Day 7: Planning for Success

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Who is racing this weekend? Who is going long and how long? Remember that “long” is relative and your weekend run should be a little longer than your weekday runs. Add 1-2 miles to make it your “long run” and unless your racing…it should be “long slow distance”!

I wanted to talk briefly about planning for race day. A lot of times our “plan” for race day is to finish upright. That’s a great plan…unless you’ve trained hard and have a specific time goal in mind… then you need a more focused plan to reach your goal.

A race plan should keep you focused on the right concepts at the right points in the race. Paces, place, and tactics should be a part of the process, but the core of a race plan should be a very short list of concepts, feelings, or mental states to focus on.

A good starting point is to think about focus words. For example: Relax, Smooth, Strong, Kick. Simple “focus words” like this direct your attention where it needs to be at the appropriate time during the race.

The Start – The key to avoid being overwhelmed in a race is to take things one step at a time and your focus should be solely on the task in front of you. Directly in front of you, meaning, at the beginning of a race you should only be thinking about the beginning of the race. Don’t stress over the later, harder points. So in a half marathon, you should first be thinking about the first 3 miles. The “relax” part. Go into a race too keyed up and worried about the end means you will probably go out too fast and burn out too quickly.

A race, when properly paced, will feel comfortable for about the first half of the distance. So the purpose of the first quarter, third, or half of your race plan should be to get you through this portion as efficiently as possible.

Fatigue starts to set in around halfway through your race. This is where you really want to focus on your plan. As you go into that “fatigue” stage, think “smooth”. Remembering your trigger words, you can maintain a high level of efficiency further into a fatigued state. Pain and suffering, though an inevitable and necessary part of running an excellent race, are also a matter of perspective. By choosing not to focus on the mounting fatigue, you can sustain an efficient running style (and conserve energy) for longer.

Grouping the entire race into first half/second half plus a kick doesn’t adequately address the difference in fatigue you feel in the late beginning or middle part of your race. It’s important to understand that your available energy and focus in the final portion of your race is strongly dependent on your mental and physical state leading up to it.  Running hard or aggressively in the first portion of the race will sap energy from the end of a race: both the “long drive” after halfway and the kick.  Hence the importance of emphasizing efficiency, relaxation, and conservation of energy and running momentum in the first half to two-thirds of the race.

As an exercise, let’s look at a list of potential focus words.

  • Relax
  • Cruise
  • Calm
  • Drive
  • Kick
  • Hard
  • Focus
  • Easy
  • Smooth
  • Loose (as in “stay loose”)
  • Efficient
  • Sprint
  • Rhythm
  • Power
  • Strong
  • Toes (as in “up on your toes” i.e. sprinting)

Each of these words bring a different feeling or mental attitude, and you can probably see how repeating one of them over and over in a race, like a mantra, would affect your attitude and mental outlook.  When you survey the range of feelings and attitudes evoked by these words, you can also understand how different focus words would be appropriate for different parts in a race. What words speak to you? Which ones can you incorporate into your race to keep you calm and strong?

The Kick – The kick at the end of the race deserves special attention, since it should always be part of your race plan.  A lot of runners only find themselves able to muster a kick when they have another runner trying to best them in the final stretch of a race.  Go ahead and accept that you will always, no matter the circumstances, sprint as fast as you can in the final few hundred meters of a race.

Follow the Plan – Do not obsess over your race plan or visual your race a dozen times over.  Sketch out your race plan the night before the race.  Look over it once before the race, perhaps right before you go warm up, to make sure you’ve got it right.  Then run the race once—in real life—and be done with it.  Regardless of whether the race goes well or poorly, learn something afterwards and then move on.

Know that making and executing a race plan is only one part of having a great race.  Even with a perfect race plan, you’re not going to have the best race of your life every time you lace up your racing shoes.  Your fitness, your health, the weather, how the race unfolds, and any number of other variables will affect your performance too.  A good race plan only enables you to showcase your fitness level—it’s not a magic mental trick to conjure up fitness or make up for a lack of training.

Pacing Plan – You have to be in a good mental state when you start your race, but you also need to have a pacing plan. Today we’re going to talk about the half marathon distance, but EVERY race from a 5K to a 10K, to a half and full marathon should be planned out according to pace.

The half marathon is raced below 10K pace, about 15 to 30 seconds slower per mile than 10K pace. On a scale of 1 to 10, the half marathon is raced around a 7. You probably know I believe that holding back at the start of a half marathon is a smart strategy; it’s very easy to go out too fast. So I’m going to talk about a “negative split” pacing plan.

When you’re planning your pacing strategy, calculate the average minute/mile “goal pace” for your race, then start up to 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than goal pace for up to the first 3 miles of the race. Gradually ease into goal pace for the next 7 miles or so. At mile 10, slowly increase to faster than goal pace for the final 3 miles of the race.

Fuel Plan – If not done properly, fueling and hydrating can have a negative impact on the outcome of a half marathon. Aim for 150 to 200 calories per hour. You’ll have to figure out in training the exact number of calories you need.

These calories can come through a combination of drink—water and/or sports drink—and food including gels, bars and chews. Trial and error during training will help nail down a hydration/nutrition strategy that works best. Once you know what works, stick to it on race day. Many athletes get so caught up in the excitement of the race they neglect their food and water intake.

Final note:  “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The key to racing well is to be prepared both physically and mentally. Have a plan, and stick to it as best you can.

If you’re racing this weekend, I would love to see your plan! Write it down or type it up, then send me a copy by PM. Let’s chat about how to make the plan work for you so you can turn your “wish” into a reality on race day!

That was a lot…thanks for reading! I hope it sinks in with everyone…no matter what distance you are training for. Remember that every race, from a 5K to a marathon, to an ultra marathon, needs a race plan to be successful!

Now on to our Day 7 exercises. 🙂

Day 7 exercises: 2 sets of 10 – Arms & Core

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Lunge Stance + Single Arm Press
  • Kettle Ball / Dumbbell Swing
  • Plank Ups
  • Tricep Dips


  • Ab Challenge – 20 Crunches, 20 Dead Bugs, 20 Heel Touches
  • Jump Rope – 200
  • Burpees – 10

Bonus: #NoJunkFoodChallenge – As we lead into the weekend on Friday, it is important to think about our goals and where we want to be health and weight wise. A lot of us tend to falter on the weekends, so today we are going to kick off the weekend right with our #NoJunkFoodChallenge! Who’s in? 


We have an exciting weekend coming up with lots of racing, long runs and fun time with family. Every weekend, you should have a goal. Whether it’s a small stepping stone goal, like a long run, or a big race goal…plan now how you will make it happen because without a plan…your goal is just a wish!

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Day 30: Finish Line Ahead..Speed Up!

dont slow downTime for the final sprint! The finish line is right there…you can reach out and touch it. Don’t slow down…speed up and finish strong!

Finishing strong today means giving it a little more than you think you have left…pushing a little harder than you’ve done all month…even though you are tired, sore, and just ready for it to be over.

Find that final gear, dial in…and cross the finish line with your hands high!

Day 30 exercises: Long Run + Planks (:30 – 1 min 2X) + 7 Key Stretches for Runners

What is your long run today? Maybe it’s a 5K…maybe it’s 5, 10, 15 or even 20 miles! Whatever is on your schedule…go out and rock it today Core Crew! Then knock out that core work, stretch and get ready for May! 🙂


Day 29: Final Strength Day..Push Hard!

Dont always lift heavy weights

It’s Friday…Day 29 and our final strength day for April! We rested yesterday and it’s time to push hard and lift some heavy weights!

Don’t skimp out today…give it all you’ve got and finish strong!

Day 29 exercises:

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Bicep Curl + Overhead Press – 4 sets of 15
  • Front Arm Raise – 4 sets of 15
  • Side Arm Raise – 4 sets of 15
  • Planks – :30 – 1 min (2X)
  • 150 Crunches

You’ve been doing crunches every single day so these 150 are not going to be difficult. Don’t let the number scare you…get started!

Bonus: #SlenderSexyArmsSlender sexy arms

Bringing back one of my favorites! We haven’t done this one in a little while so go at it hard…3 rounds today would be awesome! Put one in between each of Day 29 exercises.  🙂

If you haven’t gotten much running in this week..go out and log some slow miles but keep it short then stretch because we are going long tomorrow or Sunday.

That’s all for today Core Crew….dig deep, lift heavy, and make it a great day! 🙂

Day 27: Easy to Eat…Hard to Burn!

Every drop of sweatRemember how yummy that dinner was last night? Time to work it off Core Crew!

Let every drop of sweat remind you how hard it is to burn off the calories…then don’t ruin it by eating crap!

One day at a time…one meal at a time…baby steps. When you go to reach for crap…think about all those crunches you did today…and WALK AWAY! 🙂

Day 27 exercises:

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Frog Sit Ups – 4 sets of 15
  • Oblique Crunches – 4 sets of 15
  • Reverse Crunches – 4 sets of 15
  • Plank – :30 – 1 min (2X)
  • 100 Crunches – 4 sets of 25
  • Ab Stretches – see below

Bonus: #FlabToFab flab to fab

This bonus is SO doable! Find an extra 15 minutes and get it done! I want to see lots of posts with #FlabToFab today!

Speed Work: I see some people getting their speed work done…but not many. Huge props to Jennifer and Marion for knocking it out! Who else up for a little speed today?

Warm up then get ready for 6 – 10 sets of 200 meter sprints. That’s just over one tenth of a mile. YOU CAN DO THIS! Stop thinking about it…just go do it!

If you need a reminder of how to do it…or how fast you should be going for that .12 mile click here.

Just go do it.. don’t make me come find you and drag some speed out of you! 😉

Stretch Core Crew!! Here’s our 7 Key Stretches for Runners. Give those muscles some love!

Let’s get over the hump and get closer to the weekend. One day at a time y’all…only 3 more days in our April Challenge…finish strong!

Ab Stretches:




Day 26: Stop Comparing…Love Yourself!

Love Yourself

We are all walking around with all these spot-checking body “shoulds” running on infinite repeat in the back of our heads. Stuff like “I should have arms that don’t jiggle”, or “I should have thinner ankles“, or “I should have a flatter stomach” — why?

Why “should” we have or be any of those things? The word “should” is really important to think about here.

The definition of “should” is “used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.” It’s a term that relates to what we believe to be our goals, and whether or not we are living up to them. But what goals do we actually fulfill by attempting to obtain arms that look like someone else’s arms, arms that might not be possible for our individual bodies to have? And what obligation are we really under to not have arms that move?

The key here is to stop looking at your body with the media messaging in mind. Why assume that once you start getting stronger and losing body fat, your arms would get slimmer…they won’t.  Instead, they’ll get firmer.

Your arms will bear the marks of the work you put in…not just in the way they look, but also in their capabilities. It’s enlightening to know that your body may not works in such a way that you’ll have slender, Jennifer Aniston-type arms. The way your body works, the way any of our individual bodies work is all that’s important.

Stop comparing yourself to others…because that’s not the way you “should” look. Figure out what works for your body….and love yourself.

Day 26 exercises:

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Tricep Overhead Extensions – 4 sets of 15
  • Tricep Dips – 4 sets of 15
  • Tricep Swings – 4 sets of 15
  • Plank – :30 – 1 min (2X)
  • 100 Crunches

Bonus: #TankTopArms Tank Top Arms

How our arms look in a tank top won’t be the way someone else looks in a tank top. But you can look fabulous in your own way. Get stronger and find your fabulous!

Speed Work: This week’s speed work is 6-10X 200 meters

  • Start with six to 10 200-meter repeats at a one-mile to 5-K pace (or an 8 or 9 on an exertion scale of 1 to 10), with a 200-meter jog in between.
  • 200-meter intervals should be run at 12% faster than your 5K pace.

Here’s another way to think about it. 200 meters is .12 mile so just over one tenth of a mile. Take your current 1 mile average time…then divide that by ten. So if you run a 10 min mile…your .12 mile is probably just over 1 min. For a 10 min mile, this speed work should be done FASTER than your mile time so someone who runs a 10 min mile should be running a 200 meter sprint in under 1 min. Make sense?

Another example: If you run a 12 min mile…your .12 time is about 1:20 give or take a few seconds….so you should be running this 200 meter sprint FASTER then 1:20.

Remember to get in about a mile warm up and a mile cool down…and if you do 10X 200 meter sprints…that’s another mile. All in all your speed work consists of about 3 miles…2 miles slow….1 mile fast. This is a quick workout so it’s over before you know it and should be your shortest workout of the week. Questions? Please reach out to me…I will be happy to help you find the times which are right for you.

Stretch out your arms and legs after these workouts! Your muscles are working hard and deserve to be pampered. Here are our 7 Stretches for Runners and our arm stretches are below.

Our body will never look like someone else’s. Stop comparing! We work out to get healthier and stronger…not to look like someone else. Remind yourself why you push so hard and love yourself for giving it all you’ve got!

Arm Stretches:





Day 25: It’s Thigh Time!

thunder thighsWe do not work our thighs to make them thinner…we work our thighs to make them stronger!

Running might be considered a cardiovascular exercise…but strong runners use strength to run longer…and faster. Don’t think The Terminator kind of strong, think Karate Kid…Mr. Miyagi strong.  Whole body, stabilizing, balance-on-one-leg kind-of-strong. After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest point.

If your weakest point is your thighs…today is for you.

Day 25 exercises:

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Bridge with Inner Thigh Squeeze (use a pillow) – 4 sets of 15
  • Inner Thigh Leg Lift – 4 sets of 15
  • Side Step with Squat – 4 sets of 15
  • Planks – :30 – 1 Min (2X)
  • 100 Crunches

Plie Squat HoldBonus: Plie Squat Hold

The key to this bonus exercise will be holding the pie squat position. Feel those thighs burn and count for 10 seconds then do it again. Bonus is 2 rounds of 10.

Speed Work:

“I’m running my first half or full marathon, so I’m focused only on building distance.”

According to Runner’s World, this statement is

“the bane of many first-time marathoners: Near the end of a long run (or the actual race), they run out of fuel and their form falls apart. Fast repeats teach your body what it feels like to have a light, quick turnover—a biomechanical efficiency applicable to any speed or distance, says St. Pierre. Quick repeats also strengthen seldom-used “fast-twitch” muscles so they can be called upon when your other muscles are trashed at the end of a long race, he adds. And the workouts improve running economy, teaching the heart to pump more blood per minute and deliver oxygen to the muscles more efficiently, so that slow runs feel easier.”

Whether you’re training for a 5K or a Marathon….runners who add speed work to their routine will benefit from faster times and increased endurance!

We are shortening our speed work this week to 200 meters (.12 miles or half way around a track). If you can’t get to a track…just use your GPS watch to calculate the .12 mile distance. It doesn’t have to be exact…but keep it close.

  • Start with six to 10 200-meter repeats at a one-mile to 5-K pace (or an 8 or 9 on an exertion scale of 1 to 10), with a 200-meter jog in between.
  • 200-meter intervals should be run at 12% faster than your 5K pace.

To do this workout it would be helpful to know your current 5K time. If you haven’t ran a 5K recently…use the exertion scale…on a scale from 1-10…you should be running at an 8-9. This means you should be pretty much giving it all you’ve got for about 1 minute.

The beauty of this workout is that it’s over very quick! Your lungs may be on fire afterward, but you’ll recover soon enough. Since this is the first week of this workout…make a note of your 200 meter times. Write it down…and let’s see how we can progress over the next few weeks.

Give it your best shot. This is a tough workout but it is doable…remember it will be over quick! It is important to warm up and cool down before and after every speed workout. Give yourself a good mile warm up…or at least 10 min and a similar cool down.

Other than your speed work…you should be focusing on “time on legs”. Remember that the key to success for any runner is putting in the miles. Work on getting your base weekly mileage up so you’re ready for those upcoming races. What is a good weekly base? 15-20 miles a week is perfect. How many miles a week are you logging?

After it’s all said and done…it’s time to stretch! Here’s our 7 Key Stretches for Runners.

It’s Monday so let’s start the week right and give it all we’ve got and make it a great day! 🙂

Days 23 & 24: It’s Simple…Go RUN!

log off shut down go run mamavation-MondayWondering what you should do today?

It’s simple. Log Off. Shut Down. Go Run!!

Doesn’t matter how far or how fast…in fact I WANT you to go slow! But I also want you to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Whatever that means to you… 1 mile, ten miles, 20 miles…log off now and gNever regret runningo run!

Day 23 exercises: Long Run + Planks (:30 – 1 min 2X) + 7 Key Stretches for Runners 

Some people prefer to get their long run in on Sunday and that’s cool….switch it up and get your Day 24 exercises knocked out today then go long tomorrow! 🙂

Roses are red


Recap: What’s the message this weekend??

GO FOR A RUN! A long one! 🙂



Day 24 exercises: Abs

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Stability Ball Crunch – 4 sets of 15
  • Lying Leg Raise – 4 sets of 15
  • Dumbbell Side Bend – 4 sets of 15
  • Planks – :30 – 1 min (2X)
  • 100 Crunches
  • Ab Stretches – See below

love Burpees

Bonus: Did someone say Burpees??

Oh yea!! Let’s get it y’all! 4 rounds of 10 burpees! 1 set  in between each round of abs. You CAN do this!!! Get it done and tag your post with #LoveBurpees!

Ready for a fantastic, active weekend? Make it great and remember…

Its simple just go run

Ab Stretches:



Day 22: Last Step Up

step up2

The final days of our April Challenge are before us and once again it’s time to step up our game.

4 sets of arms today…15 reps each and 100 crunches. Do not rush through this. Take your time…focus on using correct form and making each move strong.

Day 22 exercises: “How to” videos

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Bicep Curl + Overhead Press – 4 sets of 15
  • Front Arm Raise – 4 sets of 15
  • Side Arm Raise – 4 sets of 15
  • Plank – :30 – 1 min (2X)
  • 100 Crunches

No bonus again today since these 4 sets will take a little time and I don’t want you to rush through them. And no bonus means maybe you’ll have enough time for a short shake out run before this weekend’s long runs or races. If you are running today…think short and easy. Don’t push too hard before your long run! 30-45 min at conversation pace.

Do make time to stretch it out today too. Here are our 7 Key Stretches for Runners and our arm stretches are below.

Virtual Race: Still plenty of time to sign up for the Make It Count Virtual race. If you’d like to sign up and make your miles count for Runwell and those suffering from addiction, click here for more info.

Who racing this weekend? Who’s going long? Let us know so we can cheer you on!

When you’re done..don’t forget to post and let us all know you got it done with #StepItUp then make it a great Friday Core Crew! 🙂

Arm Stretches:

Day 21: Fogged Brain Leg Day

Day 21: Fog brain right now y’all….cause I got into the Chicago Marathon!!! So excited!! 🎉👣👟🏃🏻😃

How about no bonus or extras today. Just day 21 and get your run in. 😊

Day 21
– 50 Jumping Jacks
– Squat Jacks – 3 sets of 15
– Curtsey Squats – 3 sets of 15
– Cossack Squats – 3 sets of 15
– Plank :30 – 1 min (2x)
– 75 Crunches 

Then Go Run! 🏃🏻😃

Day 20: Go Hard or Go Home

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.16.09 AMWhat are we doing today? You got it…Crunching it out for some killer abs!

I don’t know anyone who loves crunches…but we’re doing them everyday because summer is around the corner and we all want to look nice in our bathing suits. Let’s get rid of the muffin top and get those nice toned abs we all crave!

Day 20: “How to” videos

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • Frog Sit ups – 3 sets of 15
  • Oblique Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Reverse Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Plank – :30-1 min (2X)
  • 75 Crunches
  • Ab stretches – These will feel really good today so don’t skip them!

210 varios crunches today…I think that’s enough don’t you? 😉

Bonus: Dead Bugs and Bird Dogs – These exercises will give you a little extra core work today and are very similar to each other except they are switched around. Knock out 3 sets of 10 each for your bonus today. Here’s how to do them.

Other stuff on the agenda…running drills and speed work.

Running Drill: Running Backwards – Strengthen your glutes and hamstring with this drill. It feels awkward but it will help you build strength.

How: Although it will seem awkward at first, try to replicate your forward running motion while moving backward. You’ll still be pushing off of your forefoot and swinging you arms, but you’ll be lunging backward with your hamstrings and using core muscles to stabilize differently than you’re used to while moving forward. Focus on form, not on speed. Do two or four reps of 50 to 100 meters.

Why do we do running drills? Lots of reasons…build strength, improve form, increase cadence.

A lot of our running drills will help you improve your cadence. What is cadence?

Cadence – Stride rate, number of steps per minute or leg turnover. Efficient runners tend to have stride rates of about 180 steps per minute. Increasing stride rate usually means shortening your stride so that you are running the same pace while maintaining a faster cadence.

Cadence is a critical part of running, lowering the stress on ankles, knees, & feet, improving running economy, reducing injury rates, and enhancing running form. Simply…Cadence is how often your feet touch the ground and it’s easy to modify.

Increasing your cadence will help you run faster and more efficiently and it will also help you avoid injuryy. There’s been lots of talk over the last fews years about heel striking and don’t worry…if you are a heel striker…you are not alone. Consider the results of a study done by Pete Larson at the 2009 Manchester City Marathon. Using a high speed camera, Larson filmed runners at the 10km and 32km points of the race, and later classified them according to their foot strike.

At the 10K mark, his results for 936 runners were as follows:

Heel strike: 88.9%; midfoot: 3.4%; forefoot: 1.8%; asymmetrical 5.9%

88.9% heel strikers! Good news! Experts now agree that heel striking alone is not the problem. Instead of it being all about landing on the heel…experts now say “running efficiency is not so much a question of what part of the foot touches the ground first, but how close initial contact is to underneath the hips, i.e. your centre of mass.” In other words, a heel strike that lands close to the hips and on a bent knee causes no significant over-braking or over-loading to the knee.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.46.52 AMWe’ve all heard of Meb, who is a classic example of a a runner with a “good heel strike”. American long distance specialist Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi, silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics men’s marathon, winner of the 2009 New York City Marathon, 4th place in the 2012 Olympics.

You can see him here landing on his heel…but you can also see how his knee is bent and his foot lands closer to his body…not straight out in front of him.

What does this mean for us? It means that you shouldn’t worry so much about how your foot lands…but about where your foot lands in reference to your body. Increasing your cadence will force you to pull your landing leg back and closer to the center of your body.

Try this Running Turnover Drill during your runs this week and let us know what you find. Don’t try this while doing your speed work…pick a different run.

Turnover Drill: Find and improve your cadence

  1. Slowly jog about half to three-quarters of a mile.
  2. Begin to run at your normal pace. Once you’ve hit your stride, start your stopwatch, and for :15 count the times your right foot pushes off. Multiply by four. That’s your turnover rate.
  3. Jog a bit more at slow speed, and then repeat Step 2, trying to increase the number of footfalls per minute by two to five.
  4. Repeat up to four more times, trying to increase your footfalls every time. Stop increasing the number of footfalls when you’re not running comfortably anymore.

Speed Work: We are still working on our 1/4 mile repeats. IIP – Introduce, Improve, Perfect. Find this week’s speed work and the pace you should be running here.

When it’s all said and done…don’t forget to stretch!

That’s all for today Core Crew. Keep inspiring each other and yourself to do a little more than you thought you were capable of. Get out of your comfort zone and make it a great Hump Day! 🙂

Ab Stretches and 7 Key Stretches for Runners: