2:59:59 podcast episode 1–motivation tips, interval workouts and a racing accident

Welcome everyone to my new podcast 2:59:59. It’s a podcast for all of us competitive amateur runners looking for a slice of the running podcast world that fits our interests. There are no couch-to-5k tips here or unrelatable stories about 140-mile weeks and months-long training getaways at elevation. If you’re like me, a regular person who likes to run, train hard, set goals and accomplish them, this is your podcast.

In this first/pilot episode, I explain who I am, give some motivation tips when you feel sluggish, explain my favorite interval workouts and share an “interesting” story about a top runner who didn’t let a GI emergency stop her marathon.

Please feel free to comment with any feedback or suggestions for future episode topics. You can also email me at donaldmorrison807@gmail.com.

After the Paris Marathon in Oct, 2021

Should You Join a Running Group?

dog-haus-pasadena

(Photo courtesy of Dog Haus Running Club in Pasadena, CA.)

Running is generally a solo sport. Winners are listed by name, not part of a team or country. It’s like tennis or golf. The individual gets all the glory. In all three of these sports, training and practice can be done alone or with others. But which is best? The answer is: It depends. Some people prefer running alone. Others enjoy the social aspect of it while others prefer a partner or two to push them and keep them accountable.

What do running groups offer? They offer like-minded people a chance to get together at least once a week to socialize and run. If you’re naturally shy or self-conscious about your running, I can assure you that running groups are the most inclusive groups you will find. Runners always want to seek out other runners and always want to turn people into runners if they can. I know I always try! Runners, and I know I’m biased when writing this, are some of the nicest, friendliest and warmest people I’ve met. Any running group you seek will immediately welcome you with open arms. There will always be at least one person who will say hi and make sure you’re comfortable as a first-timer to the group.

Don’t worry about being “too slow.” Running groups have people of all ages and abilities. The goal is not to race each other but to run together. There might be a small group of fast runners who take off to push each other but the majority of people will cruise at a leisurely pace that will enable them to chat with each other to some degree.

Running groups can also offer motivation. If you enjoyed your first or second outing with the group, it’ll motivate you to keep attending and, therefore, keep running. If you made a friend or two or three or four, that’s more motivation to keep going. If you did make a friend or two, you could go for runs outside of the larger group. You and others would be working together and motivating each other to run. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.

Running groups will have people who know their stuff. You can ask these people anything and everything if you think they can help you improve. Trust me, they’ll be happy to help.

Do running groups charge? Most of them are free to attend. They meet at a certain location and time. You show up and you run. People may chip-in periodically for things like pizza parties, t-shirts, water or post-run beer pitchers but those are never required to join.

Which group/groups is/are best for you? It depends on you. Some tend to skew younger in age (2os and 30s) while some tend to skew older (40s and up). Others may have more women than men and vice versa. Join a group in which you feel comfortable with the people.

Can you join multiple running groups? Of course! If you enjoy running with others, you can join as many as you like. There’s no rule, written or otherwise, that says you need to stick with just one.

Being from Pasadena, CA. I’m fortunate in that there are several running groups in my area. Where do I find them? Meetup.com is a great website to find a group or start one yourself. Just type in “running” in the search bar and groups will pop up that are near you.

If you live in and around Pasadena, here’s a list of some running groups:

Run With Us 

Dog Haus Running Club

Pasadena Pacers

Foothill Flyers

A Snail’s Pace Running Academy

Pasadena Running Dogs

Eagle Rock Run Club

 

 

 

Why Hire a Running Coach?

Many people want to start running but have no idea how exactly to get going. They may find some nice shoes and some comfortable workout clothes. They have thoughts of shedding some pounds and developing some finely-toned muscles. They even have thoughts of running a local 5k, if they can find one. But when it comes time to hit the pavement, there’s either no real plan to achieve any of these goals or there are too many plans due to information overload from too many internet searches on running. It’s not the person’s fault though. He or she just doesn’t know how to get started in a way that will lead to a gradual and consistent buildup of a running routine.

How can hiring a coach help? For a new runner, a coach is a filter of information. Spending hours on the internet researching training methods, running tips, etc. can be overwhelming for a beginner. It can also be confusing as one is bound to come across conflicting and contradictory information. How would he or she know which is right? A coach can be the guide to get a person started in a way that will lead them to accomplish whatever specific goal he or she has. The coach is the expert. He or she has lots of experience in the running world. Chances are that coach is a big internet search on “running plans.” Why go at something new alone when you can have an expert help you step-by-step.

What will a coach do? A coach will listen and talk to you. He or she will try to understand why you want to run and what your goals are. The coach will then put together a comprehensive plan customized specifically to you so you can do that. He or she will teach you drills, help you with your form and make other recommendations to improve your running. The coach will motivate you and also keep you accountable. Do you want to tell your coach you were too tired or busy to fit in that 3-mile run yesterday? The coach wants you to succeed and is willing to do what it takes to make that happen.

Are coaches mean? Almost never. Screaming and yelling from coaches may be part of football and some other sports but it’s not really part of the running culture. Besides, you’re a client. Most coaches know screaming and yelling at people who are paying them won’t lead to long-time relationships or referrals. The goal is to keep and expand business not end it. You’ll get encouragement and positive energy.

bob-and-meb

The picture above is of Bob Larsen and Meb Keflezighi. I met Coach Larsen while I was covering cross country and track and field for the Daily Bruin at UCLA in 1997 and 1998. I would meet in Larsen’s office once a week as he would update me on his team’s happenings. He was always gracious and humble. He’s truly a great man. He retired from UCLA to coach Meb as Meb began his post-UCLA running career. What a career it’s been for the Boston Marathon champion. Check out this link as listing his accomplishments would take too much time 🙂 I met Meb at UCLA and spoke to him many times. He’s not only but favorite Bruin of all-time but one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Larsen is one of the sport’s greatest coaches. He’s a big reason for the resurgence in American distance running in the past decade. He was known for being in-tune with his athletes. They would talk about him and his calm demeanor. I highly recommend checking  out some these clips here. If you ever have a chance to watch the full documentary about Coach Larsen I highly recommend it. He’s the perfect example of what a coach can do.

Why I Run

782161_1024_0012Who am I and why do I run? My name is Donald Morrison and I am a runner from Pasadena, CA. I realized at an early age I had above average running ability. I recognized that when I would race friends at school and on the baseball diamond during practice. I was further convinced I had some talent when I started running the mile in 4th grade. I was running it under seven minutes, however, I believe the distance was short as they extended the laps when I was in 5th grade, thus slowing down my time.

I ran cross country in middle school and made the varsity team as a 6th grader. I continued with cross country through high school (1992-1996), making the varsity team as a freshman. I was an all-league performer for my final three years. I ran the distance events along with the 400 during my three years competing in track and field (I played one year of junior varsity baseball in 10th grade). I was league champion in the 800 during my senior year yet with a personal record 2:00 (I was never unable to go under 2, unfortunately).  I was happy with my performances at the time but was never going to win CIF or advance to any state competition. I was good locally but never the best. I was fine with that. I did the best I could.

I decided to attend UCLA after high school. Being a big boy athletic school, I simply wasn’t fast enough to even walk-on the cross country or track teams. I knew that going in and I wasn’t attending UCLA to try to run at the next level anyway. I did the next big thing which was to cover the track and cross country teams as a sports writer for the Daily Bruin which is the school’s student-run newspaper. I ran in two intramural track meets and participated in advanced running classes through the school’s recreation center.

I stopped running entirely after graduation, mostly due to not making it a priority. I felt the itch to compete though so I started to run in 2005  after work. I did it for a few weeks but then developed shin splints due to trying to run too fast and too much. I decided to rest and just kept resting until the fall of 2007. That’s when I would get serious.

I bought a cheap Timex watch and would head to the Rose Bowl regularly to run. It went well for a few weeks again. I developed shin splints again and tried to fight through them but couldn’t. I decided to rest.

Fast-forward to February, 2008. Co-workers decided to take part in the Susan G. Komen 5k run/walk at the Rose Bowl. Since I lived so close, I decided to join them. Of course, the competitive side in me would not allow me to casually walk. I had to run it. Despite no training whatsoever, I ran the entire thing. It was hard.

It was that same year in the summer/early fall I felt I needed to change my habits when it came to diet and exercise. I’m 6-2 and weighed 208 pounds. That’s not in any way obese or even overweight. But I was developing a bit of a gut and I just wanted to exercise and see if I could tone my body. I decided I would do push-ups instead of another gym membership. I had gone to the gym before and worked out but I would always stop. Now, I had a new plan. I would start slow–very slow. I started doing 30 push (3 sets of 10) three times a week. I felt this was achievable and would not wear me out to the point that it would discourage me. I would slowly increase the amount of push-ups each week. A funny thing started happening–my body was getting toned. I started to lose weight as I cut down my calorie intake.

The Susan Komen 5k run/walk was coming in February, 2009. I wanted to see how well I could perform if I actually trained. In early January, I started to run regularly but not everyday. I started three times a week just 2 to 3 miles. Then, I got an itch to see how fast I could do a 5k again if I actually trained. I told myself I would only run local 5ks. Because I was going about it gradually, I kept with it. I ran the Komen run and a few others. I did well and slowly increased my training. From that point, I worked up to 10ks than half-marathons then, in 2012, marathons.

Since 2012, I’ve completed eight marathons and one “shorter” ultra-marathon. I’ve finished three of the six World Majors (Chicago, Boston and New York) all under three hours. I’ve also run the Los Angeles Marathon under three hours twice. I will run the Berlin Marathon in September and plan to run the other two major marathons (London and Tokyo) within the next two to three years.

Now, I run five to six days a week. I continue with the push-ups and other strengthening exercises. I now weigh anywhere from 170 to 175 pounds. I was able to do all this while working full-time. I attribute sticking with my running by gradually building then making it a habit. Scheduling races has also given me the motivation to keep training. If you have a goal, you have something to work toward.

I am a firm believer in a gradual buildup. Don’t overwhelm yourself early because it could cause injury and will be overwhelming to your body. If you’re always exhausted and wiped out, you’ll view running negatively and will stop. If I can achieve my running goals, you can too.