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Running with Adam Part IV - The Races

Adam Izzicupo, PT, DPT is a Senior Physical Therapist at Outback PT. He has been writing a blog about his experiences training for a half and full marathon (see parts I-III below). Part IV describes Adam's experiences during those races

I'm writing this as a final update and progress report on this recent training episode. At this point, both races have concluded with varying degrees of success. I'll also add in my thoughts regarding future events and coordinating.

The first of the two races was a half marathon in NH. The course and event were both new to me, only seeing the map and elevation on race weekend - a minor oversight. Being that my training plan had consisted of distances longer and more significant elevation changes, I decided it would be a good race to pursue a faster pace, assuming running form was maintained and no injuries or ailments seemed eminent. To my own surprise, I was able to exceed my expectations for the day and ran a very comfortable and aggressive race. My focus immediately shifted towards recovery and prepping for the true running event the following weekend.

Unfortunately, my training routine had been disrupted by a few life events during the final stages, meaning I was missing runs much more frequently than in previous races. Despite my recent success in the half marathon, I knew I would be in more of a "survival mode" during the full marathon, but was still striving for my target time and pace. Again, my lack of preparation left me somewhat surprised on the course layout and elevation, but was not necessarily unprepared. The race itself was a hotter temperature with some humidity creating a less than ideal run. Given the circumstances leading into the race day and day itself, the race became as much of a mental endurance test as a physical test. After about 20 miles, fatigue and dehydration started to become a factor, mentally I was able to push a bit further but I had to think of possible injuries. As much as it pained me to begin a run/walk, it was the right thing to do at this point. Over the next several miles, the mental aspect became the challenging part of the day, really digging deep to finish.

My final words of wisdom to anyone thinking about completing their first half, full or combination is to fully dedicate towards your ultimate goal. You may need to find a running coach or other trained professional to come up with an appropriate training plan and stay healthy along the way, but don't be afraid to push a little bit outside your comfort zone. You may need to adjust your training regiment, goals or expectations along the way, just remember that your health is the most important thing.

Running with Adam Part III

Adam Izzicupo, PT, DPT is a Senior Physical Therapist at Outback PT, who is frequently training for various distance races. Currently, he is training for a pair of races this coming May, the Big Lake Half Marathon (NH) and Vermont City Marathon (VT).

Another update after a month of training!

The last month has been the final stage of training prior to tapering down mileage. The toughest part of marathon training, in my opinion, is the time dedication. This final stage has seen my dedication take a slight hit due to circumstances outside of running (work, personal obligations, etc). With that said, I made it a point to never miss a medium or long distance run as a way to mentally prep for the final distance.

Being that I have run several marathons to date, I realize my personal hurdle is the total mileage. I have run several plans that only total 20 miles for the longest run. It is highly debated whether or not you need to eclipse the 26 mile mark or anywhere close to it. I try to get within "striking distance" of the final push. This means running several time over 20 miles (22 for this training plan) which gives me a chance to do several things: get comfortable with a run of that distance and duration, as well as getting a routine down for the time leading up to the race.

The most overlooked aspect of race training in sticking to your schedule. For runs approaching the final distance, it is important to prepare the same way from the meals and sleep schedule the night before, all the way to pre-race food, drink and bathroom schedule. If you are able to keep a level of regularity, you can expect a similar race as your prep.

Now that the bulk of training is completed, almost inevitably there will be some second guessing whether I trained hard enough, far enough or consistent enough - all of which is natural to do. Whether I am set to PR or have a sub-par showing, the only thing that can be done at this stage is to taper down and get ready to race!

Running with Adam Part II

Adam Izzicupo, PT, DPT is a Senior Physical Therapist at Outback PT, who is frequently training for various distance races. Currently, he is training for a pair of races this coming May, the Big Lake Half Marathon (NH) and Vermont City Marathon (VT).

Since my last post, 2 weeks have passed with a steady increase in mileage, weekly long runs jumping up to 16 and 17 miles, respectively.

Mid-week runs remain (relatively) low mileage: 4, 8, 4 miles on consecutive days. My largest challenge remains on simply completing each daily run. Some level of soreness or fatigue is to be expected, especially when running for several days consecutively, however, I have continued on my progress since mechanics have not been sacrificed. On my weekend run of 16 miles, I hit my first hurdle - temperature. At the time of my run, the temperature was in single digits. I did modify my running attire for cold weather (i.e. hat, gloves, compression leggings and shirts), however, over the course of an hour plus, my body temperature began to drop as muscle tightness began to rise. While I did want to continue pushing forward with training, I did not want to continue with the possibility of injury. I decided to end my run short, and use my emergency contact to return home.

Over the next several days, our family was hit with rather unfortunate news with a death in our family. Despite my intentions of continuing training, it simply was not something that could be worked into the chaos of our week. After our services concluded, I returned to running to not only continue my training, but as a way to return to a sense of normalcy. While temperature was not as much of a factor as previously, the increasing mileage began to show its face. I am a firm believer in completing the full duration of a training session. I modified my pace to allow an "easier" completion, but did experience more fatigue compared to previous training runs. At time like these were fatigue is more apparent or noticeable, I become much more diligent with my supplemental strengthening to those targeted areas. I recommend you consult a professional strength coach, running coach or physical therapist for your specific needs.

Running with Adam Part I

Adam Izzicupo, PT, DPT is a Senior Physical Therapist at Outback PT, who is frequently training for various distance races. Currently, he is training for a pair of races this coming May, the Big Lake Half Marathon (NH) and Vermont City Marathon (VT).

Please excuse the lengthy introduction post to this training blog as we are picking things up approximately one month into training. My goal is to bring you along for the journey of what race training looks like on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. Hopefully this will give some insightful tips and motivation for anyone looking to begin distance running, or just continuing their own journey. Please note, the information posted here is solely based on one individual's progress, please consult professionals when it comes to your injuries and ailments from running!

The first thing you should do when beginning your training is creating a big picture.

Things to consider are:
What type of shape am I in now?
-can I comfortable run 5+ miles, or do I need to start from the ground up?

What type of schedule do I have?
-can I run any day at any time, or am I hard pressed to squeeze 2 hours a week in?

Knowing these factors will allow you to find a training program that adequately fits you and your abilities. If you laugh at the idea of running for sport, it may require more training up front (couch to 5K) to be able to comfortably start a training program.

Now, onto my specific story...

I have run several marathons prior this journey, (Washington D.C., Dallas TX, and Newport R.I.), so the idea of training for several months is not something new to me. My first few races, I was not diligent nor dedicated to my programs and often skipped my long runs out of laziness/lack of convenience and thus, did not have very strong showings come race day. I decided that I needed to hold myself more accountable and become dedicated to running as part of my lifestyle. I tried a different training plan that better suited my time, schedule and goals during my last marathon, and due to the overall success, I have decided to repeat the program.

I have searched through countless running guides and consulted running coaches, ultimately choosing a Hal Higdon plan (found here: For this particular plan, you are required to run 10 miles on the first weekend and 5 days a week, so this may not be for everyone.

The biggest challenge for this training plan versus any other was the timing, for the first time the bulk of running will be done in cold weather. I try to keep my expectations realistic and plan for the worst case scenario. On days where the temperature is in the single digits, I will bundle up in more layers. On days where there is snow and ice on the ground, I will take smaller steps and make sure I carefully watch where I am stepping. In either case, I know my pace will be slower than normal, and that is perfectly fine under these conditions! Keep in mind that while you will be running a bit slower, it may take more time to warm up properly, so don't rush through the process. I have gone the first several weeks of this training plan at a slightly slowed pace, knowing that with clearer roads/sidewalks my pace will improve. Right now, it is all about getting the miles and time in.

This past weekend was exceptionally cold, entering single digits with a wind chill approaching below zero. Thankfully the mileage was a step-back and provided some relief from the elements. While going through 10 miles in 10 degrees, the goal was simply to complete the run without injury. I typically use feedback for pacing, however, I turned that off for this run since my focus was not on speed. I will be traveling this upcoming weekend, but intend on completing my training runs still. Hopefully a change in scenery will help ease the burden of the cold weather.

I recommend you consult a professional strength coach, running coach or physical therapist for your specific needs.


Cool Winter Running Tips

By Ithamar Jotkowitz, PT, DPT, CAMT as published in the Somerville Journal, Page A10, Thursday December 13, 2012

The starter’s gun will kickoff the Jingle Bell Run this weekend, with close to 6,000 runners braving the cold as they depart Davis square for this increasingly popular 5K race. Running itself is becoming a favorite American pastime with 26.5 million Americans running at least fifty days out of the year.   As the temperature in New England begins to drop and we prepare for the inevitable snowfall, many local runners feel that this is the season to head indoors to the treadmill. For some runners who feel less inspired by treadmill running, the winter could signal a temporary hiatus from their exercise regimen. But this does not have to be the case. While winter running is different, it is very doable. Just follow these five winter running tips for safe winter running.

Layer up!

When running in cold temperatures, the key to keeping your body warm is to wear layers. It is best to wear a base layer of thin, synthetic material that fits snugly against your skin and wicks away sweat from your body. Avoid cottons which trap in moisture. A middle layer of fleece can act as insulation, especially if the temperature is below 15 degrees F (-9C). A warmer outer shell of nylon, Gore-tex or similar material should be worn to prevent rain or snow from entering while allowing heat and sweat to escape. Running tights can be used to insulate your legs; layer as needed. A common concern is not overheating; generally, a good rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees F warmer than it is (or approximately 10C).

Use your head… and your hands and feet

Up to 40% of body warmth can be lost from the head, so wearing a lightweight breathable hat is important to allow your circulatory system to distribute heat to the rest of your body. If it is under 15 degrees F (-9C), a face mask should be worn. It’s also critical to keep your extremities warm, as almost 30% of body heat can be lost through hands and feet. I recommend running mittens that allow your fingers to ‘share’ their body heat and accommodate disposable hand warmers. Make sure your socks are warm--wool or polar fleece are preferable--and avoid non-breathable cotton socks.

Surface matters

You need to be mindful of your running surface. While snow can act as a good shock absorber, care must be taken as you can never be too sure how soft or tightly packed it is.   Generally, the visibility in the winter is lower than usual and black ice can often cause slips and falls. I recommend running on plowed sports tracks at a local high schools or universities that offer a safer running surface.


Drink drink drink!

Contrary to popular belief, you need to drink just as much when running in the winter as you do in the summer. As your body heats up while you run, body fluid will be lost and the cold air actually has a drying effect which could lead to dehydration. Make sure you drink water or a sports drink both before and after the run. For longer runs, bring water with you in a handheld water bottle or “Fuel Belt,” as you can’t be assured that public water fountains will be turned on in winter months.

Take it easy

While you might think that the most common winter running injuries are fractures and torn ligaments from slipping on the ice, the number one ailment I treat in the winter is muscle tears. Cold muscles are more prone to tearing, and soft tissue injuries can sideline a runner for weeks if not months. While it is always recommended to warm up before a run, you should supplement your warm-up regime with an additional 5-10 minutes as the temperature drops. Warm ups that include a slow pace run, running in place and/ or mini jumps can be the difference between a refreshing run and a torn muscle. Furthermore, winter is the time for maintenance running—going ‘all out’ at top speed in cold weather virtually invites a muscle injury.

In the winter especially, it is a good idea to run with a buddy or group, wear reflective, high visibility clothing and remember: if it is 0 degrees F (-17C) or -20 degrees F (-30C) wind chill or lower outside, it may be time to hit the treadmill!

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