The Little Things . . .

a Going the Distance newsletter

Late Mid December 2019 || issue #87
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Carol Blanchard

[Fernando Braz coaches over 400 scholastic athletes in the summer. During the school year, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, he coaches hundreds more scholastic athletes in cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track. In the current indoor track season he has 240 Peabody HS athletes in his program.

He also coaches many post-scholastic runners at all levels throughout the year. Carol Blanchard is one of them.]

Briefly, I lived in Quincy before I got married in 1988 and moved to the Merrimack Valley. We then moved to Dracut about three years ago. We have no children, and we have a dog and a cat. I’m a dentist and my husband is a dentist as well. We met teaching at Tufts Dental School which we both do part-time. I travel to Boston daily since I work primarily in Charlestown and Tufts Dental School is located in downtown Boston near Chinatown.

So pre-Fernando, my sister who doesn’t live locally, is also a runner. Both casual runners; couple of 5ks and 10ks here and there, but no real training so to speak, and certainly never a coach. She and I had talked about running a marathon “someday”. Eventually, we both decided that if we didn’t get a marathon in before age 40 we might never do one. So we both bought Jeff Galloway’s marathon book and looked up a training schedule. Our first marathon was Ocean State in RI in 1994 and I was 38. We finished together in 4:15 and we were both hooked.

While running locally one day I ran into another runner, Dawn Mickee, and we struck up a friendship. We began running regularly together and over time we both heard about the Merrimack Valley Striders and thought it might be fun to try a running club. And it was and is fun -- lots of friendly runners and hosted runs on the weekends.

Fernando was coaching at MVS at that time, and eventually Dawn and I both signed up for his track workouts on Tuesdays after work. My goal at that time was to learn more about running, and to improve my overall running times, especially the marathon. Getting to the track on a regular basis was tough for me though. I work in Charlestown and as a dentist I can’t always count on getting out of the office at a certain time. Fernando’s current email coaching works really well for me – there’s flexibility so I can do the primary workout on a day that works for me and there’s opportunity for changing the weekly schedule if I’m going to be away or have other conflicts so that I have to make a change.

I ran a couple more marathons after Ocean State (Cape Cod, Marine Corps, and Philadelphia) but my times really didn’t improve, which is why I decided to try training with Fernando for a marathon.

I’ve been training with Fernando since 2000 (or thereabouts). To date I’ve run a total of 40 marathons, most under Fernando’s guidance. And I’ve run Boston 21 consecutive times. I’ve learned so much from Fernando about running, cross training, and recovery. What I like is that his coaching is individualized. There have been times when I could train 6 days a week and wanted to go for a personal best –- Fernando got me there at Baystate a few years ago with a time of 3:35. There have also been times when I could only get in 4 or 5 days of running and a max of 35-40 miles in my peak weeks. One of his recommendations after a long run is the dreaded ice bath which I never look forward to, and I know I wouldn’t do if it wasn’t on my schedule, but it really works! His tips and “little things” make a big difference and help keep me focused.

Lately, I’ve been mixing it up a little in the summer and running 5ks and 10ks, trying to push myself. The last two summers Fernando changed up my training to accommodate the shorter races. Although I think of myself as a middle of the pack runner, last summer I ran a 5k and came in 2nd in my age group and then this past summer I ran the same 5k and came in first in my age group. Then back to the marathons, most recently, I ran the Baystate marathon in a qualifying time for 2021 Boston and came in third in my age group. The weather was perfect on race day and with the miracle of the training I felt good from the start and mentally knew that I was going to have a good run. I also ran a negative split at Baystate which was a first – I always wanted to be able to say that I did that!

Through the years I’ve had to make adjustments for number of days of running; total mileage I could accommodate; plantar fasciitis and an Achilles issue. I’ve been lucky with health and have only had a really bad cold or other minor ailment which required a week off here and there. I’ve also had the occasional lack of motivation and just not wanting to run on a schedule for a while -– just wanting to run for fun. Fernando’s great about checking in on both the physical and mental aspect of my training.

What works best for me now is the early morning run. Sometimes with a group of friends and sometimes by myself. I’ve had the occasional fall, slip on ice, trip over a root on a trail, but all in all, I’ve been lucky with my runs. I’ve adjusted to running with a headlamp, reflective vest, and all of the other safety gear that’s out there. I never run with headphones, unless I’m on a treadmill, which I really don’t enjoy.

Looking forward to the Mill Cities Relay in December and then a bit of a break until 2020 when I’ll start ramping up for Boston again. When I’m not training, I really miss it. In general, I’m pretty goal oriented and I need that next adventure to keep me motivated.


GTD Summer Program Staff

The GTD cross-country and all-sports summer programs would be impossible without the tremendous coaching staff, who work under Coach Braz's guidance.

XC coaches -- Peter Cirafice, Colette Madore, Dawn McGrath, Sue Kiley, Emily DeMarco. For more information, go to this link.

All-sports coaches -- Pat Mayo, Tom Holleran, Dana Bonjourno, Dan Harris, Theresa Connolly, Scott Myers, Chris Cennami, Chris Butler. For more information, go to this link.

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Last morning of All-sports. Some words from Coach Braz before we start.

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End of the morning. Core, of course.

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Last run on the last morning of xc program.

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but the coaching never stops


Why Am I Receiving This?

We send the GTD “Little Things” newsletter to the following –-

▪ Athletes who are currently coached by Coach Braz or have been coached in the recent past
▪ Scholastic athletes who have participated in the GTD summer programs
▪ Parents who registered their scholastic athletes in the GTD summer programs
Athletes who are currently coached by Coach Braz or have been coached in the recent past
Scholastic athletes who have participated in the GTD summer programs
Parents who registered their scholastic athletes in the GTD summer programs

The purpose of this newsletter is to give information about GTD conditioning and coaching programs. We also include race results and interviews. The purpose of the interviews is to give recognition to some of the athletes, provide them an opportunity tell us who they are, and to describe how the GTD conditioning and coaching programs work.

We are grateful to the many athletes (and parents) who support the GTD programs, and the "Little Things" newsletter. However, if you no longer want to receive the newsletter, you may unsubscribe by clicking the button at the bottom of the page.


GTD Summer Programs -- XC and All-Sports

Registration for the 2020 GTD cross-country and all-sports conditioning programs will be available on March 1. Onsite sessions for the programs will begin on Monday, July 6.
More information on the cross-country program.
More information on the all-sports program.
Questions? Contact Dave


Personal Coaching

Coach Braz provides personal coaching for runners at all levels who want to improve their performance or want a guided maintenance program.

Registration Form

The program is designed for runners who have a specific racing goal, or a series of races to prepare for, or want to build or maintain their running fitness.

Program details
Sign-up Steps


Previous Issues of The Little Things

Please go to this link for previous issues of The Little Things.


Going the Distance is a coaching service for runners at all levels.
If you know someone who might benefit from the Going the Distance program,
tell them about us, and forward The Little Things to them.
Visit our website -- Going the Distance
Head Coach -- Fernando Braz
Webmaster and Director -- Dave Smith
For more information, contact Dave at dave@goingthedistancefb.com

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