Thursday, March 31, 2011

40 Runner's Commandments

1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.
3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life.
4. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself.
5. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
6. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride.
7. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.
8. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.
9. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run.
10. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.
11. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.
12. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
13. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.
14. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.
15. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe.
16. Don’t always run alone.
17. Don’t always run with people.
18. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.
19. No matter how slow, your run is still faster than someone sitting on a couch.
20. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing.
21. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast.
22. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.
23. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running.
24. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.
25. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better.
26. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.
27. Don’t try to outrun dogs.
28. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often.
29. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.
30. Without goals, training has no purpose.
31. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.
32. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.
33. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.
34. “Winning” means different things to different people.
35. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously.
36. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights.
37. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.
38. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them.
39. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated.
40. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run.

Keep these in mind as you train this year....

Coach Ming

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Everyone wants a marathon training regimen that will leave their legs feeling “fresh." They want to know, 'How can I get that spring in my legs?' That’s the wrong question. The question should be: 'How can I train my body so that when the fatigue hits me, I'm still able to respond?'

The program that I follow has guided more than 25 men to qualifying times for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, including Brian Sell, who finished third at the 2008 Trials. In October, Desiree Davila was the first American woman at the Chicago Marathon in 2:26:20, finishing fourth overall. The philosophy is simple - Running a marathon is all about pace. (If you would like more information, or would like me to send you a detailed copy of the program, email me at )

This program teaches your body and mind how to run your goal pace, no matter how tired you are. The training is designed around a concept called "cumulative fatigue"—high weekly mileage volume and a steady diet of hard workouts. Those workouts, dubbed "Something of Substance," or SOS, include a speed or strength day run slightly faster than goal marathon pace, a marathon-pace tempo run that gets progressively longer, and a long run done 45 to 60 seconds slower than goal pace.

All successful training programs have speed, tempo, and long run components. This program differs because it puts equal weight on each part. In conventional programs runners often do little training at their marathon goal pace. But in this plan, the workouts are all calibrated around your marathon goal pace so that, come race day, you'll be able to hit your splits in your sleep.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the plan is the absence of a sacred cow—the 20-plus-mile long run. For non-elite runners, the long effort tops out at 16 miles. People say, 'How can a long run be only 16 miles?’ Then they'll finish that run and say, 'Gosh, I don't think I could run another 10 miles.' And they'll be right. With the plan's emphasis on high mileage and hard workouts, you're not running the first 16 miles of a marathon, you're running the last 16. This program is duplicating that final-miles feeling.

Traditional programs overemphasize the long run. Twenty-plus mile efforts sap most runners and compromise the quality of subsequent workouts. There's nothing magical about a long run of a certain distance. The most important factor is quality total mileage, week in and week out. It's a formula that holds true for beginners, elites, and everyone in between. This program is very appealing to people like me who coach, have three young children, and are very busy in general.

Building mileage volume is key. Sometimes running when you're tired isn't a bad thing. Once your body adapts, there's a callusing benefit. You just have to get through a period of feeling pretty crappy in all your runs.

Here’s three key concepts to keep in mind -

#1: Let the body recover without the mind losing confidence.
Severe tapers can leave you flat. Cut mileage by 20 percent two weeks out; 40 percent one week out.

#2: You can't bank time.
Going out too fast in the beginning means you have zero seconds to draw on later in the race. In fact, you're investing in a crash.

#3: Forget about your splits in the last 10-K.
You should have a good idea of what you have left. Time to tap the reserves for all they're worth.

Bottom line is this - Speed, strength, and tempo sessions—combined with shorter long runs—will help marathoners of all abilities run a better race.

Run Happy!

Coach Nolan Ming

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simple Steps

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Say this Sunday afternoon you're going for a run. You don't need a machine - no gears, blades, sails, or poles. No pucks, caddies, reels, or rules. You don't require instructions. You don't need a ride to a designated place - wherever you are is the place. If you live near grass you can do it without shoes; if your neighbors are tolerant and the bugs aren't bad, you can do it without clothes.

Being good products of a consumer society, we've complicated matters. I remember standing at the Start of the 2009 Chicago Marathon - the inescapable sound of thousands of beeping watches. You can run against an invisible buddy who lives inside your watch; even coordinate heart rate with the tunes playing on your iPod. I, myself, am guilty of wearing a Garmin 405 on ALL of my runs, and recently trying out some new apps for my phone as well. You can download every stitch of information about your run the second it's done, to make sure it lives on forever in the memory of your computer.

The trick is to make it live in your own memory; that's better done by just heading out. By pretending to be the thing you really are - an animal. That means leaving behind the GPS, and the assumptions that complicate your run. The idea, for instance, that you're doing it to get stronger or faster, as opposed to just doing it.It's not a duty, it's a blessing - the chance not to count your heartbeats, but just to feel the blood surge up in you veins.

And it's worth adding that simpler is better in other ways as well. Less stuff means less impact on the environment. It means less time stuck in your car and more time with your family. It means spending less on gear, which means less time spent earning it in the first place. A friend of Thoreau's told him he should earn money so he could take the train somewhere and see something new. Thoreau explained that in the time his friend spent earning train fare, he could walk the 30 miles from here to there.

Of course, if you need some paraphernalia to get you out the door, go for it. Einstein, who was nearly as smart as Thoreau, once remarked, " Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." The most important thing to leave behind is the noise in your head, the endless CNN forever broadcasting your desires, your hopes, your plans. See if you can make it go away for a while - and really step outside.

This thing we do is one of the great and primal joys. If you don't wear your ear buds in church, consider leaving them off when you head out the door today.