We’ve been training for a few months now. We are only three weeks away from our big run. But now the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced the run organizers to cancel. #Coronavirus #BentonvilleHalfMarathon
It’s a hard choice for the organizers. And for the runners, especially first time half marathon runners, this is devastating news. For those who have been training and weekly pushing their bodies to new distance or pace goals, their big motivation has been removed.
This year would be my third Bentonville Half Marathon, my goal was to just run it faster. Yet I have many friends that I have encouraged to run their first half, and a few are now very demotivated.
My message to you all is to focus on taming the flesh and silence the voice of the lazy flesh sack we live in.
Be determined to press on and conquer those 13.1 miles. Many races are switching to a virtual format. This means you still have to prove that you ran the miles to get the medal.
And although the lights and the camera may not be there, the action will be. When you run 13.1 miles for the first time in your life it will still move you emotionally. Don’t give up your training just because you won’t be around thousands of other sweaty faced runners.
The true goal is to overcome the voice of the quitter in your head. And prove to yourself that you can do it. This is your motivation! Not the crowd at the finish line, but the one doubting voice in your mind that you must silence.
There are not many life changing goals that have ever been reached without hard work, obstacles, challenges and/or pain. Many times those goals are achieved without a finish line and no audience to speak of. But the goal was still achieved.
Will you give up? Will you let the voice of fear and laziness win again? Or will you Run, Endure and Finish Strong?
Taming the flesh and extending the mission that God has created you for.
If you follow my blog you know that my goal was 1:45:00 or less.
I planned out race morning to make sure my body was nourished and hydrated correctly for a 07:00 AM start. Although, as my wife and I prepared to leave for the race we already knew the weather was not ideal. The organizers of the race were sending communications that the start time “may” be delayed yesterday. But we didn’t know for sure, so I prepared as planned.
I would have much rather they just went ahead and postponed it earlier in the morning, say 4:30 am. I don’t think anyone would have been upset about that at all. We had already been told to check the race social media page on race morning. But alas, no decision had been made by 6:00 AM when we planned to leave the house.
I arrived in downtown Bentonville, AR at around 6:20, found a great parking spot and took a glance at social media to see if a postponement decision had been announced. But, no decision was made until around 6:28. The race had been moved to a 7:30 AM start.
Somehow, this decision to postpone was difficult for them? Probably the city giving them trouble, but who knows. I hope it didn’t have anything to do with some super runner on a committee saying, “we run in the rain”, that wasn’t just rain.
This is only my second time running a half marathon, both times in Bentonville. Last year it was 25 degrees fahrenheit with ice on the road. We all know you are hard core Bentonville, no need to get struck by lightning to prove it. An abundance of caution much earlier in the morning would have been just fine.
I am glad that they finally did postpone the start.
So, I went ahead and drank a little more of my Zippfizz and relaxed in the truck for a while. I knew I would need to hit the restroom again anyway before starting the race. Luckily, we parked at First Baptist Bentonville and they graciously had their gym open for runners to get prepared for the race.
The churches and businesses in downtown Bentonville, along with the volunteers, really help make this race a great experience before and after the race. And the residents that live around the route come out and really cheer on the runners. It is a very enjoyable. There is one particular spot on the route, at the top of “the hill”, where the high school band was playing one of those high energy drum busting songs that get your hype up. I needed that for the last quarter mile for sure.
Well, it was around 6:50 and the rain seemed to just stop. I had stayed in my truck because I didn’t really want to get my shoes wet if I didn’t have too, so I put my race bib on and we went in the gym to use the restroom and stretch.
It was damp and 45 degrees outside when I got to the start line. But it wasn’t raining, and that was something I had prayed for. But the course was very damp. It did start slightly misting when I got to about mile seven until mile eleven, but not bad. Luckily on the race I was able to stay out of puddles until about mile ten, but my right foot wasn’t too wet.
As I went to the start line, I decided I needed to get near the front area of the crowd. I knew that any delays in my pace on mile one could kill my chances of getting to my 1:45 goal. And I was right as you’ll see in my pace chart in the photo gallery. So, my wife took a picture, I kissed her, and headed to the first area of the line.
The first 10 miles of this race had to be ran in a pace that gave me room to be slow on the last 3 miles. You see, the last 3 miles of this race, are all uphill. And in my training, I knew that those last 3 miles were taking me around 0:08:10, 0:08:20 and around 0:10:00.
So my mental math had me needing to be around an average of 0:07:50/mile average on the first 10 miles. I pushed my hard on the downhills and kept myself to stay under 0:07:50 on the flat spots. This put me at an average of around 0:07:41 when I hit mile 10. I had done it!
But, I had not run a full 13.1 miles since last November, when I ran a 1:49. And this was only my third time trying it. So, those last 3 miles, while I had trained on them during my last four long runs, I had not done them after running 10 miles since April 7, 2018. And, I only had a little over 27 minutes to finish. So I basically needed to run an all uphill 5K in less than 27 minutes, after running 10 miles. No biggie.
Here are the results:
Overall, I met all of my goals for this race. Training and mental preparation made it happen. Thank you, Lord, for health, motivation and safety on the journey to reach my goals.
I’ve written about training, nutrition, hydration and the gear you need. We’ve been training for a few months now and we have one week to go. What now?
This is the weekend before the big race. We want to hit our distance and pace targets next weekend. So, we have to start allowing our bodies to recover and be at full strength and health on race day.
There is always the thought for the novice runner that you have one more week to train and gain. But at this point, if you push a long run this weekend, you’ll take recovery time away from your body and it won’t be able to perform at the highest level next weekend. So any gain you might get from an extra long run this weekend won’t be realized in the result.
Here’s the plan I’ll be using for the second year.
This weekend, a week before the race, my long run will only be 8.5 miles max. I’ll have to force myself to stop. We will all be tempted to go ahead and run to 9 miles or round off to 10 miles. Don’t do it. Leave something in the tank as hard as it may be.
If you are like me you probably did 10 miles last week and probably 11 miles the week before that at the pace we wanted. We can do it. You don’t have to prove to anyone that you can do it again the week before the race.
The week of the race, our mid-week routine is going to switch up too. Instead of 3 to 5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and cross training cardio 40 minutes on Friday, we are only going to run 2 to 3 miles on Monday and then run 2 miles max on Wednesday.
Do your cross training cardio on Tuesday for 30 minutes max on the bike (something sitting). It is also fine to skip leg day for this week (but just this week), and don’t work on your core in the weight room after Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will simply be passive recovery days.
Remember, hydration starts at least 2 days before the race and the big carb meal is also 2 days before the race, with a smaller carb meal the night before.
You’ve probably heard that one guy say he just goes out and runs and doesn’t think about all this. Well, that’s his thing. Maybe I’m not a natural runner, I have to train for it and prepare for it. I’ve made mistakes before my long training runs that I don’t want to repeat. I made mistakes before my last half marathon (drinking too much within an hour before the race) that I don’t want to repeat. Hopefully you can learn from my experience and be ready to run.
It’s cold today, 38 degrees fahrenheit. But not as cold as the 26 degree start temperature and ice for the actual race last year when I ran my first half at 1:56.
This year’s goal is 1:45. This is an 8 min/mile pace or better for 13.1 miles. So with less than a month left to train, I have to be out running the course on the weekends. I need to learn when to push the pace and be ready for the 4.8% quarter mile hill that is include in mile 13 of the half marathon.
My training route isn’t exactly like the race route. I’m actually trying to trick my body into doing more hill work now than I will on race day. How? Well the Bentonville Half Marathon route includes that 4.8% grade hill on mile 13ish. My training is putting that hill in route with me still having 2 miles remaining on my run. This forces my tired self to try and push pace after the hill for 2 more miles. But on race day I’ll actually do those 2 miles on fairly flat ground before hitting the hill.
I’ve found that after the hill, it takes me about .6 of a mile to get back my breath and get back to a pace near 8:00/mile. But on race day, I’ll be pushing that two miles before the hill and I can put what’s left in the tank on conquering that last mile with the hill.
During the week I’m trying to hit hill repeats on the treadmill with the elevation setting due to the low temps outside lately. But I can’t stand the treadmill. Those session tend to be 5k (3.1 miles) on Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll do that for two more weeks before starting to cut back and prepare my body for race week preps.
Today’s results seem to point to the training plan working as needed.
The weekend before the race I’ll try to hit a fast pace 10 mile run. So I’ll probably do the 5K on Tuesday and just 1 mile on Thursday with cross training on Wednesday on the bike.
The Tuesday before the race would be a 1 mile shake out run. Then short bike on Wednesday, and another 1 mile shake out on Thursday. I’ll also skip leg day on weights on Tuesday of race week. I’ll also skip core exercises on Thursday and Friday.
This will help make sure that the muscles in my legs and core have sufficient energy stored up and ready to use for race day.
Disciplining the body is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially for someone who is going through a life change like a new job, new baby, a financial decision, and any number of life situations.
Yet disciplining our bodies and taming our fleshly desires are a required step in our journey to spiritual maturity and a good physical state of health.
At one point in my life, at around age 36, I started losing my confidence. I felt like I was getting physically weak, I was overweight, and I didn’t feel like anyone would want to ever take me seriously because of the way I looked. This, of course, is partly a lie of the evil one to try and hold me back from the purpose God has for me. But, it was somewhat true. Because of my lack of confidence, I was being held back and I was not being impactful.
I wasn’t being as impactful at work, in my home, in my career or in the mission and purpose to share the Gospel.
We all want to be able to work on our mission to spread the Gospel of Christ with vigor and energy until the day we die. Right?
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14 NASB https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.6.12-14.NASB
In our mission to share the Gospel we must often remove the pole from our own eye before helping our neighbor remove the speck from his eye.
If we are struggling to tame our own fleshly desires, how can we help anyone else see a better way?
Guess what, you don’t have to be a pastor, full time preacher or evangelist to preach/teach others. And I don’t want to disqualify myself by allowing my fleshly desires to rule over me.
Though I will stumble Lord, help me not to fall. And if a fall is ever necessary for learning, Lord never let it be so. Let my body be used for your service until the day I meet you face to face.
In full context this passage relates to sharing the Gospel with others where they are in life, but not partaking in the circumstance that they are in. We must exercise self-control.
I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 NASB https://bible.com/bible/100/1co.9.23-27.NASB
For me, exercising self-control first started with my food addictions and stress behavior. Setting goals in the app MyFitnessPal was the best thing for me.
Then I hit a weight loss plateau after losing 30 pounds. Why? Because I was getting about 15% of my calories from sugary foods? (sweet tea)
Then I lost another 10 pounds after cutting out excessive sugar. I try to stay around 50 grams of sugar a day, but most days I am under that around 20 grams.
I felt great about my weight loss at that point. And my self-esteem and confidence were allowing me to be bolder in my sharing of the Gospel. Though I know my boldness should come from my faith and the Holy Spirit working in me, and it does. But a little self-confidence does not hurt.
Then I hit another plateau. I knew at that point I would have to hit the gym. Which I didn’t want to do. Having to miss my lunch time to change clothes and make my body hurt was not appealing. But then Eric joined my team. Eric runs marathons and hits the weight room. So now I had a partner to teach me.
It was accountability and expert advice on how to train that moved me on to reaching my personal fitness goal.
I started seeing body changes after about a month that motivated me tremendously. Then comes a goal, run a 5K. I hated running. Why would anyone want to run? I’ve hated it since high school.
Next goal run a half marathon. Check. Run in under 2 hours. Check
But then I set myself another goal. Goals must be achievable but not easy. My new goal was to prove I had abs. I’d never seen them, but I was sure they must exist.
I’m still working at this goal because I’m not satisfied. But I press on. (March 2019 Update: They do exist at about 11% body fat and under, I’m currently at ~10%)
But the ultimate goal is to extend and invigorate the mission I have to share the Gospel for as long as God has me in this flesh tent.
Now what? Well, now I want to help others reach their goals.
In the winter of 2019, I began studying for my NASM Certified Personal Trainer test. And in the spring of 2020, finally after the Covid lockdowns end and allowed the testing centers to open, I am now a Certified NASM Personal Trainer.
And my mission is to help other men, like me, to achieve their fitness goals, to regain their confidence, and begin Taming the Flesh!