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The Half Marathon Obsession: train to kill a 5K first! Part 1


In my quest to be relentlessly helpful, I wanted to chat about the very admirable goal of…

completing your first half marathon. Notice I didn’t say running your first marathon…Why people pay to jog, walk and struggle through 13.1 miles to be able to slap that sticker on their car is beyond me.

A couple of the reasons I hear people sign up for their first half marathon:

– I need to lose weight and get healthy; marathon training will keep my accountable.

– I need to train to make up for my horrible diet – I’ll burn a ton of calories running a lot of mileage.

Neither of those (independently) should dictate whether you pay an upwards of $100-$150 to run 13.1 miles. Running does not build health and it is certainly not a good weight loss solution on it’s own (nutrition needs to be your focus).

I have seen countless amateur runners sign up for races and distances that are completely out of their capacity, leading to injury. They’re wrecked for a week, even two after the race. Knees are swollen. Ankles are aching. Feet are on fire. Hips are tight. Back is shot.

Now, I’m not a running or endurance coach by any means. But I am a trainer… I teach people how to move and move well in space. How to squat, press, pull, jump, run, etc.

I would never advise someone who squats like crap with 10Ibs to suddenly increase the weight to 100Ibs – you must master the basics and develop the skill and strength before you increase the intensity.

The same principle applies to running: you must learn and develop the ability to increase your mileage SAFELY.

Running is a skill.

Running is… high-repetition single-leg plyometrics.

The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll realize you need to be strong enough to run consistently and you need to develop good technique to prevent injury. More on technique later.

Here is an example I use often: If you take around 10 minutes to run one mile, you shouldn’t attempt two yet.

That’s right…more mileage does not make you better.

If you stink at running 1 mile, then you simply need to get better at running one mile without adding volume.

You may ask…well then how will I ever get to run more than a mile?!

The safe, smart and efficient solution: drill, cadence and pacing work

I have the benefit of having one of the BEST endurance coaches in Florida work out of my facility:

Roy Foley of Aeropro Coaching. He’s incredible. He’s passionate about his craft. He cares deeply for his athletes. He also practices what he preaches: he’ll kick your ass on a bike ANY DAY.

Check him out here:

I see him training his athletes daily. His athletes are podium finishers. They kill it in the endurance world.

Do you know what their training consists of? drill, cadence and pacing work.

Even though he has Ironman slayers and marathon killers…they are doing interval work. And drills – developing and refining their running skills. They don’t just run miles, on miles on miles. That’s not quality, that’s just quantity – a one way road to overuse and injury.

His athletes are doing 1/4 mile repeats, 1/2 mile repeats, mile repeats, mastering 5Ks- quality intervals.


So.. how is your one mile? Taking around 9-10 mins? If so, don’t waste your money to simply “finish a half marathon” and risk serious injury. Build up to it. Earn that mileage. You need to master the smaller stuff before you tackle a HUGE challenge like a half marathon.

Train to kill a 5k instead!! Then you can build up to a 10K, 15K and so fourth. I enlisted the help of Roy  to help put together some progressions for you.


First and foremost – Form and cadence work.

Form: Pose Method. Pose method is the official running method of Crossfit for a reason – it works and it’s easy to learn. Roy teaches 95% of his athletes the Pose method (or some form of it). This is about being aware of your body, moving with intention and viewing running as a skill…running is not about the shoes.

Pose breaks down running into three simple steps: The running pose, the fall and the pull.


POSE. FALL. PULL. This will be your mantra.

You can find a lot of good stuff on Pose running drills here.

Once you have the pose, fall, pull method down, then it is time to apply it to cadence drills. 

Cadence is the number of steps taken per minute, with the an optimal goal being 180 (90 each leg) strikes per minute.

**You keep the same cadence no matter how fast you’re running. This way your body maintains a similar PRE (Perceived Rate of Exertion) no matter how fast you’re running. Being that your cadence remains the same, your stride lengthens as you speed up and shortens as your slow down.

Download a metronome app on your smart phone (they have one ones synced to music).

Start out with periods of 30 seconds and work up from there. Work on this for about 10 minutes a few times per week. You will also be applying these drills as warm ups for your run during the first few weeks of your 5k training.

Become familiar with these basics and then we’ll add some mileage… part 2 can be found here. 


Willpower: don’t bank on it

You’re on a diet kick, right? Or “changing your eating habits”…whatever you’d like to call it.

You want to kick a bad habit. Trying not to drink all of the wine.

You’re trying to power through a never-ending work or school assignment to excel and do well.

You’re trying to make a change in your life.

So what do you do? Change 9 things at once, never come up with a solid action plan to work with from the beginning and hope that you have enough willpower to stay the course and reach your goal.

First off, many people try to change too many things all at the same time. For instance, they have a fat loss goal. They decided that in order to be successful and attain said fat loss goal within their (usually impractical) time frame,  A- they need to commit to working out 6 times per week, twice per day is best B- cut out all sugar and sweets C- cut out all CARBS because they’re evil and make you fat D- cut out all alcohol E- significantly cut their calories, etc.

I can tell you right now that you will soon find yourself elbow deep in a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos while gulping a margarita sugar-bomb if the above is your “plan.”  You actually don’t have a plan at all…you’re just making a bunch of rules.  More on why too many changes does NOT always equal better results on another day.

I want to talk about willpower in a way that isn’t normally addressed.

You see, many people view willpower as a limited resource. Many people think the more you “use,” the less you will have.

Going back to the fat loss goal, let’s talk about your willpower over the course of a week.

  • Monday – you killed it. You prepped your meals on Sunday and you’re very motivated to stay the course. You’re bragging about your homemade dressing to everyone at the office. You’re totally going to share it on Facebook.
  • Tuesday – Sam’s birthday at the office. You’re presented with cupcakes… looks tempting but you’re still armed with your previously prepared meals from Sunday so you pass. Phew. Keep focused. It’s only day two. Just get over it already.
  • Wednesday – Your prepped food supply is getting low.. you now …have to…. go OUT FOR LUNCH! You frantically search the menu for a “healthy” option. The healthy options are there buuuuut they’re no where near as tempting as the asiago cheese, bacon bit smothered chicken fettuccine alfredo. But you know you have to be strong here. You think of your motivators. Your fears. Your desires. And you pass. But you do eat a piece (or 3) of bread that they so inconsiderately placed right in front of you before your meal (don’t they know you’re trying not to eat that stuff!?) Rude. Minor deviation from the plan but you’re victorious over the entree department. Patience is wearing thin but you’ve told yourself you’re strong enough to fight through this. Stay the course.
  • Thursday – Wednesday night you made a large, healthy dinner that provided you some left overs. Yesterdays lunch was really stressful and you didn’t want that to happen again. You came prepared to face the lingering cupcakes from Sam’s birthday celebration on Tuesday. They still look delicious….You pick one up…and smell it….fantasize about eating it…. AND THEN YOU DUNKED THAT SHIT IN THE GARBAGE! Get the eff outta there. It’s been four days since you’ve started this journey and you’re getting the hangry/carb-deprived combo. Not. Good. For. Anybody. Later, you force yourself to go to sleep hungry before you raid the fridge at home. You’re not too stoked about anything right now.
  • Friday – Day five. Last day of the work week. You begrudgingly gnaw on your healthy lunch as everyone indulges in take out, fast food, etc. You think…this sucks. Is this even worth it? Maybe I’m just not meant to be leaner/thinner/smaller. This is too hard, too stressful. Dinner is when you deviate from your “plan” and you reward yourself . These past five days have been hard and you feel sorry for yourself. Your willpower has been drained and your tank is empty. Saturday and Sunday goes down the crapper and you’re back to square one next Monday.

As the days went by, even though each day you were accomplishing something…you set yourself up for failure because you were only riding on your willpower to get you through.  You defaulted to willpower over formulating a solid action plan. The biggest mistake you made was assuming that you had a limited and finite amount of willpower. That each time you “used it”, you then had less of it available. Instead of viewing each of those feats as a sense of empowerment, you felt drained.

How you think about willpower will determine how effective it is.

Do you think the more willpower you exercise, the more confident you will become?

Or do you think you only have so much to give and it will run out after so much wear and tear?


The Henry Ford quote “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” really takes the cake here. It’s all about your mindset and attitude.

Do you genuinely believe your willpower will help you overcome or are you just hoping it happens?

You need to take a positive approach to willpower and try to think that the more you use it, the better you will get at tackling new challenges. Keep the ball rolling and generate a positive momentum. Think “if I had no problem throwing out that cupcake the other day, I can easily keep this up. It was actually really empowering to do. I showed that cupcake who was in charge. I actually spared someone else from eating it so that’s worth double points. It was easier than I thought and I’m now that much closer to my goals because of my dunking skills. I’m awesome.”

When I hit a goal, it just makes me want to set and exceed new ones! It gets me pumped up. I have learned to embrace the positive growth and achievement that comes with challenges. I need them. I look for challenges. It keeps me on my toes. You need to draw positivity from previous accomplishments. Remind yourself of how awesome you are. Positive self talk and self love. More on what self love should mean here. 

Remember, willpower is another tool in your tool belt when working to achieve a goal. Don’t put all of your eggs in the infinitely large willpower basket.

If this is a concept you’re struggling with, we can help. Reaching a goal always takes a multi-method approach. The experience, guidance and care from our coaches at St. Pete Strength and Conditioning can help you develop the habits it takes to create that positive snowball effect.

Click here to sign up for your free trial to experience the SPSC difference.

Why I want to be your first….


This picture had nothing to do with the blog post…but I DID get you to open it, right? 🙂


Your first Crossfit experience, that is!

We love noobs (novices) at SPSC Crossfit. You don’t need to be “in shape” to do Crossfit. You don’t need any experience AT ALL. That’s why we’re here…to teach you!

Crossfit’s slogan is “Forging Elite Fitness”. Don’t let the word “elite” intimidate you – the slogan simply means we have the ability to take your body and skills as far as you’re willing to go. Also, the word “fitness” is left to interpretation. Your idea of fit may change when you step into our doors 😉 We’re more interested in what your body can DO instead of focusing solely on how it looks (although squats and pull-ups develop beautiful bodies).

The quote “Our needs don’t vary by kind, only by degree” resonates profoundly with us at SPSC Crossfit. To us, this means that everyone from the most out of shape, over weight and deconditioned person (young or old) to the most elite and advanced athlete out there all have the same needs: squat, deadlift, push, pull, run, jump, etc. in various forms. These movements are ESSENTIAL to a good quality of life for humans and should be mastered. 

If you’ve never done Crossfit – GOOD! We want to be your first experience and we want to make it fantastic, positive and challenging in all the right ways. We want to show you your potential, highlight your strengths and help you improve your weaknesses. We want to make you feel comfortable, cared for and welcome. Our members also do a great job at making you feel cared for and welcome – they are hands down some of the best people you will ever meet in your life.

So you say you’re not in good enough shape to start Crossfit? Seriously…that makes no sense. You have to exercise before you start exercising? You have to lose weight before you join a gym? You have to get strong before you start to lift weights?.. WTF…Now are you going to start off pumping out pull-ups and back squatting your body weight? Probably not. But we all start somewhere. If you’re willing to put the work in and commit to improving yourself, you will achieve greatness with our guidance.

Ok..maybe you’ve “worked out” in the past but you have never lifted weights -PERFECT! This means you don’t have any bad habits to break. We can build a solid foundation, develop your mechanics and, over time, increase the intensity when it’s appropriate to do so.

Oh another good one!! Maybe you have a pre-existing/old injury so that must mean you’re not be able to do anything we do at the gym. Right? WRONG. Many of our members came to us with existing injuries. Hell, some of our members started Crossfit with us well into their late 40’s and 50’s…do you think they came to us with perfect mobility, flexibility and without some old injuries and limitations? Of course not. We can teach you how to work around those issues and work towards gradually improving and strengthening those areas. We also have the wonderful services of Dr. Maggio of Peak Performance Sports Therapy within our facility so you can #getyobrokeselffixed. Seriously, though..check him out. 

To be perfectly honest, most people are simply attempting to get off of their asses to lose weight, get healthy, function well and learn some new skills in the process. This is the bread and butter of the Crossfit Community and you should join us!!

Our focus is THE PEOPLE! The Average Joe. The new Mom trying to get back into shape after having a baby. The grandparents trying to stay healthy and independent.

Trying to build a nice butt and shoulders for beach season? We have you covered. (see what I did there?)

Trying to lose body fat? BOOM! We’re the ones.

Do you want get strong and lift heavy things? Yep, we do a lot of that here.

We find nothing more rewarding than helping someone achieve their first pull up. Even their first PUSH UP! Hell, squatting correctly without the assistance of a box is an achievement in and of it’s self.

But what if you aspire to be a competitor within the Sport of Crossfit? Then we have a program for you, too.  After you have mastered pull ups and dips, can you work towards advanced gymnastics movements like muscle-ups? HELL YES! Do you want to refine your snatch technique? We have the trained eye and knowledge to help you do so. If your goal is to compete within the Sport of Crossfit, LET’S GET AFTER IT!  We can take your strength and skills to the next level.

And if you have no idea what a snatch or muscle-up is… IT DOESN’T MATTER 🙂 Just think of starting Crossfit as starting a new job or school… its ALL new to you.

You’re going to be nervous.

You have to learn where the bathroom is.

You have to learn where (and what!) the equipment is (we don’t have fancy machines with picture tutorials on them ;).

You have to learn new terminology.

You’ll have to meet new people.

You’ll be put out of your comfort zone and you’ll be forced to come to terms with your weaknesses and you’ll learn how to improve upon your strengths.

And IF you’re willing to stick it out…you will see change and growth in so many ways. Changes in your body. Change in your mindset. Through struggle comes growth!

Your Crossfit experience is all based on YOUR goals and YOUR personal dedication.

Do you want to simply lose body fat and look great naked? Or do you want to develop yourself into a competitive Crossfit athlete? (There is a difference in Training Crossfit and Training for the Sport of Crossfit- more on that later 😉

We have a LOT of strong and well-conditioned people.  We have plenty of lean, mean, fit machines.  But we also have plenty of  people that are just starting their fitness journey. Crossfitters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of our women can deadlift twice their body weight and can crank out pull-ups 5, 10, 15 repetitions at a time!  We have men squatting with well over 300Ibs on the barbell and can walk across the gym in a handstand! They have developed those skills and capacity over time with hard work and dedication. Now did they walk into our doors with those skills and strengths? For the most part, no. Did some of them come to us with some natural abilities and some starting strength? Sure. But we continue to make them better.

I guess what I was trying to highlight with this post was that we’re really great at making average people above average. That is our forte.

We want to make the Tampa Bay Area healthy and active.

Let us help you reveal the best version of yourself.

Come see what all of the chatter is about at SPSC Crossfit.

See you soon 🙂


-Nicole Race

Owner/Coach at St. Pete Strength & Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit.






Spring T-Shirt Pre-order (order by 3/6/15)

It’s time again for some fresh new SPSC swag! We will be collecting a pre-order list for our new shirt design and all orders must be placed by Friday, March 6th in order to guarantee your shirt. This design will be stocked on a very limited basis, so pre-order to get the color and size that you want. We are using the same type of shirts that we have in the past, so sizing will be consistent. Both men and women’s tees will be a standard crew neck style and can be ordered in either white or black, with a bright blue ink print as shown below. Each shirt is $20 + tax.  Here’s what to do!

Email with:

1) Shirt size

2) Shirt color – white or black

3) Gender – men or women

4) Instructions to charge your account or whether you will be using another payment method.



Member of the Month!



Our member of the month for February is Alex “The Rhino” Rosenberger! Alex has been with SPSC since December 2013 and has made some awesome progress over the past year. If you want to push the pace of your workout, follow Alex. He leaves it on the floor for every WOD and we have never heard a negative word uttered from his mouth. Alex is another great example of what SPSC is all about: having fun, working hard, and staying positive. Thanks for inspiring us, Alex, and keep kicking ass!

New Cycle Starting 2/9 and NEW Special Program; PLEASE READ

Alright Pelicans,

January marks the end of our current strength cycle and February will usher in test week and the new cycle. For those of you that were not here during one of our previous test weeks, this is a great opportunity for you to set some markers for yourself by which you can measure progress over the next few months. Test Week (Feb 2nd-Feb 6th) will follow our normal class schedule and will have a similar structure to our regular classes. PLEASE BE HERE FOR TEST WEEK. If you miss a day, you can make it up on Thursday. Monday-Wednesday will be the most important days since we will be testing 3 Rep Maxes for Back Squat, Bench, Strict Press and Deadlift. There will be a daily WOD to test as well. Don’t be intimidated by the word “test.” This is not a pass/fail scenario, just a chance to see where you all stand on a personal level.

The 3RMs (for Performance level) will be directly used for percentages in strength work over the next 3 months. You NEED to know these numbers. I will be implementing the Wendler 5/3/1 program for those in Performance. The goal here is to work on absolute strength in the traditional powerlifting movements (squat, bench, deadlift, press). This has immense carry-over for general strength. We’ll still mix in other lifts, including olympic lifts, during WODs or in other formats.

For those in Prime or members that just aren’t here consistently enough to work off percentages, we will be doing a 5×5 template for the same lifts. Each week, you will be adding 5-10 pounds to each lift for another 5 sets of 5 reps. This is easy to track (if you record in WODIFY, hint hint) and is an effective method of getting progressively stronger week over week. START LIGHT so you can increase every week for weeks to come. If you get stuck at a weight and can’t complete the 5×5, then stay there until you can complete it.

USING 5/3/1

I want to explain the basics of this program, so that it is used correctly. The plan here is to have a 12 week cycle, with three 4-week mesocycles. We’ll focus on one main lift each day, with some accessory work to follow. The order of the week will be Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press. Weights will be determined by percentages of your Training Max. You will use your 3 Rep Max from test week for this number. There will be a chart in the gym to mark your numbers and easily see the percentages to use.

The first week, we work lower percentages for 3 sets of 5 reps. The second week is slightly higher percentages for 3 sets of 3 reps. The third week will be higher percentages for a set of 5, a set of 3, and a set of 1 (heaviest). The fourth and final week will be a de-load at lighter percentages. That’s one mesocycle. When you start the next mesocycle, you’ll add 5lbs for upper body movements or 10lbs for lower body movements to your Training Max number (the 3RM for that lift). Then we do it all again!

To be effective, you must stick to your percentages and rep ranges. Don’t be a hero and try to max out because you feel good that day. Strength is not built on 1RMs. It is built working at sub maximal loads, and that is why this program is effective. On the bright side, you’ll have the opportunity to hit rep-max PRs! On your final set for each lift, you can do as many reps as possible at that percentage. So if the first week is 3 sets of 5, the third set would be a 5+. You need to hit at least 5 reps, but could do additional reps for some extra strength gains. Moral of the story, STAY TRUE TO THE PERCENTAGES. If 75% comes out to 172 lbs, don’t round up to 180! Go to 170# and do the work.

NEW Barbell Program

We are also excited to announce that SPSC will be offering a barbell program twice per week. This is open to our unlimited members that are interested in some extra lifting and accessory work. Sam will be in charge of this program and will implement his program. Sam’s big focus will be adding some front squat volume (since we are only back squatting in class) and rounding out the accessory work with a focus on everything from arms to core/trunk. This will be an awesome compliment to our main crossfit program! This is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday nights and will begin Feb 10th.

Go on, be strong, and be the pelican.


December’s Member of the Month & Donation Instructions


Congratulations to Brooke Fletcher, our member of the month for December! Brooke has been a member since our inception in November of 2013. Few people are more focused and determined during a WOD than Brooke. From day one, she has been driven to succeed and has that never-quit attitude that is so admirable.  If you have ever trained with Brooke, you know that EVERY rep counts…because she literally counts her last reps out loud! It’s been a pleasure to watch the progress and PRs stack up for Brooke over the past 13 months. Congratulations and here’s to continued success in 2015!

On an important side note, after selecting Brooke as the member of the month we were notified of a terrible tragedy. Her ex-husband and father to her daughter was murdered on 12/31/2014. This is obviously a very difficult time for Brooke and her family and any support would be greatly appreciated. Anyone that is interested in donating any amount towards funeral and burial costs may do so in one of two ways.

1) Direct to the church at . Once you log into your Paypal account via this link, there is a link that reads “Add special instructions to recipient”. You can click on this & specify Malik Tipsword so that all proceeds go to the family.

2) Through Go Fund Me at . Please note that Go Fund Me will take 5-7% of these donations.

Thank you.

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