Woof It and Hoof It 5k Training Plan

Avocado and Lincoln
Hi Saltines! (mm that reminds me, I’m hungry…) Lincoln, the pup here!

I know I’m not the typical Salty contributor and you’re probably wondering how I got my paws on this post. But rest assured, the humans know I’m here. Avocado belongs to me and asked if I would be interested in guest posting to share my experiences and expertise on how to train for a 6-legged 5k.

Of course, I was excited. The humans rarely ask me for running feedback, which I can’t seem to make heads or tails of seeing as I’m twice as capable as them (double the legs, duh). Anywho, happy to share my take and offer a little guidance to any of our pup readers looking to take on this challenge with their human.

To begin, let’s talk about training, and not the kind that involves us fooling our humans into countless treats until we “learn” to stay. As a rescue, much of my early days were spent on the run so the cardio and endurance came naturally to me, as it does for many. If that’s the case for you, the most important thing in training is learning that there is, in fact, another speed besides “Go” or “squirrel.” It takes practice and patience to hone those skills. Personally, I think the most challenging part for us pups is teaching our humans to heel. In my experience, they have a tendency to want to keep a consistent speed. Humans, am I right? While it’s not in our nature, allow them to lead for the most part, but don’t be afraid to add that occasional fartlek training, especially in particularly wooded or squirrely areas.

If endurance isn’t your forte, it’s important to start by getting those miles on your paws. Morgan’s mom, Chicory, wrote about this here. Be consistent and try to get your human out with you at least a couple times a week. Pups, most of you know the basics on how to do this but a few effective tactics include: whining incessantly, destroying precious property, pooping in the house and the one I’ve found most effective, an uncontrollable bout of the zoomies. Get out and practice these 2-3 mile jogs a few times a week until you start to feel like that dash-out-the-door energy becomes more sustainable.

When it comes to race day, it’s up to you to help push (or in this case pull) them a little when they start to slow. Don’t be afraid to let that race day adrenaline take over and pick up the clip toward the end. Sniff some butts in front of you and work that tail. There are treats at the end so when your four dogs start barkin’, just remember, it will be worth it!

Most importantly, have fun! The majority of us pups are your average fur-to-5k type, so take off the pressure. The likelihood of you making it to the PuppyBowl is pretty slim so just enjoy it! Your humans will thank you and you’ll likely score an Insta feature (#goals). So buckle down that collar and get your furry butt in gear — it’s 5k season!

Reminder: Check with your vet before starting running with your dog. This post gives some guidance on the age and types of dogs suitable for running, but always get the go-ahead from your vet!

Any training tips from humans or pups on 6-legged 5ks?

What Not to Do on Race Day: Cilantro’s Endless Mile Race Report

Endless Mile Start
Photo credit: mruns.com

As I drove to the Endless Mile race start Saturday morning, I had a feeling in my gut that this race would not go well. While not my goal race this cycle, the Endless Mile — a race with 48-, 24-, 12-, and 6-hour options — was still an important race for me. I wanted to prove that my fitness had improved since my last race, get in at least 30 miles during the 6-hour option, and place in the top 3.

Goals C, B, and A aside, I knew from the evening before the race that things weren’t going my way. I could almost anticipate what was coming race day: GI distress, tired legs, sluggish paces, salty salty sweat. Yet, I felt helpless to stop the spiral. Negative expectations are almost 100% effective. In this case, as I made bad decision after bad decision, it seemed that I was incapable of resisting the urge to try all the things I knew didn’t work in an attempt to save my race.

It all started Friday morning.

Mistake #1

Early Friday morning, as I completed my shakeout run, my legs felt heavy. That, on its own, was not a cause for concern. It’s why I do the shakeout runs the day before the race; I’m often sluggish the first runs after recovery days, but in hindsight, it feels like a bad omen. On my run and after consulting with Salties, I decided to cancel my hotel room at the race destination, and stay at home. It’s only a two-hour drive to the race, and since the race started at 9 a.m., this seemed like a prudent choice. However, apparently there was a big downtown party where I live Friday night, and live music that felt like it was literally in my bedroom pushed my bedtime to midnight. I had my alarm set to 4 a.m., so you do the math. Not a lot of sleep occurred.

I’ve learned in my prior races that I do much better when the race is just a 15-minute drive away, plus there is something about go to the race destination that puts me in “race” mode.  When I stay at home, I’m not as able to get into race mindset mode.

Endless Mile 24, 12, and 6-hour start, Cilantro in light blue tank.
Photo credit: mruns.com

Mistake #2

When I do travel for a race, I always pack all of my food for the meals leading up to a race unless I book by a Chipotle, which allows me to ensure that I’m adequately hydrated and fueled race morning. Without the anchor of packing for a trip, I was lax on my nutrition all day. When I woke up around 1 a.m. (yes, after about an hour of sleep), I decided to try Meb’s race night fueling idea, where he’ll eat during the night before a race. Now, that might be wonderful for everyone (or just Meb), but even if it could have worked for me, I broke the cardinal rule of racing: Do not try something new on race day. I ate a nutrition bar, which was much more food in my stomach that I was used to race morning.

Related to mistake 1 and 2, because I woke up at 4 a.m., I ate 5 hours before race time, and was starving by the time I got to Veteran’s Park in Alabaster, so I had to eat again a full hour before the race start. The only thing I’d brought to eat was a Perfect Bar, which is literally my all-time favorite food group — just not for pre-race fueling. It was like I’d eaten a brick. Combined with my midnight snack, my stomach was feeling much fuller than normal. And that kept me from staying on top of nutrition once the race began. I simply didn’t want more food.

Feeling strong before the heat hit.
Photo credit: mruns.com

Mistake #3

The race began promptly at 9 a.m., and it was a balmy 65 degrees with 85% humidity. It felt perfect, but I knew that this would not last. It was forecasted to hit 80 degrees by 11 a.m., and knowing that, I had already decided to bank miles while I felt good, aiming for a 10:00 pace until it got hot, then dropping to a 12:00 pace. This was not the mistake (my coach agrees); a 10:00 pace is well below my easy threshold, and this was a pace that incorporated walk breaks from the beginning. Given the beautiful weather, these early hours were when it was imperative to stay on top of my fuel and hydration. I’m new to running in the extreme heat and humidity that characterizes my new life in the South, and I haven’t quite figured out how to handle the extremes. From watching my paces and HR, I know my easy pace differs by almost 2 full minutes in 53-degree weather versus anything over 70 with 80% humidity or higher. I also know that once I fall behind on my hydration, I will be in trouble.

Yet I still fell behind in my hydration. Exacerbating this, I wasn’t hungry because of the brick moving through my digestive system. I fell behind on fuel too.

And then the heat hit around 11 a.m.

Despite all this, I was moving well through mile 18, when, as anticipated, my stomach seized, and I had to sprint to the nearest bathroom. Luckily, because this race is a 1-mile loop (hence the Endless Mile), I was fairly close to a bathroom. That mile split was a delightful 13 minutes. I hoped that this would be my slowest mile of the race, but that was not to be the case. I’d been feeling pretty good despite slowing a little as the heat increased, but after I emptied my stomach, the lack of hydration and nutrition hit me hard. My stomach still was not feeling great, but I tried to eat and drink. Anything in my stomach, however, made the stomach discomfort worse, and as I slowly ran out of fuel, I slowed to a slog.

It was hour 3 and I had 3 hours to go.

Those 3 hours seemed impossible.

I started drinking water and eating the only thing that sounded good to me, orange wedges. On every loop, as I slogged around the course, I filled up my bottle with water and grabbed another orange slice. I started to feel better, but now my shins and calves felt like they were disconnecting themselves from my body, and all of this new fuel and hydration meant that stomach distress hit when I tried to go faster than a 12-minute pace.  I’d been with the leaders until this point in the race, but now I was fully in the throes of the death shuffle. My shoulders were slumped, my gaze directly on the trail in front of me. Every step hurt. I felt like I did after mile 70 at Burning River two years before. It was a scary and demoralizing feeling — self-doubt crept in, and I wondered if I was just in terrible shape and unable to compete at the level I wanted to (and thought I could). I wanted to quit. I’m not exactly sure how or why I didn’t, but I remembered Bryon Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress, and just continued putting one foot in front of the other. This is hard to do on a 1-mile loop course, as there is an easy option to quit every single mile.

But I persisted. Just in time for one final mistake.

Mistake #4

I have tried taking salt tablets multiple times in the past in the hopes that their “life saving” electrolytes will resolve all of my hydration needs. But they don’t. They make me very sick. However, as I stood at the aid table, grabbing as many orange slices as I could without seeming greedy (read: I literally grabbed all of them), I saw the salt tabs and decided to take one. I knew I needed to replenish my electrolytes since I had just been drinking water and taking gels, and I had race-induced amnesia about the other times I had taken them and wanted to vomit. So I took one, around mile 20. And, not shockingly, my stomach issues increased! Delightful.

Stomach reeling, the slogging continued, and my not-so-logical race brain decided that if I was going to be moving this slowly for the next three hours, I didn’t need to up my nutrition game by, say, eating.

This is always wrong. In a 6-hour race, no matter how slow I am moving, I still need to eat. And yet, I didn’t, aside from those truly amazing orange slices. My face, I’m sure, was sticky with sweat, sunscreen, and orange pulp. It’s a charming mental picture. Reality would have broken a camera.

I kept moving. Everything was rubbing me the wrong way (foreshadowing: butt chafing!), and I couldn’t even listen to music. I just moved slowly in circles, feeling more discouraged with every step and runners passed me.

Around hour 5, I decided to check in with the race organizer to see how far I’d fallen in the standings. As I waited for him (really, the computer) to calculate the numbers, I think I was trying to decide what measure I would use to give myself permission to quit. After all, in a 6-hour race, any full loop completion means you’ve finished, so it wasn’t like I would have a DNF (although, frankly, anything less than 6 hours would have felt like a DNF to me). As he pulled up the results, I saw I’d fallen to 5th.  Apparently, the heat was affecting everyone, and I’d been a great position until the wheels came off.

Not wanting to quit now but not feeling ready to put the hammer down either, I sludged back onto the course, grabbed another orange slice and a pickle, and kept on moving. After about 250 meters, I suddenly realized that I had been sludging in a posture of defeat (head down, shoulders slumped), and I decided that if I couldn’t run and I couldn’t place, I was at least going to look like a contender. I squared my shoulders, lifted my head up, and smiled.

About 500 meters after that, I found that I was able to run strong again. I didn’t want to burn myself out, so I kept things conservative, walking up the hills, but I ran the rest. I felt good again. Not fresh, start of the race fast, but strong. I maintained that strong pace until the finish. I finished 4th woman.

Lessons Learned

I’m not happy with my performance or my finish, but I am happy that I was able to come back strong after an hour and a half of demoralizing drudgery. This race was a good reminder that this is ultra running.  Maybe not to this extreme, but there are highs and lows in every ultra race, and if I can just push through (and fuel and hydrate), my body will come around.

I also have a clear set of lessons for my next race:

  1. Don’t break what isn’t broken. Sleep (or don’t sleep, if you are Meb) where it works. For me, that means I’ll stay in a hotel for important races more than 15 minutes away or I won’t race them at all.
  2. Don’t try new things on race day. Has been said before, will be said again. I am going to stick with my tried and tested pre-race day nutrition.
  3. Eat 3 hours before the race. Not 5, not 1.
  4. Eat early. Eat Often. Hydrate and fuel during the race. This one is a bit more complicated to solve as balancing what works is very individual and I haven’t figured my solution out yet. However, it’s clear that I have got to do something. When I calculated the calories I took in over 6 hours, it was around 300 calories. Total. That is not enough, even if I had walked the entire race. I should have, at the bare minimum, been getting in 200 calories an hour, so 1,200 calories total.  And that’s just a minimum number.
  5. Don’t try things that you know don’t work in the hopes that miraculously they will suddenly start working. No more salt tabs for me.

While I can’t fix what I broke, I am happy that I found the second wind and had a strong finish. This is a fantastic race (and all Southeastern Trail Runs are).  It is well-organized and the folk(s) at MarathonRuns take fantastic and free photos (check out his mRuns podcast as well). While my performance at the race wasn’t what I hoped for, it did provide a very clear set of “do not’s” for next time.

And there will be a next time. Because now, I’m hungry.

Parsley’s Training Log – 10.15-21.17

My kids loved the Moana cake I made for their 3- and 5-year-old birthday party, but were terrified of the candles!

I was able to sneak (or rather pound) in one more relatively high mileage week.  So two low weeks while I was traveling plus the last two high averages out to about 70 mpw for the month. Maybe not the smartest/most consistent way to train, but taking a bit of downtime in the middle of this marathon training cycle refreshed me both physically and mentally, and has rejuvinated my running these last few training weeks left before the race!

Sunday: 2 hour moderate pace run

Monday: My husband had to leave at 7:30, and since he would be out of town the rest of the week I wanted to get a workout in. Didn’t have many options in the dark, so ran 5 miles to the track. The track was unlocked but completely dark. I don’t do very well/can’t run very fast in the dark, plus I fell and skinned my front side on the way there and was even more cautious than usual, so decided to make my workout more of a track tempo, running 400s at whatever consistent pace I could hit. That way I didn’t have to worry about splits and could just use indiglo to check each lap. Ran 20 x 400 with 100 recovery, 400s were all 88-90. 5 miles home.

30 minutes w/ the double stroller later that morning to make it a 20 mile day.

Tuesday: 1:45 total running throughout the morning w/ various combinations of kids/strollers!

Wednesday: 12 miles total on the treadmill. I’ve been struggling w/ treadmill workouts- dreading them actually, because the few I’ve done haven’t gone very well. I feel like I’m working really really hard, but not running nearly as fast as if I were doing a workout on the track. I usually had to modify them by either cutting the workouts or intervals short, leaving me discouraged and worried about my fitness. My coach suggested dialing back my pace and increasing the overall length of my speedwork. I finally took his advice, and based my workout off one I liked from Poppy’s training log a few weeks ago (she ran her 800s at a faster, consistent interval. Since I’m pretty consistent on the track, I use treadmill runs as a chance to practice cut downs).

2 miles @ 6:15; 8 x 800 descending each rep, 6:11 to 5:45 pace, 2 miles @ 6:15.                                                                     1 mile warm up/down, .25 recovery intervals all @ 7:30 pace.

I really liked this workout and will probably do it again next week. In the past I’ve always run my speedwork much faster than marathon pace- I figure that way when I actually run marathon pace, it should feel easy!  Hasn’t been working out too well for me with my recent race results (ie: the pace doesn’t feel easy), so I decided to actually do some workouts closer to goal marathon pace. I felt like I was working but strong and in control, and actually helped my confidence rather than destroying it like my previous treadmill workouts.

Thursday: 91 minutes total running through the morning, combination of triple/single stroller. 16 minutes w/ triple later in the afternoon.

Friday: 1:15 w/ the triple, strength work at the park about halfway through.

Saturday: Planned to do a long run workout, but woke up achy, chilled/hot flashes, headache. Felt awful all day. Put my running clothes on late in the afternoon thinking the fresh air would make me feel better, made it a few steps down the driveway and went back inside. I don’t feel like taking days off very often, but certainly did today. My only disappointment was that I was on track to make it to another triple digit week, but was not going to push it when sick to reach some arbitrary weekly mileage goal.



Introducing Thyme!

Hi Salties! After years of lurking on the site, I’m thrilled to be joining the team and to be in such flavorful company.

I am a museum curator living outside Washington, D.C., with my fiancé. When I’m not running, you can find me snuggling with my dog (a black lab mix), visiting museums (I can’t fight it), trying to remember to read for pleasure, bookmarking recipes I probably won’t ever make, and (gulp!) planning a wedding.

As of this fall, I’ve been running for 20 years. Just with any two-decades-long relationship, running and I have a complicated history. Like many runners, I started as a soccer player, initially joining the 7th grade cross country team to get in shape for soccer, my preferred sport. But I soon found that running came naturally: my slight frame was much better suited to covering long-distances than fighting bigger, stronger girls for the ball.

I continued running cross country and track in high school, which is when I discovered one of the magic secrets of the sport: the harder you work, the better you will be. Over four years I gradually improved. Eventually, I met my senior-year goal of finishing in the top five at our championship meet and breaking 19:00 in the 5K. That moment, when my dedication and discipline paid off, remains one of the happiest of my life.

After graduating from high school, I joined my D1 college team as a walk-on. I was one of the slowest people on a team of talented standouts. Here, I discovered another secret of running: sometimes hard work isn’t enough.

My college running career was marred by frequent injury and frustration. I learned that my body is not genetically suited to the high intensity of a D1 program. More significantly, the disciplined approach that had previously served me well led to a pattern of disordered eating and obsessive cross-training that made my injury problems worse. Throughout college, I had a handful of successful races but mostly found myself in a cycle of injury after injury. In the fall of my senior year, I learned that I had a labral tear in my hip. I opted to get arthroscopic surgery to repair it. Surgery had a 4-6 month recovery, so my college career was over.

In the years after college, I ran only to stay in shape. Emotionally exhausted from constant injury, I chose running over running fast. I was scared to train hard and set goals out of fear that my body would betray me again. To be honest, it was liberating to not feel obligated to run. Being away from the intense college environment helped me recover from disordered eating habits.

I started lifting weights, doing yoga, and gained 15 pounds. Still, I missed running: the camaraderie of being on a team, the crisp scent of fall leaves on a cross country course and the tired-to-the-bone satisfaction of completing a hard workout. So after some time I started running a little more, eventually signing up for a couple half-marathons. Seeing that I could run longer and stay healthy was exhilarating, so I decided to register for a fall 2016 marathon, with a goal to BQ. I trained conservatively, but neglected to keep up with my strengthening and #extrasalt. With one month to go, I felt a sharp pain in my IT band that wouldn’t go away. I never made it to the start line.

A year later, I’m learning a third secret: working smart is more important than working hard (secret 3a: strengthen your damn glutes!). I don’t think I will ever be someone who can run every day or log 60-mile weeks. I will likely always have to do those annoying PT exercises to stay healthy. And that’s OK. By knowing and accepting the limits of my body, I can push myself to the edge, my edge, without going over.

I wish I could say I’m now training for that marathon again, but I recently learned that I have another labral tear in my hip — the same hip as before. Apparently my bones are shaped in such a way that they are inclined to tear the cartilage. I’m hoping to avoid surgery this time, instead focusing on physical therapy, which has worked for others with this injury. My goal is to get back to running consistently and maybe, just maybe, cross a marathon off my bucket list one day.

Here at Salty Running, I will write about chronic injury, disordered eating, and returning to competitive running after a very long hiatus. A huge fan of the sport, I’m also excited to keep tabs on the world of track and field and the history of women’s running. I can’t wait to get to know you all!

Olive’s Training Log-10.22.17

I’m just 3 weeks out from my goal half marathon on November 12, and this week was supposed to be 60 miles. The most I’ve ever run in a week is 63, and that was peaking for a marathon, so this feels like a lot for me. I feel pretty good for the most part, and I’m managing to hit most of my paces. One more heavy week of training before I start cutting back a bit!

Monday: Tempo day. 2 mile warmup, 4 at 6:48, 2 cooldown. Tempos are by far my least favorite workout, and this one is closer to my 10k pace then half marathon pace. I was psyched to get it over with.

Tuesday-Recovery day. I’ve been really trying to slow my easy runs down. When I run during the day for some reason I tend to run them much faster than I should. Strava convicted me of this recently-I noticed Chicory and Sesame, who are much much faster runners than me, run their easy runs slower than me! I felt silly after that and realized that my workouts were harder than they needed to be because I was running them on tired legs. All that to say-I averaged 8:50 pace for the 10 miles today which is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday- I had a day off from substitute teaching today and wanted to go ahead and knock out my long run, so I went to the local trail. I could tell my GPS was off from the start-it was reading 8:45 pace when I felt like I was working much harder. By the end of this run I was toast-I must have been going way too fast at the start of the run. 16 miles total-8:03 average according to my GPS but who knows the actual pace.

It looked pretty even when I was sucking wind.

Thursday-10 easy, 8:25 pace.  I think this is a little too fast. Managed some strength training after.

Friday-Track day before I subbed. Workout was 3x1k at 3:43, then 3×200 at 41. For some reason I thought 3:43 wouldn’t be that fast, but it’s still under 6:00 pace and I was pretty tired! 3:45, 3:43, 3:42, and then 41, 41 ,40.

Saturday- 8 easy plus strides, 8:54 pace. I had no problem going slow today, I was exhausted!


Angelica’s Training Log – 10/16 to 10/22

Recovery week after the Hartford Half marathon

I am another newbie so I thought I’d give a short overview here. I just ran the Hartford half marathon on October 14. That was my first real race after a long break from running due to plantar fasciitis. Having just run Hartford, this week is basically recovery and then I will start training for the 26.2 with Donna marathon in Jacksonville, FL (probably, see below). I have a relatively new coach and this will be our first marathon training cycle together. It’s my sixth marathon.

I work full time as a political science professor and I have two children, so I I traditionally run early in the morning (Early Morning Crew starts around 6am) to be sure to get the running in. This fall, though, my son started high school and he now leaves the house around 6am. I am also on sabbatical. My son’s early start and my flexible schedule mean that right now, I often write from 6am-7:45am when my daughter gets up. On those days, I run around 8:45am when she leaves (School Bus Crew). I am not sure what I think of this change yet. This week I had two public lectures in the evening and I was happy to “sleep in” until 5:45am and not face the dark, but I like to run with friends and they are mostly still on the earlier schedule. So, we shall see how it plays out.

Monday, 10/16, School Bus Crew – Easy: 4 miles (10:00 pace?)  

Apparently, I am taking the running without a pace thing quite seriously because I forgot to start my watch. My two running buddies today were both old school and neither of them even wore a GPS watch! But this is a well-known route, so it was just about four miles, easy cruising around.

I spent some (probably too much) time on the Marathon Time Conversion section of FindMyMarathon.com trying to decide about a spring race. This site is really fun! After comparing a bunch of potential races, I came back to my original plan, the 26.2 for Donna. This activity was definitely more exciting than preparing my lectures, which is what I mostly did for work this week.

Tuesday, 10/17, Early Morning Crew – Easy: 5 miles (11:12 pace)

I used to run trails once a week with a great group of women. We are trying to get that gang up and running again (har har) and this was our first attempt. It was also the first really cold run of the fall and the first time we definitely needed our headlamps!

Wednesday, 10/18, Early Morning Crew – Yoga; School Bus Crew – Strength Training

Sometimes I bike on Wednesday, but I was sort of taking it easy. I did not feel particularly inspired by yoga either though and kept thinking I should have been writing, so this was a bit of a wash. On the other hand, Wednesday I work out with my personal trainer and that’s always amazing. Plus, we got to re-hash the Hartford race, which was super fun.

Thursday, 10/19, School Bus Crew – Fartlek: Mixed, 5.3 miles (9:24 pace)

This was the only run all week with any structure. Two miles warm-up, then 3:00, 2:30, 2:00, 1:30, 1:00 fast with equal recovery, and one mile cool down. I felt kind of blah during the warm up, probably because of too many late nights for work, but once I got going, this was really fun.

Friday, 10/20, Early Morning Crew – 2.9 mile walk + School Bus Crew – Easy: 3.6 (9:52 pace)

My trail running gang met at 6am to walk with a friend who crashed her bike at her second attempt at an Ironman triathlon a few weeks ago. The walk was a real highlight of the week, getting to see friends I hadn’t seen in ages and especially spending time with our injured buddy. Then Rashi came over for a short easy run after both kids were off to school.

Saturday, 10/21, Early Morning Crew – Yoga

I almost always go to the gym on Saturday, but I had a ticket for a book signing with Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m a political scientist who studies women and politics, so that was pretty exciting and I bailed on the gym. I did my Yoga for Runners DVD instead. This time I did the whole thing, much better than Wednesday. Then I stood in line for four hours to see HRC so that turned out to be its own workout.

Sunday, 10/22, Brunch Crew – Easy: 8 miles (9:47 pace)

Eight incredibly delightful miles with Rashi. We had been planning a road trip for this weekend, but canceled it for various reasons. To make up for that, we had a great run and went to Northampton for brunch.