitness classes so fun, and — as cocky as this sounds — myself.
M.E.: How can people read more about your story?
K.L.: I try to update my blog semi-regularly (katiebecomesarunner.wordpress.com) but sometimes graduate school gets in the way. There should be a full race report coming very soon. I also welcome Twitter followers — @katie8912 — request me and I’ll say yes! I tweet about running, school, New York City, and life in general.
Do you know someone who has accomplished extraordinary? Would you like to ask Katie a question or leave a comment for her? Please do so below or at her site. Don’t be shy.Read More
Jason Fitzgerald, is a 2:39 marathoner and the owner of one of the most widely read and cited running sites on the internet, Strengthrunning.com. Jason is a published author and the mind behind a load of great information for runners all over the web. His work has been noted by Runner’s World, Fitness Magazine, LifeHacker and many more. It was a pleasure getting to talk to Jason and have the opportunity to hear about his years of experience in running and coaching. Please leave follow-up questions and comments below after reading.
Mark Eichenlaub: Jason, you are the owner of the invaluable strengthrunning.com website, when did you begin working on the site and how did it come in to actual existence?
Jason Fitzgerald: The beginning of SR was a tumultuous one! I bought the domain name in the spring of 2007 on a whim because the name sounded cool. Two years later, I still hadn’t done anything with it. But that changed when I finally decided to put up a coaching website in 2009. It was a static website without a blog because I thought that would be a lot of work (I was right!). But when I realized it’s incredibly difficult to get anybody to a website without a blog, I buckled down and officially launched Strength Running as you see it now in the spring of 2010.
M.E.: You have gotten a lot of media exposure in the running community through your site, what appearances, acknowledgements are you most proud of?
J.F.: Being interviewed for Runner’s World has been the high point of my media exposure so far, but it’s not something I’m most proud of. Media exposure is fun, but what really gets me excited is making real-world changes in the lives of runners who want to get healthy or run faster.
M.E.: What content on your site do you feel is the most valuable to your readers? Is there one particular post or video?
J.F.: There’s one post that I think is my #1 or #2 most viewed article of all time – the IT Band Rehab Routine Video Demonstration. The accompanying video, which I shot in less than 10 minutes in my living room and has zero production value, has been viewed over 50,000 times on YouTube.
This post resonates most with runners for the simple reason that it works. I used my experience of being injured with ITBS for over 6 months, seeing four physical therapists, and countless hours researching the injury to create a rehab routine that focuses on the root cause of ITBS.
M.E.: What would you still like to accomplish with the site?
J.F.: Over the years, I’ve always wanted to coach runners. And I’m doing that now more than ever and I want to continue having meaningful coaching relationships with runners who are passionate about improving.
I’ve also found it very gratifying to create programs that help runners accomplish their big goals. I can only coach so many people, so when I’m able to create something that can help hundreds – or even thousands – of runners, that’s immensely rewarding.
Recently I created a 4-week program called the Strength Running Boot Camp, which is a course that helps runners make running more consistent. Each week focuses on a different theme: better habits, more motivation, injury prevention, and smarter training. Hundreds of runners joined and I’ve received great feedback so far.
M.E.: Something I really enjoy about your site is how you find inspiration and wisdom outside of the traditional running community (Tim Ferriss, the Paleo diet crowd, etc.), can you talk about something non-running related you are currently reading and how you think you might be able to tie it in to running?
J.F.: A great book I recently read was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that explains how we develop habits as people, companies, and societies. The formula of habit creation is fascinating to me and I used several principles in the book – that are firmly rooted in science and real-world application – to help folks run more consistently in the SR Boot Camp.
You can see some of that inspiration in my post How to Make Running a Habit that Sticks where I explain that consistency is the “secret sauce” of good training.
M.E.: Regarding your own personal running, when did you start and can you explain your memory of it?
J.F.: I never set out to be a runner. I hated Track & Field week in high school and opted for the jumping and throwing events instead (likely a hilarious sight). At the beginning of my freshman year in high school, I almost joined the golf team but my mom convinced me I should join cross country because “it was like track.” Not knowing what to expect, I thought I could high jump so I showed up to practice.
Well, I couldn’t even finish three miles and I was so sore afterward that I couldn’t walk straight for a week. But I liked the coach and the guys on the team and I stuck with it. After seeing progress over the next few weeks, I was instantly addicted to that sense of accomplishment you feel when you see consistent progress.
M.E.: How is your current training going?
J.F.: Right now my running is going really well. I’m coming back from a three month trip to Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand so I haven’t been doing anything too structured. But overall, my volume is high and my long runs are strong so I’m in a good position to transition to more specific training soon.
M.E.: What are your short term and long term running goals?
J.F.: Short-term I want to continue the momentum I’ve built over the last few months. The more and more you run, the harder it is to quit because you’re on a roll!
Long-term, I want to run the Boston Marathon and see how I do on the historic course in my hometown. I have friends and family in the area so I’m sure the experience will be a memorable one!
M.E.: What are some things you have had to learn the hard way as a runner that you wish you’d have learned earlier on? (I know I have a number of things)
J.F.: The most important lesson I can impart on beginner runners is that you have to be patient. Success with running – or even a good baseline of fitness – doesn’t happen in a few months. It takes a very long-term approach to running to realize your potential and see what you’re capable of accomplishing.
But when you try to rush things and increase your mileage too quickly or run workouts that are beyond your current abilities, you’re bound to get injured. It’s happened to me countless times! And injured runners have to rest, losing time they could be running. So always err on the side of caution and do a little bit less than you think you could. Ultimately, consistency always pays off.
M.E.: What basic tips would you give to someone just starting out running?
J.F.: Patience, like I mentioned before. Beginners should also focus on the process of training rather than the results. Who cares if they ran their 4 miler in 36 minutes this week when they did it in 35 minutes last week? Focus on the process of training rather than the minutiae of how you perform on a day to day basis. Results will come.
Another thing I’ll mention is that being proactive about injury prevention has meant the world of difference in my running and the runners I coach. You can’t just run – strength work, dynamic warm-ups, mobility exercises, and a progressive style of training are critical to staying healthy.
What race in your past are you most proud of?
In 2011 I raced the Philadelphia Marathon and finished in 2:39:32, running a strong final 10k and barely slowing down at all. This race, more than any other, puts a smile on my face. I trained hard – and really smart – to improve on my inaugural marathon finish of 2:44:38 in NYC three years previously.
What failure(s) have you experienced in running and how did you respond to it?
My biggest failures in running were always doing too much, too soon because I thought I was invincible. Coupled with being a total slacker with a strength program left me always injured. I’ve had Achilles tendonitis, SI joint problems, strained quads, plantar fasciitis, and ITBS (all of them more than once) from 2002 – 2008. But since realizing I’m not invincible and have to get in the ancillary work that makes healthy running possible, I haven’t had a significant injury in about four years.
What questions would you ask Jason Fitzgerald about training, injury prevention or nutrition? Please leave your questions and comments below and click “Notify me of new posts by email” to get interviews, training tips, warm up videos, upcoming running gear giveaways and more sent straight to your email inbox.Read More