Consistency trumps Intensity:
by Jordan Cooper
In August 2014, I decided to join a training group at Rogue Running in Austin, Texas. I had just gotten engaged to my now wife, whom I met on Tinder (which is a story for another time), and was coming to the realization that as I had grown in my relationship with her, I had lost some of the friendships I had previous to meeting her.
Although I graduated from college about a month before moving to Austin, my first four years in the Violet Crown could be viewed more as the “party” portion of my life than the four years I spent in college in my hometown in East Texas. However, most of the friendships I had made during that time were based more around going out and drinking than on something I could consider a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. As I moved down the path towards marriage, my time spent on the bar scene lessened, and I realized I needed a way to meet people that would be a little more conducive to my new, attempting-to- be adult lifestyle.
I learned about Rogue from a friend who had successfully run her first marathon while training with one of their groups. Previous to joining, I had casually trained for and successfully run a number of 10k’s and half marathons, which I did as almost a form of justification for my indulgent lifestyle. It was also somewhat meditative for me, the solitude of pounding the trails or pavement, so I was a little hesitant about running in the Texas heat with a bunch of strangers. I tried to maintain a positive attitude, especially considering I had at times in my life experienced the infamous “runners high” and figured if I could catch that sense of euphoria occasionally, that surely I could meet 1 or 2 people I might be able to bond with.
What happened over the course of the next few weeks, months, and now years is a laundry list of life lessons in connecting with people. Running in a group appealed to my competitive nature in a way I had not seen coming, and also reminded me of my past growing up playing team sports including soccer and basketball. I had not imagined a sport as considerably “solo” as running could be groomed and improved thanks to having a team or group around you, taking pleasure in your progress. I also learned that misery truly loves company, and that “embracing the suck” with fellow runners allowed me to overcome mental barriers to run distances I never could have imagined on my casual solo runs of the past. The accountability these connections provided gave me strength on those early Saturday mornings when I did not want to get out of bed to put in the work I had signed myself up for. Regardless of how I felt along the way, at the end of every one of those runs, I always felt accomplished and grateful for the kind words received from the cheerleaders around me.
Post-run stretches turned into hang outs, dinners, happy hours, holidays, and life events. I even took my turn at assistant coaching for a season. The bonds forged on the roads of Austin have turned into lifelong friendships and a sense of community and family I could not have imagined. As I spent the Fourth of July with over 50 runners who woke up early to run in the hills of West Austin before enjoying some amazing food and fellowship, I could not help but be grateful for the family I have come to feel a part of. As I train for the New York City Marathon this November, I know that I have the support of hundreds of runners who truly want to see me succeed, and it will be those smiles and handshakes, likes on Facebook, and good luck filled text messages that keep me going. I didn’t need an app to find friends; I just needed to go Rogue.
Austin runners packed the house on Friday night for our third annual Austin Marathon & Half Marathon Prep & Pump and came away with a toolkit of mental tricks from coach Amy Anderson, rock solid race strategy from coach Chris McClung and words of wisdom from coach Steve Sisson. Though we cannot recreate the magic after the fact, we can share notes and, perhaps most importantly, the course breakdown. If you missed out or simply want a refresher, you can find the slides from the event here:
Thanks to all who came out, and best of luck to everyone this weekend – we’ll see you out there!
Editor’s Note: This is a repost of a blog from about a year ago. Lazy? Nope Pertinent? Hell yes! We are one month from the start of one of the most popular training programs here at Rogue: Texas Half Marathon and Texas Marathon. Why the name? Virtually all the best marathons and halves in Texas fall into the same two week window and if you want to train for one of these, then you do it here….for Texas Marathon and Half. We’ve analyzed the courses, broken down the pro’s and con’s and much more. So saddle up with us and lets run these wild west favorites!
THE LONE STARS: A TEXAS MARATHON GUIDE
by Allison Macsas
Here in Texas, we don’t offer much in the way of fall marathons, largely because “fall” typically begins somewhere around mid-November and ends a few days later.
However, we do have plenty of winter racing options and although “winter” can mean many different things, it’s widely considered the time to toe your local starting line.
So, what to choose, and where to start? There are many top-notch Texas events throughout the winter months, but in this guide I want to focus on 2014 races only – the ones that are done before the holidays, and that present the opportunity to end the year with a shiny new PR and extra reasons to celebrate.
So, read on and pick your race. Rogue is going big for Texas races this year – new training groups, awesome custom t-shirts (designed by yours truly) and ENERGY. Be part of it!
THE ROCK N ROLL SAN ANTONIO MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 6, 2015
I won’t lie. San Antonio hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews over the past few years, and I know many a runner who has sworn it off for good. But, nearly all of the negativity surrounding this event has been due to the weather – sweaty, suffocating, blazingly hot weather. No matter that the week leading up is chilly, and that the day after the race brings sleet; for whatever reason, the San Antonio race weekend is always. so. hot.
Well, I’m here with good news. That’s when the race was in November! And now they’ve moved to December! So although winter weather is never a guarantee, as every self-respecting Texan knows knows, there is a much better chance of cool, clear, perfect race conditions and some big PRs on what is actually a pretty fast course. (Editor’s Note: The move to December definitely helped weather-wise is 2014)
Despite what looks like a 120 ft. brick wall at mile 5, overall this is FLAT terrain with a quite a bit of gradual downhill to help get the wheels turning. As this is a Rock n Roll Series event, there are bands galore, which fills in some of the quieter spectator areas and keeps energy levels high. The full and half runners take off together and keep each other company for a good ten miles, which results in some amazing crowd energy.
And, best of all, it’s in San Antonio which means that you can feasibly drive down morning-of, and be safely back in Austin in time for happy hour! No flights, no long drives, no waiting at restaurants the night before and no hotel expenses. Though it may be preferred to stay the night before to avoid any race-morning hiccups, this is one of the most budget-friendly out-of-town race choices that an Austinite can make, and one with lots of capitol city representation.
I was lucky enough to run the half marathon in 2010, a rare cool-weather year, and it was a fantastic PR-setting experience for me. With a new December race date, I’m hopeful that San Antonio will regain a spot on the favorites list this year!
THE METRO PCS DALLAS MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 13, 2015
Dallas is another race that has gotten a bad rap over the past few years, again due to everyone’s favorite scapegoat – the weather! In 2011, it rained. Cold, cold rain. It actually led to some big PRs, but also a lot of chafing and miserable spectators. In 2012, it was HOT. San Antonio-style hot. And HUMID. It’s gone down in the history books for many runners that I coach as the worst marathon experience ever. Then, in 2013, there was ICE! So much ice that the race was cancelled! All of that training, all of those race-week nerves, all of those entry fees, down the drain.* Who would possibly want to give this race a fourth chance?
Well, I would. Historically, the Dallas Marathon (formerly the White Rock Marathon) has had perfect weather. Like, 40 degrees and sunny-perfect. I grew up in the area, and began running the half marathon at age 14. I ran it every year until I left for college, and then flew back home four days before I graduated to run my first full marathon there (it was also my first ever run over 16 miles, but that’s another story). Every single time, the weather was perfect, the crowds were excited and the experience was top-notch.
The course rolls a bit, but is overall very flat, very fast. It hits a huge variety of neighborhoods and offers a great tour of the city, which makes it very easy to divide the race into sections for a strong race-day strategy. You get city, you get ritzy neighborhoods, you get the lake. It’s far enough away to feel like a “destination race,” yet close enough that you don’t have to take any time off of work. The toughest part of the whole thing is the drive up I35 to get there!
So, yes. I would give Dallas another chance, and you should give Dallas another chance. For an accessible big-city race with PR potential, this is the one.
*Except for those who took a chance on BCS. Details below.
THE BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION (BCS) MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 13, 2015
Most Austinites had never heard of BCS until December 6, 2013, the day that the Dallas race organizers called off their event in the midst of an ice storm. Some people got angry and some people threw their hands up in despair, but other people immediately looked for another race.
Enter BCS! Held on the same day, in the same state, but far enough south to escape the worst of the ice, this was the golden ticket. Except for one thing – it had long been sold out, full of runners who knew what a secret gem this small event was.
However, the organizers of this race are fantastic human beings. In between setting up for the event, providing excellent communication via social media and fielding emails from desperate Dallas orphans, they went to the trouble of contacting all of the registrants to offer refunds to anyone who wasn’t going to make it to the starting line, and then opened up all of those spots to would-be Dallas runners, even offering a discounted no-race shirt or medal option to allow for more entries.
So, a number of Rogues ended up at BCS, and they ran FAST. You’ll get more on that story and that race later, but I can’t recommend this event enough. Yes, it’s a small town race and the spectator side of things is pretty quiet, but it’s flat, it’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s impeccably organized and it benefits an important cause. Plus, you can park right at the starting line, no hassles or lines or leaving the hotel two hours early. Roll out of bed and run!
DECKER CHALLENGE / December 6th, 2015
This long-standing Austin favorite offers only a half marathon these days, but 13.1 miles is plenty on that course! Decker has hills on top of hills, and everyone who runs this race earns some serious bragging rights.
This is a true Austin staple, a key component of the Austin Distance Challenge and an event where you’ll see all of your friends and are sure to make new ones. If the half marathon is your distance of choice and you want to keep it local and enjoy your own bed the night before, Decker is for you.
So, what’s it going to be? All of these races will have huge Rogue representation, but as you well know it takes work to get to that finish line. We kick off training for Texas Half Marathon an Texas Marathon on July 14th, 2015. Commit, then let’s go conquer!
Allison Macsas wears many hats at Rogue Running; she is a coach, an elite athlete, the graphic designer, the blog manager, the head of Rogue Expeditions and the boss of an extremely important whiteboard calendar.
You all packed the house at our Prep & Pump pre-race event last week, and walked away with the mental and strategical tools needed to conquer your race on February 15. You can download an outline of the presentation below; read though it, refresh yourself, repeat. Then, get ready to run!
You may not know it yet, but you are ready to fly. You’ve nearly completed Rogue’s training program for a marathon, and with some simple training tweaks you can CRUSH your old 10K PR. I am going to convince you that you’d be a fool not to take the huge gains you’ve earned over months of arduous training and capitalize on them in the Capitol 10,000 in April. Below is an argument for why a few more months of focused training can result not only in a huge 10K PR, but will also set you up for your next marathon performance.
What many beginner and intermediate runners do not realize is that the training for the marathon is an ideal foundation for faster running at shorter distances. The physiological adaptations that have been developed from the long runs, threshold runs and longer intervals you completed in the fall and winter have your body primed to strike like a cobra. Essentially, you have built a huge base with marathon training that has developed your cardiovascular system into a powerful, yet highly efficient engine. Exercise physiologists will explain in all the increases you’ve developed (mitochondria, capillarization, stroke volume, blah, blah, blah.) from a scientific point of view but I’ll just explain it to you in a simple analogy: you’ve developed the engine of a souped-up Toyota Prius but can convert that efficiency, with a little tweaking, into a Ford Mustang’s muscular power and speed. How, you ask? Well let’s give you a little preview of what an eight week 10K program will do to help your transition.
Convert the Fuel System & Tweak the Chassis
The two most important differences between racing a marathon and a 10K are distance and pace. While this will seem obvious, what might not be apparent is what is happening in your body and how a training program should address these differences. When training for a marathon you are attempting to teach your body to use your fuel as efficiently as possible for the inevitable wall of low muscle glycogen and low blood sugar that hits late in the race. In the 10K, you aren’t in any danger of running out of fuel; instead, your body runs out of enough oxygen to use the fuel your body has available. Of course, the science is a bit more complicated and I am vastly simplifying for the sake of brevity, but the key distinction is that in the marathon you train aerobically and in the 10K you need to train anaerobically.
While this requires that you train to convert your fuel system to handling the new demands, it is also essential to prepare the body for the faster paces that you will be running in the 10K. Most people will race their 10K at between 40-45 seconds per mile faster than their marathon pace. The neuromuscular system need to be prepared for the greater power needed to initiate and sustain these paces. So training for the 10K means you need to tweak your body’s chassis to handling this different demand. The workouts you’ll be challenged with in the 10K program will be designed to teach your body to run faster and with greater ease anaerobically and to handle the load of running these faster paces.
One of the additional benefits of training these different systems is that, in gaining this greater facility, your body becomes more economical at marathon paces. For example, in adjusting two of my Team Rogue Dawn Patrol athletes’ (Bryan Morton and Marc Bergman) training over the last 18 months to move away from marathon specific training and toward 10K and half marathon focused training, they were able to run significant PR’s at the 3M Half Marathon. More importantly, I am confident that they will also run very well at the Boston Marathon in April now that we’ve transitioned back to marathon training. Keep an eye on their results to see how this plays out in reality.
Seize the 10K
So, are you ready to fly? You’ve already created the opportunity for a huge personal best in one of Austin’s iconic races. The marathon training you have suffered through and are getting ready to reap the rewards of on February 19th is the ideal springboard to an epic result at the Capitol 10,000 two months later. Join us for our 8-week training program and and convert that Prius into a Mustang.
Steve Sisson is a beer connoisseur (read: snob), coach of Team Rogue: Dawn Patrol and the founder of Rogue Running. To pick his brain on all things running, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Fuel Bar on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night.
by Mandy Deen
Q: Where should I park at Rogue!?
A: I dunno, but for sure not across the street in the parking garage at Tacos y Tequila. They’ve sent letters.
Q: I want to be super cool and ride my bike to Rogue. Where I can park my bike?
A: I dunno that either, but for sure not on the handicapped parking spot sign post unless you’ve had prior approval from Dee. And don’t worry, you’ll know if you have her approval.
Q: I don’t have a running background. What are “quality workouts” and should I be scared?
A: It’ll all be explained by your coach. Save your fear for real things, like spiders or the lingering ambiguity about what you’re really doing with your life and whether everything is going to be okay after all (WHAT IF ITS NOT?!?)
Q: What’s the worst workout?
A: Yassos. Anything on the track kind of blows. Unless you like that flat and boring kind of thing. But it’s okay, we all have our faults.
Q: It’s raining and 50 degrees outside. Do I have to go run?
A: Cold rainy run = whiskey tea after! Unless it’s storming, then no, don’t go run. Safety first. Tree branches could fall on you! But be warned: at least five people in your group will go run in the storm anyway and post about it on Facebook later. So.
Q: What’s happening to my toenails?
Q: Who are all those people on Saturday mornings!? Where do they come from? I’m not a social butterfly, I feel awkward, what do I do?!
A: Middle school awkward turtle playbook:
1) make a beeline for the map wall.
2) find a quiet corner and stare at your map whilst covertly scanning the room for someone you know from your group.
3) join a friendship circle for 16+ miles of complaining and delirious humor. Problem solved.
A2: OR you could do something mature and sign up for water stop duty now and again to interact with everyone and alleviate your social anxiety that way. Rogue also pays well for this.
Q: But I AM a social butterfly and I enjoy the energy of running and talking in a large group very early in the morning!
A: Please do not run up directly behind me and camp out there for five miles. #personalspacebubble
Q: On long runs, when I come into a water stop, I have noticed that some people will get a cup of water and then stand right in front of the cooler to drink it while everyone waits behind them. Is that a thing?
A: Nope. they’re doing it wrong. #waterstopetiquette
Q: What is ‘core class’ and should I go to it?
A: If you aren’t crossfitting or triathleting or yoga-ing or playing sand volleyball 3 times a week or commuting via kayak, then yes, you probably should. The main thing I hear about from people who attend is how sore they are the next day!
Q: What is that statue thing in the parking lot at Rogue?
A: It’s the petrified remains of a Rogue who happened to get caught by a basilisk. Next question.
Q: Who are those people that are always loud and drinking after workouts on Tuesday nights?
A: That’s Team Rogue, PM, Night Time is the Right Time. I would like to apologize in advance.
Q: Is it acceptable to sing during workouts?
A: Singing during workouts brings joy and amusement to the teammates around you during 100 degree evenings. It is considered a public service. Enthusiasm is valued over vocal skill.
Q: When’s the best time on a run or workout to ask involved philosophical questions?
A: Juuuuuuuuuust before a big hill.
Q: My _____ kind of hurts. Should I ignore it?
A: Probably not. You should email your coach immediately and use many superlatives. It’s better to find out you just need new shoes than to tough it out and end up with a stress fracture and 6 weeks in a boot.
Q: I just got a GPS watch for Christmas!
A: Congratulations! From now on, if you don’t wear it and log every single run on Strava and Facebook, it’s like it didn’t even happen. Also be sure to comment about your pace on each and every post! Otherwise people might not realize it was just “easy run pace” for you and think you’re actually some kind of slowbie. Also, if you happen to get a Strava Course Record somewhere in Austin, it just means Rogue AC hasn’t done a workout there yet. But they will. Eventually.
Q: Should I run the Austin Marathon?!
A: You live here, you know how these hills are! You decide. But, you should at least find a spot on the route with your other teammates and cheer everyone on. Those poor souls are gonna need it.
Q: Are people in my group secretly being competitive during workouts?
A: Hmmmmm. Maybe some of them. But don’t let it put you off, some people are just built that way! As the French say: “ne t’en fait pas” (don’t make any bile about it).
Q: I have questions about quality craft beers, good restaurants, or fancy kinds of baking recipes.
A: Great!! Someone on your team has the answers to those questions! Make use of your brain trust.
Mandy Deen has run with Rogue since deciding to take on the Dallas Marathon in 2012. She is currently a proud member of Team Rogue PM, a professional librarian and is also the author of The Rundown’s most popular 2014 post, The Rogue Map of Austin.