Pam’s final journey

Hello, all. Pam’s boyfriend Mark, here to share with you Pam’s final journey.

Pam passed away suddenly on May 18, 2022 at her home. She was 70.

She was born August 11, 1951, in Port Chester NY to the late Janet Isabell (Jarvis) Houck and Gladden Bishop Houck. A graduate of Port Chester High School, she attended Pace University, earning her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. She worked as a Software Engineer with Dynamics Research Corporation.

Pam’s love for running and triathlons helped reinvent her career during her late 30’s, becoming a running/triathlon coach and personal trainer. She held numerous certifications in Personal Fitness and was selected as the USA Triathlon Coach by Reebok to train participants for the Boston Triathlon.

She competed in over one hundred events, including the New York Marathon, multiple Boston marathons, multiple Mount Washington Road Races, and many shorter runs and events throughout New England. She was a spirited competitor in – and passionate supporter of – the local Amesbury tri community and took great satisfaction from the personal successes of her friends and clients. Your words, emails, and posts are the gifts she cherished on every day, every group activity, and at every event.

Pam is survived by her brother, Thomas Gladden Houck of Claymont DE, her boyfriend Mark, her many nieces and nephews, as well as you – her running and triathlon friends who kept her grounded and motivated. Pam will be truly missed.

Join in the celebration of her life on Saturday, June 4th at 5PM at the Glen Devin Boathouse and beach (off Whitehall Road) in Amesbury, MA.


I Don’t Want To Grow Up

I love these girlfriends which keeps me young!

Some days, I feel like I never want to stop swimming, biking and running! But when you hit 65-70, suddenly your body doesn’t want to train as you did 10-20 years earlier. It is a rude wake up call. Getting injured is no fun for any athlete. Right now I’m injured but mentally I’m not discouraged. Actually, I wanted to take a brake from running for a couple weeks. I felt burned out from training for 2 half marathons. It is May, I need to pick up my swimming endurance before we swim outside. And it is the same for biking because triathlon season is almost here in the northeast. Training with everyone younger than me by 15 or more years is great and keeps me young. But you always have to think in your long term goals and what your body can handle now. Stay young in body and mind! Be healthy and safe! @pamhouck


Beware it is Spring!

As the weather gets nice. drivers beware of runners, cyclists and walkers on the road. I think the picture above says it all. Give them 3 feet to pass. Now cyclists, runners and walkers beware what you wear and be courteous to others. Cyclists, runners and walkers dress to be seen in bright colors. Reflector gear or flashing light at dusk or when it is dark. I seen many runners and cyclists wear black in the evening which is hard to see when they are on the road and no street lights. Be courteous to others on the road. When there are group of cyclists don’t double up, bike single file so vehicles can get around you. Rail trails are getting busy now, when passing a walker, runner or cyclist say “on your left”. This is the same for the road. We all can share the roads and rail trails, just be courteous! Be safe and healthy! Enjoy the beauty of earth! @pamhouck


We All Love Our Sport!

Headband from a race. My favorite saying!

On Monday, Boston Marathon will be back to the usual day and time. It will also be celebrating 50 years women running the race legally. That race proved women can do endurance events without harming their bodies. In June of that year, Title IX law was created to prevent sex discrimination including in sports, which has gone through multiple revisions. I love the inscription on the headband in the above picture because it is so true. When you watch the marathon or at any races, not all athletes are skinny but the majority are all shapes and sizes. This brings me to the next topic, don’t criticize or comment on their bodies. This can make them uncomfortable and can lead to eating disorders. Eve and I talked about this during our long run today. Yeah we are endurance athletes but we don’t like the comments other people including women make about our bodies. But be positive about what we (all athletes) have accomplish in the sports. That positive vibe will motivate these athletes to continuing enjoying the sport and doing it. Be healthy and safe! @pamhouck


Strong Women

A few lines from the song

We are all surrounded by strong women! Since this is Women History Month, I want to talk about a few women around me that show their strength everyday. Carolyn is a pediatrician, a writer of book and short stories publish, a mother and a foster mom to 2 girls and is a triathlete. She wrote a story about me coaching her for her first triathlon. The story is, “Hey, 60”, in Running for Good (Chicken Soup for the Soul) book. Kathi but we all call her KT, is business owner and an Ironman. While KT was doing Timberman Half Ironman, her first triathlon, but she had a stroke during the race. KT has no fear and was determine that she was going back to Timberman and complete it. She completed that Half Ironman and other multiple halfs, full Ironmans and marathons since then. She believes go big or go home. Brenda, a heart tech in hospitals, a triathlete, running up Mt Washington again and runs marathons. Brenda wants to run Boston Marathon as a qualifier. Single mom and teacher, Diane, has brought up a strong smart daughter, is a marathoner and triathlete. Sarah is a marketing director with long work hours but still gets her triathlon training done. Kim, Colleen, Carla, Diana, Jackie and Amie are moms that have raised beautiful strong daughters and sons through tough times but are strong and still find time to do there own training. There are so many woman that I can go on and on. They all one thing in common, that is to find balance in their lives to work and train. Tell the women in your life that they are strong and beautiful. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Listen to Your Body

I hear this many times, “I cannot take a break from training, I’ll lose all my fitness.” Athletes get OCD with their training that make their family crazy when they miss training from an injury. Actually, you do more harm and damage to your body when you keep training injured. Some athletes had to take a year off then slowly comeback. This is why I love triathlon training because you can bike and/or swim when injured. Tuesday, my left calf and glutes muscle were very tight. I did an easy bike and had some dry needling done that by Wednesday I was running and I had great run. I remember years ago when you ran a marathon, you were told to take 2 ibuprofens before the start of the race to not hurt. But everyone gets sore after the marathon. Today, many athletes have become smarter and more aware of their bodies. When something on your body hurts bad when you exercise then stop and rest it. If it continues to hurt then see a doctor/physical therapist. You will be back sooner to your sport and stronger. Stay strong and be healthy! @pamhouck


To Do It or Not To?

Some athletes believe the sport they to do is the best one and don’t need to do any other. Me, I believe cross training makes you stronger and better for that single focus sport. Many coaches agree! When I swim, bike, run, strength train and do yoga, I feel better and stronger. But it also reduces the over use of joints and muscles. Many top athletes do cross train. Many of my runners will cross-train which helps them run faster and reduce injury. To keep doing what you love for a long time, cross-train. Be happy and stay healthy! @pamhouck


That Nagging Injury

Many athletes get injury that keeps coming back. Runners and triathletes are notorious for this, then try to fix or remedy it themselves. Mine is the left gluteal Medius. I have done physical therapy, see chiropractor every couple weeks. This happens when I do a lot of running the road because of the camber of the road. After working with physical therapists for my athletes and personal training clients, I have learned all muscles are connected and the actual problem may not be coming from where you feel the pain but another place in the body. Also, as we age our body posture and mechanics change because of earlier injuries. I am a sponge to learn more about our body’s mechanics. When my left calf tighten up and wouldn’t get better, I started researching. First, I did positional therapy stretches and learned a new one that helped the calf. Then I started reading “Tight Hip Twisted Core” by Christine Koth. She had a couple of stretches for my hips that actually relieved the tightness in my hip and the calf. The stretches are in the pictures above. She said to hold these stretches for at last 2 minutes. I have incorporated these stretches with my other ones and do them everyday, which my hip and calf have improve. Christine also had some strength exercises. Be safe and happy! @pamhouck


Don’t Give Up The Ship

My hill for repeats!

When you first start running or any sport, it is tough. Especially after not exercising for a while. Start slow and just focus on your endurance, your perceive exertion and breathing. I have one runner decided to run a half marathon in April. But she hasn’t run in a few years. Every time she goes run, she feels tired then gets frustrated and starts to walk when she does that one hill in her long run. She says her legs feel weak. I had her start a strength program, next week she will start doing a gym bike too. Cross training (bike and strength training) is a great way to help get you back into running shape. But I also added hill repeats which builds strength and endurance. In the notes I put this: Remember the Little red caboose said, “Yes I can, Yes I can”. I want you to stay it when you do each repeat. She knows I am the crazy coach that likes hills, even that one hill. That one hill is run up Mount Washington which I have done 7 times. As a coach, we have to get creative to have your athlete achieve the end goal. Be safe and happy! @pamhouck


Our Amazing Bodies

Our bodies are technical engineering marvels. It is how we treat and feed our bodies to create the outcome, wither it is positive or negative. It is also how amazing the body’s muscles, tendons, joints and bones are connected. When one joint or muscle is injured or feels pain, the whole body reacts. The past couple weeks, my left calf muscles (there are 2: gastrocnemius and soleus) has been tight like a knot. Some days I can feel it then other days nothing. Most athletes will focus on that one spot to stretch but the issue may becoming from another muscle. Physical therapists look at your while body on movement to pinpoint where the actual start of the problem. I know my left Gluteus Medius has been the main cause in the past. So when I stretch my body, I do the whole body because all your muscles are interconnected. I posted a stretching video in https://gearupforfitness.com/videos/. Key points about stretching: Don’t stretch before exercise; Stretch after exercise; Hold for 30-60 seconds to feel the release of tightness; Make sure form is correct to prevent injury. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Love Thy Self

Happy Valentines Day!

Today is Valentines Day! Is it just for couples? First before you can love someone else, you must love yourself which my mom always said. It is very true! Stand in front of mirror and say everything positive about yourself. This can be a challenging but I want everyone to see how beautiful you are. Our society has come to criticize people which I find sad. We are all beautiful human beings inside out. When I am at a race seeing everyone cheering each other on without thinking about how fast, what athletic level, age, body size or color, puts a smile on my face. That support can make a spectator want to start to do the sport or an athlete want to go faster. It is hard to stop listening to the negative. Everyday for a week listen to my voice as you stand in front of the mirror saying you are beautiful, smart, funny, and strong. Hope you feel a small positive change. Happy Valentines day to you! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Ground Hog Says 6 More Weeks

Mark, my boyfriend, text that Bootsie (my cat) just got up and turned around then goes back to sleep. That is what winter is like here in New England! Wake up to below zero to single digits, blizzard, and repeat. Now how do you train for Boston marathon or early spring half marathon? Be smart, running below 16 degrees you can easily get injured. Be flexible, you might have to reschedule your runs to different day and/or different time of day. When it is really bad go inside to run on track, treadmill or elliptical. Be smart and be safe where you run! Today, I’m hoping to run loop repeats of 1 mile with wide shoulder. This year, I decided St Patty’s Day 10K for my first race of 2022 instead February. Be wise when and where you run! Be flexible to cross train snow shoeing or cross country ski! Try to find ways to enjoy winter! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Look Mom No Hands

Living in New England can be challenging in the winter to train for triathlons, road races and the Boston Marathon. Today, I woke up to 1 degree with wind chill -7 but my training schedule had a run. Luckily the gyms are open here! Now do I run on the indoor track, treadmill or elliptical? Since today’s run is easy (Zone 1), I decided to do the elliptical. When I do the elliptical, I do not hold onto the arms but work my balance and core. And it allows my body to recover without any impact. The forecast for this weekend is a nor’easter of 12-18 inches of snow. My long run will be a mix of indoor track and elliptical. I rather run outside but it is good to be safe. How you adapt your training to move forward makes you stronger and smarter! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Remember When

Before cell phones, iPods, and other ways to connect to technology, runners just ran listening to traffic and nature or talk. Yes kids this sounds old but it is good for your soul, for your brain, just your mental well being. All that technology stimulation all the time doesn’t allow the brain get a rest/reset to solve problems. Just stop and look around you to see how we treat our home (earth). I live in New England which is one of top areas in the world that has seen the most global warming changes. The more we appreciate our earth in a healthy way, the more it will respond in a positive way. I love hearing the birds, animals, the lake ice moving, seeing nature change with the seasons. It is just good for the soul! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Is The 1st Week Derailed?

Snowy Frozen Lake Gardner

It is the first week we start our 2022 goal(s) and it gets derailed. Is it really derailed? I always see it as lessons learned. Yes even coaches and trainers workouts get derailed. My Monday training was perfect; Tuesday the weather was not cooperating but did do short run; Wednesday had good Zone 2 bike; Then Thursday’s run didn’t happen because of weather and my own demise. Living in New England, the weather can change multiple times during the day. This morning, the roads were icy till noon which became windy and colder. I was tired and didn’t want to deal with the weather to run, so I jump on my bike/trainer 40 min. I figured it is better than nothing. While stretching I realized I could have gone outside to do short run in my condo development for 15-20 min to get some running. This was lesson a learned! The first 3 weeks are hard because you are creating new habits to achieve your goals. Be flexible and learn from your mistakes! Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Now Your Support

Diane is one of my swim, bike, run friends!

The biggest part to succeed reaching your 2022 goal(s) is your team. This can be a coach or a professional or a friend or organization/club, maybe family member. As you noticed family is last because sometimes they are the least supportive or they think you are crazy. But that can make you more determine to reach your goal. When I first started biking in my mid 30s then decided to bike a century, my mother said I was crazy and I would get hurt. I joined a local bike club which help me train to bike a century(100 miles) in 6 hours. Through all my sports goals and races, I have made a lot of friends. We text each other to swim, bike and run together. When your goal community grows, your will be more successful. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Your 2022 Goals

What does your fortune cookie say?

As you noticed, I didn’t say New Years Resolution. To me that word resolution is harsh and too firm which most people fail. Goals are easier to achieve them. Now I am going to ask a few questions to help you achieve your goals, write down the answers. I will use weight loss as an example which is a popular personal goal. Question 1: Why do you want to achieve this goal? Health reasons, or fit in a dress for a special occasion as examples. Question 2: How do you plan to achieve this goal? Like what habits you need to change for the new ones. An example: Improve my eating habits, not use salt and sugar and walk 5 times a week.(As you noticed I don’t use the word diet because they don’t work!). Question 3: When do you plan to start, and when will happen during the day? An example: Start on Monday January 3rd; eat 3 meals a day; when you will exercise days and time. Question 4: What habits do I need to change? When we have new goal(s), we have to change a couple habits to achieve them. An example: plan your meals for the week and write a grocery list or get up a little earlier to exercise. As a coach, I ask these questions first to know their goals and commitment. Then their work and life schedule to figure out their training schedule and be flexible. Things happen out of our control but it is finding your way back to be on track with the goal. I wish all good luck with your 2022 goals. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


The Frenzy

Right now most of you are trying to squeeze work, holiday preparations, training, Christmas shopping and travel to family or family visiting you. Now Covid with the variant cases rising which creates more stress of do I travel or family visit you. When is your down time for you to regroup and energize? Some people enjoy this frenzy. I like listening to podcasts when I am on the bike trainer. One podcast I like is Happier with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. Episode 357, she reveals the Yearly Challenge for 2022 which is 22 minutes of rest every day. I like to lay down to meditate for 10 minutes every morning after breakfast. Now with this challenge, I might do 11 minutes in the morning then do it at night before I go to sleep to quiet my brain from the day. When you rest, you are actually regenerating energy to help you cope with the day physically, mentally and emotionally. With all the holiday frenzy don’t forget yourself. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Relax A Little

Yes I am there under the mask before the race

Last week, I started my Base training but I also had a race. Sounds crazy but doing a holiday race can be fun. I was so happy to see my friends after a long time because of Covid and being sick this summer. It felt normal as it can be. Many dress festive which made the kids feel like it was normal. Being so relaxed, I had a great run and placed 2nd in my age group. I know I can run faster for that distance but that was not the goal. As athletes, we put a lot of stress on ourselves to perform at every race. There are 3 types of races: A race is the big goal race; B race is the test race to see where your are at with the training; C race is a speed workout like a tempo run. Don’t try to do race each weekend because that can lead to injury. Next time you race smile, try to relax and have fun. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Next Year

Need to add a few more!

I know many runners and triathletes have started planning and signing up for 2022 races. The emails and websites for races is like you are in a candy store because you want to do them all. But you need to pick based on your goals. Based on periodization, I wrote down my training objectives for each sport (strength, swim, bike and run) for base and prep cycles. This make it clear for me as a coach writing the program and what athlete expects during training. Race day is the end goal but it is how you train to be ready. I know 2022 will be a great year racing as long as I stay on track with the training. Right now I am just happy the local gym is open for the pool and indoor track to train during winter in the northeast. I am looking forward and excited to start my base training tomorrow. What is your training plans and big races? Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Thankful For …

Some friends wonder how I can say, I’m thankful, after this year has not been a good year for me. Every time, I tried to get to the race start line something happen. From being sick with kidney issues ending in the hospital, to autoimmune system shot, to anxiety attacks because of thyroid issues, to rolling my ankle during a long rung. I still keep pushing through with my training because of my friends and my boyfriend. I am lucky that my friends swim, bike and run which were always ready to train with me. Mark would bike with me outside on the weekends because he believes in me as a cyclist. By Fall, I did get over my anxiety issues, my kidney and my autoimmune system back to normal so I can do races. Still working on my vegan nutrition but slowly getting there. Now that it is off season, the ankle will get better after 2 weeks rest from running. Now the gym is open with no limits, I can lap swim, run on indoor track, and strength train through the winter compare to last winter. I am creating my plan now for 2022, picking my A, B and C races. I have renewed energy to swim, bike and run with big goals. I keep saying to everyone, 2022 will be my year and I will have fun. Thank you to my friends, clients, my athletes, my boyfriend and my blog readers. Don’t stop believing in yourself or give up because you are an awesome athlete! Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Being In The Zone

One of the pretty views during the half marathon

Have you gone for a run or a swim or bike which felt effortless and fast. Like your performance seems to happens automatically. In the book, Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui, she talks about this. That the researchers describe this as a psychological alteration of time of the here and now. Like time no longer matters, which many athletes want during their training but especially on race day. To get that feeling is part how you train and part is your stress level. When I’m in the zone, it is as if I’m meditating or in a Zen. Next time you train outside, just listen to nature not your cell phone and focus on your environment. I hope your next workout is in the Zone. @pamhouck


Just Be Happy

Beautiful morning to run with a friend!

Today, we are very dependent on our smart watches for everything. When something goes wrong with them, we get stress out. But do you have an alternative plan? Today, for the 3rd week, the Garmin screen of death happened during my swim. Garmin screen of death is the green triangle. I only get it during my swims but no other time. Only thing, I don’t wear is the heart monitor strap when I swim. I never had this issue. So I used my iPhone stop watch for the time and counted my laps. Contacted Garmin support which helped by deleting certain folders that could have corrupted files. Lesson learn: you cannot stress out with stuff out of your control, especially objects like smart watches and phones. I’m just happy this was not race but a training workout. So many things are out of our control but getting angry with people or objects does not solve the issue. Just go with the flow and be happy for what you have. Today, life is too short! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Your Recovery Cycle

I think Bootsie knows how to chill!

Many of you finished your big race then wonder what is next. The best thing to do is take some down time for the body to recover. Depending on the length of your event, this can be from 2-4 weeks off. Some would think that is crazy but your body will be happy. And you will be surprise how fast you will come back. Sarah took 3 weeks off from training, maybe walk or bike on trainer a couple times. Then last night, she was rewarded with her fastest run pace in 6 months. Some athletes during this time, do yoga, Pilates, walk, hike, take a vacation or do some home projects. I find this is the best time for recovery because of the holidays. Be safe and be healthy! @pamhouck


Nutrition the Key to Success

10 mile run on local rail trails after a nor’easter

Number 38 Half Marathon didn’t happen! Getting sick the night before the race was not in my plans but a lesson learned. The lesson I learned that my nutrition before and after races needs to be fine tuned. Nutrition is a big key to endurance racing! I’m still learning the vegan/vegetarian (limited fish on weekend and eggs for baking). Currently I am reading. The Plant Based Athlete to give me a better sense of the nutrition as a vegan. Meaning that plants do contain protein more than I knew and which ones are higher. And how not to get sick again by creating balance in my daily nutrition. I don’t like to use word diet because diets are short term and don’t work lifetime. Me going vegan is lifetime change which is the key to be successful in my health and training. Stay healthy and safe! @pamhouck


Number 38

This Sunday will be my 38th Half Marathon, Newburyport Half Marathon. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do any half marathon this year after being so sick in July. So this one will be special! Including the fact I turned 70 in August, so a new age group. By the beginning of September all my numbers were good including my thyroid. I had to change my diet to vegan with fish on weekends, since my kidney didn’t like any meat including chicken and goat cheese. The strength training and TRX 2 days a week plus stretching everyday has really helped. I sleep better. I feel better! My swimming, biking and running is better/faster and it feels easier. I do have goal finish time I would like to do but the main goal is to have fun and enjoy the fall foliage. Do what you love because you will feel better about yourself! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


We Did It!

In 2 weeks, 3 of my runners completed a marathon. Above pictures are Sarah and Kim when they finished the Virtual Boston Marathon. I know one is still shock that she did it because it was her longest race. What made their marathon successful: training, mindset, and nutrition. It is normal on race day to have pre-race jitters. But once you start the race your body gets into a rhythm that your nutrition is second nature and your mindset is focus. Those long training runs should have your nutrition and mental games nailed. Endurance races are half physical and half mental. Some runners feel a little down when race is over. You can start thinking of your next big race but you need to let your body totally recover and have some down town for couple weeks. Even go away on a vacation. Reconnect with family and friends. Let your body heal! Then you will be ready to start training for your next big event. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


The Taper Magic

Many of you are doing the Boston Marathon in person or virtually or another marathon. The 2-3 weeks leading up to your marathon the mileage decreases, which is the taper magic. The last 20-22 mile run completes your marathon training. Then the week prior is so low some runners try to add training because they miss some key running workouts. Sarah, a triathlete I coach, doing her first marathon added extra time on the bike. Then she got a text from me not to do that! When you try to add in the week before the marathon can destroy your race. Let the body rest. Marathon takes a lot of energy, fuel and mental energy to run it. If you have a lot of restless energy then catch up with family and friends or work project or school. I know it is hard to relax with the nervousness especially the first timers but your body will appreciate it. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


The Running Shoes

The running shoes are the most important piece of equipment for runners and triathletes. Finding the perfect pair can be daunting especially for newbie runners. But when you do find them, the major manufactures keep changes the model that can create injury. For years I wore Brooks Ghost as well as many of my running friends. Then 6 years, Brooks did major changes to the model that started to create injuries for us. Then I switch to Brooks Glycerin then year latter Brooks change that one with a new model. After that, I decided like many others it is time to switch to a different brand. That brand is Topo Athletic which I wear Phantom. And I don’t wear any insert with these running shoes compare to the Brooks. Topo is not one of the big running shoe companies but they keep the one big part of all their shoes, the wide toe box. I love it since many of the major brands have gone for narrow toe box. Topo doesn’t do changes fast but use their customer input. If you are getting injured from your running shoes, try a different brand! Stay healthy and safe! @pamhouck @topoathletic


Good as You Last Game!

“Good as your last game!”, Matt Jones, New England Patriot’s Quarter Back after the team lost the first game of the season. It is so true for any sport including triathlons and running races. Last Saturday’s long run gave me encouragement in thinking I can do a local half marathon in October. We all have good and bad workouts and races. It is how we move on and know our magic formula to be better. Today, I looked back at my training and races times the past couple years to see how I can create a plan that will make me faster than last 2 years. The one thing I saw, that hinder me, I really didn’t take a rest day every week consistently which my body needs. 2019 and 2020, I keeping having the same issues with my left side that slowed me done because I didn’t do strength training and stretch consistently. Last year with Covid, I was not consistent with any training. The last 5 weeks, I have been consistent with strength training, swim, bike, run and 1 rest day. This consistency has made me feeling stronger in bike and run, swim will take time. That picture was taken after doing 6 x 45 second hill repeats which will make me run faster. So I will be looking forward to the next race being my best! Maybe it will be that half marathon in October! Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Best at 70!

The picture says it all! It will be a long road to be my best, fastest and strongest at 70. Last month on my birthday, I had hard time turning 70 because I lost so much fitness from the month before being very sick. This week I realized, I am lucky to recover quickly and have a great support team around me. My girlfriends are all younger than me, great to train with and keep me thinking young. The next 4 months will be base which I will be working on my strength, endurance, form and speed for swim, bike and run. Aiming for New Years day race (5k or 10K). 2022 will be my best racing in a long time, better than my 60s. As you age, it does take long to come back but you can be faster than your 60s. I have a plan and goal races for 2022 with times to beat. I am up for the challenge mentally which is biggest part of the training. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Mental Games

During our long run on Saturday, Eve and I talked about mental games we do during the long runs and endurance events. Eve is training for virtual Boston Marathon. Saturday, she ran 18 miles and I ran the NH 10 Miler virtual which is my last virtual race. Eve celebrates each mile she complete and every 4 miles she does a GU. This is a great way to keep track of your nutrition throughout your run. Nutrition is one key element for successful endurance event. Me, I break the total miles into sub events which includes the nutrition. An example of sub events for the marathons: 5K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathon, 20 miles then the finish line. I try to finish a fuel bottle and take in gel each sub event. For Half Ironman sub events: swim, transition 1, bike: 15, 30, 45 then 56 mile, transition 2, run: 5K, 10K, 15K then the finish line. The nutrition on the bike, is to make sure I eat part of a bar and drink water bottles with electrolytes at the 15, 30, and 45 miles. Mental games and nutrition work together. Don’t be overwhelmed by the total mileage or time, just be present in the current mile. Be safe, be healthy and be happy! @pamhouck


Marathon Training

With many races are happening including marathons, many runners are training for a marathon this fall. I am always ask how long is a marathon, all marathon are 26.2 miles. So what does marathon training involve? A lot! Nutrition: practice on days your run: eat small meal 1-2 hours before you run; your hydration during your run especially on long runs this includes electrolytes; and eat/drink right after your run, amino acids to recover faster. Next is the running: critical are the consistent long runs slowly building up to 20-22 miles and at least 2 other runs each week. You can add cross training on days not running: bike, Pilates, Yoga and strength. Stretch after your runs and other cardio. Next is practicing the mental part during your long so you know how to overcome hitting the wall. Everyone has their own mental games. The biggest part is have a plan so you can check off your progress each week. Happy running! @pamhouck


Do You Really Want To Do It?

Tomorrow, I see the doctor which I will know what is happening next. Like going to lIve races or have to do races virtually and/or more tests. Saturday is the Allen Mello NH 10 Miler which will be a stretch for me since my longest run is 8.5 mile. I am not running fast, still get tired, and have no strength for the hills. Mentally, I am strong for any endurance event and I can push myself to run that hilly 10 miles. I will keep telling myself that I love hills throughout the run! Marathons are 50% physical and 50% mental. But if you don’t do all the physical training for marathons which is get in all your long runs up to 20-22 miles and other weekly runs. Then that can lead to a tough marathon race and injury during the race. There are many doing Boston Virtual Marathon which is there first marathon. Some are saying this will be there one and only marathon but that can set you up to not complete all the training and not finish the race. As a coach, I have seen it all. You have to really want to do it and not put up mental blocks or stop training for a minor issue. Once you embrace that want to do it, the training becomes more enjoyable and you start to see progress. Be in the moment! @pamhouck


Back to the Basics

All the tools for swim workout

Everyday I am getting stronger for the bike and run but not the swim! It is 4 weeks since I was sick and taken to emergency room. It has been slow process gaining weight and getting muscle strength back. In another couple weeks, I will be back to pre sick pace and power on the bike and run. But the swim is like I am slow motion no matter how much I push. So it is time to get back to basics of the swim: body position, freestyle stoke phases, body rotation, kick and arm/back strength. Strength part using body weight and weights (dumbbells and machine). Swimming is getting the pool doing drills by focusing on body position, freestyle stoke phases, and body rotation. Drills should not take up the whole swim workout or you will swim like a drill. An example of workout: warmup 300-400 yards; drills 4 x 100 yards focusing on body position, hand/arm entry, catch, pull and recovery phases; main set focus on speed and endurance, which is 60-75% of total yardage; cool down 100 yards. Many think using hand paddle for the majority of the swim will make you faster. Wrong, it is all the form! And you can get injured with paddles if form is bad. If you don’t know why your swim is bad, have a friend do video or have a swim or triathlon coach look at your swim. I am going to have my boyfriend video me but I have some good swim workouts to do in the pool to get me faster. Happy swimming! Be Safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Training Status – Really?

Garmin sport watches have an phone app called Garmin Connect. It gives a lot of data that useful except Training Status which you should beware. Tuesday I ran 4 miles, which my Training Status was Productive. Today, I ran 1.2 mile on the track then swam .5 mile, which my Training Status is Unproductive. It also lets you know when you are at Performance or Overtraining. First it is inaccurate and take it with a grain of salt. How does it know what your training goals and when is big race? You know your body better than a sports watch. The data is good to know but it doesn’t know what is happening in your life. I was very sick 5 weeks a go which the watch doesn’t know that important data. The process of building strength and endurance time takes time but Garmin only looks at the stats of today’s workout. And we all have good and bad days of training. The next time you look at your stats, ignore the training status. Many coaches agree this is a bad info. Your VO2 Max, power, cadence, pace/speed and heart rate are the important stats. Stay safe and be healthy! @pamhouck


Rock Says It All!

On Tuesday as I was trying to run 4 miles on hard pavement, I saw this painted rock on the wall. You can interpreted it many ways but for me it was a sign to keep living my life with sports, continue coaching and training clients. On Tuesday evening, I found out some good news from Monday’s lab tests that I am better and can do more. Everyday I am getting stronger and building my endurance. I know I will be back to running half marathons, doing triathlons including Olympic distance and maybe bike a metric century. But getting sick made me want to get stronger and be more flexible to make me faster and have more power. And go back to being vegan which I have been doing the past 4 weeks. My body feels better for that. Since it is summer still need to do a Hodges dairy-free gluten-free treat a couple times (in moderation). We all have good and bad days. Try not to look back at the bad days but look forward the good days to live our life to the fullest and keep blooming. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Mental Health

Virtual Run New England Challenges total of 1693 miles

When training for big events, there several components that critical to success: strength to keep injuries minimal; flexibility to prevent overuse of muscles; build endurance to to sustain energy throughout the event; nutrition to sustain energy; mental strength. Training can be stressful by getting workouts in between work and family and keeping everyone happy. But race day of the event can be very stressful. Some athletes question are they ready for it. Or some athletes are so nervous they cannot eat anything or cannot sleep because they have nightmares about it. The one thing many coaches don’t talk about is the mental and emotions throughout the athletes training. I seen coaches pump up athletes the day of the race instead asking how their athlete feeling or thinking. So many people are criticizing Simone Manual for backing out of 2 Olympic events. We don’t know the full history leading up to it. These Olympic athletes have had TV cameras in their faces, constantly be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the past 2 years. That is so stressful. Some are so afraid to say they have been seeing a sports psychologists because it will the wrong impression of being weak. They are human! We all are human beings with brain and emotions! Give them some space to let them digest what is happening and not criticize them. Mental health is so important for everyone including Olympic Athletes. Be safe and healthy. @pamhouck


Decisions We Make

Today’s decisions we make can affect your life, health and future. 2 weeks ago, I ended in Emergency Room with high fever and right kidney not happy. It started on the morning of Friday July 9th before the Dam Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. All athletes think we will be better in time for our event but luckily some friends knock some sense into me to defer to next year. I am happy I did defer because I didn’t get better and went to ER on Monday. Week latter, I realize it will be a slow process to get my endurance and strength back and my autoimmune was compromised that I decided to defer REV3 Olympic to next year. Till doctor says ok, no races in person for now but I can work on my strength, endurance and eat to gain some weight back. Last week, I walked but this week hoping to run and maybe bike outside. As athletes, we always push our bodies to the limit but it good to know when to step back and seek advice of professional (doctor/PT). My rule is if you hurt more than a week then it is time to see a doctor/PT to get back to your training sooner pain free. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Don’t Stress, Be Happy

Amesbury Days 5K Start – First mass start race!

Saturday, I woke feeling good and ready to run the local 5K. I was happy it was cool cloudy 58 degrees. Race start was 5 min drive but I realized I forgot my Garmin watch I got there but decided to not go back home to get it. It was drizzling at start to pick up my number but I was greeted with warmth from my running friends. It was great to see all my running friends which I couldn’t stress out about not having watch. Try to download a running app but decided to run based on iPhone stop watch time and feel. And since our number bibs was chip with mat at start and finish I was good with the race result time. As I was doing my warm up, my legs just wanted to go which put a smile on my face. Since it was warm and humid decided to go easy to avoid asthma attack. My body just cruised up the hills for the first 2 miles and the legs wanted to spin. After the race my body was still happy to do a couple more miles. Last week, my thyroid started to feel happy, not feeling stressed or anxious. It is funny that I did a 5K race 2 months ago with the same result time. But 2 months ago I was a walking zombie, stressed and anxious about the hour drive and the race. 3 weeks after I stop taking the vitamins my body has started to feel better. This Sunday is the Dam Triathlon a local race which will be fun. I’m just going to relax and get through the race with a smile. I know my training has not been good the past month or 2. I cannot stress about it but just be happy we are having races and I still can do them. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck @tritobeyoungathlete


Hot Times!

In the USA, we are feeling the heat this summer and records are being broken. Here in Massachusetts, we are in our second heat wave and it is only June. In my town today we are 96, which feels like 106. Oregon and Washington states are breaking records of over 110 degrees which is normally in the 70s. As athletes that are not use to this hot weather then the question how do I train? On Strava, I saw many opt out there training run for a walk or run at 5:30 am. Then some of us did yoga or strength/core workout. Next question is when is your big race/races? If in the summer then you need to get use to this heat but safely. If you do have a race in the summer slowly build up the distance in the heat. This includes biking and running! Start with shorter easy rides and runs till you feel comfortable to increase distance. Drink electrolytes throughout the training day. Be smart and plan ahead to have a successful race. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Different Directions

Amesbury Cultural Council Art Project 2021

Some days, our minds and bodies want to go different direction. As I deal with the hyperthyroid side effects, they don’t want to work with my training schedule. Right now I am build phase of training for Olympic distance triathlon which is about 8-10 hours for 2 weeks then 1 week low training of 6 hours. This week, I am on the 2nd week of build which my body hurts and still cannot sleep. Today plan was to be 5-6 mile tempo but the energy level and body said no so I walked 3 miles. As an athlete I find it discouraging, but as a coach I’m trying to fine a compromise. I know I am not in overtraining because my resting heart rate has lowered 10 points which is good. At the end of my walk, I decided I’m going to do 1 heavy week then 1 pull back week. I am hoping my body will cooperate and have me ready for the triathlons and half marathon in the fall. Stay safe and healthy. @pamhouck


Beware of Misinformation

My boyfriend’s way to make me feel better!

The internet is full of information especially with health and medical but some can be bad. Unfortunately, I fell for it! I was looking for a good multivitamin to take. I stick to the strict diet but still lack key nutrients for my body. I take many different vitamins because celiac has reduce my nutrients intake from the past destruction of my small intestines. Instead of buying certain vitamins, I thought it would be cheaper to buy a multivitamin. Wrong! First, I take thyroid medication in the morning, which you need to wait an hour to eat. Also, calcium and iron vitamins need to be taken 4-6 hours after thyroid medication. And certain foods can interfere. I take calcium at night to avoid interference with thyroid medication that has zinc and magnesium but has no vitamin D. Also, I have to avoid vitamin D because of my 1 functional kidney cannot absorb it. Yet I still need vitamins at my ripe old age to train for endurance races. The 2 multivitamins I tried still gave me problems. One made my thyroid go from hypo to hyper which is rare but can happen. And the other made me fatigued because a few ingredients interfere with my thyroid and kidney. I stop them on Saturday by recognizing the fatigued symptoms and back to what I took before. I am slowly feeling better and hope by next week I’ll be back to normal training. If it looks too good to be true or you have questions, don’t buy it and talk with your doctor. Even if a friend tells you how great it is for them, stop and research. If it works for one person it may not work for you. If you have questions about any health stuff, ask your doctor. Stay safe and healthy! @pamhouck


Plan A, B, C

Some days you have a plan for your work or workout in the training plan but something happens to change it. We started with a swim at our the local lake where we do our open water swims. There was an accidental drowning which caused Lake Gardner to close for an investigation. So a friend and I decided to swim Stiles Pond which is 40 minutes away from where we live. We were all set for Wednesday but she text early that morning she was sick. Immediately, I called our local gym to get a swim lane which I was able to. I planned to swim a mile Wednesday and I did but in the pool. I already swam the lake twice which I will be good for Saturday’s Land Shark Swim 1.2 mile event. The big but was distance and speed. The swim in the pool proved I was ready. So the morale of the story, don’t give up and find alternate plans to complete your task. Be healthy and safe! @pamhouck


And Now Summer!

The entire United States will be under an heat advisory starting tomorrow. Some states started a couple days ago. Memorial Day in New England was cold and rainy, now heat. Welcome to New England weather! Question is now how do you train in this weather? Simple, modify your workouts, adjust the time of day and hydration. Tomorrow, I have long run which I will run earlier like 6 or 7 am. Don’t try to push hard, go easy and your heart rate will be higher which is normal. After a few runs/workouts your body will adjust to the heat. Hydrate more! That is not just water but electrolytes in your water, gels and chews. The electrolytes should have calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, which should be balanced of all 4. Also drink often and bring extra hydration. Some sports drinks can be high in sodium which can cause gastro issues. Some of these tips will help make your training a little easier and your body will be happier. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck


It Is That Time of the Year

Now the weather is warm, we can bike and run outside without masks if vaccinated. And there are more cars on the road. So here are a few ways to stay safe when running on the road: wear bright clothes; run against traffic; if wearing head set keep the volume down to listen to nature and the cars; beware of your environment; run on safe roads and avoid major roads/highways. Here a few ways to be safe on the bike: follow the rules of the road (you are a vehicle); don’t listen to music when riding; don’t bike on the sidewalks (that is for pedestrians); avoid biking in the cities and highways; beware of your environment; check the forecast before you leave. Now as vehicle drive respect walkers, runners and cyclists and don’t text while driving. Hope you a safe and healthy summer!


That One Nagging Thing

So many runners and triathletes don’t make time or forget to stretch. It so simple but the focus is on the training. I started to put it in my athletes training schedule. Then there is the question I get from athletes and friends: how do I stretch the muscle that is hurting? I always shake my head and chuckle a little. You might think the muscle hurting is tight but it may not be. All muscles are connected. If the muscle is just tight then stretch that muscle and all other muscles around it. If it continues hurting after stretching then you need to see a doctor and physical therapist. Also something can be out of alignment especially from running on the road. Many roads in New England are cambered (slanted) to allow the rain to run into gutters/drains. This puts a lot onto the left side of the lower body. Then try to run on rail trails or trails. Check out my videos on stretching and foam rolling at: https://gearupforfitness.com/videos/. Be safe and healthy.


We’re Back

On Sunday, Cinco de Miles 5K was the first race I ran in person since 1/1/2020. The weather was nice but seeing all my running friends was the best. Millennium Running put on great safe events (road races and triathlons). Many runners and volunteers at the race were fully vaccinated and runners wore the masks before and after their run. Everybody, that is 1800 runners, followed the rules. It was time trial start, with 2 runners going off every 10 seconds. Many races including triathlons, marathons will be doing this. Some runners like time trial and some like the mass starts but you have to look at the big picture. And the big picture is we are getting close to being back to normal. Be safe and healthy! @pamhouck @millenniumrunning #millenniumrunning


Patient With Process

Completed Run Maine (495 mile) Virtual Challenge

Saturday’s long run help me complete Run Maine (495 miles) Virtual Challenge, which I started 9/1/2020. Today’s run I completed Run Rhode Island (140 miles) Virtual Challenge. Today’s news was the best to hear that road races and endurance events will be permitted to start May 10th in Massachusetts. I have 2 more states (CT and VT) which I will finish in May and that will be the end of virtual racing for me. This Sunday, I will be racing a 5K in New Hampshire in person. And I am excited because it is 15 months since the last race. All my friends and clients (triathletes and runners) are doing happy dance as more states allow races to happen. But we all have to do our part by getting vaccinated to allow more businesses to open and we get back to normal. Stay healthy and safe!


How Did You Do It

Recently for Zone 1-2 post I got a comment: “I would like to know how you and her managed this. My runs are almost always in zones 3,4 and 5 even allowing for heat and other factors”. As a coach, I am ask this question many times. First is to understand how your heart rate zones 1-5 are created. Did you do FTP test on the bike or Lactate Threshold field test on treadmill or use the new Kavoren formula or max heart rate formula? This is critical in determine how your heart rate zones are created. The most accurate way are the FTP test and Lactate Threshold field test on treadmill. The least accurate is max heart rate which is 220 – your age very generic. Many sport watches do that and some do the Kavoren formula adding your resting hear rate. Sarah and I did the FTP test on the bike then add 10 for each zone for the run. I tried the new Kavoren formula for Sarah but she was always higher. Where the FTP test is based on her current physiology and more accurate for her. Now you need to understand how your perceived exertion relates for each heart rate zone is critical too. I created a chart for my athletes using Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and feeling through breathing. Example of Zone 1 is hardly noticeable of the breathing. Example of Zone 2 is slightly noticeable of the breathing. When you run in the heat and/or up a hill your breathing will be harder and heart rate will be higher. Also, your running paces will be different for each zone. Sometimes just walking a bit or walk a hill on easy day will lower your heart rate. I hope this answered the question. If you have any question please reply to the blog. As a coach, I want to make you better athletes. Be safe and healthy!

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