As part of my goal in creating @mckennaonthemove, I want to help and encourage people to accomplish their health and fitness goals. I’ve always run for one reason or another, but I didn’t always know what I was doing. For my entire soccer career I had help from family, coaches and specialists to help guide me to do the things that I needed to do in order to get better everyday. However, when I stopped playing soccer and started running, I didn’t have that. I spent lots of time, money and trial to figure out what worked best for me. Disclaimer: What worked best for me may or may not work best for you. However, I’m happy to share what I learned and see if we can adapt it to your experiences and goals to get you where you’d like to be. First and foremost was interval running. Some call it walk/jogging. I started this with a $30 timex. I advanced from that Timex to Garmin running watches. Each and every one I’ve had I set a 4:1 jog/walk. I can then choose to use it or skip it as needed. Secondly, (years later) would have to be cadence. I learned about this through the book called Chi Running. I’m not saying that everything in the book is for everyone or that everything in the book will work for everyone. However, you read/listen to the whole thing and then apply what you think will work for you. I learned that you can get a free metronome app for your phone. You play the metronome in your ear buds while running to find your cadence. You can also use a Garmin watch to find out what your current cadence is too. Once you know your current cadence you can decide if/how much you want to change it. I decided that I wanted to be closer to 180 BPM (beats per minute). So I increased the cadence by 5% or less every week until I was running at my desired cadence. From there I spent a year on the treadmill building muscle memory for this cadence. You see, Chi Running taught me that cadence and pace are supposed to be independent of each other. However, when I tried this outside I found it hard to believe. When I tried it on a treadmill, I found it was true. Once I built muscle memory around this for a year I was better suited to apply it outside. The pace is supposed to come from 1 degree or 2 degrees (or some very small number) of lean forward. Lean forward speed up, straighten up and slow down. Just take some time to figure out what works for you when you read or listen to what others say on how to get better. Take your time and don’t make too big of changes at once.
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I’d like to thank HoneyStinger for selecting me to be part of their Ambassador Team this year. My wife and I have been using these products since we did our first MS150 in 2012. I was so shocked and excited when she came home to tell me that she had joined an MS150 team that I immediately went out and started researching what kinds of fuel and hydration and gear we would need for that long of a ride. I found that many use the HoneyStinger Waffle. We have used and loved that product ever since. I’ve recently found their gummies. I’ve used other gummies before finding these and really enjoy them. I use them on all of my longer training runs and races. I’m excited to continue using these awesome products to keep me fueled up on each new step.
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So, I did it. I ran my first trail race (about a month ago). I ran the Horseshoe 25K with @TrailRacingOverTexas. This race was billed as the toughest Mountain Bike single track trail in the Houston area. I liked the idea that it sounded challenging and was near the beginning of the year. I also liked that it was further than I’d ever run before, but not so much further that I would need months and months of extra training. I’ve been training with a coworker most days of the week with mileage getting longer and longer every week, so I felt comfortable doing it. I love the fact that (within reason) I’m not as concerned about my pace while running on the trail. That certainly relieves a lot of pressure and anxiety. I signed up for the race pretty late in the process to make sure I felt good about it when I did. It rained for about a week before the race and the night before as well. Turns out that trail races are susceptible to weather. About 13 miles of the race was either mud or under water. Therefore the 25K took 5 hours and 13 min to complete. The best part about it is that I didn’t mind at all. I’m just thankful that I completed the goal and had my friends and family backing me the whole way. On to the next…
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I continue to learn that sometimes, blessings show up in disguise. As it turns out, I like to try and cram as many things in to my goals as possible. By this I mean that I’ve had 2 larger competing fitness goals for the last 7 months. I’ve really been struggling with what that meant for me and which was more important to me. I know that lifting and strength training will make me a better runner. I also know that I have not been able to shake the thought of running Ultra Marathon distances. My strength (and nutrition) coach would prefer that I don’t run more than 2 or 3 miles at a time. He says that he would prefer me to spend time that time with muscle building cardio as opposed to muscle shredding cardio.
In early December I was working on my strength and tweaked my shoulder. In deciding to give my shoulder a rest, I decided to focus on my long distance running. I’m really excited to say that I’ve signed up for my first trail race! After spending many years road running, I decided to start with a 25K trail race. Training has been going really well despite a few cold runs. It’s been really fun to be testing gear, strategies and listening to an audio book about my goals. 2017 is going to be a great year!
Thanks for joining me on this journey