Catalina Marathon – A Must Do Trail Marathon – Video and Recap from 2008

The Catalina Marathon is a Must Do Trail Marathon. It is always rated as one of the best trail marathons in the US by Runners World magazine.  This marathon boasts has almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. The view are spectacular. But, my favorite part is the participants. There are old-timers, first-timers, trail veterans and trail newbies. Most of us are there for the same reasons. The first is, “Because it’s there.” The second, to see a Buffalo . Third, you know it’s hard but so worth it. Almost everyone I have met, no matter where they are from, trained on hills because this is a hilly marathon. People from Florida do hill repeats on highway overpasses to train for this race. And, I forget to mention the after-party.

This video is Part 2 of my 2008 Video from the race. I can’t find Part 1, but Part 2 is better. It starts out at the top of Pump House Hill and goes from there to the post race party, hosted by the Race Director. I interviewed some of the runners. I even met a couple from London, England that saw my 2007 video and decided to come out because it looked so cool, for their first marathon.

There is still plenty of time to sign up. Email me: Steve@MarathonTraining.TV for a discount code. I hope to see you on the island. If you see me, please come over and say hello.

Training for Catalina, Steve Mackel – 5 Time Past Catalina Marathon Participant

Training With Team Parkinson – An Awesome Journey


This is my 5th year coaching Team Parkinson Pasadena for the LA Marathon 5k. When I started out I knew very little about Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve learned a lot over the past 5 years.

The obvious: Parkinson’s makes it a lot more difficult to go 3.1 miles let alone longer which some of our team members do. The dedication everyone who trains with us on Thursdays has, with or without Parkinson. The commitment these people have to helping find a cure.

The not-so-obvious: Exercise slows the onset of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. The medications or lack of medications can have a major influence on each day’s performance. Parkinson’s doesn’t slow these people down. In some cases it seems like it gets them more involved. And, they make the same commitment everyone training for race makes.

We use some of the ChiRunning and ChiWalking techniques to help us but with Parkinson’s you want to exaggerate your movements. It takes a lot of focus. Think Big and Loud.

Our race is Saturday, March 9. We have 3 more training session and 23 days left until the big day. This year most of our training days have been exceptional; big crowds, great weather, fantastic camaraderie exceptional food (thanks Sarah). Today was not exception.

With three weeks left you can still join us for our FREE Thursday. Check Out This Post for the Details. If you want to make a donation or join our team at the LA Marathon 5k email Coach Steve Mackel

There are a lot of races on the calendar and I am really looking forward to the LA Marathon 5k Saturday, March 9.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Team Parkinson’s Member

Countdown to the LA Marathon – 29 Day and Counting – Suggestions for Success

The So Cal community is getting ready for the LA Marathon. Many training programs like the Sole Runners have been training for months getting ready for this race. Many clubs and programs did or are doing their longest training runs last Saturday or this Saturday. This week the Sole Runners are doing our 5 hour run to get ready. Then it’s Taper Time (but that’s another post and video).

With a month left what can you do to be the in the best shape on race day? Here’s a quick list of suggestions and a video so you can check out the course from my POV:

LA Marathon Success Tips

  • Get some good sleep in. Remember, muscles repair when you sleep. Sleep over the next 29 days is super important!
  • Don’t try to make up for lost training days. Sorry there’s not enough time to make real fitness gains to support you over 26.2 miles of LA streets in the next 29 days.
  • Know the course – The Stadium to Sea course can be a little tricky with downhills, uphills, rolling hills and weather. The race starts out downhill, flattens, goes uphill at mile 4, rolls through Sunset Junction, flattens with slight uphills to Hollywood, goes downhill then uphill to the Sunset Strip, steep downhill to West Hollywood, flattens through Beverly Hills, a little up at Century City, then down to the VA Hospital, then uphill to Brentwood, then downhill to Santa Monica. It can be windy in Santa Monica
  • Eat a little healthier for the next 29 days.
  • Drink responsibility. I know that will be difficult for some of us. TIP – Drink water in between adult beverages.
  • Visualize your successful LA Marathon. Before you go to sleep take just a few minutes and see yourself at the starting line, on the course and most of all see yourself crossing the finish line, with your hands in the air and a smile on your face. Get in touch with that feeling of accomplishment. Then picture the finisher’s medal hanging around your neck.
  • Don’t sweat what you can’t control. Stay on your plan, Live your life because what is going to happen is going to happen. We are going to line up right next to you with the same goal, finishing the LA Marathon.

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Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Certified Hypnotherapist

Data Check – Coach Steve’s Easy Surf City Half Marathon

I like to share my data. I like to practice what I preach and a lot of it has to do with heart rate training. This was my first time doing the Surf City Half Marathon. I had done the full marathon the past two years.

Why do the half marathon? Half marathons are fun. Half marathons require less training. I am recovering from a back issue. There are lots of races to go this year. You get to sleep in a little and you get to the beer tent faster.

January was probably one of my lowest running mileage months in years. I have some low back issue, not do to running but running is an impact exercise and I want to be careful. At least I practice ChiRunning. I try to run smarter and lighter, going easier on my body. I want to be running for the rest of my life.

So, I had a fun, easy Surf City Half. You may notice that my mileage is a 14 miles not 13.1 or just a little longer. Well, I ran off the course to deliver donuts to my friends that were going to cheer us on when we crossed 17th St. on the way back toward the finish line.

Quickly analyzing the data. This is a flat, fast course. I wanted this to be an aerobic training race. 140 BPM (beats per minute) is my AT (Anaerobic Threshold). My heart rate always starts out high, maybe I could warm-up a little better. But after the first few minutes it comes down and stayed down. I ran the rest of the race in an easy zone 2, and some zone 3, just like I wanted. Sometimes races can just be fun and used for training instead of racing.

Around mile 10 (really mile 9 cuz I ran an extra mile early in the race) this lady next to me picks up the pace so I stayed with her for two miles. Then I ran with with Sole Runner Jim and Patty. Jim PR’d that day.

I accomplished what I wanted, a fun time, good training, hanging out with friends, shot a video and getting it the beer garden.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel Head Coach Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs

Getting Our Socks Dirty – Trail Running by Dr. Bryan Ales

trail running

I have worked with all the wellness professionals you see on the right hand column of this blog. They are all fantastic. In fact, I drive down from Pasadena to Long Beach for their services.

Below is an article written by Dr Bryan Ales. He has taken ChiRunning Workshops with me and Gary Smith. This article is especially important to me because I believe so strongly in taking some of your running off road. Really, the more the better since it takes away much of the repetitiveness of running, forcing your body to engage muscles differently each step in context to the uneven terrain. Plus the dirt is softer and softens some of the impact.

That’s why the Sole Runners train in San Pedro and Palos Verdes half the year. It will make you stronger runner while reducing potential repetitive stress injuries. Just take it slow and allow your body strengthen on the trails.

See you on the trails in training, at the Catalina races and the Cheseboro Half at the Great Race of Agoura -Coach Steve

Getting Our Socks Dirty

by Dr. Bryan Ales, OPR Chiropractic

Why we should be spending 50% of our running mileage off the pavement.

The reason you should get those socks dirty is for a few very important facts relating to balance, proprioception, injury and aging. The first reason for trail running, is to challenge your ability to know where you are in space. Conscience and unconscious signals – “using the cotton around your needle” in the words of Danny Dreyer — are responding to the terrain. As you triplet your way through the coastal mountains in your latest and greatest minimalist running shoes, receptors in the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and fascia fire off messages to your brain. This process is critical for improving your balance and ability to react to an unexpected event that can lead to injury.

The truth about getting to that paleolithic level of minimalistic running form, is only validated for the long term, if you limit running time on the cement and spend at least 50% of your mileage on the trails. In short, the cement is damaging to our anatomy even if you’re the wisest 4th degree Tai Chi Black Belt. Lastly and coming full circle, running on the pavement does very little to improve proprioception as compared to the benefits of a random and obstacle laden river trail.

To finish, let us focus on the long term importance of challenging our proprioception — not using these receptors is a sure way to lose them. As we age, it becomes imperative to maintain and continually improve our abilities so we don’t have to scream the dreaded “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

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Dr. Ales using laser therapy on an athlete

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Trail Runner

Catalina Marathon – A Weekly Retrospective – 2010 by Coach Steve Mackel

This video is pretty comprehensive. It starts on the boat over to the island and goes from there. Let’s hope the weather is that good again. I can’t wait. See you over there.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs