The Secret Gifts of Summer Running

By Jackie Howard, TST Coach

Oooof!  The blistering heat of central Texas is definitely upon us!  Having just returned to Austin after being abroad for 1 month, it is a bit of a shocker and a reminder about all the things that make running in the summer special, tough, and ultimately so rewarding!  Stick with me now, I know many of you are eye-rolling because summer running is miserable and how can there possibly be any real silver lining to this madness, right?  Wrong!

Your Future Self Will Thank You

The first golden nugget of what makes summer running so special is that summer miles pay off.  Always.  Forget about pace, because when that first cool autumn morning rolls around your same summer effort will result in much faster paces.  Trust the process.  It’s true. You just WILL be faster for having trudged through the summer heat and humid mornings.  Your body will thank you for your hard work because everything will feel and be SO much easier later!  


I know sometimes we get so tied down to our watches and paces and we have a specific time goal in mind, but the effort your body is exerting in the summer is all that counts.   Your cells don’t know miles and paces.  They know effort and time.  Don’t worry about easy pace (or any pace)!  Worry about easy EFFORT (or goal pace effort). The best of athletes know their body’s effort so well they don’t even need to look at their watches.  You don’t see the elite marathoners checking their watches during their race.  It is important to connect your mind to your body to understand what your different effort levels are and run based on these different effort levels during the heat of the day.  Think of effort using the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (see image).   Your easy effort runs should be somewhere around 3-4.  Your goal pace effort should be around 6-7.  When doing speed work faster than goal pace, you will be closer to 8-9.   Thank you again summer running for allowing me this forced opportunity to tune in with my body’s effort and detach from the watch!

Slow Down

What does all this effort-based running really mean?  It means SLOW DOWN Y’ALL!  Your effort will equal slower miles and that is OKAY!  The gift of slower miles means more time on your feet, which in the marathon or half marathon is the very point of the long run.  Remember, your body knows time.  If you slow down you will gain more time running which trains your body for longer running!  Some days might be faster or slower than others, doesn’t matter.  Seriously.  I challenge you to slow down and not care!  IT’S OKAY! :) This is another chance to have an ounce of gratitude for the heat for forcing you to slow down and work on your endurance!  It will all pay off in the fall/winter I PROMISE!  

Just Plain Tough

Oh yeah, and your toughness factor certainly goes up a notch (or two or three) each time you conquer a summer run.  The mental strength gained by “being okay” with the discomforts of running in heat and humidity will serve you tremendously when dealing with the discomforts of the last 10k of a marathon.  You can quickly learn to push through the hurt when things feel “harder than they should” and this is something that will totally serve you for that fall or winter marathon or next big event.  The mental training when conditions are less than optimal is something you can’t create in a training plan - so “thank you summer for giving us a chance to work on our mental toughness!”

Summer running in all its misery is actually something that can provide incredible benefits when done properly.  Your future self will be faster, you can take the time to connect with your body’s effort levels, and learn to be okay with yourself when you run slower.  All of this amounts to a much tougher you and something that no training plan can create for you.  How we mentally approach these adverse conditions provided to us by the summer heat will result in an ability to overcome adversities in a race and give you an extra edge in the last brutal miles of your next big event.


Hi! I'm Coach Jackie

I have always enjoyed helping other people push themselves outside of their comfort zone, to grow and learn about themselves, and to reach just a little further than what they think is possible.  We all are extraordinary people with unrealized potential, and I consider myself quite fortunate to have an opportunity to work with the Twenty-Six Two organization and its community.


About Me


When I was about 8 years old my dad began incorporating running into his lifestyle, encouraging me and my sister to join him for casual 5K and 10K races here in Austin. As he began running longer runs, I would run along just to keep him company. In adolescence and college I found myself more committed to team sports (soccer, basketball, & ultimate frisbee), which really helped me understand the value of helping and coaching each other to work as a team. I really enjoyed this environment and in college I was in the right place at the right time to co-found, captain, and coach the first women's ultimate frisbee team at Kalamazoo College.


After college, I moved back to Austin and continued my involvement with the ultimate frisbee community for several years.  I help to organize and coach another ultimate Frisbee team, this time at my old high school. Things took a turn for me when I tore my MCL in an ultimate frisbee collision. During my slow recovery my activities were limited to running, biking, & swimming , to avoid lateral cutting and associated knee stresses. I took interest in triathlons and becoming a stronger runner.  As the years progressed, my sisters, dad and husband all began training for the Austin marathon and in pure FOMO fashion, I joined them for their long runs to keep them company.  They inspired me to sign up for my first half marathon - which quickly led to marathons and a trail 50K.

I worked hard with my running coaches at Rogue Running, paying close attention to the details laid out in the training plans, when to push myself, when to take it easy, how to listen to my body, and how to ride the emotional highs and lows of a training season. Running is complicated - mentally, physically, and emotionally - lots of moving parts! I like to step back, study the big picture, learn from personal experiences (either mine or from others) and then provide support in all of those areas to my friends and family with their training. Personally, I have worked hard for PRs and pushed myself to a BQ time of 3:34:07 and a 50K ultra.

My background in coaching is unconventional. It is influenced by my career choices as well as my hobbies.  I was the director of sports and games at a summer camp for 7-14 year-olds in New Hampshire throughout college.  Upon graduating, I became an elementary school teacher at a very high needs school. Teaching requires close observation, thorough planning, and inspiring children to set goals for themselves far beyond their schema to help them realize their potential. I naturally began informally leading and guiding many of the other teachers, leading me to become an Instructional Coach - mentoring and supporting, helping adults this time realize their potential as teachers. These principles apply to running, training, goal setting, and pushing our physical selves to perform what our mind does not always completely believe it is capable of doing. We will do this strategically, with patience and practice, tuning in and listening to our bodies to stay healthy and balanced.

 I am thrilled to begin this opportunity with Twenty-Six Two, and am looking forward to meeting with you. Please don't hesitate to say hello, ask me anything, and reach out with your questions, personal stories and concerns. Running with intention allows us all to learn more about ourselves in the toughest of moments as well as when we feel light, strong and confident. Onward!

Questions or want to say hello? Email Coach Jackie

Twenty-Six Two Announces New Coach as Club Expands and Improves Training Programs

Twenty-Six Two is planning some big changes ahead starting in April 2017 and moving into the fall/winter training and racing season. Building upon the success of TST's history of outstanding marathon training in a small, friendly, and family-like atmosphere, the club is elevating its personalized training programs to a new level!

As we add half-marathon training to our abundant list of marathon programs, we will also expand our first-timer program, move to an online training platform, and focus heavily on improving delivery and scope of our training plans to more runners in the Austin community. These are just a few of the changes and improvements that TST has planned for the future.

Coach Jackie Howard

Coach Jackie Howard

As we move into the 2017-18 season, TST is pleased to introduce our new coach, Jackie Howard. Jackie is a marathon veteran with a passion for guiding other runners with their own marathon training and racing. With her own marathon PR of 3:34, Jackie brings her enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience to TST as the club moves into a new era of expanded and improved training programs for both marathons and half-marathons.

In January of 2017, Jackie served as a TST Pacer at the 3M Half-Marathon. Prior to joining TST, Jackie trained with Rogue Running in Austin.

TST’s proven training programs are now moving to a new online training platform with Brooksee, LLC, a company that produces endurance events throughout the United States and which has hired TST’s former coach, Paul Carmona, as its coach for Brooksee’s Online Coaching Program. Over the past year, Coach Paul has trained over 100 runners from numerous states via the Brooksee programs, including for the Boston Marathon and for the Revel Racing series. This is in addition to the hundreds of runners whom Paul has coached since TST’s foundation in 2004.

Going forward, TST will offer 24-week marathon and half-marathon training for races throughout the year. All of TST’s training programs will be launched through the Brooksee Online Coaching platform, which offers an interactive training calendar and log, weekly notes, online training videos and pace calculators, and a message center for communicating with coaches.

TST will continue its tradition of offering top-quality marathon training programs, and will now include fully-coached half-marathon training. In addition, the club will continue its weekly group long runs and group track/hill workouts. Also, TST will carry on its first-timer program, which has been a mainstay of TST’s programs since 2004.

Please join me in welcoming Coach Jackie to our TST family, and in thanking Coach Paul for his past service as TST’s coach for the past 13 years.  TST looks forward to an exciting year ahead as the club expands its training programs under new coaching with Coach Jackie Howard and new online training programs developed by Coach Paul Carmona.


Kara Levy, TST President

Don't Be A Running Lemming

Hey, Coach...I have heard you say to "run with a purpose" when I am training for a race.  What do you mean? Can't I just join up with a running group and do whatever they're doing while I follow a simple training plan from a book or online source?

The folk stories about lemmings (small rodents) jumping off cliffs in some sort of bizarre mass suicide are just that - folk stories.  However, lemmings often migrate in huge packs, and the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia sometimes do reach cliffs, stop, and then leap into the sea to continue their innate urge to migrate.  As they swim across the sea, some drown as they mindlessly swim onward.

So what’s a “running lemming,” you ask?  That is a runner who mindlessly runs with a group for a workout, sometimes pushing himself or herself much too hard, just because “that’s what the group is doing today.”  While there are certainly many benefits to running with groups -- and definitely that is true with a group that has a common training objective -- runners should consider several factors before jumping into a training group.

What Are You Training For?

Unless you are running “just to run,” you are probably training for a specific race, or a series of races.  In that case, every workout in your training schedule should have a certain purpose.  If you are in the beginning stages of your “base” period, there really is no room for track intervals or high-intensity hill repeats.  Likewise, if you are in the “building” weeks before a marathon, your training should have a good amount of threshold training, or “stamina” work, instead of short bursts of speed that are favored by many running groups on a track.

Many runners don’t follow any specific training plan at all, but merely design their training – for whatever distance they are targeting – based on these targets:

• weekly mileage

• weekend long run

• “intensity” work once or twice a week

Although this kind of training can help runners complete a goal race, it usually is not focused enough to yield optimal results.

The better method - and one that is “tried and true” in the running world - is to follow a training plan that (1) specifically targets a goal race, (2) sets key periods for different types of workouts, and (3) lays out very focused workouts that are designed with you and your optimal training pace in mind.  With that type of training plan in hand, a runner who shows up for group workouts just to "do what the group is doing" will quickly realize that those workouts don’t fit into the schedule.

Listen To The Experts.

If you are a runner who is training for a specific race, and you’ve never consulted any of the materials written by Pfitzinger, Daniels, McMillan, Higdon, Lydiard, or any of the other experts out there - do it soon.  Although the methods advanced by each of these experts sometimes vary, you will no doubt learn something important from their writings.

Take a look at the training plans that the experts have developed.  Do you see high intensity work (track/speed work and hill repeats) twice a week for 10, 15 or 20 weeks in any of them?  No.  What you will see are very specific plans that are deeply focused on proper training pace, the corresponding training “zone” on the calendar, and the overall goal of getting the runner prepared for the particular race – and pace – for which the training plan has been designed.

There are reasons why the experts don’t recommend seriously fast speed work followed by very hard hill repeats two or three days later.  Rest assured that the experts would advise against that sort of training.

Don’t Forget About Injury Risks.

Training plans do include intensity work, but usually the overall volume decreases (meaning the total number of weekly miles drops) or else remains flat in comparison to the linear or stair-stepped increases in mileage that are common in the base periods.

Also, the training periods that contain very high intensity work are typically much shorter than the base period.  For example, a 16-week base period might be followed by a 5-week period that includes a lot of speed or hill work, but overall less mileage.  In addition, the frequency of workouts might decrease slightly, meaning that you will run fewer days each week than during your base phase. 

The reason for this is simple - your body needs more time to recover from the demands of high intensity workouts.  If you go out without direction into a training group week after week, month after month, “hitting it hard” two or more times a week, your chances of injury increase with every workout.

So, Am I Supposed to Quit My Running Group?

Absolutely not.  Running groups provide terrific support, offer many sources of shared information and wisdom, and create opportunities to meet and learn from other runners.  However, it is important not to fall into a “pack” mentality where you “do what the group is doing” just because that’s what everyone else is doing. 

If you are “running just to run,” and you like the security and social offerings of a group, then by all means lace up your shoes and go run.  Just remember to give yourself some recovery time on a regular basis, especially if the group tends to “go hard” more than once a week.

On the other hand, if you are training for a specific race, make sure that your workouts are consistent with your training phase.  More importantly, keep on eye on your intensity level during workouts.  “Hitting it hard” and trying to beat your training partners at every workout is probably not what you need.  If you find yourself mindlessly pushing yourself harder and harder, without any sort of direction or purpose, stop and ask yourself if you feel like one of those Norway lemmings that are swimming into the sea.  If the answer is yes, then it is time to find a coach or consult one or more training books to get yourself into an appropriate training regimen.

Paul Carmona is the head coach for Twenty-Six Two Marathon Club in Austin, Texas.

Off-Season Maintenance Running in Spring and Early Summer

Hey, Coach...I was wondering what I should be running these days now that the fall/winter racing season is behind me, and spring is just around the corner. My next marathon or maybe half-marathon is months away, so it's hard to find motivation right now. Help!

Unless you’re already training for a late-summer or early-fall marathon, you’re probably in one of those periods where you’re following no specific training schedule, perhaps wondering how far and how hard you should be running these days.  Instead of considering yourself to be “off-season,” think of yourself as being in “maintenance” mode.  The primary focus should be on maintaining your aerobic base, which means that most of your miles should be in an easy, conversational pace.

There are all kinds of heart rate formulas and “rate of perceived exertion” scales to determine your optimal pace for aerobic training, but the easiest way to do this is to simply run at what you feel is an “easy pace,” following these general guidelines:

• Aim for 40-60 minutes at this pace, three to four times per week.  Make one of those a longer run, but don’t aim for anything much longer than 90 minutes or so.

• Go early or late in the day to avoid heat.

• Mix up your routes to keep boredom away, or run with friends or groups.

• Take plenty of walk or water breaks if needed.

Once a week or every other week, it’s ok to go out and do some speed or hill work, but keep in mind that your speed and stamina in these intensity workouts might be less than what you experienced during racing season.  The goal of these speed and hill sessions is not to perform at high levels, but to keep just a little bit of intensity in your running routines during the long, hot summer days.

Remember, the primary goal is to work on your aerobic engine, which means lots of miles at slow, easy paces.  Questions? Ask the Coach.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

5 more weeks until the Austin Marathon!

The holiday’s sure did get busy didn't they?! So, here is a recap of the last few weeks. Christmas Eve had to be the toughest long run so far. 16 miles in what felt like the most humid Christmas weather ever. Add that to a lot of people being out of town and running that distance alone is challenging!

We ushered in 2017 on New Year’s Eve with a 17-mile-long run! Ha! I don’t think that was intentional, but it made running that many miles a little more significant that day. Plus, that was the longest I had ever run so far! With added distance that week came the repercussions of potentially pushing too much during a high mileage week. Struggling with an injury in the middle of training is no fun. The mental aspect of it is more challenging than the foam rolling and stretching! Not running right now knowing I have a race coming up is difficult, but I have found cycling to be sufficient in getting my legs moving. Coach always says foam roll as much as you can, stretch, and take it easy on easy run days. I thought I was doing enough foam rolling and stretching, but I have to admit, easy runs to me are pretty difficult when you feel like you have to run a particular pace. Now I know why it’s important to do all of those things religiously during training. I have also found that massage is also a runner’s best friend. I now know that it is an essential part of recovery and keeping your muscles ready for the rigors of training. So, when Coach says to look into massage and foam rolling, you do it! Thanks Coach! Hopefully I’ll be back up and running soon in time for 3M. Wish me luck!

Hancock and Barton Creek Mall Loops

Last Saturday, I ran the furthest I have ever run before. 16 miles. There were several of us in the first timer group that had never run that far before and when we were finished I just couldn’t believe it. All I could say was, “Yes! We did it!” Although it is nothing compared to the actual 26.2, it was a major mile stone point in our training. (Pun intended!) Kristina and I discovered that singing TV jingles and making up songs about different places we passed on our route made the tough miles move faster. Not literally faster, but definitely took our minds off of the distance we still had left to go! Not only was it the furthest, but also the coldest! It was 38 degrees that morning and my choice to take my gloves off was a bad one, but now I know better! This was also the week we were testing out our Clif Gel Chews and Shots. I really like the vanilla flavor Clif Shots! They are a tasty treat in the middle of a run.

Today, we ran the Barton Creek Mall Loop and four of us decided to get in an early 4 miles which I’m glad we did! The hills on this route are not friendly, but I know in the long run I will be thankful that we trained running the hills that we have. For December this was a muggy and humid run, but oddly enough tomorrow will be crazy cold for a recovery run! That one might end up being inside; 20-degree weather is a little too cold for me! I tried the Clif Gel Chews today, the Cran-Razz flavor and I really felt like they gave me that little extra push. Now I’m not sure which ones I like more! I guess I’ll figure that out as the weeks go on.

Soggy Scenic + Mile Repeats

Two Saturdays ago, December 3rd we got to experience; or at least the first-timers did, our first run in the rain and cold! Thank you mother-nature for making it cold, but we could do without the rain (at least between the hours of 6AM-10AM on Saturday mornings, please!) :) Now that our training is getting into higher mileage, Coach Paul and veteran runners recommend getting in a few miles early before the group run. I meet a couple of the other first-timers for a 5 mile run at 6AM on that soggy Saturday and I am so thankful that we took this advice! When you are spent from mile repeats, knowing that you are already finished with your long run is way better than saying, "oh, but I still have 4 more miles to go!" As we get ready to bunker down as they say into the tough part of training, I am thankful for the guidance and advice we are getting as first-timers from an awesome coach and group of runners! 

University Loop Week 12

It’s been awhile! Happy Thanksgiving and I hope everyone had a great holiday! I have been caught up in work, training, and grad school, but all is well! As the title states, we have entered week 12 of training and I can’t believe we are half way there! Our long runs are getting longer and just in time for cooler weather- FINALLY! Today’s run, University Loop, took us through the beautiful UT Austin Campus and it was great until the last few miles. Thanks for Frank and Maria for keeping me going those last 4 miles down on the trail!

The first timer group is rolling and we are all progressing well! Coach says to listen to your body and stay healthy which is great advice coming into this holiday season!

Next week we tackle 15 miles- we can do this!

A Humid Via Fortuna

My name is Jillian and I am a member of the Lucky 13 class of first-timers! I will be taking you through our training journey to the finish line of the 2017 Austin Marathon. We are 13 strong individuals that have come together for a common goal- to complete a marathon and make friends along the way! 

Today's route; Via Fortuna, included a mix of flat areas and hills. So, it's a good thing we have been doing hill workouts to prepare us for this run! The first-timer group completed an easy paced 8 mile run this morning at a very humid and muggy 76°. (Come on Fall! Humor us a little!) As our Coach says, easy paced runs help us build our endurance. I for one know that mine has gotten better over the past month and I can see the improvement in other first-timers as well. Additionally, a nice fact about an easy pace is that you find others who run your pace so you are not alone when you make a wrong turn in Zilker Park. :) 

Stay tuned for more run stories as our adventure continues!


Lucky 13th Class of First-Timers Ready to Run

Since 2005, Twenty-Six Two Marathon Club has trained 106 women in the First-Time Women's Group to their first marathon finish, and our First-Timer program has a 100% success rate: Every First-Timer who has started her marathon has completed the race!

Our 13th class of women First-Timers is set to start on Saturday, September 3, as they train for the 2017 Austin Marathon.  Good luck, ladies!