Tag Archive | running

This Week’s Wins: Lots of Running and Some Yoga, Too

Another week has flown by, which means I have officially completed the seventh week of my base building plan. My weekly mileage is still low (18-22 MPW), but I’m running more days per week made up of shorter runs that focus more on speed and strength. My goal over the next 5 weeks is to build a solid foundation that will carry me through marathon training injury-free.

Looking back on this week’s workouts, I can easily pick my 3 Weekly Wins:

This Week’s 3 Wins

  1. When it works with both our schedules, I’ve been meeting Mary once a week to run after work. This week, we were both feeling pretty good and got to a point in our run when Mary asked if we could pick up the pace a little, to which I happily agreed. For about 3/4 of a mile, we were pushing our pace to the low 7s. We ran stride for stride, our arms pumping, breath flowing, and legs turning over in perfect tandem. At the end of the run, we realized we’d executed a perfect progression run, with each mile about 10-12 seconds faster than the previous one. We didn’t even mean to do that! Definitely a win, and a much-needed confidence boost.
  2. I had been planning to do my long run on Saturday to get used to waking up extremely early on the weekends now that I need to be out the door before 7 to beat the heat. But, when Tori asked if I wanted to join her for some of her 12 miler on Friday, I gladly accepted the invite. Running with friends on Friday mornings as the sun rises is the best way to start the weekend! Though it was hot and sweaty, I knocked out 7 miles before heading to work, which I love doing. It’s nice knowing all my key workouts are done and the weekend is open for more cross training and resting.
  3. I used my extra time this weekend to reunite with my yoga mat. Yoga is something I know I need in my life to remain healthy. The benefits of incorporating yoga into training are numerous: flexibility, strength, breath control, mental toughness, sanity. But, as I run more days and try to fit in strength exercises, yoga often gets put on the back burner. I’m going to try to be more diligent about my practice, hoping to go a couple times per month to keep my muscles limber and my mind calm. Today’s class was free through our local lululemon store. We had this amazing guest teacher named Ashley Halley who created her own workout called MOVE that uses many yoga poses as a starting point, but incorporates much more cardio, strength, and fun music than traditional yoga. She had us planking and jumping and squating and push-upping all over the place. After 60 minutes, I was dripping in sweat and knew I had worked every muscle in my body. It was a tough workout that I thoroughly enjoyed, and hope to do it again soon! I’m not so sure if my friends who I met for brunch afterward felt the same, given how far everyone chose to sit from me. :)
source: Ashley Halley MOVE Facebook Page

source: Ashley Halley MOVE Facebook Page

Needless to say, it’s been a good week of training including one day of Body Pump and one day of yoga. I had one tough running workout that didn’t go as I’d hoped it would, but I don’t want to focus on it too much. That’s the whole point of trying to stay more positive regarding my training. At the end of the day, I know one bad workout isn’t going to define me; it’s how I handle it that will dictate who shows up to the start line of my upcoming race.

How did your week go? What were your 3 top workout wins?

Monthly Training Recap: May

While I was injured and recovering, I broke up with my Garmin. It kept me from focusing too much on paces and distance while I was trying to heal. Now that my trusty Garmin has reclaimed its place upon my wrist, I’m slowly getting back into uploading my training data on a regular basis. And, by that, I mean after every run.

I’d forgotten how much I love going through the data. It’s the side of running that truly melts my geeky heart.

Since it had been a while since I’d logged into my Garmin Connect account, I had to dust off some cobwebs and get acquainted with a couple new features. Like, how my GPS can apparently pull in weather information for the locations of my runs?

Garmin Connect Weather

Um, that’s awesome. It’s going to be very helpful as I further develop my mental toughness when it comes to heat and humidity. I can’t wait to look back on all the sticky, sluggish runs I powered through during the upcoming Florida summer as race day gets closer. Seeing what I trained through should put an extra pep in my step as I approach the start line for my “A” race, which is happening in late November.

In addition to weather updates, I love taking a look at my monthly report to see what I accomplished over the last 30 days or so. May was the first month of my base-building plan and it looked like this:

Garmin Connect Monthly Data May

This output might not seem like much, especially considering the impossibly high number of inspirational friends I have training for full Ironman(s)/Iron[wo]men (seriously, WTF is the plural?!), but it means the world to me. And, here’s why:

  1. Over the course of May, I gradually increased the number of runs per week from 3 to 4… with no hip pain (knock on wood).
  2. My long runs have been at 6 miles for the last three weeks and I’m feeling stronger and more comfortable after each one… with no hip pain (knock on wood).
  3. Speed work (AKA The Baby Tempo Run) has made its way back into my life… with no hip pain (knock on wood).
  4. I’m smartly increasing my mileage week-over-week… with no hip pain (knock on wood).
  5. Cross training and social runs with good friends are still a regular part of my plan, and I was able to fit in at least one of each every week in May. It’s very important for me to maintain these two happiness-inducing workouts even as my training ramps up, so I’m focusing on maintaining them now in order to make them habit. Plus, I know that cross training will help with continuing the whole “no hip pain” thing.

Overall, I’m happy with my first full month following a training plan in over a year. I can’t wait to see what June brings!

How’s your training going? Are you using the early months of summer to build a strong foundation for fall racing? Who else loves analyzing training data? 

 

The Art (or Science?) of Positive Thinking: Introducing Three Wins

Before I launched into this latest training cycle, my first “official” one in more than a year, I decided a big focus for me would be improving positive thinking and mental toughness. As the cliche for our sport goes, running is 10% physical and 90% mental. While I think that ratio is just slightly skewed, it does show the importance of training your mental muscle as well as your physical ones. 

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My first couple weeks of training I spent a bit of time reading some articles about running and mental toughness, especially as it relates to the marathon (see the end of this post for links to some of my favorites). A few common themes arose that I’ve already put into practice:

  • Visualization: The concept of thinking about your runs before they happen is an interesting one – you’re basically tapping into your imagination to project the movie of a run or workout in your mind. Without realizing it, I did this a lot before my first two half marathons. The night before my long runs, I’d take some time before falling asleep where I’d play out how well my run the next day would go. I’d think about the route, imagine how my legs would feel, and focus on what I’d do to push through fatigue. Somehow, as I became more knowledgeable about training and running, I stopped practicing visualization, and I can say I had fewer amazing long runs than when I was using visualization techniques. This is something I’ve brought back into my training. 
  • Mantras: Every runner I know has some (or several) mantras that they recite when a run or race gets tough. To me, the repetitive nature of running makes mantras so successful in helping distract the mind from discomfort. I have a handful of little sayings that I turn to when I’m pushing through a less-than-perfect run, but I’ve also realized that there are other little tricks I can play on myself to keep me moving. Now, when I recite a mantra in my head, I tell myself I have to speed up my cadence slightly. This has been very helpful in keeping me from slowing down for no real reason other than I’m feeling slightly fatigued or hot.  

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  • Moving to Positive Thinking: One of the posts I read talked about envisioning a big STOP sign when negative thoughts creep in, and I’ve found this incredibly helpful. I used to find myself dreading tempo runs and would spend the whole day focusing on how hard they would be and how I didn’t want to do them. Now, I’ve shifted my thinking to be more along these lines: “This tempo run is going to be hard, and I am so excited to put in the work that will make me stronger for my race. I can’t wait to run fast tonight and see if I can beat my times from last week!” Anyone who knows me knows my running nemesis is humidity. For someone who grew up in Florida and lived in the swamp that is D.C., I have never gotten used to humidity or the negative impact it can have on performance. My first couple of summers back in Florida, I’d spend giving up on hard running once the humidity increased. Instead on fixating on weather I can’t control, I’m focusing on how it’s making me a stronger runner who can push herself in tough conditions. 

That last theme is the main reason why I’ve started recording what I’m calling my “Three Wins” every week: I pick the top three highlights from the past week of training and jot them down in my training log. My plan is to read through these when it comes time to taper so that I remember the joy I found through the process of getting to that starting line come November. It’s all about embracing positive thinking to build mental toughness! 

This Week’s Three Wins

  1. I had a great run with good friends (Hi, Tori!) this morning. We got in 6 waterfront miles as the sun rose and managed to negative split the whole run, despite the 89% humidity. 
  2. With quite a few plans on Memorial Day, I moved my tempo run to Wednesday. Due to a conflict, I had to take to the treadmill to get my workout in which is less-than-ideal since I hate treadmills. I sucked it up, and powered through my tempo run with perfectly even splits, making me really glad I didn’t blow off the run when it would have been pretty easy to do so. 
  3. My boyfriend is here visiting from LA, which makes it hard to stick with a routine. Though I shifted around some workouts throughout the week, I still managed to get in everything that was on my training plan including a 6 AM Body Pump class that kicked my butt (…and hamstrings… and shoulders).

My Favorite Posts on Mental Toughness:

 

What are your weekly wins or favorite mental toughness exercises? Share them with me in the comments! 

Dedicated to a Training Plan

Dedication is an important part of any endurance athlete’s character. To reach our goals, we have to stay dedicated to our training. Being extremely Type A and a total “J” on the Myers-Briggs personality indicator, working off a defined training plan is probably one of my favorite things after making to-do lists.

I am dedicated to this training plan – to tackling each day’s workout with vigor and purpose. Those little feelings of joy that I get from marking off daily goals have returned, and it’s good, because – let’s be real – it’s been a while. Going with the flow and not following a training plan just didn’t work great for me. Some people can rock it. Me? Not so much.

For the last year, with no training plan, I managed to I stay active with regular workouts, but my runs and cross training lacked purpose. Without a plan or goals, it became a bit harder for me to stay fully dedicated.

Rainy Run in Central Park

Rainy Run in Central Park

As I mentioned in the last post, the break was good for me. I learned that sometimes it’s good to take a break, to workout just for the sake of staying healthy. My best friend helped me realize that throughout our lives, our priorities will shift and change. Last year, my focus was definitely on my personal life – family, relationships, and work. This year, I’m feeling pretty great about where I am with all those areas so I have a little bit more emotional and mental bandwidth to commit to working toward a big running goal again.

So, the whole point of this rambling is that I’ve been officially following a training plan for two weeks now. I’ve hit my daily and weekly mileage goals, which makes me feel proud and all the more dedicated.

I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, as I can see laid out in my Google Spreadsheet, and I’m pumped about it. Cheers to being fully dedicated to this training.

This Week’s Running Highlights:

  • Easing back into tempo runs with an amazing 4 miler along Bayshore Boulevard (1 mile warm-up, 2 miles @ 8:10, 1 mile cool-down)
  • A hot, blah run that didn’t feel as bad as it could have because I had some awesome company
  • Running through the rain in beautiful Central Park and getting in the longest run I’ve done in several weeks
  • The return of Friday Friend Sunrise Runs with the newlyweds
  • Spending quality time with the evil foam roller because injury prevention is a big goal
  • Falling in love with the Brooks PureFlow 3 (alternating with the Saucony Guide 6)
  • Total Mileage: 18
Post-Run Sunset Views

Post-Run Sunset Views

Changing Motivations: Finding What Makes You Lace Up Your Running Shoes

{Insert paragraph about how long it’s been since my last post, so much has happened since then, where has the time gone, blah, blah, blah, here.}

There’s a lot to be said about motivation, especially for endurance athletes. I mean, something’s gotta keep us moving forward as we pound away at the pavement step after step, mile after mile, year after year.  Motivation comes in many forms, and can vary tremendously – mine certainly does, practically every hour. No matter what motivates us, it’s that instrumental aspect of our being that propels us toward our goals and keeps us working hard even when the finish line isn’t in sight.

Sometimes, though, motivation becomes elusive and harder to grasp. It slips out from under us, leaving us feeling a bit lost and unsure of how to progress. Last year, an injury took a toll on the motivational factors that drove me to train hard and run fast. As my times increased and my races become fewer and farther apart, I started beating myself up over losing my desire to run. I felt I’d lost any motivation to run at all.

But, I was wrong. I never lost my love for running. My motivations simply changed. Instead of forcing myself out the door every morning to chase PRs and new distances, I found the desire to keep running from new friends who have become amazing friends that I can’t believe I’ve known such a short time. I discovered the contentment that comes from running without an iPod or a Garmin, to simply feel my feet connecting with the ground and feeling a sense of accomplishment simply from being active and outdoors. I learned that not every race will be a PR.

And while I wouldn’t change the last year of my relationship with running for anything, my motivation is shifting once again. I feel the urge to train hard and run faster once again. I want to cross a finish line with a smile, knowing I’ve pushed myself to achieve a new goal. I’m ready for the next challenge, and I think I’ve got all the pieces in place to enjoy the journey that’ll get me there.

While training for my first marathon, this blog helped me stay on track and served as one of the many motivational tools I pulled from during that time in my life. I enjoyed writing about my experiences with training, and – with some big goals on the horizon – I think it’s time to bring this thing back to life.

 

Life Since the Marathon

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since the marathon. Part of me feels like it just happened, the other part feels like it took place months ago.

After such a tough training cycle – between injury and illness – I knew I wanted to recharge after the race. I forced myself to take a full 6 days off of running, which was needed as my hip ached for a few days after the race.

My first run back after 26.2 was pitiful as every muscle in my body ached. I ended up only going 2 miles before calling it quits. The next day, I attended a hot yoga class that focused more on recovery and balance than intensity, which helped loosen up my hips. When I tried running the following day, I felt much better, although I did notice some minor pain in my left ankle and hip. I shrugged this off, figuring it was just leftover soreness from the marathon. I ran quite a few more times that week, including a 5 mile tempo run at sub-8:00 pace and an 11 mile long run with friends that included steep bridges. 

I honestly felt okay on these runs, and I loved the long run, especially the company. Sure, I had aches and pains while out running, but I kept telling myself it was nothing to be worried about, that as long as I took a couple more rest days during the week, I’d be okay. 

I don’t know why I felt the need to keep pushing myself so hard. Perhaps it was a bit of obsession – I am desperate to get back to the paces I was running last fall, and I think as soon as I finished the marathon, a part of me wanted to jump right back in. Another part is that I read about all these amazing bloggers who run multiple marathons a year, sometimes a month, and I guess I, naively, thought that if others could do it, I could do. 

Lesson learned: when it comes to marathons, it really is important to respect the distance AND your body, and that means taking the time you need to recover. 

Needless to say, after 1.5 weeks of pushing myself too much too soon after the marathon, I developed intense pain in my left hip flexor that resulted in an awful limp and the inability to run at all. I haven’t been able to run in a week, which is driving me crazy. 

But, there is some good coming out of this little injury: I am finally, finally learning how to properly swim. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now, and I am committed to getting more comfortable in the water so I can have an alternate form of cross training. 

Today, I headed to our local pool with two friends who helped give me tips and pointers on how to get familiar with freestyle swimming and breathing. I can’t lie – it’s very strange for me, and I feel like I look insanely ridiculous, but I’m excited about the new challenge. Plus, I know it’ll make me a stronger runner in the end… a runner who (hopefully) smartly cross trains to prevent future injuries. 

Because… one day… I will run another marathon, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any time soon. :)

 

 

 

Marathon Training: Peak Week

It’s about time for an update. Right after my first, amazing 20 mile run, I came down with a sinus infection and bronchitis. My doctor asked me to cool it on the running, suggesting I take a full week off. With only 7 weeks til race day at that point, I completely panicked. I began emailing and calling all my running friends, asking for advice on how to mentally and physically handle this break in my training. Everyone said I’d be okay, that I could still get to the start line of my first marathon.

My first runs back after being sick were terrible. I did not feel 100%, and knew I’d lost a bit of my fitness. That week, I went out for my second 20 miler and it was the opposite of my first one – I felt sluggish, tired, and in pain. But, I finished the run, and tried to focus on the positives: that I could run again, and that I pushed through yet another tough long run.

The next weekend, I ran a local half marathon on a challenging course to test my fitness level. With the exception of one sub-par mile, I stuck to my goal pace the whole time and even managed to squeak out 3rd place in my age group.

I went into my peak week of training feeling confident and knocked out some quality runs, including a 10-miler and 6 miles of speed work.

Yesterday, I ran 22 miles. By far a PDR (personal distance record) and one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Early in the week, I emailed my friend Mary to see if she wanted to head to Clearwater to run part of my route with me. After some quality peer pressure on Mary’s part, I decided to drive to Tampa early Saturday morning so that we could run on Bayshore Blvd. as the city prepared for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival happening later that day.

At around 6 AM, I took off by myself for the first part of my run – a nice, quiet 8 miles along Bayshore, where I nodded silently to other runners and took in a beautiful sunrise over the water.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

As my Garmin beeped for my 8th mile, I turned the corner onto Mary’s street and picked her up for the next portion of the run. We headed out to Davis Islands for a big loop, through the stunning neighborhoods filled with gorgeous homes. There are so many houses on that island that blow me away, it’s easy to get distracted from any sort of pain one might be feeling during a 22-mile run… We chatted the whole time, and it was nice to catch up with Mary.

After our loop around the island, we swung back by Mary’s house to pick up her husband, Marcus. He wanted to join us for about 5 miles so he could take in all the sights along Bayshore Blvd, with crews setting up booths and people already arriving to stake claim as close to the front of the parade route as possible. We decided we loved being able to run on the wide road rather than the sidewalk, as it made for a different experience and gave us plenty of people-watching opportunities.

At this point, my mileage was well over 15, and I was starting to feel it – my legs were aching and I could tell I hadn’t taken in enough water, especially with the sun starting to beat down on us. Luckily, Marcus is an excellent entertainer – he told me lots of pirate jokes and funny stories to keep my mind off of running. Mary was also doing a great job motivating me.

We dropped Marcus off, and I continued running around the block while Mary went to grab our next running buddy – her adorable pup, Winnie, who I just love! I was really excited to have Winnie join us for those last two miles as I really needed a distraction. During mile 19, I kept thinking, oh, I maybe I should just call it – 20 miles is good enough, but I knew I’d feel terrible if I didn’t finish what I had set out to do almost three hours before. With Mary and Winnie at my side, I pushed through those two miles and finished my first ever 22-mile run.

When I finished, my legs immediately began to tighten up and hurt. I could barely hobble my way to my car! Usually, when I”m done running, there are very few people around. This was not the case during Gasparilla! I’m sure everyone thought I had started drinking REALLY early, because I was definitely stumbling around and barely able to talk.

Mary and Marcus were kind enough to let me use their shower and feed me breakfast and show me hilarious YouTube videos while I worked up the strength to move my legs again. For some reason, I had agreed to meet my boyfriend on Davis Islands so that we could go to Gasparilla together, even though all I really wanted to do was take a nap.

I am happy to report that I made it through the whole day, with only a couple episodes of “my legs are going to fall off if we don’t sit down right now” or “if you don’t find me water/food/shade right now, I will kick you.”

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

With all the walking during Gasparilla, I officially did a marathon yesterday. But, I’m more excited to run a marathon on February 17th. Now, let the taper begin.