Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life lately: August recap

To put it simply, August has been busy.  It's also had some highs and lows.

The good:
Our travels have come to an end and we are back in Fayetteville.  We said goodbye to the water and sand and hello to moving into a new house.  Thankfully we are very happy in our new home because I hope it is a long time before we move again!

Brian's season and semester have both started up again and he's busy, busy, busy.  He's also running the LeHigh Valley Marathon tomorrow.  He hired a coach this time, has had an incredible training cycle, and it should be a good race for him.

Braxton turned 1….

….and Caden is walking….

My boys are growing up way too fast!  We are having a party for the boys when our family is out in a few weeks and will do the whole smash cake then, but we couldn't resist giving Braxton a cupcake to celebrate - it was his first taste of anything sweet and I think he liked it :)

I discovered Chocolate Peanut Butter Gu and my world is that much closer to being complete.  I waited a long time for this day to come.

The bad:
My training took a nosedive this month.  A big one.  It started well and then I missed a few runs during the move, which was foreseeable and I had more or less built that into my training plan.  Transitioning to a new schedule where Brian was gone so much more and I was alone with the boys had some obstacles and was harder than I anticipated.

Then once we were finally settled in the house and had brainstormed how and when I could fit my runs in with our new schedule, I ended up with an injury and had to take some time off.

I started having a problem with my hip and initially thought it was a minor strain.  I built in some extra rest days and expected that to do the trick.  I made an appointment with an orthopedist to get something on the books *just in case.*  Neither the rest nor the orthopedist helped at all.  After that, I took a full week off and then went out for a short easy run where I was in just as much or more pain than before, my gait was off, my pace was slow, and the run felt hard.  I grabbed my phone as I finished the run and texted Brian with tears in my eyes telling him I was officially worried about whether or not I could run Chicago.

Brian got me in with the trainer for the hockey team and he has been awesome.  It looks like a TFL injury and I have been treating it with strengthening exercises, electrical stimulation, and anti-inflamatories.

The trainer asked me when my drop dead day was for deciding whether or not I'd run Chicago.  I told him 3 weeks out from the race, which is 2 weeks from this weekend.  I've had a great training cycle so far with higher weekly mileage than I've ever run before and I've run 3 18 milers and a 20 miler so far.  In order to have confidence on the starting line, I feel I need to get one more long run in (ideally another 20 miler) and have a good training week with relatively higher mileage and some speed work before I taper.

The likely cause of the injury is a lack of strength training combined with running on the same side of the road too much.  When we're home, I hardly ever run on the roads and all of my running is done on paved trails or the treadmill, but for the past 4 months, all of my running has been on roads and that can lead to injuries because of the uneven surface and it creates an imbalance where one leg is always landing lower and one leg is landing higher.

I've run marathons where I have been undertrained and I DNF-ed during one because of an injury.  I'm not going to knowingly do those things again.  While I accept that my goal of a BQ may no longer be realistic for this race, I want to have confidence that I am strong enough to run a good race and not further injure myself.  I've had my best training cycle ever and I've been more consistent with my training than ever.  I've been motivated and excited during the whole training cycle and this is obviously disappointing, but it does come with the territory.  If I am able to recover in time to have a solid week of running before I taper, I feel my training up to this point and overall fitness will put me in a position to still have a really good race.

To put it in perspective, here are the numbers:
July 28-Aug 3 = 54.5
Aug 4-Aug 10 = 40
Aug 11-Aug 17 = 24
Aug 18-Aug 24 = 15
Aug 25-Aug 31 = 6
Total mileage for August = 108 
Fortunately, I am also registered for the Memphis marathon the first weekend of December, so regardless, I have not said goodbye to a fall/winter marathon :-D

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Life lately: July recap


July was a good month!  I'm really enjoying this training cycle.  The schedule is challenging, but I feel like I'm responding positively and it feels like it is working.  I'm running higher mileage than ever before and I love it.  

June 30-July 6

Mileage: 45
Speed work: 6 w/ 3 @ tempo; fast finish (6) long run
Long run: 16 w/ 6 @ MGP (marathon goal pace, 8:19)
Yoga: 1
Weights: 1
Core and body weight exercises: 3

July 7 - July 13

Mileage: 30 
Speed work: cutdown run w/ 10 @ 9:10-7:40; 6 w/ 5 @ MGP
Long run: 12 easy
Yoga: 1 
Weights: 1
Core and body weight exercises: 2

July 14 - July 20

Mileage: 45
Speed work: 10 w/ 3 x 2 @ tempo; fast finish (8) long run
Long run: 18 w/ 8 @ MGP 
Yoga: 1 
Weights: 1
Core and body weight exercises: 2

July 21 - July 27

Mileage: 47 
Speed work: 10 w/ 3 x 1m @ MGP, 1m @ HM; 8 @ MGP
Long run: 18 easy 
Yoga: 1
Weights: 1
Core and body weight exercises: 2

Total mileage for July = 186

What went well:
  • Weekly mileage - I love where it's at.  Love it!  I've never run mileage this high and to do it consistently and feel as good as I do is awesome.  
  • Long runs - They are also going so well.  I love long runs and haven't done this quantity long runs of this distance in a long time.  It reminds me of why I got hooked on marathons over 7 years ago.
  • The weather - I know I am in the minority here, but I have been really (really!) lucky to have been able to train in pretty much ideal running weather so far this summer.  We were at the Jersey shore before it warmed up too much and are now in Michigan where summer is still deciding whether or not it wants to come out and play and it is cooler than normal.  So that means I have been able to avoid training in the heat and humidity.  But don't be too jealous - we'll be returning to Arkansas mid-August and will have to get used to the heat and humidity real quick.  
What could go better:
  • Speed work - I have mixed feelings about this and am planning another post on it.  In short, I have been able to hit MGP miles during shorter runs (not as much in a fast finish long run…more on that in a minute), but I am not hitting the paces I want for most of my other speed work.  It isn't too discouraging because I am prioritizing higher mileage over speed and I also know that this training cycle is a process and I'll be excited to see where I am at the end of August.  
  • Fast finish long runs - I haven't hit my goal pace on my fast finish long runs yet.  After doing the 18 miler with 8 miles at MGP, I intended to do a whole post on what fast finish splits tell us….but I didn't get to it, so I'll include the main observations I had here.  
    • The course was rolling hills and my MGP is 8:19 (I'm giving myself a 2 minute cushion with my goal time), all but 1 MGP mile ranged from 8:16-8:28 and only 2 miles were below 8:19, most miles were in the 8:23-8:25 range.  The outside MGP mile clocked at 8:38…..going uphill at mile 17.
    • This was my longest long run of the training cycle and the highest amount of mileage at MGP so far….it was intentionally set up to be challenging, I wanted to test myself and see where I was.
    • I am going to repeat this exact run - same course, same mileage, same fast finish - before we leave MIchigan so I can compare the two runs and I *hope* to see some progress.
    • I was initially disappointed because I basically didn't hit my MGP miles and I was really discouraged as I was running them, but as the day went on, I realized I was pretty proud.  It was a challenging workout, it tested me, I resisted the temptation to change the number of MGP miles when I realized how hard it was, and I reminded myself that this training cycle is a intended to be a progression.  
  • Foam rolling - I'm not foam rolling as much as I should be.  That's about all I have to say about that, I should be doing it a lot more.  
  • Cross-training (yoga, weights, core) - My goal is to do weights and go to yoga each at least once a week and I have done that, so that's good.  I would ideally like to be doing both twice a week or at least one activity twice a week….it always seems doable in my head, but hard to make it happen   I also have a goal to do core work at least three times a week and it seems like twice a week is more the norm….something to work on. 
  • Brian and I celebrated our 5 year (5 years!) anniversary.  Between the boys being so close to turning 1 already (they are 11 and 10 months old) and celebrating our 5 year anniversary, I have a new appreciation for just how fast time FLIES.  Savor every minute!
  • As mentioned above, we are headed back to Arkansas mid-August and we'll be moving into a new home once we move back…..meaning we will be unloading and unpacking 3 PODS and will get our hands on all of our belongings that have been in storage since March.  Since we left in March, we have been in Florida, Mexico, Jersey shore, and Michigan and only spent a day or two in Arkansas twice since mid-March.  As wonderful as it is to have these opportunities to travel and as much as I love it, it will also be nice to get settled in our new home.  
  • So I'm coming clean and confessing that I have fallen hook, line, and sinker for The Bachelorette.  Yep, it's true.  Oddly enough (because I am one who thoroughly enjoys a good chick flick and all that nonsense), I never got into until this fall.  I had watched an episode here or there, but it was always kind of….meh.  Then we adopted two babies and I was up at night a lot and needed some mindless TV shows….and I got hooked.
  • We have two little beach bums who love to crawl around in - and eat - the sand…which is a good thing and means these boys will fit in very well in our family :D

Questions for you: 

How  did July wrap up for you?

Anyone else watch The Bachelorette?  What did you think of the finale?

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Friday, July 18, 2014

What I'm doing differently this training cycle

Last week I shared my goal for Chicago - to BQ.  So the logical next question is what I'm doing to get there and, specially, what am I doing differently. 

My goals are bigger and more specific than ever before.  This is the first time I've ever trained to race a marathon instead of training to finish a marathon.  Prior to this, I wanted to finish and hoped to PR, but my mindset is very different this time and it has really influenced my training.  Here are some things I am doing differently.


  • Higher mileage: I've increased my average weekly mileage up from the mid 30's to the mid 40's.  I plan to get it up to the high end of the 40's and maybe low 50's by the end of the training cycle.  While it is tempting to go higher, I'm trying to be very cautious of how and when I increase my speed and mileage so I don't end up injured.   
  • More longer long runs: In this training cycle, I am doing more 16+ long runs and three 20-22 milers.  I have also tried to build more fatigue going into my long runs.
  • Running all runs at specific paces: My easy runs are easy and slow and my hard runs are hard and fast.  I used to go out and run however I felt and would often end up running most or all of my runs pretty moderately - nothing too slow and nothing too fast.  Now my runs are very pace specific, regardless of how I feel. 
  • Speedwork: I normally do some form of speedwork two times a week and I tend to stick to longer distance speedwork.  The workouts I am doing during this cycle include: tempo runs, alternating tempo runs, progression/cutdown runs, goal pace runs, and finishing long runs at marathon goal pace.  I haven't done much track work and, when I have, I keep my repeats between 800 and 1600. 
  • Not stopping during runs:  I feel like this seems so obvious and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit it, but this is kind of new to me.  I began running by taking breaks and, therefore, I always assumed I needed to stop….so I did.  When I started to test whether or not I really needed to stop, it turns out I didn't need those breaks as much as I thought (shocker, I know).  The biggest surprise to me has been during long runs.  I no longer stop at all unless I need to refill my water bottle or need to go to the bathroom.  When I do stop, it now feels like an interruption and I make the stop as quick as possible….whereas before I kind of welcomed them. 
  • Finishing runs strong: I try to finish all my runs strong with my last 1-2 miles being slightly faster than other miles, even on easy runs.  It's natural to slow down and assume you feel tired and are worn out at the end and that influences your thoughts and how you feel.  By finishing strong, your body gets accustomed to making the push at the end and it creates a subtle change in your mindset because it feels good to finish strong and it helps builds your confidence.  
  • Sticking to the schedule:  It has been a long time since I've had a specific training schedule and I picked up bad habits as a result.  I would plan out my week, but I frequently changed the plan based on how I felt, what I had time for, or any number of reasons.  This time I am sticking to my schedule and I do whatever it calls for.  Anytime I get tempted to change it the day before or morning of, I pretend I have a coach who I would have to answer to and explain why I didn't do what was on the schedule.  

Other than running

  • Recovery:  This is one area I have never been great at and I still have lots of room for improvement.  But I try.  I have always loved Epson salt baths as a means of recovery and still do.  I also try to eat within 30 minutes of finishing a run and wear compression socks/sleeves for longer runs and/or afterward.  Things I could still do a lot better at are getting more sleep and foam rolling.  
  • Weights: It's no secret I'm not a fan of the weight room and that I would rather run than lift.  But I know it is important for me to do some strength training on a regular basis so I can keep running, I can challenge myself with my mileage and paces, I can set big goals (like a BQ) all while minimizing my risk of injury.  My current goal is to do weights a minimum of once a week, but ideally twice a week.
  • Core and body weight exercises: I believe runners need a strong core and this is an area where I have tried to improve.  What I found works best for me is to fit in a few minutes of core and body weight exercises (push-ups, dips, mountain climbers, etc) several times a week.  My goal is to spend 5-10 minutes at least 3 times a week, but ideally 5 times a week.  
  • Yoga:  It's also no secret that I love going to yoga.  I wish I could go 4-5 times a week, but my goal is to go a minimum of once a week, ideally twice.  The classes I like the most are challenging power flow/vinyasa classes, preferably in a heated room.  So I consider that a bonus form of strength training and core.
  • Diet:  I haven't changed much about my diet, but I try to stick to how I like to eat best.  I really like Matt Fitzgerald's philosophy and try to keep it simple.  I like to eat foods that are good for you and as close to their natural form as possible.  I try to stay away from foods that are overly processed or have many additives.  I don't eliminate anything from my diet and I am a big fan of moderation.  I also like chocolate and have at least a little bit of chocolate almost every day :D

Questions for you:

What are some of the most important things you try to do in your training?

What things do you incorporate other than running?  

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