Lacrosse Workouts not only for your sport but for your position.

 

Lacrosse is a game of athleticism. The athletes who play lacrosse have to be quick, agile, and powerful. It is a largely anaerobic sport where there are bursts of speed followed by downtime. In order to play this way the athlete has to train this way as well. In the game you need to be able to change directions quickly. Good footwork and flexible hips are important. Speed ladder drills and change of directions skills are excellent for improving these qualities.

Strength is needed in the hamstrings, glutes, core, and forearms in particular. Posterior chain strength is important for sprinting speed. Deadlifts are a great exercise for strengthening these areas. The core and forearms are important to release powerful shots on goal. One of the best exercises to strengthen these muscles is called a farmer’s walks. For an added core challenge perform single arm farmer’s walks.

Power is a combination of strength and speed.   In order to change directions on a dime and fire balls into the back of the net you need an explosive and powerful core. Medicine Ball slams and rotational throws are great for building a powerful core.

Training should also depend on what position you play because each position on the field has unique demands.

If you play attack then you need to be quick, powerful, and have the ability to twist and turn in various directions to get off your shots. You also need to have strong legs to sprint at top speeds. The Prowler push is a great exercise to develop this top speed.

Middies need more endurance than anyone else on the field. In order to cover both ends of the field you need the most aerobic capacity of any position on the field. 400-meter repeats are a great drill for midfielders. Run 400 meters or one lap around the track as fast as you can. However long it takes you, rest that same amount and then repeat until your time decreases by more than 10 seconds.

Defenders need to be the strongest on the field. They need a strong upper body to slash opponents to try and loosen the ball. Defenders also have to backpedal quite a bit and open up their hips in order to recover quickly to protect the goal. Sledgehammer swings on a large tire are a great exercise for defenders.

Goalies need excellent hand eye coordination and quick reactions. While they also need strong hands and wrists, the eyes are perhaps the most important muscle a goalie can strengthen.

At our facility in Madison we have a vision coach board. It works on exactly this. It quickens reaction time via neural pathways. We also have Certified Strength and Conditions Specialists who can help you train the way you should for your sport and your position. We can help you reach that next level of performance. Visit www.MyOffSeason.Org for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Crossfit the best way to train for your sport?

Let me start by saying that this is not an article bashing crossfit. If you want one of those there are plenty online for you to find. I love crossfit. I do crossfit. I think crossfit has upped the game for the average Joe who wants to bring his or her fitness to the next level. No other fitness movement has gotten so many people to train with high intensity like crossfit.
This article is about training for a sport and why you need a qualified strength and conditioning specialist. Crossfit sells Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements. Those are great attributes for your average person who wants to get into the best shape of their life. I can honestly say that since I started crossfit I am stronger than I have ever been.
My point is that crossfit is not for athletes. People who do crossfit do crossfit to get better at crossfit. Crossfit will even tell you that it is not a workout but a sport itself.
When you are training for a sport you have to consider things like metabolic conditioning. Would a golfer really benefit from crossfit? The workouts would be too high intense while risking injury so the risk vs reward just would not be there. Another thing that you need to consider when training for a sport is when your season is. A qualified CSCS will emphasis the proper phases of training so that you peak going into your season. Typically there will be a strength – endurance phase, a strength phase, a power phase, and a tapering period. Crossfit kind of throws all of those phases into all of their workouts. If you do 4 crossfit style workouts then you probably will develop all of those aspects in a short amount of time. The last thing that you need to consider is which exercises are contraindicated. Every athlete is different and every sport is different and every position within that sport is different. Without considering the individual you can’t program properly for him or her. Crossfit creates programs for the masses. Don’t get me wrong, thee are quality coaches within crossfit that can help you scale down but at the end of the day you are doing the same workout as everyone else that day. Rule number one of being a strength coach is keep your players on the field. Because of that the industry has shifted towards injury prevention with screening like FMS and corrective exercises to alleviate imbalances and asymmetries. The last thing a strength coach will consider is the player’s sport. A baseball players because of the overhead throwing will have a vastly different workout program than a lets say a football linemen.
In the end training is supposed to help you perform on the field. The field is not in the gym. As it said it last month’s Men’s Health, “big biceps don’t mean better trainer.” Go to NSCA.com to find a trainer near you. Then when your playing days are over join crossfit and maybe I’ll see you at next year’s open!

A Strength Question?

Originally posted on Michael Boyle's Strengthcoach.com Blog:

Got this question from a reader and thought I’d make the answer a post.

Q- “When you are in the strength phase for a specific sport that doesn’t require you to be brutally strong(basketball, baseball,tennis) would you train to be as strong as possible(how they do in football) or would you still stay fundamentally sound?”

A- The reason I wanted to answer this as a separate post is that I think we can address a couple of strength and conditioning misconceptions in one post.

If we read above,  the first assumption/ question is should you train to be strong in sports that might not appear to require maximum strength.  The answer to that would be a resounding yes. The bigger question relates to the question we pose frequently in seminars, “How strong is strong?”, or “what defines strong”?

All athletes should train to be as strong as possible, period. There…

View original 78 more words

My Top 100 Diet Tips

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Here are my top 100 Diet and Nutrition Tips.  Some are thing you should never eat like fried foods and bagels.  Some are my top supplements for a healthy lifestyle like fish oil.  Some are things you should add to your diet like spicy foods and sweet potatoes.  Some are just general tips for weight maintenance and metabolism like get 8 hours of sleep a night.  How many of my top 100 do you currently follow?  Let me know in the comments.

 

1.  What can you add to your diet not what you can subtract
2.  Read Labels!
3. 5 ingredients or less
4. Organic fruits and veggies
5.  Eat for fuel 80 percent of the time and for fun 20 percent.  80/20 rule.
6.  Only eat foods you like
7.  No processed carbs.  Bread, pasta, 
8.  Fats are your friend
9.  Eat for your activity level
10.  Vegetables should be 2/3 of your plate
11.  The more colors the better
12.  Buy in season fruits and veggies
13.  In season Fruits and Veggies are cheaper
14. Learn how to cook
15.  Only Buy what you need for the week.
16.  If it’s not in your house you won’t eat it
17.  Sugar is the enemy
18.  Use spices not sauces for flavor
19.  Salsa is a the king of all condiments 
20.  Food is fuel
21.  Beware marketing claims.  Fat Free does not mean healthy
22.  If it has a label it’s a product and not a food
23.  Real Food goes bad
24.  Spicy food helps your metabolism
25.  1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  No questions
31.  Order salad dressing on the side
32.  Always leave something on your plate
33.  When you are done eating cover food with a napkin
34.  Drink lots of water
35.  Always have Protein for breakfast
36.  Supplement with Fish Oil
37.  You don’t need Milk
38.  Fresh Juice only
39.  Don’t drink your calories.  Shoot for less than 200 calories a day from drinks.
40.  Eat Slowly
41.  Fruits in Moderation
42. Drink coffee
43.  Don’t drink Lattes or cappuccino’s
44.  Eggs are not bad for you
45.  Eat foods in their natural state.  Whole eggs and not just egg whites
46.  Mustard instead of Mayo
47.  If a label has ingredients you can’t pronounce then don’t eat it.
48.  No Diet Cola
49.  Low Calories doesn’t mean healthy
50.  Protein shakes are for after workouts
51.  Never diet at parties or holidays
52.  Eat at home most of the time
53.  Never eat in your car
54.  NO FAST FOOD.  EVER!
55.  Try everything
56.  Read Health magazines
57.  Follow healthy people on Instagram and Twitter.  Twitter.com/JoeLopez55
58.  Eat for health and not looks
59.  Educate yourself
60.  Love Food
61.  Be prepared to spend extra money
62.  Don’t eat fried food
63.  Never go grocery shopping hungry
64.  Shop the perimeters of the grocery store
65.  Choose Oils wisely
66.  Darker is better than lighter
67.  We are all habitual eaters.  Learn your habits
68.  Don’t eliminate food groups
69.  Eat.  Don’t Diet
70.  Just because meat is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it
71.  Once a month don’t eat meat
72.  Think Natural.  Ice Cream not frozen yogurt
73.  Have a go to snack
74.  Plan.  Don’t improvise
75.  Fat, Protein, and Carbs at every meal
76.  Drink a large glass of water first thing when you wake up
77.  Avocados are a great snack
78.  Almonds can compliment almost any sweet
79.  Not all veggies are created equal
80.  Weigh yourself in the morning
81.  Don’t eat cereal
82.  Light doesn’t mean healthy
83.  Know the difference between being full and being not hungry
84.  Mix up your proteins
85.  Eat for variety to satisfy your senses
86.  Leave the candy for the kids
87.  Set short and long term goals
88.  Buy fresh as much as possible
89.  Grill meats to save calories
90.  Don’t eat bagels
91.  Prep meals on the weekends
92.  No cream based soups or sauces
93.  No appetizers at restaurants
94.  Beware of hidden sugar
95.  Sweet Potatoes are the ultimate carbohydrate
96.  Be creative with your protein shake recipes
97.  Do your own grocery shopping
98.   Vitamin D supplement in the winter
99.  No artificial sweeteners
100. Get 8 hours sleep a night 

8 Clever Tips for the Body You Want

Joe Lopez C.S.C.S:

Awesome tips!

Originally posted on Genetik Fitness Blog:

Getting the Body You Want This article was taken from Sharecare. It’s a wonderful site, full of great information on Health and Lifestyle. I really believe that you will like this articles and that you will be able to implement these tips into your life for a better living.

Many women yearn for a fitter, slimmer or more toned body — and some seem to achieve it effortlessly. Below you’ll find some easy ways to reach your goals.

Get the Body You Want

In the words of Mireille Guiliano, author ofFrench Women Don’t Get Fat, “Everything is a matter of balance.” In other words, getting in great shape doesn’t mean you can never eat your favorite dessert again. It just means you can’t have it every day. What’s more, getting fit doesn’t have to be difficult, painful, or expensive. In fact, the most effective diet and exercise strategies will fit seamlessly into…

View original 1,419 more words

What I Eat Now

The one thing that people ask me the most is what I eat.  The last time I wrote a post about what I eat was over a year ago.  I often will look for ways to improve my diet or make small changes to hopefully create some big results.  In the past year I quit drinking Diet Coke completely and I have adopted a “eat real food” mentality with my diet.  In my last post. Things I Eat,  I spoke about how I really monitor my diet during the week and then on the weekends I let go a little bit.  I still do that.  Before you all think that I am crazy I am a man of habits and almost every Saturday morning you can find me at the Swiss Chalet in Morristown having coffee and donuts before I go for my run.  I also have dessert with Saturday dinner most weeks. However, monday-friday I adhere to a strict calorie allotment and then Saturday is a cheat day and often Sunday Dinner is a cheat meal as well.  I try to eat for fuel 80% of the time and eat for enjoyment 20% of the time.  That being said I never eat anything that I don’t like.  I look forward to eating and I really enjoy everything I eat but I save the things like sweets for my cheat days.  One of the differences between what I eat now and what I ate then is my focus on eating real foods.  Nothing from a box or a bag.  Basically my motto is if it has a label it is a product and not a food.  In that previous blog I listed things like frozen meals, fast food items such as Dunkin Donuts egg white sandwiches, chips and salsa, greek yogurt, and many other things that I no longer eat.  My old mind set was that as long as I stay under my calories the food doesn’t matter.  Now, I don’t think of food as a diet but as fuel for my lifestyle.  I work out quite a bit and without proper nutrition that would not be possible.  The other switch that I have made is my protein requirements.  My goal is one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. When I wrote that last article protein wasn’t really a concern.  Since I ran the NYC Marathon in November I have cut down on the running quite a bit and been focused more on CrossFit. I still run on the weekends but primarily focus on speed and hill work rather than distance. Nutrition is about abundance and not deprivation.  In order to fuel my current workout style the protein is a major concern as well as good carbohydrate options around my workouts.  Things that I have cut out of my diet completely (Monday through Friday) are cheese, milk, soda, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and anything processed.  Because of my extremely busy schedule and time constraints I do buy frozen vegetables and pre-cooked proteins but I make sure to read the labels.  Frozen spinach needs to have one ingredient only.  Spinach!  Not all of them do.  There are a few items I will also buy in jars and boxes but I have a 5 ingredient rule.  If it has more than 5 ingredients I don’t buy it.  Another rule that I have is that I use spices to flavor food and not sauces.  Sauces have excess calories and are often heavy cream or flour based.  StoneWall Kitchen has a great Salsa Verde that I use a lot on all types of meats.  It has only 4 ingredients which is a much better option than Tostitos salsa.  Basically it is tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro pureed.  Just how you would make fresh salsa at home.  I buy Organic produce whenever I can and I am not afraid of fat.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter (JoeLopez55) you know that I often write about how sugar is the enemy when it comes to diet and health and not fat.  The worst thing for dietary fat is that it is called fat and people associate it with body fat.  I eat butter and eggs every day and steak and avocados once a week.  When I make vegetables I often cook them in bacon fat or use butter to flavor them.  My macronutrient goals are 40% fats, 35% carbohydrates, and 25% protein.  I am up 10 pounds since I ran the marathon on November 3rd but my body fat percentage has stayed the same.  I want to lost about 3 percent body fat so I am in the process of making another adjustment and experimenting with some other diet changes but more on that another day.

Here is a sample day of eating for me:

Breakfast:

5 eggs, 3 cups Kale, 3 slices Bacon, One Sweet Potato, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

Lunch: 

Protein Coffee courtesy of Sparta Nutrition Store.

Dinner:

Grilled Salmon no skin 8 oz, Salsa Verde, 1 cup of Spinach, 1 cup of pureed Winter Squash, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

After Dinner: 

Homemade Chia Bar, Protein Shake 2 scoops Optimum Nutrition, 1 Orange.

Totals:

Calories                          2,283

Carbohydrates            175 grams

Fat                                   98 grams

Protein                        189 Grams

Fiber                             42 grams

Sugar                            59 grams

 

 

 

Paleo Diet

The popularity of Paleo, often referred to as the “caveman” diet,  is gaining in popularity. It is also referred to as the Stone Age diet or hunter-gatherer diet, and the theory behind it is that your nutritional intake should be based on consuming plants and wild animals, just like what cavemen are presumed to have eaten during the Paleolithic Period. Based on several clinical trials, Paleo diet is shown as effective in lowering the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The American Dietetic Association also agrees that Paleo diet has a lot of great aspects; however, some people can’t sustain this type of nutrition due to lack of variety, cost, and nutrient inadequacies.

What you can eat

There are no special pills or starvation techniques involved in the Paleo diet. All you have to do is eat similar foods our Paleolithic ancestors ate long ago. Here are several foods that you could eat with Paleo diet and those that you need to stay away from:

EAT

Paleo Foods

Paleo Foods

 

✓     Grass-produced meats — poultry, turkey, steak, pork, beef, buffalo, bacon, veal, bison, rabbit, goat, goose, kangaroo, wild boar, ostrich, quail, elk and emu

✓     Fish and seafoods — crab, oysters, salmon, bass, halibut, tilapia, tuna, mackerel, clams, lobsters, scallops, mussels, squid and shrimp

✓     Vegetables — asparagus, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, Brussel sprouts, parsley and artichoke hearts

✓     Fruits – apple, avocado, raspberries, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, grapes, lemon, tangerine, oranges, plums, peaches, lime, papaya and strawberries

✓     Nuts and seeds – almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nut, walnut abd sunflower seeds

✓     Healthy oils — avocado oil, macadamia oil, , olive oil, canola oil and coconut oil

 

Paleo Pyramid

Paleo Pyramid

NOT TO EAT

✖     Dairy – butter, cheese, powdered milk, cream cheese, nonfat dairy creamer, skim milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream and low fat milk

✖     Soft drinks – all kinds of soft drinks, since these have high fructose corn syrup and sugar content

✖     Fruit juices — are also high in sugar so try to stay away from them. Examples are apple juice, grape juice, orange juice, strawberry juice, star fruit juice and mango juice

✖     Grains — cereals, bread, toast, sandwiches, crackers, English muffins, oatmeal, corn, wheat, pancakes, pasta, lasagna and hash browns

✖     Legumes – black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, red beans, green beans, white beans, chick peas, snow peas, peanuts, peanut butter, lentils, miso, tofu, soybeans, and all soybean products and derivatives

✖     Fatty meats – spam, hot dogs and other processed meats

✖     Salty foods — French fries, ketchup

✖     Alcohol – Beer, whiskey, tequila, rum, vodka, and other alcoholic mixes

✖     Sweets – sugar, candy bars

 

Health benefits

 

  • Lose weight – Paleo diet helps your body to lose weight naturally since the stored fat in your body is being converted into energy. With Paleo diet, you are consuming foods that have a high-nutrient density without the bad calories. You also tend to lose food sensitivities and you feel more satiated because of all the healthy fats you’re consuming.
  • Increase energy levels – Several studies show that following this diet will increase your energy since you’re eating foods that are low in carbohydrates but high in fat, which provide more sustained and lasting energy.
  • Sharpen the mind – By following the Paleo diet, you are getting a well balanced meal from natural sources. It gives you more energy without having to resort to caffeinated beverages or energy drinks. It also allows you to eat until you feel full, or eat whenever you’re hungry, so you don’t risk running low on energy when you need it.
  • Detox your system – Paleo helps you detoxify your body, so you lose the unwanted substances in your food like MSG, gluten, refined sugar and caffeine. Ingesting more antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber from the fruit and vegetables you’ll be eating will help your body to purge out toxins.
  • Helps you sleep better – by cutting out the chemicals and additives in your diet, you tend to sleep better. This is because of the serotonin in the brain, which releases the signal that it’s time to sleep, is not overridden by these chemicals.
  • Leaner muscles – Because this diet plan relies heavily on consuming meat, a healthy amounts of proteins are then used to feed your muscles. This helps you have a leaner physique and better muscle development, (with the help of a little exercise.)
  • Reduce your risk of diseases – this diet allows you to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and less foods that causes inflammation. You’re also eating more foods that have antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are known to ward off diseases such as cancers and heart ailments. Naturally avoiding fast food and junk foods also help in improving your overall nutrition.

 

David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.  He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline.  To visit his other stories on Healthline, visithttp://www.healthline.com/

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

What does Clean Eating Mean?

Eating Clean

Eating Clean

 

 

Eating clean is simply stripping your diet with unhealthy foods. It is not a diet but a lifestyle choice wherein you only eat whole, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. This allows you to eat more and weigh less by making smart food choices.

Eating clean can is the foundation for proper nutrition, weight loss and disease prevention. The concept of clean eating may seem to be overwhelming at first, especially if it involves a lot of dietary changes. Taking it one step a time and incorporating it gradually, however, can help you ease into these changes. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes or have slipped off the rails a few times. All it takes is the determination and patience knowing that you can eventually live a much healthier life than ever before. The keys to good health and proper nutrition are in the following concepts:

Cut down on alcohol

Several studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol (specifically red wine) has some health benefits, such as raising good HDL cholesterol and warding off dementia and Alzheimer. It is essential that consumption stays moderate, however, since excessive alcohol can affect your liver. It also weakens your immune system, making your body an easy target for diseases.

Cut down on sugar

On average, Americans consume 30 tablespoons of added sugar every day, which is higher than the recommended allowance deemed by the American Heart Association, which is only 6 tablespoons for women and 9 tablespoons for men. Excessive intake of sugar can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can also result in weight gain since excess sugar that’s not immediately required for energy is converted to triglycerides. So, avoid sugar in excess, including sugary beverages such as soda and fruit-flavored punches.

Cut down on salt

Restaurant foods and processed foods generally have high sodium content. It is best to cook food at home to be able to manage your sodium intake. Use fresh ingredients and boost flavor by using herbs and spices rather than salt. Too much salt intake can result to hypertension and may increase the risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer, cirrhosis and kidney stones.

Avoid saturated and trans fat

Saturated fats are known to increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can damage the arteries. Trans fat is far worse that saturated fats because aside from raising bad LDL, it also lowers good HDL. Too much of these unhealthy fats can lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver dysfunction and other chronic conditions.

Cut down on refined grains

As much as possible, limit your intake of refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and other foods made with all-purpose flour, such as cookies, cakes and crackers. Refined grains are easily digested into simple sugar, causing your blood sugar levels to spike or crash. These foods can also contribute to high triglycerides, which can cause inflammation and may worsen arthritis symptoms. Choose whole grains instead like whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and whole rye.

Avoid processed foods

Processed foods are anything that is in a box, can, bag or package that have a food label indicating more than one ingredient. All of these processed foods have loads of added sugar, salt, trans fat, and saturated fat that can be dangerous to your health. Processed foods also cause chronic inflammation, indigestion and obesity. Choosing natural, fresh foods are still the healthiest choice for everyone.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables are the best thing you could do for your body. Aside from being nutritious and rich in antioxidants, these power foods have low calories, which can minimize the risk for heart disease. They also have numerous vitamins and minerals, which are essential in keeping the body healthy and lowering the risk of contracting diseases. Fiber, which is also found in most vegetables and fruits, helps prevent diabetes, appendicitis and colon cancer. Make sure that fruits and vegetables will be the main food in your daily nutrition.

Increase your water intake

Our body is made up of 60% water, so it’s important that you replenish it by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to the body. It also helps keep your metabolism healthy and flowing, as well as regulates body temperature. Dehydration or lack of water in the body can cause tiredness, migraine, constipation, kidney disease and irregular blood pressure.

David Novak is a national newspaper columnist, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and GQ Magazine, among others.  David is a health and diet enthusiast, and frequently writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in healthline.com.  For more of his Healthline articles, visithttp://www.healthline

2013 ING NYC Marathon Recap.

The NYC Marathon was all that I expected and more.  I had heard about the crowds and the noise level and the massive amounts of runners but you really can’t prepare for that unless you have experienced it.  2 Millions plus spectators who are loud and cheering for you like you are Derek Jeter.  Every recreational athlete should get to experience that at some point in their lives.

Race Day:

My alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. but I shot awake at 3:30.  I was quite anxious for the day to begin.  Every meticulous detail was pre-planned from what I was going to eat to how I was going to put on my layered clothes to prepare for the waiting outside at Fort Wadsworth.  Shower; Check.  Water; Check. Body Glide; Check. I got my cup of coffee and had my oatmeal and hit the road to meet my ride to Met Life Stadium. Getting to Met Life was a breeze at 4:45 in the morning.  There were hundreds of buses lined up ready to roll.  As we got on the bus I expected a fairly short drive but instead it took us an hour and a half.  The traffic getting near the Verrazano bridge was stand still.  It was tough sitting down for that long but we were going to have to wait around anyway so I reasoned that it was better on a warm bus than out in the cold.  When we got there the security presence was heavy.  Metal Detectors and wands were used. Bib numbers had to be shown to anyone who asked and several people asked.  Sleeping bags and even garbage bags which people planned on using to keep warm or to sit on were confiscated.  When we actually got to Fort Wadsworth.  The atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation.  They provided coffee, water, gatorade, and bagels.  I decided to have a bagel around 8:30 because it had now been 3 hours since I ate my oatmeal.  There were people everywhere.  I didn’t know at the time but they later announced a record number of runners.  Over 50,000 would line up to attempt this year’s NYC Marathon.  Most just sitting down, trying to rest as much as possible.  Many waiting in the lines for the bathroom no doubt a combination of drinking water, sitting out in the cold, and just nervous energy.  There were people from so many other countries wearing their county’s colors proudly.  I noticed France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Canada, and Germany just to name a few.

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I tried seeking out people who had run NYC before to get some tips on how to manage the day.  The Ford Wadsworth part of the day was like Christmas Eve as a kid.  You just know something amazing is about to happen and you can feel it in the air.  Finally at 9:00 they called wave 2 to the corals.

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Once inside the corrals the nerves started to come.  Last minute bathroom breaks because we were less than an hour from starting the world’s greatest race.  Now was also the time to shed the layers of clothes I had on over my race outfit.  It was a cold day and the wind was harsh at times but to be honest I am not sure if I noticed at the time.  I kept my hat and gloves on for the first part of the race only to shed them around mile 5.  As we made our way towards the base of the Verazano for the first time I really got a sense of how massive this was.  TV Cameras were everywhere and there was a stage set up where Mayor Bloomberg had just wished all of the runners good luck.  Someone sang God Bless America and did a great job but I have no idea who. Then before I knew it The cannon fired and Frank Sinatra Sang New York New York.

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The first mile was up hill to the crest of the Verazano Bridge.  You really couldn’t open up too much because the see of people around you.  On the sides of the bridge two NYPD choppers hovered what seemed like 15 feet away.  Everywhere you looked left, right, front, or back there were runners.  It somehow worked.  They start you based on your predicted finishing time so most of the people round you should run at around the same pace as you.  When you look at the overhead shots of the bridge you think you would feel claustrophobic but that really wasn’t the case.

Brooklyn was my favorite part of the race.  Everyone talked about First Ave but Brooklyn was unique in so many ways.  The energy was super high and the people were enthusiastic throughout. Each section had it’s own flavor and made the long trek through Brooklyn lots of fun.  There were DJ’s and bands and MC’s keeping the crowd going.  One of the best tips I received was to write my name somewhere on my body because other runners and people along the route would shout out, “Keep going Joe” , or “nice job Joe.”  Some of my favorite signs that people had were the girl with a Friday Night Lights Jersey holding the sign that said Clear Eyes Full Hearts, the popular catch phrase from the TV show.  Another guy had a sign that said Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.  Run now, Beer Later was another one that I liked seeing.  Brooklyn for me was the highlight of the race.   It was still early enough where I felt good and I was cruising on adrenaline.  The only downside was the strong winds mostly in my face which at the time I didn’t pay attention to but the combination of my adrenaline and the winds would maybe come back to haunt me later on.

The second half of the race started as you crossed the Queensboro Bridge onto First Ave in Manhattan.   The Queensboro was quiet and the first half was uphill until you crested and then started down onto the street.  When I made the left onto First Ave you could see all of the people lining the streets.  It was not quite as loud as I was told it would be but certainly First Ave had the most spectators.  They were holding signs and ringing cow bells and just cheering for their family and friends and even people they don’t know.  The marathon is a day where all the good it seems comes out in people.  Yes their are the elite runners with their tiny bodies running superhuman times.  To me the marathon is about the 99% of the runners who go into the day knowing they have no chance of winning.

Around Mile 18 is when things started to go down hill for me.  I started to feel a slight twinge in my hamstrings.  I knew if I continued to stride like I wanted to I might cramp up.  I have never felt that in my hamstrings while running.  Usually it was my calves or my hip but this was real.  I made a conscious effort to slow myself down and decrease my stride in order to not blow out my hamstring.  The shorter strides make for more ground time and more force being pounded into your legs.  By mile 20 it was over for me.   I was shot.  I had hit the wall.  This was not my first marathon but I had never felt anything like this.  I struggled slowly from 20-23.  I hardly even remember going through the Bronx and up into Harlem.  By the time we crossed back into Manhattan and into Central Park I felt as if I was going to die.  Every part of my legs were failing me.  My calves, my hips, my quads had seemed to take over for my previously ailing hamstrings.  Miles 23-26.2 were a slow crawl at best.  I even walked.  I walked and ran back and forth through Central park.  Each time I stopped I wanted to cry because I could see 3:45 slipping away but more than I just wanted it to be done.  The marathon had beat me.  My previous marathons I didn’t walk at all.  Now I was walking through water stops and even in between.  People were passing me left and write.  Having Joe written on my shirt helped me in the beginning but now I didn’t want people to know my name.  Other runners were trying to encourage me.  “Almost there Joe”.  Spectators were trying to help me but it was of no use.  I just could not make myself run.

The goal was 3:45.  8 minutes and 35 seconds a mile.  I can do that.  Maybe go 8:15 because I would slow down later on but still doable.  But something inside of me just says go as fast as you can. Looking back I am not sure if it was the wind in my face or my too fast pace but I crashed and I crashed hard. My first 10 miles were about a 7:40 pace.  I just didn’t trust myself and my training to slow down.  For some reasons I always have in the back of my mind that no matter how slow I go in the beginning I will still hit that wall later on so why not go fast now.  I should know better than that.  For someone reason I just can’t seem to make myself do it.

MILE TIME CHANGE AVG PACE
1
8:51 8’51″/mi
2
16:40 - 1:02 (11%) 7’49″/mi
3
24:36 + 0:07 (-2%) 7’56″/mi
4
32:11 - 0:21 (4%) 7’35″/mi
5
39:42 - 0:04 (0%) 7’31″/mi
6
*Fastest
47:05 - 0:08 (1%) 7’23″/mi
7
54:41 + 0:13 (-3%) 7’36″/mi
8
1:02:26 + 0:09 (-2%) 7’45″/mi
9
1:10:17 + 0:06 (-2%) 7’51″/mi
10
1:18:12 + 0:04 (-1%) 7’55″/mi
11
1:26:23 + 0:16 (-4%) 8’11″/mi
12
1:34:24 - 0:10 (2%) 8’01″/mi
13
1:42:35 + 0:10 (-3%) 8’11″/mi
14
1:51:03 + 0:17 (-4%) 8’28″/mi
15
1:59:27 - 0:04 (0%) 8’24″/mi
16
2:09:35 + 1:44 (-21%) 10’08″/mi
17
2:17:16 - 2:27 (24%) 7’41″/mi
18
2:25:53 + 0:56 (-13%) 8’37″/mi
19
2:34:44 + 0:14 (-3%) 8’51″/mi
20
2:43:59 + 0:24 (-5%) 9’15″/mi
21
2:53:07 - 0:07 (1%) 9’08″/mi
22
3:02:46 + 0:31 (-6%) 9’39″/mi
23
3:13:01 + 0:36 (-7%) 10’15″/mi
24
3:24:58 + 1:42 (-17%) 11’57″/mi
25
3:36:04 - 0:51 (7%) 11’06″/mi
26
3:47:25 + 0:15 (-3%) 11’21″/mi

Those last three miles were the most painful thing I have ever done in my life.  Not just physically but emotionally I was beaten.  I wish I could say I picked it up and crossed the finish line feeling great but I limped across that finish line.  Yes, in the video I put my hands up but to be honest I was just happy it was over.  I was shocked to see that I actually had PR’d.  I had beaten my previous best marathon by more than 2 minutes.  I said that I was done with marathons after this one and at the finishing line I was sticking to that for sure.  It was pure torture.  It wasn’t until today when I read a NY Times article that I was able to get some perspective on the whole thing.  They interviewed a guy by the name of Greg Cass. He is a very good but sub elite runner.

“That is both the gift and the curse of the marathon,” Cass said. “When you finally get it right, it’s the product of 30 variables that you have maybe 50 percent control of. When you get it wrong, you try to analyze all 30 of those variables. It’s nearly impossible to figure out exactly what went wrong and how to make it better next time. But that’s the goal. To take a look at what happened and go back to the drawing board. And, if it’s in the cards, to give it another go.”

If you told me 5 years ago that I would have run 3 marathons I would have never believed you.  That is the magic of the NYC Marathon.  99% of the people running have no chance of winning. It is only you against yourself and everyone wins.  Just by starting the race and doing the training and having the courage to finish was I able to see myself do something so amazing.  Am I really done with marathons?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just chasing something that will never happen which is the perfect race.  I am definitely not running one next year. I want to tackle some shorter races and try to get faster.  Maybe I will do some obstacle races because those seem like a lot of fun.  I want to throw myself into CrossFit a little more and see where that leads me.  I plan to get on that as soon as I can walk again.  One thing is for sure that for the rest of my life I can tell people that I ran the NYC Marathon.

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