Barely enough time, but just enough.

Screenshot 2014-06-08 10.56.03

This past week on Thursday my alarm went off at 4:30am as usual and I felt like a freight train had hit me. You know when you are in that really deep sleep and when you awaken it feels like gravity is at a x3?  Yeah, it felt like that. This wasn’t surprising as I had hit Spin Class on Monday and Wednesday, lifted weights the past 7 days straight and had been back to the elliptical machine earlier in the week as well. So I made a game time call and decided it was best to get the extra 2 hours of sleep for recovery.

Of course that meant I still needed to do my workout at lunch and Thursday was a busy day at work. My lifting schedule called for chest and quads. I only had about 30 minutes including travel time. So I changed, hit the decline chest press machine for 4 sets of 10 then switched to the leg extension machine for 4 sets of 10. I still had a few minutes left so I hit one more set on the decline machine then switched back to the leg extension for a 5th set. I took minimal rest between sets (30-60 seconds) to up the intensity of the workout.

So, in the wake of having an excuse to skip a workout I instead shortened it greatly and upped the intensity to make up for the lower volume. By the way, I could feel a twinge of lactic acid soreness in my quads the next day so the work completed was enough to get the job done.

Note that I had been going non-stop on training for over a week. These sleep-ins don’t happen often, but it’s fine when they do as long as you have a back-up plan. In this case I suggest listening to your body. Just make sure your body isn’t telling you to sleep in and skip the workout three days a week.

I had just enough time to get something in which turned out to be just enough. In this I stayed consistent with my training.

Happy Training!


The Consistency Principle of Training

We all want results and we want them as soon as possible. Assuming you are putting in the proper work consistently you will get results.
Tomorrow you will be a little bit stronger. The next day you will be a little bit faster. The day after that you will be a little bit more flexible. Next week you will be able to run a little bit farther. All of this will continue a little bit at a time.
Then one day you will surprise yourself when all those little bits from all those training sessions add up to something great.
You will all be successful to some degree. How successful will depend on one thing. Above all else, being consistent in your training will be the predictor of how successful you are on that day.
I call this the Consistency Principle of Training.
The principle is simple and has two points so here it is:
Consistency Principle of Training:
  • Have a plan and write it down in pencil
  • Follow the plan daily
The first point seem easy enough, but I am continually surprised at how many people don’t have a plan. How can you get to where you want to go or achieve the results you want if you have no road map to get there? Writing it down in pencil simply means that life happens and when you come to a fork in the road you may need to take the shorter route. Life is adventure, but life is also realistic so don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel for your own success every time you set your sights on a new goal.
I recognize that stuff happens. If you can’t run 10 miles today because something unforeseen derailed your plan and now you don’t have the time, I understand. But can you run 5 miles instead?
If you can’t do five 1-mile repeats today because your work needs you to come in early and you could really use the overtime…can you do three 1-mile repeats or six 800m intervals instead?
If you can’t make it to the gym today because the school called and you need to pick up your kid because they are sick, can you do a 20-minute body weight workout from YouTube at home instead? Can you do something…anything…rather than nothing at all? This adds to being consistent.
When are you doing your long run this weekend? I’m doing mine Sunday at 8:00am. Since I know I am starting my run at 8:00am then I know I need to get up before 8:00am. I do the same prep for every long run the same as I would for race day. On race day, I am awake 1.5 to 2 hours before the start of the race. I need time to eat, allow my stomach to settle from breakfast and also hit the restroom a couple times before I start my run at 8:00am. Then, at 7:30am I take a gel
That being said, if you find yourself cutting your workouts in half or missing your workouts altogether more consistently than you are making it to the gym or completing a training session 100% then I would suggest reassessing your goals and your priorities because it sounds like the work that needs to be done isn’t aligned with your life at the moment. Maybe now isn’t the time for a marathon? Maybe a half would suit your schedule better? I’ve had years where a full marathon just was not in the schedule. I had to focus on a new job, my dissertation, or new additions to my family so I kept my race schedule to a couple races in spring and winter and did maintenance training throughout the summer…and that’s okay!
I knew I could not be consistent in my training so I adjusted my goals to fit my schedule.
So Brian, how do you stay consistent?
The second dot point of the consistent principle of training answers this question. I follow my plan daily. I know what training is coming up days or weeks ahead of time and everything else is planned around that training session. Most days it is simple as I train at 5:00am and have the training completed before work. Weekends can be a challenge unless I plan well. I have major long runs on the family calendar blocked off.
If I have to mow the yard, plant the garden, and have friends coming over that night then I have to get up and do my long run early. Also, if you’re wondering, yes, I have scheduled friends and family on different weekends when a major training session like a 20-miler is on the plan for the weekend. Remember, you made a commitment to a goal. Believe me, your friend or family member will be proud that you have not only committed yourself to a goal, but have also planned ahead. It’s okay, really.
Another method or tool I use to stay consistent is an MS Excel spreadsheet. I keep it on the desktop of my laptop…staring at me. As I complete my workouts I use a red, yellow, green system.  If I completed what I have written down then I fill in that cell as green, if I only do part of the workout then I fill in the cell as yellow, if I missed a workout all together then I fill in the cell as red. This gives me a quick look visually of how I’m doing with consistency. Sometimes we are doing a crappy job just because we don’t know that we’re doing a crappy job that’s why keeping track is so important. You don’t need MS Excel. You can use a regular wall calendar and a few colored sharpies.
That’s it! Have a plan and follow the plan. To review…
Consistency Principle of Training:
  • Have a plan and write it down in pencil
  • Follow the plan daily

I ask the athletes I train to look at their calendars for the next year when they decide to train for a marathon. I ask them to look at holidays, family obligations, school schedules, vacations, work schedules, conferences, church schedules, graduations, annual events, family visits, and to try as much as possible to see the unforeseeable.

I ask them to do this so we can write a more realistic training plan from the beginning (still in pencil) so they can follow that plan daily with greater ease.

P.S.S. – Post Script Seriousness

A word on inconsistency… If things have not gone well during training, there comes a time in a training plan when you have to make the decision if your training thus far can support the goal you made for yourself. It’s a tough decision too. If you have not been consistent… If you have skipped training sessions… If you have missed whole weeks of training on the plan… If you have had to “start over” multiple times… If you have more red cells on the MS Excel sheet than green cellsthen you have to decide if what you HAVE done is enough. The answer may be, “No.” This is when I give the advice to defer or DNS (Do Not Start). 

Why DNS? Ask yourself, “Is attempting a goal that you are not prepared for worth an injury at best and your life at worst?” Some think that’s an easy answer, but I’ve seen countless people toe the line completely unprepared for a race due to lack of consistency in their training and come up injured. I see this and am very happy that it was just an injury.

I loathe having to give this advice because no one wants to hear that they have failed. However, I would rather see you fail now, in the short term, than get injured or worse…think that your inconsistency is in some way “good enough” because you succeeded at this round of Russian Roulette.

I used to be proud to say I had NEVER DNF’d or DNS’d. Now, my personal motto is that if I’m not prepared then I don’t toe the line regardless of how expensive the registration. My life and my physical health is worth much more than a shiny piece of metal on a ribbon. My life and my physical health is worth much more than my pride.

Sorry to get so serious at the end, but some folks need to hear it. They need to hear that it’s okay to fail, learn, and try again next year.

Happy Consistent Training!


Back on My Feet Marathon Relay

I had the opportunity to join a relay team for the Back on My Feet organization last year and returned again for the relay this year, once again joining team “Run. Restore. Repeat.”

Team “Run. Restore. Repeat.” completed its second Marathon Relay on September 24 with three return members and three new runners. We are excited about the great strides Back on My Feet is making in combating homelessness, and invite you to join us in supporting this terrific organization. If you would, please help out our team by supporting the Back on My Feet organization at this link. Together we can make a difference!!

Always Training,

Hope on the Trail 5K/10K Review

This past Saturday I participated in a local 10K race in Thorntown, IN put on by a charity organization, Hope for his Children Inc, that benefits orphaned, abandoned, and impoverished children of the world. Being a foster parent I was drawn to this race for the good work this organization does on behalf of our most vulnerable population, kids.

The event gives participants the option to run or walk a 5K or 10K distance for an out and back on a flat and fast section of a reclaimed rails to trails system starting at the Thorntown trail head. The start of the trail is paved and eventual turns to packed gravel. The trail is beautiful as it explores the Indiana countryside and cornfields. I really enjoyed the course and the event overall.

The volunteers and event staff were well organized, friendly, and informative exemplifying Hoosier hospitality. The race coincides with Thorntown’s Turning of the Leaves festival weekend so there’s plenty to do, plenty to see, and plenty to eat after finishing the race!

If you want to run a great local race for a good cause then add the Hope on the Trail Run/Walk to your race schedule for 2018. I know I’ll be back next year!

Back to Work

It’s been some time since I’ve written a blog post. Up until a few weeks ago I was sidelined with a foot injury. Thanks to my physical therapist and eight weeks of PT homework I am now back to racing. I ran the Run for World Water 5K on 8/26 and ran the St. Vincent Cancer Challenge 6-miler on 9/16.

It’s been fun to be back to running and I am getting excited as I will be healthier than I was last year at this time for my legacy race, The Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon, coming up on October 14.

Of course, after running my legacy race what is one to do? I know! I’m GOING TO DISNEY…LAND!!!

Marine Corp Marathon Bibs Available

There are still a few race bibs left for the 2017 Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) through the Do Away With SMA charity. Additionally, anyone registering with the DAWS charity for the marathon will get a custom training plan developed by Mr. Running Down a Dream himself…The Bad Man…me.

Register for the 2017 MCM with DAWS today!

Bibs – 2017 Marine Corps Marathon

Since 2013 I have been involved with a charity, Do Away with SMA (DAWS), whose mission is to end Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Click the link to learn more about DAWS and SMA.

Recently, DAWS Do Away with SMA became an official charity partner of the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon!

DAWS is both proud and honored to have been named an official charity partner of the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon!!!

There are only 35 of 40 bibs remaining for this incredible marathon journey…and we are sure that runners will snatch these remaining entries up FAST!!!!

If you would like to support DAWS to find a cure for SMA please consider running the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon under the DAWS running team!

We appreciate your support!

Activity Challenge Check-In

How’s everyone doing on their 2017 activity challenge? My challenge is going well so I wanted to do a check in of where I am in staying active in 2017.


I lift weights 3-4 days per week and have been consistent with this since January 1 except for one week when I was sick. For the illness I took a full five days rest from the gym, slept 8+ hours each night, and came back feeling great!

I break down my lifting into 1-2 major muscle groups each session.  I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a bit, but as of the last two weeks, here is my training schedule:

  • Monday: Rest – I get 8-9 hours of sleep 10:00pm to 6:30-7:00am
  • Tuesday morning: Back & Chest + light cardio (20-30 minutes)
  • Wednesday morning: Leg Day + light cardio (20-30 minutes)
  • Thursday morning: Moderate cardio for longer duration (70-90 min)
  • Friday morning: Shoulders + stretching + 45 min Spin Class (intense)
  • Saturday morning: 45 min Spin Class (intense)
  • Sunday morning: Stretching + 60 min Spin Class (intense) or monthly massage

My lifting sessions right now are focused on muscular strength versus muscular endurance so I’m completing 4 sets of 5 repetitions for each lift and my strength has increased quite a bit. My lifting sessions take 30-40 minutes.

I was happy to hoist 250 lbs. on the leg press, 170 for leg extension, 110 for lying leg curls, and I’m about to max out the stack on the seated dips machine lifting 190 lbs. All of these are for reps versus a one rep maximum which would be higher. It’s nice to see my off season work paying off in much needed strength gains.

I keep track of everything on to keep myself accountable. Tracking diet and exercise is key to making positive changes and helps you stay motivated. Plus, it helps you form the training and dietary habits you need to stay on track after you reach a goal.

You’ll notice that this runner isn’t running right now and that is by design. I won’t do any running until after the July 4th holiday. With the temperatures breaking for the warmer these last couple weeks I do get out for walks in the evening and across my lunch hour I many times will walk for 45-60 minutes depending on how easy it is to eat lunch at my desk.

That’s it for me!  How’s your activity challenge going for 2017? If you haven’t been able to get started then start today!

Always Training,

2017 Activity Challenge

We as Americans have a pandemic on our hands. It’s been happening for about three decades now as we as a nation have gotten out of shape or otherwise less fit than a human should be. As a nation we are less active and as a consequence weigh more than we did 30 years ago and it’s not just the natural progression of aging. Here are some stats:

The overall age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in U.S adults from 2013-2014 was 37.7% (Flegal, Kruszon-Moran, Carrol, Fryar, & Ogden, 2016). Put another way, regardless of age if we look at all adults from age 18 and up then ~4 out of 10 would be obese. Obesity is defined by the Center for Disease Controls (CDC) as those individuals having a BMI of 30.0 or higher. Also, keep in mind that this statistic does not include those adults who are just overweight which is defined as having a BMI of 25.0 to <30.

To kill the elephant in the room, yes, BMI is arguably not a good indicator of health for individuals with a lot of extra muscle mass, however, I don’t go to the mall, the grocery, or my kids’ school and see a bunch of bodybuilders walking around feeling bad that their BMI says their “obese.”

So let’s get to it. The 2017 activity challenge!

I have a bad habit of wanting to do something for everyone and you, my followers, reap the benefits! What can I say except, you’re welcome.

First this is for my peeps who want to work on their overall health. If you’re just getting started in the fitness game or want to add to your overall fitness then your goals are as follows:


  • 3 hours of:
    • moderate intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking) per week
    • Be sure to do a warm-up and cool down for each session, but remember the warm-up and cool down does not count toward the 3 hours of  moderate activity
  • Also, 2 or more days per week of strength training that works all major muscle groups including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
    • A full body strength training session should take at least 1 hour. Try for 3 sets of 10 repetitions per major muscle group as listed above.
  • The totals:
    • 3 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week plus two 1-hour strength training sessions equals out to 260 hours of activity for the year.

Alternatively, my first time fitness freaks can do:

  • 2 hours of vigorous intensity aerobic activity (running or jogging) per week
    • Be sure to do a warm-up and cool down for each session, but remember the warm-up and cool down does not count toward the 2 hours of  vigorous activity
  • Also, 2 or more days per week of strength training that that works all major muscle groups including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
    • A full body strength training session should take at least 1 hour. Try for 3 sets of 10 repetitions per major muscle group as listed above.
  • The totals:
    • 2 hours of vigorous aerobic activity per week plus two 1-hour strength training sessions equals out to 156 hours of activity for the year.

For the raw runners who want to be pushed for 365 days. Welcome to 2017 grind!

Runners, get seeeeet!

Your mileage goal is 2017 +1 mile to grow on for the next year. Here’s the break down.

  • That’s ~5.6 miles per day on average
  • Or, that’s ~39 miles per week on average
  • Also, you need strength training to maintain that weekly mileage so, 2 or more days per week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)
  • One other suggestion: Add a cross training you love to do.  For me it’s spin class. If you like swimming then go for it. If it’s hitting the heavy bag, fine, but choose something to support your running besides just more running from the cardiovascular standpoint.

I want to remind everyone to be safe when it comes to challenges and do not get involved with too many challenges at once. It’s really easy to get to a state of over training so make sure that after you hit it hard on the road, trail, or in the gym or pool that you take a rest day and get some sleep. Also, as I always say, “You can’t outrun your fork.” so make sure that your diet and nutrition supports the activity and the challenges you undertake this year.


Always Training,


The Perpetual Training Cycle

We are moving into the Autumnal season soon (9/22) and are approaching marathon weekend for Disney the first week of January. I know many of you have already registered for additional winter races in January / February and have started registering for spring races from March thru May.

I need you to do something for me before you register for anymore races. I need you to STOP, collaborate with me, and above all take a moment and truly listen to me.

We all get excited when registering for races, heck I know I do, but it’s the perpetual training cycle that can get us into trouble if we do not plan our training well.

But wait Brian, how can training get us into trouble? Ah, excellent question! Let’s get into the specifics.  Training is good.  The perpetual training cycle (a.k.a., the never ending training cycle) can be bad.

I run into folks all the time (and train many) who can’t wait to tell me about the race they just registered for coming up in X number of weeks,months, or lord forbid…days. They then want me to figure out how to prepare them for that race given the other races they are already training for at this point in time. But the kicker is that sometimes that race isn’t the best thing for your training in the middle of your training for the other event. Even IF, all you want to do is start and finish a race then it’s still not a good idea to have a never ending training cycle where you are continually training for a race event. Let’s discuss why.

Now, before we get started I am in no way suggesting that you stop training or stop exercising regularly and sit on your butt.  No No No No…stop it…I said Stop IT. No.

What I am saying is, you need an off season every year to break the perpetual training cycle. What’s an off season you might ask?

An off season is a period of time where you have a lower training volume in regards to your primary sport, in this case, running. You might ask, “Do you mean that two weeks before a race?” NO, that’s called tapering and is a part of a training plan.

An off season is at a minimum 4-6 weeks and perhaps as long as 3 months when you lower your volume of training. Volume of training for a runner would be your weekly mileage. Instead you work on other restful and rehabilitating types of training and exercise that focuses on other aspects of fitness.

Such as Mr. Brian?

Glad you asked.

For 1-3 months do the following weekly then transition to a race training plan:

  • Swim 4 days per week, bike 1 day, do a single easy run of medium distance on a 6th day and sleep in the 7th day; or
  • Lift weights 3-5 days per week, do a spin class or yoga session a couple days per week, and sleep in the other days; or
  • Bike outside exploring the countryside or neighborhoods 3 days per week, swim 2 days, do an easy 5K when you feel like it, and sleep in the other days; or
  • Do a short 2 mile run followed by a spin class at the gym a couple days a week, lift 3 days per week, stretch a lot, and sleep in the other days; or
  • Focus on ab work 3 days per week, do a couple specific swim workouts or biking to maintain cardio, and throw in the occasional 5K for fun. Sleep in 1-2 days per week; or
  • Go to the gym 5 days per week for an hour WITH NO PLAN and do whatever you feel like when you get there. Sleep in the other two days.

Again, the above will not prepare you for a marathon nor is it intended to prepare you for a marathon…or half marathon for that matter.

At the end of your off season is when you START a new training plan for a future race. In other words, if you have a race scheduled AFTER your off season ends then you need to have 8-16 weeks from the END of your off season to the next race so you have time to train for that race. I’m not saying you can’t run a 5K fun run on July 4th or the Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving if that time period is in your off season…just don’t be training for a half, full, or ultra marathon because if you are then you are NOT on your OFF SEASON.

What do you think?

….I get it Brian, I get it…an off season is a time to recoup mentally, allow any nagging acute injuries to heal, to work on other fitness that will actually help my running and make it more enjoyable in the long run (pun intended), and allows me to focus on other aspects of my life like my son’s soccer season or my daughter’s band competition season or just spend time with the family or focus on my schooling.


I get it Brian…and I’m on board with an off season. I’ll start immediately. All I have is an easy half marathon in a month followed by a 3 person marathon relay two weeks after that and a couple 10Ks scheduled the following two weeks after the relay so right now is the perfect time for an off season.

STOP, NO, DON’T. If that is your schedule for the next 8 weeks then now is NOT a good time for an off season. An off season has zero long runs, relays or events that last longer than 45-60 minutes on course depending on your pace. An easy 5K for fun is okay but beyond that you need to train for an event or maintain a certain mileage…or should. With this in mind let’s discuss what is NOT an offseason.

What is NOT an off season?

  • Your 5-7 day vacation in the middle of your training program where you walked a lot at Disney, but didn’t get your training in as scheduled. NOT an off season!
  • That cold you had that sidelined you for a week. NOT an off season!
  • That time you had your wisdom teeth out and couldn’t run. NOT an off season!
  • The next two months when you only have a couple half marathons which are no big deal because you usually run full marathons. NOT an off season!
  • Those 2-3 weeks you had to limit running due to an injury, but still went hardcore on everything else so you could do your half marathon. NOT an off season!
  • Those three weeks where work was hades and you had to put in 80 hours per week for all three weeks and was just so tired that you only got in a couple short runs a week and now feel behind for your upcoming marathon next month. NOT an off season!

What IS an offseason?

  • See my above suggestions for activity/exercise/training then consider this schedule for example:
    • You have your final marathon of the spring on the third Saturday in April. You had a good race, finished strong, and felt good after the 26.2 miles with no injuries or nagging aches and pains.
    • Starting Monday you are on your off season for the next 6 weeks.
      • You follow the above suggestions I previously mentioned each week even switching it up weekly as long as you stay active and focus on rest, recovery, and other fitness besides running.
    • Your next scheduled long distance race is in the late summer/early fall with some smaller events like the Firecracker 5K.
    • You finish up your off season the last week of May, enjoy Memorial Day weekend with a cookout and start a race training program the Tuesday after Memorial Day.
    • Your next race is scheduled for a minimum of 8 weeks away (half marathon) or 12 to 16 weeks away (marathon) depending on the distance of the race and your goal for that race. The more substantial the goal, like a PR, the longer prep you should allow yourself.
      • Half marathon no sooner than the end of July
      • Marathon no sooner than mid August to mid September.
  • That’s it!

Ok, when is a good time for an off season?

Any time is a good time for an off season and you can even break them up and do multiple off seasons per year assuming it fits your schedule. Here are some considerations for when to schedule your off season each year.

  • Your “A-race”
    • This is your #1 race that you want to focus on performing your best and maybe even go for a PR. If that race is a marathon in February then the preceding 16-20 weeks can’t be a part of your off season. In other words you have dedicated yourself to training during the holidays for that race.
  • Local weather to avoid extreme heat or extreme cold.
    • Live in Florida? An off season in the summer might be a good idea.
    • Live in Canada? Avoid the long runs outside when the weather is 30 below with an off season and go to the gym instead.
  • Your Race/Family/Work/Church/Social Life/Friend Schedule:
    • Look at the calendar for the next year. Is that time period of two months when you have that week long conference followed by the destination wedding, and a family vacation cross country to visit the relatives in Arizona REALLY the best time to be training for PR marathon run?  No, it’s not. So pick a different “A-race” or tell Aunt Mildred that you’ll catch her in the spring for a long weekend.
  • Final Consideration: Cancel your race.
    • WHAT?
    • You read that right. If you are down for an extended period of time, can’t train, need healing time for the major running muscles, ligaments, tendons or bones, and need rest then the best thing may be to “live to run another day.” I’ve skipped races and DNS so I could focus my energies elsewhere. It’s okay, really. You’ll live. Sometimes overall health or another priority, like your doctoral dissertation, will take precedent even after you hit the submit button on your registration. Instead I continue going to the gym for shorter durations and to just stay active. After 6 weeks my work was done, the race had passed, and I was back to training for another race with better focus and energy.

That’s it for now. If you need help planning your off season or how to train during your off season then feel free to hit me up on my Facebook Account for Running Down a Dream 23. I’m happy to help with ideas and training plans.

Happy Training!


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