Education – The Tempo Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series Blog Wed, 06 Jun 2018 02:30:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Furry Friends Can Take You Farther: How to Start Running With Your Pet Tue, 15 May 2018 11:48:03 +0000 I am going to be honest with you – I am one of those people who hates spending time away...

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I am going to be honest with you – I am one of those people who hates spending time away from their pet. My dog provides me with comfort, happiness, and even makes me feel safer on a day-to-day basis. With that being said, while getting ready for any Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race, I am constantly going on training runs, which means I am away from my house a few hours every day. Instead of leaving my fur child at home, I have made it a point to convert my snuggle buddy into my number one training partner. 

While pets cannot be with you on race day, it is a great way to have some bonding time during the training process. However, if you are new to the training process, especially with a pet, I wanted to offer some tips and tricks for making the mileage build-up easier (and safer) for you and your furry friend.

Build slowly.

Just like you, your pet needs to build up their mileage slowly. Gradually adding distance to training runs for your pet helps prevent injury and allows your furry friend to ENJOY working out with you (could you imagine if your first training run ever was ten miles?!). In order to ease my dog into running with me when I start training for a race, I run half a mile away from home with her on a leash and then back. I then drop her off at home where she can be safe and comfortable before continuing on my run to get in the rest of my mileage.  As my training progresses I add on a quarter of a mile outbound in distance, so she slowly gets used to running further. I do this three days in a row and allow her a rest day before we start again.


Let me say it again: HYDRATE. When out on a run, I always carry enough water for myself and my pup, or I plan a route that has water fountains so that we can stop for water breaks. This can help keep your pet from overheating. Instead of carrying a huge water bowl with me, I carry a folding measuring cup, so I can keep re-filling it for her without having to carry something incredibly bulky (sometimes even portable pet bowls can be cumbersome). Making sure your pup is properly taking in fluids allows for a safer and healthier exercise regime for both of you.

Did you say treats?

Just like a human, as pets increase activity, they need calories. On runs, I pack my fuel bag with a little bag of doggy treats to keep my pet’s energy up, and also use them as a training tool. Lately, I have been giving my pup glucosamine treats; she loves the taste, and they help her hips and joints feel less achy after more activity.


Again, a pet’s experience running is not much different than a human’s. They need rest days. Make sure to give your pet a day off in between training runs (I never run my pup more than three days in a row) so that their muscles can recover, and so they will be more rested for their next outing with you!

All in all, training with your pet should be fun and safe. Every animal is different, so you should always be aware of what is best for your pup. However, getting regular exercise with your pup can tighten your bond. I’ll bet getting your pet some exercise will motivate you to get outside even more and spend a little extra time with your best furry friend.

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5 Signs You’re Ready to Go Long(er) Thu, 10 May 2018 05:35:41 +0000 You’ve been crushing it at the 5K, and you’re thinking you need a new challenge. Or maybe your training buddies...

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You’ve been crushing it at the 5K, and you’re thinking you need a new challenge. Or maybe your training buddies are signed up for a marathon, and you’ve got major FOMO. Whatever your reasons for considering a new race distance, it’s important to make sure you’re ready for the challenge.

“Once a runner completes a 5K, it’s exciting to think about a 10K. Or after few half marathons, it’s only natural to start thinking about the magic distance of the full marathon,” says Paul Greer, professor of health and exercise science at San Diego City College and head coach of the San Diego Track Club. “But it’s still a big decision – you’re essentially asking your body to do twice as much as it did before.”

So how do you know you’re ready to move up in distance? Greer says there are a few keys to taking on the challenge at the right time, for the right reasons:

1. You’ll make the time.

If you’re considering a longer distance, don’t just look at how many hours you’ll spend running each day. Training for a longer distance requires you to make time for other things as well: adequate sleep, proper nutrition, strength work, and recovery become all the more critical as the miles increase. Be realistic about your schedule – can you (and will you) make the time to invest in your training?

 2. You’ve put in the training.

“If a runner can only complete 5 miles for their longest run in training, they have no business attempting to race a half or full marathon,” advises Greer. “You must be physically fit.” That’s not to say you can’t get there eventually; a longer distance is a great long-term goal! In the interim, set goals for completing a full cycle of training for a 5K, then 10K, then half marathon, then full marathon. In addition to helping your body adapt to the demands of longer distances, you’ll have short-term benchmarks to keep you energized along the way to your big day.

3. You’re healthy.

Have a nagging injury from 10K training? It’s not going to go away just because you signed up for a half marathon. “The runner who consistently gets hurt when they increase mileage and intensity might have to wait awhile,” cautions Greer. “The body needs to be healthy to adapt to the higher intensity that is involved when moving up to a higher distance.” Address the root cause of your injuries with a coach or physical therapist before signing up for another race. For some, this may mean a period of rest with a gradual return to training; for others, it might involve addressing biomechanical weaknesses with a strength-training routine.

4. You’ve got a “why.”

When training for a longer distance, you’ll likely have days when you want to quit. What’s going to keep you going? Whether you’re doing it for your health, your kids, or the epic race-day selfie, having a clear motivation for doing the race is important. “If the mind is willing, this goes a long way in being ready for a higher distance.”

5. You want to do the race.

No, you don’t have to do a marathon. Some people feel they need to go longer because it’s the next logical step in their evolution as a runner, but that’s simply not true. If running longer distances simply doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself at shorter distances, like setting a PR, tackling a super-tough course, or taking on a new kind of race, like your first sprint-distance triathlon or even obstacle course racing. There’s no right path for everyone, so make it your own.

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That’s Not a Sunburn: Training Alternatives to Avoid Running Burnout Thu, 10 May 2018 05:12:22 +0000 Summer is coming, but that burn you feel might not be from the sun – it’s from too much running....

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Summer is coming, but that burn you feel might not be from the sun – it’s from too much running. Whether you’re training for the full 26.2 or just a 10K, burnout is a real thing. Perhaps you’re exercising more and eating more carbs than ever before, or just skipping one too many barbeques because you have a 16-mile training run (that’s not just me, right?). Running is hard. It’s supposed to be. That’s why we are all setting goals and challenging ourselves.

I’ve been training for the Synchrony Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on June 3 since Thanksgiving. That’s a really long time to be focused on something, no matter who you are. And while I’m SO close to that finish line and to the dozen donuts I expect to be waiting for me at the end, I am tired. I am sore. I am chafing in places I never knew I could chafe. I miss sleeping in. I can only rock out to my “power through” song so many more times (secret: it’s Ester Dean’s “Drop It Low.”) But I am SO close and I don’t plan on quitting.

So what do you do when you’re feeling like this? Well, you might just need a change for one or two workouts – and that’s okay! Here are four cardio alternatives to running that will help you power through race day training:

1. Spinning
Spinning is not only a great tool for training your heart and your run pace, but it’s also a great way to strengthen some of the muscles that running doesn’t. And you don’t need to sign up for a special Spin Gym to get in the practice. Download CycleCast in your phone’s App Store – its $7 a month, has multiple motivating coaches, new workouts weekly, and great music.


2. Kickboxing
Is the running burnout making you mad? Hit the bags. Literally. Gyms like 9Round and IHeartKickboxing have inexpensive drop-in prices and instructors that create the workout for you. Kickboxing is a total body workout that not only gets the heart rate up, but will help you with core and shoulder strength, all while providing an outlet for releasing your frustrations.


3. Elliptical

Even if you are not burnt out on running yet, I recommend the elliptical because it’s good to give your joints a break. The elliptical burns just as
many calories as running but is low-impact, so it’s not as rough as hitting the pavement with your feet.


4. Swimming

Didn’t I mention summer somewhere in here? There are so many benefits of swimming, even if you aren’t a runner. Swimming tones all of the muscles and is another great relief exercise for your joints that still gets the heart pumping and builds endurance.


Best of luck to you in your training – hope to see you in sunny San Diego!

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Ready, Set, Om! 12 Ways to Find Your Race-Day Calm Fri, 27 Apr 2018 13:53:27 +0000 As a writer, I often find myself drafting my post-race story in my head—whether for a future article or a...

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As a writer, I often find myself drafting my post-race story in my head—whether for a future article or a social media post—as I run along. It’s a tactic that, more often than not, leads to disappointment, since my recap inevitably needs to be revised and edited as the race goes on. On the flipside, the times when I have been able to truly stay in the moment, focused solely on the adventure at hand (rather than how I’ll recount it later), have been some of my most rewarding performances.

I know I’m not alone. Whatever types of distractions you experience while racing, it seems that most of us have them—and that we might be better served by learning to hone our focus and fully experience the moments we spend out on course. I reached out to a trio of experts (a coach and two sport psychologists) to learn their tips and triggers for staying as present as possible during longer races. Their advice is varied, and arguably invaluable. Draw a bath, crank up your essential oil diffuser and have a read.

1. Build a base of mindfulness

“Just like physical training, mental training must be practiced diligently and consistently in order to execute it in a race-day scenario,” says Dr. Gloria Petruzelli, Clinical Sport Psychologist. “I recommend every athlete have a ‘thought awareness practice’ or mindfulness practice that helps them cultivate body-mind awareness. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises, are some examples I recommend.”

2. Get a grip

Equally important to brain training is getting a grip on what causes you to lose focus in the first place, says Petruzelli. “When it comes to training your mental skills, specifically becoming more present-moment focused, the first step is to become aware of when you are not in the moment and what exactly is pulling you out of being in the moment. I always say, ‘You cannot change what you are not aware of.'”

3. Make room for mind chatter

Clinical Sport Psychologist Dr. Mitchell Greene shares his own athletic experience to illustrate a concept he refers to as “mind chatter.” It was about a half hour before the start of Greene’s A race and, right on cue, his mind chatter showed up. “I was reminded of the fact that people could track me online, that I was a sport psychologist and therefore I better not freak out, and that not finishing would be so disappointing,” he recalls. Greene says his own experience has taught him that our mind starts chattering when it senses that we might a) not meet expectations, b) embarrass ourselves, or c) not ‘look good’ (come in last, DNF, etc.). It shows up for everyone at some level, so the key is learning how to make room for it rather then see it as a sign of weakness or cowardice.

4. Think small

Greene also mentions a tactic he calls “time traveling.” “That’s when we think about past races and results and think about our upcoming races and results, thus losing sight of the bigger purpose—which is trying to discover something about ourselves and our smaller goals.” He says that time traveling tends to backfire, and that he likes to teach athletes that when the moment gets big, they actually need to think small.

5. Bring it back to the exhale

According to Austin-based coach and long-time endurance athlete Carrie Barrett, staying present can boil down to this basic: breathing. “Much like in meditation, when I’m in the middle of a long run, I’ll focus on an audible exhale. The inhale happens automatically, but I’ve found that focusing on the exhale keeps me centered and in the moment. It also relaxes me, since I know I’m not holding my breath or working too hard. I almost treat those moments like yoga. When I find myself struggling or working too hard, I bring it back to the exhale.”

6. Say it to make it so

Barrett also relies on a tried-and-true mantra to go the distance—for her, the words power, alignment, love, and energy. She says the words bring her strength and focus, and also provide physical and emotional cues. “The word love especially can sometimes bring me out of a funk if I’m in a dark space during a race,” she explains. “I have love for the sport, for my body, for those who are cheering, and by testing my limits as an athlete, I’m creating a loving and open space.”

7. Let go of what you can’t control

Likewise, Greene says that our race attitude—particularly the way we react to uncontrollable factors—can impact whether we get derailed or stay on track. “If we could control the results, everyone would finish a race in the time they desire,” he says. Since that’s obviously not the case, Greene’s advice is to break down a long race like a marathon or half marathon into sub-goals (those aspects of the race that have actionable steps we can take directly). “Typically, people think of physical goals when I talk to them about small sub-goals (maintaining a certain heart rate, for example). There’s nothing wrong with those types of goals, but I think just as important—if not more important—are our mental goals, which can help us keep our heads in the race,” says Greene. “Part of the mental goal should include the idea that things will not go our way and some key ideas, words, and statements to keep from expending too much energy being pissed off, disappointed, or upset.”

8. Practice radical acceptance

Petruzelli suggests that athletes train to use radical acceptance, which requires us to consciously acknowledge that we have done all we could to change, control, or manage a situation, and at this moment there is nothing more than could be done but accept the moment as it is. She says this allows us to accept the reality of what is, not what could be, should be, or ought to be. 

9. Channel your alter ego

At times, however, a bit of fantasizing can serve us well. Barrett’s tricks include tapping into her alter ego for inspiration—to get outside of herself a little bit and become someone else. “If you’re struggling, create a character who isn’t. For me, the image of Deena Kastor in the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon has always stayed with me, so I channel my inner Deena. During the Athens marathon, she started off slow and remained patient and determined throughout. She kept her white hat low and eventually ran her way from mid-pack to the Bronze medal. I use that image during races as a reminder to remain patient, stay within myself, and avoid getting caught up in what everyone else is doing.”

10. Weather your emotions

Petruzelli stresses that a variety of factors can clamor for our focus, and it’s important to understand and react accordingly. “If feelings are pulling you out of the moment, remind yourself that feelings are not facts. Feelings and emotions are temporary, especially in a long race, so don’t let your race plan change because of emotions. Emotions are like the weather—you adapt to them until they pass. During a long race, remind yourself that emotions are a part of the process The ups and downs are a part of why we do these races.”

11. Separate fact from fiction

“If thoughts are pulling you out of the moment,” Petruzelli continues, “ask yourself, are they based in fact or fiction? Our thoughts are one or the other—i.e. I’m slowing off my goal pace (fact), or I’m blowing up and won’t be able to recover (fiction). Fictional thoughts can’t be proven in the moment and often take the form of judgments, assumptions, or catastrophic conclusions. Fictional thought patterns can trick an athlete into believing that they’re factual, because they typically pull in strong emotions.”

12. Create a new moment

Finally, says Petruzelli, distraction can actually serve an in-the-moment purpose. “If physical sensations pull you out of the moment, distract yourself by repeating a mantra, singing a song in your head, high fiving volunteers or other competitors, or focusing on running to that next aid station or mile marker. Basically, do anything distracting to take your focus off the pain or sensation.” Bottom line, if the moment you’re in is painful, craft a new one.

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Lock Down a Last-Minute Race: 9 Hacks Thu, 29 Mar 2018 14:40:12 +0000 Maybe you just heard that Hunter Hayes is headlining St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville at the end of April....

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Maybe you just heard that Hunter Hayes is headlining St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville at the end of April. Perhaps your partner will get asked on a last-minute business trip to San Diego in June, or your friends are known to plan impromptu Vegas road trips on a whim—and would definitely beg you to bring your booty along.

Whatever the circumstances, great getaways are often spontaneous. The only problem is, a race in one of these race-friendly cities might be only a few weeks out. Should you throw your visor in the ring or plan to stick to the sidelines?

If you’re already a regular runner who logs 20 to 30 miles per week, don’t count yourself out just yet. By setting realistic expectations and making the most of your training time, running a half marathon or marathon even just four to six weeks in the future is definitely doable. While not advised on a diet of zero training, read on for nine ways to make those last-minute miles matter most.

1. Frequency trumps volume

To reduce recovery time, do shorter but more frequent runs each week, rather than sticking to a weekly long run. Even a 30-minute run on an easy day is worthwhile. If your schedule allows, once a week try a double run day: running in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Go half the distance in the second run.

2. Quality over quantity

There’s no time for track sessions or hill repeats—you’re off the hook there. Instead, add short, intense bursts of speed with “fast feet” (a quicker, lighter footspeed, or cadence) to your runs. Try two to three rounds (15, 25, 35, 45, 35, 25, 15 sec) with 1 minute easy between each burst and five to 10 minute easy between rounds.

3. Hit the gym

Carve out 20 to 30 minutes twice a week for functional strength work that is dynamic, mimics running, and won’t wear out your legs. Add walking lunges with a twist/torso rotation, step-ups, inchworms, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, and multi-planar single-leg hops to stability, glute, and core exercises.

4. Manage your expectations and your ego.

Sure you’re a badass runner, but this time try leaving your ego at home. Prioritize having fun, stop to smell the cherry blossoms, and maybe even take a break for photos if the situation calls for it. (And trust us, many of the Rock ‘n’ Roll races, do!)

5. There is no shame in walking

Walk breaks are your secret weapon when it comes to keeping fatigue at bay. Incorporate short walk breaks at every aid station, on inclines to manage heart rate, and when your form starts to falter.

6. Pace wisely

When the gun goes off, start slowly, walk through aid stations, and if you feel good with half mile or mile left to go, then have at it. But until that time, reign yourself in.

7. Fuel and hydrate

Even if you only have a few weeks to prep, that’s still plenty of time to test drive your fuel plan in training runs to ensure it agrees with your system. On race day, don’t pass up the Gatorade Endurance and SIS energy gels at the numerous aid stations. Fuel and hydrate consistently, sipping water as needed to balance the gut and promote gastric emptying.

8. Race day magic

What seems nearly impossible in training suddenly becomes easier on race day. What’s different? For starters, the cheering spectators won’t let you quit, the entertaining aid stations will help keep your morale high and your needs met, and the bands along the course will definitely lighten your step.

9. Toughen up, buttercup

Running an endurance race with just a few weeks of training isn’t a cakewalk, so bring a healthy dose of grit and a good attitude to the starting line. If you start to feel worn down, remember what’s waiting for you just past the finish line. A friends’ weekend like no other, an unexpected getaway with your sweetie, or, best of all, Hunter Hayes!

Who’s ready to hit the road?

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Sound Strategies for Your First Half or Marathon Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:49:50 +0000 With so many months of training behind you, you may be struggling, like many runners do, with how to manage...

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With so many months of training behind you, you may be struggling, like many runners do, with how to manage the emotional rollercoaster leading up to race day. You’ve made it this far, so hang tough—navigating the final lead-up is critical to your attitude, fun factor, and performance on race day.

Let’s dive into the training, nutrition, and mental tactics to arm yourself with so you’re ready to toe the start line feeling confident and at ease.

2 weeks out (14 to 7 days): Tame the Taper Crazies

For first-time endurance athletes, running less as race day approaches, aka “tapering,” isn’t quite the vacation from tough training it sounds like it should be. As your mileage winds down, you might find yourself fighting cravings, feeling jittery, and channeling your newfound extra energy into late-night DIY projects (remember when you alphabetized your book collection or photo documented all your kids’ school projects?). Here are some simple ways to stay on track so you can perform your best on race day.


The last long run is your final chance to practice race day fueling and pacing. Make sure to include brief walk breaks to simulate slowing down at aid stations or managing heart rate on inclines. Walk breaks help relieve fatigue, reset run form, lower heart rate, and provide an opportunity to fuel and hydrate. At this point, it can be tempting to add mileage or workout days, but now is not the time to ramp up training. Stick with your plan. Your body needs to recover and prepare for race day.


With your training load decreasing, you’ll need to adjust your caloric intake. Eat smaller, more frequent meals, eliminate calorically dense, nutrient deficient pre-packaged foods, and cut out or decrease sweets. (Treats will taste much sweeter after the race). Make sure meals and snacks have a balance of veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and fruit. A big plate of pasta alone isn’t balanced and won’t give your body the nutrients it needs to repair and recover. Simply by reducing your training volume and eating the right balance of nutrients, you will be filling your glycogen stores. Resist the urge to overeat during your taper and avoid eating within 2.5 hours of bedtime if your schedule allows.


Sleep is fundamental to proper recovery, allowing the body to adequately repair and improving mood and energy levels. If you can swing it, aim for an extra hour of sleep each night during this phase. Avoid bright screens before bedtime, keep the bedroom cool and dark, and get in bed 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. During the day, practice meditation (15 to 20 min) to decrease stress and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels.


1 week out (7 to 4 days): Dial in the Specifics

The old adage, “the hay is in the barn,” rings true at this point in your training schedule. There is nothing you can do to gain fitness, but there’s plenty of opportunity to wreck havoc on your hard earned progress if you don’t play your cards right. The goal is to reach the start line fit and fresh—not fit and fatigued.


Less is more, so when in doubt, opt out. Take time to stretch and perform range of motion exercises after each run. Foam roll but don’t go too hard or deep, and include the whole body, not just the leg that feels tight. Get a massage four to five days out, and ask the therapist to use a light to moderate touch to avoid causing tissue damage. During at least one of your runs early this week, include a few short pickups in speed (30 to 60 sec) with faster foot turnover to stay fresh and remind the body of various efforts.


Stick to foods your body knows, and don’t overdo it on the carbs. Aim for nutrient-dense whole foods such as fruit, veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats. Most of your starchy carbohydrate consumption should be pre/post tune-up runs and not later at night when your body metabolically doesn’t need it. Avoid caffeine after 10:00 a.m. to ensure quality sleep.


Stay calm and remind yourself that you have done the work. Control the things you can control (your attitude, nutrition, sleep, stress, race-day outfit and shoes, fuel, etc.), and don’t fret about the things that are beyond your control (weather, other competitors, deviations to the course or aid stations, etc.). If you’ll be traveling for your event, pack now to eliminate the stress and lessen last-minute shopping trips.


3 days out

If it hasn’t happened already, count on bodily aches and pains to rear their ugly head. Though you swear that hamstring tweak will sideline you on race day, chances are, it’s just nerves that will disappear once the race is underway.


During your training sessions, be mentally present. Try not to focus on your to-do list or get to distracted by your playlist. Focus on your form, relaxed breathing, and staying aware. Imagine yourself in the race—calm, pacing wisely, smooth and consistent—grateful for your body’s ability to go the distance.


If you plan to use caffeinated gels or fuel supplements during the race, decrease your caffeine intake by 25 to 30 percent to ensure you get the boost you’ll need on race day. Increase easy-to-digest carb intake to 60 percent, avoid uncooked meats, reduce fiber, and avoid spicy and fried foods.


If you’re concerned with your finish time, try to redirect your focus to staying in the moment, and not a mile ahead. Your race outcome is determined by the process; focusing on a pace or finish time is the opposite of being mentally present. On race day, focus on your form, breathing, fuel and hydration plan, staying consistent, and sticking to your strategy.


The Day Before the Race

The 24 hours before the cannon fires may feel like the longest day of your life. You’ve been to the race expo to collect your race chip and number and there’s nothing left to do but sit and wait, tick tock, tick tock… Plan to watch a movie, read a book, take a nap, or spend down time with your family and friends with your feet up.


Early in the day, go out for a short 15 to 25-minute run. Once you feel warmed up, include three to four 30-second pickups with at least one minute easy in between to shake off staleness. Finish with a short walk to bring heart rate down and stretch/foam roll lightly (nothing deep).


Increase your sodium intake (especially if the forecast is calling for warm and/or humid conditions) by adding salt to your meals and eating salty foods like pretzels. (Test drive this during training to determine which foods work best for you.) Lunch is the most important meal the day before the race. Opt for rice, pasta, pizza, potatoes, or a sandwich along with lean protein and lots of water. Don’t overhydrate. For dinner, have a light meal: try a deli meat and cheese sandwich, hummus and pita, yogurt and fruit, a banana with nut butter, and crackers or pretzels.


Envision yourself at the start line, maneuvering through aid stations, and near the end when the body feels fatigue. Review your race plan and how you will handle each section of the day. Recognize that feeling nervous is a sign you care. You’ll burn off that bottled up energy soon enough.


Final Tips for the Big Day

With your lead-up strategy dialed, don’t forget about the goal itself: Race day. Below are some tried and true tips all seasoned racers know—commit them to memory, practice them, and make them part of every race you do. For me, and many of the athletes I coach and interact with, they are the pillars of successful racing:

  • Grab hydration (sports fuel and water) at each aid station along the race route.
  • Consume gels early in the race, since the digestive system is less effective as fatigue sets in.
  • If you feel good at the beginning, that’s great, but control your effort and keep it easy. You feel good because you tapered and are fully recovered. Don’t sabotage yourself by starting out too fast and trying to “bank” time.
  • Run your own race, not the person’s next to you (unless of course, they’re a pacer)
  • Remember to smile and thank your body for the ability to go the distance.
  • If I said it once, I’ll say it again: Stay in the moment. Execute wisely, stick to your plan, and let the easy miles be easy. This way, when the tough miles hit later in the race, you’ll be well prepared.

Now, eat up, rest well, and dream of the finish line!


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How to Pack for Your Next Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Wed, 19 Jul 2017 21:37:04 +0000 When race time rolls around, the last thing you want to worry about is packing. Or, more specifically, overpacking. Although...

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When race time rolls around, the last thing you want to worry about is packing. Or, more specifically, overpacking. Although you may have tourist adventures on the horizon, the number one goal of this trip is to run your race. Once you have your marathon packing checklist created, you can refer to the same one for every Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race you get a bib for.

Here’s a rundown of what — and how — to pack for your next race.

Running Shoes

Not just any running shoes — you want to pack shoes you know won’t let you down. Pack the ones that are broken in and have the support you need to carry you the many miles of your running journey. Now isn’t the time to break out your new kicks, no matter how badly you want them to be part of the race. You’ll only end up in misery and pain — not to mention a lot of blisters.

If you have room, pack an extra pair of running shoes, flip flops or your dancing shoes for the post-race concert. Above all, keep in mind that comfort is key. To save space, put a few pairs of socks in each shoe. But if you plan on packing your old faithfuls, you just might have to put the socks into a plastic grocery bag first.

marathon packing

Running Clothes

What gear will make you the most comfortable? Lightweight material that helps wick away moisture can make the run better for you. If your race takes place in colder conditions, you will want to layer up without getting too bulky. Socks are key to a good run. Many runners like toe socks, the ones that look like gloves for your feet. They help your toes from rubbing against each other and keep them nice and dry. Toe socks are one of the most popular items Rock ‘n’ Roll marathoners get at the Health & Fitness Expo.

Also, consider wearing an old, long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt on race morning to stay warm after you’ve checked in your gear bag and before the race starts. You can just drop it off at a water station once you’ve warmed up, and it’ll be donated.

Costumes are also plentiful along a Rock ‘n’ Roll course. From Elvis costumes to colorful tutus, anything and everything goes; just make sure to do a test run in your outfit prior to race day to avoid chafing or potential wardrobe malfunctions.

If you are running out of room and must pack those dirty old race tees, try army rolling them to save a little space.

Running Accessories

Think about what you’ll wear during your race and what you’ll end up carrying with you. You don’t want to be weighed down by unnecessary items, but a few accessories seen most on runners are hats and sunglasses. They help with sun protection and let you focus on the course at hand without a distracting glare or the sun streaming directly into your face.

Don’t forget your earbuds, armbands, chafe cream and GPS trackers, especially if any are part of your regular running routine. As for items to aid in your post-race recovery, there are a few nice-to-haves that quickly turn to necessity in times of need. So play it safe and bring a collapsible or mini foam roller, hot/cold packs and any other items that might help you post race.


Make sure you have eaten a light meal a few hours before the race and are well hydrated.

For on-the-run hydration, some prefer to use a handheld water bottle. There are certain styles that even feature pockets for storing nutrition items. Just factor in the additional weight. If you plan on racing with handheld items or water belts, use them during training to avoid any unnecessary discomfort. There are water stations throughout each race course, but you want to make sure you have a few boosters along the way in case your energy begins to wane. Power gels are easy to grab and go; plus, you can eat them on the move. They’re not meant to be a meal replacement or to even satiate your appetite. Instead, save your hunger for your post-race celebration.

marathon packing

Free Space

Don’t forget to leave some wide-open space in your bag for Expo swag and souvenirs. And since the post-race packing process can get a little unorganized, factor in the possibility of losing some space.

marathon packing

Layer It In

If traveling by plane, try to pack your gear in a carry-on bag so that you don’t run the risk of losing your luggage for the race. But if you can’t fit everything into one suitcase, make sure your most important race items are with you on the plane.

Place your shoes in first, then clothes. Fit in any accessories and nutrition bars or gels in the pockets of your suitcase. The key here is: less is more. Pack what you’ll absolutely need for the race, and don’t stress too much about forgetting items.

Day-of race items — like travel-sized sunscreen, hair ties, Band-Aids or other smaller items — can be purchased once you get to the destination to conserve space and make for one less thing to remember to pack.

Capture the Spirit of the Race

Don’t forget to pack your action camera and bring your smartphone to the race to capture all the marathon moments. Although there will be bands and music playing at every mile, add the headlining band to your playlist to help you get into the groove when you’d rather use your earbuds.

marathon packing

If you still want to learn about what to pack from a pro, find out how to “rock your run” by picking up a copy of The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide to Marathon & Half-Marathon Training: Tips, Tools, and Training to Get You from Sign-Up to Finish Line. It’ll give you an insider’s view of what to expect and how to prepare for the event.

What are your must-have items when running a Rock ‘n’ Roll event?

The post How to Pack for Your Next Rock ‘n’ Roll Race appeared first on The Tempo.

What is the Remix Challenge? Mon, 05 Jun 2017 12:49:53 +0000 This weekend I completed my first Rock ’n’ Roll Remix Challenge in San Diego!   What is the Remix Challenge?...

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This weekend I completed my first Rock ’n’ Roll Remix Challenge in San Diego!  

What is the Remix Challenge?

The Remix Challenge is when you complete two days of running during a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event weekend. Any combination of distances qualifies for the Remix Challenge. You need to complete one event on Saturday and one event on Sunday during the same Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event weekend.  I chose to run the 5K distance on Saturday and the half marathon distance on Sunday.

This earns you a medal for each of the distances you run, plus a bonus medal for running both days of the event weekend!

How do I participate?

First, register for each distance. Make sure you use the same information for each registration (first and last name, date of birth, etc.). This is how they track if you’re running both days.

At packet pickup on Friday, you are given a specific wristband, which you wear on Sunday’s race to pick up your Remix Challenge medal after the race.

Run on Saturday…

Running the 5K on Saturday was lots of fun! The atmosphere was relaxed, and everyone was ready to have a good time. Although I told myself I would take it slowly, I couldn’t help but get carried away by all the excitement. I took off a little faster than I wanted to, but after the first mile or so, I slowed myself down and started to enjoy the sights of Balboa Park.

remix challenge remix challenge celebrate

Then run on Sunday!

The next day was a little less relaxed, as thousands of half marathon and marathon runners made their way to the starting line. But it was still a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, and the atmosphere was one of fun, if not a little more focus on the longer distances to be conquered that day. I know I was feeling nervous and excited, too! The half marathon course was a blast! Although my legs felt a little sluggish the first few miles, I found my groove and had a strong finish!

remix challenge sunday remix challenge remix challenge post race remix challenge cheese

Pick up your Remix Challenge medal!

If you’ve never run the Remix Challenge, I definitely suggest you try it at least once.  Not only do you leave the weekend with three awesome medals, it really makes it for a fun-filled running weekend. Plus, you get to doubly enjoy what the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon races are all about: fun, community, bling, music, and just an all-around good time!  

6 tips to get you ready to rock your first Remix Challenge weekend:

  1. Plan a few training runs where you run 2-3 miles one day and run a longer run the next day. This will prepare you for your back-to-back races and make you a stronger runner.
  2. Have fun during your 5K. Treat it like a shake-out run. Take selfies on course and don’t take yourself too seriously! You don’t want to burn out the day before your longer race on Sunday. OH and don’t forget to enjoy your free beer after the race!
  3. You’ll be tempted (like I was) to explore and take in the sights of the city, especially if it’s a city you’ve traveled to for the race. But you may want to take it easy the rest of the day on Saturday. You just ran 3.1 miles, and the next day you’re about to take on even more miles. Plan a great post-race breakfast and a little sightseeing, get yourself a yummy carb-loading dinner, but don’t forget to stretch and rest up!
  4. Give it your all on Sunday! You trained hard for weeks or months leading up to this day, and you are ready to rock it! Rock ‘n’ Roll races are meant to be fun, so be sure to enjoy and take in all the on-course entertainment! My favorites are always the spectators cheering us on and the funny signs along the way.  
  5. After the race, don’t forget to pick up your Remix Medal at the festival area. You’ve earned it! There’s a designated “Heavy Medal” tent at the Finish Line Festival. Show them your wristband and they’ll exchange it for your awesome remix medal!
  6. Enjoy the Finish Line Festival! This is one of my favorite parts of the Rock ‘n’ Roll races. The finish line party is always fun and full of energy. After running two races in one weekend, you deserve a good time. So grab your second free beer (don’t forget your ID), and take advantage of all the entertainment and the free concert!

remix challenge medals

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5 Tips to Survive Running in Rain Fri, 19 May 2017 18:55:41 +0000 Have you ever checked the weather forecast a few days before a race and cringed? Before the 2013 Rock ‘n’...

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Have you ever checked the weather forecast a few days before a race and cringed? Before the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville half marathon, I rarely checked the race-day weather. If it were raining, I would make sure I had a dark color shirt. In the south, rain in April through October is usually a welcome relief for us. However, after that fateful day in Nashville, I am now a fierce weather-checker.

That race was dubbed the “marathon monsoon” because we had rain, flooding, severe thunderstorm warnings and lightning. Rock ‘n’ Roll did everything they could to warn all of us about the weather. Their policy is “rain or shine,” and they stuck to that. We had weather emails, we had warnings at the Expo, we had more emails, and we had people on the course to direct us and keep us informed. We had it all, and I learned some valuable lessons that day.

Based on my experiences with rain at Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville, here are five tips to survive a marathon monsoon:

1. Chafing happens, and it hurts.

Running in pouring rain calls for serious wardrobe consideration. Things that normally do not chafe in regular weather will definitely chafe to the point of bleeding with wet clothing friction in rain. If you normally wear a cotton T-shirt, DO NOT DO IT! Cotton and rain are disastrous together. If you normally wear lightweight technical clothing, plan to wear more constricting technical clothing for downpours. Shorts ride up when they are wet — and that bunching can cause chafing in sensitive regions.

2. Wear a hat.

I usually wear a hat for every run and race anyway. That day in Nashville, I saw many people in misery with rain running down their faces. The headbands and skull caps were useless. Hats or visors with brims keep the rain off your face. Granted, there was a curtain of water falling off the brim, but it was out of my eyes.

3. Don’t skip the water stations.

After the race was over, my handheld water bottle was completely full. I stopped at two aid stations along the way — and NOT because I was trying to PR. I just didn’t feel thirsty. Completely soaked and sloshing through deep puddles, I can only assume that I didn’t feel the need to add more liquid to my body. When the rain is pouring, make yourself drink anyway.

4. Lube up.

If you currently do not need to use a water-resistant body lubricant for regular training or race days, please keep some handy for very rainy races. Even with careful clothing choices, it is a good idea to apply lubricant to places that MIGHT be a friction point. Rain makes clothing heavier. Waistbands might start moving with soaked clothing. Soaked sports bras might chafe at the band or under the arm. Feet blister in soaked socks. Do a clothing check for potential issues and lube up.

5. Watch the course.

Because Rock ‘n’ Roll is a huge race event, the course had amazing support. We had people keeping us updated with weather, and we knew when the weather warnings were issued and when they passed. Nashville traffic still had to maneuver around our course. In severe weather, not everyone is paying attention to runners. Be extremely vigilant. It is so easy to get into a mental zone when running, but during a race in inclement weather in a large city, a running zone could be disastrous.

That race day was full of great memories of being a kid again and splashing in puddles. I was fortunate to walk away without too many scrapes. However, I now make sure I do these five things for every race that might include a chance of rain. You want that post-race medal selfie to have your genuine smile, not the painful grimace of bad decisions in rainy race clothing. Happy Rainy Running!

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6 Reasons to Volunteer Wed, 12 Apr 2017 22:48:45 +0000 Here are six reasons why you should consider supporting your running community and volunteer at a race near you! Stay connected...

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Here are six reasons why you should consider supporting your running community and volunteer at a race near you!

  1. Stay connected to running.

    If you’re recovering from injury, in between races or simply looking for a stepping stone into the running sphere, volunteering helps connect you to the sport. Share the enthusiasm and energy of race day without pinning on a race bib.

  2. Meet new people in your area.

    Want to make new friends? Find a new running buddy? Set an activity for your social group? Working together in a group with shared goals is bound to start a conversation or two. Even better, bring a friend of your own to expand everyone’s social circle.


  3. Be the perfect fan.
    If you were thinking of spectating anyway, what could be better than spectating while supporting runners? You could be handing out water and hollering your favorite words of encouragement all at once.
  4. Get a new perspective.

    If you’ve ever run a race, you’ll know that there are lots of people working hard behind the scenes. Get a feel for how it is to be on the other side of the sidelines. You’ll have a new appreciation for the selfless efforts of volunteers and a greater understanding of the community that expands beyond those wearing the race bibs and timing tags.


  5. Get motivated.

    There’s nothing like watching to inspire you to act! A race is full of emotional energy and motivational moments that will make you want to capture one for yourself. You’ll be signing up for your next race in no time!


  6. Get volunteer perks.

    Apart from the high fives from runners and warm fuzzies you’ll get from doing good, when you volunteer at a Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series race, you’ll also get a free T-shirt, swag bag, free parking and refreshments.

To sign up as Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series Race Crew, please click here.

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