Author Archive | Henry Howard

Runner Returns to Marathons After Heart Attack

Marc PesseMarc Pesse, who played rugby while attending his university in Switzerland, enjoyed the pre-training runs. He even considered himself a casual runner for several years.

But then his priorities shifted: heavy travel demands from his job and then starting a family. The combination of added stress and limited exercise took its toll, and Pesse decided to embrace running again in 2011 “to shed some of the accumulated weight and spend some time with myself.”

Not only did he rediscover his love of running and lose weight, Pesse found that the physical activity helped him “function properly socially and professionally. There is a meditative quality to running outdoors which I find truly regenerative.” Continue Reading →

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How to Crush Those New Year’s Resolutions

By Henry Howard

Each year the most popular New Year’s resolutions revolve around health and fitness: Eat more healthfully, lose weight, work out regularly, start running, etc. Vows proclaimed before the new year dawns often don’t outlast winter.

In fact, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.

While runners have integrated training into their lifestyles, they can also fall short of their goals due to family obligations, work commitments, lack of motivation or other issues.

Whether runners are revealing resolutions, creating race calendars, plotting epic challenges, or outlining their goals for 2018, the coaches at Marathon Training Academy (MTA) offer some sound advice on how to be successful. Continue Reading →

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Meet New MTA Coach Dominique Hamel

The globe-trotting ultra marathoner brings a wealth of experience and similar coaching philosophy to the Marathon Training Academy coaching group.

Sports had always been a part of Dominique Hamel’s life. Collegiate soccer. Basketball AAA.

Then life took over and she became busy with her three daughters and career, working as an economist with the Canadian government. She felt overweight and exhausted.

Thanks to a friend’s inspiration, Hamel took up running and has now finished nearly 60 marathons and 13 ultras. Now, the newest Marathon Training Academy coach is looking to inspire other runners. Continue Reading →

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MTA: Where Coaching and Camaraderie Meet

Pat McCainPat McCain has achieved running goals and embraced a new family of runners in the Marathon Training Academy.

Pat McCain ran in college because it was required.

“Running was not something I chose to do but rather forced to do,” McCain recalled. “I remember the first time I ran — I couldn’t even make a mile!” After joining the Air Force in 1988, he continued running. “You might say that I have been forced to run for almost 30 years!”

But it wasn’t until recently when McCain embraced coaching and the Marathon Training Academy, both of which helped him achieve what he once thought was impossible. Continue Reading →

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How to Train for Your First 50-Mile Race

Henry Howard, runnerBeyond the physical training, be sure to train your mind, lock in your nutrition and adhere to good recovery methods.

By Henry Howard

As the participation in marathon running continues to grow, the popularity of ultra marathons also is increasing.

Last year, I completed my first and second ultras, both 50Ks. As I planned out my race calendar for 2017, I set a goal to finish my first 50-miler and found the American River 50, a beautiful, well-organized race in California.

Registering for the 50-mile race on www.ultrasignup.com was the easy part. As I looked ahead to this challenge, Marathon Training Academy Coach Angie Spencer and I set out to craft a solid plan to get my body, mind, nutrition and recovery in prime shape. Continue Reading →

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Meet New MTA Coach Steve Waldon

The marathoner and ultra runner brings a passion for life-long running to the Marathon Training Academy community.

By Henry Howard

The closest Steve Waldon got to sweating as an athlete growing up was playing billiards for money.

In his late 20s, Waldon knew he needed a change and found the joy and camaraderie of running. Starting out with 5Ks, he has gone on to finish 20 marathons and 15 ultras, including a 100K in the Bavarian Alps and two 155-mile stage races (one in Chile and the other in Iceland).

Now, he brings his passion for life-long running as the newest coach for Marathon Training Academy. Continue Reading →

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Race Review: American River 50 Miler

I’ll never forget my first 50-miler, its amazing views, helpful aid station workers or the final 3-mile uphill slog.

By Henry Howard

The American River 50 proved itself to be an epic race, an ultra where mid-packers and back-of-the-packers can literally line up and run next to well-known ultra runners.

The AR50 was my first 50-miler and one I would recommend to others looking for their firsts finish at that distance. (The event also offers a 25-mile distance.) Continue Reading →

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From 400 pounds to his fourth Boston Marathon

Jason Pina with Angie Spencer at the 2015 Boston Marathon

*Editor’s note: When Angie ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 Jason and his lovely wife Shai hosted us in their home. We also got to meet the fine folks at Tenacity (the charity Jason runs for) who are doing great work for Boston kids! -Trevor

Jason Pina had a secret dream. It was so secret he didn’t even tell his wife, Shai, who he had been with for almost 25 years. When Pina announced his quest — running a marathon — Shai knew that her husband would accomplish it even though he wasn’t a runner and had once weighed 400 pounds. Continue Reading →

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Which compression pants are the best?

By Henry Howard

Several years ago on the day before one of my fall marathons, the forecast drastically changed. I don’t recall the exact specifics anymore but the cold and snow/rain predictions changed my race day plans from shorts to long pants.

At the time, I only had sweatpants and didn’t want to run a race wearing those. Setting aside the rule of “nothing new on race day,” I favored protection from the elements. I bought my first pair of compression tights (or pants) that suited me well for the day, which was cold with freezing rain.

Since then, I have expanded my collection of compression tights and tested them. Here is a comparison review of the three that I currently use for workouts and recovery. Continue Reading →

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How to Recover from a Hilly, Technical Ultra

The Bel Monte Endurance Races present a challenging, beautiful course for runners. Here are some ways to heal from endurance events with hilly courses.

By Henry Howard

The Bel Monte Endurance Races offer a 25K, 50K and 50-miler for those wanting to explore beautiful mountains in northern Virginia.

But check the fine print — the 50K is a 17-mile out-and-back course, meaning runners will do closer to a 55K by the time they cross the finish line. (The turnaround point for the 50-miler was at 26.2 miles.)

Regardless of the actual length — my watch counted 34.8 miles for the 50K — it’s an epic run with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation change. Such a race means recovery is key, especially when it’s a training run for my first 50-miler three weeks later. Continue Reading →

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Finding Jenn Shelton

photo credit: Jenn Shelton @sheltonjenn

She was the gifted, fearless wild child featured in “Born to Run.” Fourteen years later, Shelton still leads a “crazy life,” following her passion in pursuit of the next endurance challenge.

By Henry Howard

Jenn Shelton became well known for her appearance in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book about ultra running, “Born to Run.”

In the years since the book was published, Shelton has matured but still embraces a Bohemian lifestyle as evidenced in the new documentary, “Outside Voices.” 


At the end of the documentary, Shelton is in her small van under a moonlight sky. She’s on her cell phone, learning Italian. It concludes, with her repeating a translation, “You do not know who I am.” Continue Reading →

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How to Train for Marathons While Traveling

I am writing this while literally 30,000 feet in the air.

It’s been a busy week of travel — Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., then back home for an 11-hour layover (seriously) before flying Wednesday to Las Vegas, where I worked — and exercised — until returning home Friday.

Traveling for work is not unusual for me. As a runner, I have learned how to properly prepare for maintaining my workout schedule whether I am on the island of Puerto Rico, in the mountains of Colorado or in chilly Des Moines in January. (Yes, I have been all of those places in the past year.) Continue Reading →

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