Photo courtesy Mountain to Valley Races.

1) Fontana Days Run Half Marathon • Fontana, CA

Recognized as “the world’s fastest half marathon course” by USA Track & Field back in 1985, the Fontana Days Run takes about 2,000 runners on a fast downhill course that starts in Lytle Creek and finishes at Fontana’s City Hall.

Sat, Jun 3 • Race info & signup »

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Courtesy Encinitas Half Marathon

“That, perhaps, is the essence of the running experience for me… The lack of anxiety, the complete acceptance, the letting go and the faith that all will be well. In running, I feel free. I have no other goal, no other reward. The running is its own reason for being.” — George Sheehan

1) 26.2 With Donna Half Marathon • Jacksonville, FL

One of my favorite races runs this weekend, a 13.1-miler that features more than a mile along the beach and raises money for a great cause — to help those fighting breast cancer today and for research to find new ways to combat it.

Sun, Feb 12 • Race info & signup »

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© Uptall |

You’ve found a goal race and trained for it.  You put it in the effort, but for some reason, you didn’t PR.

You don’t know why.  After resting and recovering, you’ve picked out a new race and are ready to train smarter for your next race.  After running over 30 half marathons, I’ve found a few sneaky things that could have affected race day results.

So why didn’t you PR?

1) You’re training too fast

Unless it’s a workout, you aren’t supposed to race your training runs.  For example, most elite runners run their easy runs 1.5 to 2 minutes slower than race pace.

I’m not an elite, but I’m no stranger to running easy runs 2+ minutes slower than race pace.  To be honest, it’s relaxing, and I recover faster.  If you run easy runs too fast, then you won’t recover for races and workouts.

It might feel as though you are not training effectively, but easy runs are supposed to be just that, easy!  Many new runners make the mistake of running every run too fast or at race pace.  They end up injured, burnt out or hating the sport. 

Another important point is that easy runs also help keep you healthy.  My first running related injury, a tibia stress fracture, came from running my easy runs way too hard.  My body didn’t recover each day.

One technique I’ve found to run easier is to leave the watch at home.  Running without a watch takes the pressure off comparing pace and time.

2) You race your workouts

Can you see a trend that running slower is a key to many people’s improvement?  

Every workout should not be a max effort.  Your body won’t recover when you need it most, your race! Workouts are exactly that – workouts. If you run every workout hard, you will leave yourself too tired for the rest of training.  You’ll be too tired to race at your maximum effort pace.

3) You struggle mentally

Running is just as mental as it is physical.  As a runner, it’s important to have mental toughness.  If you don’t believe you’ll PR, then you won’t.

Mental toughness isn’t just during a race. It means being strong throughout training and getting out on runs that you don’t want to.

Some days we are tired, have a lot going on or have to run at a time we don’t want to.  Those training days are also included in being mentally healthy.

It takes just as much mental toughness to train in bad weather or non-ideal conditions. 

4) You struggle with nutrition

When you run, you burn more calories. 

When you burn more calories, you can eat more. 

However, many runners don’t realize you can’t eat everything you see!  Filling yourself on good quality nutritious foods is important. 

Am I saying to skip dessert every single day?  Absolutely not! 

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“Through running we learn about succeeding and failing, about reaching past the probable and accomplishing the impossible. The struggle to find one’s potential as a runner is the most frustratingly satisfying pursuit that many of us ever undertake.” — John Bingham & Jenny Hadfield

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It’s a very rare day you’ll see me running after about 8 am. In fact, most of my runs are start around 5:30 and frankly, I like it. It’s the time I set myself up for the day.

Whether I’m working or spending the following 8 hours on the couch, I am up early running.

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Any runner can tell you that an injury can be devastating. I’ve had my fair share of injuries from a stress fracture, to plantar fasciitis to lingering hip issues. It’s never fun to be sidelined from anything you love, but you can come back stronger than ever.

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So you’ve been bitten by the running bug, have you?

As we ring in the New Year, many runners create different goals and resolutions. Maybe you started a fitness journey, or maybe you’re a seasoned 5k veteran but whatever your thought process is, you have decided to run your very first half marathon.

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© lzf |

So maybe you’ve decided to make your New Years Resolution to start running. That is great and welcome to the community! Like everything, we all started as beginners somewhere.

It doesn’t matter if you recently walked your first 5K, or whether you’ve completed 100 marathons. We all started as beginners as we entered this crazy world called running.

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The starting line at the Surf City USA Half Marathon. (Photo courtesy RaceForce)

1) Surf City USA Half Marathon • Huntington Beach, CA

Run mostly along the beaches of Southern California’s Pacific Coast Highway at this late winter race, considered one of the country’s best thanks to its gorgeous oceanfront views and a beautiful stretch through an ecological reserve in its middle miles.

Feb 5, 2017 • Race info & signup »

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Photo courtesy Dreamstime

Now that the new year is here, it’s time to get busy. What runner doesn’t want to become faster, train harder or improve? Our sport is so great because there are so many different options, methods and areas to focus on.

Make 2017 your best year of running yet by considering one of these new year’s resolutions:

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