One Mile At A Time

For most of us, this past weekend included a 12 or 14-mile long run…

… and if this was your longest long-run ever—or if you’re training for your ‘first ever’ marathon—you might now be saying to yourself, “Oh. My. Gosh. How am I EVER going to run 26.2 miles?”

Now, I’m not saying this question has crossed your mind—but there’s a darn good chance that if it hasn’t, it will. It might happen after finishing a summer half marathon; or maybe after your 14, 16 or 18-miler… you get to the point where you say to yourself, “Can I really run any farther?”

And the truth is, YES… you really can.

And when your schedule calls for it, you DO run another mile (or two)—because weeks and months of marathon training have improved your strength and endurance to the point where those “one or two more miles” ARE inside of you.

All you have to do is reach for them.

Reach deep if you have to. Or “dig deep” if it takes digging.

But they’re there.

And it’s that strength (and the mental awareness that you have that strength) that will enable you to successfully complete your next long-run.

But for right nowat this point in your trainingPLEASE don’t think about running 26.2 miles!

If you’re running 12 miles, think about running 14. If you’re running 14, think about running 16.

(So here’s what I do… for every 2-mile increase in my weekly long-run, I think of it as running “just one more mile, out”… and I KNOW I can run “just one more mile!”)

And to those of you who have asked yourself, “How am I EVER going to run 26.2 miles?”

Oh… you will.

One mile at a time.

To that point, one of my favorite NIKE running posters says it best, The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.”

(How perfect is that!)

Many, many thanks (again!) to each of you for ALL that you are doing to train and run and fundraise to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Keep training safe.

And (of course), keep running strong.





Lesson Learned

A couple of years ago I was pretty much ‘sidelined’ because of a rather nasty plantar fasciitis “issue” that resulted in my only being able to run one day during the week, and a much shortened Saturday long-run… and even then, both these “runs” were really more walking than running.

I was a mess.

But then I saw a sports physical therapist and was encouraged to understand that even though I couldn’t do my normal run training, I could still do strength and core exercises, and even bike and swim. Which is exactly what I did.

Okay, so I wasn’t running. But what the heck… at least I was still ‘out there!’

The “lesson” this injury taught me, and the lesson I want to share with you… is that even if your training schedule is interrupted—either by the weather, injury or by a (too) busy schedule—there’s a really good chance you can still do something.

On extremely hot and/or humid weekends, if doing a 12 mile long-run seems

“just impossible,” try running 8 or 10 miles instead… and run at a slower pace! (Honestly, the effort it takes to run a slow[er] 10 miles in the heat will be more than equivalent to the effort it takes to run 12 miles under more ‘normal’ conditions.)

And if your work and/or family schedule doesn’t give you time for a 50-minute weekday run, run 30—an idea celebrated in this quote by runner, mother and author Kristin Armstrong: “There is a freedom in running… a liberty and indulgence every time I run. Even if all my day affords is just 30 precious minutes, I am reminded—even if not one single thing on my calendar reflects it—that the adventure is still out there.”

And if you just don’t have the ‘inclination’ or opportunity to run on a given day, do something else… like stretching, or strength work. Or take out your bike and ride! Or “go jump in the lake” (or pool, or ocean) and swim!

But please, I encourage you (just as I was encouraged) to challenge yourself to still DO SOMETHING!

Because “something” is ALWAYS better than nothing.

Train safe. Run strong.



Grinding It Out

Weeks 6 through 10 on the training schedule are when many runners begin to lose a bit of marathon training ‘focus.’

They’re no longer the “first few weeks of training” that come with their own high levels of adrenaline and energy; and they’re not yet those 14, 16 and 18 mile long-run weeks that demand and require our greatest effort and endurance.

Instead, these are the weeks that test our commitment to training consistency, and truly test our determination to be ‘marathoners.’

Ray Kroc’s book about McDonald’s Corporation (which he titled, “Grinding It Out”) is all about consistency and determination—so I’ve come to think of these weeks as the “grinding it out” weeks on the training schedule… weeks that shape and strengthen the very foundation on which the second half of our training will stand.

Or fall.

Yes, there will be hot (and humid!) summer days ahead—like this past weekend here in Chicago. (Yikes!) Or days when work, travel or family make it tough to exactly follow your training schedule—and when that happens, you will need to adjust your training.

But that’s okay!

And honestly… a few ‘day-to-day’ changes to your training in the context of an 18-20 week training schedule is not going to make any measurable difference in your marathon day performance.

So go ahead and make the changes that ‘life’ (or the heat!) are leading you to make, continuing to do ALL you can, the BEST you can on any given day, or in any given week—always keeping your focus on the rather amazing achievement waiting for you on October 7.

And for anyone having a bit of a ‘motivation’ problem getting out the door to run, consider this anecdote…

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle–when the sun comes up, you better get running”

(I LOVE that!)

Keep training safe.

And (of course), keep running strong.



Care To Dance?

Heading into the last week of June, now is a really good time to measure the commitment each of us is making to our marathon training…

During the week, I try to do three ‘run’ workouts—either ‘easy runs’ and/or speed workouts; and I include a couple of cross-training days—either bike, swim, or strength. (If I were a yoga person, that would count as a cross-training day as well.)

Add-in my weekend long-run, and my commitment is to train 5 or 6 days a week.

Okay. That’s me. Do I train 5 or 6 days EVERY week? Some weeks it’s only 4 days, but most weeks its 5 or 6. (Please don’t train 7 days—our bodies DO need a “rest and recover” day!)

What about you?

If ALL you’re doing are the weekend long-runs and maybe just one or two weekday workouts—you really need to do more. And if ALL you’re doing is running 5 or 6 days a week… stop that(!), and add a couple of cross-training days to your schedule as well. (For most of us, too much running can be as great a risk of injury as too little running. And besides, cross-training helps develop other muscle groups used in endurance running.)

The point is, now that you’ve made the commitment to run the Marathon, be sure you’re making the commitment to train for the marathon… and right now, while it’s still early in the training season, is a great time to commit (or re-commit) to your training schedule.

Having and following a ‘proven’ training program will help get you to the ‘START’ on October 7 with confidence, and with the least likelihood of injury; and will get you to the ‘FINISH’ line with the certainty that on race day… you ran your best.

And “running your best” on Marathon Day is the best any of us can do.

(My apologies to all of you who ARE following your training schedule, which I’m sure is MOST of you—but there are others who need a little ‘kick,’ and my writing here is my only way to reach them.)

The old joke about the tourist visiting New York City and asking, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and being told, “Practice. Practice. Practice.” applies to marathon training as well… “How do I get to the ‘FINISH’ line of a marathon?”

“Training. Training. Training.”

One day at a time.

One week at a time.

Week after week. After week.

All of which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about training… from Muhammad Ali, “I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights.”

For Team RMHC, the ‘big dance’ is October 7—so put on those “dancing shoes” (whether they be NIKE, Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony, Asics…) and GET OUT THERE!

Keep training safe.

And (of course), keep running strong.





“Ah, Summer… “

Well, the good news is… it’s finally summer.

The ‘not so’ good news is… it’s finally summer—which means hot summer temperatures and humidity, like this past weekend here in Chicago!

So please consider this message my (not so) subtle “reminder” about training and running in the heat.

(“Oh Charles, do I HAVE to read this? I KNOW all this stuff.”)

(Yes, I know you know it. We all know it… but this message is about doing it.)


Regarding ‘hydration’—keep yourself well hydrated throughout the week, not ‘just’ when you run.

AND, be sure to add an electrolyte replacement (a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade) to your fluids consumption during your long runs, to help replace the sodium and potassium your body loses as you sweat. (And if you just can’t “stomach” these drinks over long periods of time, try an electrolyte capsule that you can swallow with water—like ‘Endurolytes’ by Hammer Nutrition, or SaltStick Caps.)

If you’re not already carrying fluids with you when you run, I (strongly) encourage you to do so. Quite simply, you’ll have a better training and running experience if you do.

(If you haven’t already done so, go to your local ‘specialty running store’ and check out all the different types of “hydration systems” that are available. There’s a reason why so many choices are available—because carrying fluids with you is a good and smart thing to do!)

And finally… s-l-o-w down!


Running in hot weather takes a LOT more effort and energy than running in more ‘normal’ temperatures, and if you try running at your ‘normal’ pace in the summer heat, you’re only going to feel a LOT more exhausted and ‘defeated’ at the end of your run. (And who needs that?!)

In really hot weather, slow your pace by :30 or as much as :60 per mile—you’ll feel a whole lot better about your performance, and about yourself.

And of course, (please) try to run your weekend long runs early in the morning, before the temperatures begin to rise, and before the sun gets too high in the sky. Remember the ‘rule of thumb’ that running adds about 15 degrees to the ‘thermometer’ temperature—so if you’re running in 80 degree heat it’s really like running in a “feels like” temperature of 95 degrees! (Yikes.)

And if at all possible, schedule your weekday runs for early morning as well—which will likely be the coolest part of the day. (And if you start your day with a run, it’s likely to be one of the “coolest” parts of your day as well!)

By running in the early morning you’ll never have to miss a training run because you were ‘running late’ at work, or were just “too tired” to begin your run later in the day.

(And as you might imagine, “running late” does NOT qualify as a training run.)

Every week, I sign these messages by saying ‘train safe’… and (especially in the heat) that means following the basics of good hydration and ‘listening to your body’ when it begins to say (or SHOUT) “Hey! Slow down. It’s not a race… it’s a marathon!”

DO these things, and you will “train safe and run strong”… and you’ll be able to keep running (and enjoy running!) for a whole lifetime to come.

Which is a VERY good thing, indeed.

In fact, “If you run every day until you are 90 years old, I guarantee that you’ll live a long life.

(Many thanks to Bill Rogers, former American marathon record holder for those words of running wisdom…)

Keep training safe.

And (of course), keep running strong.



A Love Letter, of Sorts…

As we begin Week 3, and as my ‘running legs’ start catching-up to my training schedule, I am again reminded of just how grateful I am to be a runner. And how much I love running.

First of all, I love that I can run… ‘health’ wise, and ‘knees’ wise.

And I love that I have the desire to run, and make the time to run.

I love the group of “rogue runners” I run with every Saturday, and the larger community of runners of which I’ve become a part.

And I love that running is so totally NOT “work” (as in “9-to-5/Monday-Friday” work).

I love the fact that while running takes a lot out of me, it always gives back more than it takes.

And I love the way running makes me feel—not just while I’m “out there” running, but also when I’m done and I have that satisfied (and often goofy-looking) smile on my face that says, “Yeah, I’m a runner.”

And that’s my wish for each of you as well… that you also learn to love running (if you don’t already); and that running will always be a part of who you are, how you define yourself, and how you are defined by others.

(I’ll never forget someone introducing me to a friend of theirs, after I ran my first marathon, by saying, “This is Charles. He’s a marathoner.”)

(Insert “YOUR NAME HERE” in place of mine, and see how it looks.)

(Pretty cool, eh?)

And so, in the spirit of “loving to run”—and to encourage you to experience the sheer joy that running can help make possible in your life—I share the following advice, adapted from “The Runner’s Rule Book” by Mark Remy:

“RUN LIKE A DOG–Dogs don’t care where they are, what the weather is or what time it is. They don’t know their resting heart rate and they hardly ever bother to wear a watch. They just love to run. And every time they do, their whole face and body and tail telegraph one simple message:

This. Is. AWESOME. I’m runnnnnning!

And if you’re so inclined, I encourage you to try the ‘Run Like A Dog’ training workout: Walk 2 minutes. Jog 4 minutes. Stop. Sniff. Run 1 minute. Freeze. Run really fast 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute in any direction but forward. Stare 5 seconds. Pee. Repeat two more times. Run home. Collapse on the floor.”

Thank you, Team RMHC runners for ALL that you’re doing to train and run and fundraise to support the children and families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities and #KeepingFamiliesClose!

Train safe. Run strong.




“The Strength of the Wolf”

For many of you, this past Saturday was the occasion of your first “official” weekend long-run.


If you’re part of a group training program (which I hope you are) you’re likely to have seen LOTS of ‘first time’ marathoners, and LOTS of (nervous) smiles.

(And lots of “OMG! Am I really doing this?” looks.)

At the same time, you’re likely to have also heard lots of support and encouragement from your pace leader—and from every ‘alumni’ marathon runner—all echoing the same (experienced) sentiment… “Yes, you really ARE doing this. And yes, you really ARE going to run and complete the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 7.”

And there will also be lots of good training advice along the way, like this week’s training tip from Coach Brendan about ‘LSD runs.’ (And no, it’s not what you’re thinking.)

And speaking of training… if you haven’t already signed-up for a training program—please, please do that, ESPECIALLY if this is your ‘first-ever’ marathon experience.

You’ll have a better training experience and a more successful marathon experience if you follow a ‘proven’ training program.

And if you can join a ‘group training’ program for your weekend long-runs, I strongly encourage you to do that.

Running with a group—in the company of others who share your commitment to training and who will support and encourage your training efforts—will TOTALLY make your training easier and more rewarding, and something you actually look forward to doing.

(And yes, the day WILL come that you actually “can’t wait” to get up at 5:00 AM on a Saturday to go out and run 10 miles.)

(That would be, 5:00 AM. In the MORNING.)

(On a Saturday!)

The best way I’ve found to describe the “dynamic” of group training comes from a quote by Rudyard Kipling, “The strength of the wolf comes from the pack. And the strength of the pack comes from the wolf.” (From “The Law of the Jungle.”)

There’s simply no better explanation of what happens when running with others.

YOUR strength as an individual comes from the group around you; and the strength of your running GROUP comes from the collective participation of each individual in that group.


(To say nothing about the accountability you’ll feel to ‘show-up’ to run. And the guilt you’ll feel if you don’t!)

For those of you not in the Chicago area (and therefore not able to join either Coach Brendan’s or CARA’s group training) check-out your local ‘specialty running store,’ where you buy your running shoes, apparel and gear… it’s very likely they’ll be able to suggest a marathon ‘group training’ program in your area.

And if you just can’t find a ‘group’ training program to join, sign-up for Coach Brendan’s FREE ‘virtual’ (online) program… then make sure to run your weekend long-runs on a path (or route) where you’re likely to be with other runners. By running in the company of other runners, you’ll find yourself drawing strength from them; just as they will draw strength from you.

Finally, to help kick-off this year’s marathon training season, please consider this advice from ‘The Runner’s Rule Book’ by Mark Remy, whenever buying new running shoes: “BEFORE YOU TAKE YOUR NEW SHOES OUT OF THE BOX, YOU MUST SMELL THEM. Open the box. Peel back the tissue paper. Behold those pristine shoes. Then lift the box to your face and breathe deeply. Mmmmmmmm. Smells like potential.

And possibly toxins.

But mostly potential.”

Train safe. Run strong.