Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Holiday Run

We (Chicago Endurance Sports) hosted an easy run last night as part of the half marathon training program for the Miami Half in January. We decided to run the course through the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and through the Lights Festival because it was rainy and damp and we knew there wouldn't be a large crowd to navigate through. And it is fun and FREE!

What was going to be a nasty run in the damp, icky rain turned out to be a holiday treat! There were ice sculptors, lights and even the animals came out to wave to us.

It was a night to remember for sure. And a lesson learned...the best runs usually come in the worst packages. Some of my favorite runs have been in the worst weather conditions or on those days where I haven't felt very much like running.

Happy running holidays...

Coach Jenny

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Feeling Goofy....

Okay, today I confirmed (with myself) I am going to run the Goofy Challenge again this year. John and I ran it last year and I just loved it. I wasn't sure whether I would get in the miles needed to be officially Goofy, but I have. So, I am Goofy about racing Goofy and it is only a few prescious weeks away.

The Goofy Challenge is a Disney Sports Event. You run the Disneyworld Half Marathon Saturday (and earn a Donald Duck Medal). You run the Disneyworld full Marathon Sunday (and earn a Mickey Mouse Medal). Together, half and full you finish as Goofy as they come and you earn a Donald, Mickey and Goofy medal. We all know it's all about the medals!!!

I won't be alone either. Last year, the brilliant Disney folks came up with the idea thinking maybe 300 people would do it. Well, 3,000 people later.... If you build it they will run!

So,I am feeling Goofy today. I have very fond memories of my father carrying me on his shoulders through the Magic Kingdom. This year, he will be on mine as I run through the Magic Kingdom...TWICE!

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Preventing the Holiday Five

They say the average American gains five to seven pounds during the holidays. That is not hard to do these days. All it takes is inactivity and overindulgence and boom, your gift from Santa is a larger pair of pants.

I have a strategy for the holidays, especially this year. I have been creeping up a few pounds more than I want to be and whenever that happens I use It is a free online software program that allows me to keep my calories in balance just like a checkbook. I enter in what I eat during the day, I add my running, cross-training and strength workouts and it gives me a runnig balance of what is going in versus out. I know if I am spending too much (eating too many calories), too much fat, or not enough nutrients. It is the best way for me to get back into reality. Plus, it gives me a breakdown of percentages of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. This is great for a runner!

These days it is so easy to over eat, or over spend as I like to say. Portions are out of control and as a society we have to move less and less each year. Keeping tabs on my "In and Out" inventory keeps me honest. I am back to my fighting weight again and more aware of my choices. In most cases, I begin to gain weight when I am not paying attention to what I am eating. One cookie becomes two, one serving doubles and my one sweet per week rule somehow changes to sweets every other day. Using allows me to get focused and back on track. It typically takes 2-3 weeks and I am back to reality again.

There are a lot of online fuel logs, but I happen to like this one. It is easy to use and free! What is better than that?

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Magic Rock

I had the pleasure of running with Anna Saturday morning during our long run for the Chicago Endurance Sports Winter Warriors Program. The team is training for the Miami Half Marathon and we got a break with weather that was sunny and in the 30s! Anything above 30 in the Chicago winters is a gift.

Anyway, back to Anna. It was a special morning for her. It was her wedding day...and she chose to share it with her running buddies. Anna ran her first half marathon with CES back in March, when the team traveled to the Valley of Gold Half in Tucson, Arizona ( a John Bingham Racing event).

On that trip, I hosted a hike in the Catalina Mountains the day before the race to see the sites, work off a little pre-race gitters AND show them the rock where John proposed to me. When we got to the Magic Rock, I told the story of how he carried the ring in his pocket until he got to this rock and sat me on it and bent down on one knee and proposed. All the girls in the group began rubbing the rock (the single girls, that is) for good luck and we all giggled.

Well, I am happy to report Anna got engaged to Seth, husband seven weeks after rubbing that rock and there are two other girls in that group that are in relationships. Happy wedding day Anna and Seth!

I believe in Karma. And now I believe in that Magic Rock!

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Friday, December 08, 2006


This is a little embarassing to write, but thought it might be useful information. Last night I was setting out running gadgets and winter clothes for my next long run and found a keychain canister of Spitfire which I used for safety when walking our dog Bear and on some runs. Spitfire is a handy device you can carry with you and sprays pepper spray in the case of an assault.

Curiosity got the best of me and I started to push the button just to see if it still worked (dumb). Well, it worked and it worked on ME! Let me tell you it is not fun at all and would really have an affect on someone coming a little too close to you! I had it everywere. It was in my eyes, my sinuses, and I was sneezing and crying for hours.

So, if you ever wondered if pepper spray works, it does folks. Just make sure to try it outside and spray it away from yourself.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Running on Ice

Well, we came home from North Carolina to wind chills below zero and snow and ice. Although I love running on treadmills in the winter, I really need to get my butt outside and run to prepare for the Antarctica Marathon in February. The course could have anything from ankle deep mud to snow ice and sleet. It is unusual, but I have perfect training grounds for this race.

I am using Nike Air Pegasus Clima-Fit shoes as they offer a more durable sole for traction and have water resistant properties which help keep my feet warm and dry. I also use a product called Yak Trax which easily slip on my shoes and provide more traction in the snow and ice. If you run in the snow and ice, these tools make a big difference in safety.

Some things I've found to be helpful when training through the winter are...

-If it is cold and challenging terrain, take it easy and run slower. The conditions are not suitable for setting personal records or getting in that speed workout. I always run my speed on a treadmill when it drops below 35 degrees. It is less risky in injuring something and provides a better quality workout too.

-I shorten my stride and keep my feet lower to the ground to prevent slipping and falling.

-I wear reflective clothing, flashing lights and a headlamp in the dark to make sure I am visible and can see where I am headed.

-I keep my body relaxed when running on ice and snow as my natural tendency is to tighten up. This can cause your hips and inner and outer thighs to be sore and become tight post run. Plus, if I am tight running over that stuff, I am a higher risk for falling.

-I always take a hot shower before a long run and use a foam roller to warm and loosen my muscles before heading out in the cold. In temperatures colder than 30, I wear a pair of tights as a first layer and windproof shell pants over them to keep my legs warm. Keeping your legs warm will reduce the risk of injury by keeping the legs warm.

These tips have kept me running through the cold Chicago Winters safely and successfully. Even when I would rather be in watching Ellen on a treadmill.

Run Safely...

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Victory Junction Run

We are just back from a truly amazing event weekend. We were in Randleman, North Carolina for the Innaugural Victory Junction Half Marathon Run. An event to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp. The Victory Junction Gang Camp enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically sound environment. The Camp was founded by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie, in honor of their son Adam.

The Camp is operated purely on donations of kind people like the runners in this event. The Camp is run on the spirit of life. From the Camp Staff to the volunteers that come from all over the world, it is a truly inspirational and special Camp. More than 700 runners toed the line on race morning, running a challenging yet rewarding half marathon course. Plus, they all got a "high-five" at the finish from Kyle and Pattie Petty!

I had tears in my eyes most of the day. Not because I was sad, but because the generosity of the human spirit is far greater than we can all imagine. We raised over $65,000 this year and I am sure we will double that next year.
Victory Junction Run

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Training Through the Cycles of (a Girl's) Life

Okay guys, this post is geared to the girls. Sorry, I will post one for guys soon. Maybe cool running gadgets or something like that.

Every month, about 5-7 days prior to my cycle starting, running gets really hard. My breathing is more labored, I sometimes feel like I have never run before and my legs are like lead. I had one of those runs today as I am in the ZONE, as I like to call it. So, I thought I would share.

Magically, when the PMS Zone is over it is like something out of Harry Potter movie, the spell breaks and I can run and train again almost effortlessly.

The wizard in me decided one season to begin to track the changes day to day. I wrote down every workout how I felt, where I was in my cycle and began to notice a trend. There was no need for scientific data, it was all right there in front of me.

My heart rates were 10 beats or higher in runs during the 5-7 days prior to menstruation [PMS] and would drop to normal rates once I began to menstruate.

My breathing was more labored both in easy runs and hard or long runs during PMS and much easier during menstruation and the rest of the cycle.

My motivation to train was lowered during PMS and found it more challenging to get the runs in.

I was much more fatigued during PMS and slept and napped more often.

From a dietary standpoint, I bet you’ll be surprised to find out I craved sweets during PMS too.

The following tips are just a few ways to take advantage of the cycles of training and improve performance.

• Monitor your cycle and keep track of your strong and efficient phases as well as your more challenging times of the month.
Include heart rate, effort levels (perceived), mood, motivation levels, speed, distance, climate and diet habits. Review it and familiarize yourself with the high and low periods of your cycle.

• Plug your cycle dates into your daily planning system or training schedule. It will be easier to better plan and adapt effort levels and intensities week to week, and even plan races around the highs and lows. At the very least, you will know when to expect the more challenging days of the month.

• If possible, try to schedule your “key” training sessions during the stronger times of your cycle. Cut back or ease up effort levels during the challenging and symptomatic phases of your cycle. This could mean running your long runs a little slower, or running an easy run instead of a scheduled hard run.

• If your motivation runs low, schedule runs with a friend. In most cases, you will run if you plan it ahead of time and they will keep you motivated.

• PMS symptoms have been linked to poor dietary habits and low levels of magnesium, which affects blood sugar levels and hormonal metabolism. Include foods rich in magnesium, B-Complex and calcium in your diet [dairy, green leafy veggies, whole grains, nuts, fish, beans are just a few]

• Maintaining a fuel and activity log (online) can be very useful in tracking the quality going in (food) and the quantity going out (running). Free online logs like allow you to enter your daily activity as well as your fuel day to day and analyze the balance. This is a great way to make small changes that will make a great difference in your performance.

• Although some women go as far as adjusting their cycles to match their strong days of the month (typically days 9-12 and 17-20) with hormones, it is best to check with your doctor before doing so.

• About one-third of all Olympic gold medals were won during menstruation. Two-thirds were won one week after cessation of menstruation. That proves it. It is not a burden, but rather a part of our cycle that allows us to excel. If you are scheduled to have your cycle on race day be prepared. There are plenty of fanny packs to carry products. You can also tape it to the back of your race number. In an emergency, stop at the medical station as they will have a supply of feminine products.

• Take care of yourself nutritionally, use Tylenol 8-hour for pain during the race (safest pain medication for endurance athletes) and go into the race with an open mind. You just may have the race of your life!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Home Sweet Home

It has been a few weeks since my last post. I've been enjoying being home and off the road for a bit. We travel again this week to the inaugural Victory Junction Gang Run, a half marathon we created with Kyle Petty (and family) to benefit the Victory Junction Camp.

I am currently training for the Antarctica Half Marathon in February and a marathon in Tierra del Fuego (the End of the World) in March. It is a two-week expedition that include two marathons, kayaking with whales and a lot of sightseeing. A once in a lifetime trip. John and I are crew for the expedition and love the journey. It is truly the closest thing to the moon we will ever see.

The marathon is very hilly, on a dirt road and can be very, very very cold and windy or mild and very, very, very muddy. Once I raced it with hip deep snow in areas. The second time we ran through ankle deep mud. Running the Antarctica Marathon is like a box of chocolates...You never know what you are going to get.

I am training on trails, hill work on a treadmill and lots of strength training. It feels good to be back in training mode. Especially after a full week of holiday mode.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Friday, November 10, 2006

Eating My Words...

I believe in karma, good and well, not-so-good. I was interviewed today by a reporter in Austin, Texas on running through the winter. We had a great chat about tips and tools runners can use to train through the challenging winter days. At one point she asked about what to do about the cold days, "because down here it gets can be 40-45 and rainy - hypothermia weather". I answered her with a few tips and then told her that in Chicago, that would be a warm welcome. After all, we train on single degree days and below zero wind chills.

Well, not 30 minutes later I headed out the door to do my long run along the Chicago Lakefront path. About 3 miles into a 10 miler, the wind picked up (25-30 mph), it started pouring rain and guess what, it was 40 degrees! I was chilled to the bone and all I kept thinking was I wish I had that reporters number to tell her about how much I suffered. I am sure she would get a kick out of it especially because I made light of that weather.

To be honest, a run in 35-40 degrees and rain is far worse than running in 15-25 degrees and dry or even snow. It chills you to the bone. As they say "be careful what you wish for" as I was handed a full dose of humble pie today.

It was a good reminder of what is ahead this winter. I tip my hat to all the runners in Austin, Texas.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Marathon Month

October is a busy time for marathoners. You can find a marathon every week of the month, anywhere in the world. The long summer days allow for a perfect training season and the cool fall mornings set the stage for perfect marathon weather.

Today is the last long run for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon group I coach in Chicago (Chicago Endurance Sports). Their bodies are fit and their minds anxious. It has been rewarding watching them progress and grow stronger through the season. They are ready to rumble...

The week before a marathon is a special time in a runners life. Pre-race week is a time when nerves set in no matter how many you've run and when you begin to question what to wear, what to eat and whether you've trained hard enough. I always have nightmares the week before a marathon. I get lost on the course, end up on the fifth floor of Macy's and have to cab it back to the marathon course.

Nerves, nightmares and anxious thoughts are all part of the journey folks. Especially for first timers because you are about to set sail on a journey you've never known. Like many firsts, it is the fear of the unknown that really fuels the energy. Whenever I get nervous pre-race, I think of time when I was really nervous and how it turned out in the end. Like racing Eco-Challenge, Borneo. It was my first expedition length adventure race (8-10 days) and it was being held in the jungles of Malaysia where "leeches" and "snakes" vacation. I heard so many stories about leeches I was a basket-case pre-race. But in the end, the fear of the leech was much worse than the reality.

You know you can run a long way because you did it in training. You know you are prepared because you witnessed your body adapt to the training week to week. And you know you are going to look good in that finish line photo!

It helps to take a look at the marathon course and break the distance up into smaller, more digestible pieces. Get familiar with where you will run. Go with what you know this week. Stick to similar meals, hydration and race day habits.

Race day is about celebration. Whether you are going for a better finish time or reaching for your first marathon medal, enjoy the journey because it will be over before you know it.

Run strong...

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Garmin Forerunner GPS Watch

Holy cow I love my life. I was recently asked to test drive the new Garmin Forerunner GPS watch. It is the coolest running toy and a great motivator. Especially if you are into numbers.

The Garmin Forerunner links to the satellites and measures your speed and distance from above. No more driving in the car and measuring how far you went. No more pacing problems. The Forerunner gives you your pace while you run so there is no way to run too fast. Well, unless you just run too fast!

There is also a feature that is allows you to train against a "buddy". You set the pace for the buddy and keep up to it while you run. A great way to motivate yourself on those grueling gray days.

It is very easy to use and even downloads your data to your computer. For those that are into mapping features, you can even see your course on a satellite map!

It is on the top of my favorite things list and a great present for a runner or walker.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Shall I Wear?

What to wear on those cool fall runs? I go through this every fall. In fact, it is my favorite time of year. The leaves show their brilliant colors, the crisp, cool days and the quest for the perfect caramel apple.

I have been running for years. You would think I would have this process down. Not true. Every fall, I have to figure out what to wear, how much or too little to wear on those crisp fall runs. I typically start out with too many layers fearing I will be cold then spend the entire run shedding layers. By the time I am finished, I have so many layers of clothing wrapped around my body I can't even move! I typically get it down to an outfit by the fourth or fifth cool run.

I try to follow these tips when figuring out what to wear on those cool fall runs...

-You should feel "chilled" at the start of your run. If you are toasty warm, you have too many layers on and will over heat.

-Dress for 15-20F degrees warmer than it is. If it is 40 degrees, dress for 55-60 degrees. That will allow for your increase in body temperature when running.

-Fall running clothes are cute and fun to shop for. When you buy something new, give an old piece away. Otherwise, you will end up spending all your time deciding which shirt or tights to wear rather than running in them!

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Monday, September 25, 2006

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad...

Well, just arrived home from Toronto. John and I were in town for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I spoke at the Expo Friday and Saturday and had plans to run the half marathon Sunday.

One of my goals this season was to run three half marathons instead of one marathon. I thought that would be realistic since my base is not very strong this fall. I ran the Disneyland Half last weekend. I was going for the Scotiabank this weekend and conclude with the new Rock n Roll San Jose in October.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling as if I got hit by a semi-truck. So, needless to say I did not run. I've learned the hard way in life that running through illness does not turn out very well in the end. Plus, my photo finish always looks awful...

San Jose is the next stop. Keeping my head high and putting one foot in front of the other.

Coach Jenny

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Happiest Race on Earth...

I have very fond memories of Disneyworld. My mom and dad would load the three kids in the van at 2am and drive straight through from Chicago to Orlando. We called it Disney or BUST! We wouldn't be three miles down the road when one of us would ask "how much farther is it?" I am sure we drove our parents crazy with the Sound of Music eight-track playing over and over. We could NOT wait to explore the wonderful world of Disney.

When they created the first Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994, I think I was one of the first people to register! It is a great way for an adult to have as much fun as a kid for a weekend. That was more than 10 years ago and the Disney people keep creating wonderful races.

John and I were invited to speak at the Inaugural DisneyLAND Half Marathon this weekend in Anaheim, CA. I have been counting the days until this event, and although my training has been less than optimal, I ran it at an easy pace and had a ball on the course. It is the only race where you can dress up like a character for the weekend and not have people look at you funny. You can bet this running girl has a new pair of golden ears...

The Disneyland Half Marathon is a very well organized event with loads of music and entertainment. We ran through all the theme parks, down the Santa Ana Trail by the river, through the scenic streets of Anaheim with mountains in the distance and around the bases in the Anaheim Angels MLB Team. All that and a high-five from Mickey and Minnie and the finish.

What is better than that?

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, it was a tough run this morning. Although I have been running pretty regularly lately, I think the emotional turmoil is taking a toll. I felt like I was running with a 80-pound backpack on...

It confirms that when we run, we do so with our body, our mind and our spirit. All of which must work together to move us efficiently forward. I knew it would be a tough run, but by the end I felt much better. Sometimes the hardest runs are the most rewarding in the end.

Coach Jenny

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Girl's Best Friend

Saturday we had one last walk with BEAR, our 16-year old dog. Bear was an 8-pound black poodle-shitzu mix and loved to run and fetch. He earned his name because his spirit was as big as a Bear.

He had a great life and was my best buddy. He studied with me in college, rode in my backpack and cheered on runners, and even beat a greyhound dog in the local Bark in the Park 5K. He was even assistant Crew with John when I raced a 24-hour solo adventure race in the UP. He put in a lot of miles with a lot of friends and will be missed greatly.

I plan on hosting a Hike in Bear's memory in the fall. He use to be the herding dog for my Hike Like a Girl clinics and would always make sure everyone front to back of the pack was safe.

The timing on this couldn't have been any worse, but I believe my father is going for daily walks with Bear somewhere over the rainbow.

As for me, my running life has been on hold for awhile and been in what I refer to as "maintenance" mode. I feel a challenge coming on soon. I am not sure what that means, but I will keep you posted.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This Run is for You Dad

Many of you know my father has been struggling with an inoperable brain tumor for just under a year. I am torn in writing that his struggle is over and he is at peace. He passed away August 30th with his family at his side.

He was a courageous man who's spirit to live life to its fullest carries on in me every day. I have learned many lessons from my father but my favorite is to make the most out of today. There are no guarantees for a tomorrow.

Today I will run for him. He enjoyed hearing stories of where running took me and what I saw along the journey. This run is for you dad. Your life is your legacy...

Coach Jenny

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Side Stitches

I was finishing up a long run with my marathon team yesterday when all of a sudden a painful side stitch developed. There are many theories as to why stitches develop from irregular, rapid breathing to spasms in the diaphram, the major muscle responsible for breathing. In either case, there is a secret to getting rid of side stitches quickly.

My stitch was located in my left side. While running, focus on exhaling when the right foot (or opposite foot from the stitch) hits the ground. Not every time the foot hits the ground, but when you do exhale do so when the opposite side foot strikes the ground. It is also helpful to slow down and get your breathing under control. This trick usually gets rid of that stitch in seconds. It is amazing. It allows the musculature (diaphram) on the stitch side to relax and release the spasm that is causing the stitch.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Monday, August 21, 2006

Run Like a Kenyan

I had the pleasure of running and coaching Daniel Cheruiyot, a Kenyan runner who races for John Bingham Racing. We were in Tucson preparing for the Arizona Distance Classic and he asked me to go for a run with him. At first I chuckled, thinking yea, right, I am going for a run with a Kenyan runner. No way... Then he explained to me that he was running SLOW. I chuckled again and thought, yea, slow for a Kenyan runner is still too fast for me. He assured me it would be okay and we headed out the door.

While on the run I asked him what his typical slow pace was and he replied 8:00 minute miles. I was shocked! He runs sub 5 minute per mile pace in races and his slow pace was 3 minutes slower. Wow! He also added that most American runners, especially new runners, train too hard and too fast. I've always known the benefits of truly training easy on easy days, but this was a true testament that it works.

So, on your next "easy" run, truly take it easy. Make sure you can have a conversation and aren't gasping for air. If you are using a heart rate monitor, hang around 65-70% of your max or at a pace that is very comfortable. Because running easy allows you to run hard.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Running Negative

It is August in Chicago and a time when all you see on the Lakefront path is runners training for the Chicago Marathon. Although I am not training for Chicago this year (Our team, Chicago Endurance Sports has over 400 this year so I will be coaching) I am training for a few great races this fall.

One of my favorite training runs is what I call a Negative Split Run or Running Negative. Although it sounds negative, it teaches you how to pace from the start and pick up the pace in the last half of the race.

If you try it, plug it in as a "hard run" on your schedule. Head on a out and back course and take the first half at an easy pace. At the turn around, run back at a comfortably hard pace or at a pace that is just outside your comfort zone. If you are in to heart rate monitors it would be 70-75% out and 80-85% back. Your second half time split should be 1-3 minutes faster than the first half of the run. That depends greatly on the total time and your running speed.

It sounds easy but is a very challenging run. It takes discipline to run easy in the first half of a training run and a race. This is one of the most important skills to learn for race day. Pacing yourself from the start will conserve yourself for the final miles. You will end up passing more people, feel better in the final miles and most importantly, look GOOD for the finish line photo. And that is what it is really about, isn't it:)

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

When you come across a turtle in the road...

help him out. I was finishing up a great run in northern Illinois this past weekend when I came across a turtle sitting in his shell next to the curb. There was no way he was getting over that curb by himself so I picked him up and moved him safely across the road to a nearby pond. I am not privy to turtle etiquette, but I walked away smiling and thinking it was a good thing to do.

It made me think of how he must have gotten there. He had to cross the road at some point and when he did, he was met with a huge obstacle and something he couldn't tackle on his own. Well, he could have crossed back over the road again... technically speaking. Still, he got himself into a tricky spot.

I began to think of all the times I have gotten myself into a tough spot in training or in a race. Particularly, in an adventure race I did solo and got lost in the middle of the night. At first, I sat, like the turtle with my head between my knees and cried (I AM a girl...). Then, I saw some headlamps in the distance and decided to head down the mountain and see if they were lost as well. Turns out that all I had to do was walk about 500 feet down the mountain to find the trail. The answer was right in front of me but I couldn't see it without help.

These days, when I find myself in a tricky spot, I embrace a little help from my friends.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Monday, July 17, 2006

Girls on the Move - Baltimore

What a weekend! I was visiting family in the DC area and had the chance to run with a great group of ladies who are part of Health Magazine's Girls on the Move Running Club. GOTM is a national running club that motivates new and seasoned runners to train together. Sue Hays, a GOTM leader has developed a great running club in the Baltimore area. Most of the club started as new runners and could never imagine running one mile, let alone a race. Last month, all of them ran their first 5K and have the stories to prove it. They will be featured in the November issue of Health Magazine.

We met at a women's fitness facility run by Lorraine Bibb called "Contours Express" and talked running, fitness and chafing (all the good stuff) and then headed off to a beautiful park for a 3 mile run. You know you are a real runner when the skies open up and the rain pours down and you think it feels good. GOTM - Baltimore, you're a great group of runners.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon

What a month it has been! We just returned from the Inaugural Great Alaskan Maritime Marathon. John and I hosted over 100 runners and their family on a week full of clinics, running races, great food and beautiful scenery. The idea was to challenge runners to complete the marathon distance 26.2 miles over the course of a few days. Sounds easy right? Wrong! They ran 2 miles on deck, a half marathon in Juneau, 5 miler in Sitka and 10K trails in Ketchikan. By the end of the week our legs were tired but we all were sporting shiny new marathon medals for the first and only staged marathon on a Cruise ship! The highlight was getting to know runners from all over the nation AND seeing a whale in the first mile of the half marathon. What a trip...

It was so successful we are planning another GAMM trip for 2007. Stay tuned for more details.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Post Race Recovery

I find post race recovery a bit challenging. In most cases, you are coming off a high from the race and want to keep going. Your body reminds you the day after just how hard you ran on race day. I encourage runners to take the week after a half or full marathon off running all together and do light cross-training. It helps speed the healing process by giving your muscles, tendons and joints a break from the impact of running and allows your mind to defrag after the long structured training season.

So, here I am at day four of my post race recovery and already I want to go for a run. I take that as a good sign that the recovery is going well physically and mentally. Until then I am cycling, strength training and focusing on flexibility.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Taking it to the streets...

What a week. I started my week in New York City with Health Magazine's Girls on the Move Running Club. It is an incredible Club that celebrates the power of women moving. The Online Club is motivating women throughout the nation to walk, run-walk and run together and have fun while getting fit. In the first month, they have over 4,000 members!

I also had the chance to run one of my favorite courses in the world...Central Park. I ran the loop around the Park which is a bout 6 miles and enjoyed every minute. There are tons of people riding, blading, running, walking, juggling... Not to mention the challenging rolling hills. Have I mentioned that I love running hills? It was a treat to say the least.

Today, I had the honor of running the 30th One America 500 Festival Indy Mini Marathon and had an absolutely magical day. The weather was perfect sunny and 45 degrees at the start 55 at the finish. You can't ask for much better than that. 35,000 participants towed the line in the town center of Indianapolis and ran 6 miles to the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back! More than 2 miles running on a track where cars race over 200 miles per hour. It really put things into perspective as it took me a little over 16 minutes to run what race cars cover in seconds. The course wiggles through the Indy community with over 120 entertainment stations. It is a wonderful start to a month long celebration for the city of Indianapolis and a race that is highly recommended in my book. Register early for this one. It sells out in November!

From the Big Apple to the Indy Speedway, running is a gift that has taken me to some really fun places...

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Running Music City

I am not a big fan of country music, but when in Rome...

We took a team of runners from Chicago Endurance Sports (half and full marathon training program) to Nashville for the Country Music Marathon yesterday. 23,000 runners and walkers and a country music band at every mile. It was a fantastic event!

The Music City race was a beautifully rolling course through the Nashville community and a fun journey with rockin' tunes even I enjoyed. The team was really challenged by the never ending hills, but they had trained all winter on the one hill we have in Chicago and treadmills too. Not exactly the same, but it helped them conquer hill after hill.

We met at a hip honky tonk "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge" later that night and all of them were surprised and excited about what they had accomplished. And to my surprise, we were even caught dancing to the country music.

Every now and then it pays to push your self outside your comfort zone physically and culturally. You realize just how much you can achieve and learn to enjoy different styles of life too...

Happy Trails Ya'All,

Coach Jenny

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day Run...

I think I am one day off the official celebration of Earth Day, but nonetheless, I had a beautiful day to run my annual Earth Day Run. 10 miles, sunny and cool and it couldn't have been a better day. It is a run I started after I raced in Eco-Challenge out of respect for the terrain we live on day to day.

Eco-Challenge was a grueling race and also an opportunity to help the terrain and the community where we raced. In Borneo we planted new trees in a park. In New Zealand, we donated books to the school children and in Fiji, I adopted a family. We were cold, wet and tired and they invited us into their hut for hot tea. We took off our shoes and walked in the back door, out of respect for the chief of the village. We talked (they speak english), we celebrated life and shared stories of our cultures. It was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life. The fijian woman was my age and had a lovely family of children. We hit it off as soon as we met. No shoes, not much food and hardly any clothing, yet they were happy in their village and shared what little they had. A life lesson for me.

So as I run on Earth Day, I pick up what ever trash comes in my path and toss it in the garbage. That is quite a lot on the lakefront path in Chicago. I know, it is not exactly a huge contribution, but at this point in my life it is a way to remember the Fijian family and a small way of respecting this wonderful planet we call Earth.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny

Friday, April 21, 2006

Running on the wrong side of the lake...

I'm fortunate enough to be up in Toronto speaking to a great group of coaches for the Jeans Marines Training Program. Toronto is a great city, and there is nothing like running through the streets to get the feel of the town. It reminds me an awful lot of Chicago, only the lake is on the wrong side of the city! They have a nice running path along the lake, but boy am I turned around. I just might have to break out my adventure racing compass again.

Happy Trails...

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me...

Yes, today is my 39th birthday. One more year until I hit 40. I thought I would be upset about leaving my thirties, but I can't stop thinking of how great it will be to have another 5 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Life is good.

I ran my traditional birthday run on the lakefront path today. I am about one minute per mile slower than I was 10 years ago, but I still smile when I run. Running is the ultimate gift. That is what I try to remember when I get down on my times. I am still out there enjoying it!

Happy Trails...

Coach Jenny

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Warm Weather Running Tips

I had the chance to get out and run today. What a gift! The weather is Chicago has been pretty darn icky lately, but not this morning. I ran past the Lakefront beaches and they were taking down the winter snow fencing and that can only mean one thing... the warm weather runs are coming. The best way to acclimate to running in the warm weather is to give yourself time to acclimate.

It can take 10 days of running in warm weather for your body to acclimate. Take is easy and slow down. Wear technical fabrics that keep you cool. Wear sunscreen and shades to protect yourself from the sun and run when it is cooler in the day.

If your heart rate and effort level seem elevated, have no fear - you're RIGHT! Your body is trying its darndest to cool you off and it is a bit rusty since you've been running in the cooler temps. Work with it and slow down. Eventually, you will be able to run at your normal efforts in the warmer weather.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Windy Runs

Boy, it was a windy one today. I find it is always a good idea to head out into the wind for the first half of the run and get warm (this time of year) and head back with the wind on your way home. That way, you won't get cold heading back into a wind sweaty. It is a wodnerful mental challenge as well. Not every day can be done in a perfect running climate, so days like today are a gift. They build character and strength and give us something to talk about later in the day:)

Happy Trails...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring Training

This is the time of year we start thinking of Summer, of goals to run, or bike or swim. The possibilities are endless. I am asked frequently how to start a training program. The key to succes is to start with where you are, rather than where you want to be.

If you want to train for a half marathon, find a program that starts with the same frequency of running you are currently doing. If you jump into a program that is too aggressive it will catch up with you and the risk for injury sky-rockets.

For those of you who are looking for structured training programs, I have developed a menu of programs from 5K - marathon on the site. There are tips from John "the Penguin" Bingham and training programs for every level!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When Life Intervenes...

It has been awhile since my last post. I had goals to train, to run a Spring Ultra Marathon. The goals have been set aside and the miles shortened. Now, I run to stay strong and postive. I run to get through the emotional tornado that has ripped through my life. I run, because my dad can't.

My father has hit a rough spot in his life and in he is six weeks into radation for an in-operable brain tumor. What happens when life intervenes and turns it upside down? We run...

This blog is dedicated to my dad. His strength and will to live inspires me to live life to the fullest.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Which Shoes are the best for running?

QUESTION: My running partner wears Nike shoes. She says they are the best.
Should I buy Nike shoes? Also where is the best place to buy shoes?
Thank You


What works for one person may not work for another. Buying shoes is like eyeglasses. Everyone has different needs for support and fit.

I highly encourage you to go shopping at a local running specialty store and get fitted.

Shop later in the day when your feet are swollen to avoid buying shoes that are too small. Your feet also swell when running. Wear the same socks you plan to wear running and make sure they are made of wicking material like Dri-fit or coolmax.

Knowledgeable running store employees should do the following when fitting you with shoes:

The store should have a wide variety of shoes and brands. The staff should have a good working knowledge of each shoe and what is provides.

They should ask how many miles you run per week, on what terrain and your running experience and goals.

If you’ve been running regularly in shoes, bring them with you. Although it is not an exact science, examining wear patterns may give them some clues as to which shoes will fit you best.

They should look at the shape of your foot and measure it standing and seated. Doing so will tell them how your foot measures both weight bearing and non-weight bearing. Looking at the shape will give them a starting point for determining the degree of stability you may need in your shoes.

Patience is a virtue. You may have to try on several pairs of shoes before you find the pair that fits the best. They should watch you run in each pair to make sure the shoe supports your needs.

Ultimately, it comes down to fit and feel. Once you determine the style that will best support you, finding the most comfortable model is that last step. The shoe should feel comfortable the minute you put it on. If it doesn’t, keep shopping.

Happy Trails,
Coach Jenny

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Long Run

Got in a 9-miler today. We had a snow storm last night, so I was expecting a tough run. It actually turned out to be a highlight run of the season. Sunny, warmer and great conversation the whole way. There is nothing like a long run that seems short:)

I am recovering from the Disney - Goofy Race and a Half Challenge in early January. Someone at Disney thought it would be cool to host the Half Marathon Saturday and the full Marathon on Sunday and then offer a Goofy Challenge and a Half and run both! I heard they thought 300 people would do it, they ended up with 3,000! John Bingham and I were "Goofy" and ran it and as it turned out, it was actually a lot of fun! It made me focus on pacing and strategy, making sure that I finish the marathon. The pacing plan worked and I ended up running the last mile of the marathon the fastest. I am convinvced negative splits are the way to go. Take the first half of the race slower than the second. It works like a charm and you look good for the photo at the finish line:)

Happy Trails,


Thursday, January 19, 2006

To blog, or not to blog...

Well, it is official. I have a blog. It seems like everyone has a blog these days, so I thought I would give it a shot.

It seems like a great place to share tips and tricks for training, thoughts on training and racing and maybe even a training log entry or two. It is always nice to have a little accountability for your training...

Have a question on training? Please ask? We can all learn together.

Happy Trails,

Coach Jenny