Phil Thow – Motivating for Your Run

No matter how long you’ve been an active jogger, it can still be hard to get excited about going for a run. Sometimes life gets in the way, with kids or work making it difficult to find the time and energy. Other days it’s just a little difficult to get out of bed in the morning. In order to maintain your running routine, it’s important to take the necessary steps that will help you to not only stay motivated, but also to avoid the excuses that might keep you from going out in the first place.

Time is the most common issue for people who want to run but aren’t able to make a habit of it. Unfortunately for those using the excuse of having too many things to do, everyone has the same number of hours in their day. Phil Thow, who’s been a serious runner for years, says that most of the people who claim they don’t have time to run aren’t framing their schedule correctly. They look at the hours between work and dinner and don’t see how they can possibly drive home, change, run and still have time to eat. If you look at things through that lens, time does seem to be lacking.

What most running enthusiasts have learned is that your schedule is more flexible than you think, and when you start working your day around a quick run in the morning, afternoon or evening, everything else still falls back in to place. People who decide to run during their lunch break and eat at their desks often have more energy during the second half of the day and are able to work more efficiently and get home earlier. In that situation, people are actually creating more time in their day by going for a run.

The morning is the best time for many people to get a jog in and yet somehow the easiest for others to write off as an impossibility. “I’m always surprised by how many people think it’s too difficult to get up 45 minutes earlier,” Phil Thow says. Until it becomes routine, waking up early is extremely difficult for most people. Sleep is a precious commodity and many aren’t willing to trade it for anything.

Interestingly, part of the reason people don’t want to get out of bed in the morning is because they aren’t excited about starting their day. If your morning ritual is to wake up, shower and go to work, there’s nothing particularly appealing about those first few hours. Alternatively, once you start to take pride in your running and the health benefits, starting the day with a two-mile jaunt is a great reason to get up in the morning. Not only are you improving your general well being, you’re getting your exercise in first thing so that it doesn’t become a scheduling issue later in the day.

Phil Thow points out that many people who declare they aren’t able to get up early have never tried it. If you turn it into a daily ritual, you’ll likely discover that you didn’t need that extra hour of sleep, and your body and mind stay fresher throughout the day after spending less time in bed and more time exercising. While everyone has their own physiology, it’s fairly common that people are only oversleeping because they aren’t inspired to get out of bed.

Once you find the time of day when you’re actually able to fit in your run, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome. Phil Thow says that even lifelong runners have routines they need to follow or else they might not make it out for their daily jog. If you run in the morning, it’s important to have your athletic wear easily accessible so your tired mind won’t get frustrated and head back to the sheets. If you run at lunch, hold yourself to that routine and don’t skip the exercise every time someone proposes a lunch date. The same goes for people who run with a partner; it’s good to let another person serve as your motivation to get fit, but they can’t be the reason you skip it.

Night runners have more safety issues to contend with, especially depending on the area in which they run. Phil Thow reminds people that they don’t want to put physical activity ahead of their welfare, so it’s very important that people who choose to run after dark always have the proper visibility clothing and know the exact route they plan to take.

Running isn’t a sport that’s only enjoyed by the people who have the extra time – it’s an activity loved by those who create the extra time. When you actually embrace the routine and hold yourself to it, you’ll find that the motivation comes naturally.

Written By – Phil Thow
Scottsdale, Arizona

Phil Thow – Experience Courses Increasing the Popularity of Running

Running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For some people, the day can’t start until they’ve gone for a jog, even if it’s just a couple of miles. For others, the prospect of running around the block is almost unbearable. However, the increasing popularity of themed experiences, like ultra marathons and mud runs, is creating a new flock of enthusiasts and leading to an increased interest in the sport.

Phil Thow, an avid runner, points out that experience runs have created a way for even non-runners to enjoy the activity. At face value, a mud run is an easy means for an organization with substantial land to generate significant revenue. From historic parks to Army bases, mud runs bring in thousands of participants in every U.S. state. Attendees reserve a spot and join fellow runners from all over to trudge through the mud and climb over and under various obstacles.

The entry fees are manageable and the fun is there to be had for both experienced runners and people participating in their first race. Whereas a marathon is a specific test of endurance that some find more gratifying than others, mud runs seem to appeal to a wider audience, with differing tests of athleticism and a shared enjoyment of a very unique experience.

The affect that this phenomenon is having on the popularity of the sport is noticeable. Phil Thow mentions that groups of all sizes join in on these entertaining runs, bringing in individuals who wouldn’t consider signing up for the events on their own. As a result, people start casually training for a singular run and then find out that moderate jogging isn’t as hard as they once believed. They also see improvement in endurance, health and weight. What starts as an effort to prepare for a one-time run can turn into a workout routine.

Beyond that, many runners get addicted to the adrenaline rush of the actual race. They find the competition with strangers enticing, and the experience of powering through five feet of mud is one they want to have again. After a first race, people look to improve their time, to get better, and they begin to take more pride in running and, consequently, their fitness.

Phil Thow says that ultra marathons, while very different than themed courses, have also had an affect on the running population. While runs of more than 26 miles don’t attract true novices, the fact that so many athletes are capable of completing such demanding courses serves as an inspiration to those who are building up the nerve to run in a 5K or a half marathon. When people gain perspective on how long the various races are, they become more inclined to lace up their shoes and take a shot.

The benefits of a ballooning base of runners could be widespread. In addition to improved health among the population, more money can be generated for various causes through the many charitable races that happen each year. Since 5Ks allow for a vast number of participants who don’t need that many provisions, these prove to be some of the best fundraising efforts.

An increase in runners may also lead to further development of fitness attire and accessories, something that will surely be welcomed by the avid runners who have enjoyed the sport for years. As the quality and technology of fitness clothing and devices continues to advance, Phil Thow explains, more sales for the manufacturers could lead to lower prices for consumers.

The health aspect may well be the most important component of an increasingly active community. So many people could be improving their quality of life by just going for a short run each morning, but they choose not to because it either seems too difficult or they don’t believe that they’ll see results. The reality is that regular jogging will produce noticeable effects within six to eight weeks for most people, which is a relatively short amount of time when it comes to one’s lifespan.

Running isn’t easy, of course, especially for those who are just starting out. It requires both mental and physical discipline, and Phil Thow points out that it takes many people a long time before they get to the point where they find the activity to be truly enjoyable. That’s why the rising popularity of these entertainment races is such a positive thing for the sport. Incorporating added levels of excitement and mass appeal has created an easier means of becoming engaged in the recreation. As more people discover these exciting events, the running community will hopefully see a continued rise in participants.

For those who haven’t tried a 5K or heard of a mud run, it’s worth doing some research to see what events are near you. It’s possible that you’ll give one a try and not like it. Conversely, you might soon find yourself wanting to train for an ultra marathon.

Written By – Phil Thow
Scottsdale, Arizona

Phil Thow – Controlling Your Pace in Races

Every runner has a process, one that’s developed as more time is spent training and running in different races. When a person first starts getting involved in the sport, it can be very difficult to the find the right pace; you want to be challenged, but you don’t want to tire out to quickly or, worse yet, injure yourself. As you become more comfortable running long distances, it’s important to gauge your speed and understand your comfort levels. That will make it easier to stay disciplined on the day of a race.

Some people struggle because they come out of the gate too quickly, something that’s especially problematic when running in a marathon. Phil Thow, a running enthusiast, acknowledges that many people have trouble ignoring the speed of the other participants at the start of a race and end up moving at a quicker clip than they normally would. At first, it’s not that noticeable because of the increased adrenaline. Sooner or later, however, the fast start will catch up to you and make it much harder to reach the finish line.

For runners with this problem, there are a few counter measures you can take to control your speed. It’s important that you have a goal speed set for the race, which will allow you to set a general time for each mile. Once you know that target, aim to run slightly behind it for the first three miles of a half marathon, or three to four miles for a full marathon. That way, even if you come out and run the first 200 yards and an untenable speed, you can gauge the time and slow yourself down.

In addition to keeping a runner from tiring out too early, this pacing will help with the mental part of the race that’s so important during the middle miles. Knowing that you began moving at a pace that’s slightly slower than your average, you’ll feel more confident maintaining your speed as the race goes on. You’ll also postpone the normal fatigue that would typically set in earlier.

“Of course, some people have the opposite issue, and they start out too slowly,” says Phil Thow, referring to runners who are overly conservative and end up with energy to spare once they reach the finish line. While you might think that the solution to excessive pacing is to do the exact opposite of someone who starts too quickly, that’s not quite right. You do want to start the race a little faster, but instead of running harder for the first three miles, you need to keep it to just the first mile. A limited fast start can boost your time without causing you to overexert yourself too early.

In either case, Phil Thow points out, the struggle is mental. It has far more to do with your ability to recognize your tendencies than it does with your athletic prowess. As such, it’s important that you find ways to adjust your mindset and your physical approach. By engaging in the right training tactics, you can prepare to set your pace well before your marathon begins.

One trick for starting out at a slower pace than normal is to train at your goal tempo leading up to the race. The more you consistently you run a 7-minute mile, the better you’ll understand how that pace feels. On the day of the race, take your warm-up lap at the targeted rate. That way you’ll have a speed set and you’ll be able to feel and mentally notice when you slow that pace slightly for the first couple of miles.

For people on the other end of the spectrum who want to start races more quickly, Phil Thow says it’s a good idea to work tempo runs into your regular workout. Run at your normal, comfortable pace for a couple miles, then increase your speed for a mile before resuming your standard rate. This enables a runner to both feel the difference in speed and prepare the legs for a stretch at a quicker tempo. On the day of a race, make sure you’re aware of what your brisker time is so that you can fall back to your normal speed as soon as that mile is completed.

It can be very difficult to keep focus in a race, especially when you’re running a course that’s new to you. That’s why, especially for those who have issues with keeping the right pace, it’s important to train in ways that account for your habits as a runner. “A lot goes into running a marathon,” Phil Thow says, “and each runner has different needs.” The best thing you can do is be aware of your body and pay attention to your mile time so that you can adjust accordingly and finish the race strong.

Written By – Phil Thow
Scottsdale, Arizona

Phil Thow – Creative Running to Improve Performance

Monotony is a part of life that’s difficult to avoid. Unless you’re constantly changing careers and never living in the same house for more than a year at a time, it’s almost impossible for people to circumvent the standard routines of life. For many runners, excessive repetition is one of the pitfalls of the sport. As much as you may love to run, going down the same streets at the same speed too many days in a row can be grueling. That’s why it’s a lot of runners make sure they find ways to vary their routines and keep their minds engaged in the exercise.

If you live in an area with dozens of trails that allow you to choose a different route every day, it’s not as hard to find variation. For those with fewer options, there are a number of different methods that runners can use to enhance their workout. Running enthusiast Phil Thow says that not only can diverse training techniques help to keep your runs interesting, they can also better prepare you for upcoming races when properly implemented.

One example is to experiment with tempo running and breaking your distance into three or four legs that you’ll take at different paces. You can try three separate 3K bursts, each run at a slightly increasing pace. Between each segment, fall into a three or four minute recovery walk. This type of interval training is great for your health and endurance, and it will also help to improve your time if you’re training for an upcoming 5K or 10K race.

Another technique is to break your run into four or five legs, each with a minute surge mixed in. In the first 5-minute leg, you’ll increase your pace during the second minute. In the next round, go faster during the fourth minute, and so on. Between each of the 5-minute bursts you’ll have a short recovery stretch, and Phil Thow says this type of exercise is great for runners looking to challenge themselves and add some variation.

The theme with these workouts is clearly tempo variance. While changing pace can be used to spice up your routine, it has a far more important benefit for serious runners. By using these exercises to test your limits, you improve your ability to maintain a higher speed over longer stretches. This practice will increase your anaerobic threshold, which allows you to push yourself more before fatigue sets in and lactic acid levels in your bloodstream get too high.

“Understanding the physiology of the sport can help people to become better athletes,” Phil Thow explains. Studies have shown that many people struggle to stick with a workout because they can’t immediately recognize the benefits. When you know how interval training affects different physical thresholds, it becomes easier to recognize the strides you’re making as a runner. If you go at the same moderate pace every day along the same road, you may slowly improve your time, but the effects will be very gradual. When you target a specific threshold, such as aerobic or lactate, you can hasten the results.

Being result-oriented in your running is important, though it’s what leads many people to feel discouraged by any sense of monotony. When you decide to diversify your approach, you’re making a conscious effort to push past that stagnation. As a result, you’ll likely see improved performance and feel better about the fruits of your efforts.

Phil Thow points out that fitness training like this needs to be approached in a very responsible way. There are many workout philosophies and methods that are geared towards professional athletes, and when a novice runner tries to improve their abilities too quickly, the result is usually an injury. If you’re looking to start doing tempo runs and adding new elements to your workout regiment, you have to first be very aware of your fitness level and capabilities.

For this reason, it’s important to keep track of your times as your runs get longer. When you start to add in 600-meter bursts and staggered sprints, you need to be able to gauge how far you can push yourself and at what point in the run you should be slowing down. Phil Thow mentions that runners who see the best results are those who have a good understanding of what their limits are and what it feels like to push themselves without going too far. When altering pace, it’s best to base your rate off of your current marathon or half marathon time, not the speed you’ve set as your goal.

Struggling to keep steady with a workout is something almost everyone deals with. Fortunately, there are plenty of tactics that will not only help with motivation, but will also turn you into a better runner.

 

Written By – Phil Thow
Scottsdale, Arizona

Running — Interval Training

Running: Interval Training

The idea used here is to start to add some short periods of running at a faster pace in your current runs. Keep doing these for a short time, maybe 200-400m, using a landmark ahead — like a bend in the road or a power pole — as a point of reference. Then bring your pace back down to your regular running level, or slow down and start jogging until you get your breath back. Next, go back to your regular running pace, then insert another fast interval burst later on in the run. Using this method puts additional stress on your body, which will eventually cause your speed and anaerobic stamina to improve.

A sort of physical training involving high intensity bursts of work is interval training. Alternating between periods of rest and lower activity then moving into intervals of high intensity work training makes for a high intensity workout.

Any workout that is cardiovascular can be referred to by the term (biking, running, rowing, etc.) This consists of short movements at the almost highest exertion level mixed with intervals of lower movements.

Interval training is a staple in the routines of long distance runners, or those who run more than 800 meters. This sort of training has been also used by soccer players and sprinters.

Distance runners typically interval train on the tracks, running fast at a specific speed for an established distance (or, less typical, time) and jog, walk or rest for a certain distance or time before they start running fast again. Distances may also differ somewhat; an example would be a “ladder” workout consisting of a 1600m, two 1200m, three 800m, and four 400m repetitions, each one with an appropriate speed as well as an appropriate amount of recovery time.

“Walk-back sprinting” is another form of interval training for runners. This involves sprinting for 100 to 800 meters, followed by a recovery period during which the runner walks back to the starting point. This process is repeated a prescribed number of times. If you want to make the workout more difficult, you can add these sprints starting at a specific time interval. For example, Sprint every 3 minutes using this routine: sprint for 200 meters, then turn around and walk back to the starting point, then sprint again. The elapsed time is just enough time to rest.

Coaches love interval training the most since it is effective to build up the cardiovascular system and it is able to make more qualified runners.

Many fitness experts feel that this method of training helps people lose weight more effectively than just training at moderate intensity for the same amount of time. This has been proven at least twice in studies.

Swedes invented Fartlek training and this is a cross between real interval training and normal distance training. This word means ‘speed play,’ and includes distance running “everywhere,” with brief periods of fast running at irregular times, lengths, and rates in comparison to interval training. Not only is this training plan effective, Fartlek instruction can help people prevent injuries that typically come with continuous activities, and lets people be more intense without being overexerted in a few minutes.

 

-Written By: Phil Thow
Scottsdale, Arizona