Track is back! Indoor season has begun, which means we can geek out early on. Marathon season is ramping up, too. This week’s highlights:
Started running in my early 20s and ended up running my first marathon 15 months later. Managed to break 3 hours in my 12th marathon. Pilates instructor passionate about the importance of your powerhouse in running and the mind/body connection. One husband, zero kids, mama to one Australian Shepherd.
Two weeks in one! It’s a bonus.
The global wellness industry was worth $3.7 trillion in 2015, according to research from the Global Wellness Institute. It’s an absolutely booming market that keeps growing, and new offerings pop up daily — from that anti-aging skincare your friend is hawking on Facebook to gadgets to track your everything, you can spend a lot of money on “wellness.” (Whatever that means, exactly.) But running is above all that, right? Just a pair of shoes and you’re ready to go!
A pair of shoes! HA! Those cost you at least $120. Plus wicking socks, shorts, a sports bra that does its job, wicking shirt. Compression socks, sunglasses, foam rollers, strength and cross training classes, massage therapy, wireless headphones, streaming music subscriptions…
Oh man I’m so behind on training logs. I had high hopes around the holidays to post them and get caught up, and then it kept slipping by and I felt like I could never catch up.
So, I’m going to give a really quick summary and then dive right into this past week (which I am writing on Monday, already off to a bad start).
Sun’s out, buns out, right? Racing season has officially begun, with Houston and Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona both this weekend. We’ve updated our Monday morning post to bring you awesome stuff happening in the world of running (and beyond) and give us a place to discuss it! We’ve got a lot to share today, so let’s get cracking.
One of the best things I read on Instagram in all of 2017 was Esther Atkins saying it’s not a “dreadmill,” it’s a “dreammill.” Yes, running outside is totes the best — I’m not sure anyone ever started running because the treadmill was so inspiring.
But the treadmill is a great tool to keep your training on track and your dreams in sight, especially in the winter months when it’s dark all the damn time and the weather stinks. Knowing it’s a great tool doesn’t make it less boring, though.
We rounded up our favorite podcast, show and movie recommendations — and we want to hear yours, too, so be sure to leave a comment!
It’s a new year, Salties! We’re bringing back the Monday roundtable and giving it an update. We’ll be using this Monday morning space to share the awesome stuff happening in the world of running (and beyond) and as a space to discuss all that with you all. And, get excited: #SALTYCHAT IS BACK! Join us on Twitter at 8 p.m. EST tonight to join in the conversation!
Oh, winter. As if the ice and snow weren’t obstacles enough, winter weather is hard on your skin, especially if you’re running outside. Even inside, the air is drier and causing all sorts of problems.
You might be facing peeling, itchy skin — especially on your face, which is usually exposed to the elements. Your sinuses may be struggling, leading to bloody noses (I had three in one day recently) and sinus headaches. Or, your eyes might be so scratchy that your contacts are taking their own vacation.
Short of moving to the Caribbean for the winter (although I’m not ruling it out), there are easy strategies you can employ.
The next recipe in our Salty Running in the Kitchen series comes from Chicory! There are ways to think about chicory: leaf chicory, which includes a family of bitter greens including endive, escarole and raddichio; and root chicory, which is used as a coffee substitute in Europe. I love all these things — my moniker choice was no accident. There are tons of things you can do with the leaf version, but I love the chicory coffee you find in New Orleans restaurants.
Chicory has a fascinating backstory, too. Napoleon initiated a blockade that derived the French of most of their coffee in 1808 — sacré bleu! — that resulted in chicory becoming a common substitute. And that led to its popularity in NoLa, where it prospered during the Civil War when trade disruptions and blockades limited coffee delivery to the south. Coffee with chicory added remains a New Orleans tradition, and you’ll commonly find it served with beignets.
It’s also a natural decaf alternative to coffee if you’re on #TeamDecaf like me & Ginger. (For real, pseudonym game on point.)
One of my favorite ways to enjoy chicory AND coffee is with the Vietnamese coffee they serve at Pho Ba Luu here in Louisville. The wall of Café du Monde caught my eye on my first visit, not long after I became a Saltine, and I had to have it. And I love it.
This is a super-fun brunch recipe for a coffee-with-a-twist, or make it on your own. Café du Monde is available online and there are other brands around, too. This is my version inspired by my friends at Pho Ba Luu, who serve it iced. It’s equally good hot, especially this time of year, and I won’t blink if you add Kahlúa to it either.
Chicory Vietnamese Coffee
2 T ground coffee with chicory
2 T sweetened condensed milk
Ice (if you want it cold)
Per serving, scale as needed!
- You’ll need a French Press or a heatproof container and a coffee filter.
- Place 2 T chicory coffee in either the French Press or a heatproof container (like a glass Pyrex measuring cup). Pour 2/3 c boiling water over it and let steep for 4 minutes.
- While steeping, add 2 T sweetened condensed milk to a mug or glass.
- Press coffee and pour into mug or glass, or pour grounds through the coffee filter into the mug or glass. Add ice if you wanna. Or Kahlúa. Or both. Whatever, it’s the holidays.
- Drink heartily.
Looking for a last minute gift for your favorite runner? Or, maybe you want to kick-start 2018 with a book to get you motivated. Here are our recommended reads for this holiday season — and a chance to win three of them!
- “Run Fast, Eat Slow” — Pimento spent five weeks cooking from this book by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky and wrote about all the recipes she — and her family — tried. From muffins to salads, RFES is designed to incorporate whole foods and good fats into your diet.
- “How Bad Do You Want It,” by Matt Fitzgerald. Subtitled “mastering the psychology of mind over muscle,” How Bad is a collection of sports stories combined with “psychobiological” research. But it’s not just a lot of pyscho-babble; each chapter focuses on a specific race and specific athlete. HBDYWI isn’t just for elites or sub-elites or the girl who finished in front of you last week. It’s for all of us.
- “Work In: The Athlete’s Plan for Real Recovery and Winning Results,” by Erin Taylor of Jasyoga. Several Saltines do Jasyoga’s videos on recovery days or after workouts with great results, so we’re confident this book will make a great gift for yourself or your favorite runner. Pre-order now, ships mid-December.
- “The Ultra Mindset” by Travis Macy. He has completed over 120 ultra endurance events and is a coach, speaker, and owns an education consulting firm with his wife. He incorporates his knowledge as a former high school teacher, experience as an education consultant, and knowledge of motivation research into the Ultra Mindset to create a cohesive text that provides guidance and motivation to complete any major endeavor, not just endurance ones.
- “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory” — Deena Kastor (yes, we know, it’s not out yet, but DEENA. Pre-order only, ships in April 2018).
- The Feed Zone series — Cinnamon reviewed the “Portables” edition a few years back, and there’s also “Table” and the original “Cookbook.” The authors have worked with pro cyclists and triathletes over the years and the cookbooks were created with those things in mind.
- First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever by Amby Burfoot. This is a quick, fun and inspiring read. Each profile is pretty short so you can read a story or two and set it down. A great bedtime book.
GIVEAWAY! We have one copy each of “How Bad Do You Want It?,” “WorkIN,” and “The Ultra Mindset” to giveaway to one lucky reader. Head over to any of our social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to win!
Week two of my new job and I’m getting back in the early morning groove.
Monday: 6 miles before work, in the dark, with Morgan for the first mile. I ran hard Saturday and lifted Sunday, and got my mileage back to 50, so this run basically sucked. 8:15 pace, 141 AHR.
Tuesday: 8 miles on the treadmill before work. Look, I can tolerate two crappy running things at a time. Speedwork is one. Early is one. Dark makes three, cold makes four, and that’s too many. 4×20 seconds fast (10.5 mph) then 4×1 mile at 85-90%, 800 jogs, averaged 6:25 (163-169 AHR on the reps) and got a “Good!” from coach. Felt like I could have gone faster if I wasn’t scared of becoming squished on the back wall of the gym. 7:27 pace, 153 AHR. Jasyoga in the evening.
Wednesday: 5.2 miles in the morning, 8:15 pace, 153 AHR. Recovery day. Morgan went 1.25. Did lower body strength at home and taught Pilates in the evening. SOLID day.
Thursday: 8.3 miles easy/moderate, Morgan first 1.3, started picking it up around mile 2, then went 7:36, 7:23, 7:35, 7:30, 7:26. Not quite moderate but getting there which is good for dark, cold and early. 7:44 pace, 150 AHR. Taught Pilates in the evening.
Friday: 4 mile shakeout before work, 8:06 pace, 144 AHR. Morgan went the first 1.25. Dark and cold.
Saturday: CLUB CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS. I alternated between being really excited about this and really not excited. USATF made it a total PITA to get registered and we still never got it all straightened out. Coach Matt and I sent a gazillion emails trying to get it correct. And, I’ve run two cross country races ever in my life and that was when Club Cross was in Lexington in 2009 and I ran that plus a tune-up before (and ran Memphis marathon like 1-2 weeks before, PR’d by 16 minutes and was sitting on bilateral tibial stress fractures). It was a mentally taxing work week and two girls came to stay with us Friday night, which was awesome but also meant I had to clean my house when I got home Friday. Nobody wants to do that.
Another girl met us Saturday morning and the four of us headed to Lexington, about an hour away, to meet our fifth teammate. The trip was not without it’s highlights, like how a girl almost smashed into my SUV in the first 10 minutes and resulted in an Americano being spilled on the floorboard but somehow disappearing into the ether and we never figured out where the liquid went. Whatever. Don’t tell Mr. Chic because we were in his car.
Our fifth teammate picked up our packets, which was great since we got there later than planned. It was FREEZING. 30º, feels like 21º, 10 mph winds. Oh boy. Guess who decided she was going to debut her new bun huggers at this race? Sigh.
The logistics were a little tricky because it was so damn cold. We wanted to warm up in lots of clothes, but needed to shuck them and get into spikes before the race. Fortunately we had a husband/sherpa and I knew the guys timing the race. We decided we’d drop clothes and shoes near the timing trailer (it’s freezing ass cold at club cross nats, nobody’s going to take our stuff), and head out for 2 miles after a port-a-john pitstop.
It is COLD. And I have forgotten my racing socks. On the way to the start I sprint to the car and grab them because the ones I have on are too bulky for my spikes. Rookie move, Chic.
I meet up with the team and strip down to buns, singlet, arm warmers, mittens, ear warmers. We do a fast team photo and run to the start to find a box to line up in (we were unattached, so we could just take an open spot).
And then! COACH IS THERE!
None of us knew he was coming. And there he was, in his giant coach parka, giving pre-race hugs. I am a first-born child, daddy’s girl, teacher’s pet, Type A perfectionist. If coach is there, I have no choice but to give it everything I have.
We get in our box and do a group hug. We don’t really know what we’re doing — nobody ran collegiately — but we have heart and grit.
After the longest on-your-mark, we take off. Cross country is crazy because they line you up horizontally. Everyone funnels towards the course’s middle, and the start is a smidge uphill and then a great downhill. I’m keeping my eyes on the feet of my teammate Jen but trying to find a groove.
There’s some jostling as the course tightens and turns, but I like to run with my elbows out and played fullback in boy’s varsity soccer, so whatever.
I split a 5:54 first mile. Yikes. Not ideal. My road 5k PR is right at 6 min. This is a 6k cross country race. This is a bad idea.
But I don’t feel terrible. And coach is there yelling for me. As Rinny says, “Suck it up, princess.”
The kilometers are marked but also just random other course markings and I have no idea what the KM splits mean so I just keep trucking along. It’s 2 loops of a 3k course, and there’s a huge hill at the end of the first loop. Hey! There’s coach again. Throughout the race he just ran back and forth and yelled for us. Every time I heard him, I dug a little deeper.
First loop done. 11:15 or something. Okay. You know what’s coming up. Stay with it. The crowd has thinned out a lot. I’m passing and getting passed, and coach had said to play the plus/minus game and count how many you pass and get passed by, but it’s just too many. I tell myself to start counting at 4k. By 4k my brain is foggy, my contacts are frozen, and I want to die.
I tell myself to count at 5k. At 5k, I tell myself to just not die.
Thank goodness there’s that GIANT HILL at the end. Shit.
I cross the finish and see Jen, then teammate ahead of me, off to the side of the chute. I stagger over and basically collapse on top of her, which is not ideal since she also can’t stand up. We cheer for our other teammates as they come in. We do a big group hug. We drag ourselves to the water. We hug coach.
Then we find ALL THE CLOTHES.
My final time was 23:12 for 6k, 6:12 pace. That’s 8 seconds per mile faster on a hilly XC course than I ran for a similarly-hilly road 5k on Thanksgiving. Haha. AHR 176, splits 5:54, 6:21, 6:13, .74 in 4:42 (6:22 pace). (these are not as uneven as they seem with the hills). I was 178th. Whoa. (Paprika was 44th!)
It’s rare that I can be so happy about such a not-high finishing place, or so happy about something that was so damn hard. I loved running with my team. I loved having my coach there. I am proud I ran hard and never gave up. I had a great time. Running in buns and spikes felt fast and fancy.
We did not cool down. We put on all our clothes and then some more clothes and then watched the men’s race with coach.
Sunday: The worst 3.4 miles of my life which I thought would get me to 40 miles for the week but somehow got me extra. Morgan went 2.15! (And she did 2 with Mr. Chic on Saturday!) 8:18 pace, 135 AHR. So cold. So sore.
Totals: 40.6 miles run, 138 min Pilates/Strength/Jasyoga. 9 miles for Morgan!
Holy crap, working is hard! Whew. But, a solid mileage week even with starting my new job and adjusting to different hours.
Monday: 6 miles at 6 p.m. after work. Should’ve gone in the morning, didn’t. 48 min/144 AHR.
Tuesday: 5 miles at 6 p.m. after work. Should’ve gone in the morning, didn’t. Morgan first mile and the first 4 with Mr. Chic. Family fun day. Should’ve been speedwork but I just couldn’t. Too dark. Too tired. 41 min/147 AHR.
Wednesday: 8 miles before work on the treadmill with 4 miles at 7 min pace. Making up for missing Tuesday’s workout. 60 min/161 AHR. Treadmill means I can see what I’m doing, I don’t have to stop, and nobody tries to run me over. Taught Pilates after work.
Thursday: 5 miles before work, 42-ish minutes (I forgot to stop it at one point so it’s probably a minute off), 141 AHR. Taught Pilates after work. I moved the hill workout scheduled for this day to being part of Saturday’s long run. Morgan first .70.
Friday: 6 miles easy, 47 min/147 AHR. Before work! Finding a groove. Morgan first mile.
Saturday: 14 miles with 2×10 minute hills, 1:50:33/150 AHR (WEIRD), 666’ elevation gain (WEIRD). Suckered a friend into going with me. Solid run.
Sunday: 6 miles easy with same friend, 48 min/136 AHR. Great weather all week. Lifted after.
Totals: 50 miles run, 145 minutes Pilates and strength training.
As a Matt Fitzgerald fangirl, I snapped up How Bad Do You Want It? as soon as it hit the shelves in 2015. It’s been on my nightstand ever since. And when Lindsey Hein’s book club picked it up recently, I realized a lot of people haven’t read it yet. And you should.
Subtitled “mastering the psychology of mind over muscle,” How Bad is a collection of sports stories combined with “psychobiological” research. Matt uses the format to share habits and tactics the rest of us can use to cultivate our own mental strength. Read more >>
This was my last week off work before I start my new job. It’s been nice having some downtime but I’m excited about my new position and ready to get started! I am not, however, looking forward to running in the dark basically every day.
My running was a little mixed up this week since I ran a trail race on Sunday and then a Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday.
Monday: Easy 4 miles on the treadmill, 33 min, 145 AHR. Strength circuit after (hence treadmill; less clothing to change/wash). Definitely feeling the trail race from the day before.
Tuesday: Jasyoga (feet and calf resets), then easy run, then Jasyoga again in the evening (full body reset). 6 miles, 47 min, 142 AHR. Perfect weather outside.
Wednesday: 4 miles easy in the morning, 32 min, 143 AHR. Morgan ran the first 1k with me. Taught Pilates in the evening.
Thursday: Anchorage (Ky.) Turkey Trot 5k. 1.67 mile warm-up, which included sprinting to my car to get my bib 3 minutes before the start. Rookie. It was around 30 degrees and I decided to go for it and wear shorts and a tank. I did the warmup wearing pants, a thermal long sleeve and a jacket, so I was actually really warm before I took everything off and was happy to be in a tank and shorts … and mittens. This is a small race and I won the women’s division for the fourth-consecutive year in basically the exact time I always run. Also, in the four years I’ve run it my Garmin has recorded 3.18 three times and 3.14 once. 2.5 mile cool down solo and then with friends who ran the 10k.
Friday: 4.65 miles easy, 37 min, 141 AHR. I had to round off the 7.35 miles total run on Thursday. This felt harder than the numbers reflect.
Saturday: 12 miles, 96 min, 143 AHR. Longest run not attached to a race since the week before Chicago. I basically raced the past three weekends, so those have been my longer runs this month. It was kinda weird to just go out and jog 12 miles, haha. Morgan ran the first 1k. It was pretty windy and my legs were still tired from Thursday, but I got it done. Jasyoga Quick Long Run Reset after.
Sunday: 4 miles easy, 32 min, 138 AHR. Easy jog with RR. Then strength circuit for 38 min. Probably more Jasyoga today.
Totals: 42 miles run, 93 min Pilates/Jasyoga, 74 min strength.
Arm warmers, breathe-right nasal strips, sunglasses, gloves — when you watch the elites race, they wear their share of accessories.
But have you ever noticed what a lot of them aren’t wearing?
A GPS watch.
There’s a few reasons for this, one being they are often racing for place more than time (dolla dolla bills y’all) and can also utilize the on-course clocks/pace car better than I can (if I just ran, say, 6 or 5 minutes/miles flat, the math would be so easy).
It’s also because they are used to running by feel. Angelica wrote about running the Hartford Half Marathon with less reliance on her GPS recently; Rosemary and Ginko took the “watchless challenge,” and they made me reflect on my own journey to racing by feel.
Racing by feel allows you to find your true potential. Sometimes, with the watch, you’ll look down and scare yourself. “I feel fine, but my pace is too fast! My heart rate is too high!” But — is it? Maybe you are that fast. Maybe you do feel fine.
If you feel fine, you probably are fine, and there’s no reason to slow down just because your watch says so.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “How do I race by feel if I want to PR/BQ/hit XX time?”
Easy. The same as most things: practice.
Many of us race to hit a time goal, and that means we usually train with those goals in mind. Unfortunately, we also sometimes pick those time goals arbitrarily, without good data to back them up. Combining training with all your data plus training by feel allows you to find the sweet spot of picking a realistic goal and then nailing it.
My coach, Matt Ebersole, introduced me to this method, although he never said so directly. Matt will assign workouts that just say run “hard” for anywhere between 20 seconds to 5 minutes. There’s no direction on what “hard” means. My initial reaction was confusion — but how fast is hard??? — but after a few workouts I found these to be completely freeing. How fast is hard? Let’s find out. And today’s hard might be faster than the last time’s, or it might be slower. Just like on race days, variations in the weather, in terrain, in life, all impact your capabilities. And that’s okay!
By recording those hard sessions, I can go back and see what “hard” was. Recently I surprised myself by averaging around my 5k PR pace for 18 minutes of “hard” intervals in bleh weather while trying not to slip on wet leaves. I can see my pace and HR max at different paces.
You can build a similar workout — aiming for no more minutes of hard effort than your 5k time, preferably starting with less. (Say you run a 30 minute 5k — start with 15-20 minutes of hard intervals and add on.) You can do all one length — like 5x 3 minutes — or mix it up, like 4x 1 minute, 4x 2 minutes, 4x 1 minute. Equal- to double-time recovery, knowing that longer recovery will mean more anaerobic effort whereas shorter recovery will result in a slightly different but equally good workout.
Those shorter, “hard” intervals prepare me for the pain that is 5k racing.
What about longer distances?
Instead of doing longer sessions at “goal marathon pace,” I do a few each season by “marathon effort.” Typically that’s 70-75% or so of max HR, depending on the person and the distance. (Faster runners tend to be on the higher side, pushing harder for all 26.2 — but they can, because they’re running for a shorter amount of time. The longer you’re running for, the lower your average HR should be.)
I can use that percentage, along with data from past races, to give myself an HR range for those marathon effort workouts. Here’s the key: if your HR says you’re hitting the target, you don’t get to go faster because the pace is slower than you want to run in your race. First, that defeats the physiological purpose of the workout. Second, there are many factors to consider — weather, training fatigue, race day adrenaline, taper, etc. — that will probably change between now and race day.
However, if your marathon effort runs are way off your goal pace, it may be a sign that you need to rethink your plan. “Way off” will also vary depending on your pace.
For this workout, make sure you allow adequate time to warm up/cool down. You could do 4-12 miles at marathon effort as part of a long run. Again, start shorter and build up.
Depending on your watch, you can either cover it up with a sticker/tape (if you need a Salty Running sticker to cover your watch face, let me know!) or change the screen data for your workouts. You might also program the watch to execute the workout for you, so you just run hard when it beeps and then easy when it beeps. (I am too lazy for this; I just use a screen that says lap time.)
By practicing running by feel and marrying that with some Type-A data collection, you can hone in on what different effort levels feel like. When you run, ask yourself, “how do I feel?” and start to connect that feeling with the data. When race day rolls around, you’ll be tuned in to your effort levels and ready to race without your watch holding you back!
Do you run or race by feel? Any tips for readers trying to break free of their GPS?
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