Reasons to Use Races as Training Runs

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For many runners, training schedules will include runs at specific paces- race pace, tempo, variable, easy- and while training runs generally happen with running groups, friends, or solo, there are huge benefits to using races as training runs. Here are a few:

  1. Water Stops: Carrying hydration and/or locating water fountains on training runs can present logistical problems and going too long without water can kill a hard or long training run. Most races will have water and Gatorade about every mile, making hydration a non-issue.
  2. Bathrooms: Like water stops, having access to “facilities” on a training run comes in pretty handy when nature calls. Races place portable bathrooms anywhere from every mile to every three miles.
  3. Police Support: Pedestrians and cyclists have been increasingly at risk with the level of distracted drivers growing every year. Having a “closed course,” meaning one that is protected with support of law enforcement and runners have the right of way, means less danger and better opportunities to get in an uninterrupted workout.
  4. Other Runners: Having a group of people running with you can work wonders for mental strength! Finding others at your pace to run alongside or “going fishing” while trying to reel in that runner ahead of you can make pushing yourself easier and less daunting.
  5. Crowd Support: It’s a rare occasion to have spectators cheering for a training run, but in a race, people line the streets to help the runners along (hopefully to that next PR). Who doesn’t love a toddler with a cow bell?!
  6. The Swag: Most races offer shirts and other perks for registering to run their race (and you SHOULD register…please don’t bandit). A runner can never have too many race shirts.
  7. Post-Race Party: Food, drinks, and comradery with new and old running buddies following a race makes any difficult workout or long race training run so much better and there is another goal to getting finished, aside from just finishing the run.
  8. Really Great Runs: Who knows what might come from using a race as a training run? A PR? Placing overall or in age group? Crushing your workout? Getting a boost in confidence? Anything is possible!
  9. One Run Closer to the Real Race: Working a training calendar, as it’s written, is hard. Checking off a hard workout on that calendar is priceless.

Runners in training have been known to run a 5K in prep for a 10K or a 10K in prep for a half marathon. Some runners even run marathons in prep for another marathon just to get a good long run with all the reasons listed above (22 mile training runs are so much easier in races…last 4 miles super easy).

Whatever the reason for registering for a race, enjoy the journey to the start line by sprinkling in a few shorter races along the way. It might make all the difference in the way you feel about running and how well you race!

The Truth About Early Morning Runners

We all know ‘em. We all think they are crazy. But, we all sort of envy them too. The runners who, somehow, manage to get their runs in at all sorts of insane hours of the morning. Naturally, there are varying degrees of these runners, but there are universal truths about them as well.


  1. No one wants to see an alarm clock go off at 4:05 to get up, get ready, and travel to their 5am run. No one.
  2. All of us have, at a minimum, a few seconds of attempted self-persuasion to stay in bed.
  3. Most of us become sleepy, in-bed meteorologists.
  4. Once we are vertical (i.e. get out of bed), the run typically is “on.”
  5. Two types of early runners exist:
    1. Those who have to wake up with coffee.
    2. Those who roll out of bed and get in their cars.
  6. The only acceptable 4:30am texts are those from your fellow runners (hopefully, just about running late and not ditching the run).
  7. If no texts come across, you head out hoping that everyone (or at least one) shows up.
  8. On arrival, everyone groans, complains, picks a route, and starts running.

With early morning runs being the exception and not the norm, why would people subject themselves to this drama? There actually are many pros to getting runs in early, and here are a few:

  1. It’s done by 6:30. OK, OK…if it’s a longer run, then it’s done by 6:45 or 7. The whole day is available for everything else that needs to get done.
  2. Better looking skin. Running in the dark keeps from harmful UV exposure to a minimum.
  3. Cooler temps in summer. In the South, summer running is brutal, and runs get compromised (or never start) when the temps start to rise. Getting the run in before the heat, while the humidity can be higher before sunrise, better ensures that the run will get done.
  4. The roads are open. With pedestrian friendly routes at a minimum, competing for space with multi-ton vehicles and increasingly distracted drivers poses dangers and logistical problems for runners and cyclists alike. 5 am offers available road space. Heck, you could even zig-zag if you wanted to!
  5. The sunrise. When it’s all said and done, the beauty provided by mother nature is your reward for being up and running in the early morning.


Some people have no way of getting out for an early morning run, and there’s no judgement for that either. Most early runners would rather sleep too. But if you’ve given any thought to early morning running as a way to become more consistent, try it out and find a group that you can run with for safety and comradery.  The early morning runs might just get you to the finish of your first half marathon or to a new PR!

Weekly Stretch: Clamshell

By Greg LeBlanc, PT, DPT, OCS

Running demands a lot from our bodies, especially our hips and core. This area is where most of our strength and stability comes from. Weakness and instability in these areas can lead to injury if not strengthened properly. The clamshell targets both of these important areas.


Begin by lying on your side with one hip pointing straight up towards the ceiling. Bend your knees and hips, so that your knees are at a ninety-degree angle. Your feet should be resting on top of one another and in line with your hips and shoulders.

Next, separate your knees bringing the top knee towards the ceiling while keeping your feet together and maintaining your hip pointing towards the ceiling.  Complete three to four sets until failure on both sides. Incorporating this move as part of your regular core strengthening and stability program is an effective supplemental workout.

Best of luck on an injury-free race!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Baton Rouge Physical Therapy Lake at (225) 667-6598.

Why I #RunAmazing – Tiffany Burke

Tiffany Burke, part of the contingent of the fast-growing group of Baton Rouge running moms, shares with the AMAZING Race Krewe on why she plans to #RunAmazing in the Half Marathon on March 6, 2016.


She says, “I began running 4 years ago in my late 30s, trying to lose weight after having our second child. I was determined to do better and to be more healthy. As a promise to myself and to keep inspired, I began signing up for races once a month from September to May. It kept me focused, and I lost 40 pounds in 8 months, running and watching my diet.

I ran my first half marathon at 40. I have maintained my weight loss as well as my 5K, 10K, and half marathon race participation (running over 20 local races) over the past 4 years.  The Amazing half will be my third half. If I can #RunAmazing, anyone can!”

We look forward to seeing Tiffany and so many others championing healthy lifestyles and accomplishing goals! Let’s all #RunAmazing on March 6!

10 Ways To Sabotage Your Half Marathon

The AMAZING Half Marathon wants all our runners to be successful! We suggest avoiding any of this list of ten to have the smoothest 13.1 miles on March 6, 2016 (or at any race for that matter)!  REPEAT: Try to NOT do the items on this list!


  1. Run in New Gear

A runner should never race in something not used previously (and repeatedly) in training. New shoes could lead to bad shin splints, blisters, a painful race, and a whole host of other things. New running shorts might result in a terrible chaffing situation. New Bluetooth headphones are begging for technical difficulty.   That old stuff might be ragged, but better safe than sorry!

  1. Eat a Lot for Breakfast

Ever tried running on a very full stomach? It’s not fun. Minor GI issues can impair even the most seasoned runners, but severe GI upset will, no doubt, result in a less than stellar half marathon! Stick to the tried and true meals. A few favorites are oatmeal, toast, protein/granola bars, and bananas (with some coffee, if that’s your thing!).

  1. Go Out Too Fast

This could be the number one cause of bad races. Getting amped up at the start line with the fervor of the other runners, the music, and so much training and planning behind you, it’s easy to fall into the “overzealous start” group.  Supremely disciplined and consistently paced runners do it as well, but if you see your pace 20, 30, 60 seconds faster than goal pace, reel it in and slow down! Missing a goal finish time due to early burn out is always regretful.

  1. Think Negative The Whole Race

Doubting one’s self will lead to a bad race. Much of running involves mental fortitude. Allowing negativity to seep in strips away the mind-body connection that gets so many runners through tough races.  Knowing what to tell yourself during those tough spots- lyrics to a motivational song, counting cadence, figuring up pace or fractions of the total distance remaining, or even conjugating verbs in a foreign language (yes, we’ve heard of runners doing this!)- do whatever you have to do to keep your mind from going to a place where you end up defeating yourself.

  1. Drink Lots of Alcohol Before A Race

Clearly advice for the 21+ crowd, but it’s worth the mention.  Allowing yourself to be “over-served” the day/night before a race could cause one to oversleep, miss the race, dehydration, mid-race GI problems, over-heating, or at the very worst end of the spectrum, running hungover with the very real possibility of throwing up. Too many runners have compromised races with pre-race festivities… run the race you have trained to run and just grab a drink after you get that PR!

  1. Don’t Sleep the Night Before A Race

Thinking that going without sleep before running a half marathon can result in serious physiologic and even psychological detriment.  Delayed travel circumstances or a nervous night before can both lead to under-performing on the course. Try to ensure that you have accommodated your sleeping arrangements so that they cannot be compromised by external factors.

  1. Ignoring the Weather

Weather. The runner’s nemesis.  When heading out to a race, not prepping for temperature, precipitation, or humidity changes can severely hinder a runner’s chances of optimum performance.  Making matters more complicated, much can happen in the weather between the time a runner starts a half marathon and finishes a half marathon. Throw away clothing and alterable (arm sleeves, jackets tied around waists, disposable rain ponchos) pieces will save a runner from hypothermia in a freezing rain race or ease the run for one in hot conditions.

  1. Ignoring the Race’s Difficulty

“It’s only 13.1 miles.” While, this is true, it is still a feat that only 1% of the US population will accomplish in a year. 13.1 miles of racing necessitates training and planning. Look at the course map, elevation chart, and reviews. Determine if you will need additional Gu, fluids, or music to get you through tough spots in the race.  Hills or higher elevation courses also require additional training and/or consideration.  Just because it’s “Half” of something doesn’t make it any less difficult!

  1. Exhaust Legs Too Close to Race Day

During taper period, most runners feel they are losing their endurance. Some fall in to the temptation of a hard run too close to the race. The body needs time to heal and repair for hard runs and races. Walking extensively at the expo or around town can wear down legs as well. Give your body what it needs to give you the PR on race day!

      10. Give In On Training

Injury is one thing that all runners understand. Conceding for reasons other than injury will only leave that bucket list item out there for another day.  Stay in the training!  You want the feeling at the finish! The chills running through your body and the exhilaration of having completed something you have never done before (and maybe thought you could never do at all) will make EVERY training run and EVERY early morning and EVERY sore day worth the cost.

You WILL be a Half Marathon finisher. You will be! You might even earn that Personal Record (PR). Give it all you’ve got. Don’t compromise your race with any of these saboteurs.

See you at the start line. March 6, 2016. Baton Rouge, La.

Why I #RunAmazing – Susan Hayden

Susan Hayden, a Baton Rouge triathlete, runner, and mother, tells the AMAZING Race crew that she runs, “because it is the sport that makes me feel stronger and more physically confident throughout all my daily activities. The older we get the more stuck to the ground we become. Running is a series of tiny little leaps that counteract that and remind me of the freedom of playing as a child.”


To view this initial post on Why I #RunAmazing by Susan Hayden as it was seen on Facebook, click this line of text.

The AMAZING Race crew is looking for more stories from our AMAZING runners.  If you have  something that inspires and motivates, submit your info in the link below by clicking on the image.  #BeAmazing #RunAmazing‬

How Running a Half Marathon Will Change You (For the Better)

Mulling over the idea of running a half marathon? The decision should be a no brainer…a resounding “YES!” is what should follow in this mental dialogue.


Training for and running a half marathon has proven to be the best decision of many people’s lives. The culmination of dedicated training and significant effort, resulting in 13.1 magic packed miles, cannot be paralleled by many other experiences in life.  There’s more to simply clicking over the miles from 1 to 13.1. The journey begins, many months prior, with the spark of inspiration to plan to toe that starting line.

Half Marathon Training Takes Discipline

Now, training for a half marathon takes dedication and time. Fitting runs into the everyday minutia of work, family, school, home management, and maybe a little social interaction or civic contribution is no easy task, even for master multi-taskers and honed time managers. Waking up pre-dawn on weekdays to squeeze in those miles or on weekends to trek out for long runs, while the rest of the world sleeps snugly in their beds, can be an all-out mental battle at times.


The discipline required to sustain training and to make it to the ultimate and tremendous step across the finish line will undoubtedly redefine a person. Where the impossible feat used to live and doubts on ability could creep in, the finisher of a half marathon has run past all of that (quite literally).  Where procrastination and lazy habits used to flourish, the half marathoner has re-prioritized energy, schedules, responsibilities, and relationships in order to make half marathon training the filler of any spare minutes and hours within the day.

Finally, the laser focused planning of a half marathoner’s days, weeks, and months enables a runner to see where their time is actually being allocated and to make adjustments for more family, healthy friendships, and self-improvement.

Mental Fortitude of Runners

Self-discipline will grow as will mental toughness. The hurt at mile nine in the race will somehow be subdued by the strength of mind and will. Applications of this “mind over matter” scenario are entrenched in running, but runners begin to experience the power across all areas of life.

Not only does the occasional internal anguish of training and racing help in priming the skill of overcoming difficult trials and adversity, but the accomplishment of fighting through a half marathon and it’s training becomes a source of inspiration and pride for every runner. Any time a mentally challenging situation presents itself, remembering the perseverance and exertion of pushing through and reaching the goal.

Half Marathon Finishers Are All Elite

In 2014, of the 245 million Americans age 18+, only 2 million ran a half marathon.  That means that any American completing a half marathon can claim to be part of the 0.8% to do so.  Less than one percent. That constitutes an elite group of individuals in any statistical review.  And while on the numbers, in 2014, 61% of half marathon finishers were female in US races.

Half Marathons to Look and Feel Better

The runner’s physique can be the impetus for some who take up the sport of running. Toned calves, slim body, and strong arms epitomize an ideal of beauty for both men and women. While many factors affect an individual’s appearance, the frequency and extended duration of training for a half marathon often does result in more muscle and tone.


There is more to half marathon training than merely changing body shape. Fitness is now a lifestyle. Everything relates to being fit and healthy. Whether it is eating healthy, drinking more water, keeping your heart healthy, or getting more sleep, the best (and really, only) way to a successful half marathon is to wholly commit to betterment of self. While the compliments on impressive runs and dedication or improved fitness and appearance may be nice perks that go along with training, the things that matter most are the gratified feeling of committed success and the new healthy lifestyle.

Distance Training Runs Result in New Friends

Waking up early to meet a running group or friend can be some of the best moments of life. Sharing stories, lessons, laughs, and pain with another person or group of people on a regular basis often results in close friendships. The intrinsic nature of attempting a task so difficult as training for and then racing a half marathon pits the group of individuals in training against all the factors working against a runner’s success.

In effect, the training partners you keep will take on shifting roles of cheerleader, comedian, therapist, and sometimes, surrogate family. Friends met along the path of half marathon training could easily last a lifetime.

So, Why Run A Half Marathon?

The race is only a gift for all of your training, a gift earned. Just to toe the start line demonstrates training, mental power, and gumption. Half marathon runners have already accomplished so much more than most ever will when they leave the starting corrals. Life has changed for the better.

All half marathoners should be extremely proud, no matter the outcome of the race.  Crossing that finish line will be one of the most overwhelming and spiritual feelings any human can experience.  Ironically, it is often at this point that the pain of it all is forgotten and plans begin being made for the next one! This bucket list idea of running a half marathon will turn into a lifetime of running.

Whether running half marathons, 5Ks, or just for fun with friends, all runners enjoy a healthy lifestyle, an ability to dedicate to and complete challenges, and mental toughness that spans much farther than running. So, for all you one-percenters out there, know no bounds and make your next half marathon AMAZING.

Why I #RunAmazing — Lenny Samuel

Lenny Samuel, a seasoned runner and triathlete, explains that he runs “To teach my family the importance of setting a goal, creating a plan, working hard, making sacrifices, and executing your plan. Also, I run because it’s a great stress relief, a way to stay fit, and a bond with the community.”


Lenny and his family are planning to volunteer for the Amazing races.  If you too are interested in volunteering with the Samuel family March 4 – 6, 2016, click here to visit our volunteers page.

To view the original post on Facebook, click through this line of text.

To share your story on why you plan to #RunAmazing, click the image below, and we may feature you!

Why I #RunAmazing – Elaine Withers

On January 24, 2012, my dad passed away with cancer and on December 9, 2012, I ran my first half marathon, the Woman’s Half, in his memory. I ran that race for him. He was my inspiration.


I work at Baton Rouge General Hospital as a Surgical Technologist (surgery department), and it just breaks my heart to see babies and children coming to have surgery for whatever reason.

So, every step that I take when running the OLOL Amazing Half Marathon will be for all the sick babies and children. They will be my inspiration.

The original post featuring Elaine can be viewed on Facebook by clicking this line of text.

If you would like to have your story featured in our Why I #RunAmaziing blog posts, submit your info by clicking the image below.

Why I #RunAmazing – Ryan Houston

This past year, I was 20 miles in to a particularly tough race, and everything was falling apart.  For the first time in all of my running, I was thinking about quitting my race. Then, I saw him.   He couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old, sporting a Superman shirt and a bald head, obviously from chemo.  He was out there, high-fiving and encouraging the runners, and he did just that.


For me on that day, that child and running symbolized the ultimate metaphor for life…no matter how hard you train and prepare, sometimes things don’t go as planned.   You, then, have the choice to give up or keep running.   I chose to keep running.

I know, from my life and career in radiology, how AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL sick children and their caregivers are.  The chance to run for an organization such as Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital was a no brainer.

To view this testimonial, as orignally posted on Facebook, click through on this line of text.

To share your story and why you plan to #RunAmazing, click the image below and submit the form. We will be in touch!