Head Coach: Philip Dunn
Hello! I'm Coach Philip, the head coach for Team Challenge as we prepare for the awesome 2013 Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half-Marathon. I’m returning to Team Challenge after a two-year break to work with Team In Training. For three years before that I was the Team Challenge walk coach for Vegas, Napa and Kona seasons. I feel like I’m back home where I belong.
I've been coaching athletes of various skill levels for 22 years at training camps, retreats and fitness clinics around the country. My coaching focus is on running and walking for fun and fitness with a special interest in competitive racewalking (more on that later). Over the past five years, I have coached hundreds of athletes across the half-marathon finish line. My proudest moment as a coach is sharing in the incredible joy that my athletes feel as they accomplish their goal of completing a half or full marathon. What a rush!
As an athlete, I raced all over the world representing Team USA (my other team!) at international racewalking competitions. My career highlights include racing in the red, white and blue at the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004 & 2008 and the Pan American Games in 1999, 2003 and 2007 in the 50km racewalk, an event in Track & Field. My personal best time for 50 kilometers is 3:56:13, about 7:35/mile pace... walking! I also love running, especially on the trails, so don't be surprised to see me helping out with both the runners and walkers this season. Gotta keep the team united behind one goal: finish that race!
For a more complete athlete bio, you can check me out at: http://www.usatf.org/Athlete-Bios/Philip-Dunn.aspx And if you want more, you can read my Olympic blogs (see archive) at my very out-dated blog: http://olympicwalk.blogspot.com/
Let's all have a great season.
Run Coach: Lev Mehl
We are so happy to welcome Lev back to Team Challenge as our Coach. Lev has been involved with Team Challenge since 2010 where he started his running career by participating in his first ever Half Marathon with TCSD. Since his first race Lev has completed a marathon, several half marathons, and numerous 10k and 5k races. He is also part of the Race Guards program which provides onsite first aid and CPR for numerous races around San Diego and Los Angeles. Lev was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease while in school at the age of 22 and thanks to a highly modified diet has been in remission for the last 15 years. Lev is looking forward to bringing his experience with running and with the Team Challenge program to encourage all participants to cross the finish line.
Walk Coach: Cindy Birkett
Team Challenge San Diego is excited to welcome back Walk Coach, Cindy Birkett! Cindy has been an avid fitness walker for 18 years and has participated in or served as a mentor/coach for 20 endurance events. Her focus and inspiration come from her daughters; one of whom suffers from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. She joined the CCFA’s local San Diego Board of Directors last year in support of their many programs, to have a voice on her daughter’s behalf, and to make a difference in the lives of her daughter and of so many others that suffer from these diseases. Cindy’s passion is helping others achieve their goals and she loves coaching!
If you're planning on running or walking a summer half-marathon, the time to start training is NOW! The most important thing you'll need to get started is a good pair of training shoes, and the most important feature of a running or walking shoe is how it fits YOUR foot. Don't worry what the Olympic Champion wears, and don't think about what color the shoe is; the only things that matter are how the shoes fit on your feet and how they fit your personal biomechanics. (Of course if the shoes fit your personal biomechanical needs AND come in Team Challenge orange and blue, well that wouldn't be a bad thing!)
Happy feet = happy training!
Q: I’m not currently running or walking more than a mile or two at a time a few days per week. How will I be able to finish a half-marathon?
A: Your coach will design a program for you based on your current level of fitness, whatever it may be. You’ll gradually build your mileage over the course of the coming months until you can walk or run (or with a combination of walking and running) a ten-mile workout. From there, well over 99% of our participants complete their half-marathons.
Q: What kind of shoes do I need?
A: Everyone has different feet and biomechanics. The staff at your local running/walking specialty store will be able to fit you for these needs, as well as your mileage level, and the surfaces on which you train. To find a local specialty store, head to www.runnersworld.com/store-finder
Q: What’s a “GU”?!
A: “Gu” and other sports gels (PowerGels, Cliff Shots, Hammer Gels, etc.) are concentrated forms of carbohydrate about the consistency of honey. They are an alternative to sports drinks and are designed to provide athletes with energy for endurance activities. Each gel contains about 100- 110 of concentrated carbohydrate. Many half-marathons will provide gels in the later stages (around mile 10) to give runners and walkers an energy boost for the last few miles. Although they are generally pretty easy on the stomach, especially when taken with water, it’s always a good idea to try gels several times in training first before using them on race day.
Q: I had to miss three days of training. How do I make up the lost days?
A: You don’t! If you’ve missed anything less than a full week of training, just jump right back into the schedule. If you missed more than a week, talk to your coach about modifying your schedule to get you back on track.
Q: My fingers swell during my training walks. What’s going on?
A: Your heart beats harder and faster when you train, so blood is sent more forcefully to the extremities. Muscle action helps to return blood back to the heart, but many walkers don’t pump their arms very much when they walk (they should!), so blood pools in the fingers. Swollen fingers are more common with changes in temperature, during pregnancy, and when electrolytes are out of whack. Clenching and unclenching your hands, or shaking them over your head will help to pump the blood out of your swollen fingers.