Madrid, Spain is a beautiful city with lots of great site, varied terrain and runners. I had a great time just walking around but running was even more fun. I take you around a small but popular part of Madrid, running on tiny streets, through town squares, parks and past the local sites.
I was scouting Madrid as a possible Marathon to take the Sole Runners to one of
these years. It is a great fun place to be and run.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Co-founder SoCalRunning.com
I don’t even know where to start but can I ever top this marathon? Probably not. Today was history. Today, 2500 years later we retraced history. Everything about the day was special and the last 2 minutes of the video are almost worth the first 10 minutes.
Once again I try to show you the course and the people running it, as well as share my personal experience with you. I met people from all of the world. What I don’t show you or talk about are the smells. International marathons, or at least this one had some smelly people. If you smell the chances are I don’t interview you. Second, more men run than women and it feels like it is the exact opposite in the States. Also, the runners are much faster. I haven’t seen the official stats but the median finishing time has to be closer to 4 hours rather than most marathons in the States which seem to be around 5 hours.
The city of Athens stepped up and this marathon was managed very well. I felt it ran smoothly and have some suggestion for race directors that I Iearned today.
I also managed to PR which added to the day and my feelings but nothing beats running into the marble Olympic stadium in Athens. The music was pumping and the people never stopped cheering. It was amazing.
Now, I can start looking for the next international marathon to run. Join the email list in the center column and it will keep you in the loop because the Sole Runners had a great time and are going to make this an annual event.
Lastly, I have to thank all the Sole Runners that made the trip over with us, Michele for making our wings that everyone loved, and all our well wishers. I’ll see you State-side soon. Look for my Madrid video at the end of the week.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners
This video gives you a good idea of Amsterdam, and the type of terrain if you are considering the Amsterdam Marathon in October. I also take you around to some of the more popular sites. It could be considered as our 2011 Annual Away Marathon.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel ChiRunning® Instructor
I am on location looking for our next destination marathon and half marathon. My first stop was Bruges, Beligum. I finally found the time to finish this video. I was able to edit most of it on a train before my computer battery ran out. Bruges, is a beautiful little city. It was one of the only cities spared mass destruction in WWII. It feels like you take a step back in time. In this video I try to give you a view of the city and the few people that run in it. If you ever visit Bruges, run and be one of the only ones out there! It is another great and easy place to explore running.
As for my lodging, food, sites and nightlife experience, I found some fantastic spots. Email Coach Steve for the details
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – MarathonTraining.TV Head Coach
Have you ever had your identity just pulled out from under your feet?
Like you spent years building yourself up to be someone only to see someone else in the mirror the next morning?
I have. And a running injury was the turning point.
What seemed like a career ending injury has turned out to be a blessing. And I didn’t even know until I came across the world here to India.
By about this time of the year, runners are preparing themselves for a fall marathon. The last two weeks before a marathon becomes a really important time for recovery and rest.
This article will share some essential tips I’ve learned from years of doing marathons and more importantly, from coaching marathoners.
First a little update on my whereabouts: I’m traveling around Asia, currently in McCleodganj, India, the home of the Dalai Lama, and one of the most spiritual places in India. The brand of spirituality around here is Tibetan Buddhism.
The Dharma runs deep here. Saffron clad monks walk mindfully through these streets (that with cows, dogs, spaced out tourists, and lots of Indians hustling to make a living). Monasteries are all over this Dalhousar mountain range.
I’m having a profound and deep spiritual experience. And still recovering from a running injury and a serious case of RUNNER BURNOUT.
Marathoners don’t realize the impact on your body that running for three to five hours causes. Here’s just a sampler:
- Thousands of foot strikes. So if you’re not landing correctly like I was, wear and serious tear can occur.
- Massive OXIDATION in your cells. This means you’re creating lots of free radicals that can oxidize and prematurely age your cells.
- Lots of pollutants coming into your body from the Air especially in a city like Los Angeles or Long Beach.
The fact is, many people don’t continue doing marathons for a long period of their lives. It’s difficult and puts a serious wear on your body.
Yet marathoners just keep on going. We’re generally tough, goal oriented people. We like difficult challenges, it gives us purpose and makes us feel alive. The idea of slowing down and taking a rest is not something that appeals to our characters.
In addition, with good coaches like Steve Mackel of Solerunners, we learn many ways to keep going even though the body is telling us to slow down. Ways like ChiRunning, good nutrition, message, sugary goos, mental training, yoga, and even lots of post run celebrations.
Toss in a good heaping of pride, your inner drive, the competitiveness of your team, the investment of your race, talk about pacing…and you create an inner drive that ignores what your body is telling you, over and over, again, until…
The body forces you to stop. That’s what happened to me. A running injury. I haven’t written about this before on SoCalRunning.com. I kept it my little secret. I was a running coach. My pride refused to let me admit that my own coaching advice had led me to an injury.
It was a double blow, to my identity and to my body. But now with some distance between that coaching life of mine and where I am right now, I feel I can be very honest with you.
Enough about me. Let’s get down to business. This article is about you. And how you can avoid the same mistakes I made so you can prepare and run your marathon taking the best care of your body.
Here’s some things that will help your recovery in the weeks leading up to your marathon and beyond:
1. Get lots of Rest. Eight hours of sleep (or more) is essential. Cut out the caffeine. Drink herbal teas. Cut off the TV and computers early in the evening. Take days off running after a long run. Don’t run if possible the week before your marathon. And seriously consider taking some time off running after you finish your marathon. Even professional athletes don’t train year round. Don’t push yourself on every run. Learn to take it easy. For me, burning the candle at both ends and not taking at least one six month break from marathoning in five years really put a toll on body that lead to an injury. Getting lots of rest and recovery will make you a faster runner in the long run.
2. Get SuperNutrition. Your regular diet is just not enough to compensate for the demands of marathon training. Runners seem to think a long run is just an excuse to pig out on the weekends, booze hard, and eat what they want to eat. Then they think that loading up on a bunch of carbs the week before the race will get them ready. When Steve and I interviewed Luanne Pennesi and Gary Null a year ago, it was a rude awakening on the nutritional needs of an athlete. And if you’re training for a marathon, YOU’RE AN ATHLETE. You need lots of antioxidants, supplements, juices, and proper rest. If you want to learn more then consider purchasing the interview series called Optimum Performance Athlete.
3. Slow Down. The way I see it. There’s two main ways you can run your marathon. One is to go out there and hammer it for a certain pace, shooting for Personal Record (PR). I’ve done this a bunch. But it takes serious training at that pace. In other words, you need to be close to that pace during all your long runs. Most marathoners way overestimate what they can do on race day (especially as they get fitter and fitter). So if you’re getting super nutrition, lots of rest, and doing long pace runs, great! Go for it! But if not, I simply recommend slowing down on race day, and making your race a CELEBRATION. In other words, make your race into a party. Slow down, interact with the runners and the crowds, and enjoy yourself. Even better, try to help some runners out on the course with good jokes or good Steve Mackel advice. The most enjoyable marathons I’ve run were the ones where I said, “Screw the time, I’m having a good time!”"
4. Get Professional Care early. For about a year, I knew something was wrong with my left foot and ankle. It really bothered me during trail runs and long runs. I hoped it would just go away. It didn’t. It just got worse. I didn’t even think of seeing a doctor. Why? I had a long training run to do, or some race, or a track workout. Anything but to face the reality of what was occuring in my body. And all this running on a minor injury, finally caused a MAJOR INJURY. Finally, I saw a podiatrist, good chiropractor, and then a physical therapist. Between all of them, I pieced together a pretty good picture of what happened to my foot. And more importantly, how to treat it. If you’re in pain, you must stop what you’re doing, and go get some professional care and advice.
Hopefully some of my experiences can help you in the weeks and years ahead as a runner.
It’s very typical in Western societies to overwork, under rest, eat poorly, and then just tough it out. Thinking that this hard work will all pay off. It does, sometimes. But the cost can be high for our lives and the health of our bodies.
There is a different way. Get rest, learn proper nutrition, slow down, and listen to your body.
And if you do get an injury. Maybe it is a signal to take a little time off running. Reassess your life. Try something new. That’s what happened to me. I realized I had accomplished almost all my running goals. So it was time to pursue some other lifetime goals, like seeing more of Asia, particularly the Himalayas.
Which is where I am now.
I still run. My running is much slower and more deliberate now. I run a couple times a week here in India, do lots of rehab for my foot. But more than anything, I’m learning to slow down in all areas of my life and live much more in the moment.
The fast lane is only one lane of the freeway.
Always as a marathon date comes closer and closer, I feel not a relaxed calm and confidence in my abilities but instead a never ending anxiety about training.
My sleep becomes more restless in the evenings as I battle through my subconscious asking me questions such as: “Am I training enough?”, “Am I doing enough speed work?”, “Am I on pace?”, “Will I make my time goal?”, and “Will this damn Plantar Fasciitis ever go away or will it derail my marathon?”.
Talking to all my fellow runners seems to make the anxieties worse. They all want to know things like about my pace, my goals for race day, even what I plan to do after race day.
Often my job seems to get its busiest right before the race. Just adding to this ongoing stress level.
Well I was thinking about all these things this morning.
A brief update. I am in Dharamsala, India (Home of the Dalai Lama). My dream for many years was to run a marathon. I kept on believing in that dream. Kept learning, kept making daily little progress. It came true seventeen fold. Even helped a few others complete a marathon.
My next major dream was to travel around Asia, especially to see the Himalayas.
That is what has taken me to India. Dharamsala is the spiritual gateway to the Himalayas. I look out of my guesthouse window to the beginning of the mountain range. They are huge and majestic.
Interestingly enough, I have been attending Buddhist philosopy classes the last few days.
They are held in a classroom next to the Tibetan Library. Most of the great Buddhist texts and scholars were destroyed by a tumultuous Indian History. The Tibetans, however, translated all of these into Tibetan. Then through their devotion to the monastic life and scholarship, kept the teachings alive through the centuries.
In other words, when you study Tibetan Buddhism you study some real authentic, old teachings. Some say the “real stuff”.
So this old scholar comes in in the morning, we all bow, say a bunch of prayers which I can’t even seem to read the English translations of. Then he begins talking. A lovely funny older English woman gives the translations. They have been working together for like 30 years. Translating like 10 of his books or so, to give an idea of his scholarship.
So he is giving a talk this morning which is part of bigger talk on some sacred text, which is a commentary on some other sacred philosophies.
And in the midst of it, I thought of people training for the Marathon.
The main theme of the talk is about how to be a Bodhissatva. This is a very holy Buddhist term to describe someone who doesn’t go off to nirvana in order to devote their life to care and compassion of all living beings. Like a Saint.
One of the essential characteristics of such saintly work is PATIENCE.
Here’s where it gets interesting. He says we all suffer. And some like the Tibetan people have suffered a great, great deal. And the more you persue a spiritual, or in my opinion, an athletic path, the more suffering, and enemies you will encounter.
It shouldn’t be that way. It should get easier right? Your training should get easier as you get closer to the goal.
Well, hogwash according to the spiritual master.
It gets harder so you can develop some patience. And this he defined as a calmness in the face of suffering. A faith in the direction of your work. A willingness to face your hardships. A certainty in the teachings of your coaches or spiritual masters.
Because this patience will allow you to learn. This patience will shatter your overblown pride as athlete so you can begin listening again. Listening to you body, your coaches, the old teachings.
And ultimately this patience will be your greatest teacher. To teach that you WILL get through this anxious time in your training. And you WILL survive those long training runs with that bunk ankle. And someway, somehow you find the patience in others to juggle all those people in your life so that you can just show up on Saturday morning.
Well when you get through all these little hardships, you will get some real patience.
This spirital master taught us to imagine that you are experiencing all of this in order to help all the other marathoners out there. To imagine that you are experiencing all of this to demonstrate to you family that you can stay strong in the face of adversity. And to imagine that you are experiencing these pains to show your friends and colleagues that great things are possible.
The Bodhissatva way is to experience all of this so we can develop the greatest of all human qualities…COMPASSION.
Because on race day, you will need some compassion. You’ll need to be compassionate and loving to your body and mind in that great battle of 26.2 or 13.1 miles.
Or even more important, and this is the part I love…
You’ll need that compassion to lift your head high to look around you and motivate the runners around you. You’ll need that compassion to share a joke when they look sad. To share an inspirational story when their spirit seems down. You cheer on every honorable runner you pass to let them know how awesome they are doing. Because YOU KNOW what they suffered through to just get there on race day.
And even better, when you develop more and more patience and compassion your performance, your race day time, your goals will just dissolve away into the practice of something deeper….seeing just how many people you can help on race day.
And in that, you will find happiness beyond your dreams. That by making others happy in training, before the race, and on race day you will find….happiness.
So hang in there, be patient, this time like all others, will pass.
That is why you suffer. So you can help others. So simple and beautiful.
This was the teaching I heard today, that has been taught for over 2,000 years and just might help you in your journey today.
Here it is, up only 48 hours after the race. I never know how it is going to turn out while I am filming and I wanted to show the whole day, because the Catalina Marathon is so much more than just a race. I hope this video does it some justice.
As usual, I had a great time and wished I could have interviewed more people. I was going for a PR which makes it difficult to pull the camera out in some sections, when I was pushing through some pain or flying down hills. Sorry if I missed you.
Remember, if you see me come up and say hello. I will pull out my camera and film you.
Steve Mackel – Sole Runners, Head Coach
Top of San Jacinto!
First beach runners mountain of the season.
While events in the country make us reflect on the meaning of life…
To me it means get out into nature with good friends
Catalina Marathon finishers and Beach Runners Sandy and Sindy…
Notice the three inches of snow that dumped on us Sunday morning.
Sandy and Sindy are scheduled to do the ultramarathon in Big Bear in June.
Who else is in?
This April 28th and 29th, I’ll be running the self proclaimed “Ultimate Two-Day Road Trip.” Won’t you join me?
Wild Miles Team Realy Race is a 30 leg, 183 miles race that starts in Temecula and weaves it’s way over the river and through the woods to Del Mar. Note: The river is a metaphor. I don’t think we cross an actual river. There will be plenty of woods to tide you over though.
They’ll be plenty of obstacles on the course, but my team has hit one bump already. We’re short runners. That’s where you come in. I can’t read minds, so I can’t tell you why Wild Miles would be fun for you. However, I can tell you why I’m looking forward to Wild Miles. Perhaps someone who reads this will be on the same wavelength and we’ll make some awesome memories together.
Without further ado, Aimee’s list of Reasons to Run Wild Miles.
1) It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve tackled the 5K, the 10K, the half marathon and the marathon. What’s next? Ultra marathons? Perhaps. But I crave something with a little more flavor, a little more variety. How about a long distance relay? Wild Miles. That’s the ticket.
2) I love the Amazing Race. True, it’s not a race around the world and Phil won’t be there to hug me when my team gets to the finish line, but Wild Miles is sure to be an Amazing Race. I’ll get to work as part of a team to accomplish a task. I’ll have to navigate through unfamiliar roads. I’ll be in close proximity to my teammates for long periods of time. I get to wear head lamps when I run at night. Head lamps! I can’t tell you how excited I am for that part.
3) It’ll makes my parents nervous. Re-enactment of my phone call home to my parents after I told them I signed up for Wild Miles:
Aimee: “Hey Mom! I signed up for this new race with a bunch of guys I don’t know.”
Mom: “Guys you don’t know? I don’t know if I like the sound of that.”
Aimee: “Don’t worry mom, we’ll be safe. They’re picking me up in a van. Aren’t van’s cool?”
Mom: “Uh huh. Where are they taking you?”
Aimee: “I’m not really sure, somewhere in the middle of the desert.”
Mom: “Why do you do this to me?”
Aimee: “Because I love you.”
Awww! That could be the conversation you have with your mother, father, significant other or child. Making people nervous with your adventures is fun.
4) I’ll get to meet new people who are just as crazy about running as I am. Though I love running, my favorite part of a race is often the people you meet on the course. I love sitting and talking to folks before the start of the race. I’m fascinated by the diversity of runners. They can be all races, religions, shapes and sizes. They can be grandmothers, cancer survivors or Elvis impersonators. During the race I’m normally to busy concentrating on my breathing to say much. That’s where Wild Miles is different. During Wild Miles, I’ve got time spent running with partners and driving in the van. Plenty of time to get to know these other great people who I’m running with.
5) It’ll open the door to other fun runs. I view Wild Miles as a threshold to more adventure races. So far, I’ve stuck with traditional road races, but there’s a whole big world out there to explore. There’s Relay Races, Mud Races, Treasure Hunt Races, etc. Wild Miles is just the tip of the iceberg. Completing Wild Miles will open the door to other races I’d never considered before.
Is you’re mouth watering yet? I hope so. I don’t think I’ve written a persuasive essay. I’m a little rusty, but trust me when I say that it will be a great time with last memories.
If you are interested, please Email Aimee
If not, enjoy your running wherever it takes you!
Aimee – SoCalRunning.com Member
After two weeks of traveling Cambodia, I finally made it to my final destination…Thailand. The land of a thousand smiles, the land of the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten, and the land of beautiful beaches and scenery. Just finished a day doing some of the best rock climbing in the world…in Railey Beach. Many of you don’t know but I climbed rocks and mountains for years. In fact, that was my big passion before getting into running/yoga. So I paid a guide yesterday to take me out not knowing how I’d do after over two years of not climbing. First couple of climbs for me were sloppy affairs…my technique was rusty…so I was pulling too hard with my arms instead of climbing with my feet and using the much stronger muscles of my legs. You have to be careful rock climbing that you don’t “blow out your arms” by cranking on them too hard. It is easy to completely exhaust yourself after just one climb. So I told the guide I needed to do something easier. I climbed some easy routes later in the morning…5.6, 5.7, 5.8. I began climbing slowly and focusing on my posture and especially using my feet. After another tasty Thai lunch we began climbing harder routes in the afternoon.
By doing something easier first, by warming up, and getting back to basics, my old form began to return. I began dancing on the rock, instead of cranking through cruxes, I’d work my feet up, then be able to reach through the cruxes, saving my arm energy. I climbed four of the most amazing climbs ever that afternoon, with a beach underneath me, a view of the Andaman sea.
There was a moment late afternoon, as I stepped on a stalactite, 60 feet off the ground, where it all came back to me…the thrill of living on the edge…the fear of falling…the views…the exhiliration of doing something I thought I couldn’t do. And I thought to myself “why do I not do the things I love” in California. Rock climbing was a lover I let slip away. Partners got married, had kids, mortgages, got responsible….all the things I’ve been avoiding. This became an excuse for me to not live. I’ve been fooling myself to think running, yoga, resting was it.
I love running. I love yoga. I also love so many other things that have come back to me on this trip. I try to go out dancing every night…usually to the local Cambodian or Thai clubs. Often the only farang (westerner) in there. Here thousands of miles from home…in the middle of a dance floor…I am home. I feel the freedom to express myself with my hips, arms, legs, and my smile. That energy and enthusiasm is so contagious, it spreads so quickly. I can find dancing partners here very easily, no attitudes, no looks at me like “who are you” like I face in Los Angeles.
So here Southeast Asia, I’ve fallen in love with so many things. Girls. Food. Climbing. Yoga. Running. And Dancing. The things that make me feel alive. I’m not sure how all this experience will manifest itself when I return and go running with the Beach Runners, teaching yoga, teaching english.
But I do know I’ve changed. I’m opening up. Becoming more of me. Instead of what I think I should be.
I’m learning to live more passionately. More on the edge. With a big open heart unafraid to express itself, let the joy of living spill out for all to see and to return to all the things I love when I come back to the California. Life is short. When we die we will be remembered for the things we loved.
So love something with all your heart. Even its only for a minute or an hour or day or even better…
Run with Joy,
Gary Smith, ChiRunning® Instructor