5 Things to Avoid if You Want to Run Faster

I’ve read hundreds of articles and blogs on ways to become a faster runner. While most include practical information on performing flexibility exercises, hill repeats, intervals and strides, I’ve come to realize these tips help no one if you’re doing things to negate the process.

I have to be the first to admit, I never wanted to be a faster runner. I claimed to run such long distances to eat and drink what I wanted. I had zero motivation to put further pain on myself in order to have a faster time. Being average was, and still is, perfectly pleasing for me at times, because I’m not in competition with anyone but me.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind at any point either. For 2018, some of my ambassador programs asked for my goals. First, to pick a race and second, for the time. Over the past 12 years of having participated in distance running, I’ve seen my marathon times get a little slower by 30 minutes, as well as my half marathon times getting slower by 15-20 minutes. The half is my favorite distance and I decided this year will be the year that just because I’m getting older, doesn’t mean I have to be getting slower.

I wanted to share some tips on what to avoid when wanting to improve your times, whether it’s 1 mile or 26.

1. Lack of desire

As I mentioned before, I never claimed to be fast. When asked about running, I’d say I could run slow for a really long time. Completing 10 marathons and dozens of half marathons, are an accomplishment, regardless of time, and something to be proud of. However, I always knew where my comfort zone was and I stuck to it. I had no desire to push to be faster and I was ok with that thought process. But all of a sudden, my desire to step out of my comfort zone changed this year. And I thought, that’s ok too! No one is trapped into saying and doing one thing for the rest of her life. Getting faster isn’t a must, but choosing to self-develop isn’t a bad thing either.


Paris Marathon 2016: 4:49:59 compared to Boston Marathon 2006: 4:13:15


2. Not setting a goal

Marathon training comes with lots of questions from others. Usually the first question is why, then the next is usually what time do you want to finish. (Although, one of my favorites is if I plan to win). Each marathon is different and unique just like the individual running it. You can plan and prepare to your hearts content and still the race day can go as expected or not. Regardless of the unknown for a particular race, a goal needs to be set. Whether it’s your first or not, having no expectation can defeat the purpose and deflate your drive. For example, at a yearly review your boss asks for your objectives and you wrote down, “I come to work to get a pay check”. Hell, I know some of us do do that, but you’re decreasing your chances to advance or promote yourself. It’s a similar thought process with running. If you say you JUST want to finish the race, while it may be true, you let fear start to take control. Bringing me to my next point…



3. Fear of pain or the unknown

As a long distance runner, I know pain is inevitable. Whether it’s pain in my legs, lungs, gut, or mind, after a certain point in the game you may feel discomfort in one, if not all, of these areas. This is why only a small percentage of the world participates in a marathon. If it was easy, then everyone would do it. I think one of the greatest building blocks in life is doing something that scares you once in a while. Fear holds us back from doing a lot of things and then worrying makes us reflect poorly on ourselves and actions. What ifs, statistically, usually never happen and a mindset of I can will take us a much longer way then not trying at all.



4. Negative self talk & comparing yourself to others

Ahh, social media…I am truly passionate about and enjoy Instagram (IG), one may call it a slight addiction to be more specific. My boyfriend can confirm this. However, I use this platform as a way to motivate others to get moving along with finding my own inspiration to be a better athlete through others. Whether it’s an inspiring quote (@xpatrunner, @2xpa_, and @themarathonmaracus are really good at this), a scenic running view (@runjanji, @rundezvousralph, @livehardxlovehard are a couple of my favorites), or seeing hard-working moms hit a Boston Qualifying time in their first marathon attempt or doing it time and time again (check out @daniellehartruns, @clairerunsthere, @jennammchugh, @bettinarunswi to be simply inspired), there are literally thousands and thousands of amazing runners out there to find motivation. But the little square world can suck you in, if you aren’t careful. While I positively use IG to better myself in fitness, the ugly side of the coin is you could begin to compare yourself to these athletes and wonder why you aren’t as good, fast, lean, or strong-minded as them. We have to self-love and respect our own abilities first, then we can strive to become better, if that’s something we choose to do. But if we’re constantly putting ourselves down for where we are currently not, the cycle of pity and despair can override our thought processes. The lovely thing I admire most about running is that it can be an individual confidence builder, but in order for this to be achieved, the only person we should be competing against is ourself.



5. Doing it alone

Here is where 2018 has differed from any training cycle I’ve done in the past. I’ve joined a free weekly running group concentrating on interval training. The group is huge, I’m talking 200 people and the levels range from beginner to advanced. The intimidation factor is none (despite a foreign language barrier). The group is encouraging, kind, and helps you to push outside your comfort zone. My goals feel more attainable than when I’m pushing by myself, as my own thoughts and fears overtake me. Running with the group has been a real confidence booster in setting out to become a faster runner.


Photo credit: Sebastien Lauer


My goal for 2018 is to run a half marathon under 1:50 as a high aspiration, under 2 more realistically and to run a 4 hour marathon. What are some of the things you do to get faster? What are your 2018 goals?

Close Out the Year with Self Love

As the holidays approach, media and marketing will sell you on thinking it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and hoping you spend that pretty penny too). While I hope nothing but good cheer for all, sometimes this time of year brings forth heartbreaking reminders of those we’ve lost, failed resolutions, being stuck in careers, relationships, or unsatisfied life choices, or just simply feeling lonely. I’m here to remind you that even though these times may play havoc on your emotions, you’re still amazing and now, not just January 1, is the perfect time to practice some self-love.

I’ve come up with some practical ways for you to bring back that lovin’ feelin’, woah that lovin’ feelin’:

De-stress Monday’s

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There’s an account on Instagram I follow called @destressmonday and they also have a webpage here. Stereotypically, Monday’s are the “worst” but the account gives you little reminders to breathe, smile and think positively, not just on Mondays but for everyday of the week.

 

Start Saving Weekly to Give Yourself a Present/Trip

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Chanel Boutique in Paris

It may seem ironic to put away money when you know you probably should spend it towards the gifts for others this holiday, but how can you be your best for them if you don’t take care of yourself once in a while? Practicing some budgeting and rewarding yourself for making the means to grab something you really love or a getaway you’ve been craving for is not selfish, it’s making a goal, being diligent, and taking pride in your work. That’s an achievement!

 

Pay it Forward

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Be Kind from Momentum Jewelry

If you are feeling slightly guilty for thinking about yourself, which you SHOULDN’T, you can always give back to those in need or just do random acts of kindness. Smile and hold a door open for someone, buy the person’s coffee behind you, volunteer at the local food pantry, give to charity. There are literally millions of ways to help and be kind and in the long run, you’ll feel better because you brightened someone’s day!

 

Listen to Inspiring and Interesting Podcasts

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This American Life Podcast

I might get a little heavy here. Personally, losing 3 family members over the past 5 years actually makes the holidays suck, to be brutally honest. My mom was the champion of Christmas with the decorations, several little ceramic villages, lights, dinners, pies, and presents. She made the holidays feel lively, animated, and she made everyone around feel loved. This will be my 4th Christmas without her. It doesn’t get easier, but I know that by holding everything in could be disastrous. When I’m out on long runs, I like to listen to podcasts to pass the time, like This American Life with one episode in particular talking about a way to speak to loved ones who have passed and reconciling with others who are still here. The first act is discusses a documentary in Japan about the Wind Phone. It’s a non-working, old, rotary phone in a white phone booth box on a man’s garden that over 10,000 people have visited or used. It’s popularity began following the 2011 Tsunami and became a way for friends and family members, of those lost or taken from the disaster, to find a way to speak to their loved ones and grieve peacefully. I did end up watching the documentary here at this link, but be forewarned if you’re human, you’ll probably cry. The second act is about two elderly brothers, in their 80’s, who held a somewhat unknowingly grudge and hadn’t really spoken in about 20 years. The son of one helped to reconcile them, knowing time was not on their side and helped guide them to have an adult conversation about their grievances which helped to take some ‘weight’ off their shoulders. Both stories are healthy reminders to allow for time to think about your loved ones who are no longer here and to not wait to reach out to those who still matter to you while they are still here.

 

#12days12ways

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Brady the Cat, named after the GOAT Tom Brady

On a lighter note, because there are only 12 days left until Christmas there’s a hashtag going around called #12days12ways. It’s a reminder to reflect back and document, however you wish, 12 ways your life has changed positively over the past year.

Here are mine:

January: Got to celebrate the new year with my friend Liz, who visited us in France from NYC

February: Watching the Patriots win the SuperBowl

March: Spending a week in the Swiss Alps snowboarding

April: Completing my 9th Marathon in Rome, Italy and during that same week watch Julien crush his PR in the Paris Marathon

May: Completing the Luxembourg night half marathon, the hottest race I’ve ever done in my life

June: Growing my influence in the running, fitness and wellness community on Instagram and having my hard work, “little hobby”, get recognized with sponsorships and ambassadorships from companies like Under Armour and Nordstrom

July: Getting a new kitten and fur baby, Brady

August: Visiting my one of my oldest friends Dorothy, in Rotterdam, Netherlands while at the same time being lucky enough to have her on this side of the pond with me

September: Twofer, sneaking home on a super discount flight for Labor Day weekend to go on, one of my best friend’s, Katie’s sailboat and completing my 10th marathon and 3rd World Major in Berlin

October: Having my Dad visit for a couple weeks and then all of us flying back to the US for 3 weeks, 2 weddings and an east coast adventure

November: My birthday in Budapest, Hungary with my American bestie here in Metz, Carmen

December: Having Julien’s family embrace and welcome me into their home for Christmas this year

Here’s to ending the year on a positive note and feeling optimistic for what is to come!

 

Yes, You Should Strength Train

Ever hear of those lucky few who eat what they want (or at least relatively healthy) and just stay the same weight without exercise? Then of course there is the other side that sure they should lose a few pounds but are without disease or painful symptoms, so why change what isn’t broken right?

Well I’m not here to judge life choices and everyone is entitled to enjoy or hate exercise and weight/strength training (believe me there are days I don’t love exercising, like say Football Sunday’s). I am here to motivate, support and educate healthy life practices and I suppose if someone were to take my advice I would have to practice what I preach.

Think about your body like a car. You can get a car wash and have the car look good. Say you want to buy that used car. Are you buying it purely on appearance? I doubt it. You want to know mileage, repairs, cylinders, interior leakage/damage, electrical condition, etc. Aesthetically you may very well appreciate the car from the outside but when you hear it has 150,000 miles, needs a new exhaust/AC, clutch, inside paneling you will probably make a more responsible purchase.

Your body may appear, from the outside, to be healthy. You may feel fine. But if you are not training your muscles or supplying your body with nutrient dense foods to fuel this routine, you my friend will eventually fall into a health problem. Whether it be an orthopedic condition like a muscle strain from that time you have to over exert weak tissues like moving homes or a fracture from a fall because you don’t have dense tissue or bone to absorb impact or perhaps you experience a more painful neurological condition which occurs because of faltering mechanics or alignment from day in and day out sitting at a desk, I see it everyday as a physical therapist, friends.

5 reasons to strength train:

1. Builds Bone Density

Vast majority of research supports resistance training as a very effective means to increase bone density.

2. Protects Joints

Increased muscle mass helps distribute forces between bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments from extraneous forces like gravity, body weight and ground reactions to protect joints from early breakdown.

3. Burns Calories

By increasing muscle density, some research has shown to improve resting metabolism rate (RMR), one of three primary components of total daily energy expenditure. The others include thermic effect of physical activity and thermic effect of feeding.

4. Makes you move more efficiently

Increased strength improves power output which correlates with improved efficiency as measured by the ratio of mechanical work to total metabolic cost (calculated by oxygen consumption). In layman’s terms, muscle mass improves efficiency for the work being done and the greater the oxygen utilization.

5. You Look Great!

If I do say so myself…

As always feel free to question or comment below or reach me at Email or follow me on Instagram @thefitwanderluster or Twitter @fitwanderluster

It’s Time for Change

The world is a scary, beautiful, confusing, wonderful, miraculous, enchanting, loving, diverse, place that I want to learn and be a part of to enhance my knowledge, well-being, understanding, and culture. I love America and most importantly, I am proud of my home and city of Boston. I am not naive enough to believe that all great things on Earth have been developed only here in the USA. Often I think we are our own worst enemies with the daily choices we make that effect our livelihoods. I am wary of our government’s main objectives and lack of protection for it’s citizens from money hungry corporations that do not have our best interests at heart. I am not a political savant and will never claim to be well-informed on foreign policy or how to protect from terrorism or support third world countries. I cannot claim to have the solutions either. But I do know how to have empathy, produce kindness, be charitable and share when I do gain valuable knowledge. I can help someone regain the ability to walk after a stroke or total knee replacement through physical therapy or help prevent either of those resulting conditions, often seen with poor health choice and lifestyle habits, with exercise, nutrition and motivation as a coach. In order to help others, I have to continuously educate and develop myself.

I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately. Some that have hit home include:

  • Fed Up
  • Food, Inc.
  • Super Size Me
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

I’ve also been reading a lot on body adaptations to food, exercise and participating in my own personal development by reading a handful of books including:

  • Spark By: John Ratey
  • Eat, Pray, Love By: Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Secret By: Rhonda Byrne
  • The Code of Extraordinary Change By: Steve Errey
  • The Compound Effect By: Darren Hardy

I want to put it out there why I have become a health coach. Initially, I thought, “Okay yeah I can do this and get a few bucks out of it because I have student loans, rent, travel expenses and I want to move to be with my love in Europe.” I will admit, money was one motivation. But honestly, it has fallen far down the list. Passion, helping others, commitment, dedication, success – these, these are the primary reasons I coach. I can visibly see the astounding life transformation and changes people are making when they make a commitment to themselves. Yes, making a lifestyle change involves investing money and time, but I’m telling you the long term effects are the sole purpose to your investment. Yes, I can tell you to buy one of the top American home exercise programs, learn portion controls, and delicious clean eating recipes. Yes, I can tell you to buy a shake that provides you with all your daily micro-nutrients you need. I can post as many photos, videos, motivational quotes I want to get you inspired and gun-ho for that next step in your life. But I can’t make you do anything. It’s your choice. I can try to educate you until I’m blue in the face about obesity statistics and long-term costs and complications from diabetes, auto-immune dysfunction, migraines, depression, degenerative joint disease, sleep apnea, cardiovascular dysfunction, cancer. Excuses are monuments of nothing. Rock bottom may be too late.

I’m not on my soap box to sell you a product. I’m here to tell you to get your head out of your ass and realize what your choices are doing immediately and long term, how your child, spouse, family is affected, how your brain is affected. How our government is failing us with lack of nutritional and health education and how that passes on for generations and generations after that. I don’t care what you think of my lifestyle but I can tell you I’ve never been healthier, happier, and more sure of my wellbeing than I ever have been in my life. I’m here to tell you if you are looking for a sign, this is it.


Contact me if you have questions, comments, want to write me a nasty email or seek advice, encouragement, support on Facebook.