Pan Mass Challenge 2014 – what a weekend. As I sit down to write this, I think I’ve finally dried off from 12 hours of riding in the rain. Saturday morning we got on our bikes at around 6:30am, and within about an hour it started drizzling, which, by after lunch (10am) turned into a downpour.
Thursday and Friday my dad and I were whining about the weather and how uncomfortable it’d be both days. Thursday night, our team captains Aime (has been battling cancer for 9 years) and Greg were on TV sharing their story of her personal fight against cancer, and how she’d be out there to ride the last 3 miles with us. That really put my complaints into perspective. Our goal is to bike to Provincetown while raising money to help those that are struggling with a whole lot more than rain and cold. The least we could do is suck it up and quit the whining about how, for only two days, we’ll be a little (a lot) uncomfortable.
In his words: “I whined a bit about the weather Friday evening, but then I watched highlights of the PMC opening ceremonies and remembered what’s at stake. I told myself “Shut up and ride.” Sure, it was cold and uncomfortable, but at the end there was a hot shower and a lot of food and drink. Riding is easy. Raising money is easy. Dealing with cancer day after day is not.”
Saturday’s ride was slower than last year due to the rain, and pretty memorable. One of my favorite and most motivated climbs comes just before the second or third rest stop of the day. It’s a quarter mile climb with photos of children battling cancer along the right side of the road. I attacked this hill with everything I had, thinking of the kids going through a whole lot more discomfort, which makes the burn a whole lot easier. I didn’t see an inch of pavement during that climb… My eyes were glued to the names of the toddlers and little kids fighting for their lives.
As the day went on, the rain started coming down harder. We carried on, and eventually ended up in Bourne after about 85 miles of riding. Great time to experience rain on the bike for the first time…
While we were on the bike, the rain and cold didn’t have too bad of an impact (it beats the heat!) though once we stopped, we instantly became uncomfortably cold, which a long hot shower eventually fixed.
Day two brought another 7am start (very late compared to the 5am start most people had) and a bit of rain to start the day again. We had hoped our gear would dry off, but just about everything was still wet when we set off in the morning.
I started off day 2 with some pretty tired legs, which I blame my training for. My longest ride of the season was 55 miles, compared to 75 last year, and I did very few back to back long rides. I did one long ride on a Saturday after Summit Ave repeats, which helped a little with fatigue training, but I could’ve done a lot better. Despite riding half as many training miles as last year, my muscles feel great as of noon on Monday. Thanks ENERGYbits.
Around mile 30 we rolled into my favorite rest stop – Nickerson State Park, which is the lunch stop for day 2, and has the feel of a giant party for athletes. The music was loud and everyone was smiling. The sun starting to peek out definitely helped. I spent a few minutes on the ice couch (exactly what it sounds like and yes, it’s awesome), and then off we went. 38 miles to P-Town and 18 to the next rest stop.
One of the biggest hills of the whole ride came prior to the last rest stop. It’s probably a half mile climb and I remember it being a whole lot nastier last year than it was this year. My dad always sprints up it as long as he can, so this year I decided to see how far I could go. Made it halfway up in full sprint… double what I did last year. Thanks November Project.
We met up with the rest of our team at the next stop and after refueling (more on that at the end) said we’d meet up 3 miles from the finish with Aime and Greg.
The next 20 miles between the last stop and the finish are the hardest miles of the entire ride, and not just because it’s the last hour of 12 hours of riding. Truro brings steep rolling hills, and Provincetown brings a fierce headwind. Knowing that we’d be taking it easy after meeting up with the team right near the finish, my dad and I gave it everything we had along route 6 into that headwind. We had been cruising along at 21/22 miles an hour and kicked it up to around 23-25 for the last couple of miles, taking turns pulling and drafting.
3 miles from the Provincetown Inn finish line we met up with Aime, Greg and the rest of the team. Greg helped push Aime along to the finish… It was a beautiful sight and the epitome of the entire weekend.
We crossed the finish line with family and friends right there to congratulate us. While one of the best parts about the PMC is that the entire course is lined with people cheering strangers on, there’s nothing better than familiar faces when it’s over.
While this year’s Pan Mass weekend is over, the fight against cancer certainly is not. We may have crossed the finish line, but there’s a lot left before we’re actually done. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million, and we could use your help!
To everyone that has donated, thank you so much. To my friends and family that have supported me in other ways, thank you. To November Project: thank you for the accountability and continued inspiration to keep moving, no matter the circumstance… All of those cold/wet/rainy winter mornings helped me power through this weekend. #WeatherProof for sure.
For those interested, here’s my fueling plan:
Day 1 (85 miles, 6.5 total hours including stops)
Breakfast was Nature’s Path’s Qi’a which is hemp, chia and buckwheat, along with coffee.
ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits 20 minutes prior to riding.
I had 2.5 servings of GenUCAN 45 minutes prior to riding, as well as 2.5 hours in to the ride, which was around lunch, where I had two eggs, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes with coconut water from Zico, a sponsor of the PMC.
ENERGYbits every 20 miles. I also had a “Sticky Bun” (sweet and salty) Lara Bar around mile 68, and Nuun electrolyte tablets every other water bottle, resulting in 3 tablets total.
I nibbled on one Picky Bar throughout both days.
No hunger issues at all, and felt steady energy the entire time.
Day 2 (68 miles and 5.5 hours total)
Same chia cereal for breakfast. Had UCAN 45 minutes prior, along with ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits (helps with lactic acid buildup while exercising).
One hour in (about 15 miles) had PocketFuel (Vanilla Haze flavor) and a serving of ENERGYbits. I was a lot hungrier already, so I went with more calories earlier in the ride as well as throughout.
30 miles in (a little under 2 hours) I had more UCAN with ENERGYbits and bananas topped with peanut butter.
At mile 48 (3.75 hours) I had ENERGYbits, RECOVERYbits and more bananas with peanut butter which carried me through to the end.
After both days I had Vega Recovery Accelerator immediately post-ride, as well as ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits. Had Health Warrior’s chia bars later in the day too. I felt MUCH better after this ride compared to last year, where I ate a Larabar about every hour. Had some stomach issues on Sunday last year after the ride, and I’m guessing eating 10+ Larabars in two days.
Any brand that has an active social media presence, a large customer/fan base or both, deals with the challenge of responding to incoming tweets. Some brands respond to seemingly every tweet, no matter how trivial or often (hello Chipotle) and some never respond or acknowledge at all (hello most big brands).
A few weeks ago I had a question about which of two products to buy. I tweeted at the brand to ask, and got no response. I tried again. Still no response. I ended up buying neither product.
I’ve had a brand favorite my question before, without answering. I’ve also mentioned brands in tweets and had them not respond at all. This morning I took to Twitter and asked what’s worse: a favorite, or no response at all.
— DirtyWaterTees (@DirtyWaterTees) July 31, 2014
— Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) July 31, 2014
— Michelle Densmore (@Lucky13Fit) July 31, 2014
I asked Christy Berkery, social media manager for an NFL team. She gave an answer I was somewhat surprised by at first, yet it makes total sense. https://twitter.com/berkeryc/status/494834353570971648 She also brought up the issue of time. It isn’t realistic for a big brand to respond to every single tweet, especially when questions aren’t being asked.
@JWLevitt Absolutely. Recognition is key. Also look at the time trade off – favoriting is faster than responding – can reach more fans
— berkeryc (@berkeryc) July 31, 2014
Christy did agree that organizations that sell product should make it a priority to respond to incoming questions. Coming from a product based brand like ENERGYbits, it often means the decision to purchase vs. not purchase. At our current size, every single individual order has an immediate impact, so this is very important for us, as compared to a billion dollar brand that won’t lose sleep over a dozen people not purchasing.
As the morning rolled on, responses from both individuals and brands kept coming in. Qdoba finally responded:
@JWLevitt Hmm… sorry to hear we've missed your tweets. We are here listening, let us know what's up!
— Qdoba Mexican Grill (@QdobaMexGrill) July 31, 2014
I figured I’d ask another big brand. I reached out to Jon Preston, of Staples who agreed that some is better than none.
@JWLevitt as a brand, "it depends". The content, tweet by tweet dictates engagement strategy. Speaking personally, some is better than none.
— Jon Preston (@JonMPreston) July 31, 2014
Jenn Herman agreed that it does depend on the post, but in general no response is worse.
@JWLevitt Depends on the post. But in general no response is worse. Even a "fave" from a brand can inspire a customer
— Jenn Herman (@jenns_trends) July 31, 2014
I still think simply favoriting a tweet is a lazy way to “engage” with a follower, but it comes down to a matter of how valuable the time is. For a huge brand it may make sense, especially when the person tweeting isn’t expecting a response.
To test out a tweet that didn’t have a question or technically require a response, I tweeted a photo and tagged 10 of the products I will be using while on the bike in the Pan Mass Challenge. It’s been 25 minutes and so far two have favorited the tweet. No actual responses yet besides from individuals.
What can be learned from this? Brands that aren’t getting hundreds of incoming tweets per hour can and SHOULD be responding to most tweets with more than just a favorite. It makes a difference in the eyes of the consumer, and can inspire future engagement and ultimately more sales.
@JWLevitt I'd like brands to tweet me back. Twitter is about conversation. So converse with me!!
— Stephanie (@stephanieruns) July 31, 2014
In exactly two weeks, if all goes as planned, I will be wrapping up my second Pan Mass Challenge, a 192 mile bike ride where every mile brings us closer to a world without cancer.
My time on the bike this year is slacking quite a bit, but my motivation for this ride is at an all time high. Despite all the miles I should have been riding in May and June, I know I have the motivation I need to power me all the way to Provincetown… even up the hills of Truro and Wellfleet.
All along the course I’ll see signs held by little kids saying “I’m alive thanks to you” and “Keep riding… I’ll keep living.” “I beat cancer” being held by someone who couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8 distracted me while climbing up a steep hill last year.
When I’m riding into the strong headwinds along route 6 near the end of the ride, regretting not putting in more miles this spring, I’ll be thinking of those with a much harder battle. The little kids who have to go through chemo, the friend that has to sit next to her best friend while she hears her diagnosis… The child, saying goodbye to a parent lost way too early to a horrible, horrible disease.
My personal goal this year is $4500 and $40 million overall, and we could use your help. Please visit www2.pmc.org/profile/jl0364, where every penny counts, and every dollar brings us closer to a world without cancer.
It’s 11:30pm on a Tuesday night after a Red Sox game with a group of new One Run For Boston friends. We’ve had quite a few beers and someone brings up this crazy group they heard about where people run up and down stadium stairs… at 6:30 am… for fun. I had seen Andrew Ference tweeting about it a week or two earlier, and wanted to check it outsometime soon. We quickly learned what a #verbal was and for some reason agreed to wake up nearly 5 hours later and check it out. Without realizing what I had just gotten myself into, I crawled into bed at nearly 1am with an alarm set for 5:15 just a few hours later.
Fast forward a full year. I’ve gone from running only a handful of times every couple of weeks (and not really enjoying it at all) to running a marathon and am now aiming for a sub 18 minute 5k later this year. How did that happen? November Project.
November Project: the only way I can describe it is “the most awesomely motivating fitness group, ever.” November Project is made up of everyone from ultrarunners and Ironman triathletes to people who are just getting into fitness and working out. You will always find someone your speed… Right Elin? The beauty of it for beginners is that since the workouts are in a relatively small space, you don’t necessarily know who’s the fastest or slowest (besides right at the start)
That’s certainly not to say people don’t race. One of my favorite parts of November Project is how the person next to you can push you to go faster. Monday’s #destinationdeck was a circuit and I unintentionally ended up racing the guy next to me and certainly would not have pushed myself as hard without that additional motivation. #raceeverything
One of the best parts about November Project is being #weatherproof. No matter if it’s cold/rainy/windy/snowy/dark/blizzarding (you get it) the Tribe still continues to show up. Accountability is huge, and it certainly helped me stay motivated during the awful winter we had recently. I was signed up for a spring marathon, so bailing on workouts wasn’t much of an option, and NP made so many of those dark mornings just a little brighter (ok a lot brighter… #thetribelovesneon).
There’s just something powerful about giving a “verbal.” Not just because Jenna/Elin/etc will write a “We Missed You” post, but because you know someone is out there waiting for you to get there. Call it peer pressure or call it accountability, but whatever it is, works.
One of my proudest moments over the last year was earning the Positivity Award. Brogan introduced me as “one of the loudest people on social media” which is something I’m certainly proud of… I can’t stop recruiting everyone I know. November Project has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and I want to share with everyone I know in all 17 cities.
The good news? If you live in Boston, Edmonton, Madison or Milwaukee WI, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philly, Indy, NYC, Denver, Baltimore, Minneapolis MN, Washington DC or New Orleans, you can join in on the fun.
Just want to give another big thanks to Brogan and Bojan (and Pour House for a little liquid courage for that first verbal) for creating a community that has led to new friends, shattered PRs and a reason to love that 5:15 alarm every Monday Wednesday and Friday.
Words cannot describe how awesome November Project is. #JustShowUp and see for yourself.
This past weekend I participated in the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick. I had a few friends running the race so I decided to look for a bib, and ended up getting one at the expo from a friend of a friend. I met a couple of our ambassadors and twitter friends at the expo, and then went home to get ready for the morning.
I prepared my fuel the night before. With 9.3 miles (5k and 10k) over two races in the morning and a half marathon the following day, my plan was to have a serving of ENERGYbits prior to each race. I had my serving of UCAN as I was on the train headed over to BC for the race, and before that had my normal early morning breakfast of Nature’s Path’s Q’ia (hemp, chia and buckwheat cereal) with coffee and two glasses of water.
The 5k was a beautiful loop around the reservoir near Boston College, which is a route I run pretty often. I knew there was a long, gradual climb at the end. Halfway through the race I realized I was feeling good (my splits were 5:46, 6:11, 6:35, 5:44) so I decided to push it a little. As I got towards the end of the last climb, probably around mile 2.6 I started slowing down. Right as this was happening, Olympic runner Shalane Flanagan passed me. I decided I needed to catch her and match her pace until the end of the race. She made that ~6 minute mile pace look so easy! I was determined to keep up and finish strong, which I did. I finished right next to her in 19:36. Since I was running with Marguerite’s bib, it was good for a 4th place female finish out of 1000+, and 34th overall out of 1550.
I had about 40 minutes before the 10k started, so I had my servings of ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits (which helped with soreness and recovery) as well as two bottles of water. As always, no stomach issues whatsoever with the fueling plan.
I met up with Dani of Weight Off My Shoulders who was part of the Runner’s World blogger group. It was fun to meet some of the people I’ve tweeted with so many times but had never met in person. All of the bloggers got to run all 3 races, and also joined us at November Project on Friday!
It got quite a bit warmer between the 5k and 10k start. 5 minutes prior to the race I had another serving of bits to get me ready for the next 6.2 miles ahead. This would be an out and back along Heartbreak Hill. I ran 3 miles or so with a new friend from November Project, which made the miles go by quickly. I picked up the pace after the 3rd mile, as we turned and headed back uphill. The training over the last 6 months on Summit Ave were perfect preparation for this race weekend… I can’t imagine how tough it would’ve been without all those cold mornings on Summit Ave this winter.
I cruised along at a mid 7 minute mile pace, and saw one of our ambassadors at mile 5. We decided to catch up after the race.
As we reached the top of the last segment of Heartbreak Hill, I felt like I had a little extra left in the tank, so I decided to push it. After turning off the Carriageway on Commonwealth Ave onto the main part of the street, I broke into an all out sprint for the finish, which was probably 500 meters away. I crossed in 47:38, almost exactly two minutes slower than my PR, but I was pleased with my effort given how hot it was.
After hanging out for a bit, I decided to walk a bit of the way home before getting on the train. I ended up walking from Boston College to Cleveland Circle (a mile?). As I crossed the street, a runner passed me and looked back. She asked if I had any ENERGYbits on me, because she’d heard about them before. She happened to also be from November Project, so we talked for a bit. She then asked if I wanted to keep running… Can’t turn that down. Ended up doing another 1.5 miles with her, and found out we went to the same summer camp. Small world.
I’m registered for the Pan Mass Challenge this summer, which is a 192 mile charity bike ride to raise money to help fight cancer. I’m seriously slacking on time on the bike, so I had promised my dad I’d ride with him in the afternoon. I went to my parents house, napped and headed out for 20 miles on the bike. This may have been overdoing it juuust a little bit.
Sunday morning seemed to be even warmer than Saturday. I had the exact same breakfast and headed to BC for the half marathon. I got a little ambitious and lined up with the 1:30 pace group (which would have been a HUGE PR). I ran both the first two miles sub-7 and thought I had a chance at keeping up. At around mile 3.5 I realized how foolish I had been to go out so fast, especially after Saturday’s events. I couldn’t believe I still had another 10 miles to go.
I ran a bit with a few of the Runner’s World and Running Times staff/editors. Such friendly people! They seemed to move around from group to group asking all sorts of questions and telling stories.
Around mile 5, as we were heading down Heartbreak Hill (opposite the marathon route) I saw Shalane pass me again. I tried to catch up to her to tell her about yesterday and thank her for (probably) unknowingly pacing me to a great finish, but I couldn’t catch her. Even on the downhill.
Around mile 5.5 I had an electrolyte packet which immediately gave me a side stitch for the next 3.5 miles. I’m still experimenting with electrolytes, so please let me know what works for you!
Mile 6-10 absolutely sucked. No other way to describe it. I wanted it all to be over and I even thought about giving up. Every time I have this thought, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with elite triathlete Mark Kleanthous who says whenever you’ve had a rough race or run, think of those that can’t run or do sport at all. Run it for them.
No matter how awful you feel on a run, it’s not permanent. You will finish, and the next time will be better. Don’t. Stop. Moving. Seemingly right when I needed it most, Danny Bent (co-leader of One Run For Boston) appeared out of nowhere. Wearing his One Run shirt and underwear-like red shorts, Danny’s ridiculously positive vibe gave me the boost I needed to keep moving. We chatted for a half mile or so and then he kept on moving. Mile 11 brought with it Heartbreak Hill and the steepest and hottest part of the route. We were headed straight uphill, with no shade. Tremendous respect for anyone who’s done the Boston Marathon. Those hills were rough.
I met Megan, another Runner’s World reporter around mile 11 and we chatted for a bit. We both agreed that more water stops were necessary, especially on such a hot day. I was trying to give Megan motivation, but I think it was as much for her as it was for myself. I needed something to keep my mind off how awful I felt, so talking and running definitely helped. The last mile of Heartbreak seemed like it was never going to end, and my mile split dropped 3 full minutes from my first mile.
Steven, my coach, said I should race the 5k and 10k and then just have fun in the half. I felt like I ran an absolutely horrible race, but ended up with a decent time (Marguerite PR’d by 12:13!) and more importantly, I had a good amount of fun out on the course for the half, since there were so many November Project and other friends out there. Such a big difference from the last race out in Western Mass.
Somehow again at the top of that last hill, I found something left in the tank and sprinted towards the finish line, crossing in 1:47 (absolutely no idea how that happened). I collected my medals and wandered around for a while and then headed to brunch to finish off a great weekend.
I’ve only been serious about running for just over two years now, which to me means more than a run every couple of weeks. I got into running after being inspired by the atmosphere surrounding the One Run For Boston, and then took it to the next level when I began running with November Project.
Since then, I’ve had two stress fractures and some severe hip, knee and ankle pains. After I failed to make it to the starting line of my first half marathon due to a stress fracture from over training, I decided it was time to start working with a coach.
I had considered using one of the traditional marathon training plans but decided with my injury history, that might still be taking a risk that could potentially cause me to miss another couple of months. Working with a coach allows for changes to happen to account for how you feel on a specific day or week, which is a flexibility a traditional running program does not allow for. This was probably the best part of working with a coach. If I was feeling particularly sore or in a little more pain than expected, Steven would adjust accordingly and give me tips on how to recover.
My coach says that his job is “to take the thinking out of running.” He tells me what to do, and I do it. I had never been too serious about running, yet I was still over training and hurting myself as a result. I didn’t know how to run intelligently, which was the main issue.
After recovering from my stress fracture, I began working with Steven Stam on building back up a base level. We eased into it to avoid re-injury. At times, I wanted to push myself further and run longer, but I had instructions on what exact distance to run from someone who was much more knowledgeable about what could happen.
For my marathon, Steven wrote me 3 different phases plus a base phase prior to getting started. This was about 20 weeks in total. Once we got a few weeks into it, training included a couple days of speed work, recovery runs, a hill repeat day (45 minutes worth) and a long run.
@JWLevitt I think you know my answer to this…already love my coach's customized plan that will push me way harder than I would myself
— Jana (@NanasforBalance) May 30, 2014
Like Jana, I don’t know that I would’ve pushed myself this hard (certainly not as intelligently) without Steven. I would often have questions about specific workouts/recovery time/interval times during the workout, and I would message Steven and he would respond quickly with exactly what I needed to know.
In April 2013 I ran 13.1 miles in exactly 2 hours. This was also the day I got my first stress fracture due to over training. 11 months later, I ran my first official half marathon (race) in 1:37. I had been working with Steven for a little over 3 months at this point, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the speed work he had me doing (plus the hills with NP… it was a VERY hilly course) attributed to a 23 minute PR.
I had another major PR as a result of the speed work/training with Steven. Last fall I ran a 23 minute 5k, which was my current PR. One day I had a 3 mile tempo run scheduled that I was feeling particularly good during, so I decided to extend it an additional .1 miles. I ended up with a 19:12 5k, nearly 3 minutes faster than just a few months earlier, which was before I started doing speed work.
July 2014 update: I ran the same race as the time I ran another 19:12 5k, and hit 18:55.
September 2014 update: ran the same race, hit 18:42.
October 2014 update: new half marathon PR by 9 minutes, 1:28:43
November 2014 update: PR’d 5k 3 times, at 18:12, 17:56 and then finally 17:42.
There’s absolutely no better feeling than seeing results from the hard work you put in.
Bottom line, if you’re looking to hit a specific time goal/qualify for Boston/stop getting injured (if that is a problem for you) I would 100% recommend working with a coach.
Interested in working with Steven? Tweet at him or message me and I’d be happy to make an intro.
— Stamgator (@Stamgator) May 30, 2014
Heard some more news about a friend with cancer today. Puts a whole lot of things into perspective…
Fuck cancer, it’s getting too personal. This is why I ride the Pan-Mass Challenge. It’s not just a bike ride anymore. The miles seem easy compared to what the little girl at the water stop with a sign that says “I’m alive because of what you are all doing” is going through. Or the 70 year old survivor bringing you a cup of water when you’re thirsty at the last water stop. Or the woman standing at the top of a giant hill at mile 170, who has no hair left, after going through chemo with a sign that says “Thank you for riding.”
Every mile brings us closer to a world without cancer and supports those affected.
Please consider joining in on the fight. Our goal this year is $40 million. Every penny counts. My personal donation page can be found here
There’s a good chance you’ve seen me post/talk about November Project. (If you haven’t, it might be the greatest thing ever, #JustShowUp) NP is definitely the most motivating group of people I’ve ever met.
In person fitness communities are awesome, but did you know there are groups that exist online that can be just as motivating and inspiring?
— Erin Kreitz Shirey (@powerfitness) May 28, 2014
I love how online fitness communities allow for people with really specific interests to connect #poweredbybits
— Amanda Kelly (@MissMass_2009) May 28, 2014
My last post was all about “Making the Most of Twitter Chats,” which are becoming more and more popular these days. Twitter chats allow for communities to exist online without people ever actually meeting in person. I participate in a half dozen or so each week, for ENERGYbits as well as my own personal enjoyment and benefit. Some of my favorites include chats about plant-based running, healthy living, and running in general.
Why are these online fitness communities so popular? People can share their successes which can be inspiring to others. After seeing so many tweets about people running marathons and crushing races, I decided to go for it myself! I was inspired by hearing about how successful other people have been and am hoping to pay it forward.
@JWLevitt for the connection to other people like me, challenging ourselves and sharing our adventures together! Instant friendships!
— Runner Blogger AZ (@runblogaz) May 22, 2014
— Kelly Caiazzo (@iamrunningthis) May 22, 2014
Like Kelly said, many people enjoy being involved in these communities so they can learn how they can improve and ask for help when there’s something that’s been challenging them.
There are plenty of other communities that exist outside of the Twitter chats. Another one you can participate in is #FurtherFasterForever, which got started on Instagram as a way to inspire people to train and race faster and for longer distances. People are constantly searching the #FurtherFasterForever photos and commenting on each others’ photos and training progress. F3 has grown so large that they have meet ups at races, and I even heard of a couple getting engaged after “meeting” via the online posting.
There are plenty of other, similar communities such as FitFluential, Girls Gone Sporty, Sweatpink, #PoweredByBits and many others, where there’s more to the community than just an associated chat. All of those communities have brand ambassador programs associated with them, where members receive some sort of benefit for being a part of the community.
What are your favorite online communities to be a part of?
Twitter chats offer a unique opportunity. You can connect with like-minded people across the world, all at your finger tips. For individuals, this offers an opportunity to learn about what’s working for other people, or share your own thoughts on a specific topic. For a brand, this offers a chance to connect with potential customers and engage in a real conversation with them.
But first… What is a twitter chat?
A twitter chat usually takes place over a one hour period, with a set topic and a moderator, and often a guest host. Anywhere from 5-10+ questions will be asked over the course of the hour, and the conversation begins from there. Often, there are follow up questions asked based on how the conversation is going.
Questions are preceded by Q1, Q2, etc., and as a way to keep the conversation a little clearer, it’s best to include A1, A2, etc., before your answer to that specific question number as well. Many people like to retweet the questions to increase the reach of the chat, as someone browsing their own twitter timeline is more likely to join in if they know what the conversation is all about.
Q5: What are your fatigue fighting tips? #poweredbybits
— Emily (@emkslone) May 14, 2014
Some of the chats can move pretty quickly and have hundreds of people involved! How do you make the most of a Twitter chat, especially when the tweets start flying by? I use a website called Tweetchat.com (or twubs.com when in a larger chat like #runchat, as you can slow down the refresh rate of the tweets). These sites automatically include the hashtag and refreshes so that the tweets flow like a conversation. You’re also able to highlight the moderator (or anyone) so that their tweets stand out.
Why join in on a twitter chat?
There are thousands of twitter chat topics, but the ones I focus on are the ones related to health, fitness and social media. I participate as a way to learn more about what’s been working for other people, as well as to share what I have learned from my experiences.
For an individual, this provides the chance to learn about products and services that you might not otherwise have considered as a way to improve your performance/training/life in general. You never know who’s tuned in to the chat – it could be your neighbor, future boss, or newest online friend.
If you’ve recently published something related to the topic of the chat or a specific question, sharing it at the appropriate time is a great way to have more people see your post!
For a brand, this means the opportunity to interact with highly engaged consumers looking for new things, at a time and place that they’re ready to learn. The problem is, it’s a delicate process, since you don’t want to come off as being pushy and sales-y, but rather focusing on building a real, genuine relationship instead.
A3: I find I can get the best product and technology recommends and and reviewed from my online fitness friends! #PoweredByBits
— Amanda Kelly (@MissMass_2009) May 28, 2014
Just getting started? Try just following along with the moderator and answering the questions. Once you’re comfortable with that, try using Tweetchat so you can engage with others involved in the chat too!
Personally, I’ve developed and manage several regular twitter chats. My top focus is the weekly #PoweredByBits chat every Tuesday at 8EST, which is co-hosted by one of our brand ambassadors, focusing on a different health and fitness topic each week.
Another chat I’ve co-managed with my friend Remi for about 3 years now is #SportJC. I started Sport Job Chat in the spring of my senior year, with the goal of having it help me find a job. It’s aimed for students and those aimed at breaking into the sports business world. We ask questions about the interview process, internships/jobs, classes, resumes and anything related to the job hunt. We’ve had recruiters from ESPN and many sports teams and brands join in, and quite a few people have interviewed and got jobs/internships as a result of the connections made in the chat.
Essentially, twitter chats allow for hyper-focused, high-speed networking. What are your favorite chats to join in on? Tweet me your favorites or respond in the comments!
Here’s a list of a few that I enjoy joining in on:
#RunChat 10pm 1st/3rd, 8pm 2nd/4th Sunday
#VegRunChat 9pm – all about plant based running/fitness
#HealthyWayMag 8pm: health/fitness
#BitsOfHealth 9pm 1st Monday: health/fitness
#PoweredByBits 8pm: Co-hosted by an ENERGYbits brand ambassador. Health/fitness topics
#BibChat 9pm: running/racing
#TeamBits: 8pm: Co-hosted by an elite/pro athlete who’s part of the ENERGYbits team
#WellnessChat 8pm: health focused chat
(All times ET)
27 Things I Learned Running My First Marathon
- Figure out nutrition and hydration very early on – figure out what you’re going to carry, and how you’re going to carry it. I had a mini-emergency when I switched up my source of calories two weeks before the race and hadn’t tested out what I was going to carry on more than a 10 miler. That made for a very stressful couple of trips to the running store. I switched to UCAN as my source of calories in addition to ENERGYbits as fuel, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to carry it. I bought an 8-ounce flask and was going to carry two servings in it, but I lost it the week before the race. I ended up with 2, 2-oz gel containers, which was less than ideal, but got the job done.
- Don’t forget electrolytes too – this was my one hydration/fueling mistake. I carried two electrolyte packs (Vega/UCAN make good ones) but only remembered to take one. I ended the race with yellow salt streaks all over my face and shirt. If you’re running a local race and have the convenience of a blender and refrigerator the night before, try this “Real Sports Drink” recipe from Julieanna Hever, The Plant Based Dietitian.
- Flat runner pictures are fun to take and even more important the morning of race day. If you lay everything out the night before, there’s a good chance you’ll remember everything you need.
- Don’t skimp on building up a base before you get into serious training. This was my issue last year that led to a stress fracture and a cancelled half marathon. I spent 2 months building a base this year while working with a coach before getting into the serious training cycle.
- Hit the track – hard. Speed work is important for getting faster, but the mental training it provides is almost even more important. There’s no better feeling than crushing a tough workout that you felt like giving up on. When I was struggling at mile 24, I thought of the 12x400m session and how it was uncomfortable during, but felt awesome afterwards.
- Pick a running mantra – I hadn’t been wearing my LIVESTRONG bracelet for a couple years now, but I threw it back on prior to my race as a reminder. Say what you will about Lance Armstrong, but the guy knows a think or two about motivation. Lance said “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.” This helped me last year during the Pan Mass Challenge before a particularly rough hill at mile 170, and helped again during my marathon when I was ready to give up when staring down 2 miles of hills to the finish.
- Pick a few races to run as training runs during your program. Have a goal and aim to crush it – it’ll help build confidence!
- Run with friends – find a local running group that you can get your easy recovery runs in with, or if you’re lucky, the hard ones. I was fortunate enough to be able to run hills every Friday morning with 200 friends.
- Laugh at the signs and thank the spectators. My two favorites were “Press here for a power up” and “Smile if you just pooped a little”
- Runners are anything but normal. See my last post.
- Runners are willing to do anything for performance, even if it means an upset stomach later on. But there are alternatives. Again, see my last post for my fueling plan – I had no hunger, GI issues, cramping or bloating during or after my run.
- Go out slow – I made this mistake and only slightly paid for it, but it could have been a lot worse. I was over 1:00/mile faster than I had planned for the first 10 miles, but you have a goal pace for a reason.
- DON’T JUST RUN – I think this may be my most important tip. I incorporated 1-3 days of strength training for about 2 months of my 5-month program, but I could’ve done with a lot more. More squatting means stronger knees, hips and ankles, which are critical for distance running, especially if hills are involved.
- Learn to set night–time alarms – if you set an alarm for 9:30 or 10pm to remind you to go to bed it’ll be a lot easier to roll out of bed at 5am for the early morning runs
- Train hills.
- Find the start line the day before if possible – the race I ran didn’t list an address for the start line. I was given a map and was told to show up at 7am the next day. It took us 25 minutes longer than expected to find the location the afternoon prior, which would’ve meant I missed the beginning of the race.
- If you can, train with a coach. This was the single best choice I made with my training. I worked with Steven Stam, a running coach from Florida who wrote me a base phase as well as 3 training cycles worth. He altered the program based on things that came up and coached me every step of the way. Working with a coach is the best way to get faster, avoid injury and ensure a great race day. Tweet @stamgator on Twitter if you’re interested in learning more, and let him know I sent you.
- Eat to perform, and remember to eat to recover too. You just ran 26.2 miles. You just subjected your body to quite a bit of stress – time to help it heal. I went with a loaded burrito bowl (extra guac, grilled shrimp) for my post race meal, but not before I had a few extra ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits to speed the recovery process. The combination of this plant-based approach ensures that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to begin to repair itself and reduce inflammation – the cause of soreness and aches. As I write this, it’s Tuesday morning and I’m ready to run again.
- Tweet/Post about your successes. Putting it out online is the best way to hold yourself accountable, and you also never know who you’re inspiring.
- Recruit some friends to join you along the course – seeing a familiar face can give you a boost that no amount of fuel can provide, especially if it’s at the bottom of a big hill or right as you’re nearing your 20th mile. If they can run with you, even better. Be sure to thank them for joining you.
- No matter what, just keep moving. I stopped once or twice for water and it took me out of rhythm. Even if you walk through a water stop, or need to run/walk, just keep moving.
- Own a foam roller and lacrosse ball and use them both as often as possible. The lacrosse ball helps with your hips and the foam roller helps with… everything else.
- Have a song on your playlist that doesn’t fit but pick it intentionally. Use it as a pick-me-up. On my mostly country running playlist, my pick-me-up song was Timber. It made me laugh and sing along momentarily when it came on. #shameless
- If your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. I was terrified of the distance when I signed up for my race. As long as you train smart, that’s where the real gains happen.
- When the running gets tough – think of those that aren’t able to run or do sport at all. Dedicate those tough miles to them.
- Enjoy it.
- BONUS: Run the shortest route along all corners. If you don’t, you may run quite a bit extra. I ended up running 27 miles instead of 26.2