Frequently Asked Questions . . . 

So here's some of my most posed questions in the past few years.  Maybe one of these has been on your mind too.  Learning and understanding makes our running and health and life better overall and chances are, I've had the same question myself and have researched it!  My personal learning style tends to be very stubborn.  I'm generally a "rule follower" but if a teacher or mentor gives me advice, I want to know exactly WHY.  It's my goal as a coach to teach and advise the same way.  So here are my most common questions over the training seasons and years - about the RUNaway logistics and about running in general.  Email me anytime if you've got your own questions and I'll try to get you the perfect answer.    ~ Amy  

RUNaway Training

What distances do you train runners?

I love to train all distances from "couch to 5K" all the way up to the 26.2 marathon trek.  I focus on group training plans that I've researched and developed to be our own RUNaway plan and continue to tweak my running calendars and every season.   

When does training start?

5K Training starts in late August and January depending on interest and group size.
Seasoned runners 10 mile Training starts in August (for October 10 for Texas race).
Half Marathon and Marathon Training starts in August (for fall and spring half marathons and spring marathons).

I can only run one or two of your training days.  Can you prorate my fees?

Oh <nervous fidget, no eye contact>, no.  But check out the other great groups in The Woodlands.  Most offer only ONE group training day a week at higher prices than RUNaway.  I promise you will get your $$ worth and if you can come to all of the group runs, that is absolute icing on the cake.  You'll be a better runner for it!  Regardless of your schedule, I promise to personally support you each step.  

How many days will I be running during training?

All RUNaway calendars will schedule 4 runs each week.  5K group will repeat your workout on Tuesdays and Fridays to solidify your training.  Wednesdays and Sundays will incorporate a different training run approach.  For Long Distance runners, your 4 runs will include a group mid distance run, a group speed and strength run, a group long run and a solo tempo run.  In addition to running, ALL runners need to incorporate 2 days of cross training in their workout schedule.

How many days a week will our group run together?  And do I have to be able to come to all group runs for this training program?

Three days a week for both the 5K and seasoned running groups.  The RUNaway group currently meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Fridays with different training programs on those days (5K Tuesdays; longer mileage Fridays).  Wendesdays is a speed and strength training day for all runners.  

Group runs are a major benefit for a runner's success!  You definitely don't have to attend any or all group runs to be a RUNaway, but I've seen first hand how the power of the group can push runners further than they could go solo.

What should I do and/or purchase to get ready for my training program?

The two purchases that you are going to want to have by the second week of running are a watch (just a simple watch that you can use for a timer) and running shoes.  You do not have to be perfectly ready with "equipment" at the first group run.  Just come in some workout clothes (shorts or sweats and a shirt and shoes) and Amy will fill you in on the specifics of running gear.  At the very beginning of each training season, the RUNaway group has sponsored days at our local running stores (Luke's Locker, Fleet Feet and New Balance) where we can buy running gear and shoes for a nice discount.  It's perfect timing to get those running shoes and other items before your next group run.
I used to run in high school/college/before baby/etc.  Do I need to start training at "square one"?

Umm.  Yeah.  Probably.  But the "square one" that "brand new, have never run a step in my life" runners experience will be different than a former runner's "square one".  If you've run before, you will probably progress at a faster or easier rate, but it is still really really important to ease our body again into this sport to avoid injury and let it adapt at a reasonable pace.  Your muscles and joints will thank you as you take it slow and steady and work up to your awesome running potential.  

I'm in terrible shape and definitely NOT a runner.  I'm pretty sure your definition of "beginner" is different than my definition.  How "beginner" do you mean when you say you successfully train beginning runners?

By "beginner", I mean . . . "beginner".  If you can walk for 10 minutes without pain, then you can start the RUNaway 5K program.  Although I am a certified running coach, I am in no means a doctor who can medically "clear" you for this sport (with the exception that I can perform CPR if needed and give you a cool looking band-aid compliments of my kiddos.)  

So if you are questioning your "beginner status" because of a current or past medical issue, then your doctor needs to give you the go ahead for cardio training with a high impact sport.  However, if you are nervous because of your lack of athletic experience or ability, then you are no different that the other folks considering this!  Everyone thinks that they will be the worst and slowest runner ever.  In the history of the world.  Let me put this to rest - you won't.  Running is so so much more than speed.  It's about embarking on a new journey and being open to possibilities.  And guess what?!  After that first group run, you are no longer a "beginner"!  Yep, you'll be a runner then!  You won't believe how quickly your body will adapt to this sport.  Give it a go.  You'll have lots of hands to hold onto in this group.

I can't find any friends willing to do this with me, but I really want to do it.  What do you suggest?

I suggest signing up and doing it!  Look, signing up with friends is great, but you are about to spend a couple of hours a week with some people who you now have something in common with  - um, running!  Not everyone registers with a buddy, so don't worry about showing up solo.  This running thing is for you and you alone anyway.  Running is not a team sport - it's a solo sport that is made extra wonderful in the midst of a group.  And when your friends see how successful and happy you are as a runner, they'll jump on the wagon too :)

I have tried running before and it was horrible.  Do you think I'm just not a natural runner and not meant to do this sport?

It's true that some people take to this sport easier than others (and you can thank your birth parents and your genealogy for that), but my guess is that your previous attempts at running were because you attempted to train by yourself (I did this unsuccessfully many times) or you attempted to train too many miles too quickly (yep, I did this unsuccessfully many times too) or you came out of the starting gate running too fast and realized that this sport was the pits (again, yes, like a broken record, I've done this multiple times too).  Or you could have previously and unsuccessfully trained one day a week when you knew you needed 3+ days a week of training.  Or you may have been running the whole dang way instead of taking advantage of some wonderful walk breaks that lots of runners practice.

You will not believe the difference that a coached training group makes.  I've got some wonderful tricks of the trade taught to me by some wonderful coaches and learned by me by my kabillion running mistakes.  My number one goal is to get you loving this sport by getting you to achieve small victories that keep you going week after week.  Give me 3 weeks and you'll think that this question is funny after you've adapted to running!

Okay, <deep breath followed by mumbled profanities> where do I sign up before I change my mind?

No more excuses, huh?!  You may still be having "fear of the unknown" issues, but the only way to get over those unknown fears is just to actually do it.  Our first group run will be a little bit of running talking (by coach Amy) followed by some walking to warm up, a little bit of jogging and then some walking to cool down.  Whether you are training for a 5K, 5 mile, 10 miler or half marathon, you will live to tell about your first run.  The only thing you need to do is sign up for your session and show up in a shirt, shorts (or sweats), socks, shoes and bring a good attitude.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!  I can't wait to see you!

Just "RUN"ning Away

Running Goals.

I've been running 5 days a week and I can't get over a certain mileage without wanting to die.  But I've been running!  What is the deal?

It's a couple of things.  First off, your body is an adaptable machine.  If you've been running 3 miles a day for 5 days a week or something consistent like that, then you have adapted your body to just that - 3 miles.  More running days isn't necessarily better.  The way that your body will conquer increased mileage is to train that bod of yours to go a little further every week.  Easy does it though.  A body that has been running a prescribed mileage for a long time isn't just going to bust out and run a longer distance with ease.  Bump up your distance by a half mile each week for ONE of your runs - not every run. 

The other barrier may be mental.  It's true.  Pushing our body to run an extra 5 minutes even may have some muscles or joints telling you to stop because it's a new challenge for them, but sometimes it's just mentally exhausting or even scary to reach that new mileage goal and we just kind of shut down.  It's new.  You're tired.  A positive "can do" attitude is crucial.   

In my RUNaway training, I use a few physical and mental tools to help you get over your running hurdles.  The RUNaway schedule will be helpful and the group will be invaluable.  They work.  I promise! 

How much time will it take me to train for a 5K or 10 miler or half marathon or marathon?

Training does not and should not be a dreaded job.  Remember, you are running for fun, right?  But I can tell you from personal experience that running is a lot more fun if you have a plan and put your workouts as a priority right on your calendar.  The RUNaway 5K training program encompasses 4 days of running each week, 1 day of cross training each week and 2 days of rest.  The 10 miler and half marathon RUNaway programs encompasses a combination of 3 days a week or 4 days a week of running with cross training and rest on the other days.  Figure that for every workout, your running time/cross training time will be 60 minutes or less.  The exception to this is your long run day (our group run) which will be 1 - 2 hours.  It's one day a week for a long run.  Subtract mindless tv, computer surfing and general goofing off and I would guess that the majority of us have the time to exercise 5 hours a week.  You can do it! 

Marathon runners - you've got a big commitment in front of you.  But the biggest running commitment is the 8 weeks prior to your marathon.  Your running habit will have to trump a lot of other things and you'll become an expert at juggling responsibilities.  Ask me directly for the full disclosure and I'll tell it to you straight up! 

Running Frustrations.

Okay, I've been running for over a season now.  When does this running thing get easier?

Ahhh.  Where did I put that big picture?  Do you remember the first day that you hit the trails with your running routine?  What if you ran that workout now?  My guess is that it would be a cinch.  The ease of running is all relative.  So how do you make 3 miles easier?  Train to run 5 miles.  How can I make 6 miles easy?  Train to run 10.  I'm not joking.  You've just raised the bar, so now an increase in miles is your challenge.  But after bumping up your mileage over a few weeks, that running distance that used to be killer is now doable - and dare I say, even easy. 

Hey, how's your form and how's your pace?  If your running is really hard, how about fixing that posture, relaxing your upper body, running strong through your core and just simply slowing down?  No one is going to stop you and give you a ticket or heckle you for slowing down.  Just dialing it back by 15 - 20 seconds a mile will make that training run easier and you've lost nothing in the pace adjustment.  What about taking a quick walking break every 1/2 or full mile?  I'm totally sold on this approach.  The whole idea is to be nice to your body and it will be nice to you! 

Why, oh why, am I running and not losing weight?!

Oh man.  It's the number one asked question in my training programs and I usually have evil laser eyes pointed at my head when this question is sharply posed.  The first thing to consider is this . . . when you begin a running program or increase the intensity of your running training, your body responds.  It responds with the panic that you may be trying to kill it :)  So in turn, it preserves water in your body (temporarily) to cool off those organs when your body heats up and also to repair those tired muscles.  (If you are dehydrated, it preserves more water in your system because it thinks you aren't going to provide it with H2O.  Drink water!)  Your body is also going to create a larger blood volume to zoom oxygen to those working muscles.  Your jeans are not going to measure this, but the scale may.  This volume will adjust too.  Your body also builds additional muscle tissue because it's going to be ready for your next workout!  (I know that you know, but please remember that muscle is more dense and heavier than fat!)  It's an adjustment phase with your scale weight at the beginning, so please don't worry.  And please don't starve yourself.  That just ticks your body off more and it will go into pure panic "I'm not going to let go of a pound" state. 

The other demon is this horrible question . . . "Um, how's your nutrition?"  Honestly, this is probably why you are probably not losing the pounds that you'd like to.  It's something that we all have to evaluate ourselves.  But here are some things to consider - 1.) Your body needs carbs to fuel yourself to exercise (which keeps your metabolism up).  Your body does not need copious amounts of pasta or potatoes or popcorn or bagels to run.  Eat carbs like vegetables and fruits.  They are power foods.  2.)  The general calculation is that for every mile that you run, you burn 100 - 150 calories.  This caloric burn will make a major dent in your weight loss over a training period.  This caloric burn, however, will do zilch in your weight loss if you tell yourself that you ran 3 or 4 or 5 miles today and that you've earned and subsequently then inhale a thousand calorie wing basket at Wings n More or half a dozen pizza rolls at Double Daves.  Wine, beer and cokes are also killers in the "why can't I lose weight when running" dilema.  Just sayin'.

I want to run, but I'm so inconsistent that each time I hit the trail it's like starting over.  Shouldn't my body remember running?

Yeah, inconsistent running isn't all that fun.  It will often feel like starting over.  There is no real formula except for your previous fitness level that will determine how quickly you lose endurance if you've taken a long break, but you can get back on track anytime.  Figure that it is going to take you 1 to 2 times the time that you've taken off to get back to the point in which your last run was.  So if you ran 3 miles 3 weeks ago, it may take you 3-6 weeks to get back to that 3 miles.  Don't don't don't bust out at lightening speed at your first run back.  Test out your body carefully and proceed from there.  Your first run is a gentle careful jog that you will use as your benchmark to increase your future running.  Now pull out that old RUNaway training schedule and start from the point that matches your last run.

Your body will adapt sooner and easier when you start this running gig again.  It's not an exact science.  Run as consistently as you can and if you need to take a hiatus, then take it!  Any day is a great day to start running again and try for that consistent running goal! 

After I run, I tend to need to hit the bathrooms almost immediately and have tummy trouble for the rest of the day.  Is this just a side effect of running?

It's not really a side effect per se, but it's pretty common.  One of the major culprits of an upset stomach at the end of a run is your pace and/or the outside temp, both which directly tie into your heart rate.  When your heart rate is overly elevated - say through a too fast run for your endurance or if you run in some high temps and humidity -  your body may have a fight or flight response.  In short, you've overly stressed your body and it's balance of blood and water and electrolytes is freaked.  Your body also tends to divert blood and water to your muscles and skin during your run which doesn't leave a lot of blood in and around your digestive tract.  Once your run ends, your circulation and balance may be a little out of whack.

To alleviate this very unfun result, may I recommend the following:
1.)  Keep your pace happy and steady.  And keep your pace slower when it is warmer outside.
2.) Watch your caffeine intake prior to a run.  Caffeine wakes up everything, including your intestines.
3.)  Keep hydrated during your run with water.  Dehydration makes for a mad digestive tract also.  Watch the sugary gatorade intake.  Sugar from sports drinks and gels can be stomach upsetters too.  Hot drinks also move through your digestive tract faster. 
4.)  Be smart with your meal before a run.  Running on an empty stomach sometimes causes distress because of stomach acid, but running on a full stomach with a ridiculous meal will make it angry too.  If you want your stomach to be calm, then eat a safe meal that you are comfortable with an hour or so before your run.    

I'm the slowest one in my group and feel totally lame.  How can I get faster?

One of the parts about running that makes me sad is that some "former" runners that I meet that say they don't run anymore because they felt too slow.  I hate that that was their focus.  In my running groups over the years, I have strangely been one of the fastest in one group and have very much been the slowest in another group.  Keep in mind that my pace was the same in both groups!  First, please let me help you find a running buddy that matches your pace.  It will do wonders to your self esteem and running journey!  You are not too slow to run.  Period.  If you are at the back of the pack, then embrace your run as YOUR run.  Look at nature.  Focus on your form and breathing.  Run with an iPod.  Remember, running is a sport about you.  You running further.  You reaching goals.  You.  

But, if you want to get faster, I can help there too!  Before you work on speed, I have a RUNaway rule that you have to be able to run 2 miles first.  I don't care if those 2 miles takes you 40 minutes to complete.  After you've conquered that distance, you'll build in a running day where you will pick up the pace a little bit at a time.  Not a 2 mile sprint.  More like a 10 second sprint.  Speed sessions work fast twitch muscles which move you faster.  And speed training works!

Want to know what else makes you faster?  A good nutritional diet and losing some pounds.  I know this from personal experience.  Call or email me if you want some specific pointers.   

Running Manners.

My running pals always wait for one of our running buddies to show up for our runs.  We've got a lot going on in our schedules and really can't wait for them, but we don't want to make a big deal out of this.  Help!

Here's the running rule for group runs whether you are the one patiently waiting or the one stuck in traffic.  Runners will wait at least 5 minutes after the set running time for the other runners to get there to run with the group, but wait no more than 10 minutes before hitting the trail.  No one should get their panties in a wad over this.  Sometimes things will make us late.  Please learn to run happily by yourself if you miss the 5 - 10 minute step off mark. 

Which side of the trail do I run on?  What about running on the road?

This is both a safety issue and a manners issue. 

If you are running on the TRAIL, you will run on the right side of the trail.  The faster mover (whether they are on a bike or scooter or on foot) will pass on the left and should give the person in front of them a little shout out (like "on your left" or "good morning") as to not scare the bejezus out of them when you sneak up on them.  Make sure when you are running in a group that you allow or are at least aware of anyone in back of you so that they can pass on your left.  This is not a game of red rover where someone has to break through your running chain :)
If you are running on the ROAD, you run on the left side of the road and face traffic.  This is to get a good look at motorist who are fooling around with their phones and radios while they are driving.  Your toned running body will not be able to deflect that moving car, so YOU are the one that is running defensively, always watching traffic.  Eye contact with drivers is a must at intersections, stop signs and stop lights.  The motorists must wave you through before you proceed.  I didn't do this one time and honestly almost got smushed.  Please be careful on the road.

I want to run in a race, but I didn't sign up in time.  Can I buy someone's bib number and run it?

My advice has changed over the years with this question.  First it was just manners advisement on how to trade a bib to someone followed the next year by advice of caution if you buy or sell a bib.  My current stance "Nope, don't buy or sell a bib."  You can check with the race directors (they usually have an email on the race website) and you MAY be able to transfer your bib to a friend or acquaintance, BUT most races absolutely block selling racing bibs and even monetarily penalize those who are nabbed.  It's a race director's nightmare with liability and mismatched runners and race bibs and if the law of chance is behind it, the injured runner will be running under someone else's information.  Bad mojo for everyone.  Hey, how about just sign up for the race on time?  And remember, there is always next year and always another race. And runners always need cheerleaders.