Kelsey Louie has been the volunteer coach of Front Runners New York, the gay and lesbian running club of New York City, since 2005. Prior to that, he was the Assistant Cross Country Coach at Stuyvesant High School. Kelsey has a very hands-on coaching style, and can often be seen running with his team. In fact, on two separate occasions, he ran an entire marathon with teammates, helping both to successfully reach their lifelong goals of sub 3:30 (3:28:45) and sub 3:00 (2:59:31.)
As part of his regular coaching duties, he sends weekly e-mails with workout schedules and racing/training tips. He also writes in depth articles for the monthly Front Runner newsletter on with more training advice. Kelsey is besy known for his personal approach to coaching—he really tries to understand each of his runners and what motivates each of them, tailoring workouts to fit their individual needs.
Kelsey achieved a time of 2:55:35 Completing ING NYC Marathon 2009
To learn more about Koach Kelsey, you can go to the following website:
If you have any questions about training for a marathon please feel free to e-mail Koach Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org
For many, a new year means the opportunity to make resolutions and set goals. Whatever you aim to achieve, keeping a goal in sight can offer many benefits--both physical and emotional. If you are a runner, having goals can give you direction and focus in your training, help motivate you, and improve the quality and purpose of your runs. In addition, you will monitor your progress, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and build self confidence. You will also find that running is a great conversation starter!
Goals are free, so set several. On a big day--like a marathon--it's useful to set three goals:
1. Your ultimate goal that you will have to work very hard for
2. An intermediate goal that takes some effort—if the day is not perfect, it will still take some work to achieve
3. An "I'll be satisfied with this" goal
Generally speaking, there are two types of goals. Process goals (also known as practice goals) involve activities that focus on mastering a task or improving a skill. This can include closely following a training schedule, improving your nutrition, or getting more sleep to be as rested as possible. Outcome goals (or competition goals) relate to a specific outcome. Examples include breaking 4:00 for a marathon, running a personal record in your next five miler, or breaking 8 minute pace in a four miler. It is useful to have at least one of each goal as they often go hand in hand. The best example of this (in my unbiased opinion, of course), is: I will listen to Koach Kelsey's advice all year (process goal) and I will run a sub-3:00 ING NYC Marathon (outcome goal)! :o)
Be SMART when choosing goals. They should be
Specific—I will set a pr in a 5 miler vs. I will run more
Measureable—I will do more speed workouts vs. I will be happier with my running
Achievable—I will run all of the half marathons in the Grand Prix series this year vs. I will run 200 miles every week this year
Realistic—I will break my marathon pr by 10 minutes vs. I will break the marathon world record
Time-bound—I will run a marathon vs. I will run my first marathon before my 45th birthday.
A well written goal for someone who just ran a 2:30 marathon is: I will break 1:55 at the 2009 Queens Half Marathon. It is SMART.
It's less frustrating if you set goals that you control. When you are in charge you control your effort, your focus, whether you workout or not, how many quality workouts or long runs you complete each week, and, most importantly, your attitude. Many people want to beat another runner or to place in the top three catergory in their age group. These goals are hard to control as the outcome is not uniquely dependent on what you do. It's OK to set these as goals, but they shouldn't be your only goals.
If you're having trouble setting a running goal, consider the following:
The single most important reason why people don't achieve their goals is that they don't set them in the first place. Therefore, they don't really commit. Skip the part where you set the goal of setting goals, and write them down. Then talk about it with others. This will force you to commit to them. Just do it!
PS-Now that you have set your goals, remember the old adage, IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN. Yes, not reaching your goal can be upsetting, but give yourself a day to lament your disappointment then analyze what you could have done differently and come up with another game plan. DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!
If you're dreading the treadmill yet again, don't despair! By following a few simple rules, you can run in the winter, and maybe even enjoy it!
Most importantly, allow for adjustments based on the cold weather. Your body will warm up more slowly, so start off gradually and ease into your pace. Consider getting your muscles warmed up prior to a run while you are still indoors (hot shower, sauna, indoor exercise).
Shorten your stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. You will run more efficiently and reduce the risk of slipping, falling or straining muscles. You should avoid running on snow or ice when you can. When you can't, try to run on fresh snow rather than ice or packed snow. You will get better traction and reduce the chance for slipping.
Despite the cold weather, you'll still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Make sure to hydrate before, during and after your run to avoid dehydration, especially during long runs. Also, you're less likely to feel thirsty, so don't use thirst as a gauge.
Pay attention to temperature and wind chill the same way you would factor humidity on a hot day. Strong wind can penetrate your clothing and remove the insulating warm air in between layers. Your movement also creates wind chill because it increases air movement past your body and can make it feel much colder.
What to Wear:
As much as 30% of your body heat is lost through your head. Wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss, so your circulatory system will have more heat to distribute to the rest of the body.
Most people experience the worst cold in their hands so you should wear running gloves that wick away moisture. Mittens are a good choice because your fingers will share their body heat. On really cold days, consider using hand warmers.
Don't forget to dress in layers. The layer closest to your body should be made from a synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or even silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. It's very important to make sure you don't wear cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, it stays wet.
You should also have an breathable wind- and water-proof outer layer. This layer should protect you against wind and precipitation, but at the same time allow heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. Some good fabrics for outer layers include: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, and Windstopper.
On very cold days, be sure to wear an insulating middle layer like Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax. It should have the perfect balance of trapping some air to keep your warm, yet releasing enough vapor or heat to avoid overheating.
Your legs generate a lot of heat so you don't need as many layers on your lower body. You can usually wear a pair of tights or running pants made of synthetic material such as Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, nylon, or silk. You may want to consider two layers on your lower body: a wicking layer (tights) and a wind-proof layer like track pants for extremely cold days (factoring wind chill.)
Try to avoid puddles, slush, and snow when running in the winter. This will leave your feet wet and cold. Look for a running shoe with as little mesh as possible, to avoid wind and water getting to your feet. For socks, don't wear cotton (this goes for warm weather, too) when running because they won't wick away moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead, choose a good pair of wicking socks made of acrylic, CoolMax, or DryFit. If it's really cold, you might want to wear two pairs of socks--one thinner pair closest to your feet and a thicker pair over them. This may affect how your shoe fits.
Don't forget that you will warm up once you start running, so it's OK to feel a little bit chilly when you start your run. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer outside than it really is.
On very cold days, make sure you monitor your fingers, toes, ears, and nose. They may feel numb at first, but they should warm up a few minutes into your run. If you notice a patch of hard, pale, cold skin, you may have frostbite. Get out of the cold immediately and slowly warm the affected area. If numbness continues, seek emergency care. Also note that cold air is thinner and can trigger asthma attacks in some people.
If you follow these simple rules you can run outside all winter!
With the weather warming up, I wanted to remind everybody how to run safely in warm and hot weather. This may not be new to many of you, but it’s worth reading to be reminded of the need to pay attention to several things when it's hot out. First of all, proper hydration before, during and after a run is critical in warm weather. Many people will tell you to reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol because of their tendency to dehydrate you. But to be more realistic, I won’t ask you to do that, instead I’ll just tell you to be wary of your hydration level, especially if you drink alcohol or caffeine.
Since you lose more water while running in warmer weather, you will need to be able to replace your fluid levels during runs. Please note that you shouldn’t wait until you are feeling thirsty to drink. When you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Try running with a water bottle, using a hydration pack, or bringing a few dollars with you to purchase something to drink—note that Gatorade is $3 at the hot dog stands in Central Park. You can also splash yourself with water to cool down.
You also lose a great deal of salt and electrolytes through sweat and should consider using sports replacement drinks instead of water to replace these essential minerals. This can help to prevent hyponitremia which can develop when you drink too much water and the blood becomes diluted. After a run, you can weigh yourself and drink 16 ounces of water or replacement drink for each pound lost during the run, or you can be less precise, and just drink a lot. Your urine should be clear--the darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are.
While you should always follow this advice, it is particularly important while you are running in warm/hot weather to wear light-colored fabrics that are both lightweight and breathable. Since cotton retains fluids, not allowing as much evaporation to occur, fabrics that wick away moisture from the skin will help you feel more comfortable . The greater the evaporation, the greater the cooling effect. Believe it or not, it is actually better to wear a shirt while you run--directly exposing your skin to the sun will make you hot!
Don't forget the importance of sunscreen! There are several brands that are designed specifically for athletes and are less likely to drip into your eyes and cause stinging or burning. Consider running with sunglasses that filter out UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes. (It can also look cool!)
When possible, choose a shady course or a place where you have access to water. Try to run in the morning or in the evening, when the sun isn’t the strongest. However, if you need to run in the middle of the day, consider a treadmill or another form of exercise. Aqua jogging is a good alternative. As a rule of thumb, avoid running outside if the heat is above 90 degrees and the humidity is above 80%. When you run your body temperature is regulated by sweat evaporating off your skin. If the humidity in the air is so high that it prevents this process from happening, you can quickly overheat. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat-related problems. Indications that you are running while dehydrated include a persistent, elevated pulse after finishing your run and dark, yellow urine. Again, thirst is not an adequate indicator of dehydration. Signs of heat exhaustion are dizziness, nausea, chills, and ceased sweating. If these symptoms occur when you are running, STOP, find shade, and drink water or a fluid replacement drink such as Gatorade. If you do not feel better, seek medical attention. Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature, and the body temperature continues to rise. Symptoms include mental changes (such as confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness) and skin that is red, hot, and dry, even under the armpits.
Most importantly, know your body and do not get TOO hung up on training schedules. Use your judgment and be sensible!
There are many different marathon training programs out there, but there are some key ingredients that make for success. Here they are:
The long run is the most important component of marathon training because it teaches the body to tackle the mental and physical challenges presented in completing the 26.2-mile event. Physiologically, the body must learn to tap into and utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food sources) have been depleted. Long runs also:
Tempo runs improve a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. Tempo runs teach the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently by increasing your lactate threshold, or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. Tempo runs help you run longer at a particular pace. During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions (byproducts of metabolism) are released into the muscles, making them more acidic, and eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your "threshold," meaning your muscles become better at using these byproducts. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven't reached their new "threshold"), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster.
To ensure you're doing tempo workouts at the right pace, use one of these four methods to gauge your intensity.
Recent Race: Add 30 to 40 seconds to your current 5-K pace or 15 to 20 seconds to your 10-K pace
Heart Rate: 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate
Perceived Exertion: An 8 on a 1-to-10 scale (a comfortable effort would be a 5; racing would be close to a 10)
Talk Test: A question like "Pace okay?" should be possible, but conversation shouldn’t be.
You will also need to do a medium long run that supports your long run. As you know, the regular long runs will help you adapt to the marathon. What will help you adapt to the long runs? Medium long runs! Medium long runs are about 60% of the distance of the long run, and are usually done midweek. Doing these medium long runs will also help you to achieve your mileage goals while still being able to take at least one day off.
Most people slow down towards the end of their long runs, but this is one of the most common marathon training mistakes. If you are not careful and continue to do your long runs this way, think about what you are training your body to do! You could actually be getting your body used to slowing down. This said, you should not race your long runs, but be mindful of increasing your effort and pace in the last few miles. In the second half of marathon training season, run your marathon goal pace at the end of your long runs.
Hill work and speed work will help with your strength and speed. This is especially important to incorporate into your run if the marathon you are running is hilly, like NYC. Also, this should be done in the first half of your marathon training, easing up on these workouts in the second half. Just come to the Tuesday/Thursday workouts for more tips on this type of workout. (Shameless plug, I know!)
This is a good strategy to employ, as long as you train for it. Running with someone that you are compatible with and who has the same goal as you is a great thing. This will help you emotionally, especially when you feel like slowing down. You just have to find someone you can stand to be around for that long!
So, there you have it, six of the most important elements of successful marathon training, regardless of which program you follow. Follow as many of these as possible, and I am confident that you’ll be well trained for the 26.2 miles this fall!