Friday, March 30, 2012

New Half Marathon!

Looking to reward your hard training efforts with a race and a trip of a lifetime? Well, I've got just the race for you. One of my favorite running apparel companies, lululemon athletica, invites you to Yoga, Run, and Party at their inaugural half-marathon event–The Sea Wheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, Canada on Saturday, August 11, 2012.

The SeaWheeze aims to celebrate the beauty of lululemon’s hometown of Vancouver and bring communities together while combining three things the yoga-inspired athletic apparel company is passionate about: Yoga. Run. Party.

The customized half-marathon training program will encourage runners to develop a regular yoga practice and in true lululemon fashion the event itself will include festivities throughout the weekend. A website dedicated to the event has been launched at, featuring online registration and inspiring content to help participants meet their training goals.

Vancouver, Canada
“We are thrilled to invite our guests, ambassadors and extended lululemon family to come run with us at our inaugural half-marathon,” said Christine Day, CEO, lululemon athletica. “This event will celebrate Vancouver and showcase everything we love about our hometown. Our goal is to host an incredibly fun race and bring our passion for goal setting and our commitment to living a life we love to all of our communities.”

“This is going to be one of the raddest races Vancouver has ever seen,” said Eric Petersen, Director of Brand Innovation at lululemon athletica. “We want to host a party and a race that will excite the run community like never before. The place to be on Saturday, August 11th is Vancouver, BC running the SeaWheeze.”

Lululemon is committed to supporting the Vancouver community through the SeaWheeze. Registration fees will cover less than half the cost of the event, and lululemon will sponsor the rest. The organization has also committed to $25,000 in grant funding for charitable organizations at their 2012 Ambassador Summit. Additionally, as a thank you to the city for hosting the event, $15,000 will be donated to the downtown YMCA in support of programs geared toward promoting healthy living and helping people live a life they love.

More known for their yoga apparel, I came to know lululemon when a running buddy of mine was sporting a pair of their running shorts. He raved about the fit and feel. So, I had to check out the company. I discovered that lululemon did in fact have running apparel for men and women. I've tested several of their products and I have to say they are best in class.  From the feel of the fabric, to the thoughtful design and construction (including premium lightweight technical fabric, pocket storage and flat stitching), these clothes are awesome to run in.

One extra bonus for the SeaWheeze participants is that if they sign up by May 1st, 2012, they'll receive a "special package."  Included in the package will be a piece of lululemon technical gear (hint: running shorts for the women and a running shirt for the men!) along with some other surprises. Remember that you'll only receive the garment early if you sign up by May 1st. Your SeaWheeze package will be shipped to the address provided at registration. (You'll still need to pick up your timing chip at the race expo.) If you sign up after May 1st, 2012, you will be able to pick up your entire package at the run expo on Friday, August 10th.

Another "extra" that participants will get is training support. This training "TackleBox" will have all the tools you need to get prepped and ready to go for August 11. In order to follow the TackleBox training program, you'll already need to be in decent shape. Not Usain-Bolt-personal-best-Ironman shape...but you will at least need to be able to comfortably run for about 45-50 minutes. 

The TackleBox training program will begin on May 11th. Lululemon knows how you like to plan your workouts in advance, so they'll be releasing the program online on April 27th so you can put together a plan. In the meantime check out their GSGR (Get Sweaty Get Ready) pre-training training program. (Click on the chart to go to the website for a larger image.)

You'll notice that the plan includes yoga. An integral part of a balance half-marathon training program involves practicing yoga for recovery, strength and stretching. Lululemon's run ambassadors report lower levels of injury and improved energy when regularly incorporating yoga into their training routines. 

Lululemon has built this half-marathon route to be a challenging, fun and beautiful love letter to Vancouver. The course is dynamic and varied; from the Douglas firs and ocean views in Stanley Park to the jet-set seawall of modern False Creek, the route is engineered to showcase the beauty and vibrancy of Vancouver. The elevations and course will keep you on your toes with hills to test your resilience and plenty of flat and downhill terrain to bring out your inner speed demon.

Stay tuned for more information regarding the race!  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flex that Foot!

"They love me. They love me not. They love me. They love me not." That's the relationship many runners have with their feet and ankles. If you're a runner and if you're a runner getting in lots of miles, you're probably thinking you're a pretty healthy individual. You're probably right. Aerobically, you're fit as a fiddle. Muscular, tendon, ligament, and joint-wise "healthy" might be questionable, particularly in the feet and ankles.

Running is great. Been doing it for over 25 years. Swimming is great too. So is Cycling. The only thing with these three sports is their linear nature. You're moving forward. Constantly. Mile after mile.

That forward movement is in the sagittal plane of movement. That's what a runner, swimmer, and cyclist needs, right? Yes, you definitely need your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors in the lower body to help with the forward movement, no question. The problem is what happens when you step out of the plane of motion.

Ever jump over a pot hole? Step off of a curb? Dart out of the way of a ball, kid, or dog unexpectedly crossing your path while on your run?  When trail running, ever dodge trees, roots, fallen debris, rocks, washouts?  Ever roll your foot when making these movements?

When you step to the side laterally, then you've suddenly moved from the sagittal plane of forward movement to the frontal plan (lateral or side-to-side movement). If you've rotated your foot, leg, or torso, internally or externally, you've then moved your body into the transverse plane of motion.

The other day while running with my Intermediate Running Group at Volvo Trucks North America, the toe of my shoe snagged a divot in the pavement. I tripped, stumbled, then veered off the sidewalk which dropped down into about an inch or so of leaves, twigs and other tree debris. In a split second, I went from the sagittal plan to the frontal plan and into the transverse plane all at once. Amazingly, I was able to regain my balance, steer my feet back out of the debris and onto the sidewalk. There were some older ladies walking nearby that actually clapped when I successfully made my way back to the sidewalk without falling.

How did I do that? Well, a couple of reasons. God was probably with me. In addition to the spirits watching over me, I've become much more in-tune with my body. So, instead of my brain going, "OMG! I'm going to fall! Crap, this is going to hurt!" it said, "Okay, I'm falling, come on muscles pull me out of this."

The mind-muscle connection or lack there of plays a big part in the prevention of a fall or the severity of a fall. If the stabilizer muscles in the lower leg and feet (the little muscles that aid with balance, rotational movement, and lateral movement) are accustomed to being used, then, when you find yourself in a sticky situation (such as tripping and/or falling) they'll be more apt to come to your rescue instead of saying, "Huh? You want me to do what?" Even if you do ultimately fall, the recruitment of your stabilizer muscles will help the fall be less severe.

So how do you wake up these muscles? Use them! In your weekly workouts, take some time to focus on a few ankle exercises. These can be very simple and use just body weight or simple exercise equipment like resistance bands or tubes. One really easy exercise is standing on one leg. Yep, that's it. When you stand on one leg, you recruit a multitude of stabilizer muscles to help maintain your balance. So, next time you're waiting in line at the post office, grocery store or movie theater, pull up one leg and balance on the other. Just be sure not to always stand on the same leg. Give both legs equal attention.

Writing the ABCs with your toes is another easy exercise. Sit in a chair. Lift one leg and use the lifted foot to write each letter of the alphabet with your toes. When doing so, you'll be moving your foot up, down, left, right, front and back hitting all planes of motion and recruiting the stabilizer muscles in the lower part of the leg and around the ankle and in the foot. Stand to make the exercise more difficult. You'll recruit stabilizer muscles in the standing leg to help maintain your balance while you're working the muscles around the ankle and in the foot of the foot that's writing the ABCs. Check out the video below for more simple ankle exercises.

I've also discovered a cool new product, the AFX Ankle Foot Maximizer, that's great for working the muscles in the lower leg, around the ankle, and in the foot. Did you know you have more than 20 muscle in your foot! AFX is a strengthening system that enables you to strengthen all of those muscles and the ankle complex.

The thing I like the most about AFX is that it's one piece of equipment. No need to gather the towel, bands, or tubes. It also provides a wide range of resistance to meet everyone's needs. The odd looking contraption looks like it would be hard to use, but it's not. In just a couple of minutes out of the box, I was using it with ease.

With the AFX you're able to do plantar flexion, toe flexion, dorsiflexion, foot/ankle eversion, foot/ankle inversion as well as stretches.

Check out the AFX video below to learn more about it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nine Reasons a Marathon Training Group is Good For You

So now you know what to look for in a marathon training group program, but why do you need it? I've worked with many runners in group training. Some new to distance running and others seasoned long-time runners. The number one reason I hear for why both have chosen to join the group is accountability. The group holds thme accountable for being there each week for the group runs. When you know that you'll be missed, it's amazing how it can get you out of bed for that early weekend long run or get you there for the nighttime tempo run after a long day at work.

Below are more reasons why group training can help provide you with a great marathon training experience and an awesome race.

In training books, you'll read about "sticking with it" and how you'll eventually pull out of that initial training shock to your body that makes you feel so sluggish and worn down. But, time and time again, runners will give up before they get there. In a group (because there are runners at all different levels) you'll begin to see individuals acclimate to the training demands and get stronger and faster. Seeing that helps you believe that you too will be able to get to that point. Plus the encouragement you'll get from your group peers and coach along the way will just add to that sticktoitness.
Motivation of Others
There's nothing more motivating than having a fellow group member run up beside you (when you're feeling completely exhausted) and saying, "You've got this!" or, a group cheering you on at the end of your first 20-mile long run.
Ongoing Support
Not only will you have the ongoing support of your group's coach, but you'll have the ongoing support of others. Soon after a group starts, the email and cell phone swapping begins. When you don't make a run, you can bet someone in the group will be calling or emailing you to check up on you.
Unofficial Group Runs
Most group plans have the group running together one to three times a week. So that means there are several other runs to be done on your own. Usually within the group, runners will discover they either work at the same place or live near each other, so soon runners are organizing runs in their neighborhoods, at the local park, or at work for their other weekly non-group runs.

To read the rest of my tips for why marathon group training is good for you, go to

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to Find the Right Marathon Training Group

When it comes to marathon training groups, some runners love it and others hate it. It really depends on the personality of the runner. Runners who enjoy the solitude of the trail or road may not enjoy sharing the experience with others. Introverted individuals may feel stressed being around lots of runners. While others thrive on the energy of other runners around them. Neither course is right or wrong. They're just different methods for achieving the same goal.

However, if you're new to marathon training, if you've tried training on your own and just can't seem to stick with it, or if you've run several marathons and feel you've plateaued, then joining a marathon training group may be just what you need. A marathon training group can provide the confidence to cross the finish line the first time, complete the training, or set your next PR.

Determine Your Level
Not all marathon training group programs are alike, so do a little homework before you sign up. In the town where I coach, there are marathon training groups for women only, there are marathon training groups catered to the elites, and there are marathon training groups (like the ones I coach) that support a melting pot of levels. Some programs (even though they’re group) cater to the individual by providing training plans designed for each group member’s specific needs. Others have everyone on the same plan. Again, there’s no right or wrong type of marathon training group, but there may be one that’s better suited to your personality and/or running fitness level.

Meshing schedules is another key factor. Find out in advance how many days a week, which days, and at what time the group will meet for the weekly group runs. There’s no point in joining a group if you’ll only be able to make two of the group runs during the three to four months of training. If you sign up for a group for which you know it will be hard to make the runs, then deep down you’re probably not fully committed to the training. That can spell disaster and/or disappointment.

Price is another factor to consider. If you Google running coaches in our area, you'll find that the prices can vary widely. Don't just go with the cheapest group offering. Select the one that best fits your budget, but also be sure to select the one that best fits your needs. Coaches and groups that provide fitness screenings, individual plans, and ongoing support may cost a little more.
To read the rest of my tips for how to find the right marathon training group, please go to

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