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Relax – You’ve Got This!

Two weeks to go!  This weekend is the last long training run of the season.  Often this is the time of nerves, wondering if you can do the longest run of the season and then the RACE.  The good news is YOU’VE GOT THIS!  All of the training up to now has prepared you for this day and for May 3.  Your body is ready, now it’s time to get the mind ready and wrapped around the fact that you will be a finisher on May 3rd.


Every week we’ve progressed, either in mileage or by giving your body a recovery week to rebuild.  If you’ve been following our schedules, or any appropriate half/quarter marathon schedule, you will have the base to get to the finish.  What seemed daunting on week one is simply just another week of training now.  Perspectives have changed, bodies are stronger.  The finish line is truly within reach.

I have one more request of you for this week during your long run.  As you are somewhere in the middle of your run, take a deep breath like the kind in high school gym class or better yet a yoga cleansing breath.  Then take another one.  And THEN look around you, take it all in.  Think back on where you started, both today and 4 months ago.  Remember all the cold, snowy, early morning workouts.  Soak in the warmth of today.  Let your mind wander to the last few miles of Cap City.  Picture the last turn and how you will feel when that finish line comes into view.  Relax.  You have done the work.  Enjoy your last long run.  Race day is a celebration but the long run is too.

Congratulations on getting through what has been the roughest training season in memory!  You all have certainly earned your medal and the party that awaits on May 3rd.  We cannot wait to welcome you to the finish line!

Happy Training (and remember RELAX)!


Training Consistently Even With Inconsistent Weather!

Wow!  It’s over halfway through January already.  That means two things to me; we are in the middle of winter in Ohio AND we should be settling into our Cap City training routine.  Those two things are often at odds however, because as much as we intend to follow the training schedule it can be downright impossible to run outside when the air temperature tops out at -5 degrees!  It is possible to stick to your training and build your base even during this crazy weather!

Early consistent miles are our base for the rest of the program.  It may seem like a 2 or 3 mile run isn’t all that important, but the weekly miles are the building blocks for the longer miles later in the program.  If you only do the long runs you will be stressing your body each weekend without having enough build miles during the week.  However, this time of year with the talk of a polar vortex every other week it can be difficult or even dangerous to run outside.  Sooooo, what do we do?

First choice – run as scheduled

Obviously, if we had a choice we’d be outside running our miles in sunny warm weather or even in dark 40 degree weather.  Not always possible.  A little creativity can go a long way though.  Often the weekday miles are short enough that you can sneak them in during lunch when it is warmer.  The boss may not love that idea, so next best option is to run on a treadmill or track.  I know that a treadmill can be downright boring, but find something to keep you entertained during those miles.  It could be music, a TV show, a movie, or tune into how you feel, whatever gets you through the workout.

Second choice – shift the schedule around within reason

The schedules are set up on specific days for a reason.  However, mainly it is that I don’t want too many running days in a row when the miles get high OR when there is a speed workout involved (for the intermediate plans).  The quality workouts have not started yet, so the speed workouts are not an issue yet.  So right now, meaning January, you can adjust the weekday miles.  Don’t move a weekday workout to Sunday (the day after your long run).  Try not to cram all your runs together in a 4 day span.  You can move a workout here or there though.  If for example, you can’t run on Thursday this week you can move it to Friday.  Realize though, that you are now running the day before your long run and you may feel more tired during your long run the next day.  So take that into consideration and slow down if necessary on your long run.  If you have specific questions, email me and we can figure it out.  Sometimes we may decide that a particular workout is better left undone, while others we might want to fit in somehow.  Ask me, that’s why I’m here!

Third choice –  skip a workout  but do not make a habit of it

Sometimes you simply cannot make it happen.  That’s ok.  Truly, one or two workouts missed will not derail your training.  I’d much rather you skip a workout than try to cram 4 of them together, only to tire yourself out for the next week.  This is a progression that happens over months, not days.  Life (and weather) get in the way sometimes and that’s normal.  We all want to be working toward lifelong healthy living so we have to make our workouts work FOR us on our terms.  If you honestly cannot get your workout in, don’t sweat it as long as you don’t miss them regularly.

Bayshore_runner_lakeOn a positive note, can you tell that we are in fact gaining sunlight now?  I noticed that at 5:15pm it was still light outside!  It’s not 9pm, but we’re heading in that direction now.  My running partner at OSU Professor Greg always reminds me that on average this time of year is the coldest and once we make it through this part, it can only get better.  I personally am looking forward to those crisp April mornings and warm afternoons, so that’s what I’ll be thinking about on my treadmill tonight!  Happy training!


Courage and Celebration Cap City 2014 Training!

Cap City Runners celebrate their finish at the 10th edition in 2013

Cap City Runners celebrate their finish at the 10th edition in 2013

Late November and the winter weather is here!  Flying Feather packets are going home with happy runners and I am hearing from athletes who are ready to start training for Cap City 2014!  This time of year is sweet for the Columbus running community, as we reflect on the successes and struggles of the past year and look forward to new opportunities in 2014.  Reflecting on what makes Cap City special two “C” words popped up over and over, courage and celebration.  Both truly symbolize the past and future of Columbus’ big May race!  From it’s beginnings as “The Columbus Distance Classic” directed by John “The Penguin” Bingham,

Mascot Chase Kids with Stinger, John Bingham, David Babner, and Jenny Hadfield in 2004.

Mascot Chase Kids with Stinger, John Bingham, David Babner, and Jenny Hadfield in 2004

to our own Capital City Half and Quarter Marathon with our beloved  race director David Babner, the event has been and continues to be a celebration of courage, running, and fitness in the Capital City.  The Penguin famously believes “The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” and that still holds true today.  Cap City’s motto is “Celebrate like a Champion” and we strive to do that every day.  Every athlete is celebrated, not just for their finish but also for the courage that brought them to that first training run.  Even more we celebrate YOU for each day you choose to get up, train for what you want, and continue on with your fitness journey.

Cap City Athletes Celebrate their day in 2013.

Celebrating a strong finish at Cap City 2013

We are here to help throughout that journey.  Our schedules are posted and officially start Jan 1 with The First on the First 5k.  I hear from so many athletes that you don’t want to wait until January to get started with your training and that’s fantastic.  Training through the busy Nov/Dec holiday season actually helps minimize the stress of the season and keeps us on track with our fitness goals!  You do not need a formal training plan right now just simply get moving.

Over the next six weeks (especially over the holidays), we want you to keep moving and enjoying the active healthy lifestyle. Beginner Quarter Marathoners should be walking/running or a combination of both at least 1-2 miles continuously three times a week or more, 2 miles three times a week or more for beginner half marathoners, as of Jan 4th, 2014. If you are already doing that, keep it up!  If not, slowly build to that goal. Adding just a few extra minutes each week makes a big difference.

Try to make at least one workout per week outdoors on a hard surface like an asphalt trail.  Running and walking on the same surface as Cap City helps prepare your body for your Celebration!

I am here for you all along the way.  If you have any questions email me at  I also want to hear your Cap City stories: why you are running it, how you made the choice to do a half or quarter marathon, and great stories from previous Cap City races.  Send me your story and you might see it reappear in an upcoming blog!

Happy Thanksgiving, hope to see many of you at Flying Feather on Thursday morning.  Happy Training!

Practice Run/Race – Scioto Miles April 7!


Often dress rehearsals and scrimmages are nerve-wracking, but then the big show or game seems to come naturally.  At first glance, it doesn’t make sense but think about it for a few minutes and you’ll realize that it is because of those practice runs that the main event was so smooth.  Dress rehearsals and scrimmages share a lot of themes: participants are nervous, others are scrutinizing their every move, the clothing is new and not worn in yet, there are stops and starts, mistakes are corrected.  The kinks are worked out, problems are corrected so that when the real thing comes the players know what to do.  Something else happens too, players realize that small mistakes won’t ruin their day and they learn how to adapt and move on.  Game day and show time come naturally because the players’ bodies and minds have been through it all before, when it didn’t mean as much to them.  Running is really no different.  We call our practices, training runs, but because our sport is so physiologically driven we can’t simply go out and run a half or quarter marathon three days in a row and then go do the race!  We’d be completely wiped out.  That doesn’t mean however that runners can’t benefit from a practice race or a “lead up race” as many call them.  We can learn invaluable information about ourselves, our fitness, dealing with crowds, and so much more by putting ourselves in the race conditions.  It also helps to calm our nerves come race day because we have been there before!  Scioto Miles training series was developed precisely for this reason; to give athletes a chance to run a race in the spring before the “big” races hit.  There are 5, 10, and 15k distances so everyone should be able to find a happy distance to race.

Lead up Race Goals

Lead up races are meant to be practice runs.  They are not the main event and should be approached as such.  You are there to get something out of it and what that is exactly only you can determine.  Many times just the simple practice of running with hundreds or thousands of others can be challenging and it is nice to have done it in a practice race so you don’t panic come race day.  Race strategy can be practiced too, for example if you want to run negative splits (i.e. running the first half slower than the second half of a race) now is the time to practice that.  Running specifics like your race outfit, shoes, pre-race meal, in-race nutrition, whether you want to run with a pace group are all important and you can try something new out in a lead up race.  If it works, great, you’ve got your plan for race day.  If not, you still have time to adjust.  Even practical logistics such as how early you want to be before the gun goes off, where to park, how much to cool down, etc are important to work out now.  If you are trying to determine what pace you should be running the half or quarter, you can even figure that out in a lead up race (if you need help you can ask me).

Distance and Pace for a Lead Up Race

This question always comes up and can be controversial.  My answer goes back to your “why” for doing this lead up race.  If it is a practice of the logistics of race day and only that, then you can run a 15k 3-6 weeks,out for a half marathon and a 5 to 10k for a quarter but DO NOT RUN IT FAST.  This, not coincidentally, matches up with this weekend’s Scioto Miles.  You are still in training and if your goal is to practice your race day logistics, then you want to run the same pace you are doing your long runs.  Running a lead up race that is too long or too fast can actually hurt you on race day because you have fatigued yourself.  Once you figure out your goal for the race, be disciplined and don’t get sucked into racing your buddy.  You don’t know what her “why” is for the day!

First Timers and Anyone Who Simply Wants a Practice Run

My suggestion for first timers at the quarter is to run the 10k but run it at or slower than your normal training pace.  6 miles is the distance on your schedule this week anyway.  You are only trying to practice things like drinking on the run and which shoes work, you are not trying to run your race in your lead up!  For first time half marathoners, same applies but for the 15k.  Run the 15k, instead of the 10 miles I have on your schedule (believe me it is close enough, but if you want you can do the extra .7miles as a cool down jog!).

Pace Prediction

If you are NOT running the half or quarter for the first time, then you can run the Scioto Miles race as a pace predictor.  For half marathoners, you will want to run the 15k.  Go through this race day as you will on Cap City, same food, clothes, and preparation in the morning.  You can approach the race itself in a couple different ways.  For best pace prediction, you’ll want to give it a hard effort.  You don’t want to be struggling to cross the finish line, but you want to feel like you would not have wanted to run much more at that pace.  If that’s the case, you can best predict your half marathon pace for Cap City.  For quarter marathoners, run the 5k at a hard effort.  Same applies for you, don’t be passing out at the finish line but feel like running another mile would have been tough at that pace.  There are numerous pace predictor tools out there if you google “pace calculator.”  I have one that is a combination of several, so if you want help with this feel free to email me your times and we can figure it out together.

Another approach is to take the first couple miles easy as a warm up and then start to hit your planned race pace for Cap City.  If you are doing this, your goal isn’t to run your fastest ever 5, 10, or 15k time, but to consistently hit your quarter or half marathon pace.  If you take this approach quarter marathoners can run the 10k, but run the first 2-3 easy then try to hit your goal pace for the remainder.  For halfers, run the first 3-4 easy then hit your goal pace for the remainder.  You’ll get a good feel for the pace and how comfortable you are holding it.


The most important part of a lead up race is to make sure you are fully recovered from it AFTER the race.  If you simply ran it at training pace you can probably continue on with your normal schedule, but be aware of your body.  If you feel especially tired, take an extra day off.  If you ran it at a hard effort, then you’ll want to take the next day off completely or do some very light non-running based active recovery.  Take the next several days very light.  Don’t do speed work the following week, remember you just did speed work in race form!  You want to benefit from the lead up race, not tire yourself out before Cap City!  Note that if you are following my schedules on the Cap City website, you will probably need to switch your Saturday and Sunday this week so that the long day falls on race day (Sunday).

Pace Groups

The MIT pace team will be out pacing this weekend and since it is a loop course you can come hang out with the pacers no matter which distance you are running.  If you are considering running with a pace group for Cap City, try it out this weekend.  A note about pacers.  We are human.  We sometimes run too fast or too slow.  Our goal is ALWAYS to get you to the finish line at the time we have on our signs, but just remember the human element.  We try very hard to hit the paces as advertised, but it is wise to have your own plan.  I personally have run races with outstanding pacers and also some where the first 3 miles of a marathon were a full minute/mile faster than advertised which did NOT work with  my race plan.  When in doubt ask your pacers and also have your own plan in the back of your mind!  The MIT group is awesome and is the same group that will be there on May 4 (though probably not the exact same faces).  If you want to run a 9:39 pace this weekend then come join me!  I’m pacing the 1:30 15k group and would love to talk with you all and run with you!

Happy Training and as always, email me at with any questions

So you had a bad day?

Runners are a motivated bunch.  We run and see progress, so we run some more.  The distances go up, the times and the numbers on the scale may come down.  Life is good.  Until all of the sudden … we have a bad day.  A bad training run or an off race stops us in our tracks.  We don’t know how to deal with this because we have been cruising along in running bliss following the rules of the road and enjoying all the benefits of our healthy lifestyle.  Now what?  Some runners,myself included, freak out at first.  Knowing how to deal with a bad day or even a bad week or two will make us better runners in the end.  After many attempts at dealing with this by pouting, sulking, obsessing, or worrying I finally have found some strategies that work.  Thanks to the many coaches, friends, and family members who have helped in this process and hopefully they will help you too.

Analyze but don’t dwell.

This is a journey of ups and downs and often the downs are a better opportunity for learning and growth than the ups.  Spend some time thinking about what you perceive went wrong.  Maybe you fell short of a time goal or your arch rival beat you to the line or the run simply hurt way more than you think it should.  Try to define what exactly you were unhappy about because it is much more instructive to deal with specifics and often just defining the problem helps you move on.

Now focus on the why.  Did you go out too fast in a race?  Maybe you set a goal that was not realistic for your current fitness level or maybe you were under prepared.  Did you run too many miles or not enough?  Was the race hot, humid, cold, rainy or did you not fuel or hydrate properly?  Remember all of these factor into your performance.  There are others too: stress from the week, travel, disturbed sleep, overtraining, poor chronic nutrition and hydration, not enough rest, or the onset of an injury.  If it was something within your control, make a note of it and commit to a different approach next time.  If it was out of your control (weather, a bad plane ride to the race, or a ridiculously fit buddy) let it go.  You cannot fix what you cannot control.

Try to consider the what and the why a few days after the event, not immediately.  You want to look at your performance from a calm state not an emotional (and often tired) one.  Give yourself a few days or a week for a big run or race and then simply analyze.  Pretend you are looking at a friend’s performance and not your own.  If you can be honest with yourself the reason may be obvious.  Sometimes it is not and that’s fine.  Move on.  You’ve done the work now focus on something else.

Change your Inner Voice

Nothing good comes from obsessing about one bad workout or race.  Once you have honestly assessed your performance it is time to let it go.  Talk with other runners about things that have gone wrong for them.  You will soon realize that EVERYONE has a bad day once in a while.  I personally have a bad long run once during every marathon training season.  I’m talking BAD, like slowing to a walk hands on knees bent over wishing for a car to pick me up kind of run.  Every time.  And it’s usually not the longest one and I still worry that “if I can’t successfully complete a 16 mile run how am I supposed to do 10 more?”  Once I calm down and go through my analysis, that voice changes to “ok you’ve done this before and you struggled because it was hot, or icy,  forgot to take enough Gu, or  had two glasses of wine with dinner, whatever you’ll be fine.”  We are our own worse critic but can also be our best cheerleader too.  Remind yourself that you are putting in the time and the effort required to be successful and one rough run does not change that.  Sometimes life gets in the way and you need to have those glasses of wine with a friend the night before a long run.  It’s fine, you will still make it to the finish line.  If you struggle to improve your dialogue with yourself, practice.  Be honest with yourself but also be kind.  If you still struggle, email me.  I’m happy to be your cheerleader.

Find Perspective and Balance 

Running is a sport, a hobby, a way of life but it is not everything.  Do not allow one part of your life to overtake the rest of it.  If you are getting emotional junk that is caused by running it may be time to take a break.  As much as running or any healthy endeavor can enrich our lives, if we allow it to be the center of our lives then we have lost the point.  Rest, go to the gym, do some yoga, hike along a river bank with a buddy.  Running should be an improvement in your life, a great part of your day, but you should be able to step away from it too at times.  Reconnect with your loved ones and play a board game with your kids.  As with every part of our busy lives perspective on what is important and finding the right balance for you is key.  No one can tell you how much is too much for you and it may even change with time.  Just don’t be afraid to play with what that means for your running.  Sometimes it might be more miles and others less.  Just make sure you are getting positive feedback from your sport, both physically and emotionally.

Don’t Let One Bad Race Define You

It is said that professional athletes have short memories and the best can push their negative performances out of their minds and move on.  Those that don’t fall into the dreaded slump.  Don’t go there.  Remember Shaq putting up bricks in the NBA finals from the free throw line, just to turn it around a few days later and become a decent free throw shooter?  Ok maybe not, how about a running example.  Paula Radcliffe, arguably the most dominant female marathoner of our time, sat down on a curb during the Olympic Marathon in 2004.  Her body was spent.  If it can happen to her it can happen to anyone.  It does not define her as a runner and certainly not as a person.  She not only kept going but a little over 2 months after she WON the NYC marathon.  We are all allowed a bad day here and there, I’m just thrilled that mine aren’t broadcast in British tabloid!

from Paula Radcliffe sits down during 2004 Olympic Marathon

Laugh at Yourself

Sometimes the bad days become the best stories.  How many times can we talk about our “perfect race” until our family and friends want to tape or mouths shut?  However, a little self deprecating humor goes a long way and laughing actually helps us to get over those rough spots.  I have a group of running buddies who spent a year training and racing together and we have an infamous race day, Columbus Marathon 2007.  Each one of us had our own separate torture but to this day we repeat the stories over and over.  I had a runner waiting for me at mile 18 and he “ran” me in while in jeans and holding a coffee cup telling me all sorts of stories about who knows what just to keep my mind off my misery.  Two others had even more fun.  Somewhere in Upper Arlington my buddy decided that he wanted to take a nap and so he laid down in someone’s front yard for a few minutes.  His fiance, now wife, was there waiting and absolutely read him the riot act.  She told him that she had not given up the last few months of her life for him to just lay down!  You better believe he got running again.  He joined up with a third of our group and they jog-walked toward the finish.  At some point, some fan along the course was giving out free Jolly Ranchers.  Instead of taking one and moving on, my friend asked her for an orange one and they stood there looking through the bag … we are not even sure they make orange Jolly Ranchers!  My third friend, who actually had a good race in my book, ran the last half mile of the race backward!  He said his hamstrings hurt and the best thing he could think of to do was turn around.  Every one of us finished that marathon and have gone on to run very successful races, but that doesn’t even matter.  What does is how much fun we have reminiscing about our time together.  My only regret now, is that I wasn’t back with the other two during the orange Jolly Rancher incident!

Find yourself that support group.  Whether it’s a group of runners you train with every week, a friend you can be totally honest with, or a spouse who will put up with your talk of negative splits make sure you have support.  This is a solitary sport, but it does not have to be lonely.  Remember that if every run has a purpose then even the bad ones are making you stronger.  Learn from them, but don’t get hung up on them.  If you need an extra shot of happy, shoot me an email at  I’m always ready to be your cheerleader.  See you on the trail!

Coach Aimee

p.s. The end of the 2007 Marathon story is the best part.  As I stood sobbing, big clunky loud tears, into my coach’s puffy maroon coat I stopped for a moment to ask him “How did you do?”  His response? ‘I won.’  Won what I asked?  ‘Uh the MARATHON’  Best.Day.Ever!