Tag Archives: goals

Reflection on my 2015 Racing Year and Planning for 2016

2015 represents the second half of a comeback. I had a stellar year in 2013. I ran many excellent races and scored several personal records (PRs). At the end of 2013, however I had a knee issue that caused me to take a month off. In February of 2014, I suffered a concussion after being hit by a car as I rode my bike. My head healed, but I had a long way to go to regain my fitness. I finished the year by qualifying for Boston (BQ) one more time, this time in Savannah. It was 10 minutes slower than my marathon PR, but I was back in BQ shape.

That sets the stage for 2015. I had 4 goal races this year. As always, I had a few surprises along the way, but the year turned out to be very productive.

Goal Race 1: Boston MarathonBoston 2015

I ran my first Boston in 2014 and it was a disaster. With this in mind, my “A Goal” was to run fast enough to qualify for Boston 2016. All I really wanted out of the 2015 race, however, was to have a solid run of which I could be proud. Both of those goals were met! I felt strong early. I struggled with Heartbreak Hill, but I knew I was strong enough to meet my A goal. That made the pain of the hills much easier to take. I finished strong and qualified for 2016 with a 3:23:39. That is 1 minute and 21 seconds faster than the qualifying time for my age group.

Goal Race 2: USA Track & Field Master Outdoor Championship

One of my long-term goals is to move towards a 2:00 performance in the 800 meter run. I had run a 2:23 in 2014 and I was hoping to take 10 seconds off at this track meet. I did not succeed. In fact, I started exactly on target pace but I ran out of steam in the second lap. Looking back, I know I did not do enough training specifically for this race. Lesson learned. The experience was worth it. I’ll be back.

Goal race 3: Challenge Cedar Point Full Iron Distance Triathlon

This was my first full Ironman-distance event. That is 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles on the bike, and a full 26.2 mile marathon. Inspired by my wife’s Ironman performance in 2014, my goal was to finish with 26.2 miles of smiles. I survived the swim even though Lake Erie was getting pretty choppy towards the end. The bike is my biggest weakness. I am still new to cycling and it showed. Still, my goal was to end with a smile. So I took it easy and stopped a lot. By the time I finally got to the run, I was tired, but happy. I met my goal by smiling, talking, laughing, and showing my gratitude to volunteers along the way. 13:59:43. I will do it again, but not in 2016.

Goal Race 4: Savannah Marathon (and Sequoyah Marathon)

I believed that I had done the right training to be prepared to set a new personal record in the marathon in Savannah if the weather was just right. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. It was extremely humid and very warm. I had shed my shirt at the second mile marker. I had given up on a PR before mile 5. I pushed hard and was beginning to fade when the race was cut short. They did not allow me or anyone left on the course to complete the full race. It was hot. Two runners eventually died from the effects of heat.

So… my wife, Muna, and I decide that we would take advantage of our training by running the Seqouyah Marathon at Pinson Mounds three weeks later. The Sequoyah is a 9-loop course and that loop has very little elevation. More importantly, the weather was perfect during my run. It was cool and there was only a very light mist of rain during my race. I was right about being in PR shape. Finishing in 3:08:32, I had beaten my previous PR by over 4 minutes. A great end to a productive year.

Tentative Plans for 2016

I will run many races in 2016, but I will have only 4 key events around which my year is planned:

  • Knoxville Marathon (April)
  • USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championship (July)
  • Richmond Olympic Triathlon (October)
  • Savannah Half Marathon (November)

My training plan for the year will have 8 distinct phases, each with a slightly different purpose and training focus:

  • Light Triathlon Cycle 1
  • Run Cycle 1 (ends with Knoxville Marathon)
  • Light Triathlon Cycle 2
  • Medium Triathlon Cycle1 (Ends with USATF Masters Outdoor Championship)
  • Medium Triathon Cycle 2
  • Peak Triathlon Cycle (Ends with Richmond Olympic Triathlon)
  • Peak Run Cycle (Ends with Savannah Half Marathon)
  • Off-season Recover and Rebuild

The plan has balance. Yes, I am running during every phase. What is changing is the number of miles I will run, the number of days I run each week, and the specific purpose and intensity of the running. The plan includes strategically timed strength training and cross-training. It includes periodic tapering and recovery to stay healthy. It gradually builds my fitness level over the entire year before easing up in the off season.

Enjoy the run!
P. Mark


Reflection on Winning a Marathon

I won a marathon last week: The Sequoyah Marathon at Pinson Mounds 2015.  http://runitfast.com/sequoyah-marathon-half-marathon-5k-10k/Sequoyah Marathon 2015 with plaque and medal

On one hand, I want to say it is no big deal. After all, it is a very small marathon (20 finishers) and the course is not certified. On the other hand, the course was still 26.2 miles long and I was first across the finish line.

On one hand, my finishing time of 3:08:32 would not even put me in the top 100 in my age group at a huge marathon like New York or Chicago. On the other hand, it was a big PR (personal record) for me by over 4 minutes.

Does this make the victory smaller? On the one hand, it is a very small win because I could have jogged it in and still won. I had no top-end competition. On the other hand, however, that might be taken as an insult by the other marathon finishers. Each gave what they had on that day. They certainly deserve my respect.

How do I celebrate this? Believe it or not, I have wrestled with this question quite a bit.

The final decision: I won a marathon. Everyone out there was competing with themselves. Blood, sweat, and tears. We gave it our all and I finished first. No dilemma. Congratulations to all who toed the start line. You rock!

In the end, I chose to officially make the claim on Facebook and Twitter: “I won a marathon.” Then I posted the results to let people see that the number of runners was small. Let them wrestle with it. We all gave are all. We deserve what we earned.

Special shout-out to two runners near and dear to my heart:

  • My wife Muna was third overall female!  Woohoo!
  • My friend Jennifer ran over 23 miles that day, her farthest run by a long shot. Great progress!

I will write another post about how I made such a big PR. For now, here are the final results of The Sequoyah Marathon:

1 P Mark Taylor 48 M 1 3:08:32
2 Francesca Muccini 48 F 1 3:49:42
3 Mike Samuelson 50 M 2 3:52:17
4 Nathan Wilson 42 M 3 3:53:00
5 Amy Frederick 30 F 2 3:54:13
6 Muna Rodriguez-Taylor 38 F 3 3:57:05
7 Kevin Gerteisen 47 M 4 4:06:46
8 Marylou Corino 37 F 4 4:30:44
9 David Nichols 54 M 5 4:30:44
10 Halbert Walston 41 M 6 4:53:02
11 Marjorie Mitchell 54 F 5 4:56:07
12 Leanne Goodwin 35 F 6 4:59:48
13 Erin Goetz 28 F 7 5:09:40
14 Joseph Montgomery 56 M 7 5:10:17
15 Kendra Schoffstall 52 F 8 5:15:52
16 David Essary 34 M 8 5:25:18
17 John Leighton 55 M 9 5:31:31
18 Amanda Staggs 30 F 9 5:39:11
19 Wesley Hardacre 35 M 10 5:53:17
20 Mark Parrotte 58 M 11 5:59:15



Next Level Nutrition: The Food is Fuel Mindset

“You are what you eat.”
“You can’t outrun or outwork poor nutrition.”

Going to the Next Level

I have searched for years and I finally found it.  I have found the combination of running workouts to maximize the benefits of training.  I know how to train to get faster while putting the least amount of stress on my body.  That is awesome.  I could not be happier!

Still, I have this black cloud that is hanging over my head.  I know that to reach my full potential in the next level of running performance, I have to eat and drink wisely.  Unfortunately, I am guilty of the high crime of eating what I feel like eating.  Sometimes that means I am eating very healthy food.  Sometimes that means I eat junk.  It is a crime against me and my goals.

Why so negative?  Is this really a crime?  What about happiness?

If I had no goals for my health, eating what I feel like eating would be good enough.
If I had no goals for my running, eating what I feel like would be good enough.
…but I do have goals.  I have BIG goals.  The crime is that I am hurting my health and my progress towards goals.cupcakes

The Food Failure Mindset

The unhealthy mindset thinks of food and drink as something emotional.  It is a reward for being good.  It is feeling cleverly sneaky while we “cheat” our healthy diet.  We eat because we want to elicit some specific emotional response (happiness, relief, …) or to avoid feeling emotions (frustration, sorrow, shame, …).

These brief moments of “positive” emotions only last as long as the food or drink lasts.  Does it work?  For a moment.  The pain, frustration, sorrow, resurface as the effects of the indulgence wears off.  Then comes the shame and self-loathing.  So did it make you feel better in the long run?  No.

Even if it is a real hunger that we have, we must remember that cravings are for nutrients, not for junk.  You may feel like you want the entire box of ice cream, but your body is craving calcium and or calories.  If you are skipping meals, your body will not have what it needs.  Of course you will start craving!

Whether your cravings are for real nutrition or for emotional relief, eating what you feel like eating is almost always a road that leads to frustration and shame.  You steal the progress you could be making.  You steal your health.  You steal your own joy.  That is the crime.  In this mindset, you end up both the perpetrator and the victim.

The Food as Fuel Mindset

What food and drink ARE NOT:

  • Food and drink are not rewards.
  • Food and drink are not escapes.
  • Food and drink are not quick fixes for emotional problems.

What food and drink ARE:

  • Food and drink are fuel for a healthy body.
  • Food and drink are long-term fixes for long-term health problems.
  • Food and drink are tools to use towards your goals.

Eating wisely takes a lot of thought and preparation long before the meal or snack.  If you want to get to the next level of running performance and health, you must plan and follow through.

Although I have tried to eat well, my journey of meal planning and preparation is just beginning.  It is my next step to getting to the next level.  As my personal meal and snack planning adventure unfolds, I will blog about it here to let you know what is working for me.  Stay tuned!  :)

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor



Meet My Personal Trainer: Muna Rodriguez

Why do I have a personal trainer if I am already an expert in my sport of choice?  Good question!

I have made so much progress in the last 4 years.

  • I have gone from an occasional runner, to a racer, to often winning my age group.
  • I have gone from barely finishing a marathon to qualifying for Boston by more than 11 minutes.
  • I have gone from unhealthy eating habits to a very healthy lifestyle.
  • I have published two books on running.  (well, the 2nd one will be out soon!)

Why would I seek help?  Because I am smart.

Michael Jordan had team coaches AND a personal coach even when he was clearly the best player in the game.  He wanted to work on his weaknesses.  He wanted to turn his weaknesses into strengths and elevate the level of his existing strengths.  The same is true with many people at the top of their sports.  Peyton and Eli Manning hired a special coach this summer to sharpen their skills as quarterbacks even though they are proven winners. Top golfers have coaches to improve their swings and caddies to help them to the next level.

Me too.  I want help getting to the next level.

I pay attention to the advice of two particular dieticians because I want my body and mind to be the best they can be.  I read the books of other running experts to gain additional insights, add to my own understanding, and improve myself as a runner and a running expert.

I am now listening to the advice of a personal trainer, Muna Rodriguez.

Muna understands a lot of important things that help people at all levels of fitness.

me and muna 8_18_2013

  • Muna understands what is like to be very out of shape.  She struggled with her weight as well as having a few bad habits that hurt her health.
  • Muna understands what it is like to improve.  Over time, she lost the extra weight and gradually became a competitive athlete as well as a well-respected personal trainer and fitness instructor.
  • Muna understand how to coach others into fitness.  As a personal trainer, she holds many different types of certifications and continues to educate herself.  She has helped many people to improve the next level of fitness.

There is more to say, but the most important thing to know is that I trust her expertise.  She is an excellent personal trainer.  She knows how to find an individuals weaknesses and how to overcome those weaknesses.

I know.  Since I started working with her, Muna has pointed out several weak spots in my overall fitness.  I am just at the beginning of this phase of my journey, but I am looking forward to making it to the next level as a runner because Muna is challenging me in ways that will help me become even stronger and faster.

I have my sights set on several state age-group records.  By identifying my weaknesses, and helping me to turn them into strengths, Muna is going to help me get to that next level.

As always, I will share with you what I have learned and the stories behind my progress.

Muna Rodriguez will also begin to share her stories and advice on this web site. 

Feel free to ask a question of Muna and/or me any time.  We are coaches and fellow runners.  We love this stuff, but we also know what it means to struggle.   We want to help you meet your goals.  :)

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

wise running logo 7_25_12

Enjoying Running: Run the Mile You Are In

garmin 2005I have heard it said from many sources for the last 3 years, “Run the mile you are in.”  When I first started hearing that, it did not mean anything to me.  My first thought was, “I have no choice!  I can’t run a mile that I am not in!”

I first began to understand this mantra better when I my Garmin 205 GPS watch broke.  When I started back into running in 2009, I was wearing a simple $15 stopwatch.  As I got more serious about competing, however, I wanted to watch my pace more carefully.  At that point, I bumped up to a Nike Plus wristband with a footpod sensor.  This was not as accurate as I need, so I bought the Garmin 205.  It could display 3 screens which could display 4 pieces of information each.  The numbers that I would watch closely during training and/or a race included current pace, pace of the current mile, and the average pace for the run.  Data is good, but I gradually became more and more obsessive about maintaining exact paces.  Perhaps this might be okay on a perfectly flat course, with a perfectly consistent life, and perfectly consistent nutrition.  My life, however, is not that perfect.  I live in East Tennessee (ridges!), eat imperfectly, and have a normal imperfect and unpredictable life.  Hence, exact, precise, predictable paces are a not going to happen.

Worse yet is the worry about the past and future miles.  In mile 20 of a marathon, I would be calculating what my average pace would have to be to reach certain goals.  This is not relaxing!  More stress and less focus add up to a slower pace.  Another scenario is the long run.  If you are struggling with a long run, thinking about the miles ahead is not going to help you relax and enjoy the run.

Thankfully, my Garmin 205 suffered a horrible accident and shattered.  I replaced it with a Garmin 110.  The Garmin 110 is just as accurate, but it does not display the current pace and overall pace.  I can only see the total distance run, the time elapsed for the whole run so far, and the pace of the current mile.  My stress level during runs has reduced significantly.  I am much better at enjoying the run when my only info and focus is on the current mile.  I am not trying to be exact, but I am aiming for a pace zone based on my goal for the day and the lay of the land I am running.  If I am in a hilly mile, I will give myself extra time for that mile.  If it is mostly downhill, I will speed it up.

Beyond the pace, I have also learned that this focus on the mile you are in does wonders for my mindset on a long run.  I do not waste time figuring out how much I have left.  That is a drag.  I do not worry about how tired I am and how far there is to go, I only worry about the mile that I am currently running.  This short-term outlook allows me to relax and to not focus on the pain of the coming miles.  I simply finish the mile I am in and then start a new one.

This has helped my overall mindset and does especially well for me in the marathon.  In the final miles, I try not to set goals based on my expectations for the day.  I have learned instead to set my goals on the run.  As I finish mile 21, I am setting my goal for my 22 based on how I feel.  I ask myself, “What is the best mile that I can run without cramping and getting injured?”  I can then check my Garmin periodically to see how I am doing versus how I am feeling.  This is so much more relaxing than the constant ongoing multiple forms of analysis that I used to go through.

Remember this!

Relaxing and enjoying the run leads to better performance.
Focus on running the mile you are in.
Not the miles before. Not the miles after.

Train hard, eat well, & enjoy the run!


The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book.

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99


A Word to the Newbie Runner

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
                                                              –   George Sheehan

I recently sent out a message on Twitter asking what questions my fellow runners had.  I received a few interesting topics that I will blog about, but this one struck me.  The tweet from Tricia was this:

 @Wise_Running “what i want to know is how to start from scratch at 40yr old woman”

I followed up by asking, “When is the last time you ran 1 mile?  2 miles?  more?”

Tricia responded, “ummm….. college 20 yrs ago :0) I walk couple miles day and elliptical – I really did mean from scratch (correct shoes etc)”.

Wow!  That is a big request.  Moreover, this is an absolutely critical juncture for Tricia.  She wants to transition from a walker to a runner.  Her experience in the next month or two will determine whether she likes running or not.  No pressure, right?

So here it is.  This blog post is for all of the newbie runners out there.


Step 1:  Realize Who You Are

You become a runner when you take that first bouncy step, that first longer stride.  You don’t have to be fast.  You don’t have to run forever.  If you start running, you are a runner.  Welcome to the club. :)

Step 2:  Get Good Shoes

Running can feel torturous if you have the wrong shoes.  Do not begin any serious attempt at running until you have shoes designed for running.  Everyone has different needs, but I will not leave it at that.  Go to your nearest running store.  Do not go to a sporting goods store, a department store, or a discount store.  Go to your nearest running store.  The workers there run.  They are runners.  They want you to enjoy running and they have a way of analyzing your needs and helping you select a good shoe to get you started.  You can go discount or online AFTER you have found your good running shoes.  For the first round, have the experts help you choose and reward them for their effort by buying the shoes from their store.

What other running gear do you actually need?  Not much.  There are many kinds of clothing and accessories available, but if you are just beginning there is no need to get it all.  Let your needs arise and inform your purchases.  If the weather is nice, all you need is shorts, a t-shirt, and supportive undergarments.  As your needs become clear, your local running store can steer you the right direction on the gear that address these needs.

Step 3:  Set a Goal

If you aim for nothing, you are bound to achieve that.  You have to determine a goal before you can decide how to proceed.  A good goal is specific, measurable, & just a step or two ahead of where you are today.  If you have not been exercising at all, your goal will be much lower than the newbie runner who has been seriously walking, using the elliptical machine, or doing aerobics.  If you have lived a sedentary lifestyle, I strongly urge you to become a walker first and gradually graduate to becoming a runner.  If you have been vigorously exercising, then you may be more prepared than you think.  If that is the case, then plan for your first 5k.

Important Note:  Signing up for a 5K or other road races does not mean that you are committing to try to win.  Most runners are racing themselves; they set goals and use a race to check their progress.  It is also a social occasion to meet fellow runners and celebrate each others’ progress.

Step 4:  Get a plan

Do not just run what you feel like running on the days you feel like running.  Get a plan.  If you try to make the plan yourself, there are two major mistakes that newbie runners commonly make.  One of these would be going too far and/or too fast.  That leads to injury.  The other mistake would be to go too short and/or too slow.  Since everyone has a different level of fitness at the beginning, I can’t say in this blog what will be right for you.  Carefully find your level of fitness and get a plan that fits.

There are several training plans that you can find out on the internet for free.  I like the free plans on http://www.halhigdon.com/training/, but there are plenty more out there. Some of these will fit your stage of development as a runner.  Find the one that makes sense to you.  You can also have a tailor-made plan developed for you by a running coach.  A running coach is like a personal trainer, but specializes in running.

Step 5:  Follow the Plan

Once you find or purchase a plan that fits your particular needs, it is time to step out and do it.  As a newbie runner, your main goal is to just get running.  It is not to be speedy; that can come later.  For now it is enough to go forth and run on the days that your plan says to run.  Just follow the plan.  You can tweak it later, after you build some experience.

REMEMBER:  Fast progress leads to injuries!  Slow progress leads to health, happiness, & achievement!

Step 6:  Join a Club

Fellow runners are your greatest source of encouragement and knowledge.  Track clubs and road runners clubs have members of all skill & experience levels.  It is a great place for newbie runners to get connected with other newbies as well as some veterans that can help guide their journey.  My club has several weekly running groups that meet and run anywhere from 7 minute miles up to 12 minute miles.

Step 7:  Have Fun

Yes, running is hard work, but you should enjoy the ride.  Run with friends, laugh, joke, share.  Enjoy the bonus of endorphins.  A good workout will reward you with this form of natural high.

Don’t beat yourself up over a missed run, a bad run, or an injury.  We all have bad days.  Running is no different.  If you have more good days than bad days, eventually you will accomplish your goals. You will begin to build confidence as you gradually become a better runner.  Enjoy the process!

Stay safe.  Stick with it.  Get connected to other runners.


“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor


Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:


The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup


Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Tips for Your First Marathon

There will never be enough advice in the world to prepare you for what is coming.  Running your first marathon is an adventure in the truest sense of the word.   It is both exhilarating and exhausting beyond your wildest imagination.  Lots of people will have tons of advice, but I would like to focus mine around one basic idea:

Do all of your experimenting in training. 

There should be exactly one thing that is different on marathon day: the distance. Beyond that, every little thing you do during your first marathon should be something that you have done many times before.  Anything that you do, wear, eat, or drink for the first time on marathon day can ruin your race and possibly hurt you.  26.2 miles is a very long way.  I know that you are aware of this, but you need to think about what that means.   If you make a mistake, you may have to live with while running for the next 3 to 7 hours!

Now that I have scared you enough, let’s begin our talk about experimenting!  If you do all of your experimenting ahead of time, then you have little to worry about.  On marathon day, you can simply go out and do what you did in practice.  No big deal, just a little farther than usual.

Training Runs

You do not need to run a marathon in order to train for one.  It is smart, however, to run 16 miles at least two different times during your training.  It will take many weeks of training to build up to that distance slowly and carefully.  The last 16 mile run should be about 3 weeks before the race.  That will give your legs plenty of time to recover.  Thankfully, at the end of that three weeks the rest of your body will still remember your 16 mile runs and the lessons about efficiency that it learned during them.

Clothing & Shoes

What works for a 5K or even a 10K may not work in a marathon.  Make sure that as you are gradually building up mileage, that you are paying attention to what you are wearing.  You are not just training, you are road-testing different outfits and shoes to see which are the best for the really long runs.  Clothes that give you mild chaffing on a 13 mile run will cause bleeding on a 16 or longer.  Lots of marathoners cross their first finish line with blood stained shirts and/or shoes.

In addition to good clothing, it is smart to get some extra help against chaffing.  Body Glide and other products exist to protect parts that seem to chafe no matter what you do.  There are other things like nipple guards, although a band-aid often works just as well.  With all of these clothing-related issues, practice and routine is the key.  If you find what works in your longest training runs, you are much more likely to avoid this dilemma during the marathon.

Food & Drink

Most of us have no interest in going 3-7 hours without a snack and something to drink.  Now figure in the calories burned running and liquid lost sweating.  Thankfully, you do not need to consume as many calories as you burn.  You do, however, need to prepare to consume anywhere from 400 to 1,000 calories on the run.  It varies by your weight, conditioning, and how much time you will take.  Here again, you must experiment on your long runs.  Most runners consume packets of energy gel or some gummy equivalent.  Go to a running store and ask what choices they have.  Try several early in your training program.  Make sure you find the one that best suits you before your 20-milers.  You will want to practice that one source of fuel for all of your long runs in the last 6 to 8 weeks of your training program.

Always start fueling early in the race, specifically before you have gone two miles!  If you don’t start by then, you are very likely to have low blood sugar late in the race.

Drinks are even more critical!  Dehydration can be a huge problem with rookie marathoners.  The current wisdom being shared by running experts is “drink to thirst.”  That means drink when you are thirsty and not when you are not.  Personally, I have to drink a little more than that to be okay.  Guess how I found that out?  Through experimenting, of course.

On the marathon course, plenty of water and sports drinks will be available.  On your training runs, however, you will need to think carefully about how to get your drinks!  Will you carry enough drink to last you 20 miles?  Not me.  I carry enough for ten miles and make sure my running route circles back so I can get refills for the next 10 miles.


Electrolytes are the minerals that keep your nervous system and your muscles running.  You lose electrolytes through sweat.  You sweat a lot in a marathon.  I know that I have run out of electrolytes when my muscle start threatening to twitch. The next stage is full cramping. It often starts in the hamstrings, but can begin anywhere.

While sports drinks offer some electrolytes, many runners find that they run out of electrolytes on a long run.  There are electrolytes in some energy gels, but I have to supplement beyond that.  I live in Knoxville, and I have to take electrolyte supplements throughout the sweating season (April through October).  It IS possible to get too many electrolytes, so find a source and use them sparingly.  Figure out how much you need through experimenting.

Routine, Routine, Routine

Routine is important.  Warm up for a marathon like you warm up for anything else.  Do your stretches and any other part of your running routine the same on marathon day as any other day.  Drink what & how you drank in training.  Wear what you wore in training.


On marathon day, you will still be human.  Plan your potty break before the race, but also be prepared to go during the race.  No body should have to go four, five, or even eight hours without a bathroom break.  There are bathrooms along the route, I promise.

Going the Distance

You may need to walk.  You may have gone out too fast, you may just be legitimately tired.  It is okay to walk part of the way.  Walking will not exclude you from the rank of marathoner.  In fact, there is at least one major marathon expert that touts walking as an important part of his marathon racing strategy.  Personally, I walk through the aid stations.  The Powerade goes down much more smoothly.  :)

The first twenty miles should be just like in practice.  The last 6.2 miles are tough, but you can do this.  If you have taken care of all of the above details, then you can do this last 6.2 miles.  There is no question about it.  You will be pushing longer, but you have been replenishing your supplies of energy, liquid, and electrolytes.  It works the same as the previous 20 miles.  Just put one foot in front of the other.  Do not think about how far you have to go or how far you have gone.  Instead, remember your training runs.  Remember how you pushed yourself to go just a little farther each week.  You know what it is like to challenge yourself and succeed.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and the finish line will find you.

You can do this.  Experiment, practice, and follow your routine all the way to the finish line.


“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor


Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:


The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup


Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Funny and Inspiring Running Quotes

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.”  — Steve Prefontaine

“Runners are the ultimate celebration people. Running is just so intense, you’re really experiencing life to the fullest.” — Bill Rodgers

“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.”   — Charles Schulz

“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”   – Frank Shorter

2 women laughingThe only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.   – Erma Bombeck

“I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.” –David Lee Roth

“So much in life seems inflexible and unchangeable, and part of the joy of  running and especially racing is the realization that improvement and progress can be achieved.”  — Nancy Anderson

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”  — Jim Ryun

“We all have those days, weeks, months – just keep running through it & you’ll come out the other side!”  — Jenn Bacile

Start your own nutrition business for less than $3,000!

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.”  –William James

“Build step by step. Push yourself, but not too hard. Learn. Keep it fun.”  –Matt Fitzgerald

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy.”  – Mark Will-Weber

“We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”  –  Will Rogers

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”   –   George Sheehan

“There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open.”   – Nike

“I’ve always felt that long, slow distance produces long, slow runners.”   – Sebastian Coe

“Why aren’t you signed up for the 401K?”
“I’d never be able to run that far.”        – Dilbert

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.”   – Maurice Greene (attributed to Roger Bannister  shortly after running the first sub-4 mile)

Finland has produced so many brilliant distance runners because back home it costs $2.50 a gallon for gas.   – Esa Tikkannen, 1979

There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life.  But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint.  So, too, are you.   Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.   – George Sheehan

If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.   – P.Z. Pearce

The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank.   – George Sheehan

“There ain’t no shame looking at a good runner’s back. Now, if the runner sucks, that’s something else entirely… “The Rage, Training Tips “Comeback”

“No doubt a brain and some shoes are essential for marathon success, although if it comes down to a choice, pick the shoes. More people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes.” – Don Kardong

“There will come a point in the race, when you alone will need to decide. You will need to make a choice. Do you really want it? You will need to decide.” – Rolf Arands

“Most mistakes in a race are made in the first two minutes, perhaps in the very first minute.” – Jack Daniels, Exercise Physiologist and Coach

“Why aren’t you signed up for the 401K? I’d never be able to run that far.” – Scott Adams, Dilbert (4/2/01)

“If you can’t win, make the fellow ahead of you break the record.” – Unknown

“Hills are speedwork in disguise.” – Frank Shorter

“Run like hell and get the agony over with.”  –  Clarence DeMar

“If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want – Why?    Because…
(a) you’ll burn all the calories you consume, (b) you deserve it, and (c) you’ll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway.”  –  Don Kardong

“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue.  Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.”   –   Tim Noakes

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing.  You have to make the mind run the body.  Never let the body tell the mind what to do.  The body will always give up.  It is always tired morning, noon, and night.  But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.  When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired..You’ve got to make the mind take over and keep going.”   –   George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

“My favorite moments are when I pass someone who’s huffing and puffing and all I got are some slightly tired legs” – Troy Streacker

“Aspire to be great instead of good, aspire to be remembered instead of forgotten, aspire to accompish what others have and have not done, aspire to be yourself and nothing else for when you strive to be yourself everything is limitless because you are not holding yourself to the limits of others.” – Troy Streacker

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all  about.” – PattiSue Plummer, U.S. Olympian

“You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will…those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t get to the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.” – Joe Henderson

“The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.” – Unknown

“Today I will do what others won’t, So tomorrow I can do what others can’t”. – Unknown

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor


Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup


Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life


Running Faster: Training at the Right Pace

“Training too fast, too soon is the quickest way to failure.”  — Greg McMillan

Once you have set goals for your running, the next decision is how you will get there.  Train too slow and you are in danger of not meeting your goals.  If you train too fast, you are likely to end up injured.

legsThis is the dilemma that I was facing after the Knoxville Marathon.  I knew that I wanted to do some serious speed workouts for the next few months, but I was not sure how to get there.  Everyone sets a goal appropriate for their level.  For me, my next major goal is run a mile in less than 5 minutes.  I know that I can run a 5:20 to 5:30.  I need some speedwork!

Dilemma:  I want to push as hard as I can without getting injured.  Where is the line?

How fast should I run my 200s, 400s, & 800s in my bigtime speed workouts?

Thankfully,  a lot of research has been done in this area.  There are tools on the internet which can guide your decision-making about the pace for your training runs at any distance.  The tool that I use the most is the MacMillan Running Calculator.  [click there to visit the page]

It is relatively easy to use.  Choose a recent running performance: Select the distance and input the time.  It is absolutely critical that you only input something you have done in last few months.  DO NOT enter your goal time.  If you do, it will give you times that are less than ideal and may lead to injury!!!!!

Since I have raced and trained at a lot of different distances over the past few months, I actually examined 5 different performances which gave 5 different sets of training paces.  Since my current goal is for the distance of 1 mile, I put more trust in the numbers generated when I put in shorter performances.  If I were training for a marathon right now, I would go by the numbers generated by inputting my most recent marathon and half marathon performances.

Here are the suggested training paces based on my recent performance of running 400 meters in 59 seconds:

  • 400m  1:11 to 1:14
  • 800m  2:25 to 2:32
  • 1200m  3:48 to 3:58
  • 1600m  5:11 to 5:23

Those are the numbers from the “Speed Workout” section, specifically under the middle distance column.  I am choosing middle distance numbers because I am working on my mile.  If I were training for a 10K or longer, I would be going by the “Long Distance” column.

Double-Checking the Numbers

I wasn’t 100% confident in these numbers.  When I ran that 400m in 59 seconds, it was on the dangerous side.  It took me a few days to fully recover.  To make sure that these numbers weren’t too fast for my training, I headed out to the track today to test myself a little.

After warming up, I ran the first 400m at 1:18…a lot slower than the suggested pace which assumes that you can run as many as 8 to 10 repeats.  I rested up and found my legs with a 1:08 on the second 400m, a little faster than the suggested time.  On the next two 400m repeats, I ran a 1:08 and then a 1:10.  Since this was just a test, I had no intention of doing a full workout today.  For me, this little test confirmed that I can probably handle running eight to ten 400 meter repeats in the suggested zone without risking injury.

Not Just for Short Distances

The calculator also gives suggested times for the other kinds of workouts that runners commonly do:  recovery runs, long runs, easy runs, tempo runs, cruise intervals and more.

No matter what you are training for, you can use this calculator or others on the web to inform your choices of how fast to run.


“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor


Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup


Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Marathon Training: Love, Hate, and The Taper

“I wanna go fast!”  — Ricky Bobby

Tapering is a time of running lower miles and slower paces as you approach a long race, such as a half or full marathon.  It is designed to help us be ready for the big day…to help us meet our goal.  Amongst my hundreds of runner friends on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, however, there is a disdain (or at the very least a discomfort) that is often expressed towards the taper.

If the taper can help us meet our goals, why such negative emotions?

Why is it that runners have such a tumultuous relationship with the taper?

For most of us, it can best be described as a love/hate relationship.  Theoretically, we love the taper.  We know that we have been using and abusing our bodies in hill workouts, 20 mile runs, track workouts, pace runs, tempo runs, interval training, and many other torturous yet wonderful ways.  Struggling through these workouts and giving everything we have has built our muscles, our endurance, and our confidence.  Runners love to push themselves.  We pride ourselves on this kind of self-denial.  Push, press, strive!

Here is where the conflict arises.  I have now been training for this marathon for over 4 months.  I have pushed my limits and done all of the aforementioned workouts day in and day out for 17 weeks.    For 119 days, pushing it to the limit was my goal.  The days that I had to take off were horrible!  I was thinking about what I should be running.  Now… after all of this time… you want me to ease up?  You want me rested?  Fewer miles?  Less effort?  Are you absolutely nuts??!!??  Where is the “Dislike” button on this thing!  No. It is absolutely unnatural.  I don’t want to do it.

The conflict continues as our brain reminds us to check in on our body parts.  Feet?  Sore.  Knees?  Swollen.  Calves?  Do you even have to ask?  Hamstrings, quads?  Yes, they are communicating loudly as well.  We know that we need the rest.  We know we need the time to heal.  It makes sense.

In the meanwhile, our spirit cries out for more striving, not less.  Our habits call for more miles, not fewer.  Our hearts love the long run.  That is why we got into this.  We love endorphins.  Let’s go get some more, right?  Wrong.  It is time to taper and heal.  We must stifle the voice crying out for endorphins and go with logic.  Bottle up all of that energy.  Store up all those carbs.  Build up that emotional energy… and pop the cork on all that pressure on race day.

If we taper right, we will be like the champagne bottle coming uncorked on race day.  Our spirit will burst forth at the sounding of the starting gun.  The cap will fly off and all of that conflict, … all of that pressure that we allowed to build through the taper… if we can manage the flow just right… will end up in a PR & all of the endorphins from two weeks flow in one session.  Good times, but only if we taper.

Happy running!