This blog page will offer tips and answer questions about the Sedona Marathon Event, running at elevation, training tips and more. If you have a question about running, running at 4,500' elevation or other questions on improving your training regimen, send them to Adam Gifford, owner of Sedona Running Company at email@example.com
Introducing Coach Adam, Official Sedona Marathon Event Training Coach
Coach Adam Gifford, owner of the Sedona Running Company, is the Official Race Coach for the Sedona Marathon Event. Coach Adam has been a sponsored athlete since 2007 and is currently a member of the prestigious La Sportiva Mountain Running Team.
His current sponsors include: La Sportiva, Greenlayer Sports, 1st Endurance, Petzl, Ultimate Direction, Julbo Sunglasses, and Defeet.
Other cool stuff about Adam: - Owner of Premier Endurance Coaching, LLC (www.premierendurance.com) - USATF Track & Field Coach - Level 1 - USAC Cycling Coach - Level 3 - Member of the prestigious La Sportiva Mountain Running Team - Product tester for Brooks Running - Product tester for Popular Outdoor Outfitters - Completed over 40 ultramarathons including a number of 100-mile finishes - Completed over 50 road and trail races in distances between 5k and marathon - Completed over 20 triathlons including 2 iron distance finishes
Coach Adam will answer your questions about training, give you the inside scoop on the Sedona Marathon course, keep you updated on Sedona's running scene and provide training tips in this blog. Whether your training for your first race, or looking to shave a few minutes off your PR, Adam will help.
January 18, 2016 It's Not Too Late To Register
The big day is less than three weeks away. This obviously doesn't leave much time for training. However, even if you didn't train for the event you can still register and have fun with 3000 of your closest friends. Just register for a distance that you feel comfortable finishing with your current level of fitness. You can choose from the 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles) or the full marathon (26.2 miles). Remember that the course is open for six hours, so even if you aren't fully trained you can still take your time and enjoy the beautiful weather and amazing surroundings. You will also be surprised how the adrenaline of the crowds and the competition can positively affect your performance on race day.
Register. Have fun. Make it happen.
January 8, 2016 Step 1…
Hey Coach!!! My wife has already run 2 marathons and I want to join her for her next one. I have run a number of shorter races, but I have yet to complete a marathon. What is my first step?
Thanks, Brad Scottsdale, AZ
Bradster, Your first step is the easiest step…ya gotta find a race and plunk down your registration cash. This is a crucial step, because if you don’t register for something then you have no accountability to yourself to actually train and show up for the race. The act of registering for the race transforms the idea of doing a race with your wife into the reality of doing a race with your wife. Oh yeah, don’t forget to make sure that your wife registers as well (that reminds me of a time in college when we told people we were having a costume party and then decided last minute to drop the costume requirement…don’t let your wife trick you into registering alone or you’ll be like the one guy who didn’t get the memo and showed up to the party as the ONLY person in costume).
Now I can already hear you asking yourself, “which race should my wife and I enter?” Lucky fer you I just got this sweet new gig as the Official Coach for the Sedona Marathon (no doubt due to my good looks and shaved legs) and I can tell you that this is one of the most beautiful marathons in the country. You get amazing views, rolling hills, amazing views, wonderful volunteers, and amazing views. Believe me, the last thing you want to do is spend your first 26+ miles trapped between skyscrapers and rain gutters.
Oh yeah, after you register, don’t forget to tell your friends and family what you are planning to do…not because you need another reason for your mother-in-law to think you’re crazy, but because it helps with that whole accountability thing. Coach Adam
December 28, 2015 The Hills have thighs
Dear Coach, I already have a few marathons under my belt (Chicago, New York, Phoenix) but I have never run one with as many hills as Sedona. What is your recommendation(s) for how to handle this type of terrain? Sincerely, Ralph, San Diego, CA
Hey Ralphie-boy, You know you’re in for a tough day when the course profile looks a lot like Artie Lange’s EKG reading. Running a hilly marathon course is a lot like college…it will usually take longer than you think AND it will be one of the most enjoyable things you will ever accomplish. The first thing to remember is that you will most likely not set a PR on a course like the Sedona Marathon (it is possible, just not likely). So with that in mind you may want to set your time goals accordingly; or better yet, don’t set a time goal at all and just enjoy the experience and the beauty of the course (there’s LOTS of that). In order to minimize your discomfort throughout the race you will want to train on hills if possible. Hill training will help your body get used to the increased heart rate that you will have on the ascents. It will also help your body get used to the muscle pounding that your legs will feel on the descents. If you don’t have access to hills then speedwork and weight training can be a suitable substitute.
When you hit the climbs you will want to shorten your stride a bit and slow your cadence (that’s the number of times your foot hits the ground) so that your heart rate doesn’t get too high. You can either use a heart rate monitor to help you through this or just go off of feel (your body will let you know when your heart rate is getting too high). On some of the longer climbs it is best not to look at the top of the climb; just look down in front of you and try to let your mind wander…the hill will be over before you know what happened.
On the descents most people have a tendency to spread out their stride and try to run as fast as they can so they can make up the time from the slower ascents. This approach tends to lead to premature fatigue and increased soreness. Your muscles break down more from downhill running than they do from uphill running (eccentric muscle contraction versus concentric muscle contraction for all of you science geeks out there) so it pays to take the descents slower during the first half of the race. If you want to make up some time on the descents then keep your stride short and increase your cadence. You will most likely find that you can run at a faster speed while keeping down your heart rate.
Finally, if you want to get a feel for the hills then you will definitely want to take part in one or both of the free training runs that we will be hosting. Both of these runs will be held on the marathon course. The details of these free training runs will be posted soon on this marathon web page.
Thanks!!! Coach Adam
December 18, 2015 Eat. Run. Love
Dear Coach Adam,
I am planning on getting in to town on the Thursday before the race and I was wondering if you could recommend some good and healthy places to eat while my family and I are in town.
I just wanted to clear up some word usage issues before we start. People are healthy; food is healthful. Now I can take off my pedantic pants and start talking about getting your healthful grub on. In order to organize my frantic thoughts on this subject we’ll start down in the Village of Oak Creek and move north through uptown and then head west through the rest of Sedona.
Desert Flour Bakery and Bistro (www.desertflour.com) – If you feel like you might be a touch low on delicious carbs then this place needs to be your first stop. The Desert Flour is one of those places that makes you want to order dessert first…AND last. Their meals and amazing and they are probably the most reasonable priced establishment in the entire area. They also have a great beer and wine list for *ahem* after the race.
Elote (www.elotecafe.com) – This is where you get the Mexican food that no one realizes that people actually eat in Mexico. This place is the real deal when it comes to a truly authentic Mexican cuisine. Most of the stuff you can’t even pronounce, so you KNOW it’s good. You’ll want to get there early because they don’t take reservations and the last thing you want to do is make your glycogen depleted body wait for calories.
Heartline Café (www.heartlinecafe.com) – This is the place for your post-race recovery and celebration meal. The Heartline is the most formal (OK, it’s “Sedona formal” which means you have to at least wear a shirt during dinner…ever outside on the patio).
Picazzos (www.picazzos.com) – What restaurant list would be complete without PIZZA! They offer an amazing thin crust for those people who want to avoid a carb coma. They also have salads, entrees, and gluten free options.
India Palace (www.cuisineofindia-az.com) – I know most people don’t associate Indian cuisine with marathons, but the lunch buffet makes for a perfect day-after-race recovery meal. I have eaten Indian cuisine all over the United States and throughout Europe, and this place is by far the best I have ever tasted.
I should point out that I have not been compensated or persuaded in any way as to which restaurants to include in this list. These are my personal favorites. Please feel free to email me if you need special suggestions (vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, steakhouse, etc). Coach Adam
December 11, 2015 To pee or not to pee!
I’m kinda embarrassed to ask this question, but it’s something that I need to know and I’m pretty sure that the information can help others as well. I pee a LOT right before a race…maybe more than any other human :-) What can I do to avoid this so I can make my pre-race morning more enjoyable?
Thanks in advance for the info.
Embrace the pee, there really isn’t much that you can do to avoid this biological necessity. You can, however, take some steps to make your pre-race morning more enjoyable. First, wake up earlier than you normally would so you can, uh, take care of business more in your hotel room or house. This will help you avoid the stress inducing porta potty lines that resemble movie theater lines on the opening night of a Harry Potter flick. Second, replace your morning coffee with a caffeinated gel (ha…and you thought I was going to be one of those coaches that told you to stop drinking coffee…those coaches need to be excommunicated from the human race.) Third, get to the race site EARLY so you can relax and enjoy the pre-race energy and vibe. Take in all of that energy and use it to get you across that finish line (wow, I really do sound like I’m from Sedona). Finally, don’t fight the pee...it means that you’re well hydrated, and that’s a VERY good thing.
November 27, 2015 Left. Right. Repeat!
Dear Coach Adam,
I am a relatively new runner and the Sedona Marathon will be my first race at that distance (and I’m soooo excited!!). Right now I’m not sure if my running form is correct or not. How do I know if I am running correctly?
Sincerely, Alan Phoenix, AZ
If your feet are below your head and you’re moving forward then you are running correctly. Since you are a newer runner I would suggest focusing more on your strength and endurance and less on your running form. Trying to change your gait (that’s science talk for “running form”) is like trying to change from being right handed to being left handed. It can be done but it’s difficult and doesn’t do much to help you. Running is a natural human movement just like walking and climbing…your body won’t allow you to do it the “wrong way”. Good luck on your first marathon and HAVE FUN!!!!
November 20, 2015 Looooong runs...
Hey Coach Adam!!!
So I caught the bug and signed up for the full marathon. I have already run 6 half-marathons and this will be my first full 26.2. My only goal for this one is to finish and to suffer as little as possible. How long should my longest run be and how far out from the actual race should it be? Thank you in advance for your help.
Wendell Peoria, AZ
Congratulations on registering for your first marathon (and pre-emptive congratulations for FINISHING your first marathon…now you HAVE to finish or I’ll look stupid). Since this is your first marathon and your only goal is to finish then you should put your last long run 3 weeks out from the marathon. This will allow your body to fully recover prior to the race and reap the benefits from the long run. One of the biggest mistakes for first timers is to over-train (come to think of it, that’s a big mistake for seasoned marathoners as well!). It’s always a better idea to go into your first marathon over-recovered rather than over-trained…you will be amazed what your rested body is capable of on race day. Your last long run should be between 20-22 miles. More importantly, you should plan on that run taking as long as your goal marathon time. Since you don’t have a goal time I would recommend a run closer to 22 miles just to be sure that you are getting enough quality time in the shoes. Since you live in a flatter area you will definitely want to attend the FREE training run that we are hosting ON THE MARATHON COURSE. There will be a training run 3 weeks out from the marathon and again 2 weeks out. The runs will be supported with nutrition and drinks and will be out-and-back so you can run as far as you want. Please email me if you need more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 13, 2015 WEATHER or Not to Run (Coach Adam loves wordplay with synonyms!)
Adam, What is the weather typically like for the marathon? I’m from New England and I DON’T like hot races. Thank you, Kris Boston, MA
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce is now in charge of the marathon, so the weather is going to be perfect. You see, the Chamber actually controls the weather here in Sedona which is why we experience abundant sunshine, dry air, and comfortable temps. All I can tell you is that the whole process involves vortexes and chemtrails and is tightly controlled from a secret office at the uptown Visitors Center (which you should visit while you are here). The weather in February can be somewhat scattered, so you’ll want to prepare for anything. It will be cooler in the morning (probably low 30’s to mid 40’s) and can be up to 20-degrees warmer by the afternoon. For the marathon you will want to plan your clothing so that you are a bit cold at the start. This way you won’t have to shed too many layers when you warm up after the first few miles. The last thing you want to do is have to carry around too many extra layers during the warmer hours at the end of the race. Light gloves and a light hat are a definite as your hands and head are very sensitive to cold and will be the last things to warm-up. Also, make sure not to wear any cotton. You’ll be much better with a wool or synthetic that moves moisture away from your body and dries quicker (trust me, sweat will happen when you hit those uphills…regardless of the temps).
Enjoy your training and we look forward to having you at the race.
November 6, 2015 I Get Tired Just Walking That Far
Dear Coach Adam,
My friends and I all want to register for the half-marathon but we want to walk the entire course. Is it “socially acceptable” to walk the entire course?
Sincerely, Chris G. Boulder, CO
Let’s face it, there’s nothing socially acceptable about running. That’s why people say things like, “Thirteen miles? I get tired just driving that far.” On the brighter side, the lack of social acceptance allows us runners to get away with wearing tape on our nipples and compression tights in restaurants (note: Sedona restaurants will be compression tight friendly during the marathon weekend). The Sedona Marathon races are designed for all levels of runners AND walkers. It is quite acceptable to walk the entire course for ANY of the distances. You and your friends should all register and walk the course together. I’m sure all of the giggling that occurs will leave you with a nice sore set of abs for the rest of the weekend.
October 30, 2015 ‘Till Death Do Us Part
Dear Coach Adam,
I really want to train for and run the half-marathon, but my husband thinks that it will take up too much of my time and that I won’t have time for him or our family. About how much time per week would you say that training for the half-marathon will take.
It looks like I’ll be wearing my coaching hat and my marriage counselor hat for this one. Let’s start with the amount of time that you will need to train. This all depends on your goals for the race. If you are entering the race with the sole purpose of finishing then I would say you could probably get away with 3-4 hours of training per week. This, of course, depends on your current level of fitness. At the minimum you will want to get in one good long run of 9-11 miles and one good tempo run (slightly faster than race pace) per week. Three runs per week are better than two, but two would definitely be the minimum. Now for the marriage aspect. See if you can involve your husband in the entire process. Have him come with you on your runs either on a bike or on foot. Have him stretch with you after your runs. Since you live so close you should DEFINITELY have him come and volunteer at the race while you run. Volunteering at a race can be as fun as running the race (and it doesn’t seem to hurt nearly as much). If you have any children then get a baby jogger and take them with you when you run. There is nothing better for your strength and fitness than pushing an extra body up a hill. Now this is where my expertise in marriage counseling ends…I only learned so much in grad school (and that was in economics!!)
October 16, 2015 Three Months Out
We are officially three months out from the big day. Are you where you need to be? That's actually not a rhetorical question. It's a question that you should really ask yourself and make plans accordingly. This should help to organize some of your thoughts and point you in the right direction.
If you want to participate in one of the events and haven't already registered then YOU NEED TO REGISTER. One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable to a training plan is to register for an event, write in in your calendar and tell your friends and family what you will be doing. If you are traveling you should already have your travel plans booked. Hotels near the race venue are filling fast and airline tickets are only going to get more expensive. Finalize your travel plans if you already haven't.
If you have a goal time in mind for any of the events you should have a specific training plan in place to help you reach that goal. There are hundreds of resources online to help you customize a training plan for your individual needs.
If you are new to running you should have your next shoe purchase planned. Figure out how many miles you will be covering in your training and determine whether or not you will need new shoes before race day. You don't want to by them too early and have them break down before the big day. You also don't want to buy them too late and not have enough miles in them prior to the race.
Register, book travel, and get training. With all this in place the only thing you will need to do on the event day is show up and have fun.