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

10 Key Pre-Race and Raceday Tips for a Better Full or Half Marathon – by Coach Steve Mackel

LA Marathon 2013

1.) Prepare Mentally – You’ve done the physical work. You can’t do anymore training that will benefit you. But, you can prepare mentally.
• Visualize You Race – Find a quiet space, it is better to sit than to lay down (so you aren’t tempted to fall asleep), Visualize everything you are going to do on race day. From the moment you wake up, to crossing the finish line. Visualize yourself on the course, running at the pace you want, feeling good with a smile on your face. See yourself drinking and eating on the course. See yourself crossing the finish line with your hands in the air and feel that sense of accomplishment.
• Keep Your Thoughts Positive – Don’t let those little negative thoughts creep in. If you catch a negative thought, turn it around to a positive. “I am strong and prepared.” “I’ve got this.” “I did the work, I deserve this.”

2.) Prepare the Night Before Your Race – From eating dinner to getting in bed have everything prepared for the next morning.
• Use a Checklist – Lay all your clothes on the floor like a person, with your hat and glasses on top then your shirt, pin your bib on your shirt, shorts, put your timing chip on, socks and shoes. Then lay out all the other supplies you plan on bringing like: Watch, gels, belt, camera, tissues, gloves, money, etc. Lay out the clothes you are wearing over your race clothes to stay warm. Use your clear race bag for anything else you might want like water, banana (food) and dry, warm clothes for when you finish.
• Set 2 Alarm Clocks – Just in case.
• Have Breakfast Ready to Go – Have your coffee in the coffee maker so all you have to do is turn it on. Have breakfast out on the counter. Cook it and you are ready to go.

3.) Get There Early – Plan on arriving at the starting line at least 1 hour early. You’ll have lots of stuff to do like waiting in Porta Potty lines and finding your corral.

4.) Start Out Smart, Run Your Race – From starting pace, to drinking, eating, avoiding the “wall”, and finishing.
• Start Out No Faster Than Race Pace – Don’t get carried away by all the excitement and start out running too fast. This is a very common mistake. You should feel good but a full or half marathon is a long race and you need energy in the late stages of your race too. Get on your pace and stay there for the first half of the race. Pay attention to how you are feeling and you should have energy left for the last few miles. Maybe even speed it up.
• Stay Hydrated – Drink at the aid stations. A quick sip even if you aren’t thirsty is a good idea.
• Eat – Gels, blocks, jelly beans, bars, whatever works for you. You should take in at least 100 calories of carbs every hour. You may need more calories if you weigh more. Sport drinks have calories but usually not enough for an entire race.
• Avoid Hitting the Wall – The Wall is both physical and mental. If you have been eating, drinking and running a smart pace you should feel ok. Keep your thoughts positive. Stay strong and you can avoid the Wall.
• Finish Strong – Feel the energy of the crowd. See the finish line and rundown the final stretch and cross that finish line strong.

5.) Keep Good Posture – Have a solid core and straight spine. No hunching! You will lose lung capacity and you certainly don’t want to come across the finish line looking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

6.) Breathe and Relax – Breathe and work on getting in some deep breaths every couple minutes. Focus on your breath especially when you are tired. Work on relaxing into your run. Being tight and stressed requires extra energy that you don’t want to waste.

7.) Interact with the crowd – Thousands of people will be there cheering you on. Enjoy the support. High five people. Say “Thank you” to the volunteers. Smile and let their energy help carry you along the route.

8.) Make Friends – You are going to be out on the course for a while so you might as well make a couple friends out there. There are lots of interesting people, from all over out on the course, take a moment to say hello to the person next to you.

9.) Don’t Worry About Your Time – A lot happens over the course of a full or half marathon. You may have a difficult period then find out in a mile or two that you are stronger than ever. Sometimes you start out too fast and run out of energy. Full and half marathons are tricky and difficult but when you cross the finish line you are a finisher. Whether it’s your best race or your worst no one can take away the fact you did it!

10.) Be Thankful and Have Fun – Thank the volunteers, spectators and everyone out on the course. But, also be thankful for your health, your ability to take on a marathon. Be thankful for your family and friends that may have scarified to help you get here. Take a few moments and appreciate the entire experience. Smile out there. Enjoy the experience and remember it’s a race, so pass someone. Race focused.

Marathon Training with Coach Gary: Mental Training with Jedi Mind Tricks

Yes back by popular demand…

The feedback from last weeks show was so overwhelming…I had to do it again…

In this show I focus on teaching you how to use your mind to finish your marathon or half marathon.
This is a really good talk for beginning marathoners to listen to as so much of your performance is mental.

So of the topics that I cover are…
– How prepare mentally for your long run
– How to think positive while running
– Ways to improve your breathing even when tired
– Tricks that you can use to keep your body going even when you are tired

Oh, yeah, there’s a little dancing also…

Coach Gary

How to Determine Your Vision

Dear Friends,Ever felt like you needed a change in your life? Like you were stuck and wanted a new perspective?

I’ve been having lots of conversations with people about our futures lately. It seems with all the changes going on with the economy and technology an politics…people are trying to find their way.

The ancient way of finding your direction is to start with a fast or a cleanse. Like get rid of all those toxins in your body.

So I’m on day ten of a ten day cleanse. I ate raw food for like 7 days and felt very clean and very inspired.

I had many many visions of my future come to my mind in that time.

This is one of them.

Vision is a very very important part of the success journey. It is the sun setting on the horizon. So while you might never get there, it sets the course for your ship to follow the next day.

When ever you get that feeling of being ‘stuck’ I recommend this simple exercise.

Just write down your ideal view of the world…without limitations…like if it was all paradise and eden right here and right now.

What would that look like in your life.

You’ll be amazed if you just do this for ten minutes. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and do it.


“What is your vision for the world?” Take ten minutes to write your vision. We’d love it if you left it in the comment box below.

Got it? Cool.

Here’s what mine looked like.

Talk soon,

Coach Gary

Team Hoyt … Yes, You Can!

The most inspirational thing I have ever seen.This will motivate you.

Check out their Boston Marathon times.

Pretty good race log over the last ten years. Unbelievable.

Learn more about this amazing duo at their website.


Declutter your "stuff" and lose that holiday weight

Ms. Johnson says she often sees a link between her client’s efforts to get organized and weight loss. “I think someone decides, ‘I’m not going to live like this anymore. I’m not going to hold onto my stuff, I’m not going to hold onto my weight,’” she said. “I don’t know that one comes before the other. It’s part of that same life-change decision.
”On its Web site,, the group offers a scale to help people gauge the seriousness of their clutter problem. It also includes a referral tool for finding a professional organizer. But since the hourly fees can range from $60 to $100 or more, it may be worth consulting a new book by Dr. Tolin, “Buried in Treasures” (Oxford, 2007), which offers self-assessments and advice for people with hoarding tendencies.Dr. Peeke says she often instructs patients trying to lose weight to at least create one clean and uncluttered place in their home. She also suggests keeping a gym bag with workout clothes and sneakers in an uncluttered area to make it easier to exercise. She recalls one patient whose garage was “a solid cube of clutter.” The woman cleaned up her home and also lost about 50 pounds.“It wasn’t, at the end of the day, about her weight,” Dr. Peeke said. “It was about uncluttering at multiple levels of her life.”

Interesting article on the problems of clutter.

And some of the benefits of cleaning up your clutter.

This is one of my goals the next month. I have bookshelves, a basement, laundry room, two closets, and numerous bins filled with clutter that need to be cleaned up.

I will be giving the clothes away to Salvation Army unless someone knows of a church organization we could give clothes to.

And I have lots of books that I will painfully have to give away.
But the way I see it…as the ideas and books go…there is now room for new fresher ideas.

I urge you all to spend some time this January de-cluttering.

Last year I tried to get rid of fifty things. It’s a wonderfully simple exercise that will immediately feel lighter on this earth.

Get this, lighter means faster, faster means a happier runner.

Happy New Years


ps pics of me freezing my ass off on the polar bear swim coming soon!!!

Finding Your Inner Voice

Last Week, I had the opportunity to speak to one of my idols, the Los Angeles based writer Luis Rodriguez.

Luis Rodriguez is well known for his autobiography Always Running. In this remarkable book, Luis details his life growing up in LA VIDA LOCA, the life of gangs, drugs, and prison. And how, he escaped this destructive web to become a well known poet, writer, and community activist. He now runs a cultural center, Tia Chuchas in the valley, where he offers many workshops to empower people such as dancing, music, poetry, art, etc.

He has written books of poetry, short stories, novels, and many articles for magazines/newspapers. He speaks to troubled youth at schools and prisons. He has made the difference in so many people’s lives through this most ancient and beautiful practice of ….

My dear Aunt Beryl recently passed away. And I lost my uncle Kevin last year. Some of my best friends have lost parents recently. And this has brought the thought of death to me. What is important in this life? What will I be thinking about on my death bed? I know it won’t be my possessions. Jeez, lately I can’t give them away fast enough. (Don’t worry, I’m just trying to walk lighter on this earth.) I mean all these things we collect, just become someone else’s junk when we move on.

I was asked to write poems for both my aunt and uncle. And those poems were read at their funerals in England. Strange. These words of mine. The power that these fingers typing on a keyboard can have to inspire, heal, and touch.

Many of you don’t know this, but I do have a day job. I work as a community college reading instructor. I teach people of all ages to read better…kids…dyslexics…but mainly urban youth with poor reading skills. And to be honest with you, the work is difficult. I’m faced with learning disabilities, language interferences, malnourished minds, products of a failing urban school system, and kids whose only reading practice is the text messages on their phones and MySpace.

Recently, I burned out. Quite normal for us in the teaching profession.

I’d had enough. I wanted to run away from the classroom, crawl up into the hills, teach yoga, teach chirunning, and just write and meditate. I almost didn’t return from a recent trip to Asia.

But something brought me back. Seeing and speaking to Luis Rodriguez reminded me of what that was.

I’ve used ALWAYS RUNNING for years in my classes. Kids who say they don’t like to read like this book. Once you expose young people to good books they can relate to…surprise…surprise now they say they like reading.

Its like learning to run with ChiRunning. I speak to so many people who say “I don’t like running” or “I’m no good at running”. Then you show them how to run softly, easily, mindfully, spiritually, and injury free and surprise…surprise now they say they like running.

Luis Rodriguez empowered himself from his messed up destructive gang life by reading book after book in the public libraries. Even while he was homeless. And he began writing. Poetry. Snippits of an autobiography. Ideas. Experiences. He just began sharing that rich emotional inner world that we all feel every day. He began turning his memories into this most precious of possessions…Words.

The first chance I had to speak to him came a year ago in San Pedro. I was having a cup of coffee in a coffee shop down the street where he was speaking that evening. I looked over from my computer and there he was. I introduced myself and we spoke for 30 minutes on our love of books and reading. He stressed how important it was for young people to read so that they may get the words and ideas to express themselves. We both shared our intense love of books and words. It was a highlight of my life.

If you haven’t noticed, I love to write. It’s my inner secret desire, to live a life of writing, public speaking, and teaching. This website is giving me an avenue to do this. And Rodriguez has taught me many things which is helping this journey. He taught me to share the images of my life, the beautiful ones and the ugly ones. To share the gritty details of existance, especially some of my pains and secrets. The stuff you don’t share in regular conversation. The language of the heart. That’s what resonates in your readers.

So that’s why you’ll hear me share how I am not an uber/elite athlete. I’m just like all of you. I struggle to stay fit. I’ve been overweight. I used to smoke cigarettes. I love pastries and chocolate. I’ve fought and continue to fight the demons of booze/drugs, sloth, and procrastination.
But I have a clear image in my mind of where I’m going. I spent time every week visualizing the difficult races I want to do in life. I look for every opportunity to workout with others because it is just easier to do that.

The road to fitness for me has been a journey. Filled with mentors, coaches, failures, lessons, distractions…I’m on the road then off the road. But I seem to find a way to keep getting back on quicker and quicker when I detour off. And the more I work at it, the road starts turning into a broad highway, with lots of open lanes for me to travel easily.

The one thing that has been huge for me in the last two years to keep me motivated is this writing/blogging practice. Lots of studies have pointed out the effectiveness of teaching as the best way to learn. That when we teach material, it helps us master the material, that when we teach knowledge, we embody knowledge, so it becomes wisdom. That’s why I didn’t just go to a ChiRunning workshop, I became an instructor. That’s why I didn’t just practice yoga, I went through the instructor training. The more I teach, the more I share, the more I put these experiences into WORDS, the more I learn. The more I stay motivated.

Maybe some of you have hit those health lows. Those moments looking at yourself in the mirror saying “this is not the body I want”. Those moments that force you to change. Those moments that you never want to go back to. Those moments that urge you to put on your shoes, get out of your house, and DO THE WORK.

And the journey to fitness can be lonely. Hours spent on trails by yourself. Hours spent on a treadmill. Hours on a yoga mat. Hours on a bike. Hours walking/running the streets around your neighborhood. I’ve spent so much time by myself on this journey. Hours with just the wind, birds, plants, and God as my company. All time well worth spent. A Beach Runner asked me one day how I can be so happy when out there running…and I didn’t have a good answer for her at the time…but in reflecting back on this I realized that I’m so happy because I have come so far in my fitness…and that I’ve spent so much time entertaining myself on long solitary runs…that to run in the company of fellow Beach Runners is an uplifting inspiring pleasure that I just can’t help but to smile.

So I share all this language of my heart in honor of Luis Rodriguez. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing him speak to an auditorium of middle school and college students in Santa Monica. The students had the best questions for him. And he spoke like I’m speaking now, holding back no punches. You see the youth of today are desperate for KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM. For thousands of years, the elders have initiated youth through rituals, story telling, mentoring, and work. And this sacred necessary connection is disappearing in our society. The crisis of youth is a crisis of lost connection. And when this guidance is missing, youth will be pulled into the structures that will guide them such as gangs, drug life, and subcultures.

And Luis Rodriguez stood there as testiment to making connections with youth. Of sharing his pain and journey. Sharing what made him strong and continues to empower him. Sharing his journey because ultimately thats what matters in life. His WORDS will be around forever. All that he sees, feels, thinks will be left in books and the memories of youth.

I guess that’s why I write this on this blog. I just might write a word one day that will make a difference in someone’s life. Something that will be around when I move on to tell the world what Gary thought and experienced in this most glorious and spectacular of sacred lives.
If there’s some ACTION STEPS here it would be…

1. Start writing about your marathoning/fitness journey. Start by joining our community running site then do the following steps…

a. put up a photo
b. write a blog post telling your running story
c. write regularly about your journey/running experiences
I was speaking to ultramarathoner Sandy and she said how much her friends were inspired by reading her race report. I mean doing a tough race is one thing, but to really get the most out of this fitness journey, you should write about it also. WORDS have power to change lives.

2. Find a way to begin sharing your knowledge with the youth of the world. Go speak at a school. Talk to your nieces and nephews. Teach a class. Whatever it takes to get in front of young people and share your experience. They are desperate for the real knowledge of this world. They know that school is not the be all and end of their lives. So we need to quit faking like their academic performance is the key to their whole future. Life is so much more than that.

Hopefully you all can get something out of this long post today. These are all words that have been floating around in my mind for a while and needed to be shared.


Reframing a Missed Workout


So you’re weeks into a marathon training program. How’s it going?

I’ll tell you how its going for me.

It’s a little difficult. Mainly because I have many coaching/teaching responsibilities in this program. The last two weeks I’ve not done the long run with the marathoners.

Not good.

I almost feel like I’m getting fat. Looking at my waistline, seeing that beer belly starting to return. Though nowadays its more from my love of pastries and Reeses peanut butter cups than beer. Funny what a missed run can do to your perception.

Should I quit? Should I lower my running goals? Do I switch to the half marathon? Should I do my long run today on Wednesday? Try to make it up?

One thing I learned a long time ago about working out…you can’t make up a missed run. It has come and gone. The opportunity the chance to put on the running shoes that day came and passed like a cloud that didn’t rain. I can sit there looking up at the sky and my dry garden and piss and pout on how the cloud didn’t rain on me. How much my plants need some more rain, and how much dryer this year is than last year. That vegetables won’t be as large. Yada. Yada. Yada.

Or I can go out pick a weed and water the plants.

Or in running terms…I can move on and just do my regular workout.

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” Fulton Oursler

When we worry about the past its called regret. The more I think about the past the more I live in regret and its associated demons of the mind…worry, shame, guilt, embarrassment, self doubt, etc.

Instead I can focus on my present. As I write this, I just straightened my posture, sat up straight and consciously added more attention and presence to this very process of typing and thinking about the points I’m making in this article.

How many times do we quit something good in our lives because of regret? I wrote some mean words to someone I care about about the other day and the regret was suffocating. I was ready to overreact and end our partnership right then and there because my mind went so deeply into regret. So I quickly, like the next day, apologized over the phone. But more importantly I realized that there were some alternative things I could have done or said. We spent some time together the next day and all was quickly forgotten about.

So if you’ve missed a few workouts or a long run or maybe even a month of training…”forget about it”. Its the past. The past is just an illusion, a holograph of images in our consciousness. In the movie “What The Bleep Do We Know?”, a number of scientists explain how the very images we carry in our minds produce the chemical reactions in our bodies. Regret is not a productive emotion. It quickly leads to deeper more destructive emotions of depression, low self esteem, and hopelessness.

When we’re living in regret we’re living in the past not the present. So how do we get out of the regret of missed workouts. How do we get out of the regret of eating too much ice cream last night?

One thing we can do is to REFRAME our past actions. REFRAMING is a MENTAL TRAINING technique from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).

Lets do an exercise.

1. Visualize the old behavior you’re regretting. For me it was not doing a long run last weekend. I sat at my computer writing then cleaned my house on Saturday afternoon.

2. Shrink the old behavior. Once you have that visualized shrink the whole memory and put it in your left hand. So it is now a bubble. Wow. That put it in perspective.

3. Feel the old intention. Look in that bubble and discover why you did that old behavior. For me, I needed to progress some website issues. But the more I look into that bubble I see that I needed to rest. The week before I had worked out hard everyday including three very difficult runs. Also I’m an introvert, so after interacting with so many Beach Runners I need some quiet reflective time. This simple exercise helps us realize that we had good reasons for our behavior, despite our perceived regrets.

4. Visualize the NEW behavior. Now visualize what your ideal behavior would have been in the past. For me it would have been to return home after Beach Runners and gone out for a two hour twenty minute run in the afternoon on the trails.

5. Now discover the NEW intention. Shrink the new behavior and put the bubble into your right hand. Explore in your heart why you want to do this behavior. For me, I need to get a long run in on the weekend to keep up my aerobic base. But also, for recovery, because I run fast and hard in the week, I need to run slowly on the weekends to keep my legs moving for hours. Remember our program is based on time, not mileage or speed. I need to get out and do running or at least some other form of cardio for the time designated in our program.

6. REFRAME the two behaviors. We suffer regret because our consciousness is trapped between these two images. Between what we
did and what we wanted to do. Understand that both had good intentions. So now see both bubbles in your open palms and slowly bring your hands together and visualize some three alternatives behaviors. Behaviors that would have allowed both intentions to be fulfilled. For me that would be (1) go out for a long slow run/hike. Lately I have been running quite fast in training so my body was telling me to not go out and run because it needed the rest. I could have just taken it easy with a real slow recovery run. (2) I could have gone for a long slow bike ride in Palos Verdes. (3) I could have run for a long slow run/bike ride on Sunday the next day.

Let this bigger bubble encircle your hands together. ANCHOR these alternatives by holding your left and right hand together in a special way.

7. Visualize the ALTERNATIVE behavior. Now visualize your mind like a slide projector. Show the slide with the old behavior. Feel its consequences. Now swish in a new slide of one of the three alternatives. Put yourself in the slide, see the details, feel the emotions. See what a difference just a little mental training can do.

That’s called REFRAMING and its allows you look back at old regretful behaviors in a new light and see there were some good intentions. And that we don’t have to suffer from not living up to our ideals…that there is an alternative between what did and what we want.

“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret” Jackie Joyner-Kersee

One thing to not do is to try to make up missed workouts. Doing a 2 hour 20 minute in the middle of the week before another long run on the weekend can lead to big problem called OVERTRAINING. Last week, I overtrained. So I was physically tired all week. When we work out on tired, strained muscles, we risk the chance of injuring ourselves. Danny in his CHIRUNNING book says the primary source of injuries is overtraining.

Think about that before trying to make up your long run in the week. Better to let the past go, do your regular workout today, and be well rested for your next long run.

You’ve done the MENTAL TRAINING now, so that you will have alternatives next time for your behavior. Keep practicing the REFRAMING exercises, do the alternatives, be easy and loving to yourself, and you’ll do fine in your marathon training.

That’s what I’ll be doing this week. I actually feel great right now after a weekend of rest. I am more energized and feel stronger after all the hard work I did last week.

I’m looking forward to a good run on Saturday.

ChiRunning Instructor