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-To My Non-Running Friends –

This is my New Year’s Resolution (please ignore the fact that I just wrote a post about not waiting until New Years to make resolutions):

I want you to start running*.

Here’s my pitch:

It’s gonna hurt.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  Even after running for over a year now, the first 1 – 3 miles can still suck whenever I go out for a run.  The likelihood is that over the first couple of months, you will rarely get past 3 miles, and you shouldn’t.  Most of the time it’s gonna stink.  Most of the time it’s gonna hurt.  You’re gonna ask yourself why?  Why are you running these stinking 2-3 mile runs 3 days a week.  Why did you listen to that stupid Luau and start this stupid thing?  Why are you not sleeping in/going to bed early/lounging on the couch/cuddling with your significant other?  Why Luau Why?

Wrong questions.

Look at the people who have crossed the threshold.  The looks on their faces when they are done with a run should be all the answer and motivation you need.  It feels good.  It makes them happy.  The first 1-3 miles become an entrance fee – an investment in the run, if you will.  If the payoff wasn’t worth it, they wouldn’t be doing it.

That’s it.

That’s my pitch.

Tell yourself whatever you need to get past the first few months; to get to the point where you can run 5-6 miles comfortably 3 or 4 times a week.  That’s when you really start to see the payoff physically.  Tell yourself that you need to get in shape.  Tell yourself that you want to be at your child’s graduation.  Tell yourself that you want to be able to walk your daughter down the aisle when she get married.  Tell yourself that you want to hold your special person’s hand when you are both in your 80’s.  Tell yourself whatever the hell is takes to get yourself to that 6 mile mark.

Once you’re there you won’t have to tell yourself anything.  Your body will tell you.  It will tell you it’s time to run, it’s time to let the horses out.  It won’t be a fight to get your butt off the couch.

BUT…

You’re going to need a plan.  You’re going to need support.  Sometimes the simplest of plans can work.

A simple log.

Keep track of every mile and all of the food you eat.  It’s not nearly as hard as you think.  If you have a smartphone there are plenty of apps that will record both for you.  Otherwise, a small pad and mini-pen will work just fine.  The simple act of keeping a log can steer you towards healthier habits.  That is what worked for me.  I dropped the food log about 2 months in when I realized that my eating habits overall were just fine except for the second full plate of dinner I was having every night.  As soon as I stopped going back for seconds and thirds every night, the pounds melted away.  I have kept a workout log since November 2008.  Two nights ago I proudly logged my 1,329th mile of running for 2009.

Start slowly.  1-3 miles per run, 3 times a week.  Try to follow the 10% percent rule, building your weekly mileage just a little at a time.  Set a goal for yourself for the year.  400 miles.  It may sound like a lot.  That’s because it is.  But if you break it down, it comes down to a little over 33 miles a month – that’s just a touch over a mile a day.  You can find an average of 15 minutes a day.

You will stumble.  You will have days, maybe even weeks where it all falls apart.  It’s inevitable and it’s okay.  But as long as you get back up, you will be fine.  Stay determined, stick with your plan and you will be rewarded.  When you hit the 5-6 miles per run average, you will see the changes in the mirror.

As for support, you can always find it here.  I am more than happy to help.  Even better, you can find it on websites like dailymile or even Twitter where you will find an instant group of friends who will support and cheer you on.  They will help you when you are down, and celebrate when you are up.

My goal this year is to get you to start running.

For my running friends:  My goal is to get you to get 10 of your non-running friends to start running regularly in 2010.  If 40 of you get 10 of your friends to start running and they do the same next year, and so on, we can have this whole nation running by 2016.  Healthcare reform?  We won’t need it!  It starts now.

*If you can’t run, then bike or swim or cardio-kickbox.  Whatever it is that will get you eventually exercising regularly 3-4 hours a week.

Email me here ( runluaurun )  if you would like to leave a non-public comment/question or leave a comment in the comment section:

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Boston

So last night a good friend and fellow runner informed me that the Boston Marathon had closed registration for the upcoming 2010 event.  This was two months before the record closing from last year.  I had been convinced that I had until mid to late January to run another marathon in an attempt to qualify for this year’s race.   Disney or Miami – those were the two marathons I was looking at.  Based on my performance during the first half of the Manchester Marathon I thought I just had to run smarter and I would be fine.  Despite my awful crash and burn in the second half, I felt like I had learned a thing or two that I could take into the next marathon.

But then my friend emailed me and told me the news.  My first reaction was, “Okay, I can’t qualify for this year’s Boston.  How else can I get in?”  There are many charities that are awarded bib numbers that I could work with.  My friend who emailed me is running for the American Liver Foundation (if you have a moment, please check him out at http://liverrunner.blogspot.com ) and he suggested that there may be a few spots left on his team.  He also suggested running for Dana Farber.  Another running friend mentioned the Doug Flutie Foundation.  I went online and began checking out the various charities, wondering which would offer the easiest path to an official number.  They are all good and well deserving charities.

I never got past the splash pages for any of the charities, some of which are somewhat close to my heart.

The truth is I started this journey, this quest if you will, with one thing in mind.  I wanted to run a marathon and qualify for Boston.  I wanted to be able to say, “I am a Boston Qualifier!”  A few months back I saw a movie called “Spirit of a Marathon”.  The movie followed the paths of several different people, of various running skills, as they prepared for the Chicago Marathon.  One runner in particular put a lump in my throat.  He had run several marathons, always with the hope of qualifying for Boston.  He had had a good training cycle and thought that this year might be the year.

At one point he looks at the camera and says, “there are different levels of runners.  There are runners.  There are marathon runners.  And then there are Boston Qualifiers.”  I got chills hearing that.  My eyes even got a little leaky.  I was completely crushed when later in the documentary he injured himself and was unable to run.

I want to be on that level of Boston Qualifier.  I may never reach it.  I know there are ways to get in that are just as honorable.  There is nothing wrong with running to change and save lives.  It is just not the path that I want to take.

So now I know that I will not be running Boston in 2010.  I will still run part of it.  I plan on pacing my friend through parts of the race.  But I hope to still run Disney in January and run a qualifying time to apply to the 2011 race.  Just like a marathon itself – you get hit with bumps and challenges.  The key is to power through them and achieve the goal.

That is my quest.

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Manchester Marathon 2009

I started running a year ago. Four months ago I decided to run a marathon with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. I was training to run Bay State in Lowell, MA with the hopes of running a 3:20:59 or better to BQ. Injury interrupted my training over the last 6 weeks and I was forced to stop running for four weeks, pass up Bay State and run the more challenging Manchester Marathon instead two weeks later. My last long run (19 miles) was 6 weeks before Manchester and I started running again 12 day before the race, never running more than 7 miles in those last days.

The hills were killer…felt like they went for miles at times…though they didn’t really start getting to me until about 15. The thing I think what really killed me though was that I didn’t hydrate enough (both before and during) and the pacer I was following went out at a blistering 6:30 pace…he was the 3:25:00 pacer…I’m thinking I’ll follow this guy for 18 miles and then crush it at the end…instead he raced out and mentally I was screwed.
“Dude, you think 6:30 might be a little fast?”
“Huh…yeah, I guess I better slow down.” Ya think? I tried slowing down, but I kept worrying about slowing down too much. Lesson? Don’t follow the pacer…you know what’s too fast or too slow. You’ve been training for weeks. If you can keep your adrenaline in check, you’ll know. ***and just in case I can’t, I’m bringing my iPhone with Runkeeper running to tell me my pace every 1/4 mile!!!***

All that said though, by mile 3 my head was back in it and I was cruising, feeling great. I wasn’t thinking about my depleted stores of glycerin, nor was I thinking about sticking to my original game plan. The pacer had taken me out fast and dammit, I was gonna try and keep a decent pace!

Hydrating was tough. I kept getting water up my nose…I learned three days too late the art of the crushed cup. When I hit the half at 1:35, I was pumped, but going over the bridge to the western part of town I hit a huge, HUGE headwind and hill. Knocked my pace down 70 seconds or so. Got back on track on the next mile, but I think the damage had been done…I started thinking about the fact that I was doing this all over again…it didn’t help that at 13.1, most of the people I had been running with peeled off to finish their half marathon…we went from a group of 8-12 to 3…that was disheartening…suddenly it was lonely…which is weird because I run alone usually. I’ll very happily run 14 -18 miles alone early on a Sunday morning, either enjoying the peace and quiet or plugged into some pounding music. Truth is, after 13.1 miles with complete strangers, battling the same hills, a bond is formed. I wanted my unit to run with me…instead I was very quickly a unit of one. …14 was a killer and then 16 hit me like a ton of bricks…I trudged along to 20 at a miserable 9:00 pace not realizing that the wall that hit me at 16 was nothing compared to the pain that was waiting for me at 20.

I kept thinking, “just make it to 20 and then drop the hammer. It’s only a 10K at that point. Shoot! It’s only 2 5K’s. What’s 3 miles? Nothing! I can do 3 miles hungover! I still have an outside shot at 3:20:00. Just make it to 20 and then drop the hammer. Put the foot on the gas!”. I continued to push myself along in this manner. I knew the minutes were ticking away and that my chances of qualifying for Boston were slipping away, but dammit if I wasn’t going to make it close!!!

Almost to the marker, my quads, both of them, froze. I came to a dead stop and couldn’t move for about 2 minutes. Tick! Tick! Tick! Time was slipping away. Boston was disappearing into thin air. My thoughts of a 3:10:00 first marathon were long gone at 16. Now 3:20:59 was crumbling. I wondered if I could finish. My legs wouldn’t bend…at all!!! I thought about quitting. I thought about my family waiting at 24.5. I was suddenly overcome with a sense of peace regarding Boston. All that training…all of the hard work would now have to be summoned up to finish this race. I slowly started walking like Frankenstein’s monster. After about 100 yards I could bend my knees just a little…another 200 yards and I broke into a very poor excuse of a jog…from that point on it was will power and nothing else that was moving me. Off and on the legs would freeze and I’d have to stop. It took me 20 minutes to get from 20 to 21. At 24.5 I saw the family, dug deep, put on a smile and broke into a jog. I went around the corner knowing I had about 1.2 to go…I’m screaming at my legs to bend, but I’m struggling. As I turned the final corner I saw the clock…I had found peace in the fact that I wasn’t going to qualify but I saw the clock…it said 3:54:14…at that moment I found one last gear…I wasn’t coming in over 3:55…I actually ran the last 50 yards or so…clock said 3:54:46…net time ended up being 3:54:04…next time I’m eating more bananas to keep the potassium levels up…2 days later I wanted another shot at it…trying to convince the family to head to Disney for the Disney Marathon!

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