Taking time off after a long season

Is there a better feeling than a much-deserved break after a long season of running?  I’ll answer for you: no there’s not.

There are so many benefits to taking time off after a season and yet so many runners neglect this super important piece of the training.  Whatever their hatred for a break might be, I’m here to tell all you runners out there that it’s really necessary to take some time away from running every once in a while.

Reasons to take time off after a season

Even as little as 4 consecutive days off will pay serious dividends to your long term running goals.  The longer the race (and season), the longer I suggest you take off.  For a season full of 5k’s, I’d suggest a minimum of a week to a maximum amount of time off of 3 weeks.  For longer peak races, like marathons and ultras, I suggest taking off two weeks minimum to 4 weeks, depending on how you feel.

Consecutive days off are good!

  1. Rest your legs. After a long season where you’ve put in a lot of miles, it’s totally normal to let your legs freshen up and feel good.
  2. Rest your mind.  The toughest part about training for a long period of time is staying mentally focused.  Taking time away from running let’s you recharge your mind.
  3. Eat, eat, eat!  Yes, time away from running let’s you indulge on the foods you told yourself you couldn’t eat because you were training.  Now’s the time to eat them.
  4. Friends.  What friends?  I’m hear to remind you that at one point, you had friends.  Connect with them without feeling guilty of missing a run.
  5. Time to implement new strategies.  With the break in training, it can signify a chance to try new things or to reimplement strength training, striders, or workouts back in to your routine.

Why runners don’t take time off

Not all runners like to take a break after their season.  The feeling of losing all of your fitness is both scary and unappealing to a lot of runners.  Knowing that you’re starting from “square 1” doesn’t make a lot of people feel right.  Like something is missing if they take a week off from running.  I get that, but remember: a week off of running doesn’t negate all of the running you have done.



  • Myth # 1: After a week off, I’ll be in such bad shape.
    • Truth:  You won’t be.  You’ll be recharged and ready to get back out there.  It’s exactly what you needed.
  • Myth # 2: I don’t know who I am without running.
    • Truth: Great. This is the perfect time to find out who that person is.
  • Myth # 3:  If I don’t feel bad, I don’t need time off.
    • Truth: While you may not feel bad on the surface, it’s still a great idea to let all your systems recharge.

Recapping why you should take time off after your season

You’re don’t become a beginner runner from a week off, you just get a bit out of shape.  When you allow yourself to get out of shape, your starting point will be higher than the last time you took time off.  This is how you get better!

A week off will not only allow you to recharge mentally and physically, but you’ll have time to take care of everything you’ve neglected to while you’ve been training.  Personally, there’s no better feeling than the first run back after a break.  The time off from running allows me to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to run in the first place.

via icrashedtheweb.com

Who agrees?  Taking a break from running is one of the best feelings in the world – if it’s on your terms.

Here are stories about professional runners and their breaks: Bernard Lagat’s running break, Offseason breaks like the professionals, Coach Marc’s prolonged break from running

Want to be coached by someone who works with you and your schedule? Contact Marc

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How to Rebound After a Disappointing Race

Bounce back from bad races

We all know that every race we run isn’t going to be a home run.  We’d certainly like them all to be, but the truth is, they all won’t be.  And that could be for any number of reasons…

  • Not prepared to race
  • Hot weather
  • A long course (I’m looking at you Bangkok!)
  • Anything related to not feeling well

You get the picture.  There are lots of reasons why races don’t go as planned.  How you deal with that and how you overcome those bad races truly determines what kind of runner you can be.  And think of it this way, while you may be totally bummed your race didn’t go well, it could be worse.  You could be one of these runners who had bad races at the most important times of their career: 

Molly Huddle celebrating too soon

Swimming instead of barrier-jumping

Jager tripping on sub-8 min pace for 3k steeple

How to Come Back After a Disappointing Race

  • Focus on the positives
  • Believe in yourself and your training
  • Talk to your coach or someone you trust
  • Get back out there and perform like you know you can

Having a Good Race

But when you do have a good race, it’s really a cause for celebration.  Coming off of a poor performance and turning that around to have a good one is not only really satisfying, but makes you feel like all the work you’ve done has paid off.

USdot Running Circuit

Such is the case for TrainwithMarc’s Becky who was unlucky to run in the Savannah Half Marathon that had really hot temperatures on race day.  She didn’t run anywhere near where she would have liked.  We were disappointed – not so much in her performance, but in the fact that Mother Nature didn’t play nice.  She could have let that bad half marathon sting her and keep her sidelined for a while, but she jumped back onto the race course and ran a superb 12k race – the USdot 12k in Northern Virginia.

In 2014 she ran this race in 1:27:05 and today I finished in 1:24:00!  That’s such a big improvement over 1 year.  That’s nearly 25 seconds per MILE faster than last year!  Becky called it a “ nice improvement”; I’d call it freakin’ fantastic.  She ran negative splits and felt really strong.  Amazing job, Becky!

Race day perks

Looking for that advantage over your competition? Try an online coach like Marc.  Years of experience making all runners faster.  Contact him here.

Need more stories about runner’s motivating us? Races build confidence and skills, How a new runner can benefit from a running coach, Could a marathon be in your future?

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3 goals for having the best season yet

I had one of the best training cycles that I’ve had as a post-collegiate.  Starting out my training in June, I had a few specific goals that I wanted to accomplish.  My biggest nemesis is injury – and so one of my main goals – as it always is – is to stay healthy.  A second goal I had was do what felt right for me, not what was conventional.  Finally, my last goal was to be consistent enough to win 4 races.

Goals to get better

Goals to get better

Goal 1 – Stay Healthy

This is, by far, my hardest goal to hit.  It’s without fail that at some point in my training, something creeps up and I miss time because of it.  This season, I kept the injuries at bay and I think I know how I did it.

  • Took 1 day off a week
  • Monitored my sleep
  • Ate a balanced and relatively healthy diet
  • Did my ankle exercises and strength maintenance workouts

This was the first time in (possibly forever) that I did not have to take consecutive days off due to something bothering me.  Usually, it’s something in my lower legs, but could be hips, IT band, knee, shins, etc.  That was huge for me accomplishing my other goals.

Goal 2 – Do What Felt Right

Coaching yourself can often times be tough, but I felt if I was going to enjoy my own running I’d have to do something a bit different than what I would prescribe for my own athletes.  Here’s the recipe I used that worked for me.  *Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

  • 1 speed (threshold, tempo, interval or repetition workout) per week
  • Take the day completely off after a hard day
  • 1 long run starting easy and getting faster throughout. Do this run over hills, if possible.
  • Run my easy runs really easy and without pace in mind.

Some of you are thinking, “hey, this is what I do!” – and you’d probably be spot on.  Typically, my mileage would be higher (50s instead of 30s), I’d run 2 workouts in a week, and I would take a day off every 2-3 weeks.  But since I’m older and wiser, I’ve decided on what works for me and I’m sticking to it.

Goal 3 – Win 4 Races

I’d only do this – in the way I wanted to – if I nailed goal 1 and goal 2.  If I took some down time and didn’t have a plan that worked, I might still have won a few races, but I wouldn’t have recovered and felt as good after a race, had I not executed Goal 1 & Goal 2.  Proud to say that I did in fact win 4 races!

Haddonfield 5k – 1st place; 18:09

jcc 5k with HRC owner Dave Welsh

jcc 5k with HRC owner Dave Welsh

Run the Vineyard 5k – 1st place; 17:18

Katz JCC 5k – 1st place; 16:47

Bone Run 5k – 8th place; 16:20

Maple Shade 5k – 1st place; 18:22

Just so we’re clear, just because I found a routine and pattern that works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you.  You need to experiment and find what works for you.  It’s a really good feeling doing when you find it, so I suggest you spend some time reflecting on your own running to find what you like.


If you’re in the market to take a page out of my book, contact me and let’s chat! More stories about racing and training for 5k’s: Making 5k’s feel easier, 4 ways to keep your running pace honest & Hiring a Coach for your Running


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Goal Setting for Endurance Athletes

Goals to help you motivate yourself

Setting realistic goals for yourself is very important when it comes to being an endurance athlete.  Without proper planning and preparation, it’s not likely that you’ll reach whatever it is you’re after.  Knowing where you’re heading and how you’re going to get there is key. 

Goals are the road maps to where you want to get to.  Want to break 20 minutes for a 5k?  Plot out the steps you think are necessary to achieve that goal.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

 While everyone would like to set a big PR every time they raced, chances are, that’s not going to happen.  Setting goals and working on the steps to achieve those goals will prepare you for success – in running and in your non-running life.

Not sure what steps to take to reach your next goal? Follow the guide below and check back often to see what kind of progress you are making. Make sure your goals are tangible and measurable. For strategy you should include the specific steps you’ll take to achieve your goal. The date should be the date you expect to reach your goal. Include dates of check points too. You’ll want to make sure you are on track and this will help you with that.

Creating Goals

Want to set goals of your own?  Here’s the 3 pieces of the pie for you to get started.  You need to have a goal, a strategy and a target date.

  • Goal (outcome we want to happen)
  • Strategy (how will I achieve this goal?)
  • Target Date (when and where will this happen?)

For your own goal setting, download this Goals Sheet for free!  Remember, make them obtainable, measurable, and specific.  For one, five, & ten year goal sheet, download 1, 5, 10 year goals.

Setting a big PR

Dan has done a great job of creating goals and reaching to achieve them.  He has time goals, weight goals, and performance goals.  While I can’t say specifically what his goals are, I do know they exist.  Dan’s last race resulted in a massive PR – 2 minutes!  He was 20th overall and 1st in his age group.  His official time was 23:51.

Want to see stories about more TrainwithMarc runners who have run fast 5k’s? 5k PR to do list, Running workout for a faster 5k, dropping a big PR.



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There is no such thing as a “bad race”

push to get better

Minor races are for skill building and confidence boosters

Think about these three scenarios and determine whether they can be considered a good race or not:

  • You race to the best of your ability, but you don’t PR. 
  • You PR, but don’t run your best effort for that day.
  • You win the race (or place high in your age group), but run a slow time.

Are any of those situations considered a good race?  Yes. Yes. And yes.  

little plus a little equals a lot

little plus a little equals a lot

All three scenarios can lead to a good race, if you let them.  It’s all about how you frame your race’s effort – and if you take something positive out of each race you run, you are creating a new page in your book of skills that you can call upon when you need to.  Remember, there isn’t one specific ingredient to ensure you have a great race.  Each race is unique and offers its own chance to add to your skill set.

Early season races help build confidence and skills

The first race in your season can be every much a success even though it’s your slowest time of the season.  How you ask?  Maybe it’s because you prepared well, you were well hydrated, or you executed your race plan.  That’s certainly a success!

learn and get better!

learn and get better!

Don’t forget: each race you run – in a season and in your career – builds upon your previous races.  There’s a lot to be said of experience.  And that’s why the “old vets” find a way to run well.  It’s because they’ve done it before and they can draw on that experience to overcome any obstacle that may come up.  In each race you run, take something away from it – whether it’s your pacing strategy or how you hydrated.  Maybe it’s your nutrition or how you timed your finishing kick.  Every run and every race has the chance to be a learning moment. Take advantage of those opportunities.



The Giralda 10k that Sheila just ran has been a work in progress. Each race, she’s used something from the previous race to make each successive race a bit better!

She ran 45:29 chip time for 7:19 pace. I placed 3rd in my age group at a masters championship race. It was a rolling course with a long hill in mile 4. About 20 seconds faster than Paramus a few weeks ago. Baby steps in the right direction. Here are my splits:  7:14/7:25/7:05/7:48/7:11/7:10/1:35  We’re really excited for her last few races as we know each race will get better than the last.


Need some more motivation for your early season races?  We got you! Getting out the door for a run, What happens if I miss a few runs?, How to use the winter to build momentum for spring


Minor races help you build confidence and the skills necessary to compete well at a high level.

Quote of the Day:
Go for the goal – l
”I believe in using races as motivators. It’s hard to keep on an exercise program if you don’t have a significant goal in sight.” —Bob Greene, personal trainer of Oprah Winfrey

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How to manage the start of a race being delayed

Delays happen.  Believe it or not, but they do happen in road races.  Typically, the smaller the race, the more likely a race is to start behind schedule.  How you deal with that delay can mean the difference between a bad race and a good one.

managing a race delay and still racing well

managing a race delay and still racing well

How to overcome a delay and still run well

  • Stay warm – the colder it is out, the faster your muscles will get cold. Cold muscles = no good.
  • Stay loose – jog around, do some strides, and some light running.  You won’t get tired from doing a bit of slow running.
  • Stay hydrated – Sip on water until you find out more information about why the race hasn’t started.
  • Stay calm.  It’s hard to stay calm and collected when you’ve timed your warm up to race at a specific time.  When in doubt, relax your breathing, chat with someone or put on headphones and let the music calm you down.

When a delay happens and you lose your mojo, it’s so important to regain your composure as quickly as possible.  Just because you’ve lost it, doesn’t mean the rest of the race will wait for you.

Here’s how you can get your mojo back

  • Refocus your mind on your task at hand – racing.
  • Repeating your mantra will calm you down.
  • Remind yourself that the delay is happening to everyone.
  • Reset your goals to reflect why the delay happened (weather delay, course delay, etc).
4 "R's" to racing under pressure

4 “R’s” to racing under pressure

Coach Marc raced this weekend – the Valenzano Winery 5k – which was part road race, part cross country.  It offered the best of both: closed roads for faster running and hills and trails for technical running.  And yes, there was a delay.  The reason for our delay was that the police hadn’t come to close off the road.  It was a nuisance, but I didn’t let it bother me (see reasons above) for how I kept calm and relaxed while everyone else got stiff from standing still.

Marc won the race in 17:18 despite slowing down considerably for a cramp in his chest.  There’s no doubt that the 38 minute delay caused this cramp, but when I reset my goals to reflect the delay, I kept a positive mindset and focused on my mantra for the day: “quick and smooth”.  When I focused on my mantra, I was able to get rid of the cramp within 1 minute of it starting.  I cruised through the finish line, changed clothes and got a good 2 mile cool down in.

When a race delay (or a change of plans) happens, what you do to stay calm and refocus makes all the difference in the world.  I easily could have let the long delay alter my race, but I kept calm and focused on my one real goal: winning the race.  Race results can be found here

For more tips on how to race, check out these stories: Ways to make a 5k feel easier, Running workout for faster 5k’s, 4 reasons to race shorter distances.
To have Marc coach you during your next training cycle, contact Marc.

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6 guidelines to follow if racing in unseasonably warm weather

racing in hot weather

What do you do when it becomes too hot to race? 

There are, of course, a few options for you, but choosing the right one in a short amount of time is hard to do and oftentimes quite stressful. When you’re lining up for your goal race, it’s hard to make logical decisions based on heat; you’ve done all the work and now it’s hot out?!  These were some of the choices that runners competing in the Savannah half and full marathons this weekend had to answer.

racing in warm weather

racing in warm weather

Potential options for your warm-weathered race:

  • Slow your pace
  • Move to a shorter race distance (some races will allow you to do this)
  • Skip the race/ defer to another year (if this is offered by a big race)

Are you training in fall temps but get to your race location and it’s hot out? Are you running in the race regardless of the temperature and humidity?  Use these precautions to avoid any dangers:

  • Hydrate days in advance 

    racing in hot weather

    racing in hot weather

  • Seek shade prior to and during the race
  • Alter your race goals
  • Slow your pace down
  • Watch for signs of overheating or dehydration
  • Run based on effort and not by splits






Unfortunately, TrainwithMarc had a runner competing in the Savannah Half Marathon as her peak race.  The race is in Georgia and race directors schedule this race in November to avoid the warmer months of the Southern part of the US. Unfortunately, there was unseasonably warm weather with very high humidity – definitely not ideal racing weather.  As you might have imagined, it was not what we had expected when she signed up for a November half marathon.  While she’s done all the training she could have, we didn’t anticipate 84 degree weather with very high humidity.

We know that Becky’s effort (and her finishing time) don’t reflect the work she put in, but when racing in such warm and unseasonably humid conditions it’s best to save the all-out effort for a safer day.

For more stories about hot weather races and how to manage your race expectations, follow the links: 2015 Chicago’s hot marathon, Overcoming race day problems, Racing in the heat

If you’re interested in hiring Marc as your coach check out this link: Hiring a running coach

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Mental Preparation Leading Up To A Peak Race

Preparation for a peak performance starts months before the race even occurs.  The key is to write down your goal, and develop a pre race routine.  These two steps will make your running second nature and have you mentally prepared for success come race day.   

9 routines for your best race

Identifying your racing goal is the first step.  It gives you a benchmark to visualize, and the ability to check your progress during your training.  Additionally, think about why you want to achieve your goal. Do you want to better your health and fitness? Are you setting an example for your children?  Or maybe you just agreed to run a Marathon with friends.  These are all sources of motivation that will help you overcome rocky times with a can do attitude.

Establishing a race day routine is something a lot of runners over look. Having a plan in place creates a mental road map that gets you to the starting line confident you’ve completed the necessary preparation to succeed. Below are some key factors to consider when developing your routine.

  1. Night before Race
    • Eat your favorite pre race meal. Some people like a heavy carbohydrate meal like pasta; others prefer a high protein diet such as salmon salad.     
    • Check your equipment. Put your bib on your race top or timing chip on your shoe, and pack a bag with your race top/shorts, shoes, watch, music, and any snacks you’ll use during the race. 
    • Mentally think about your race strategy.  Review your race goal and pace. Visualize yourself feeling strong and fresh as you run along the course.  
    • Get a good night sleep.  Even If you’re restless and can’t sleep, stay off your feet to keep your legs fresh.   
  2. Morning of the Race
    • Breakfast– How long before the race should you eat? What will you eat?
    • Race nutrition – Will you use gels or energy drinks? How often should you use them during the race?
    • Take a hot shower/bath and use a foam roller or massage stick to get your muscles warmed up.
    • Pre race warm up: How long before the race will you warm up, for what length, and what mobility drill or stretching will you do.   
    • Have a plan to get to the starting line.  Leave early enough to find a parking spot, or have a friend drop you off so you don’t waste time and energy stressing.

Once you decide on a routine, begin experimenting to find out race day routineswhat works, and what doesn’t.  Try a few different meal options for dinner and breakfast before a hard interval session.  Long runs are a great time to test nutrition products like gels and energy drinks to see what keeps you hydrated and feeling fresh.  When deciding on a warm up, it’s important to find the minimal effect dose.  Some runners waste too much energy running a long warm or doing to many drills.  The goal is to warm up your body just enough so that your body is not in shock when the race starts. If you keep a training journal, take notes annotating how you feel after experimenting with different meals and warm ups.  This will give you a chance to go back and review what works best for you.

Finally, if your goal is to run a half marathon, find a 5K and10K to race during your training build up.  These races will act as stepping-stones, easing you into the distance, and provide you with race day experiences to perfect your routine.

The more you are able to practice your routine, the better prepared and confident you will be when you step up to the starting line. When fear or anxiety enter your mind, remember what you’ve done to set yourself up for success.  


This post was brought to you by Jon Anderson.  Jon is a former NJ State Champion, Footlocker Finalist and ran collegiately for West Point.  Since graduating, Jon served 5 years in the United States Army as an artillery officer.  Jon has PR’s of 13:58 for 5k, 30:43 for 10k, and 54:19 for 10 miles.  To read about Jon’s comeback from achillies surgery, head to his blog here.

For more stories about training to be the best runner you can be, look at the posts: Training consistencies, running to your full potential, workout ideas for all runners.


To get coaching services from Marc, contact him here.

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