Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finish Your Training Runs

Jannine Myers

Finishing your training runs could be the difference between a good race and a bad race!

I love to run, you all know that about me. But there are days when I really don't feel like running, and on those days I often try to shortcut my workouts. If, for example, I have a tempo run with warm-up and cool-down miles, I'll try to talk myself out of doing the cool-down mile. Or if I have speed intervals, I might try and tell myself that it'll be okay to do one less interval. And sometimes, I might be so weary on a long run, that I'll try to convince myself that walking the last half mile is perfectly acceptable. But as much as I want to quit my workouts early, I hardly ever do, and recently I realized that my perseverance may benefit me more than I realized.

The last race I ran was just a little over three weeks ago, our very own WOOT half marathon. Prior to that I ran the Kadena Monster Mash and Shouhashi half marathons, as well as the Risner 13k Perimeter race. All of these races were difficult for different reasons, and like every other race I have ever run, the challenge really didn't begin until near the end.

Likewise, my training runs often feel the same; the challenge lies towards the end of the run when the fatigue has set in and I have little strength to keep going. Especially during the summer months, when the heat and humidity saps every ounce of energy from my body. I'm referring specifically to the harder speed workouts and longer long runs; the easy recovery runs are, well, easy.

But getting back to racing, I clearly remember how difficult the last mile of the WOOT half marathon felt.  Such a short distance from the Okuma gate to the finish line - around the northern side of the camp to the south side - yet it seemed, in that moment, so far away. That's how it always is for me, in every race I run. The finish line is near, but because I've exhausted my glycogen stores, the end seems so far away.

After the WOOT half marathon, as I soaked my legs in the ocean, I thought about how difficult the race was. The hills were challenging, but the greatest challenge for me was fighting the discomfort I felt during the last couple of  miles. And that's when it dawned on me, that my stubborn  refusal to quit my workouts early, had actually served to make me a stronger runner.

It's obvious to me now, that my ability to persevere in the final leg of races, is a direct result of my unwillingness to negotiate on my training runs. I may not always enjoy the discomfort of finishing that last mile, or that last speed interval, but the day I start giving in and cutting myself some slack, may be the day that marks the beginning of a decline in race performance.

If I train on hills in preparation for a hilly race, or if I do long runs in preparation for a marathon, then surely it makes sense to also finish my training runs and follow them through to the very end - that's the key it seems, in preparing me to last the distance in races and finish strong.

Almost there - finish line is in sight! Risner 13k Perimeter Run Dec 2012

Side Note: I don't recommend following through with your workouts on days that you are feeling under the weather, or if you are feeling exhausted due to lack of recovery from previous workouts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Training For A Race - But No Motivation?

Jannine Myers

Right about now, some of you are about two thirds of the way into your marathon training and struggling to stay motivated. You're not alone - many runners experience this, but if you arm yourself with a few small tricks, you can fight your way out of the slump. Here are some strategies that Anna and I, and many of our running friends, have used to help us stay motivated:

  • Run with a friend, or group of friends - a) they hold you accountable because you don't want to be the  one who doesn't show up, and b) the time passes by much more quickly when you run with friends.

  • Sometimes it pays to take a little time off - instead of running, do something different; go to a spin class, for example, or try a yoga class. Or zone out to some good music while exercising on an elliptical trainer or stationary bike. But don't stay away from your runs too long, just long enough to break the monotony.

  • This is a great idea that came from Anna - for those long and lonely runs on your own. Is there a book you've been wanting to read but haven't had time to do so? See if it's available as an audio book and listen to it while running. And if it isn't available, browse the selection of audio books that are available and find one you might enjoy (or a good podcast).

  • Give yourself incentives - reward yourself with little indulgences, such as a girls' night out, a trip to the spa for a pedicure or massage, a soak in the bathtub with some soothing bath salts and a good book,  or some good old shopping therapy. But, make yourself earn the rewards. Mark them on your calendar (on the 1st and 15th for example), and only redeem them if you have completed all your workouts.

  • Surround yourself with friends who love to run, and who share similar goals. Have you ever heard of American Entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn? He died in 2009, but he left behind some great quotes, one of which is the following: "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are." He believed that our values, behaviors, passions, knowledge, skills, and habits, are directly influenced by those who are closest to us.

  • Are your goals realistic? Are you training for a marathon, but don't really have the time (you're a single mom right now because your husband is deployed, or you work full-time and have family obligations when you're not working). Or are you training for a half or full marathon, when a more realistic goal would be to train first for a 5 or 10k? If your goals are unrealistic, and causing you much frustration, don't be afraid to re-evaluate and set new goals; it's much more likely that you'll stay motivated when you see some measurable progress being made.

  • Finally, change up your running routine and route - seems fairly obvious but some runners actually run at the same time, on the same days, along the same routes, at the same pace - every single week!
No more excuses - just get out there and run!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Should You Run When You're Sick?

We've entered the winter season, where runners have to combat not just the cold weather elements, but also increased odds of falling ill with the flu, or flu-like symptoms. Falling ill in the middle of a training cycle is a major source of frustration, but for many runners, not reason enough to stop training! 

The following article, published on, provides great information and advice on when it's probably okay to run during illness, and when it really isn't such a great idea. 

 Article re-posted from

Runners don't like to skip workouts--even when they're ill. Here's how to decide when you should take a sick day from training.
Published November 07, 2005
Media: Should You Run When You're Sick?
Runners seem to live by a creed that's stricter than the postman's: "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sniffle, nor fever shall keep me from my training schedule." Indeed, the coming of winter presents many issues for runners who'd prefer to keep at it even when sick. Oftentimes, symptoms aren't severe enough to make you stay in bed, home from work, or off the roads. And while exercise can give you a mental and physical boost when you're feeling run-down, there are other occasions when going for a run may do more harm than good.
David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, and has run 58 marathons and ultras, uses the "neck rule." Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don't pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.
This view is supported by research done at Ball State University by Tom Weidner, Ph.D., director of athletic training research. In one study, Weidner took two groups of 30 runners each and inoculated them with the common cold. One group ran 30 to 40 minutes every day for a week. The other group was sedentary. According to Weidner, "the two groups didn't differ in the length or severity of their colds." In another study, he found that running with a cold didn't compromise performance. He concluded that running with a head cold--as long as you don't push beyond accustomed workouts--is beneficial in maintaining fitness and psychological well-being.
But, doctors say, you still walk, or run, a fine line. Take extra caution when training with anything worse than a minor cold because it can escalate into more serious conditions affecting the lower respiratory tract and lungs. Sinus infection, or sinusitis, is an inflammation of the sinus cavity that affects 37 million Americans each year. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, headache, and facial pressure. With a full-blown sinus infection, you rarely feel like running. But if you do, consider the 72-hour rule of Jeffrey Hall Dobken, M.D.: "No running for three days," advises the allergist/immunologist and ultramarathoner in Little Silver, New Jersey. Even without the presence of a fever, says Dr. Dobken, some sinus infections, when stressed by exercise, can lead to pneumonia or, in extreme cases, respiratory failure.
Not surprisingly, winter weather increases risk of sinusitis. In dry air, the nasal passages and mouth lose moisture, causing irritation. "The sinuses need time to recover," says Dr. Dobken, "just like a knee or foot." So Dr. Dobken recommends including treadmill running in your winter training regimen.
Another option for sinusitis sufferers is pool running. "The water adds moisture to nasal passages," says John J. Jacobsen, M.D., an allergist in Mankato, Minnesota. Pool running is preferable to swimming, says Dr. Jacobsen, because chlorine can be irritating to the nose.
If you're still in doubt about whether it's safe to run or not, take your temperature. If it's above 99 degrees, skip your run. "Some people think that they can 'sweat out' a fever by running," says Nieman. "That's wrong. Running won't help your immune system fight the fever."
Nieman saw this firsthand when his running partner once ran a marathon with a 101-degree fever. Soon after, the runner developed severe and persistent symptoms similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome. "Every day he'd wake up feeling creaky and arthritic," says Nieman. "When he tried to run, he'd stumble and fall." Eventually doctors concluded he had a "postviral syndrome," a latent condition that was exacerbated by the race.
Although this syndrome is rare, it's an example of the risk you take by running while ill. "Running with a fever makes the fever and flu-like symptoms worse," says Nieman, "and it can lead to other complications." During exercise, your heart pumps a large amount of blood from your muscles to your skin, dissipating the heat your body generates. If you have a fever, your temperature will rise even higher, and your heart will be put under greater strain to keep your temperature from soaring. In some cases, this can produce an irregular heartbeat. Also, a virus can cause your muscles to feel sore and achy; exercising when your muscles are already compromised could lead to injury.
Nieman recommends that runners with a fever or the flu hold off until the day after the symptoms disappear--and then go for a short, easy run. Runners should wait one to two weeks before resuming their pre-illness intensity and mileage. Otherwise, you risk a relapse, he says.
Above all, obey your body and the thermometer--not your training program.
Know Your Limits
How much running can compromise your immune system to the point of making you sick? For average runners, the dividing line seems to be 60 miles a week, according to David Nieman, Ph.D., of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University. Nieman conducted the largest study ever done on this question by examining 2,300 runners who competed in the 1987 Los Angeles Marathon. "The odds of getting sick were six times higher than normal after the marathon," says Nieman, "and those who ran 60 miles a week or more doubled their chance of getting sick." The illnesses were of the upper respiratory tract, including sinus infections. Nieman says there's no doubt these findings are still applicable to runners today. He's also used himself as a test case: When Nieman trained up to 90 miles a week, he constantly battled sore throats. When he dropped his weekly mileage below 60, the symptoms stopped.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

WOOT's First Half Marathon - Race Report

Jannine Myers

It's been almost three years since WOOT was formed, and since then we've grown from a small group of women who used to meet every weekend at Yuimaru carpark, to a Facebook membership of almost five hundred. Granted, not all of our Facebook members are actively running with us, but every weekend, as we prepare to put in some miles together, we continue to welcome both familiar and new faces. This was always Anna's vision - to see our group grow, but more so, to see our group run together, race together, and bond together. I think it's fairly obvious by now that her vision has been realized, and more recently, another vision of hers came to fruition.

Last weekend, to mark the end of another great year of WOOT bonding and running, we headed north to Okuma to run our very own half marathon. Just as she did three years ago, when she presented me with her plans to form a women's running group, Anna once again ran her idea past me, only this time asking me what I thought about WOOT hosting a women's-only half marathon. My initial response was admittedly a little  apathetic, although I was definitely on board with supporting the effort if Anna decided to follow through with it. Then, as the weeks drew nearer to the event, and more women began to show interest, it was hard not to  feel just a little excited.

The weeks leading up to the half marathon were fairly chaotic; we all had holiday happenings going on, as well as races to run, and also our WOOT christmas gift exchange in the midst of it all. But behind the scenes,  the route was being carefully mapped out to ensure that an exact distance of 13.1 miles would be covered. Emails were also being swapped with details of supplies needed, how many volunteers and aid stations would be needed, who would be able to help set up the night before and the morning of, and other minor essentials. It's surprising how many things need to be considered when organizing an event like this, but not surprisingly, Anna did a great job of recognizing all that needed to be done. With the help of a great team of volunteers, it wasn't too difficult to make this event a success.

At 8am, on Saturday 29th December, we gathered around the starting area for a short pre-race brief. The weather was amazing, and everyone was in great spirits, all ready and eager to run what we were hoping would turn out to be a beautiful course. Anna gave us a description of the route, and mile markers to look out for, and at approximately 8:30am we started running. Miles one through three were flat and fast, and we reached the first aid station at our first turn, off route 58. The Morales family (and my Jade, who ditched her dad so she could hang with some kids instead), were enthusiastically waiting with refreshments. Anna and I weren't thirsty, but the sight of smiling kids holding out drink cups for us was too precious to ignore.

Making sure everyone had numbers on their arms 

Pre-race brief

Our sweet little helpers at Aid Station 1 - Anna and I stop for a quick drink

After a quick drink and high fives, it was time to face our first incline. We headed upwards for a half mile or so, but then it was downhill again and a right turn onto flat roads once more. Now we were running in a small rural neighborhood, with just a few homes around and pleasantly quiet. Another shift of gears, and I picked up the pace for about a mile or so, until I reached the next aid station where our volunteers, Ivette Kragel and Antonia Sautter, greeted me with their beautiful smiles and positive words of encouragement.

Antonia and Ivette - the best volunteers ever! So supportive - and, entertaining!

Encouragement! That's exactly what I needed at that moment, because as I turned the corner to start the next two miles towards the halfway point, I saw nothing but a big old mountain in front of me! I thought the hill I climbed in the Shouhashi half marathon a couple of months ago was a killer hill, but that was nothing compared to the monster that stood facing me.

Check that out!

Upwards and onwards, and a winding road that was so steep at times that I'm sure my run could easily have  been mistaken for a walk by anyone who might have been watching. I must have looked at my garmin at least a half dozen times, only to be disappointed, as I realized with each glance that I had moved forward by maybe only a tenth of a mile. Seeing my husband at the halfway point, at the top of the hill, was a welcome sight, not just because I was glad to see his face, but because this also marked the turn-around point and the start of some downhill running.

Kim O'Byrne just a couple of feet away from the turn-around point

The last three miles, although flat, were by no means easy. This part of the course was back on the 58 headed north towards Okuma, and there was no longer any shade covering from the trees. My energy reserves were almost depleted, and I was sweating quite profusely by this stage. Going through the gate at Okuma was one of those bitter-sweet moments where it felt great to almost be done, but painful to have to  run one more mile around the resort, before reaching the start/finish line. Once I did cross the finish line however, I relished the feeling of having successfully completed another half marathon, and this one was by far, one of the most difficult I've done.

As all the ladies, one by one, crossed the finished line, it was clear from the looks on their faces that they were all so proud of what they had just done. And they deserved to be; a half marathon the likes of what they had just completed is no simple feat. But beyond the feeling of pride, I suspect that the joy we all felt that day was mostly due to the camaraderie that was experienced.

Jennifer Green - happy to see her little guy waiting for her at the finish

Valerie Patmore - big smiles as she crosses the finish line

In the old testament of the bible, there are some verses which infer that two or more people together, stand a better chance of overcoming obstacles than when they attempt to overcome them on their own (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). These verses, I believe, can be taken out of the realm of a Christian context and applied to virtually any life situation.

What I think we all witnessed last weekend was an example of what these verses teach. As difficult as it was to run a course that included two miles of steep climbing, we all cheered each other on, and our volunteers helped to provide the extra reassurance we all needed. My point though, is that what we are capable of accomplishing in our own strength, can often be multiplied when we act on the encouragement and support of others. Besides just being a women's running group, that's essentially what WOOT is about.

Nice job Shonna Calisi

Some good old WOOT bonding! Anna Boom and Audrey Naini

Not a single runner failed to finish the course, and not a single runner left before the last runner finished. That to me, was the icing on the cake, and the thing that made our first half marathon a great success!

Finishers' Medal

We did it! Congratulations ladies!

Congratulations Anna - I hope this will become an annual WOOT race.

Photos by Erik Myers, Jim Blankenmeier, Alexis Knutsen, Monica Galvan, and Ivette Kragel