Running is my pastime, my passion, my pursuit
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/

Improve your form and avoid injury with this elite coach’s fast head-to-toe workout

I am a marshmallow. After enduring two grueling days of dynamic stretching, strength training, hurdle and sprint drills—all under the exacting eye of Olympic coach John Cook—muscles I didn’t know existed ache and the verdict is in: I am a runner without strength. Soft.

The German-born Cook, 69, uses this full-body exercise regimen to transform his professional runners into complete athletes: fast, strong, balanced running machines capable of withstanding the rigors of training without getting hurt. On top of running 75-plus miles a week, his athletes—who include 1500-meter Olympians Leo Manzano and Shannon Rowbury—do daily dynamic flexibility moves to improve range of motion, strength sequences to enhance fitness and balance, and medicine-ball work to build core strength.

According to Cook, runners can’t rely on lungs alone to excel. “If you’re just running, you’re developing one thing: breathing,” he says. Eventually, speed disappears, and you’re destined to shuffle, and shuffling is—like being a marshmallow—a mortal sin in Cook’s book. Developing whole-body strength gives you “pop,” or speed, and the strength to summon it in the final stretch of a race, says Cook. It also helps shore up your form, which can protect you from injury. It’s a point of pride for Cook that his runners are rarely hurt.

Of course, tacking on all those extras can be time consuming. But for midpackers, committing just a few minutes a day to some of the following exercises can enhance your speed and shield you from injury. You don’t have to do everything. I cobbled together a routine that fits my hectic life and set a PR by 57 seconds in a recent 5-K. I e-mailed Cook to tell him my time. His reply was swift and satisfying: “Big! You got pop!”

Carioka
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Lift right knee to waist level at a 45-degree angle.
3. Keeping your knee high, rotate your hip so your knee is straight in front of you.
4. Step your right leg in front of your left.
5. Step to the left with your left foot.
6. Step behind your left leg with your right.
7. Step to the left with your left leg. Repeat the sequence for 20 yards, then change directions.

Active Warmup

Full range of motion in the hips is critical for injury prevention—it lessens the force on your feet, lower legs, and knees, says Cook. Do all or part of this flexibility and drill series (plus Carioka, previous pages) before every run.

High Knees
1. As you walk, bring each knee up to waist level, thigh parallel to the ground.
2. Pump arms. Go 20 yards. If doing before speedwork, turn into a skip.

Frontal Leg Swings
1. Stand next to a wall, left hand on wall.
2. Flexing your left foot, swing your left leg forward and back. Do 10 reps per leg.
3. Switch to side leg swings: With both hands on wall and a slight bend in left knee, flex left foot upward. Swing left leg to the left, then to the right. Do 10 reps per leg.

Donkey Kicks
1. Get on all fours, back flat, and head up.
2. Bring your right knee in toward your torso.
3. Extend right leg upward. Repeat 10 times on each side.

"Doing dynamic stretches after running is almost as important as doing it before. Anything so you’re not on your butt after you’re done working out. After I play tennis, I do 15 minutes of this stuff.—JOHN COOK, coach to 1500-meter Olympians Shannon Rowbury and Leo Manzano"

Scissors Side to Side
1. Lie on your back. Supporting your hips with your hands, raise your legs straight above you.
2. Extend legs out to each side.
3. Draw them in, crossing right leg in front of left.
4. Extend outward. Draw them in, this time left leg in front of right. Do 10 times, then switch to scissors forward and back (see illustration below).

Scissors Forward and Back
1. Same start as above.
2. Move right leg toward head, left leg forward.
3. Move left leg toward head, right leg forward. Repeat 10 times.

 

Strength & Balance

Using your own body weight to resistance-train builds balance and coordination, says Cook. Do the following series twice a week. Do 10 reps of each with no rest between moves. Work up to 15, then two sets of 10.

Cossack Extension
1. Hold a pole or banister for balance. Lower yourself into the squat position.
2. Extend your right leg and place your heel on the ground at a 45-degree angle to your body (make sure that your left foot remains grounded).
3. Return to squat position.
4. Extend the left leg. As strength improves, try to start from a deeper squat.

V-Sits
1. Lie flat on the floor, legs together, arms stretched above your head.
2. Raise arms and torso (keep them in line) and legs until your body forms a V.
3. Hold for one count and slowly return to start.

Push-Ups
1. Do them on your knees, if necessary. When you’ve built enough upper-body strength, move on to the classic variety.

"Weight machines don’t have the right motion for runners. Using your body requires balance, strength, coordination—that’s what athleticism is all about. It’s learning how to control your body under stress."—JOHN COOK

Wrestler’s Bridge
1. Lie on your back, knees bent with feet flat on the floor. Place your palms on the ground above your shoulders so your elbows are pointed toward the ceiling and fingers point toward your feet.
2. Push up into a bridge position. Hold for 10 seconds.
3. Slowly lower yourself down, landing gently on your upper back. Build up to holding the position for 30 seconds.

Rocket Jumps
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, knees bent in a shallow squat (your thighs should be at roughly a 45-degree angle to the ground).
2. Jump straight up, extending your hands above your head.
3. Land in shallow squat position.

 

Most moves with a medicine ball require some degree of rotation, making it an ideal tool for strengthening your core. Start with the lightest ball available and work your way up. Perform these moves three times a week.

Rotating Knee Lift
1. Hold ball at chest height, elbows to the sides. Keep your eyes on the ball and twist to the right.
2. As you rotate back to center, lift your left knee to your waist.
3. As left leg returns to standing, rotate torso to right. Do 10 times.
4. Switch sides. Twist to the left and raise right leg. Over time, increase the thrust of the rotation by concentrating on twisting at the waist.

"We do medicine-ball work with a three-kilogram (6.6 pounds) ball. On any given day, my runners do up to 200 throws or rotations. It makes them explosive, which you need on the track."—JOHN COOK

Wood Choppers
1. With feet 24 inches apart, extend ball over right shoulder.
2. Lower into a squat, and swing ball to outside of left knee.
3. Rise and swing ball up over your right shoulder, pivoting on the left toe and rotating slightly. Do 10 on each side.

Off-the-Wall Toss
1. Get a partner or stand about two feet away from a wall. Hold the ball over your head.
2. Throw it at the wall (or your partner).
3. Catch the return at roughly the same height.
4. Vary the toss and catch: Stand perpendicular to the wall and toss it sideways, twisting to release and catch; stand in place and have your partner toss to you from various angles or do chest passes. Do 10 reps.

Big Circles
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding ball over your head.
2. Keeping your arms straight and eyes on the ball, gently swing the ball clockwise in a big circle.
3. Squat as ball reaches six o’clock.
4. Rise again as you bring the ball back above your head. Do 10 circles in each direction.

by Ben Williams
Any veteran triathlete will agree: When it comes down to having a great race, it is all about how you feel on the run. Your run performance indicates how well you balanced your day, and takes special attention in training. Here are four ways you can train and race to make sure you finish your next triathlon while running happy
1. Focus on running efficiently
After a tough swim and high intensity bike ride, your running form is more likely to fall apart. Take at least one day each week to focus on efficient running form. This can be at the track or through strides at the end of a weekly tempo run. The idea is to deeply ingrain proper form into your muscle memory. Practicing this will make it easier to default to that form under the stress of the last stage of a triathlon.
2. Do the brick workout
The brick workout is a staple of triathlon training and refers to a two-part workout that includes a bike segment and a run segment joined in the same session. Whenever possible, every bike ride should finish with a run. This can be something as soothing as a gentle cool down jog after a grinding bike set, or using the bike to warmup for a tough run. 
3. Eat and hydrate
It’s easy to overlook, but eat and hydrate enough throughout the race so you don’t start your run in a hole. A good run execution is the result of good planning earlier in the day. The best plan is to stick with what works in training, so choose products that go down easily and seem to provide steady, clean energy (without spikes and crashes or gastrointestinal distress). Pay attention to how long it takes for you to feel the effects of the nutrition. Time this so that you can to top off the tank with enough time to absorb before approaching the second transition (T2).
4. Pace your run

Sometimes we get so excited to be off of our bikes and out on the run course, paired with spectator energy through T2, that it can be easy to head out much too fast. Be careful to not make a mistake in the first mile that you will regret in the second. You can always pick up the pace if you head out too easy, but it’s not so much fun when your body decides that you’ve gone out too hard.

Running well in a triathlon is an art form of balance. Intensity should be increasing throughout the event and climaxing on the run course. The best expressions are by athletes with plenty of calculated experience and an honest evaluation of current circumstances. With the right run focus in training, you will be on track for a smiling face at the finish line.

by Ben Williams

Any veteran triathlete will agree: When it comes down to having a great race, it is all about how you feel on the run. Your run performance indicates how well you balanced your day, and takes special attention in training. Here are four ways you can train and race to make sure you finish your next triathlon while running happy

1. Focus on running efficiently

After a tough swim and high intensity bike ride, your running form is more likely to fall apart. Take at least one day each week to focus on efficient running form. This can be at the track or through strides at the end of a weekly tempo run. The idea is to deeply ingrain proper form into your muscle memory. Practicing this will make it easier to default to that form under the stress of the last stage of a triathlon.

2. Do the brick workout

The brick workout is a staple of triathlon training and refers to a two-part workout that includes a bike segment and a run segment joined in the same session. Whenever possible, every bike ride should finish with a run. This can be something as soothing as a gentle cool down jog after a grinding bike set, or using the bike to warmup for a tough run. 

3. Eat and hydrate

It’s easy to overlook, but eat and hydrate enough throughout the race so you don’t start your run in a hole. A good run execution is the result of good planning earlier in the day. The best plan is to stick with what works in training, so choose products that go down easily and seem to provide steady, clean energy (without spikes and crashes or gastrointestinal distress). Pay attention to how long it takes for you to feel the effects of the nutrition. Time this so that you can to top off the tank with enough time to absorb before approaching the second transition (T2).

4. Pace your run

Sometimes we get so excited to be off of our bikes and out on the run course, paired with spectator energy through T2, that it can be easy to head out much too fast. Be careful to not make a mistake in the first mile that you will regret in the second. You can always pick up the pace if you head out too easy, but it’s not so much fun when your body decides that you’ve gone out too hard.

Running well in a triathlon is an art form of balance. Intensity should be increasing throughout the event and climaxing on the run course. The best expressions are by athletes with plenty of calculated experience and an honest evaluation of current circumstances. With the right run focus in training, you will be on track for a smiling face at the finish line.

Reblogged from runnersclub  98 notes
runnersclub:

"It’s elevating and humbling at the same time. Running along a beach with no footprints in the sand, you realize the vastness of creation, your own insignificant space in the plan, how tiny you really are, your own creatureliness and how much you owe to the supreme body,the God that brought all this beauty and harmony into being.” Marion Irvine

runnersclub:

"It’s elevating and humbling at the same time. Running along a beach with no footprints in the sand, you realize the vastness of creation, your own insignificant space in the plan, how tiny you really are, your own creatureliness
and how much you owe to the supreme body,the God that brought all this beauty and harmony into being.”
Marion Irvine

Find Zen Through Running





To achieve bliss as a runner, you need to tame your “monkey mind.”



Jennifer Keishin Armstrong


 
If you could eavesdrop on a runner’s internal monologue, it might sound like this: Forgot my sunglasses. Pretty bird. Should’ve worn another layer. What’s for dinner? Hill! New shoes feel good. Pasta? Gotta buy pasta. And olive oil. I’m overdressed. I’ll do take-out. Dog!


Buddhists call this mental ping-pong game “monkey mind,” meaning that the random musings bouncing around your head are like a barrelful of rambunctious primates. It’s a natural state for runners who are happy to let their minds wander for miles. But when you become stressed (about an upcoming race or life in general), those monkeys can go bananas. And when they make too much noise (Why did I sign up for this race? My feet hurt! I’m hungry!), it can be tough to perform your best or simply enjoy your run.
Buddhists have a way to tame those animals: meditation. This ancient practice is traditionally done while sitting and focusing on your breathing to achieve peace of mind. But more and more runners are learning how to clear out the commotion while on roads and trails, thanks in part to Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual leader of a global network of Shambhala Centers (meditation meeting places). The Sakyong is a dedicated runner (a nine-time marathoner with a 3:05 PR), author of Running with the Mind of Meditation, and founder of a workshop of the same name that is taught in 11 different locations worldwide. “Meditation reduces chaos and stress,” the Sakyong says. “When we apply that to running, running becomes a tool that brings relaxation and vitality to the body. By allowing our mind and body to harmonize, we feel more alive and strong.” Want in? Just as training for a race requires a gradual buildup, developing a meditative running practice takes time and, well, practice. But by employing some of the basic principles of meditation in your next run, the Sakyong says, you can feel—and run—better instantly.
Tune InThe first technique the Sakyong recommends is developing body awareness: Pay attention to how you are breathing, how your feet are landing, how your arms are swinging. If you feel any tense areas (clenched fists or tight shoulders), relax them. But also think about potential causes of the tension. Is it running-related (sore legs from intervals), or is there a lifestyle component (you haven’t been sleeping much) as well? “There is so much value in being able to notice what’s happening within your body as you run,” says Marty Kibiloski, a 2:23 marathoner who teaches Shambhala running retreats. “We’re trained to push through discomfort. But if there is something off that you can correct or at least acknowledge the source of, you can feel more relaxed and run with better form.” Which brings big rewards: more efficient running, faster times, fewer injuries.
Think HappyResearch has linked an optimistic outlook to enhanced athletic ability. In one study, athletes who rated themselves calm and happy before a competition performed better than those who were angry or tense. Nixing negative self-talk is a key principle of meditation. Buddhist teachers tell students to think of pessimistic thoughts as weather patterns moving through the sky: A passing shower, for example, is just that—passing. A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, a 34-year-old New York City web developer, was an experienced meditator when he took up running in 2010. He now taps into his Zen skill set to keep his marathon training positive. “I can see the thoughts coming up while I run—I want to stop right now; I wish this was over—and I see them for what they are,” Davis says. “They are just thoughts; they don’t have to be my reality.”
Accept the ChallengeMonster hills, uncooperative weather, and monotonous long runs can turn an enjoyable experience into a frustrating one—if you allow them to. “Every run has challenges,” the Sakyong says. “The challenge is to be brave, not trying to escape boredom or discomfort, but relaxing with how things are.” Steve Joseph, a 51-year-old Manhattan lawyer, called upon his meditative training to remain composed at the start of the 2012 Boston Marathon. While other runners panicked as the temperature rose into the 80s, Joseph sat and focused on his breath. It was a smart strategy in more ways than one. “I was on the ground while everyone else stood around fidgeting. They provided me shade, keeping me cool. And by sitting, I conserved more energy.” Joseph stayed calm throughout the race by focusing on his breathing. Runners already have stores of strength and endurance. Meditation can help you recognize these qualities and put them to use, Kibiloski says.
Love the RunRunners tend to be dissatisfied—with how fast they are, with how far they are able to go. While it’s good to want to improve, you also need to value the runner you are today, Kibiloski says. While running, think about all the good you are doing in that moment—strengthening muscles, producing endorphins, taking time for yourself. “Appreciation for running creates a healthy self-identity,” the Sakyong says, “no matter what chaos is in your life.”

Find Zen Through Running

To achieve bliss as a runner, you need to tame your “monkey mind.”

 
If you could eavesdrop on a runner’s internal monologue, it might sound like this: Forgot my sunglasses. Pretty bird. Should’ve worn another layer. What’s for dinner? Hill! New shoes feel good. Pasta? Gotta buy pasta. And olive oil. I’m overdressed. I’ll do take-out. Dog!

Buddhists call this mental ping-pong game “monkey mind,” meaning that the random musings bouncing around your head are like a barrelful of rambunctious primates. It’s a natural state for runners who are happy to let their minds wander for miles. But when you become stressed (about an upcoming race or life in general), those monkeys can go bananas. And when they make too much noise (Why did I sign up for this race? My feet hurt! I’m hungry!), it can be tough to perform your best or simply enjoy your run.

Buddhists have a way to tame those animals: meditation. This ancient practice is traditionally done while sitting and focusing on your breathing to achieve peace of mind. But more and more runners are learning how to clear out the commotion while on roads and trails, thanks in part to Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual leader of a global network of Shambhala Centers (meditation meeting places). The Sakyong is a dedicated runner (a nine-time marathoner with a 3:05 PR), author of Running with the Mind of Meditation, and founder of a workshop of the same name that is taught in 11 different locations worldwide. “Meditation reduces chaos and stress,” the Sakyong says. “When we apply that to running, running becomes a tool that brings relaxation and vitality to the body. By allowing our mind and body to harmonize, we feel more alive and strong.” Want in? Just as training for a race requires a gradual buildup, developing a meditative running practice takes time and, well, practice. But by employing some of the basic principles of meditation in your next run, the Sakyong says, you can feel—and run—better instantly.

Tune In
The first technique the Sakyong recommends is developing body awareness: Pay attention to how you are breathing, how your feet are landing, how your arms are swinging. If you feel any tense areas (clenched fists or tight shoulders), relax them. But also think about potential causes of the tension. Is it running-related (sore legs from intervals), or is there a lifestyle component (you haven’t been sleeping much) as well? “There is so much value in being able to notice what’s happening within your body as you run,” says Marty Kibiloski, a 2:23 marathoner who teaches Shambhala running retreats. “We’re trained to push through discomfort. But if there is something off that you can correct or at least acknowledge the source of, you can feel more relaxed and run with better form.” Which brings big rewards: more efficient running, faster times, fewer injuries.

Think Happy
Research has linked an optimistic outlook to enhanced athletic ability. In one study, athletes who rated themselves calm and happy before a competition performed better than those who were angry or tense. Nixing negative self-talk is a key principle of meditation. Buddhist teachers tell students to think of pessimistic thoughts as weather patterns moving through the sky: A passing shower, for example, is just that—passing. A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, a 34-year-old New York City web developer, was an experienced meditator when he took up running in 2010. He now taps into his Zen skill set to keep his marathon training positive. “I can see the thoughts coming up while I run—I want to stop right now; I wish this was over—and I see them for what they are,” Davis says. “They are just thoughts; they don’t have to be my reality.”

Accept the Challenge
Monster hills, uncooperative weather, and monotonous long runs can turn an enjoyable experience into a frustrating one—if you allow them to. “Every run has challenges,” the Sakyong says. “The challenge is to be brave, not trying to escape boredom or discomfort, but relaxing with how things are.” Steve Joseph, a 51-year-old Manhattan lawyer, called upon his meditative training to remain composed at the start of the 2012 Boston Marathon. While other runners panicked as the temperature rose into the 80s, Joseph sat and focused on his breath. It was a smart strategy in more ways than one. “I was on the ground while everyone else stood around fidgeting. They provided me shade, keeping me cool. And by sitting, I conserved more energy.” Joseph stayed calm throughout the race by focusing on his breathing. Runners already have stores of strength and endurance. Meditation can help you recognize these qualities and put them to use, Kibiloski says.

Love the Run
Runners tend to be dissatisfied—with how fast they are, with how far they are able to go. While it’s good to want to improve, you also need to value the runner you are today, Kibiloski says. While running, think about all the good you are doing in that moment—strengthening muscles, producing endorphins, taking time for yourself. “Appreciation for running creates a healthy self-identity,” the Sakyong says, “no matter what chaos is in your life.”

NO SLACK ALLOWED: 10 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR MILES FRESH
By Another Mother Runner




We’ve just inched past January, but it feels like you made those New Year’s Resolutions decades ago. Time to recommit to your miles, runner, as springtime—and race season—is just around the corner. (We’re right about that, Ma Nature, aren’t we? No more Polar Vortex jokes in March, right?) Here are ten ways to minimize the slack as we wait out the rest of winter:

Put a number on it. Write down a specific training goal—100 miles in a month or five hours of sweat a week, for instance—and then record each step of your progress towards it. There’s something so crisp and rewarding about notching regular progress towards a goal. One tip: go old-school with pen and paper, and hang it on your bathroom mirror or fridge, where you’ll be reminded of it frequently.

Do the workouts you love. If you love hills, eat ‘em up. Or if there’s a route that always makes you smile, run that baby until you carve a path on it. Unless you’re on a strict, scientific training plan, there’s no reason to force yourself to do runs you’re unenthused about.

But challenge yourself. Introduce one new running-related thing every week, whether it’s intervals on the treadmill (10 x 1 minute at a fast-for-you pace, with 1-2 minute recovery); trail running (watch the ice!); setting your Garmin to beep if you drop below a set pace; or gunning race-pace for the final mile of a midweek run. (Hey, that’s a month-full right there!)

Get into heavy metal. Strength training will benefit your running in myriad ways. You don’t have to go all “WOD”. Planks, one-legged squats, hamstring curls on a Swiss Ball, push-ups, and bridges are all excellent moves that build solid (read: injury-free) running strength.

Better yet, mix miles + muscle. Here’s a multitasking, tough workout; do it either on a treadmill, track, or, if you’ve got warmer temps and dry surfaces, on the road. Warm up for a mile. Stop, do push-ups for a minute, walking lunges for a minute, plank for a minute, then continue on for another mile. Repeat the strength circuit. Continue the pattern for as many miles as you want.

Go long. The mentally- and physically-challenging long run is the backbone of most training plans, regardless of the distance, so get in the practice of doing them now. Start where you are, not where you think you should be—your first long run may be 3 miles—and gradually increase the distance. (To sidestep injury, your total weekly run mileage should increase no more than 10% a week.)

Realize prehab > rehab. Take time now to iron out any muscles that are still angry from your last half-marathon and strengthen the ones that need it. Shore up your core in a Pilates class, foam roll, take a yoga class, do your prescribed physical therapy exercises. (Yes, we know your intentions are always good, but intentions don’t always translate to action: get on the floor and clamshell like your life depended on it.)

Don’t sabotage yourself. Two golden rules of February: 1. The season of eating officially ended with the Superbowl. 2. Nothing (really) good (usually) happens after 10 p.m.. So eat like you know you should—heavy on fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains—and get plenty of shut-eye. Heeding those rules keeps your wheels spinning, which leads to rule #3: Momentum is a good thing.

Be a team player. Speaking of momentum, group runs are excellent antidotes to the running blahs. Not only do they provide entertainment along with miles, they also give you the opportunity to push yourself. That guy in the red shirt beat me today, but just wait until next week…

If all else fails, jump into a 5K.  Still got some, turkey stuffing, sugar cookies, and guacamole hiding under your waistband? A solid 5K effort gives you a reality check—and a good baseline to build on when your spring season really blooms.

NO SLACK ALLOWED: 10 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR MILES FRESH

We’ve just inched past January, but it feels like you made those New Year’s Resolutions decades ago. Time to recommit to your miles, runner, as springtime—and race season—is just around the corner. (We’re right about that, Ma Nature, aren’t we? No more Polar Vortex jokes in March, right?) Here are ten ways to minimize the slack as we wait out the rest of winter:

Put a number on it. Write down a specific training goal—100 miles in a month or five hours of sweat a week, for instance—and then record each step of your progress towards it. There’s something so crisp and rewarding about notching regular progress towards a goal. One tip: go old-school with pen and paper, and hang it on your bathroom mirror or fridge, where you’ll be reminded of it frequently.

Do the workouts you love. If you love hills, eat ‘em up. Or if there’s a route that always makes you smile, run that baby until you carve a path on it. Unless you’re on a strict, scientific training plan, there’s no reason to force yourself to do runs you’re unenthused about.

But challenge yourself. Introduce one new running-related thing every week, whether it’s intervals on the treadmill (10 x 1 minute at a fast-for-you pace, with 1-2 minute recovery); trail running (watch the ice!); setting your Garmin to beep if you drop below a set pace; or gunning race-pace for the final mile of a midweek run. (Hey, that’s a month-full right there!)

Get into heavy metal. Strength training will benefit your running in myriad ways. You don’t have to go all “WOD”. Planks, one-legged squats, hamstring curls on a Swiss Ball, push-ups, and bridges are all excellent moves that build solid (read: injury-free) running strength.

Better yet, mix miles + muscle. Here’s a multitasking, tough workout; do it either on a treadmill, track, or, if you’ve got warmer temps and dry surfaces, on the road. Warm up for a mile. Stop, do push-ups for a minute, walking lunges for a minute, plank for a minute, then continue on for another mile. Repeat the strength circuit. Continue the pattern for as many miles as you want.

Go long. The mentally- and physically-challenging long run is the backbone of most training plans, regardless of the distance, so get in the practice of doing them now. Start where you are, not where you think you should be—your first long run may be 3 miles—and gradually increase the distance. (To sidestep injury, your total weekly run mileage should increase no more than 10% a week.)

Realize prehab > rehab. Take time now to iron out any muscles that are still angry from your last half-marathon and strengthen the ones that need it. Shore up your core in a Pilates class, foam roll, take a yoga class, do your prescribed physical therapy exercises. (Yes, we know your intentions are always good, but intentions don’t always translate to action: get on the floor and clamshell like your life depended on it.)

Don’t sabotage yourself. Two golden rules of February: 1. The season of eating officially ended with the Superbowl. 2. Nothing (really) good (usually) happens after 10 p.m.. So eat like you know you should—heavy on fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains—and get plenty of shut-eye. Heeding those rules keeps your wheels spinning, which leads to rule #3: Momentum is a good thing.

Be a team player. Speaking of momentum, group runs are excellent antidotes to the running blahs. Not only do they provide entertainment along with miles, they also give you the opportunity to push yourself. That guy in the red shirt beat me today, but just wait until next week…

If all else fails, jump into a 5K.  Still got some, turkey stuffing, sugar cookies, and guacamole hiding under your waistband? A solid 5K effort gives you a reality check—and a good baseline to build on when your spring season really blooms.