Running Archaeology: Analyzing a Training Cycle

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Marathon #14 and Boston #3 in the books!

Here at Salty many of our writers publish our training logs for everyone to see. We may not put every detail in them, but it allows other Salties and you to get a better idea of how we train. One of the beneficial aspects of keeping training logs is being able to look back at a training cycle to compare workout paces, long run progressions, mileage consistency, and how you felt throughout the weeks of training compared to previous seasons. The lessons we learn from this analysis can help us make adjustments and gain the self-awareness we need to make big progress from training cycle to training cycle.

Yesterday, I finished marathon number 14 and, like so many runners out there, I fell considerably short of my goal. However, I know better than to judge the entire training cycle based solely on how a marathon went. Much of yesterday’s performance was due to the weather and wasn’t helped by a last-minute case of the stomach flu. But even if I simply had an off-day or overestimated my abilities, no matter the result in the goal race, there is still much to be learned by analyzing a training cycle.

Now that we’re in the thick of spring marathon season, it is the perfect time to learn how to effectively analyze a training cycle. Read more

Sanjuanita Martinez, Cornell Running Star, Protests on the Track

Sam competing in the steeple on the Cornell College team (left). Over the weekend, Sam competing unattached in her black kit (right).

Sam competing in the steeple on the Cornell College team (left). Over the weekend, Sam competing unattached in her black kit (right).

Imagine working for years to be at the top of your sport and finally earning a spot as one of the favorites for an NCAA title. What, beyond a debilitating injury or illness, could possibly inspire you to give up on chasing that once in a lifetime dream?

Sanjuanita (Sam) Martinez, a senior cross-country and track standout at Cornell College in Iowa is a 5-time All-American, one of the top D-III steeplers, and has a serious shot at an NCAA title. Yet, she is choosing to potentially take herself out of contention and that choice has nothing to do with her health. Sam is refusing to run for Cornell College and instead running as an unattached athlete (racing as an individual and not as a part of her school’s track team) and is trading in her Cornell uniform for an all-black kit.

She is using her high-profile position as a star athlete on campus as an act of protest racism on campus. Read on to find out what happened to inspire Sam’s activism, what she hopes to accomplish, and how the school and her team have reacted. Read more

Readers Roundtable: Boston 2016 Edition!

c214739a9d-outBoston, Boston, Boston! Who can think about anything else this morning? We can’t! We’re going to be glued to our devices checking in on our very own Dill, Barley, and Caper and of course all the Boston racers we profiled over the last few weeks. You can find all their numbers to track after the jump!

But! While we wait for splits, or during race coverage commercials, we thought it would be fun to chat about all things Boston. So tell us about your favorite Boston Marathon experiences. Tell us if you’re one of those weirdos who actually doesn’t really love racing it. Debunk the myth that you can’t PR there. How many coeds did you kiss? Best spectator memory along the course? Did you qualify for 2017? Greatest post-race grub? How’s Neely Spence Gracey going to do in her big debut? Or, simply share your excitement about the elite race or the good news about your friend who’s on track for a PR.

And once the race is over, how did it go!?

If you’re checking this in the morning before running, drink lots of water, slap lots of hands and have a great time! Best of luck!

And if you’re watching, cheer your face off, and track your runners! Here’s our tracking list: Read more

5 Last Minute Tips for the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is on Monday. I repeat: the Boston Marathon is on Monday. Now is not the time to cram in last-minute training or change all your plans. However, maybe you’re waiting to hop on a plane to Boston and killing a few minutes at work because you can’t concentrate on anything other than the big race. In that case, now is a good time for a quick refresher, along with a few last minute tidbits, to help you make the most of your big Boston adventure.

Between my husband and me, we have raced Boston nine times and lived there for over 10 years. Boston is a great city with a huge running community. The city is really behind the marathon and it feels like everything in the city stops for the race. There is much to enjoy over marathon weekend. I know the Boston Marathon course and the city very well, so I figured I’d offer my two cents on both the race and enjoying the city of Boston after the race! Read more

Forget About Mile 20: Hitting the Marathon Training Wall

imageWeek one of my marathon training cycle, I remember it like it was yesterday. Picture my fresh legs, big dreams, and heart full of joy and happiness. I couldn’t wait to get started on my path to dominate my next marathon, so I started my training a day early. As I looked ahead on my training calendar, eighteen weeks seemed like an eternity. Naturally, the mileage and big workouts deep into the plan intimidated me, but I figured by then, that would all be a piece of cake. Just one week at a time, right?

Thirteen of those weeks later, here I am. Picture a shell of my former self. I can only describe what I’m experiencing in terms a marathoner can understand; I have hit The Wall and I’ve hit it hard. That’s right, my friends! The wall isn’t just an experience you get to endure at mile twenty-ish of your marathon. If you’re anything like me, you may be hitting a wall somewhere around three-quarters of the way through your training cycle.

Sounds terrible, right? Well, it is a little terrible, but there is hope. Here’s how to know if you’ve hit the marathon training wall and some tips to get to the other side! Read more

10 Minutes to Better Recovery

imageWe can all breathe a sigh of relief that we have finally found the other side of winter, which means it’s peak training time for upcoming spring and early summer races. As our miles increase and the workouts become more specific, it becomes increasingly important that we keep up with those little extra recovery things we do, like core work and foam rolling, so it all comes together on race day.

Yes, those little extra recovery things that we need to do reach our goals. The baddish news is that spring tends to be a busier time for all of us as we all come out from hibernation and feel more human again. Cue marathon-training GUILT when, late in a marathon training cycle, we start feeling guilty for devoting so much time and energy to our running. The busy-ness of spring and marathon guilt are the perfect excuses to start skimping on all those little extra things … just as we need them the most! 

But recovery doesn’t need to add to your guilt or keep you from the other things you want to do. In fact, you can cram in enough recovery in only 10 minutes a day to be good to go.

That’s right! Just 10 minutes is all you need to recover well and take your training to the next level!
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Advice to My Teenaged Runner Self: Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

cross-country-960330Pick any classic New England fall Saturday between 1988 and 1997: cold, crisp air, blazing foliage, the smell of woodsmoke, and a mass of nervous teenage girls in polyester singlets that never lose their funk, standing twitchily behind a chalk line on a muddy field.

I stand with the few other girls on my cross-country team, hopping from foot to foot and trying to ignore the dread roiling my stomach. There were so many thoughts in my mind at any given time that it’s hard to distill them down, but they were usually something like:

Ugh. Does my hair look stupid? Running makes my hair look stupid. Also it’s so annoying to be so slow and I hate it that I always start out too fast and my hair is so stupid.

I could already feel the way my legs would turn to lead and my mood would tank by 10 minutes in. Sure enough, I’d start with a seven-something first mile before slowly disintegrating into a jogging, self-pitying mess, crossing the chalk line again in 24-whatever and never getting any faster.

Despite a lack of any apparent talent, and my aversion to races*, I always loved to run: cross country and track in middle and high school, more cross country in college. Of course, as Ginger has explored, you can’t know how “talented” you are until you actually try. Looking back I realize I never found out whether I could have run faster, limited by my belief that you either could run fast or you couldn’t. The speedy girls running 18 minute 5k’s in high school? I had no clue that they were as angsty as I was about running, that they worked hard for their wins and, in some cases, suffered hard with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Stunningly oblivious for a person with so many A’s on her report card, I figured they were just lucky to be fast while I missed out on the speed genes. Read more

To My Running Buddy’s Partner: It’s Only About the Running or I Would Never Hit That

Most competitive women runners train with men at least some times. If you took running out of the equation, there would be no argument from me that spending hours sweating half-naked with heterosexual members of the opposite sex is at best odd, or at worst, inappropriate.

Hey honey, I’m getting up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to hang out and talk with Bill, Fred, and Tom for three hours.

That would be weird, but for some reason when it comes to running we think of it as completely normal.

But what about all of our running buddies’ significant others, especially those who don’t run? How do they feel about their partners spending so much time with other women and then texting them at all hours of the day and night? Do they have anything to worry about from their men’s female running friends?

To the wives and girlfriends of my male running buddies, I say this: it really is only about the running (and even if it wasn’t, no offense, but I wouldn’t hit that, anyway). Read more

Stefani Penn Harvey is Going for Sub 3 in Boston

Image 4Stefani Penn Harvey learned the hard way to respect the marathon distance. As a recently-graduated post-collegiate runner with one half marathon and a few 12-mile training runs under her belt, she jumped into the Rock’n Roll Arizona marathon fully expecting to qualify for Boston, but she was in for a rude awakening and a 34-minute positive split.

Her resulting 3:58 gave her a new-found appreciation for the hard work, dedication and training it would take to become a successful marathoner. She took that lesson to heart, and eight months later on her next marathon attempt she nabbed that Boston qualifying time in Portland. Now, six marathons, thousands of miles, two cities, a Ph.D, a marriage, and a new career later, she’s heading back to Boston with a marathon personal best 55 minutes faster than her first. In less than two weeks, she’ll cross the starting line in Hopkinton with the big goal of breaking 3:00 for the first time.

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Stop the Trots! Is Imodium Safe for Runners?

imageExperiencing ass issues (assues) while running? You’re not alone. Go on any group run and inevitably the conversation will turn to poop. That’s because, when it comes to running, not many things give runners more anxiety than poop.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever arrived at the turn-around of your favorite out-and-back route, the one with no bathrooms along the way, only to suddenly realize you HAD TO GO, suffering as you fought off the urge all the way home. And then there’s poop and racing. The thought of having a race interrupted by the need to hit a porta-potty or worse, not making it to one in time, is the stuff of our nightmares. Maybe this is why, next to caffeine, Imodium is many runner’s favorite drug!

But is Imodium safe for runners to use? We decided to investigate! Read more

Running and the Body Image Blues

Lately, I’ve found myself more concerned with how my body looks than what it can do and it makes me sad.

Recently, I had a flare up of body image blues. Normally running helps me manage the menacing inner voice that tells me I am not enough. “The Voice” tells me to engage in destructive eating and exercise patterns for the sole purpose of making my body look better. I’m sure it has something to do with my recent struggles with injury and a move across the ocean leaving me less-equipped to tell The Voice to zip it.

Despite my progress coming back from my stress fracture, solid workouts and logging steady mileage for the first time in months, The Voice has been loudly telling me I am worthless. As one would expect, my pace during this recovery period has been on the slow side, but The Voice tells me I will never get faster so why bother training to perform. The Voice tells me, instead, to work on getting “fitter.” At best, The Voice reminds me that I am below average. At worst, it tells me I am disgusting.

As a person who is in constant recovery from an eating disorder, I should have recognized the thought patterns and sought support right away, but I didn’t.  Read more

Readers Roundtable: Do You Study Your Goal Race’s Course?

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Do you look up every detail you can find about your goal race courses?

I spent the bulk of last week in San Francisco. I had a great time running in Golden Gate Park, through Land’s End, past the Golden Gate Bridge, and more. A highlight of my trip was popping into one of our March Madness Sweet 16 stores, A Runner’s Mind, and joining their awesome community for their group run. Before we set off, resident coach Marathon Matt gave a talk on preparing for race day.

His talk was aimed at beginners, but one thing stuck out. He emphasized the importance of knowing your goal race’s course. He recommended studying the maps, the elevation charts, and, even better, training on your goal race course if you can.

Matt’s talk made me think of some of my best races. Some of them were run on courses I knew like the back of my hand and some were run on courses I hardly knew at all. And sometimes, I had terrible races on familiar courses because I always knew exactly where I was and I fixated on the hills or other challenging parts rather than staying in the moment. So I wanted to ask you:

Do you study your goal race’s course? What information is important to you to know about the course? Have you ever trained on your goal race course and, if so, how did it affect your performance?

5 Medieval Weapons for Women Runners

Spring brings flowers, blue skies, and a yearly flood of articles on how to run safely outdoors as a woman. With such original victim-blaming nuggets as “don’t run by yourself in the dark” or “don’t say where you plan to run on social media” and, my personal favorite, “don’t run on the trails alone!” Because if someone decides to attack me, it’s definitely the woods’ fault.

I’m not making light of violence against women. I’ve been violently mugged, which is just punishment, apparently, for feeling so entitled as to leave my house after dark. Nor do I have a solution, though sometimes I think we should all be learning Krav Maga so that people who want to f*ck with us will deeply regret their decision. But I deeply resent the suggestion that fear should rule our actions, or the insinuation that letting down our guard and enjoying our time alone in nature means we’re inviting trouble. Most of all, I despise the fact that there is now a whole fear industry that wants to profit on our fear and vulnerability with a vast array of pink, sharp, made in China “personal defense” items for women like that cat-shaped claw thing! To hurt people with! Idk just give us your credit card number kthxbye.

Which just begs the question, are you really going to inflict damage with three-inch plastic cat ears to anything except your own hand? I’m all in favor of cat-shaped anything, but when it comes to self-defense, let’s not settle for that cheap plastic crap. Let’s go back to a time when settling interpersonal conflicts with artisanal blunt objects was the order of the day. Medieval weaponry is the next big thing in safety, ladies.  Read more

Running 101: Perfecting Your Snot-Rocket

Some people see budding trees in the springtime. I see a budding allergy season.

Some people see budding trees in the springtime. I see a budding allergy season.

When I first started running in 2008, I had some shoes, a pair of cotton capris, a purple sports bra that I still wear, and Claire Kowalchik’s book The Complete Book of Running for Women. That book was my bible, really; it taught me how to breathe (in two steps, out three), gave me a basic understanding of running jargon, and by following the three marathon training plans got me to Boston for my third marathon, training entirely by myself. One thing Claire did not teach me, however, was what do with excess snot.

Right around Boston, in 2010, I met the runners that have now become my tribe, and I’ll never forget one of the first times I met up with a group of them for a long run on an early, wintery morning. One guy warmed up with us for a couple of miles before taking off at 6-minute pace. I ran behind him those two miles, and watched as he ejected snot rocket after snot rocket, perfectly-aimed, forceful, and unapologetic. My newbie-runner brain was utterly impressed. Now that snot-rocketing master there? That guy is a real runner.

Well, it’s been almost eight years and with a lot of hard work and determination I have mastered the ways of the snot rocket too. I can forcefully blow one out with expertise while nary breaking stride. How did I get to this point? How can YOU? Read on friends.  Read more

Molly Stout is Chasing Down a PR in Boston

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Molly after the 2014 Boston Marathon

It’s been two years since Molly Stout last crossed the finish line on Boylston Street. The 33-year-old will be running her 20th marathon at the 120th Boston Marathon. She’s been running for many years, steadily dropping her marathon time by more than an hour, and is coming off a big PR of 3:14 at the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.

Molly’s life revolves around running and healthy living. By day, she works as an analyst for Columbus Public Health and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. She blogs at mollylstout.com and also recently started her own Etsy shop, Heart & Sole Running Co., selling running-themed printed quotes and greeting cards. Outside of running and marathon training, Molly lives outside of Columbus with her husband, Matt, and their adorable cats. On warm and sunny Saturdays, you can find her at the golf course with Matt or getting ready for her next long run.

With family in Hopkinton, Molly grew up watching the start of the race and knowing that one day she would be there too, running the historic race. She started running in elementary school and despite some injury setbacks in high school, she’s been running since. It hasn’t been an easy road to get there and took this dedicated runner several cracks at the marathon to nail her BQ. Molly and I have known each other for about five years as Twitter and Facebook friends and I’ve always been impressed by her dedication to training and the love and passion she has for the sport. She has been training hard for this year’s race and I was excited to talk with her about her running career and Boston!

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