“Running For Women”

Running For women is a book written by Joan Benoit Samuelson.  I had the chance to met Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1995 at the National 5k Championships.   I won the Mid-Atlantic Region 5k Championships which qualified me to represent the Mid-Atlantic Region at the Friehofer’s National 5k Championships in Albany New York.  The night before the race Joan spoke to a crowd about her running career and her newly published book “Running For women”. Joan spoke about running being her life before getting married and having children.  She spoke about topics that are of concern for women and was very informative while she spoke giving lots of personal stories.

Joans Olympic Gold

Joan was born in Cape Elizabeth Maine in 1957.  She  took to long-distance running to help recover from a broken leg suffered while skiing.  She ran for Bowdoin College.  In 1979  she entered the Boston Marathon as an unknown runner wearing a Boston Red Sox cap and won in 2:35:15, knocking eight minutes off the competition record. She repeated that success with a victory again in 1983 that took more than two minutes off the world’s best time set by Grete Waitz in the London Marathon the day before.  Joan Benoit had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee on April 25 five days later she was running but overcompensated and injured her left hamstring.  One week before the trails she couldn’t run.  May 12 she won the first woman’s Olympic Marathon trails.  Three months later she won the Gold in the first Woman’s Olympic Marathon.

The book is a good resource for women runners of any level from the novice to the elite.  The book is divided into three major parts: Running Advice For Women, Running Faster and Stronger, and The winning Edge.  Part one covers topics such as PMS, menopause, pregnancy, and running at any age.  Part two covers training, racing, injuries, stretching and cross training.  Part three covers eating, dress, setting goals and staying  motivated. Some running books get into the physiology of running and training but not Joan.  She explains things so the average runner can apply what they read.  I enjoyed reading the book the only regrets I had is that I forgot to take the book to the race so she could sign it for me.

Joan Benoit continues to run and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  In 2008 at the Olympic Marathon Trails at the age of 50, she finished in 2:49:08, setting a new US 50 plus age record.  November 1, 2009, she broke the 50+ division record with a final time of 2:49:09.


Origin of The Marathon

The children started back to school and that means the fall marathon season is close.  Living on the East coast this means Marine Corp, New York and Philadelphia marathons are around the corner. This blog is part of Marathon Mondays- a 10 part series about Marathons.

The name Marathon comes for the legend of the Greek messenger Pheidippides.  The legend says he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon.  Pheidippides fought in the battle that took place in August or September 490 B.C.  The legend says he ran the entire distance without stopping, burst into the assembly yelling; “We have won” before collapsing and dying.

There is a debate about the historical accuracy of the legend.  A Greek historian Herdotus says Pheidippides was a messenger that ran from Athens to Sparta asking for help and ran back to Athens.  The distance covered was 150 miles (240 kilometers) one way.  In some of his writings the name of the runner between Athens and Sparta is Phillippides.  Herdotus doesn’t say anything about a messenger going from Marathon to Athens.

Between Marathon and Athens is Mount Penteli.  This means if Pheidippides made the famous run from the battlefield he had to run around the mountain.  He would have had to come from the north or the south.  The southern route is the more obvious route today the Marathon-Athens highway follows the route.  The route is about 26 miles (42 kilometers) and helped set the standard for the marathon distance.  Others think Pheidippides took another route along Mount Penteli.  The second route would only be 22 miles (35 kilometers) but started out as a very steep climb of more than 3 miles.

Next week’s Marathon Monday feature will be about the distance of the marathon and how the International Amateur Athletic Federation came up with the 26 miles 385 yards as the standard marathon distance in 1921.

Running Quotes

Over the years I remember reading lots of great quotes in Runners World about training and racing. If anyone remembers any or has a favorite running quote let me know.

  • “In a country where only men are encouraged, one must be one’s own inspiration.”
    – Tegla Loroupe, Kenya, 1994 New York City Marathon champion
  • “I like running because it’s a challenge.  If you run hard, there’s the pain – and you’ve got to work your way through the pain.  You know, lately it seems all you hear is? Don’t overdo it’ and? Don’t push yourself.’ Well, I think that’s a lot of bull.  If you push the human body, it will respond.”
    – Bob Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers general manager, NHL Hall of Fame.
  • “Good things come slow – especially in distance running.”
    – Bill Dellinger, Oregon coach
  • “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day.  It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'”
    – Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian and sub-2:12 marathon
  • “Fear is a great motivator.”
    – John Treacy, 1984 Olympic silver medalist
  • “The thing that makes [Bob] Kennedy so good is that he doesn’t have a fear of losing.  He was willing to go to Europe and get hammered.”
    – Frank Shorter
  • “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
    – Inspirational sign on a runner’s office wall
  • “A lot of people run a race to see who’s the fastest.  I run to see who has the most guts.”
    – Steve Prefontaine
  • “Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not.  When you race him, he will win.”
    – Tom Fleming’s Boston Marathon training sign on his wall
  • “Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them.  The decision has already been made.”
    – Patti Sue Plumer, U.S. Olympian
  • “The long run is what puts the tiger in the cat.”
    – Bill Squires
  • “I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds.  Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.”
    – Mike Fanelli, club coach
  • “Those who say that I will lose and am finished will have to run over my body to beat me.”
    – Said Aouita
  • “Everyone in life is looking for a certain rush.  Racing is where I get mine.”
    – John Trautmann
  • “If you feel like eating, eat.  Let your body tell you what it wants.”– Joan Benoit Samuelson

Here are some quotes I found on  Copacabana Running -the running lovers place.  Over the years I remember reading lots of great quotes in Runners World about training and racing.  If anyone remembers any or has a favorite running quote let me know.

The Daugherty Family Makes Running A Family Event

Our family has Friday family night, which usually consists of going out to eat since by Friday neither of us feel like cooking dinner.  We have three children ages 9, 6 and 1 years old.  On June 4th we spent our family night at the Tiger Classic 5k race in Bristol Pa.  This race is special to our family because it is the race my husband and I met at.  In 1992 the race was 10K held on Memorial Day.  My husband won that race and I finished 2nd in the women’s race.     After the race we got talking, found out we lonely lived 2 miles apart and the rest in history.  At one time we both held the 10k course records. We have traveled back to the race every year.  The girls like eating the goodies after the race and especially enjoy picking prizes from the tables of stuff the race offers.

The Daugherty Gang

The race was held on a hot Friday evening.  Shelby has run several 5k’s but this was Paige’s first 5k race.  Shelby ran the race solo because my husband ran with our 6-year-old daughter Paige. As Shelby approached the finish on the track a male runner sprinted as fast as he could the last 200 meters to beat her.  Later he told me she made him push himself to catch her because he “could not let a little girl beat him”.  She won the girls 12 and under age group with a time of 29:32 (actually beat the boys in the age group as well).   The hot weather didn’t stop Paige from running and talking the entire race without stopping.  The runner in front of her said she worked hard to stay ahead of Paige because she couldn’t let a little girl beat her.  The female runner told me she “looked back once and saw a small girl running and talking not out of breath while she was feeling exhausted.  She worked harder because she was worried the little girl would catch her and pass her”.    She was 2nd in the 12 and under age group with a time of 38:31- first place was her big sister.  She also beat the boys in the 12 and under age group. I also won my age group but the little ones stole the show.  To top off our evening we stopped for ice cream on the way home.    Paige took her medal to school the next day to tell her classmates/ teachers what she did.  Paige’s self-esteem was higher after her 5K race.  She was excited when we told her the time she ran was only two seconds slower than her big sister’s first 5K.  But it took her several 5K races to run without stopping. Paige did it on her first try!  Now she did something before big sister.   Both our daughters think nothing running a race.  The incredible thing is they don’t train at all.  They sign up for a race, the week before run 2 miles and them race the 5k.  Months later the same thing for another race.  We want them to enjoy what they are doing after all most sports use running as a punishment.  They view it as something they can do that most adults wont do.  The Tiger race next year may have another Daugherty entered.  Miles is only turning two in September but he runs around trying to keep up with his sisters, so the  1 mile should be no problem for Miles.  Look out Girls Cross Country team competitors in 2017 the Daugherty girls are coming.

GPS Running Watches- What Are They and Why A Runner Needs One

Today everyone talks about having a GPS for traveling purposes.  They help you find where you need to go without having a map all over the seat of the car or needing your passenger to read a map to find your destination.  But did you know they make GPS running watches?  These specialized watches are equipped with GPS making it seem like you have a computerized personal coach on your wrist.

GPS stands for global positioning system. The watch uses a series of satellites for navigation purposes.  The GPS tracks where you are and can help you find your way back.  This can be very helpful if you are running in an unfamiliar area.  In the past your watch only timed how long you where running/exercising.  GPS watches help runners monitor speed, distance, pace, and calories burned while they are training on the roads.  In years past you had to finish your run and calculate everything.

They are a great product for everyone from the novice runner to the elite Olympic runners.  More and more runners are getting GPS watches because they literally are like running with a personal coach on your wrist. They give you instant feed back allowing you to instantly adjust your training resulting in training smarter.  In the past your watch only timed how long you where running/exercising.  Some GPS running watches even track your altitudes.  They have a rechargeable battery that often last 12-14 hours before needing recharging.  The GPS running watches store your workouts (data) by the date.  This gives you the chance to review workout data through out the year.

How to keep your motivation high when you are tired of Training?

This is the million dollar question that has just as many answers.  Over my 28 years of competitive running I have not found any one trick that motivates me all the time.  You have to have a bag of tricks and see which one works for that given day, week, year or training cycle.  A marathon training cycle could take about 6 months and that is a long time to be focused on one thing.

Personally my motivation would get a huge pick up if I watched a race on TV.  ESPN is one of the few channels that shows running.  They use to have it on once a month for a 1 hour.  They summarized  4-5 races (usually the big races) with in the hour.  They showed the highlights of the race, and give stories about some of the non elite runners.  The stories about the non elite runners where my favorite because they where interviewing  people like you and me.  One year my husband taped the Hawaii Ironman- now that is a motivating one.  The year we taped the Ironman won several awards for the coverage.  Once again they tell stories about the elite and age grouper.  Many of the stories had you almost in tears.

I am fortunate that my husband is also a runner.   He was nationally ranked in the 20k and represented the US in four World Duathlon Championships.  Having a life time partner that competes is a motivator and help.  We often helped each other when our motivation was low.  When we went to races we wanted to place higher than the other.  In some cases we won money and the ride home was sweeter for the one that won more.

One way to keep your motivation going is to physically write down your goal.  The goal could be a specific race, time and any other details.  For example if you have a rival in your area and you hear they are running that race write down you want to bet them.  Put your written down goal in areas you will see it throughout the day.  Tape it to your bathroom mirror this way you will see it first thing in the morning and last thing before you go to be.  A study was done with students from Harvard.  One group physically wrote there goals down on paper and the other group just verbally told others.  The group that physically wrote them down where more successful at reaching the goals.

I have only mentioned two ideas to keep your motivation high when you are tired of training.  Talk to other runners and see what they do.  It is like raising children what works today may not work next time which is why you need a bag full of tricks.

Fitness Trails- what are they and how do they help you get fit?

The Fitness Trail is an exercise circuit designed to improve the aerobic and muscular fitness of men, women and children.  They were inspired by Swiss exercise trail called the Vita Parcours.  With the backing of the Vita Insurance Company more than 400 course have been built-in Switzerland.  The idea spread quickly to Europe.  When the Fitness Trails arrived in the United States they where originally  designed for the U.S. Forest Service.  The trails have become so popular that they have been constructed on city/ county park land as well as school grounds and made available to the general public to use.

The Fitness Trail consists of 7 dual-purpose exercise stations along a 1/4 miles jogging path.  Participants walk/jog between the stations, complete the exercise, and continue on until they have finished the course.  Signs at each station describes and illustrates how each exercise should be done.

The trail can fit on as little as 2 acres of land and cost less than $1000  in materials to construct.  The trail is ideal for everyone from the individual trying to get in a workout or a group training together.  It can be used by all ages.  You progress at your own pace and do as few or as many repeats of the exercises as you want.  It offers a physical challenge regardless of age or conditioning and the chance to improve fitness and health while having fun.

There are 14 exercise activities along the 1/4 mile trail.  Jog along the trail to strengthen your heart, lungs and legs.  Build muscle strength by performing the exercises.  Or do both the get an all around fitness.

Exercise Stations

  1. Chin-ups: Pull up till the chin is over the bar and return to hanging position.  Beginners can keep their feet on the ground.
  2. Log Hop: Face the length of the log, hop sideways across log, repeat hop back across the log.
  3. Squat Jump: Squat until legs are at 90 degree angle, jump high switch position of feet on the way down and jump again.
  4. Dips: Grasp bar and support your weight on your arms, lower body until elbows are at about a 90 degree angle and return.
  5. Hurdles
  6. Sit-ups: Curls up to a sitting position and touch right elbow to left knee and return. Repeat alternating right and left elbow touches.  More advanced individuals can raise the board to increase resistance.
  7. Bench Blast: with right foot on the bench, blast off.  Switch position of feet on the way down.
  8. Basket Hang: While hanging on the bar raise legs into “basket” of the your chest  and return.
  9. Log Walk: walk the length of the log, start over if you fall off.
  10. Push-Ups: Push up keep your back straight and return down until chest your chest almost touches deck.
  11. Bar Walk: Supporting your weight on your arms, hand walk the length of the bars or as far as possible.
  12. Vault: Vault over the bar of your choice
  13. Leg Lift: While laying on your back lift your legs slowly to 90 degree angle, then slowly return down and repeat.
  14. Step up: Step up and down on the bench as fast as possible, do indicated number (from sign) and change lead legs.