Category Archives: Marathons

What Age is Too Old for Running and Racing?

Getting older does not mean you have to slow down. Susan Schwartz shares her inspiring story and soulful connection with running.

By Susan Schwartz

As I stand at the first corral for this Women’s Half Marathon, I look around. I notice no one my age. I am over the age of 60 now and I idly wonder how much younger they are. I mean, I know for sure that statistically that they have to be of another age. Even so, I stand waiting for the anthem and then the start gun and do the usual wonderings if I am well enough trained, should I have done faster and longer runs, etc.

I have participated running in races for many years. Each time it brings on nerves and challenges and a certain level of excitement.  In addition to running, I am a Jungian psychoanalyst and I know how the spirit has to be there and what it takes to get in the zone and to stay there.

Overtraining – One Train You Want to Miss

OvertrainingsmI was once asked to write a scientific article on overtraining. My response was that’s the simplest article ever.  It’s two words long: “Avoid it.”

Jack Daniels
Legendary running coach
Author of “Daniels’ Running Formula”

Sylvia Cashmore (Peterborough, Ontario) was training for the 2012 Boston Marathon.  She was running 6 days per week.  Being an avid triathlete (often placing first in her age group), Sylvia was also cross-training 2-3 times weekly.  Unfortunately, all of her hard work resulted overtraining and developing a severe nasty cold which jeopardized her training and racing plans.

Put an End to Starting Races Too Fast

We’ve all been there; most of us more than once.  You’re at the start line.  Excited, waiting for the race to start.

The (simulated) gunshot. The race starts.  Buoyed by the cheering crowds, adrenaline pumping through your veins, you take off like a sprinter out of the starting blocks.

Then, you look for daylight. “If I can just zip around these two football players and dart past that slow guy who should have started in the last corral, I’ll be in the clear and can run my race.

Repeat three or four more times during the first mile.

The result? Despite knowing better, you start way too fast. You spend too much precious energy running sideways searching for a clear path; looking more like a quarterback trying to avoid being sacked by the enemy linemen than like a marathoner.

You pay a steep price at the end of your race.  Tired muscles.  Legs that seem like they’re made of lead. Your form is shot. Your lungs burn. Your chest feels like it will explode.

Your morale takes a beating too. An endless stream of runners pass you as you stumble towards the finish line.  To add insult to injury, a few of them have no business finishing before you.

Why does starting too fast kill your race?

Increase Your Stride Rate to Run Faster and Reduce Injury

Your running speed is dependent upon two factors: stride length and stride rate (also called turnover or cadence). Increase either factor and you’ll run faster.

Recent research shows that increasing your stride rate may also decrease your injury risk.

Findings reported by Dr. Reed Ferber in the July/August issue of Running Room Magazine supports this conclusion. Ferber reports on studies involving recreational runners

Leg Muscle Cramps – Prevention and Relief

Many of us have had the experience – your marathon is going well, you’re on track to meet your goal. Then from out of nowhere, a leg cramp stops you dead on your tracks.  Regardless how hard you try, it’s impossible to resume running at your previous pace, bringing your race to a painful conclusion.

Leg cramps are commonplace.  39% of runners have experienced them. Surprisingly, there is no consensus among experts what causes cramps and how to prevent them.


Is Fatigue a Head Game?

Conventional wisdom holds that during running and racing, muscular fatigue is caused by mechanical breakdown.  Your cardiovascular system cannot increase the amount of oxygen it supplies, causing the acidity of your blood to increase, which interferes with neuromuscular signalling between your brain and your muscles.

Often compounded by muscles becoming depleted of glycogen (running out of fuel), it becomes impossible for muscles to exert the force necessary to sustain the desired speed. You’ve hit your limit. Therefore, you must slow down or even cease running.

A problem with this theory is that research studies conclusively show that even though we feel like we cannot run one more step, our leg muscles are nowhere near being maxed out.

Dehydration Ain’t All That Bad

WaterBottlesmConventional wisdom among runners is that dehydration is to be avoided at all costs.   After all, doesn’t dehydration cause overheating? Doesn’t dehydration often result in heat distress? Doesn’t dehydration severely impair performance? Aren’t runners who collapse near or at the end of a race severely dehydrated and should be treated with rapid hydration?

Most of the running community will answer these questions with a resounding “yes”.  This all seems very logical and commonsense……….but it is not true!

Train Less, Race Faster

RelaxingsmThe Critical Importance of Strategic Rest and Recovery

One of our favourite quotes is applicable to many areas in life.

Take time to recharge your battery. You won’t get the Golden Egg without
first taking care of the Goose.

Frank McKinney

We don’t know if Frank is a runner, but his words are very relevant to running and racing — staying free of injury and illness and racing to your fullest potential.

Daphne Lovegrove (North Bay, Ontario) was running 5 days per week. In addition, she hit the gym for two strengthening sessions and a spin class every week.  She did yoga too.  Her dream was to qualify for Boston.  Daphne needed to reduce her marathon time by 23 minutes to qualify.

She asked: “What is the best way to improve so that I can qualify for Boston without killing myself?”

#1 Marathon Training Error

MarathonTrainingsmWithout a doubt, the #1 training error committed by marathoners is conducting their last long training run three weeks for before their race.

Research shows that even after three weeks, marathoners’ leg muscles are not completely recovered from their last long runFour weeks or even longer is required for full recovery.


During a long run, muscle fibres in your legs are damaged or destroyed.  Leg muscles repair themselves during rest and recovery. Until the muscle tissue has repaired itself, the force that your leg muscles can apply is reduced, decreasing your ability to maintain running at race pace over long distance.  We’ll see that long runs result in far greater muscle fibre damage than speedwork.

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