It’s official!

Well, not quite yet as I don’t have the piece of paper in front of me but I took a 2day long RRCA coaching certification course the weekend of Marine Corps Marathon.  I’m proud to say that after that course and taking a very long, challenging test- I’m officially a RRCA certified coach 🙂

I decided to get my certification due to being a program director this upcoming year and I love coaching others.  Now that it’s official I can do personalized coaching through RRCA rather than just volunteer coaching with programs for my running club.

I need to get some figures wrapped around and a webpage of sorts put together, but sometime in early 2012 I’ll start offering personalized coaching. I’m still debating on what types: of course I can coach all ranges of events from 5k-marathon, beginners through experienced runners. I’ve been focussing on beginners the past few years. Another thing to think about is offering virtual coaching for those not in the area, sort of like I’ve done for my dad and best friend; in person coaching one on one or in a small group setting.

I figure start with a few people and branch out. I’m really excited for this new chapter of my life and I can’t wait to start inspiring and helping more people soon!

If you or anyone you know are interested in personalized coaching get at me 🙂

Keep Running,

Coach Gwynne


December 6, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

quick plug for my business

I know this is a blog about running…but aside from running I have a passion for two other things: molecular biology (my real job) and holistic healing (a side “job”).  I’m a certified Reiki Master Practitioner/Teacher; have been since 2009 but I’ve been practicing since 2002.  I’ve always had this intense intuitive prowess about me and I didn’t really learn how to harness it until college.  It wasn’t until college when I figured out what some of the things were called that I was somehow innately doing on my own for so many years. 

Reiki is a type of holistic light work, basically it realigns the energy points in the body so that a person can become more balanced and extraneous mental/emotional toxins can be removed.  I mainly work on family and friends, but I’ve been trying to branch out. I did some work for a gentleman in Boston from the comfort of my own apartment here in Maryland and it worked out great. 

My web designer started slacking a bit too much for my liking, but heck it was free and it was my dad so I felt like I couldn’t harass him too much because he offered to do it…then a guy i dated was going to help but things fell apart with him so I found this little site for people who do healing arts etc..and I made my own page. It’s not much but it’s enough to get some info out there. Eventually I’ll start a Reiki blog with more information on it but for now I have that little site where people can schedule appointments with me, oh and I have an Etsy shop as well. 

My webpages are as followed:

Feel free to try it out or tell friends about it…I’ve been known to turn many skeptics into believers.

I’ve also dabbled in reading tarot/oracle cards for people since college. Check out my page..ok enough publicity…i’ll try to post a running blog post tomorrow.

Happy Running,

Coach Gwynne

September 13, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

Bonking: the good, the bad and the really really UGLY!

Bonking, hitting the wall, running out of steam, and running out of juice-whatever you decide to call it, it sucks and you get defeated thinking about how you “failed” on your run. There are a few types of bonking ranging from the glycogen depletion bonk where your muscles fatigue to the glucose depletion bonk where your brain gets all fuzzy around the corners…and then there is the kind of bonk I was facing: the EVERYTHING bonk where it ranges from glucose and glycogen depletion, dehydration and not getting my mileage in the past few weeks. First let me give a little back story to my beloved bonking that happened today…none of us, even those that have been training for years are impervious to bonking, sometimes it just happens and you have to go with the flow..

As I sit here sipping my honey ginseng green tea (good for soothing upset stomachs) I reflect on what I posted previously about, I had my race today 9/11/2011-it was a half marathon (no big deal really by now i can do that in my sleep). I felt good at the start but after 8 miles in my stomach was going crazy on me, usually this is the point of my race where I take down some Gu to give me some energy and have sustenance because I can’t eat before I run…but today my stomach was saying “no! no! i won’t keep down anything you give me except liquids”…I didn’t want to listen to my stomach because I wanted to race well but for sake of not throwing up on the course I heeded what my head was saying and decided to listen to my stomach. I took water at every water stop past mile 4 to conserve mine as reserves just in case I needed it…even though i hate stopping at water stops because people around you never know how to work a waterstop correctly and you end up dodging people who stop dead in their tracks to drink their water instead of moving off to the side… I also drank some powerade to replace salts I was losing and get in a few sugars. 

I’m not going to do a whole play by-play of this race but I didn’t do so bad, I passed tons of people on the “hills” and had negative splits the last 3 miles, mainly because I just wanted to be done and get home.  I sprinted the finish which proved to be a horrible idea as I ended up dry heaving  as I was taking off my race chip…I ran straight into a nearby restaurant bathroom and proceeded to get sick…then i started to get sick on the way home and busted through my door leaping over my cats sprinting to my bathroom & threw up as soon as I got in bathroom door…then I showered and fell asleep on my couch for 4hours, woke up and went in search of food I could keep down. Technically I didn’t completely bonk but it felt just the same…

So what the heck happened? I ate right all week, then I thought I did eat something different the day before for lunch than what I usually eat (bad practice! you shouldn’t really do this, I thought I was impervious to this for such a “short distance”). I had sushi but it was a cucumber/avocado roll…wait I had a california roll with crab…maybe the crab was bad and it was what caused my stomach to completely flip itself upside down mid run.  Regardless of what it was, I knew I had hydrated, maybe not optimally but enough. I still got a decent race time but I felt so defeated afterwards, this was the second long run I’ve gotten sick. 

What else can contribute to bonking? Not getting adequate sleep, well I also haven’t gotten that lately.  Not hydrating enough, I was but I probably should have hydrated a bit more.  Eating different foods than what you eat on a night before a training run.  Sometimes it’s just “luck” or not your day.  I guess my bonking was multi-factorial. 

When you seriously bonk you can start to hallucinate that’s when you know you’re in trouble, this is most likely due to dehydration which can be serious. The science of avoid bonking breaks down into a few different categories.

1)Food Intake: protein vs carb ratio, maximizing glycogen intake: Proteins what wonderful little compounds they are, they make up our muscles and they control a lot of different functions in the body even down at the cellular level. There is a magic combo of protein/carb that you should try to maintain while running or actually any training that you do. Usually it’s a 2:1 ratio, many energy supplements such as Gu, powergels, chomps, shot blocks try to keep this ratio-the rest is up to you to make sure you take them at the right times to optimize your performance and this is specific to each person you just have to try it out. Typically you want to take a Gu or some sort of protein/carb replacement after the first hour of exercise and every hour after that.  You want to watch though because some of these replacements can contain extra caffeine which can do all sorts of crazy things to people’s stomachs having you literally running for the nearest port-o-potty or bush.

For me I can’t take any energy supplement until I’m at least and hour or a little over ( ~6 miles) in my  run otherwise my stomach goes crazy. Others can take something such as a Gu right from the start and be fine. If you can eat breakfast before your morning run try getting some protein such as peanut/almond butter on your toast or even and egg white on toast or if you’re vegetarian tofu on wheat bread. The idea of a “carb load” the days before a race is to allow your body time to break down the carbs into glycogen that it stores in the muscles, you want to maximize this so in case those days where you can’t eat anything on your run you have some reserves to go off of. 

 Glycogen, or sugar depletion can result in loss of brain function, basically as you lose sugars you’re losing your mental capacity to really care about your race even if your muscles are fine you are mentally worn out…this can be dangerous (i’ve actually seen this firsthand when I was course marshaling a trail marathon/ultra, many people were stumbling the last few miles and just saying the craziest things-i had one guy tell me he wanted to run back to his car instead of take the shuttle then almost fall down as he went through a ditch that lead to the road. Another guy in the same race looked so haggard it was awful, I offered him some gatorade but he refused, he looked like a zombie so pale and was just asking for a medic at the finish. I ended up calling the medics and telling them to be ready for some zombie runners that would be finishing in about 20 minutes.

2) Banking Sleep: I think this is one of the things we really take for granted minus #3 below. A lot of times I can’t sleep before a long run or even a race because my mind goes into hyperdrive thinking about my race tactics or what if I don’t wake up in the morning and miss it! So that leads to typically waking up a zillion times throughout the night or just not really getting a deep sleep.  The way to combat this is to just assume you won’t sleep the night before and try to bank your sleep during the week. Even going to bed an hour earlier each night can be beneficial.  If you have kids this can be a challenge…if you have fuzzy kids this can be a one cat screams in the middle of the night when she drags a her toy bunny around my condo and sometimes it wakes me up.  If all else fails there are drugs for that! Sometimes when I know I won’t be able to sleep but I need to get it in I’ll take 1-2 tablets of melatonin; melatonin is a naturally secreted chemical that induces sleep-thus giving yourself an extra boost can help. Usually it takes about 30minutes to become effective, and unlike benedryl (at least for me) it’s easy to wake up not feeling groggy.

3) Staying hydrated: This is one of the most important things you can do as a runner or for any type of exercise.  Hydration is key for making your muscles work efficiently. Maintaining your water/fluid intake during a workout is important for many factors, it keeps the blood moving and keeps your bowels moving around so your stomach doesn’t get sick/cramp. It helps with muscle cramping, many times a side stitch or cramp is due to improper hydration.  If you’re a heavy sweater it is incredibly important to keep your fluids up to replace what you’ve lost, but sometimes water isn’t enough. Depending on how long you’re running or how much you sweat you’ll also need to replace the various salts you lose while you workout. For long distance runners having salt tabs such as succeed are good to take while running. You can also eat a banana, it’ll give you much-needed potassium but also some sugars. The main reason you need to replace salts boils down to basic science: muscle fibers need salts to contract. All cells have ionic pumps that pump sodium/potassium/calcium in and out of the cell in a very specific balance, if that balance is thrown off then our muscle fibers don’t fire like they should which will cause cramping and fatigue.

4) Getting adequate mileage in before your race/ tapering correctly: Oh making sure to get your mileage in the week of a long run or race, this can be tricky as life gets in the way.  Typically you want to have you weekly mileage (mon-fri) equal or slightly more mileage than what you’ll be running during the weekend. So I’m doing 20 miles this coming sunday; I want to make sure that during 2-3 runs throughout the week I’m getting in at least 20 miles so that my legs are less fatigued come the weekend.  When it’s a race week you want to taper the weeks before, which mainly means slowly decreasing your mileage so that you give your muscles enough rest to optimally perform during your race. If you go into a race where you worked your muscles really hard throughout the week you haven’t given them adequate time for microtears in the muscle fibers to be repaired.  I can be bad at getting in adequate mileage some weeks, especially now with class…and you don’t want to cram all that mileage into one day of the week, you need to break it up into at least 2 days, 3 would be optimal that you can spread out the mileage so it’s less burden on your body.

How to recover from bonking or close encounter with bonking such as I had?

First you have to diagnose why you bonked.

  1. If it was from food there isn’t much you can do other than replace your energy depletion with easy to digest foods at first such as a banana or a protein smoothie, once your stomach is a little bit more settled try some complex carbohydrates such as a bagel or some wheat toast, it is also good to get some protein so putting some peanut butter on your toast would be a great option.  Anything with extra fiber would be a bad option as it’ll get your bowels moving and if you’re already having overactive bowel issues you really don’t need to keep those guys a flowin’.  If your stomach is still upset take a pepto tablet or drink some ginseng or chamomile tea to soothe your stomach. I usually carry pepto tablets in my running bag with me just in case I need them but I ran out after last week’s stomach issues and didn’t replace them.

     2. If it was from dehydration, you need to keep drinking water/electrolytes right after you finish the race and for the next few days until your urine is a pale yellow color, which is an indication of proper hydration (unless you take a multi-vitamin or B vitamin supplement in which your urine will still be a dark yellow).  If you don’t start rehydrating after your run you can run into headaches or migraines, and leg cramping. 

    3. Glycogen depletion: lack of sugars- this will display as having low blood sugar where you’ll be shaky and weak.  The best way to jumpstart your sugars is a sports drink, but you could take in something sugary but make sure if you do that you are also ingesting a complex carbohydrate which will slowly break down into sugars.  A good post race/run drink is chocolate milk or soy milk, it has the proteins needed to repair the microtears in your muscles but will also give you some of those sugars you need to replace & well it just tastes yummy! Drink it down until your straw makes that really annoying slurpy sound and you can pretend your 5 years old again.  I typically try to pack one of those horizon chocolate milk boxes in a cooler for after my race, and I always have a spare powerade.

    4. Heat- sometimes it’s just too hot and humid and our bodies just can’t overcome that and they wave a white flag and scream “STOP!! YOU’RE HURTING ME!!!”  this can be scary: your legs can give out on can become short of breath.  If you feel yourself getting cold find some water and dump it on yourself as soon as you can, making sure to dump water on your head and down your chest, if you can put some ice in your hat or down your bra to cool your core.  I don’t sweat so I know the signs of over-heating.  Once in a race I was over-heating so bad that I had to literally take ice from the water stop people and shove it in my sports bra to cool my core temperature.   The heat bonk is one you can’t really control and honestly I think about every runner has experienced the heat bonk at some point. Just know how to handle it and when it happens stop running, walk around a bit to cool yourself down.

The best thing you can do is trying to avoid bonking in the first place but sometimes it just happens, so the second best thing you can do is to have a bag at bag check or close at hand after your run that contains the essentials: chocolate milk, powerade, pretzels, bagel/peanut butter & jelly sandwich.  PB& J is fantastic mid run sometimes, I didn’t know this until I did a trail race, the PB&J seemed to carry these mystical powers that brought me back from the depths of a very dark place…so use a funky cookie cutter to make it more fun to eat…”yummy i just bit off your head t-rex!! take that!!”  (the simple things in life can help you deal with tough situations…personally i like to keep running fun & pretend i’m 5 so yes i’ll make my pb&j look like t-rex then bite it’s head off giggling & making noises…and yes i’ll drink my chocolate milk swinging my legs and dancing in my chair going ‘mmmm’…life is better when you aren’t so serious all the time you need time to let your inner kiddo shine! and running is perfect for that…i even skip when i run sometimes…)

All in all the hard part is knowing when to quit and when you can push through the physical pain/exhaustion/waves of nausea. Sometimes you can just walk it off other times you have to throw in the towel and just bail on your run all together. Don’t push yourself past the point where you pass out on the trail and someone needs to call an ambulance, if you’re feeling that bad stop at the closest aid station and seek help. Even if you don’t get taken to the finish you can at least sit there for a bit until you start to feel a little better. If you aren’t racing have your phone with you or some road id that people can use in case you happen to pass out…and the most important thing is to let people know when you’re going out, where you’re running and when you should be back. Please don’t be like some of those people who I see hooked up to saline IVs at the finishline, with some of these steps you can avoid bonking…but when it happens you can be prepared.

For a bit more info Runner’s World has an article about bonking, you can also find more information about nutrition.,7120,s6-242-301–6263-1-2X3X5X7X8X10-6,00.html

Regardless of how or why you’ve bonked, or will bonk in the future as nobody is impervious to it…the take home message is trust your body and listen to it. Take each bonk as a learning experience of what not to do the next time so you’re more prepared.  Running is just as much a learning experience as many other things in life, some days we’re really on and others we’re just off but we learn a lesson all the same.  So next time I won’t eat sushi the day before a race and I know to take more water even if it’s just a “small” race. Just make sure to diagnose the problem and find a way to alleviate the after effects. Oh, and don’t do it again 🙂

Happy Running,

Coach Gwynne

September 12, 2011. Training Tips. Leave a comment.

Not Everyday is a good running day

There are many days you wake up and go “ugghhh, is it really 5am already???, do I really have to run? can i just skip it today and do it later?”…yesterday was one of those days for me…I had 2 late nights of concerts, saw Stevie Nicks Saturday & Journey Sunday night…Waking up for my sunday long run was a challenge, I knew it would be so I set 2 alarms and told my cats to also bug me as much as possible to get me out of bed and going.

Zoey can be really annoying in the morning

So my alarm went off, I pushed snooze, then it went off again…again I pushed snooze & grumbled “do i really have to get up? maybe i can run 18 miles by myself later…” then my 2nd alarm in my hallway went off “ok,  I really need to get up! I know I won’t get more than 7-10 miles by myself..this is a nice training run, it’s part of the race course for next weekend…” I stumbled out of bed, tripped over the cats that were coming in to get me up, pet them then went to the dark bathroom and put on my running clothes I layed out the night before.  I put my glide on my feet then put my socks on & then my Newtons. Grabbed my running bag, turned on the radio for the cats and sleepily made my way out my door to my car.
It was muggy, I mean really humid…ugh.. I took my inhaler and plugged in my ipod, I really needed some peppy songs to wake me up. I got to our meeting point and realized I had forgotten to put gum in my bag, so I asked around until I found someone with some gum I could use on my run. I chew gum when I run because my inhaler dries out my throat, unfortunately I had finished a pack and didn’t replace it yet. The worst part about this course we were running was we don’t hit a bathroom until 3 miles in because we meet at the metro and run to the start of Rockcreek Trail….and I really had to pee :-/ 
My bladder is my worst enemy at times, I’ve claimed a bush by the Lincoln memorial (shh don’t tell park services!)-that’s my bush for all races I do near there from now on! And no you can’t borrow it 🙂 The first 3 miles were good and I made it to the bathroom in good shape, from then on we had water about every 2-3 miles and bathrooms starting at 6 miles in and then every ~2miles from there.  ( i know this b/c having said small bladder i keep track of any and all restroom facilities along any trail I frequent so I know when I need to befriend a tree or bush) At about mile 10 my stomach started to bother me and I just figured i’d be able to run it off.
 I got home late the night before and I ate something really light at midnight knowing i’d be up in 5 hours but I didn’t think it’d make my stomach turn like that-I really felt like I could throw up..I can’t eat before I run or I’ll throw up, I learned this the hard way a few years ago where I basically threw up within the first 2 miles of our training runs while I was trying out foods to see what I could eat. I’ve learned I can only consume powerade before a run and then I can’t take a Gu or some kind of food until about 6-8 miles in or I’ll just get sick to my stomach…maybe it was the Gu chomp I ate at mile 4, I probably should have waited another 2 miles to eat that…my stomach needs to jiggle/slosh around a bit before I introduce something else to it or else pay the price and negate any caloric intake i was trying to get.  
So by mile 15 my stomach was really bothering me and I was barely keeping up with my pace group because of that and a nagging pain in my left butt cheek :-/ and calf muscle.  I knew what it was but knew I really couldn’t stretch it until I got home.  About the time I left my pace group I jogged upon my friend who was walking because he’d had the flu during the week. We walked together for the next 2 miles and then started to jog, he stopped when he saw his wife and I continued until our intended stopping point. 
 Even with the walking I managed to run my 18 miles in around 3.5 hours with some water stops my group took…but i still felt awful and some points when I was dragging behind my pace group I started to cry & I never did find the pace group behind us, they must have taken very long water breaks. Not everyday is a good running day, I knew Sunday wasn’t but I didn’t want to kill myself over my run because I have a half marathon race this next weekend and our second 20miler is in 2 wks so I want to stay injury free for those and my goal marathon on October 30th.  You have to know your body’s limits, but sadly in order to figure out those limits you can tend to get injured a lot, get sick a lot and can get discouraged but it’s all a learning experience. 
 When I started running longer distances I kept a running journal where i’d put down my workout, what the weather was like, where i ran, what I ate that day before/after/during, what hurt etc. I kept this journal to look for patterns and see “ok I got sick when I ate these things after a workout, my body can’t handle that type of food, let’s avoid that.” or I’d notice what was hurting me, oh that trail was banked so that my one leg was always higher than the other..etc. 
 I highly suggest starting a running journal so you can have a better recollection of the ordeals of training and sort out why you might have gotten a certain injury or why you threw up during your run, or why you “bonked” A running journal is very beneficial when you start out, even if it’s just on your computer as a word document or excel sheet, no need to be fancy & spend a lot of money…i’m all about being thrifty, save your $$ to buy a good pair of running socks or hydration pack 🙂 
Hope everyone had a good labor day weekend!
 Happy Running,
Coach Gwynne

me with my friends in Disney marathon weekend Jan'11

September 6, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

funny videos


August 30, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

Excuse Me While I Fartlek

WAHHH??? did she just say what  I thought she said? yes…if you ever run by someone and they’re like “oh I’m just out fartleking today!” that doesn’t mean that you need to stay up wind of them the whole time…well maybe, but fartlek isn’t what you think it is…”fartlek” oh that’s a funny word now huh? Fartlek is a swedish word for speed play. Many great athletes (Olympians through even us normal runners) do them as speed training and you can incorporate some in your repertoire to jazz up a “boring” track night or spruce up a neighborhood run. By incorporating these quick bursts of speed you can help increase your leg turn over & build speed. Even doing it once a week can help and you don’t have to do it just at the track!

Here are 2 different ways you can incorporate this funny little word into your weekly runs: 1) in your neighborhood: run slow for about 5-10 steps then gradually increase your pace for about 20-50 steps then slow back down. As you get more comfortable bump up the amount of faster steps you take to maybe even doing a block at that speed. Make sure to walk or jog slower between each fast session, this allows your body to recover. 2) another for neighborhood or even track. pick a landmark to run towards. you see that cute guy up ahead, run a little faster towards him, smile then slow down as you get to him, or you can run to a telephone pole then slow down. (personally i like the cute guy idea) make sure to vary the length of the landmark you choose to jazz up the fartlek. You can continue this for 5-10 minutes and then just finish easy. Oh and remember your form 🙂 -that is a whole other post…

Once you build up your stamina and base mileage you can start incorporating fartleks in longer runs, many call these workouts “tempo” runs.  Instead of running for a short distance you extend the faster segment to a few miles. So say we wanted to do a 5 mile run: we’d start with a warm up mile, about 20-30 seconds slower than your long run pace, then do 3 miles 15-20 seconds faster than your long run pace and finish with an easy mile.

When i say “speed up” I literally mean it but not at a pace that you’re all out sprinting for your life,( unless you are sprinting for your life from an angry dog or something) you want about 70-80% of your fastest effort. And yes, you will notice it may slow down the rest of your pace for the evening but this is fine. Speed work helps you use your fast twitch muscle that can help with a “kick” come race day. Those fast twitch muscles are what help you get a quicker leg turn over.

A good way to increase your pace for these ins & outs is either of 2 ways: 1) lengthen your stride, basically widening or over-exaggerating your leg movement as if you’re jumping over a hole or ditch, dog or cat that got in your way. 2) shorten your steps, I know this sounds counter intuitive but it is probably the more readily used variation, I use this b/c my hipflexors are tight & I can’t open up my stride as much. Shortening your steps allows you to have a quicker rate in which you move your feet, aka quicker turn over.

Typically I would add these fartlek runs or tempo days only for 1 workout during your week, for true beginners I’d do this once every 2wks with the opposite week being speed work.  If you are an extreme beginner like just starting to go from walking or walk/running to running I’d suggest just sticking to fartlek runs or ins & outs.  What is an in/out?  Let’s make this easy, say it’s a “speed/tempo” day: if you are a true beginner and you want to try a bit of speed work, on a track night, you’re running for 10minutes.  I’d run a very easy pace for 5 minutes in which you can easily sing or have a conversation with someone after that I’d do 1 lap of a track as “speed” if you can quicken your pace (70-80% effort where you feel like you are pushing yourself but not to your maximum capacity) on the straight part of the track and slow down on the curved parts, do this until you’ve done 1 full lap. If you can’t make the full straight away then just aim for half and then another half on the other side of the track. Don’t feel defeated if you can’t do a whole straight away, we all have to start somewhere.  When I started back to running I couldn’t even make it more than a half mile from my apartment, with time comes endurance with endurance comes speed. You only work on one thing at a time. If you try to do both you are only hurting yourself in the end and you’ll be back at the beginning because you most likely injured your knee or foot. 

Speaking of: common injuries/pains for first time runners as you are beginning to increase your mileage- feet/ankles (this may also be due to improper footwear-that’ll be another post), knees-your knees aren’t used to the pounding on the ground they’ll get used to it over time & actually runners usually have stronger knees than those that don’t run: Runner’s World did a brief editorial on it  *I’ll find the real article and put it in here at some point* , you may have hip/back pain.   Most of these pains are just from your body not being used that way in a while and it’s kind of like the growing pains you get as a kid, you eventually grow out of them as you increase your stamina..but if they continue it could be an injury-listen to your body and as a beginner it’s good to keep a running journal so you can document everything you’re doing.

Happy Running!
Coach Gwynne

“Every day gives you an opportunity to improve. With every run, you try to be better. Not just a better runner, but a better person.”-John ‘the penguin’ Bingham, The Courage to Start

August 30, 2011. Training Tips. Leave a comment.

It was just 2 years ago that I did my first marathon in Harrisburg, PA with my family driving around the course cheering me on with “run for the cupcakes” signs, my dad was swapping me water bottles with fresh cold electrolyte, my ex boyfriend ran with me for the rough 3 miles from 17-20…and when i finished I got a big hug from all of them, my ex bf, my best friend, a few other friends and my nephew gave me a giant cupcake that I couldn’t even look at and it ended up going bad before I could even eat the dang thing 😦 

A year later I ran the Marine Corps marathon (fall 2010), I realized half way through that I hadn’t left enough mileage on my shoes and that’s when my knee started to feel like it was going to give out on me…I was so upset because I had been running really well up until that point. I held back in the beginning running with a slower paced friend until mile 1, I passed a wanna be Waldo by mile 5, I passed a few wonder women.  I passed a girl a went to high school with going up the hill towards Georgetown. 

Lululemon had hilarious signs “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”, and a few others i can’t remember but I do remember laughing out loud…this year i’ll take pictures.  I do remember Georgetown having the best crowd support and wished they would’ve been at the bridge.

Ok, back to the pain in my leg…this happened with 10miles left to go. I stopped at the medical tent to get tylenol and basically had to yell at the lady because she wasn’t paying attention, usually i’m well-mannered but she was hitting my angry button & i was hurting so bad but didn’t want to give up b/c i’d just trained 5 months for this thing. After this I took mental note to be my own travelling apothecary on the next marathon.  At this point I ran into some spectator friends and they talked me through my cursing.  A few miles later I ran into my friend Mayra, she had a new powerade for me and some pretzels, this pacified the beast for a bit & she ran with me for a good mile listening to me complain about my knee. 

The worst part was around the national mall because seriously going up to the capital building and back around is the longest 4 miles of my life and it’s sunny & hot at that point. I ran into a guy i was seeing with a “run for cupcakes” sign…are you seeing a trend here? (i love cupcakes!! they’re my inspiration for everything-sadly  they ceased to inspire me during this run, no amount of imagining dancing cupcakes could get me out of my painful funk).  I continued onto the bridge, saw a guy holding a sign that said “the bridge is your bitch”- and i remember thinking, actually talking out loud ‘no, i’m the bridge’s bitch…but not next year’  it was at this point my one friend was supposed to meet up with me but she had injured herself the week before so I was on my own. I saw our club’s photographer smiled for him and as soon as I passed him I started to walk.

At this point running hurt, then walking would hurt so I varied my running and walking depending on which hurt less at the time.  I kept thinking “once I get to crystal city i’ll have another pacer and some support, if i can just get there i’ll be ok”.  I got to crystal city, my pacer was nowhere to be found, I started cursing him under my breath…then I realized my cheer squad also didn’t show up…so much for THOSE people…i was livid..that’s when I tried to dig down deep, it was just me-I needed to inspire myself but how the heck was I going to do that….I changed my name every time I heard someone scream for Ann or Lisa or Ben…though occassionally i got a ” you’re looking good Gwynne” from a random stranger…thank you sharpie for allowing me to write my name on my arms so people knew who I was…even if they pronounced it wrong I didn’t correct them I just said thank you and continued on my own. 

At mile 25 I came upon a pace coach from my marathon training program, he ran with me for a few minutes to get up a small hill then went back to cheer on others b/c i was “looking strong still”  I continued up to the bridge, started walking…commisserated with a fellow walker who was crying. I looked at her and said “Honey, you’re on the last mile no matter what don’t give up there are still tons of people behind you!” she looked at me, smiled and was like ‘we can finish together!’  to that I responded “I actually need to start running again b/c walking is hurting my knee, but good luck, you only have less than a half mile left good luck!” then I took off…not fast just took off.

that last 200m was the worst of my life…my knee was killing me, and i had to go up a craptastic “baby” hill, but at that point if felt like scaling the Himalayas! I passed a few people on my ‘kick’ and then just started crying as I crossed the finish line.  I hugged the marine that gave me my medal and onward to food I went.

The finish line was a total zoo, sweaty tired runners looked like zombies just milling around. I found some training buddies that had finished right before me, one didn’t look so hot.  I made sure he ate his bagel right away and I navigated him through the crowd and to the club’s hospitality suite where I made sure he got some more food, some ice and lots of water.  He recovered in about 30mins and was fine.  I sat on the floor of the hospitality suite just crying…putting on my icy hot and then went to the bathroom to change out of my gross clothes take a quick wipe down with soap and put on some sweats…

My only thoughts were “my knee is killing me, how am I going to get in sufficient training for Disney in 2 months!!”

And THAT was my 2nd marathon experience…i’ll share another race story later.

So as for training for my 4th marathon, we’ve been training since May. Our first 20mile run was this past sunday and I felt amazing! This year I feel so strong and I know that i’m going to come back to MCM and crush my time from last year. From each marathon, or each race I do I learn something new about myself. I pick up something different to do or how to approach a situation in a different way, how to prep for anything, what to make sure I carry with me & what I can live without…what I can con a friend (spectator) into bringing for me.  It’s good to have friends, that way you have less to carry while running, you can do a hand off of sorts.

well back to work.

Happy Running!

Coach Gwynne

August 25, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

Beginning Women’s Program 2012

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, impending apocalypse? None of those scare me…though darkness does…but nothing stops me from formulating next year’s program! I’m hoping to implement some exciting changes to make it a more fun experience! (if it wasn’t already..)

Some little previews:

1) 2 extra weeks of training to let the real beginners feel more confident

2) varying our scenery 🙂

3) maybe some tasty dishes?

That’s all I can say for now…hoping to bring more smiling faces into the mix for next year and make it a more interactive program.

maybe we’ll teach you how to out run a tornado or hurricane…or aliens…just saying 🙂

Happy Wet Running!

Coach Gwynne

"Courage to start: through the anxiety, the pain, garner the determination &'s just you and the road and the road doesn't care if you're having a bad day, if you feel'll keep your secrets safe, become good friends with the road"- Coach Gwynne

August 25, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

Seriously an Earthquake in DC?

So if you haven’t heard because you live under a rock, we had a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Richmond, VA…and felt it in the DC area…I wondered why it felt weird while driving. This was nowhere near as crazy as the one a few months ago that happened at 5am right near my apartment. It woke me up from a sound sleep, I thought it was a crazy thunderstorm that really shook the ground…then i didn’t hear the rain so i thought “great a plane flew into something near by” i listened for the sirens but didn’t hear it…that’s when i thought the worst possible scenario: we were being attack by ALIENS!!! …hey i was half awake but it’s totally possible….good thing I have Will Smith on speed dial, he knows how to handle aliens & zombies, you know just incase those people near the landing zone of the aliens got mutated and became zombies.

My job gave us leave yet I’m still in my lab doing my experiments because I’m a dedicated scientist…hopefully the earthquake didn’t mess it up and I have to start all over because it takes 3days to do this experiment from start to finish.

Good exercises to practice during earthquakes:

  1.  balance exercises on a bosu 
  2.  yoga balance poses
  3. diving
  4. running ahead of the tremor! (now that would be a fun experiment)
  5. doing a handstand
  6.  swimming in a pool, would turn into something like swimming in open water
  7.  jumping on a pogostick
  8. jump roping
  9. archery
  10. an intense game of jenga

Check back tomorrow for a real article on something running related.

Happy Running in Earthquakes,

Coach Gwynne

August 23, 2011. Random Musings. Leave a comment.

Learn To Breathe Properly During Your Run

Breathing is a very natural activity–and so is getting out of breath when you run. Modified from  Hal Higdon Published 08/28/2001 Runner’s World

It’s only natural that when you run, you’ll get out of breath. Your body needs oxygen, just as your car needs gas to fire the pistons in the engine. When you start to exercise–whether running, walking or any other physical activity–your muscles use more oxygen than at a rested state. This need is met by supplying oxygen-rich blood to the muscles, more is pumped through your system the harder the system works. The lungs will work harder to absorb this oxygen out of the air…thus you get out of breath…the contrary to this is that you have asthma of some sort which complicates things a bit, but I’ll get into that later.Without giving it much conscious thought, most runners breathe in a 2/2 rhythmic ratio: which breaks down to inhaling a breath during two steps and exhaling during two more subsequent steps. Though this may be true, some slower runners may often tend to breathe in a 3/3 ratio, while faster runners might breathe 2/1, or 1/1, however 2/2 is much more common.For those that are curious to test this out if you count breaths in and out only to discover you are breathing with a different rhythm, don’t worry about it.  Most likely adjusting your breathing pattern will not make you a better runner, unless going up a hill which controlled breathing can help you “manage” or work through the strain your body is going through.The same with whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, the majority of people naturally breathe through both. Famed New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, when asked how runners should breathe, once replied: “Breathe through your mouth. Breathe through your nose. Suck the air in through your ears, if you can.” Regardless of how you breathe and how much you breathe, your jaw should be relaxed with your mouth slightly open. This should allow oxygen to come through your nose and mouth to your lungs, to your blood and to your muscles without you needing to yield a conscious effort. Breathing is a very natural activity–and so is getting out of breath when you run.
Now back to the tricky part: dealing with breathing when you have asthma or exercised induced asthma…many people think they can’t do sports because of this, but on the contrary, it can be very good for asthmatic individuals. I know this from personal experience; I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma my sophomore year of high school while running track, actually a lot of weird things happened that year of my life…but I digress…  Throughout the years it’s been a struggle in the humidity, in the cold and just in general some times.
what is asthma? Asthma affects people of all ages, often it starts during childhood. In the United States, more than 22 million people are known to have asthma, with nearly 6 million of these people being children.  When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. It is mainly the narrowing of the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling also can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow your airways…thus making it challenging to breathe.
Most asthma can be controlled by using an inhaler that dilates the bronchial tract. I typically use an albuterol inhaler before each run. Other inhalers use some type of steroid to increase it’s potency.
I’ve found that over the past few years as I’ve increased my base mileage my asthma has become more controlled and I can go longer distances at a faster pace without using my inhaler, but I still carry it on me just in case.  However there are some days that even my inhaler can’t save me and that’s when I call it a day or slow myself down a good minute/mile slower or more if I am going to run or I simply run another day, most of these days are typically when it’s really humid or cold- the humidity and cold put a lot of stress on your lungs to begin with. You need to listen to your body and not push it too much because an asthma attack is nothing to really joke about, I’ve had a few mini ones this past winter when I was alone in CA for a half marathon in Disneyland- it was really scary waking up in the middle of the night feeling your lungs tighten and feel like you are drowning, gasping for air.  I’ve also been there when my mom has had a full blown attack and had to go to the Emergency Room.
 I recently found myself forgetting to take my inhaler before a 12mile run into DC and then not having one in my water pack, I was so scared…I just moved up to a pace group 1 min/mi faster than I was in the previous year but I actually ended up being fine. I attribute this to the past year of training at a lot of mileage over 12 miles that built up my lung capacity.
I have yet to not take an inhaler before a race…whoops recently did that for an 8k and still made a PR! (personal record/personal best) and I didn’t race hard…man makes me wonder how I would’ve done had I actually raced it…I chose not to race that 1) because I had forgotten my inhaler 2) I had a 15mile run the next day and really wasn’t “supposed” to  do that race anyway..regardless I listened to my body & new when to slow down.
There are a great deal of elite athletes with asthma:
  • Jerome Bettis – professional football player
  • Bruce Davidson – Olympic equestrian
  • Tom Dolan, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Chris Draft – professional football player
  • Kurt Grote, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Nancy Hogshead, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Jim “Catfish” Hunter – professional baseball player
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic medalist – track
  • Bill Koch, Olympic medalist – cross-country skiing
  • Greg Louganis, Olympic medalist – diving
  • Tom Malchow, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Debbie Meyer, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Art Monk – professional football player
  • George Murray – wheelchair athlete & Boston Marathon winner
  • Robert Muzzio – decathlete
  • Dennis Rodman – professional basketball player
  • Jim Ryun, Olympic medalist – track
  • Alberto Salazar – marathon runner
  • Isaiah Thomas – professional basketball player
  • Amy VanDyken, Olympic medalist – swimming
  • Dominique Wilkins – professional basketball player

More information about exercise induced asthma:

Happy Running,

Coach Gwynne

August 19, 2011. Training Tips. Leave a comment.

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