Two weeks ago, I explained who sub-elite runners are. Last week I told you about the many benefits races offer for sub-elite runners. This week, I want to explain the ways that U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) supports sub-elites. Sure the USATF is not without controversy, but with part of its mission to promote the pursuit of excellence, from grassroots to the Olympic Games, the organization’s job is to help you reach your goals.
After a few weeks of active down time post-Steamtown/fall racing, I did several weeks of base mileage, most of which were done pushing both kids in the double BOB. I haven’t done a base block for a while and had no immediate race plans, so figured using the latter part of October and the month of November to do a bunch of easy and unstructured mileage worked well. On Thanksgiving I decided to do a somewhat local race, the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick PA. It is one of the oldest road races in the country, this year was the 107th running. A unique feature of this race, in addition to it being 9 miles where you run up and down a mountain, is that the top 7 finishers get diamonds (for the women it is a diamond pendant, for the men it’s a ring). I thought that I would just run the race and see what I could do off of base mileage. I’ll likely start doing some more structured training as December starts and will make a plan for some races starting in January 2017.
week of 10/24:
66 miles, 32 of which were done w/ the kids
week of 10/31:
74 miles, 42 w/ the kids; started doing strides this week (8x100m on the track), 1-2x per week
week of 11/7:
84 miles, 46 w/ the kids
week of 11/14:
90 miles, 54 w/ the kids, one fast finish medium long run (14 miles w/ 2 of the last 3 miles at 6:09, 6:03…..knew I might be racing on Thanksgiving so wanted to at least have some idea of what my legs were capable of)
week of 11/21:
80 miles, no jogger runs this week (husband-coach wanted me to take it easier w/ racing on Thursday), 9 mile race in 55:22 (my second fastest time on the course – by only 12 seconds – in the 5 times I’ve raced it) and finished 7th (last diamond spot!). All of my runs this week that followed the race were pretty slow and easy as the course beat the crap out of my legs. Got to run with my two brothers the day after Thanksgiving and that was a (rare) treat.
Fitness tracking and wearables are a huge market, and you might even have a device on your holiday wish-list. Pretty likely when I mentioned resting HR, you thought about checking yours on the device on your wrist.
I’m a data junkie: most of my training is heart-rate based, and I have a Garmin Forerunner 35 plus a Garmin Index Smart Scale. But a lot of that data is logged, recorded, archived … and never used for anything.
So what the heck do all these numbers mean, and which ones matter? I talked to two guys named Matt who helped me sort through the data I’m collecting to help make me and YOU better runners.
I turkey trotted with Cinnamon and we had a blast! I also had an epiphany. I thought it was stress or maybe the election. And then I thought it was because I backed off the gas pedal and not working like a maniac every day left me feeling sluggish. But when I raced the Turkey Day 5k on Thursday, I knew that feeling all too well. Low iron, people. Low iron is why I feel like I can’t make it through a day without a nap and how even coffee has stopped working. I feel foggy-brained, sluggy, and running felt like it was draining me. Luckily, it’s only been a few weeks (not coincidentally, my iron pills ran out about a month ago), so I’m hoping with a few weeks of liquid iron, I’ll be on the up and up. I had a CBC (no ferritin) done right after mono, so not sure my doctor will order another test. But I’ll probably go in just to discuss, whether the fatigue and slugginess might possibly be due to something else.
Whatever is going on, it was easy to take a mini-break from running and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it!
Anyway, here’s the week:
Mon: 9 easy with Jasmine on trails
Tue: 8 with 6 x :25 strides
Thu: 8 with 5k in 20:42. First mile was 6:29 and felt faster, but when I couldn’t help slowing down to 6:40+ throughout the rest of the race, the feeling felt so familiar. Based on training, I should be about a minute faster overall, but I don’t care that much about that. I just want to race and feel good doing it and not suffer from narcolepsy when not running! Frustrating, but probably an easy fix.
When I signed up to run the Chosen Half Marathon, I was burned out with a capital B. I’d finished a string of disappointing races with a string of injuries that left me frustrated and feeling like I’d done a lot of training for nothing. I planned on breaking 1:30 in the San Antonio Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon, but I’d ended up running 1:34 and shuffling through the last 5k.
I decided to take some time to run for fun, and casually entered this race just to stay motivated. I’ve been teaching group fitness a lot this fall, and though I followed the Hansons half marathon plan pretty closely, I didn’t stress about training. I even did all my speedwork on the treadmill and chose a pretty conservative goal time of 1:33.
Needless to say, my expectations for race day were pretty low, but *spoiler alert* in the end, my “run for fun” attitude paid off in a BIG way!
Six years ago, I ran my first marathon. After racing on the track or cross-country, running a road race, particularly one so long, was a shock to my system. I ran like a deer in headlights for the entire 26.2 miles. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In fact, it took me three marathons before I figured out (the hard way) that going out hard as I was taught to do in college, is a death-march sentence in a marathon. I knew there had to be another way of achieving my time goals. But what was it?
I looked to my training log for the answer and there I realized that some of my best and favorite workouts were progression runs, runs that finish faster, sometimes much faster than they started. So I decided to apply what I found to be successful in my training to my road-racing. Why not? If it worked for my workouts, racing negative splits might work well for me too in the marathon and maybe even other distances. Read more >>
When I last left you, I told you that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was feeling run down and just plain unmotivated. So I decided that I needed to take some drastic measures–basically, I needed a complete reset.
For starters, I took three weeks almost completely off. I initially imposed a one-week moratorium on all exercise, and then for the next two weeks I told myself I could run, but only if I really wanted to. I ended up running two very short, very causal runs with friends during that time. The focus was to give myself optimal rest, both physically and mentally, and not let myself feel guilty about doing it.
During those three weeks I also made a point to get back to basics. I tried to get more sleep and I made sure to pay special attention to what I was eating. In fact, I took a page out of Pimento’s book and started tracking my nutrition on the MyFitnessPal app for a couple of weeks. One thing that stood out immediately was that, even though I thought I was pretty good at getting enough protein, it turned out that many days I wasn’t even close. I know I need even more protein when I’m in training for a marathon, so this could be one clue to why I’ve felt so wrecked after two-and-a-half years of nearly continuous training. So I found a protein powder that I really like and will incorporate that into my daily routine once I start training again.
This past week, I decided I’d slowly reintroduce running into the mix, although I also told myself that I didn’t really need to worry about jumping into building my base back up for Boston until after Thanksgiving. So I ran a couple of times this week without paying attention to time or mileage. I also ran a five-mile turkey trot in Louisville on Thanksgiving morning, which is one of my favorite races of the year! I was a little bummed that I wasn’t in peak condition this year, because last time I ran it I won my age group. But I still feel pretty good about my performance, all things considered. I ran this for the most part without pushing very hard, and according to my watch I ended up running a 7:34 average pace. True, that was roughly my marathon pace a year ago, but I’ll take it for now. I suppose there’s a chance I still won an age group award, but the results aren’t posted yet–this is an old-fashioned race without chip timing, which I think is part of its charm!
After what has been close to a month off, I’m feeling much better. I barely missed running at all during my hiatus, which is probably a sign that some time off was long overdue. But I’m also a little nervous about how easy it was to slip into what has basically been a sedentary lifestyle–I’m only now starting to feel an itch to run, and even now that itch is very slight. At any rate, this coming week I’m going to start the base-building process before really jumping into marathon-specific training for Boston. I have to remember to be patient and not to be too hard on myself when I can’t immediately run the types of paces I used to be able to hit. I’m still relatively new to this marathon thing, and it’s been kind of hard to accept that it’s not possible or healthy to stay in peak race shape all the time. But I have faith that it will all come back in time, and there’s still plenty of time before Boston!
Sagittarians are strong, graceful, and energetic, making them natural athletes. Their strength extends beyond the body to the brain, making their mental game strong too. This combination makes them perfect candidates for running greatness.
One handy characteristic Sag runners have is that they know how to set boundaries. After all, many Sagittarians have been subject to the birthday-or-holiday gift dilemma their whole lives. They know how to get what they want, and they are not afraid to ask for it!
What other traits do Sagittarius runner share? Read on!
Thanksgiving is over and many of us survived heated political debates with our relatives or are feeling lucky to have avoided sending Uncle Joe into a red-faced finger-wagging tizzy as he passed the mashed potatoes. And with the turkey trots in the rearview mirror, it’s not Christmas lights we’re looking forward to. It’s tights season! It’s finally here and along with it, the cold late autumn winds blow back another age-old debate: to go commando or not to go commando under our spandex. And thus we ask you:
Do you wear underwear under your spandex tights or shorts? Why or why not?
After hitting the burned-out wall last week and deciding to take a break despite the consequences, I ended up taking five days off running. That is, in fact, a rest-day PR for me extending all the way back to when I started back running after giving birth nearly four years ago. I walked the dog, did core, and had so much more time to get things done that I normally let slide because running takes priority. Showers. Hair appointments. Enjoying the scenery. I even read two novels and watched a movie!
I have one week until race day and will continue on my super-taper, also hoping my massage on Tuesday really get some kinks worked out. My big goal of running with the 3:00-hour pace group is sort of out the window, I think I’ll just try to run 7:15s pretty solidly and hope for the best. We’ll see what happens.
The dudes and I (I’m going down with two guy running buddies and our coach) leave on Friday and the forecast for race day looks fantastic so far. Let’s see if I can pull this year of training together for one more big race before I back off for a while!
Monday: Walked the dog two miles, core.
Tuesday: Walked the dog four miles, core plus light upper body weight lifting.
Wednesday: 5 miles on the mill, easy pace.
Thursday: Walked the dog and ate wonderful food all day.
Friday: 6 miles on the mill, core.
Saturday: 11 miles, avg 7:53 with mile 10 @6:53.
Sunday: 5 miles on the mill, core.
Total: 27 miles.
Monday: 18 minutes of Jasyoga in the morning; my plan was to run after work just a little bit and be done for the day. Phone call at 7:30 a.m. to see if I could sub Pilates that night. Squeezed in 4 miles before the class, faster than expected and an accidental progression: 7:32, 7:19, 7:14, 6:58; 29 minutes total. Whoops. Taught the advanced Pilates crew after that.
Tuesday: 6 miles, 46 minutes. Came home midday because we were having new floors installed. Again faster than expected and I hoped the springier legs boded well for Thursday’s Turkey Trot. Also only the second time I had done more than 4 since the marathon.
Wednesday: 4 miles, 32 minutes, because racing Thursday and because I had done two “longer” runs in three days and run every day since Saturday. Taught Pilates after that.
Thursday: Race day! See race report below. Summary: 6 miles total, 2 w/u and 1 c/d, 5k-ish race, 20:04 (long course, 3.18 every year) and first female.
Friday: 6 miles, 52 minutes, early with my besties. Good day to #optoutside (thanks REI), although much colder than Thursday. Relaxed recovery miles. Jasyoga later.
Saturday: 10 miles, 1:20, early again. 4 miles with a friend and the rest solo. Easy mileage and the first time back in double-digits since the marathon.
Sunday: 4 miles, 32 minutes, listening to a Rich Roll podcast. I don’t usually listen to anything when I run but it’s a nice diversion that I save for Sunday easy runs — in part because I have podcasts saved up and no time to listen to them! Jasyoga after.
Totals: 40.4 miles run, 3 hours Pilates and yoga (2 Pilates classes taught, 3 at-home yoga sessions).
Mini Race Report: Anchorage Turkey Trot
This is the third year I’ve run the Anchorage Turkey Trot — super small and low-key. No chip timing, no recorded results. I like the course and the atmosphere, and the price, and it’s totally fine that the course is always long (3.18 consistently) and that there isn’t much in the way of prizes.
I usually hate how late holiday races start but we were out late the night before, and it gave me time to do a load of laundry and prep Brussels sprouts before I left. I arrived about 45 minutes before the race start because I was bored.
There were a few people I knew at the race, but I didn’t see any girls that I thought would be a problem.
Once the race finally started, I successfully dodged all the small human obstacles. Three girls went out ahead of me, all young, and one wearing pajama pants. Within a half mile the kids had all fallen back and I caught those three girls and moved ahead.
I was happy and maybe a bit surprised to be settling into a comfortable rhythm early on. I felt loose and relaxed — a good sign. This race has a small climb early, then a bigger one close to the 1 mile mark, then a big one that you hit twice on the out-and-back section.
The first two hills were no problem and I was still catching guys who had gone out too fast.
Mile 1, 6:26. Right where I wanted to be and feeling good. I remembered how short 5ks are.
At about 1.25, there’s a sharp left then a sharp right onto the trail. Also the first 200m or so are brick. It rained the night before and the bricks are generally in the shade and a little mossy — aka super-slick. I managed to not bust my face, and the photog around there said I was in 9th. It was a nice but not terribly useful stat because there were people ahead of me running the 10k, and because I was first female which was my main interest. But hey, thanks! (And maybe they’ll actually post the photos this year.)
Up the big hill, trailing a few guys. Once on the trail there were people just out walking so I made sure to not run anyone over. Down the hill, across a bridge, past two deer.
Mile 2 split, 6:19, right as you come around the loop and start to head back. This is the only net downhill mile so not surprised it was a little faster. Starting to feel the burn, though. Telling myself to focus and press, even though I’m pretty certain there aren’t any girls close. Never looked, though. My HR was in the 180s and I knew I could maintain that for another mile. But no kicking until I was back up the hill!
Back down the hill, rolling fine, definitely pushing but not in red-line territory. And I never quite got there because the brick section was so slick that I couldn’t really kick!
Mile 3, 6:23. Faster than mile 1, and mile 2 was fastest — very unusual!
Since this race has been exactly 8/10ths long both of the past years, I went ahead and force-lapped my watch at 3.1 — 19:50. Official time 20:04. First female and maybe 7th overall — they don’t record or post results, but I think at least two guys kept going for the 10k second lap.
I received a legit finisher’s hat, a plaque and two $5 Taco Bell gift cards that my 15-year-old sister was delighted to have. (They let us pick from the YUM! brands — Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. This made me laugh because the trail we raced on was built with funds from the Papa John’s founder!)
Easy mile cool down, Hammer Recoverite, warmer clothes, then home to make Brussels sprouts. The race to get the Brussels sprouts ready, shower, dry hair and put on makeup was probably every bit as hard as the race (but accomplished in 1 hour!).
6 miles (8:04)
easy yoga workout
Speed workout: 2.5 mile warm up, 800 (2:59), 600 (2:12), 400 (1:21), 200 (37), 100 (17), 100 (17), 200 (38), 400 (1:21), 600 (2:04), 800 (3:00). 2 mile cool down
I finally got in a good shorter, faster speed workout. Although my times are nothing to brag about, I was happy with the paces. I felt good physically.
push ups, planks, legs
4 miles (8:09)
6 miles (8:08)
Thursday: Tempo run
I decided to to an alternating mile tempo run, with 3 of the miles faster. I aimed for a pace faster than my usual 5 mile tempo since I was only doing 3. Plus I want to get better at 5ks and not run a 10k/half pace during them! I was happy with this run. I would have negative split the last fast mile but it was up a freaking hill. I hauled a#$ to even maintain around the same pace as my other faster miles.
7 miles (7:19) with splits of 8:12, 6:23, 7:58, 6:19, 7:58, 6:23, 7:55
3 miles easy-treadmill (9:45 pace-yes!)
Friday: Easy day
30 minute swim, sauna
Saturday: Long run
16 miles (8ish pace)
The weather was deplorable. Instead of braving the elements, I ran 16 miles on the treadmill. I mixed up the run to keep from going insane (too late for that, I know). I did the first 8 miles as a progressive run, starting at 6 mph and increasing speed every quarter mile until 8.5. For the second 8 I ran a steady pace until 4 miles to go. At the beginning of each mile I increased the speed to 9 mph for the first quarter. So I did a total of one mile at a 6:40 pace. Hopefully this run was good for something!
I had planned on running 5, even 10 miles. But I had a long round trip drive, a rehearsal and a concert. I had wanted to run when I got back. But some circumstances had me stressed out and I immediately drank a beer when I got back. I am not a lush, really (if you read last week’s post you might think otherwise haha). This is boring but here are the circumstances: I was contracted for an easier flute part, or so I thought….then when I arrived I was told I was actually contracted for the piccolo part, which was super high and the biggest solo in the repertoire. I had been playing principal flute in other groups lately and had not touched the piccolo in a week. It was lucky I even brought it with me. It went fine but during the concert I was sweating and very stressed. It wasn’t even a huge concert but it is so very stressful when you feel unprepared, let alone when it is such a big part. The piccolo is different than the flute lip-wise….it is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing when it comes to very high notes. Imagine showing up to race a 5k only to find out you have to do a marathon. My high notes could have been better in rehearsal but by the concert I was warmed up again and my muscles remembered. Anyway I wished I had practiced the piccolo that week and I wished it was clear that “section flute” actually meant “piccolo-and not a note of flute!”
I digress but I just wanted to illustrate how life derails one’s training sometimes. This is just one example. I should have de-stressed by running-but beer was easier. I will try to be better next time!!
Total miles: 50
After taking 2 weeks completely off to recover and do nothing except nest in baby mode, I was ready to start running again. I started at 2 weeks with both my other children, and looked forward to starting the process of slowly getting back into shape. I’ll emphasize that my main goal at this point is just to fit in what I can, taking things slow and building back gradually to avoid overdoing it or ending up with an injury down the road.
Saturday: 2 mile loop. Felt surprisingly good! Although my stomach isn’t close to back to normal, it’s getting there, and it didn’t feel too jiggly while running! Although having boobs was the worst part of the run!
Sunday: 2 mile loop w/ baby in stroller
Monday: 3 miles Reservoir Park. This run made me realize how incredibly weak my core is. It felt hard to lift my legs on the uneven surface, and even though I was running slow, felt very weak and like I had no power.
Friday: 2 mile loop.
Decided I need to make a dedicated effort to do core/strength work. I never fixed my diastasis recti from last pregnancy, so can only imagine how bad it is now. I’ll do what I can now, and when I go in for my 6 week checkup, will ask about getting to a PT.
Tuesday: 1 mile run/walk w/ my 4 y/o while pushing the double stroller to/from the playground. At the playground, did 30+ minutes of core/strength exercises, like lunges, planks, dips, etc.
Wednesday: Amazingly sore from my strength exercises yesterday! Not surprising since I haven’t done anything except run over the last 10 months, and even took time off from that. Ran 30 minutes on the treadmill at 10 minute pace.
Thursday: 30 minutes on a hilly loop.
Saturday: 4 miles pushing baby in stroller, 10 minutes of light core/strength work (finally getting over my soreness from Tuesday!
Back on track with 50 again this week after two rough weeks in a row. Although we had a couple of wonderfully warm days at the end of last week, the weather is turning. The days are grayer, the windy gustier, and the chills chillier. Any time I’ve tried to train through this season, I’ve become injured or on the verge of injury. Not sure why that is, but I know better now and won’t push it. I’ll race a Turkey Trot or another 5k and then pack it in for the season, and just run when I feel like it through the New Year before going back to base building. I ran with a good friend on Wednesday who asked me what I’m training for. Good question.
Mon: 9 easy on trails with Jasmine!
Tue: 8 with tempo: 2 x 2 with 2:00 jog. Finally a good solid tempo! 6:57, 7:00; 6:55, 6:50.
Wed: 9 easy on trails with my friend Marisa.
Thu: 6 easy back and forth in front of my house enjoying the warm sun!
Fri: 8 with fartlek: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1 with half time jog rest. HOT!
Sun: 10 easy from home – half on roads and half on trails. COLD!
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