Long Hills Don't Exist

The steepness of a hill and its duration are always relative.  Sure, there are some hills in the DC area for which we would all agree are tougher than others, but those are the exception, not the rule.  The faster our pace, the shorter the hill lasts, so there's another reason for the difficulty of a hill to be subjective.  The specific point of this Tip is to offer you a mental strategy for running up long inclines.  (Note: Because we think in terms of language, and word usage affects our beliefs, calling it an "incline" may serve you more good than calling it a "hill").  

If an incline is long enough (let's say a minute or longer) then you may be able to convince yourself that the hill isn't there.  How so?  At some point on that hill you settle into a steady pace, or at least I hope you do!  With that in mind, you should have the ability to do what you always do on your runs, focus on intensity and not pace.  When the intensity/ perceived exertion begins to level off soon after starting the incline (that's a good thing), it may feel as though you're out there running on a flat stretch of pavement.  Don't believe me?  That's okay right now as you read this, but give it a shot next time you're out there.  This strategy is made easier if your thoughts are positive or even focused on something else, the latter of which is bound to happen on most runs anyway.  

When I'm halfway up a long stretch of incline, like coming up Nebraska Ave from Rock Creek Park, or up Wisconsin Ave leaving Georgetown, I honestly forget sometimes that I'm even running uphill.  How?  Because I'm focusing on perceived exertion (intensity), and as long as I feel like I did when I was on the flat portions, in my mind, I'm merely running—nothing more, nothing less.  Try it out.  See if you can't convince yourself that the rhythm of your feet and the rhythm of your breathing are just the same as running a flat stretch, and once you're on the hill long enough you become desensitized to it.  It becomes a part of your present moment and it's not there anymore. It's no longer "this dreaded hill that won't end." 

Train hard!



Boredom = Creativity

Part 1
I read an interesting article today explaining the notion that "down time" (away from work, away from monotonous brain tasks, away from number crunching, etc) helps stimulate new, creative thoughts.  Therefore, following down time, subsequent productivity increases. Hence, my shorthand title: “Boredom = Creativity".  How does this apply to runners? I'll give that punch line at the end.  

The old story goes that Einstein formulated many of his original theories while sitting at his desk job, daydreaming out the window (yes, I know his brain was freakishly wired anyway, but it's a good example nonetheless).  Similar stories have been told describing scientists who are struck by their "Eureka!" moment when not at work, rather, when on vacation (or even just staring into an active fireplace).  

There is even a good plug for naps in this article and their positive effects on the brain, but "who the hell gets to take a nap!?" (I can hear some of you through your computer screens).

Here is the article, "Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain."  Give it a read when you schedule your next down time.

Part 2
I address this topic in the university sport psych class I teach when we discuss Mental Health & The Psychology of Exercise.  I tie these topics into the amount of vacation days Americans take in comparison to the other industrialized/ 1st-world nations, and also what we do on vacation...or what we don't do enough on vacation (relax).  Keeping busy is good, but most Americans claim to be too busy for most non-work-related things, even exercise. Perhaps that's why I view my own coaching goals as important.  Can I convince my athletes that they have plenty of time in their week to work toward their athletic goals?  Or, have we adjusted their goals accordingly to match the amount of training time they do have?  (Note to parents: Each year I become increasingly aware of the role that toddlers play in the amount of down time you have.)

How much actual vacation time do you give yourself each quarter, or even during your vacation itself, even if it's a "stay-cation"?  In other words, how much down time do you give yourself in a day, in a week, in a month?  Are you a guilty vacationer, not allowing yourself to enjoy your time off from work or workouts?  Being self-employed, I have to ask myself these questions a few times per year, as I don't have a supervisor giving me paid vacations in the truest sense of the term.  I hold myself very accountable to all ~50 of the folks I coach. 

So, as it relates to running, although the link above tackles a different field/ area of study, I'll be damned if it doesn't apply to runners and the "guilt" they experience when missing a workout, or not doing long runs (that "magic bean" of running, right?), or not training for the magical marathon distance.  I had a phone discussion today with a runner I coach and explained my rationale for not scheduling any group track workouts the last 8 weeks of the year, and why I introduce the concept of an off-season to everyone.  Answer?  It's not only to prevent overtraining and injuries, but also to help prevent mental burnout, to allow your brain to mellow out from data, numbers and pacing for a while.  This is why I'm not heavy on wintertime racing.  As a coach envisioning longer-term goals, when it comes to racing, I'd rather my runners chill out in the winter (no pun intended).

Here is another explanation (in video form) of the benefits of boredom and how it leads to creative thought and productivity.

Part 3
Most of the time I schedule athletes' recovery weeks around their vacations and travel.  I try to offer the method behind the madness when it comes to my rationale.  When they're on vacation I want them to enjoy vacation. Does this mean becoming a couch potato?  Are down time and training in conflict with one another?  No, but for the most part I am scheduling down time away from running while you're on vacation, so that you can explore, do other activities, and perhaps enjoy some boredom.  It's healthy, both mentally and physically.  This is old news to most of my athletes, but if we need to take recovery weeks anyway, why not take them while you're supposed to be decompressing on vacay?  

I'm aware the some athletes need to capitalize on the increased free time away from work and train more on vacation from work.  And I'm also aware that many runners use running as down time to brainstorm and collect their thoughts. You can choose any of the following phrases: "a time and place for everything," "to each their own," "everything in moderation," "keep the balance."  They all apply, and whichever one you subscribe to, hopefully you don't lose sight of the major point here: Allow yourself unstructured time...time to be bored and therefore brainstorm, which is where we tend to engage in synthetic learning (tying concepts together), a great skill set for any employee at any job.  Agreed?  

When any of my university students tells me they studied an ungodly amount of consecutive hours for an exam I'll ask them, "Why on Earth would you do that?"  First, I know that the brain typically doesn't operate at peak capacity for periods longer than 1 - 4 hours at a time. We need breaks. Second, taking a break will allow your mind to play around with the material, much like Einstein did (sorry to use Him as an example again).  Think about how this might apply to your own professional careers.  Do you allow yourself a lunch break? How many consecutive hours do you work without a down time when you collect your thoughts on the project or task?  Are you working long hours due to work piling up because you're not taking occasional breaks to reset your brain?  In other words, does your work quality decrease as the number of consecutive hours worked increases?  Would your productivity and/or energy levels change if you changed your work pattern?  What are your options?  Maybe I'm not privy to all the ins-and-outs of your professional duties, but consider what you can do to unwind while at work.  The 12:00pm corporate wellness walking group I've been leading the past few weeks is very happy to get some vitamin D midway through their work day. I heard one of them say, "Why didn't we think of this before?"  

Finally, I leave you with a comedic short clip about vacation and boredom from Tom Hanks' greatest film.

In closing, for those who seek a more creative brain:

1) Exercise increases blood flow to the brain.  Scores on cognitive tasks usually increase following a normal bout of exercise.  Exercise = creativity.

2) At some point in the week, don't be afraid to just sit and do nothing. Boredom = creativity. However, chronic sitting and doing nothing = laziness.

3) Once you're done being creative, go to sleep or take a nap to allow your brain to form new connections.  Sleep = creativity.

4) In addition to your professional and familial/social obligations, find a way to do the other 3 during the week.  

Enjoy the journey,



Total Work Volume

I am asked on occasion by the runners I coach if yard work or mowing the lawn count as cross-training (XT), or if hiking counts as XT.  My answer?  "It depends."  Depends on what? Heart rate (HR). Meaning, it depends on who you are and the nature of the hike or yard work (no pun intended).  For some of you a hike is a blistering workout (no pun intended, I have no idea where all the puns have come from in the last year, it's very odd to me, I'll look for an off-switch).  Anyway, if the hike drives the HR up, then sure it's XT. However, if your hike was equivalent to "a walk through the woods", then no, in a technical sense, it wasn't a workout.  Me and your doctor have one thing in common; we want your HR to get around 70+% for at least 30 minutes, 3x per week.  That's basically 3 jogs per week.  I refer to this short-term goal for beginners of running 3 x 30 minutes as the "doctor's orders program". The other consideration; however, in defense of hikes, is that it may count as ST.  But in this case, you most likely have to be taking the path less traveled so that your leg muscles are working to overcome rocks and/or steep hills, so that elements of the hike are equivalent to walking lunges or box step-ups.  The same answer applies to yard work. The HR while weeding on your knees is probably no different than when washing dishes; hardly XT. However, depending on other elements of the yard work, you may be getting a good hamstring workout if you are bending/lifting correctly, as in not relying on, nor overusing, the back.  So in this instance, yes, yard work may be ST, the same way shoveling snow may count.  

As it relates to total work, yes, I want my runners to be as active as possible without the risk of overuse injuries.  ST and XT have a very low likelihood for causing any injury, so when I talk about increasing the total volume (work) of a program, it is these 2 elements that can get more attention.  The off-season (winter) is typically where total training volume is at its highest (or should be!). Increasing the run volume depends on the runner.  Who are you, what are you training for, how many months do we have, and what does your running form look like?  Those are the variables to consider regarding increasing run volume. Getting back to total work, you all know I like the phrase, "sweat once per day." So, do whatever you want that makes you sweat—it could be hiking, it could be yard work.  I schedule OPEN days, or "OPEN XT/ST" the programs.  These are days for my athletes to explore this option.  Think about the total time you spend moving around each day.  This is what is meant by total work.  It can be run-specific or not run-specific.  Just move.  Sweat.  

At one of our group track workouts, there was a 10-year-old boy flipping a big 30-pound tire that was left behind by the college team.  He did this while his parent ran lap after lap.  He took breaks, he went about it slowly, he was a kid being a kid (a.k.a., trying to cure boredom), but I couldn't help but notice how many tire flips he did in that time...total work! What a helluva workout for a 10-year old!  I was also at a friend's BBQ later that night and I noticed he only had 1 kettle bell on his outdoor patio (usually you would have at least a small set), so I asked.  His response is that 1 kettle bell is all he needs because it's heavy enough to challenge him for a few different exercises and he just whips that sucker around for many, many, many reps and sets.  Total work.  You may notice that the body builders in your gym (whether professional or just a pseudo body builder) do longer workouts than everyone else.  Their ST sessions may be 60-90 minutes from start to finish.  Total work.  I'll ignore the diet and psychological aspects of that approach for now (they are not important to the main point), but their bodies show for their high volume training.  Pure Ironman triathletes?  Yup, lots and lots of workouts during the week, plus they are active all day, every day.  Total work and as fit as they come.

What does this mean for you?  Make time for yourself each day to be energetic. A body in motion will stay in motion.  The more you train, workout, exercise, the more you will want to (that's the theory).  Fitness is invigorating.  There is much scientific evidence to support this claim.  A workout does not have to make you tired for the rest of the day (very long runs/rides can be exceptions), rather, it gives you energy for the rest of the day and the next day.  Walk around at the office, take the stairs, bike commute, flip tires...the list goes on.  As often as you can, finish your run a few miles away from home so that you get to enjoy a long, scenic walk back home, increasing the total volume.  Cure boredom, apathy and fleeting bouts of depression by moving around.  Don't you want to be healthy? Or faster? Healthier or faster; it doesn't matter to me, I can work with both.  You can always measure fluffy words like "dedication" and "motivation" by your ability to make the time for physical activity and training.  After all, "there ain't no wealth but your health." 

Personally, I rarely (if ever) had any motivational issues in all my years of sports. I was like the 10-year old kid my whole life, where sports, ST, nighttime jogs, etc were all fun!  I need to be in motion, I enjoy it way too much, I enjoy feeling alive. I don't train for Ironman tris anymore, but guess what?  I'm just as active.  The total work now vs. then may be slightly lower now, but I'm still in motion all the time.  The nature of my work sets me up for an active day, whereas your job may not.  Point taken.  So, if you're in this category where you feel you don't have 20-30 minutes per day to dedicate to yourself, then let's explore options together. That is also the nature of my work.

Train hard!



Ditch Your Garmin

Pace vs. Intensity. Do you know the difference? There is a difference between pace and intensity, with intensity being much more important for runners due to the myriad of factors that can affect the pace. Trying to hold yourself to a given (numerical) pace without accounting for temperature, humidity, terrain, wind, hydration/ fueling status, energy levels, clothing selection (ability to sweat), and race experience may do you more harm than good in a race.  

It's very possible that holding yourself to a given intensity will bring you to your predicted- or goal-pace (or vice versa), but always consider the race conditions (course + weather) and your body's real-time status first.  This may sound like common sense, but then why is it that Garmin runners are less likely to be at peace with their finish time?  Answer: Their craving for data is too strong.  

The same personality trait that wants to buy the Garmin in the first place is the same personality that is going to overanalyze the data mid-race (key word). Obviously, this does not describe all runners in this category, but in my experience as a coach, a Garmin watch ends up serving only 1 purpose for a runner: It tells them they are slow and/or could have run faster, either of which leads to a dose (great or small) of feeling unsuccessful.  As much as a runner wearing a Garmin may tell you, "oh, it's a hilly course, I'll just run based on feel," I bet you dollars to gel packs that he/she will forget all about that idea once the gun goes off and when they take that first peek down at their watch, and mutter, "boy, I'm way slower than my PR."  Talk to that same runner after the race and you'll hear, "well, it was a hilly course, I ran pretty slow, not a good race for me." Aren't the hills supposed to affect your pace?  Yes.  So then why would the runner use the phrase, "pretty slow" and "not a good race"?  

Again, I offer that it's the personality of the runner that adores data and numbers; therefore, faster pace (faster numbers) are more attractive to look at and are typically dominate this runner's thoughts mid-race.  In turn, this data analysis creates an unlikelihood to accept the slower paces that are predictable based on race conditions (terrain + weather). Ultimately, the runner feels slow, or is less likely to feel successful.  I see this distinction all the time between the runners I coach who use a Garmin vs. runners I coach who have a simpler watch using only elapsed minutes and seconds.  Having stated the above, you can imagine how much worse it gets when the Garmin signal cut out and "throws off their pacing."

Bottom line?  Race based on intensity (perceived exertion). Garmin watches (and heart rate monitors) will not always guide you when you want to actually race someone.  Knowing how your body is reacting in real-time is more important than the actual pace you are holding. For instance, being very in-tune to your rhythmic breathing and stride length during training will enable you to know whether or not your effort can be sustained during a race.  I would like to see more runners ditch their Garmin completely, and I'm successful half the time. If that doesn't happen and you're still going to race with one, then my final reminder is that a Garmin should not be telling you how fast to run during the middle of a race, it should merely be satisfying your curiosity.  

The pace is merely a byproduct of the course conditions and shouldn't dominate your thoughts. Proper pacing is related to the phrase "staying in your element." Your element is your stride length, cadence, posture, amount of tension in your body, the nature of your thoughts (positive vs. negative), and your breathing, which are all of the things we hopefully tune-in to occasionally during training. 

Train hard!



Self-talk is a Skill That Requires Practice

Positive self-talk is a skill that requires practice just like any physical skill, and it lends itself to confidence.  Here's how:

First, let's take a quick, recent example from one of the runners I coach.  Joe cracked 3 hours for the first time in his recent March marathon.  Yes, hard work pays off and he was well prepared to run under 3 hours, but the reason I use his race as an example is because the weather was rainy with a bit of cold and wind.  These are certainly adverse conditions, but they are something we experienced all winter long.  So, rather than let the conditions turn any self-talk to the dark side, Joe kept his composure and reminded himself that "I've trained through these conditions all winter."  Positive language = positive mood = confidence.

Does the weather affect our bodies and pacing?  Yes, absolutely.  The goal times I send my athletes typically reflect the race conditions.  However, the weather does not have to affect your mind.  That is the difference.  One definition of confidence that I use with my athletes is "the feeling that you've been there before."  That's a common one for public speakers, too.  In Joe's case (and all of you as well), you have run in non-ideal conditions before. Remind yourself of that.  That is one method to keep the self-talk positive.  

Could Joe have run a minute or two faster in better weather?  Sure, maybe, probably.  The weather can affect our pacing via its effect on the body, but keep it together upstairs (composure) and have positive mantras (self-talk) that you actually believe in.  You can't BS yourself!  It doesn't work that way.  That is why the point of this blog is to remind you that positive self-talk is a skill that requires practice in training.  You can't just hope that it works on race day because it often won't.  

To think about this another way, here is a message I just sent to another DCRC runner, and I know it will help others as well:

Pressure and anxiety can be habit forming, like Pavlov's dogs and classical conditioning. Soaking up all the positive results of a workout/race while dismissing the negative aspects is definitely a skill that great athletes practice.  Knowledge is power in this regard.  If you know why something is hard or why a workout is going a particular way, then that should eliminate any negative thoughts (anxiety, pressure, "I'm slow").  Many people can easily point to the factors/variables in a race/workout and understand the practical effects, such as wind, hills, etc.  However, the big, big difference lies in how they interpret it at the moment, which unfortunately is the not-so-easy part for many runners.  Meaning, what exactly do you say to yourself at that moment?  "It's windy...I'm slow" (period, that's it) vs. "My pace is off an ideal time because it is windy, I'm still running well".  I believe that many runners adopt the former self-talk, instead of latter.  

Moods are transient; they can come and go based on thoughts.  The thoughts and feelings come from the language we use when interpreting situations, the same way phobias occur...it's related to the exact phrases a person says to him/herself when entering a crowded subway car and then beginning to feel "boxed in".  So, continue to practice positive self-talk as a skill.  It's not voodoo, it's reality.  The brain changes chemicals based on your mood, and your mood comes from your thoughts and language.

Train hard (and keep it positive)!




Time is relative.  A very peculiar concept, all the more mind-boggling under the notion that it's nothing more than an expression of distance/movement and wouldn't exist otherwise. Heck, would it even exist without the universe's existence?  I can only engage in that conversation about once per year without my mind melting.  Anyway, Pink Floyd's Time has been my favorite song for the past 20 years, a long time (pun intended).  The lyrics are timeless (no pun intended) and apply to everyone at some point(s) in their lives.  Time is relative.  For example, how quickly is your next big race approaching, like the St. Patty's 8k, National Half, CB10M, Boston???  Is 2 months a long amount of time, or a short amount of time?  Well it depends, it's relative.  Relative to what?  At this point I'll chime in (pun intended) and say it's relative to the degree of confidence in your training and preparation for the race, which is also a byproduct of how much emotional stock you have in the race.  

If you're feeling confident in your abilities for that upcoming race, then the race feels a long way off.  If you're not feeling confident, then you may feel like you're behind the 8-ball (not good).  If you don't have much emotional stock in the race (maybe it's not an A-race, or you're jogging it with friends), then once again the race has plenty of time to get here even if it's a few weeks away.  On the other hand, if this race will be part of defining who you are as a runner and how you measure success (lots of emotional stock), then maybe a race 3 months away feels like it's coming up too soon.  Catch my drift?  So, as the song lyrics state, you either fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way (lots of time) or you're running and running to catch up with a sinking sun (not enough time).  I understand that personality can be a factor in this equation. Perhaps your worrisome self or type-A personality feels the impending race looming on the horizon, causing pressure, stress, and feelings of being under-trained, not up to par (behind the 8-ball) and you're therefore in a dreaded time crunch.  Perhaps your mellow self and type-B-uddha personality views any race as having ample time to prepare.  "Which is which, and who is who?" (slipped in another Floyd lyric there).  Whichever one you are, do you carry this same approach into the workplace? More on that below.

This is a department where I can help as a coach.  Knowing the personalities of the individual athletes I coach assures them that we can work together to make every race seem like they have enough time to get prepared, often by adjusting the perceived timeline to match their personality.  As always, it comes back to proper goal setting.  The more realistic and better-managed the goals are, the more confidence we have and the more likely we are to feel that there is ample time.  As a quick aside, this is an easy "sports is the game of life" analogy.  Managing your own expectations and happiness in your career, with deadlines and your to-do list, is related to your mental approach.  For instance, is it realistic that you'll accomplish all the tasks you've given yourself this week?  If not, then here comes the stress and worry.  Change your goals.  Similarly, if the goals related to the task are too challenging (unrealistic), then that deadline will certainly feel much shorter than it actually is.  Here comes more stress, less sleep, and the sniffles and a cough...

Back to running, I'm always going to get runners as fit as I can in the most efficient manner.  Taking the science and physiology of the training into account (periodization, if you want to use that word), yes, some goals take more time than others.  Knowledge is the building blocks of attitudes, and this truth helps us understand the timeline of our goals and therefore what is realistic.  Physical Therapists should be operating under this same principle; giving you knowledge about the timeline of your recovery and/or strength gains, so that you have more confidence in your PT and therefore don't have the time-crunch perception.  

In sum, my goal is to have an athlete thinking that life is long and that there is plenty of time to achieve his/her goals for the next races and the entire year (Ian Anderson reminds us that Life Is a Long Song).  Many of the folks I coach have shared their longer-term goals with me, and all of them have demonstrated much patience and maturity in adjusting their goals on the fly mid-season, which adds to the overall feelings of success.  That last point is a hallmark of champion athletes.  Take it day-to-day or week-to-week, don't put the cart before the horse.  Enjoy your training in the present day and the races will get here when they get here.  I know that's easier said than done sometimes.  For my last triathlon (Ironman St. George, May 2011), I felt ready every day, that damn race couldn't get here fast enough and I was chomping at the bit.  Even a few days before the race felt like an eternity.  So, what could I do but remind myself to live in the present day.  

The Tip is to mentally push these races back so that you can feel confident that there is enough time to prepare, as well as to enjoy life in the present.  Does this mean that we adapt a lax, passive attitude toward training and life?  No!  It means that you don't need to put a sense of urgency on your training.  If you are, let's figure out the mental approach to your training and racing.  

Enjoy the bending of the strings:

Train hard!



How I Coach Runners

*Each Sunday night I send an email Newsletter to each of the athletes I coach who train with me via 3-month programs.  A few of my "Tips for the Week" recently revolved around my main service, which is the mental approach to training and racing.  The following paragraphs offer some insight into how I approach being a running coach.

Scheduling and Prioritization

These 2 terms are synonymous to me.  Scheduling is prioritization.  Each week of a runner's program, there are workouts highlighted in green.  These are the key workouts that I want them to hit no matter what.  When scheduling gets tight, always put the priority on key workouts.  If you value your race performance and/or improving your fitness, then make these the priority.  I want the athletes I coach to look forward to these workouts, so I encourage them to let me know if there are motivational issues that need to be addressed.  Adults know how to shuffle their days around as they need to, but my objective is to ensure they are always relatively fresh for the track/speed workouts because then proper pacing, or intensity, can be learned more easily.

Structure & Accountability

The training programs are designed with the general assumption that the athlete will hit every workout on the program, knowing that OFF days and recovery weeks are already built into the program.  I bring up this point to remind folks that recovery weeks and OFF days are designed with the assumption that you'll need them at specific points in your training.  However, when you miss workouts, or a string of workouts, that will most likely alter the program.  Depending on what workouts you miss and how that coincides with your race/vacation schedule, there may be a major overhaul to your program.  This is the major difference between following an online program vs. having a personal coach.  A coach can adjust on the fly and account for reality.  I understand no program is set in stone and that's a phrase I use myself.  So, we have to account for missed workouts.

The other side of the spectrum is that I also assume an athlete I coach won't overdo it with the training.  This is my reminder not to go above and beyond the call of duty.  The practical implications are that you may do too much, too soon.  This is a relative variable, not an absolute variable.  In other words, an hour run doesn't affect each of you the same way.  Generally, I assume that a runner won't add any extra running into the program that had not already discussed.  I tend not to be an overly conservative coach, but I lean toward the conservative side based on the fact we are not professional athletes and we are built with more (specific) limitations than our immortal running counterparts.  Bottom line: You should not slack on your end by always doing the bare minimum (or less), nor on the other hand do I think a runner should try to be competitive against the training program by doing more than what is designed.  Weekly recaps are a great way for me and each runner to have this conversation.

Runners and athletes invest in DC Running Coach for many, many reasons.  Many people sign up with DCRC to "have accountability and structure in the training."  Accountability is a sometimes too strong of a word to me, but I get the point.  You feel more apt to hit the workouts and stay dedicated to training (and live an active, healthy lifestyle) if you have a mentor and/or someone helping to guide you.  The programs that a runner receives from me in the first few phases have more structure in them compared to the programs they get from me after about a year or more of training with me.  As I mentioned above, if a runner misses a workout (or two) for a given week, then that typically shifts the priority and/or focus of the workouts for the next week (or even within that week).  The point?  I need runners to check in with me each week.  Therein lies the accountability.  I need a constant pulse on the training.  In terms of valuable feedback to a coach, completing a workout and missing a workout offers the same value.

Are the athletes I coach allowed to improvise when they need to or be spontaneous?  Absolutely!  Remember that freedom of choice and flexibility are the most powerful tools in a training program.  However, my definition of "significant deviations" from the program are usually what would cause an athlete to "draw outside the lines" and risk a nagging injury.  I'm here to guide the training, which to me means keeping a healthy balance between offering freedom of choice in the training and keeping the training between the lines, or not flying off the rails.  So, there you have the looser definition of the word "accountability" that I prefer. 

Finally, related to prioritization, there is room to be more selfish in your life once you get closer to your peak race and really want to ensure you feel great during race week.  To help you understand what that means and to give you peace of mind in doing so, here is the link/blog I'll be sending to my runners a few times in the Fall:

Train hard!