Posts Tagged ‘running tips’

1. Make sure you train

Okay, this sounds blindingly obvious and it will be considered foolish to most people to embark on running a Half Marathon without doing any training. However, it does happen and, of course, the people who do so are daft.

There is more to this point than those people silly enough not to train. Firstly, it is important to train specifically for running a Half Marathon. You may be fit already as a result of going to the gym, playing football, swimming etc, but if your body is not conditioned to running long distances on tarmac, over various road contours and in varying weather conditions, then you will not be ready for a Half Marathon run. Even if you are already fit and active, it is important your training is all about running. Well, not quite all, but the vast majority of your training in the months before a Half Marathon should involve running.

Finally, it is important to complete your training schedule and run on every day you are supposed to. Always remember it is those days when do not want to run but do so anyway that will mean the most on race day.

So, whatever your level of fitness or general motivation, this message is important: make sure you train.

2. Pick the right schedule

A Half Marathon Training Schedule is a great way to not only plan your preparation for race day, but to also ensure you do enough training. Half Marathon Training Schedules are tried and tested with every day of training planned out in advance, making it easier to build training sessions into your daily routine.

Selecting the wrong schedule, however, could be disastrous.

Firstly, be realistic about your abilities. It will be incredibly de-motivating to struggle to complete each day’s training. That is an important sentence as a Half Marathon Training is as much about building mental toughness as physical fitness. By completing every day of training (even the rest days), you are one step closer to completing your ultimate goal. The sense of achievement will be particularly pronounced on the days with long distance runs.

To finish this point, it is also important to avoid schedules that are too easy. It is all about finding the balance – you will want a schedule that is challenging enough that you improve as you train while not being so difficult that you cannot complete each day’s run. It is also important to be realistic about the time you can allocate each day to training. It is no use choosing a schedule that will require an average of one hour training every day if your lifestyle does not allow that.

Finally, choose a training schedule that has been designed specifically for Half Marathon preparation. A lot of the schedules on the Internet are designed for those training for full, 26.2 mile marathons. They are often crudely adapted for Half Marathon Training, i.e. by cutting the runs by 50 percent. It is better to choose a schedule designed solely for Half Marathon Training.

3. Choose shoes (and socks) wisely

Your feet are the second most important part of your body to look after during Half Marathon Training. The mind is the most important part, but feet come a close second, before legs, joints, lungs or anything else.

Choosing the right shoes and socks is therefore incredibly important. This is not about individual brands, but rather the process to ensure everything is right on race day. To achieve that aim, choose and buy your shoes and socks at the start of your training. It is a very bad idea to attempt to break-in new gear close to a Half Marathon event. The earlier you select your shoes and socks, the better. At the very least, you will have time to change your mind and buy alternatives if your first choice is not working.

All the leading brands make great running shoes so we do not have a recommendation on specific brands in this article – that is more down to individual choice. The key point is to choose running shoes. Not cross-trainers or shoes designed for any other purpose – just running shoes. Running shoes should fit well and will offer support.

If you find it generally difficult to find comfortable training or running shoes, you could try a Wet Test. Your local running equipment or quality sports shop should do this, and it should be free of charge (if there is a charge do-it-yourself by simply laying white paper on the ground, wetting your feet, and running over it). If the imprint of your foot is shaped like a driver (golf-club terminology), then you have a normal foot and most standard running shoes should be comfortable. If the imprint is more like a thick club-shape, you are flat footed and may need a shoe that has a firm mid-sole. You will want to stop the inward roll of your foot so stay away from shoes that are highly curved, highly cushioned, or do not have much stability.

If the imprint of your foot narrows dramatically in the centre to look like two eyes (or single quotation marks one on top of the other) then you have a high-arched foot. You will need a shoe that is cushioned with lots of flexibility to encourage motion as your foot is not rotating enough.

Finally, we turn to socks. Socks can often be the most overlooked item of clothing for Half Marathon runners. The advice is to buy running socks as they do not move which reduces the possibility of getting blisters. They will often be left and right footed, which helps in this goal. There is nothing worse than dealing with a small, but painfully crippling, blister in the middle of Half Marathon Training, so indulge yourself with a pair of good running socks.

4. Include strength training in your schedule

Leg strength is a key element of Half Marathon Training. It is one of the main factors in determining whether you run the marathon in the time you want. It is also a factor in determining whether you can complete the whole event running, without having to walk.

In preparing for a Half Marathon, many people say they are prepared for the pain and will just run through it. That sort of comment often comes from people who are fit and are therefore used to training. For many of these people, the pain associated with training gives them a buzz and is part of the reason they keep doing it.

When your legs stop working because they are too tired, however, no amount of will-power is going to make them start working again. The only solution is to prepare your legs for a Half Marathon by including as much strength training as you can.

This may sound daunting, but it does not need to be. Strength training can take many different forms, including using a cross training machine at the gym or going to a circuits or spin class. It could also be much simpler, though. You could do plenty of hill work during your normal training runs – the steeper the hill, the better. Or, you could incorporate speed work into your normal training runs.

Any sort of strength training you do will reap benefits on race day.

5. Get in the right frame of mind

Being mentally fit is as important as being physically fit when it comes to being successful in a Half Marathon run. It is no different to any other sport, or in fact any other aspect of life. If you are not in the right frame of mind, it is very hard to achieve your goals.

The most important things is to stay positive throughout your training. Tell yourself every day that you feel good, fit and strong. That may sound silly to some, but it does work. Treat every completed day’s training as an achievement and congratulate yourself for taking another step closer to your goal.

It is hard to stress just how important mental positiveness is to training and completing a Half Marathon. There are hundreds of stories of sportsmen and sports teams who loose despite being more skilled than their opponents. Lack of confidence and poor mental attitude are often to blame. Even for normal people (like the majority of us non-athletes who run Half Marathons) can be affected by not being in the right frame of mind. There are many stories of men and women who run on the day of the Half Marathon far below the standard they were regularly achieving during training.

Of course, mental toughness and a positive attitude will not by themselves get you through a Half Marathon. You will need to do the physical training, but remain positive while doing so and constantly tell yourself you are doing well.

6. Train with others

Half Marathon Training can be a lonely pursuit, particularly when on a long run. Runners do many things to relieve that loneliness (which, occasionally, turns into boredom), including listening to music or radio programmes through headphones (try also listening to audio books as a page-turning bestseller is a great way of getting through a run).

Sometimes just being entertained while running is not enough though. The solution to loneliness, boredom and low motivation is obvious – run with others.

You will have to make sure the person or people you plan to run with are at the same level of training as you. You will not want to be held up by a running partner who cannot keep up with you, and similarly you will not want the strain of running faster than you are comfortable with so as to keep up with a quicker partner.

One final thing on this point – running with others does not necessarily mean running with other people. Dogs make great running companions and are the partner of choice for many in training.

7. Fund raise until you can’t fund raise anymore

There are two main reasons for fundraising ahead of running a Half Marathon. The obvious first reason is that charities and good causes will benefit from your efforts. This is of particular importance if your chosen charity has had a personal influence on your life. If it was not for the millions raised around the world every year by people running Half Marathons, charities would be much worse off.

The other reason for fundraising is much more selfish. If you use your Half Marathon entry to fund raise, you will be under a greater obligation to compete on the day and ultimately complete the race. Following directly from this sense of obligation will be a greater motivation to train. It will no longer be just a personal decision of whether you feel too tired on a particular day to train as another thing on your mind will be not letting down the charity you have selected, or the people who have committed to give you money on completion of the event. That could be enough to keep your training going when motivation is low.

8. Stay hydrated

Studies have shown that being as little as 2 percent dehydrated can have a negative effect on your running performance. Being dehydrated can make you run slower and may make you feel sluggish and light-headed. You may also start to cramp. It is therefore important to make sure you take on enough fluids while Half Marathon Training.

Fluid intake should start before your training run. Ideally one to two hours before the training session where possible and the amount you should take should be between 8 and 16 ounces (250mls to 500mls). Throughout the training session, the same amount of fluids should be taken for roughly every 30 minutes of training. This should be done by sipping rather than gulping down large amounts or you will just find that you will need to go to the toilet.

The type of drink you choose is down to personal choice, but it should be cold rather than warm. Water works well, as do sports drinks.

You may need to plan your fluid intake on training runs. Such planning has been shown in studies to improve performance. There is a more practical reason for planning in that when training, you are on your own and will need to carry enough drink to get you through to the end of the run. It will be different on race day when often the organisers will have drink stations throughout the course route.

Finally, it is important to drink after your training run. The amount you will need will vary depending on how strenuous your training run was. As a guide, you should drink enough so that you will have to go to the toilet within about an hour of finishing your run.

9. Sleep and eat well

This may be common sense, but for many people living busy lives it can be a challenge. As much as it is possible, meals should contain high energy, non-processed food. Heavy, starchy meals will feel like a lump in your stomach so should be avoided. Fruit and vegetables should be eaten as much as possible.

You should eat at least 30 minutes before your training session, more if it is a larger meal. Also try to use the toilet just before going out for your run as it is not just about putting good fuel into your body – having a system that works well is also important.

Sleeping well is also critical. Because of the modern and demanding lives many of us lead, it is not always possible to get 8 hours sleep every night. However, your Half Marathon Training will progress better if you get plenty of rest. Your body needs time to relax and recuperate when going through a Half Marathon Training Schedule, and sleeping is the best way to give your body this time.

10. Try everything before race day

Everything you have read in these Top 10 Half Marathon Training tips, and every other piece of advice you get when preparing for your race, should be tried well in advance of the event. Do not, for example, buy a new pair of running shoes a week or two before your race. In fact, do not do anything in the week or two before the race that you have not done many times during your training.

The clothes you plan to wear on race day should be worn on training runs – if it is going to chafe, it is better you find that out well in advance. This applies to everything, from your underwear to your t-shirt; your socks to your hat.

The fluid you plan to drink during the race should be used while on all training runs, and if you plan to use energy gels make sure you try them in training long before race day. Before long training runs you should also try to eat the food you are planning to eat before the event.

Finally, most Half Marathon events take place in the morning. If possible, train at a similar time of day, particularly on your long training runs.

William Best is a writer and journalist. He currently edits Half Marathon Training, a website specifically focused on training and competing in a half marathon.

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Being a runner over 40 has presented new areas of interest (and concern) for me on the road and more importantly in my training and recovery off the road. I love to run and it’s great to see research being done on older runners…the Stanford study that shows that running slows aging or the Yale study that shows that older marathon runners (women in particular) are improving their running times more than younger runners.

I would like to share some insights and tips that I have learned along the way. Many of these women’s running tips can apply to all runners, but they definitely take on a new perspective as the years go on and we get older, wiser, and perhaps, faster…

Training Tips:

1. Adding Miles: SLOWLY! Use the 10% rule. Add no more than 10% increase of the mileage each week. Here’s more detailed explanation and chart from FitSugar.

2. Warmup: As we get older, the body needs time to get going and giving it that time will help avoid injuries. See “The Perfect Warmup” from Runner’s World.

3.Cross-Training: Is a must for any runner, but as you age the relationship between cross-training and running becomes even more important. For a different, low impact, cross-training option, see our recent post on Aqua Running (Pool Running). Core exercises have become another essential, here’s some good ones from Runners World.

4.Strength Training: There is a lot of information out there on lifting weights and strength training, but being careful to start this in the “right” way is important as we get older. Running Planet has done a nice job w/ laying out The 8 rules of Strength Training”. We have some good videos on our Resources page.

5.Stretching/Yoga: Another must for the aging runner (and this has certainly been debated by many). Dara Torres proved this in her Olympic effort that stunned us all. She adhered to a strict resistance stretching regime (see previous post – Doing the Home Stretch with Dara Torres). I am not a huge fan of yoga, but here’s a good article by Runners World about a runner w/ a ITB injury who didn’t like yoga at the beginning, then became a convert. My always injury free LDF (“Long Distance Friend”) swears by power yoga!

6.Rest: This has become one of the most important parts of my training. If I don’t get enough rest, my body begins to break down. Listen (very closely) to your body.

7.Massage: Another Dara Torres staple and one of my personal favorites. It does not matter if you have a fabulous husband like I do or get from a pro, it works to relieve the stress of training and tired muscles. You can even do it yourself w/ some videos by Rich Poley who wrote “Self Massage for Athletes”.

8.Set a Goal: Having a goal or a race to strive for makes the training have a purpose and keep me focused.

9.Training Programs: A little planning goes a long way. If possible, try to plan your training to run more often on softer surfaces like trails, dirt roads, grassy parks, or even the track. A few good programs are on our resource page. There are many good ones out there–find one that suits you.

10.The Track: Most marathon training programs will include track work as it helps develop the fast twitch muscles to build speed and lung power during a race…getting older does not mean getting less competitive:) If I am training for a marathon, it really makes a difference for me especially in the later miles of the race. Good article from Runner’s World called “Running in Circles”.

11.Injury/Recovery: This one is hard for me as I have had many… at 46, I still like to run fast. There are several common injuries to running and I think I have had them all. See “Coming back from an injury” posts. I have learned to recognize my body’s warning signs and back off. Many of these tips (see Rest, Diet, Stretching/Yoga, Massage, Weight/BMI, Orthotics, and more) are meant to help avoid injuries or help w/ recovery.

12.Running with Music: Running with music can help motivation and provide a needed distraction. I have also learned about the importance of BPM (beats per minute) and ensuring that if you are listening to a song, be sure it is not too slow and unconsciously slowing your pace. Find 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s music along w/ best bands of today and learn more about BPMs in this post: Best Running Music Ever

13.Weight/BMI: It seems that fast marathoners have a low Body Mass Index (BMI). Marathon Guide has a quick tool to calculate your BMI. Knowing yours can help to find the “right” BMI for your best running performance. See also post: What’s the ‘right’ BMI for a woman marathoner?”

14.Running in Different types of Weather: I am not a treadmill runner, so I will run in anything short of a blizzard. With the right layers of clothing this is possible. However, if you are training in summer for a fall race, beware of weather differences. The weather during your race may be very different then when you are training. Don’t be discouraged if you are not able to run 17 miles the way you think you should when you are in 80-90 degree heat and high humidity.

15.Travel Running: Always bring the running shoes along! Some of my best runs have been among the monuments of parks, cityscapes and beaches of sand. Hotels (see this post that mentions WestinRun) now will provide maps (and sometimes runners) to guide you. With the help of Map My Run you can find a route from anywhere. Take a look at some of our Travel running posts.

16.Running and Sex: Here’s an interesting article by Running Times that quotes an Israeli scientist who declared “Women compete better after orgasm, especially high-jumpers and runners”…who am I to argue w/ Israeli scientists?

17. Fartlek Training: Sports Fitness Advisor has some good tips on how to incorporate fartlek into your training (psst…if you don’t know what fartlek is, check out 10Ktruth.com’s “Runnerspeak – Dictionary of Running Jargon and Other Sport Terms”).

Nutrition and Hydration Tips:

18. Type of Diet: Adhering to a well-balanced, low-fat, wholegrain diet that is higher in carbs has always been the best route for me. I love a good smoothie (see post Smoothie Operator –quick nutritional training meal”) while training. Here’s an interesting article w/ good tips on eating from Cool Running called “The Runner’s Diet”.

19.Hydration: It used to be all water and Gatorade for me, but now as I get older I don’t want the same amount of calories. I opt for the lower calorie alternatives like electrolyte powder mixes (see post: “Water log: Hydration and road recovery options for runners”).

20. Eating after Running: The window for eating after running is small, but important. See post “Refuel ‘Right’ after a Run”

Gear Tips:

21. Running Clothes/Bra: I like my running clothes sporty–not funky, but this is obviously personal preference. A good running bra will go a long way…avoid cotton at all cost. I have learned that running skirts are the most polarizing of all apparel items. However, if you love wearing a skirt, check out the Skirtchaser Race Series…looks like fun!

22.Running Shoes/Socks: Running shoes are so personal the only way to really find a pair is to go to a running store and keep trying them on until you find one that feels comfortable. There are tons of shoe guides for different types of feet that are helpful in narrowing it all down. Learning about pronation and choosing a shoe that fits whether you have normal pronation, underpronation (or supination), or overpronation (or hyper-pronation) is key. Runner’s World has a good article along with videos on pronation here. I have changed my shoe once. I alternate pairs of three for marathon training (it used to be two but with my foot issues, it’s now three). Here’s Runner’s World’s “Spring 2009 Running Shoe Guide”. The Asics Gel Kayano 15’s are the “Editor’s Choice” winners and also the shoes I use. A few other quick tips:

  • Measure your feet: As you age, your foot size may gradually change. Make sure salesperson measures your foot while you are standing up
  • Shop later in day: As the day goes on, you feet get slightly larger.
  • Orthotics and socks: Wear socks you use and bring orthotics to store when trying out shoes. Find “dry-wick” type of socks instead of cotton.
  • Check wear: Most shoes give you between 300 – 500 miles of running. Keep track of the miles (see #24- Running Log). Replacing shoes can avoid unnecessary injuries. Check for wear on soles and inside the shoe as well.
  • Local running store: Find a good store that specializes in running shoes. Bring in your old shoes when looking for new ones. A good running shoe specialist should be able to look at old shoe and note the wear/fit when choosing a proper new shoe. As about return policy, many stores will let you run in the shoes and return them if they cause problems. Once you’ve found the shoes that work for you, you may be able to find the shoes again on-line at places like Runners Warehouse (a bold pace readers get 15% off), Overstock, or Holabird Sports.
  • Break in the shoe: Don’t wear a new shoe to a marathon, be sure you have had time to break it in. However, when buying a new shoe, it should feel good when you are trying it on.
  • Thumb-width: Have a thumb width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I wear a 1/2 size bigger to make sure I have room in the toe box.
  • Get medical advice: If you have a persistent problem with your feet, get the advice of a medical professional. Believe me, waiting for a foot to heal can be agonizing. Don’t make it take any longer by waiting to get help.

Here’s a great video from Howcast that covers many of these tips: “How to Choose a Running Shoe”

23. Orthotics: I overpronate and could not live without these. If you have foot issues (plantar fasciitis, heal spurs, significant overpronation or underpronation, etc.), I’d recommend seeing a sports doc to consider orthotics as your new sole-mates:)

24.Running Log: Memory is not one of my strongest assets, so having a log to record my training keeps track of: weekly mileage, meals, shoe purchases (so I know when to retire shoes), favorite routes/runs, etc.

25. Running Watch/GPS: At heart, I am more of a zen runner (would rather not wear a watch or calculate each mile’s pace…just run), but the NYC marathon last year changed that for me. I went out too fast and had a hard time at the end. I now wear one again. There are great watches and GPS devices (see article from NY Times) that make it easy to calculate pace/time/distance. Another option in a marathon is to make use of “pacers” at a race…here’s Clif Bar’s Marathon Pace Team info.

26. Running Bag: See “What’s in your Running Bag? 10 Essential Items for Taking your Run on the Road”

27. Chaffing: Avoid blisters, use BodyGlide, Vaseline or new Asics Chafe Free. Apply anywhere that rubs…feet, nipples, etc. For more on Asics, see “The End of Run Chaffing?”

28. iPods: The must have for runners (even if you need to borrow from your child). I understand why a lot of runners do not like to use during races , but if you love music, this can be a great way to relax and keep going (ipods are now allowed at some races, see post “Music to my ears”). Be sure to choose songs that work w/ your pace/BPM.

29. Reading about Running: There are so many fabulous books out there on running that are fun to read. They can motivate and excite you. We have a few posted on our Amazon Store.

Racing Tips:

30.Finding a Race: Marathon guide or Racevine can help you find a marathons and other shorter races. These sites not only list races, they rate them.

31. Racing for a Charity: Millions of dollars a year are raised by runners for charity. It can make the race more meaningful if you have someone in mind as you run the miles. Supporting a good cause can also be a way into a sold-out race.

32.Women only Races: More magazine’s Marathon/Half-Marathon (they have the best expo), Zooma Women’s Race Series, Nike Women’s Marathon and See Jane Run are just a few of the women only races out there. They are fun, lively and a bit more polite then the co-ed races:)

33.Pace your Race: It is helpful to know your race goal and have the mile split times easily accessible. PaceTat is a durable, lightweight (actually weightless), and unobtrusive way to keep track of your pace while racing. These are simple transfers that you apply before you race and shows your mile split goals in clear large font. Brilliant idea, and only $2.00 – $2.99 per transfer. Or go the simple and FREE route w/ this tool from Clif Bar.

34.Speed at 40/Beating your PR:There have been numerous articles about how women are older women are getting faster and staying there (see ABC News article on Yale University Study). As we gain experience, we become more efficient runners. We know to run the tangents, prepare properly, and read tips like many we have listed here. We also have more time to train as our children get older.

35.Qualifying for Boston/The Boston Times: Boston is a great, tough race. It is an honor to run it. This is not one to be missed if you qualify. See some of our posts about the Boston Marathon. Check out the “Boston Marathon Qualifying Times.

36. The Race Day Survival Kit: You don’t want any last minute surprises on race day. Having a race day kit can help you to know you are prepared and keep you focused on the race. Assuming you already are wearing your clothes, shoes, have your watch, etc…there are still some items you need. There are two options… you can use a “check-in bag” where you have to wait in-line to get a claim ticket or use a “disposable bag” that has just the essentials and can be tossed. Here are checklists for both:

Check-in Bag:

  • ____Extra Clothes: Nice to have a spare top, shorts, and socks to change into after the race.
  • ____Sunglasses and sunscreen: If it’s a hot and sunny day, you’ll be glad you have these.
  • ____Towel: There may be a shower at the end of the race, but even if not, nice to have to towel off.
  • ____Phone: To contact friends after race
  • ____Money: For any emergency needs
  • ____Pre-race food and fluids
  • ____Post-race food and fluids
  • ____Race Number (if already have) and safety pins: Bring a few extra and you’ll make lots of friends:)
  • ____Race Chip (if already have)
  • ____Course map/Race instructions
  • ____Band-aids/Athletic Tape/First aid
  • ____BodyGlide/Vaseline/Chafe Free
  • ____Deodorant
  • ____Large garbage bag: Helpful if windy or raining before the race or just to sit on.
  • ____Wipes: Useful for nasty porta-potty
  • ____Magazine: Nice to catch up on Vanity Fair while waiting in line for race to start:)
  • ____Extra Goo packets: Use safety pin to keep a couple with you for during the race.

Disposable Bag:

  • ____Pre-race food and fluids
  • ____Wipes: Useful for nasty porta-potty
  • ____Throwaway old clothes: Sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt. Most races donate discarded clothes to charity.
  • ____Race Number (if already have) and safety pins: Bring a few extra and you’ll make lots of friends:)
  • ____Race Chip (if already have)
  • ____Magazine: Nice to catch up on Vanity Fair while waiting in line for start:) Put in garbage before start.
  • ____Large garbage bag: Helpful if windy or raining before the race or just to sit on.
  • ____Extra Goo packets: Use safety pin to keep a couple with you for during the race

The Running Psyche Tips: 37. Making time for yourself: Running = sanity. Alone or with friends it has fantastic therapeutic results that last all day. I find doing it early in the morning is best as I know I’ll get my run in and “life stuff” during the day will not get in the way.

38.The Running Group: One of my LDFs and I always joke how we are going to write a book about the nuances of our running group. Finding friends to share running with is a wonderful thing and helps you to stay motivated and enjoy the company along with the run.

39. Running Websites/Blogs: There is so much on the web now that you can tap into for running advice, training, support…see our blogroll. It’s a great time to be a runner. If you’re not getting automatic e-mail updates from a bold pace, don’t miss out! Or if you prefer, get our RSS feed.

40. Going beyond your limits: I have to add this because it is the reason I give my son every time he asks why I run…”running for me is about going beyond the limits I have of myself in my mind”. He’s very logical and always answers…”limits are definitive–you can’t go beyond them”…I keep trying to prove him wrong.

Perhaps it is the fresh air or the hours of laboring over one subject with LDFs but from running has come some profound realizations. My LDF Heidi and I have decided that everything our children need to know about life we can relate to running. A life manual in the making perhaps? There is always “One for the THE Book…” decided on a run.

Monica Anderson is the founder, owner and creator of Remanents. She is a mother of three and avid marathon runner. She launched a new line of running themed tees and notecards along with a new running blog for women called: a bold pace-running for our lives. The high-quality papers, witty wordplay, clean design, and innovative packaging have made Remanents a favorite of discerning customers. Remanents has been sold in many exclusive stores including, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel, Nordstrom and Anthropologie-and in hundreds of paper and lifestyle stores across the US. Also sold internationally in Japan, Australia, U.K. and directly at http://www.remanents.com. Remanents products have been featured in In-Style, Bridal Guide, on ABC News and many other media outlets.

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