Thursday, November 12, 2015

Slow down to run faster?

I Have you heard of the 80/20 Principle in running?  I'm currently reading 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald, and in intrigued by the idea of running slower in order to race faster.  

It's not all easy running, the idea is to run 80% of your runs super slow (like reallllllly slow - I figured out my pace based on this idea and it's well over a minute per mile slower than in used to running) and make the other 20% of your runs high intensity. He claims, and my training in the past has mimicked this, that most people run a high percentage of their runs at a moderate intensity, this sabotaging their training.  There is a ton of research behind this, but you'll have to read the book yourself, because it's too sciencey for me to try to explain.  

Fitzgerald suggests beginning with a "week of slow" to pull back and let your body adapt to what running slow should feel like.  I figured the run streak was a perfect time for this - my hope is that, as Fitzgerald claims, it will help me avoid burnout.  I used his fancy math to determine that I should be around a 143 heart rate for these slow runs, and after experimenting this week, I've discovered that it puts me right around a 9:30 pace. 

It feels so slow and awkward, but I feel amazing after my run and going into the next.  I'm excited to try this out for a while, especially to see where the high intensity runs take me.  

While the slow running seems easier, I do feel like I'm running forever and that if I just sped up, I'd be done already.  It takes discipline to continue at snail's pace, but I'm determined to at least give this a whirl.  The research supports it, and it sure sounds nice!  For now at least, I'll be keeping my runs slow with the exception of my weekly tempo run, which I will continue to do at the same intensity as before.  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 9, 2015

November challenges

Last November I had just completed a half marathon (with a PR!) and had nothing up on my race calendar.  I didn't really lose motivation, but after training for two consecutive races, I felt a bit misdirected as to where I wanted my running to go next.  November and December were slow months for my running.

This year, I'm fresh off of two consecutive marathons, and while I do have another one planned, it's not until next summer, so I am finding myself again feeling a bit lost.  I decided I needed a good challenge or two to get me through the end of the year, so I'm linking up with Monica at Run, Eat, Repeat for a Pile on the Miles challenge and Amanda at Run to the Finish for the Holiday Sweat.  My hope was to have some fresh new challenges to keep me going. 

My goal for Pile on the Miles is to pile some on each day.  I want to run every day in November.  Certainly some of these will be slow, short runs, but the goal is to keep moving.

For the Holiday Sweat, we have daily prompts to think about to challenge our fitness and way of thinking.  Today's prompt is What’s your baseline # of minutes, and how are you going to accomplish it?  This is a funny one for me, because I don't think in terms of minutes, I think in terms of mileage.  But for the purpose of this challenge, I'll change my thinking for a bit and go with minutes.  To keep my run streak going, I need to run at least a mile a day (the one mile days will replace my usual 2 rest days a week).  But on those days, as well as every other day, I will do 30 minutes of something active.  I'm hoping to incorporate some yoga on those days and possibly some other type of strength training.  It's all about challenging myself, and stepping outside of my running comfort zone is a good place to start.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Let's talk about running in the cold

It got stinkin' cold this week!  It was 10 degrees this morning when Axe and I headed out for our morning run.  Although we have run in colder weather - and likely will again this winter - I froze.  I am like a little Popsicle.  When it hasn't been this cold in months, you kind of forget how bone chillingly cold it is.  So how do I manage?

1.  Wear alllllllll the clothes.  When it's this cold, that means two pairs of pants (today I only wore one pair and a long pair of socks - I regretted it because my thighs were really cold), a long sleeve shirt under a jacket, a neck warmer thing (what are those called?), gloves, and a hat. No love this hat because it keeps my face warm too.  

2.  Warm up slowly - if at all.  On these cold days I definitely don't push the pace.  It takes me a long time to get warmed up, and sometimes I don't really get warmed up at all.  I don't want to risk injury by running too hard on cold muscles, so I take it nice and easy.

3.  Get out of your running clothes as soon as you finish your run...for me this meant putting on a pair of leggings under some fleece pajama pants, a hoodie, and crawling under a blanket with a cup of coffee. It took me a good half hour to thaw out.  Putting on warm fresh clothes helps me warm up a bit more quickly before I head into my scalding hot shower.

Colorado winters can be pretty cold, but I definitely don't want my running to suffer because of the weather.  Most mornings I get my runs done on the treadmill, but I still love to do my longer weekend runs outside, no matter how cold it is.  Plus it's a fun challenge.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Portland Marathon Recap

And then there was that.  Just like that, the Portland Marathon is over.  Four months of diligent training built up to this event.  And it's done.  I'll be honest, I feel a little naked with no marathon to train for.  On one hand, it was nice this afternoon, when I did my first post-marathon run, to choose what I wanted to run rather than running what the plan told me to.  On the other hand, I feel naked.  I've been leading up to this one event for so long, that I feel a little lost now that it's done.  But more on that later.  Let's chat about the race.

My friend Melanie and I flew out to Portland on Friday and met up with our third runner friend, Kara.  The three of us hit the expo and picked up our goodies before an early bedtime on Saturday.  On Sunday we had an early wake up call and made it to the start of the race just in time to hit the porta potties before the race started at 7:00.  Once we found our corral, it was already time for the National Anthem - and I love the way they did it!  The announcer started it, and then the crowd sang the song without the help of a singer over the loudspeaker.  And then, it was race time!

The most amazing part of the first few miles was the drummers downtown.  They sound of their drums reverberated throughout downtown and gave the beginning of the race such a great vibe.  As always, the first 15 miles or so flew by.  There was a long out and back through an industrial area that I was worried would bore me, but it was fun to see the runners before and after us, so those miles went by quickly.  And the course support was amazing!

I was feeling great at this point, even though there were quite a few gradual uphills (by the way, for such a 'flat' course, there sure was a lot of gradual uphill!).  I knew there was a large hill at mile 16 as we would climb the St. John's bridge.  That hill really wasn't nearly as bad as I was worried that it would be, and the view from the top was amazing!  Melanie, Kara, and I ran together on and off up to this point, but it was really special that we all found each other for the bridge - I enjoyed experiencing that with them.

After the bridge was a 'flat' (read: uphill) stretch along the top of the bluff.  I continued to feel well until mile 22 when some feminine issues reared their ugly head and I had terrible cramps for about two miles.  These two miles were slow and awful, but then just as quickly as the problems started, they ended, and I was able to finish the last two miles strong.  I'm bummed that those two miles took so much out of me, because when all was said and done, I missed a BQ by less than a minute.  I was definitely disappointed to miss my goal, but at the end of the day, I know I left it all out there on the course.  I know I ran the best race I could that day, and I'm happy with it.  Plus, I have a new PR which is exciting.  I ended up finishing in 3:40:55.

A few notes about the race.  I train at 7800 feet in elevation and this race was at sea level.  I definitely felt the difference - my breathing was easier and I felt much better after the race than the last time.  I had some soreness, which was to be expected, but not nearly as much as I thought I would.  Also, I was worried about it being hot, but the temperatures, which were warmer than I'm used to, were a non-issue.

Overall, this was a great race experience.  The course support was fantastic and the entertainment was just as good.  My favorite race sign?  "Up ahead:  Mortuary.  Look alive."  Also, I chose to personalize my bib with the word "FASTER."  I loved hearing people yell "Faster" at me as I approached - it was a fun little motivator.

So now it's all said and done and I'm not sure what's next.  With so much going on this year, I think I will take a (short) marathon break and try to stay half marathon ready for a while.  I'd like to run some halves next spring and summer and possibly look at another full next fall or the following spring.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

One week happy dance!

The Portland Marathon is one week from today and I can't wait!!  During my last marathon taper I had some major marathon obsessing...I was so nervous and definitely over thinking things.  This time I've definitely taken that down a notch (maybe I'd call it a huge interest in all things marathon instead of an obsession).  The difference, so far, is that I'm not nervous.  I'm excited.  Sure I remember how hard miles 20-26 are, but I know what to expect and I'm ready.  I've trained well - I feel like other than one or two missed runs for sickness and one for vacation, I stuck to the plan.  When I didn't want to run 8 mile tempo runs, I did.  And I ended loving speed work days (still not sure how that happened).

I've been going through all the taper crazies though - caught a cold, my body hurts in realllllly weird places, I can't stop eating all the things, bed time is early, heck, I even cut back on wine!  (Just a little though).  My last couple of runs have been pretty miserable, but looking back at my last training cycle, this was also the case then, so I'm not worried about it a bit.  I'm just excited to get going.

I have a nice 3 mile run, a 4 mile race pace run, and a 2 mile run on tap this week...then it's off to Portland!  I'm excited to get outside and enjoy the beauty of fall this week while I finish out this training cycle.  Fingers crossed for a great week and an even better race!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

T-15 days and the taper crazies

The Portland Marathon is in 15 days.  Well, to be more exact, 14 and a half days.  But who's counting?  I haven't updated in a while because I have been BUSY!!  Busy running, busy working (school started back up), busy studing (yay for Graduate School), busy being a mom...the list goes on and on.  With everything going on in my life, running has become my peace.  It's my 'me' time.  Running has been the time where I can clear my mind, enjoy nature, and be alone.

Melanie and I finished up the meat of our training last week.  We worked our way up to two 20 mile runs...and we rocked them!  We were both pleased with how well those long long runs went, and now we are one week into the three week taper.  I don't really count the first week though, because the mileage is similar to stepback weeks and not enough to where I really feel like it's a break.  Although mentally, the taper crazies have begun!

I trained hard.  I did all of the runs that were scheduled (minus one while we were on vacation and one while I had strep throat).  I hit the intensity on all of the tempo runs and speed workouts.  I hit the mileage...and then some.  I know I did everything I could.  But naturally, I'm still doubting myself.  I had an 'easy' 12 mile run this morning.  These are the runs that are the hardest for me.  I think when I have an 18 or 20 miler on tap, mentally I know I'll be outside running for what feels like forever, and I'm mentally prepared for it.  When my schedule says 12 miles, it seems so short in comparison, but I fail to realize how far that really is. Those are the runs that feel like they drag on and on because, shouldn't I be done by now?

Today's 12 miler was good.  I felt strong and comfortable and even managed the mileage well mentally.  Then I got home and realized how slowly I ran.  I wasn't trying to push it or run fast (Heaven forbid I mess up the taper), but surely that comfort level should be faster than that, right?  Ahhhh, one of the classic taper crazies.  How the heck am I supposed to maintain an 8:11 pace for 26.1 miles when I can't maintain an 8:30 pace for 12 miles?

I know that I did everything I needed to do during training, and now it's time to trust in the training.  This same training plan (minus the speed work) helped me run a phenomenal race last spring in Denver.  I know it's effective.  I've been reflecting back on my training log a lot this week - comparing this training cycle with the last one.  I'm right where I was with the last one in terms of how I was running and how I was feeling about it.  That gives me a lot of reassurance.

Other taper crazies have been milder.  Like today, all I did was run, nap, and eat.  Really.  I'm SO hungry and tired.  I was supposed to get up and start my run by 6:00 am so I could get home and bake muffins with Cupcake.  But for the life of me I couldn't drag myself out of bed until 8:00...we made muffins then and I managed to make it out the door at 9.  I don't think I've ever left for a run that late in the morning, I usually prefer to be home before the kids are awake.  But today, I enjoyed it.  And I love that I still went at all - that means I can sleep in tomorrow before sitting around, watching football, and eating all the food.

I'm anxious to see how the next two weeks play out in terms of taper crazies as the mileage starts going down next week.  I actually get to run a 3 mile run.  I don't remember what that feels like.  And two four milers?  CAKE!!  Woohoo!!!...for now.

15 days til the marathon.  15 days to obsess over my fueling plan (I think I've decided on it), my outfit (that's important stuff!), my pacing strategy, and other important things like convincing myself to stick to my resolve to run this marathon without the help of my garmin telling me my pace.  Scary stuff!

One last note, I'm SO EXCITED for this race!!  I love that I get to share it with such an amazing friend and running partner.  I'm the luckiest person in the world.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In it for the long run

Today Melanie and I had our first of two 20 milers for this training cycle.  I love long run day - it really is my favorite.  I love that I can get lost in the run so easily - I'm not worried about pace or route - it's nothing more than just keep running.  

Today's run was great.  We came in quite a bit under 3 hours and had a great pace of 8:34.  We tried something new that was fun - usually for a super long run I do an out and back - or some variation of one (last cycle I went out 5 miles in one direction before coming back and going out 5 miles in another direction).  We have a great dirt path in our town that makes a little over a 3 mile loop - and there's an extra little loop at the end that you can add on and it gives another 3/4 mile or so.  So we ran over to this trail and did 5 laps on it.  

I thought running the same course over and over would bore the heck out of me - although we ran it backward twice.  But truly, this was easily the most manageable long run I've done as far as the mental aspect goes.  It was easy to focus on the particular lap we were in instead of looking at the mileage as a whole.  We (I) chatted the whole way and felt great at the end.

I had a good stretch and a lot of food after and although my legs are tired, I feel great and love the accomplishment of completing a 20 mile run.  We have 12 miles next week and then another 20 miler before heading into our taper.  We've made it this far and I couldn't be more excited. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I'm just tired

I hit this point in training last time and got tired too.  The miles are piling up - I hit my first 50 mile week EVER last week.  We are into the 17-18 mile long runs with 8 mile tempo run days.  I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.  I don't dread my runs at all (well, maybe tempo day a little), in fact I feel like something is missing if I don't get in a good run.  I don't feel like the quality of my runs has suffered at all.  But I'm tired.

I wrote earlier about how marathon training isn't just about the running, and that seems so evident now.  On the plus side, I am sleeping amazingly and waking up feeling refreshed.  And I'm enjoying the runger - eating is my favorite!  But I'm tired.  I know it comes with the territory of these high mileage weeks.  And it's ok.  I'm just a little tired.

*side note:  today's tired isn't because of running.  It's brought to you by a late night at the Foo Fighters concert last night and a day at an amusement park today.  It's a totally different tired.  But still a good one.  And look - Asher actually smiled on a ride!

Friday, July 31, 2015

July recap

July was a busy month of running (again).  I logged 160.42 miles as I continued my training for the Portland Marathon in October.  I had my first 40 mile week since April and logged my longest run since Colfax in May.

Here are my monthly highlights:

I hit the trails some for my runs.  Axe and I enjoyed exploring new areas and seeing new places.  We enjoyed the challenges of the hills and rocky terrain and are looking forward to more trail runs next month.

On July 4, Melanie and I ran the Gothic to Crested Butte 1/3 Marathon.  It was a fun run and I was excited to earn 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:08:33.  

Speed work, for the second month in a row, didn't kill me.i didn't even hate it by the end of the month.  In fact, I enjoyed the last speed workout which was mile repeats.

Melanie and I had a tough 12 mile run.  It was one of those runs that we both struggled with and didn't enjoy much - but we powered through it and conquored it!

Last weekend we did what I consider the first of the really long runs - 15 miles (plus a cool down mile I added to let Axe run a little too).  I love the way I feel after a good long run, especially a successful one.

My tempo runs were pretty good this month - I'm sustaining a faster pace this marathon training cycle than I did for the last one, so I'm excited about that progress.  I ran 8 miles at a 7:30 pace yesterday including warm up and cool down.  That's stinkin' fast for me and my little legs!

The Portland Marathon emailed me my bib number yesterday.  I guess it's really going to happen!

The best part of my running month wasn't a run, but I'm thinking it may help my running a little bit (or at least help those little niggles and aches and pains). I got a massage this week and it was magic.  I've had more soreness this training cycle.  I think it's due to adding in speed work.  So I got a massage.  I had no soreness after at all and my next run felt amazing.  I think it will become a regular thing.

I also had a great month outside of running.  We did a lot of hiking and exploring.  

I'm hoping August treats us as well as July did - it's the last month of summer here!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's not just about the running

Marathon training takes a lot of time.  Right now I'm averaging about 38 miles a week and I'm not even into the meat of training yet.  That's about 5 and a half hours a week of running.  I know it doesn't sound like a ton of time, but it's definitely enough to make an impact on my life.  

Aside from the actual running, though, marathon training affects my daily life a lot.  For example, eating.  If I'm not running and I'm not sleeping (more on that in a bit), chances are I'm eating.  Kelsy even told me that she thought my favorite thing to do is to stand in the kitchen and eat.  She's right.  It takes a lot of fuel to sustain long weekend runs or 8 mile tempo runs.

There's also laundry.  I read somewhere that it's good for the material in sports bras to not wash them too frequently.  It was even recommended to wear them a couple of times between washing a to preserve the elasticity.  Whoever wrote that has obviously never smelled me after a good run.  They get washed after one run.  I think more than half of my laundry is running clothes - that's a lot of extra laundry!

Then there's sleep.  Because Melanie  and I like to get our runs done early, it means I also like to go to bed at a decent time the night before (read: early).  And aside from regular sleep, during a good marathon training cycle, I find myself napping, which is something I honestly hate to do. But I can tell my body needs it, so I do.  I definitely sleep a lot better during training.  I also tend to feel much more refreshed when I wake up.  

Oh and planning.  Derek and I are taking a trip next week and my biggest concern was how I was going to get my long run in while we are gone.  I googled it and have a plan (I'm very excited about that run too - I love running in new places!). I have no idea what else we will do on our little trip, but my runs are planned!  Last weekend we went for a hike and I put a lot of effort into planning what I thought would be a good, fun hike, but one that would leave me with enough left in the tank for the next day's long run.  I feel like so much that I do revolves around how I will fit in that day's run or how I will schedule other things around my runs to make sure I'm creating a balance that works for my family, my runs, and for me.

I think that had I known how much running would affect the non-running aspects of my life, I would have been very hesitant to train for a marathon.  I already worry about making sure that my family and work lives don't suffer from my training schedule, but I would have worried that this was just too much.  But now that I'm experiencing it first-hand, I love it.  I enjoy training even though it's so much more than just running.  I love how much more soundly I sleep at night.  I love eating all day long.  I don't love the extra laundry, but it's worth it. 

I think people tend to think of marathon training as a decent amount of running during the week plus a lot of running on the weekend.  And it is.  But it's so much more than that.  And it's awesome.

Today was rest day.  So I ate, caught up on laundry, and even had a little nap with my little cutie.  I had to prepare my body (and clothes) for tempo day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not all routes are created equal - trail running

After yesterday's beautiful hike, I decided I really wanted to run that trail.  Today was tempo day, but I decided that with the added elevation (this trail is a little over 9,000 feet) and hills, that I would go for it, knowing I wouldn't be able to maintain my usual tempo run pace.  

The end of the first mile had a huge hill - about a 180 foot rise.  It was a tough hill but I made it!  I was definitely slower than I like, but it gave me some confidence for mile 16 of Portland.  Plus it was only mile one, too early to wimp out.

This was after the huge hill...I didn't get a picture going up, I was too busy trying to stay alive.  Also I'm cheating and using pictures from yesterday.

The rest of the trail had lots of little hills, both up and down.  It also had views for days!  Since our hike was only 4 miles and I needed 7, I also hopped onto a dirt road for a bit.  It was much easier to run, but not nearly as fun.

At the end of our run, Axe and I played in the river.  It was kind of like a mini ice bath and felt SO good!  In case you don't know, Colorado rivers are cold!

You know it was a good run when you look like this at the end!

What I learned today:

1.  Be super careful on mountain terrain.  Rocks will jump out and try to trip you or they will shift at the last second in an attempt to make you twist your ankle.  Rocks are not friends.

2.  Running through puddles (and streams) is fun!

3.  Trails by rivers are great for dogs - Axe was happy to have plenty of water to drink along the way.

4.  Trail maps are your friend.  Be sure you're aware of the area to avoid getting lost (I would be one to do this).

5.  Check the weather!  Colorado is known for its afternoon thunderstorms.  I made sure that the weather was supposed to stay nice so I wouldn't get caught in one.

6.  Watch for bikers.  There are a lot of them and they're fast!  I kept my music off most of the way so that I could enjoy the sounds of nature, but also so a biker wouldn't scare the bejesus out of me if he came up behind me.  Share the trails!

7.  Take extra water and a snack or two.  Just in case you get lost (see #4)

8.  Enjoy!  We have a beautiful planet.  Don't take it for granted - get out there and explore!

It was a great run.  Slow and difficult, but amazing.  I am looking forward to exploring more of these trails that we are so lucky to have here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Taking the restlessness out of rest days

I used to love rest days.  Now I feel restless and lazy.  I have been trying to use rest days to get active in other ways - kind of like cross training but less intense.  Today the boys and I popped up to Crested Butte with Axe and went for a 4 mile hike before hitting the park for a picnic lunch.  I love getting the boys outside and moving and enjoy sharing the experience with them.  

The wildflowers are on the tail end of their bloom so we chose a spot with plenty of wildflowers, mountain views, and a river.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The early bird gets the run

My alarm goes off at 5:30am.  By 6:00 I'm out the door.  7 miles later, at 7:00, I'm back home.  The kids are still asleep my husband is just getting up.  I fix my coffee and now it's time to start the day.

Do I love getting up at 5:30?  Not one bit.  Some nights I wish I could stay up a little later.  Jimmy Fallon is hilarious and I would like to watch...but I have to be up early.  

As a mom of four, husband of one, worker of a full time job as well as a part time job, and marathoner, these early mornings come with the territory. I definitely don't have the time to train for another marathon.  I make the time.  

It's all about finding the right balance.  I love my family.  I love my job.  I love running.  I'll not sacrifice one for another.  Running is my 'me' time.  It's where I can think uninterrupted...or tune out completely.  It's where I feel my best physically and mentally.  I'm sure you've heard all the cliches about how you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your kids, but it's true.  I'm a much happier person after my morning run.  

It's a priority of mine to get my daily run in without it negatively impacting the family.  During the week, my runs rarely go longer than an hour.  I go early so that I'm not missing my family time.  I like coming back when everyone is still asleep and knowing that I've already accomplished something great for the day.  I love that they know I've already run - what a great example it sets for them - but that they don't feel like I'm taking up their time to run.  Weekends are a little different - it means the kids get breakfast time with daddy.  I think that's a good thing too. It's all about balance.  

I've already run my 7 miles (including speed work!) this morning.  I've already showered and now I have my coffee and a few minutes to myself before the kids get up and our busy day begins.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

This morning I met Melanie at the track for a tough speed workout.  We did the pyramid - a 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, and 800 with 400m recovery laps in between.