On Becoming A Better You

Many of you are now running your longest runs ever (or your longest runs in a very long time), and you’re being reminded of the fact that “the hardest part of running a marathon is NOT running the marathon—the hardest part of running a marathon is TRAINING to run the marathon.

That said, these coming weeks are the real “discipline weeks” of marathon training:

… those weeks when the reality of October 8 is seriously beginning to plant itself in your mind, that in just 7 weeks you are going to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

… those weeks when you stay in on Friday nights because you really, really need to be in bed before 9:30 PM.

… and the weeks when you’re most likely to you say to yourself, “Tell me again why I’m doing this?”

But then, you DO remember why you’re doing this.

You’re doing this because being a runner is now a part of who you are, and all that you’ve become.

You’re doing this because of the commitment you’ve made to your own health and fitness; and, as a Team RMHC runner, because of the commitment you’ve made to support the health and well-being of the children and families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities.

And you’re doing this because running makes you a better you… an idea best reflected in this quote from writer, mother and runner Kristin Armstrong: “I am not a ‘good runner’ because I am me. I am a ‘good me’ because I am a runner.”

(I LOVE that!)

If running these really long ‘long runs’ seems like a challenge, you’re not alone.

(What the heck… you’re running 16, 18 or 20 miles! OF COURSE IT’S A CHALLENGE!)

But (again), remember… you’re NOT alone.

Look around you on the path, streets or sidewalks that you train on–and take strength from all the other runners who are doing exactly what you’re doing.

Look to your family, friends and colleagues and take strength from their good wishes and prayers; and from the donations they’re making to support you, and to support Ronald McDonald House Charities!

And on Marathon Day… look in total (jaw-dropping) awe at the 40,000-plus runners at your side, and the nearly 1,800,000 spectators who show up to encourage and cheer you on to the ‘FINISH.’


Many thanks to each of you for ALL that you’re doing (every day, and every week) to train and run and fundraise(!) to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.

You’re THE BEST!

Train safe. Run strong.

Finish proud.



The Heart of the Matter

It’s mid-August… that time on the calendar when you have now passed the ‘half way’ point of your training, and are now ‘heading home’ to Marathon Day.


For some, this past weekend was a ‘cut back’ week; others were running 14, 16 or 18-milers (happy “Sweet Sixteen” by the way, if that’s what you ran!)… and with the more moderate temperatures here in Chicago, it seemed like everyone was “out there.”

Running. Training.

Challenging themselves to do their best, and be their best.

So far, our focus has been mostly about the physical side of training… building endurance, learning about ‘proper running form’ and understanding the important role that stretching, hydration and good nutrition play in helping you be your best.

AND you’ve learned that even after you’ve gained confidence in your physical training, there’s still a lot more to learn in terms of mental preparedness.

But there’s a third element to successfully running a marathon.


Heart’ is that spirit inside each of us that “gets us out the door” to run on weekdays—especially when we really don’t have the time or energy to run; and it’s what drives us to get up at 5:00 AM (in the MORNING!) (ON A SATURDAY!!!) to run what have now become ‘crazylong’ long runs. (And yes, at this point “crazylong” is one word.)

And it is heart that will help you run 26.2 miles on October 8.

On more occasions that I care to admit, when either my physical and/or mental fitness have somehow “broken down”—it is that spirit within me (and my faith) that have given me the strength to run the next mile.

And the mile after that.

BODY, MIND and HEART… throughout the coming weeks, we’ll continue to talk about the role that each of these elements play in marathon training—but for now, know (with certainty!) that if you’ve made an honest commitment to your training schedule, that you will always, always have at least one of these three to take you across the ‘FINISH.’

Keep training safe.

And (of course) keep running strong.




Oh, Joy

What a great weekend here in Chicago, with slightly cooler temps, and lower humidity and tons of runners out on the paths… so many appearing so pleased (and proud!) to be “out there” running.

Which is what this whole marathon training experience should be all about!

Okay, let’s be honest. There’s a really good chance that you’re not going to win the marathon (gasp!)… so you might as well ‘enjoy the heck’ out of your training, and enjoy anticipating the (unimaginable) thrill of “running Chicago” on Marathon Day.

So whether you’re training for your “first ever” marathon or your “tenth ever”… just have a GREAT time.

And I’m not talking about the ‘time’ on your watch… I’m talking about having a “great time.” Period.

Marathoners are, by nature, a rather competitive bunch. (Or haven’t you noticed?)

Which is a good thing, as it keeps us always moving forward and always striving to achieve our ‘next goal.’ But at the same time, being (too) competitive can be a not good thing… as we get SO serious about our pace and our plan and our times that we often lose-out on the joy of “just running.”

We’re now starting the really long ‘long-run’ stage of marathon training—all the more reason to run with your shoulders back and your head up, and with a smile on your face (and in your heart!) because of what you’re going to achieve on October 8…

                         YOU’RE GOING TO RUN THE CHICAGO MARATHON!

Until then, my wish for each of you is that you continue to have a safe (read: “injury-free”) training experience; and that on Marathon Day you’re standing at the ‘START’ with a confident and determined spirit, and with an able and healthy body.

But mostly (mostly!)…  I wish you the joy of “just running.”

Train safe. Run strong.

Finish proud.




Finding Your Greatness

For most of us, running 26.2 miles is about the challenge of achieving something we may never have believed possible.

It’s about hope. And courage.

And faith.

It’s about measuring the endurance that’s in us today, and discovering the strength that is possible tomorrow.

And owning that strength is what each of us will do on October 8.

And it’s that sentiment that’s reflected in the NIKE “Find Your Greatness” campaign from a couple of years ago—sharing the notion that, “Greatness is not in one special place, and it’s not in one special person. Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.”

As you continue your marathon training, my wish for each of you is to have the faith that the greatness you are looking for will be inside of you as you stand at the “START” on Marathon Day.

At this point, as we begin the second half of marathon training season, I simply encourage you to do all you can, the best you can… on every remaining training run, through every remaining training week.

Which is all any of us can ask of ourselves.

And to carry in your heart these words from Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

(Thank you, Sir Winston.)

Have a (really) good training week ahead, as you to discover all the greatness you are capable of achieving.

And thank you, for ALL that you are doing to train and run and fundraise to support the children and families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities!

Train safe. Run strong.





SO Ready

Well, it’s the end of July… and a time when most runners are approaching the halfway mark in their marathon training.

It’s a time to look back and feel proud (and smile!) about everything you’ve achieved so far (including a “steamy” long-run this past Saturday here in Chicago); and a time to look forward, with anticipation (and a bit of ‘anxiety’?) to all you are about to achieve in the weeks ahead.

And it’s a good time to honestly assess how you’re feeling ‘body-wise’… a time to take stock of all those joints, tendons and muscles you’ve been ‘beating-up’ on—especially as long-run distances and weekly aggregate miles begin to (seriously) increase.

To that point, I recently attended a clinic about the most typical running-related injuries and was reminded that, over the years, I’ve had ’em all—including shin splints; “runner’s knee;” plantar fasciitis; as well as Achilles tendonitis and IT band issues.

(I know, I know, “What a wreck!”)

The good news (if there can ever be “good news” when talking about an injury) is that all these injuries are rather common to runners, and all are rather treatable—provided they’re acknowledged and diagnosed early.

In fact, one of the ‘big lessons’ these injuries taught me is that the body has an AMAZING ability to heal itself, if we’re just patient enough (and smart enough) to allow it to BE amazing!

(In other words, consider seeing a sports physical therapist; and rest—when you know rest is what you should be doing.)

(Enough said.)

If any of this sounds like I’m talking to you, check out Coach Brendan’s marathon training tip this week, “R.I.C.E. Is Very Nice.”

(That’s ‘Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.’ Although on more than a few Saturday evenings that has become, “Rest. Ice. Craft beer(s). Elevation.”)

Oh… and about that ‘anxiety’ you may be feeling about the second half of the training season (especially for those who just ran their ‘first ever’ half-marathon, or their first 12 or 14 mile long-run)—the truth is, before you get to the ‘START’ on October 8 you’ll probably run four or five half marathons… considering that you’ll be completing long runs of 14, 16, 18 and 20 miles.

Now, I share this with you not to freak anyone out (“WHAT! I’m going to run 5 half marathons!”)—but rather to highlight the fact that by following your training schedule, you will be SO ready (in body, mind and spirit) as you line-up and stand at the “START” on Marathon Day.


Have a great week ahead.

(In fact, have a great ‘whole second half’ of the marathon training season!)

And please… train safe.

And (of course) run strong.




One Mile At A Time

Yesterday was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in Chicago…

… and there’s a good chance that if you ran that race you might now be saying to yourself, “Oh. My. Gosh. How am I EVER going to run 26.2 miles?”

And if you didn’t run the R ‘n’ R Half you likely ran a 12 or 14 mile long-run (or will soon), and may be asking yourself this very same question.

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 half; 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 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 now—at this point in your training—PLEASE 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!)

And to those Team RMHC runners who just ran their ‘first ever’ half marathon, or their ‘first ever’ 12 or 14-miler–CONGRATULATIONS!

(And, “Woo-hoo!”)

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 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 mother, runner 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.