Monday, January 30, 2012

No Rest for the Weary!

Sort of.

I've traded in high-intensity marathon training for high-intensity grad school coursework and kiddy athletics.

BOO to the grad school stuff but YAY to kiddy athletics!

Time for me to put the "Jock" back into this blog.

My 8 year-old son, Evan, competed in a swim meet this weekend, and he absolutely killed it.

A few months ago, he told us that he wanted to go to the AZ State Swimming Championships. We told him exactly what he needed to do to get there: practice 4 X weekly + qualify for 3 events. If you've ever been to a swim meet, you'll know why we wanted him to qual for 3 events. It's a lot to ask for us to drive 3 hours to Phoenix and sit through an all day meet for one event (lasting anywhere from 40 seconds-2 minutes). Then to add the cost of the hotel, food and the fact that his 5 and 3 year-old brothers are BORED SENSELESS at the meet (aka whining, complaining, melting down, wandering all over the place, fighting, etc.)... Yeah. 3 event minimum, bud. Sorry.

If he could qualify in 3 events, then we'd take him. If not, he could try again next year.

It must have been his new teeny speedos... HE DID IT!!!

He qualified in both 50/100 yd breast and fly. ATTA BOY!!! So proud of him. He has been working so hard lately. He's been going to 6 pm practice 4 times per week with Daddy, who swims one lane over (Masters practice). Going to 6 pm practice has also allowed more one on one time with the coach, as most of the kids opt for the 4 or 5 pm practice (there are 3 options for his group). The difference has been amazing. He crushed his old PRs.

Ok, enough shameless mommy bragging. Moving on...

What's going on with running?

I'm entering Week 2 of recovery. Things are going well. Last week's mileage looked like this:

Monday-YEAH RIGHT!!!! Sore as hell.
Tuesday-Sore but hot stone massage helped tremendously....
Wednesday-3 easy miles. Yowzers. Can feel legs.
Thursday-Ahhhh. Much better. 4 easy miles
Friday-Optional 3 miles or OFF. I chose the latter. OMG. I am going to tank this writing course if I don't get it together. No running today. Need to get it together.
Saturday-5 miles. So windy I wanted to DIE. Visor actually flew off of head.
Sunday-Ran 8 less windy but still windy miles to my son's swim meet. Now that's what I call multi-tasking!
TOTAL: 20 miles

This week will have me climbing back up to 38 miles. I am feeling good but my Achilles (both) were a bit tender on Saturday. Coach advised me to not wear the shoes that I wore at Carlsbad for 2 weeks.

I also hit the gym today for about the first time in a month. Got up to 105 pounds on the Smith Machine. Gonna feel that tomorrow.

What's up next re: racing? I'm getting ready to sign up for the Valley of Gold Half Marathon (March 25). I'm glad that I had the foresight to decide *not* to sign up for any races in Feb. It was tempting as the marathon approached, but I resisted. I gave it my all at Carlsbad, and I'm tired. It's going to take a little time mentally and physically to get back to 100%. Originally, I had considered signing up for the IMS Arizona Half or the Lost Dutchman Half, but the thought of either of those races right now? MEH. February is all about rebuilding. Not to mention the fact that I'm going to be busy with my school (which I have neglected) and Evan's swimming. State meet is the weekend of March 9th.

For those of you who have tagged me to do "11 Things" (Kathy and Jess) I'm going to get to that later in the week! Thanks for including me in the fun!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adapt And Overcome Part 2

Continued from HERE.

So Jim the pace group leader leaves us at Mile 14. Boo. He said that he was in training for another race and didn't plan on running the whole time.

Lana (sp?) jumps in to replace Jim. She is a petite girl with a Russian (I think?) accent. Very sweet. Every couple of minutes, she would quietly say encouraging things to us as we continued along. At this point, we were still attached to her hip.

As we got back onto Hwy 101 around 16 or so (can't remember), I felt like I was hitting transition. Hahaha! (cracking up when she says in the video, "There's a lot of yelling... groaning...") Alright, so it wasn't that bad, but yeah... Mile 17 with a slight headwind... I was hurting. At this point, the chit chat was all but gone. In this picture (found and then purchased on totally random web search of Carlsbad Marathon!), looks like I actually started doing my own thing. Not feeling too social anymore. I don't think any of us are.

Check out the rinky dink pacer sign. Seriously? 

Also, are there any steroids available at the next aid station? I forgot to shoot up this morning. 
(What's up with my Miss Olympia-looking leg? That leg looks like it needs to be running 5:20 miles, not 8:20s.). I know what's going on with my mouth. Pretty sure I was licking off chocolate GU (for the entire race...)

Then came the U-Turn to head back, I saw a porta-potty at 18.5 and had a Pavlov's dog moment. I actually started peeing in my pants a little when I saw the potty, so I knew I had to stop and go. I couldn't take the discomfort anymore. Plus, I was wearing blue shorts. I couldn't pull off a pants pissing this time without being completely obvious.

Meanwhile, back in Yuma, my husband was tracking me and saw my pace drop into the high 9:00s. He said he was really bummed because he thought I had hit the wall. Nope. Just taking a whiz is all.

I got out of the porta-potty and saw the 3:40 group waaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of me now. Crap! I hauled ass to catch up. I looked at my Garmin and saw 7:34. Ouch. Going up another roller too.

And here's where the magic happens... I catch up with the group. We get to Mile 20.

Mile 20-8:05... My 2nd fastest mile of the marathon

There's no wall.


Marathon #1-Hit wall at 18
Marathon #2-Hit wall at 20

Marathon #3-There's no wall!!!!!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not feeling fresh by any stretch of the imagination. Things are starting to hurt all over. My hammies are all twinge-y (and have been the entire race, actually). I can feel my calves. My Achilles are burning... I'm tired. Not to mention that now we're merging with the half marathon crowd, and I'm annoyed having to weave in and out of the crowd.

But I had it in me to pick up the pace. I could feel it. You can tell when you got it, and you can tell when it's gone.

I actually flipped off the Mile 20 sign.
Unladylike? Yes.
Tacky? Yep.
But it felt so good!

And here's where my impromptu mantra started:

"There is no wall. There is no wall. There is no wall. There is no wall."

I was like a crazy person. Think Jack from The Shining.

I probably said it 150 times until I really BELIEVED it.

And then I took off on my own.

Sort of. 

There was another guy from the pace group who came along too. We kept pulling each other the last 6 miles. He came alongside and said cheerily, "Hey, you pulled ahead of the group. You have a little bit of a cushion now." Of course what he said in his mind was:

"Oh hell no... I'm not getting chicked by this."

Mile 21-8:15

Mile 22-8:15

Mile 23-8:16

Mile 24-8:19

Mile 25-8:11

Mile 26-8:00.... Almost done! I think I may go into cardiac arrest if this doesn't wrap up soon!

Last .2 (actually .49 on my Garmin-GAH!).... 8:00 (Felt more like 5:30!)

The guy passed me right at the end, naturally. 

Total emotional breakdown at the finish. Kind of still processing it. I'm not a crier or a terribly effusive person by nature, but yeah... Sort of sensory overload at that point. On the one hand it was a baby/toddler moment in that I was so physically tired that all of my coping skilled failed me. If you have kids, you know what I mean. We've all seen it when they are so tired that they literally MELT DOWN. After all, I had not slept in almost 28 hours.  On the other hand, I was so stinkin' proud of myself and couldn't believe that I pulled it off. I was overwhelmed with pride. If someone would have told me 2 years ago that I would shave off nearly 40 minutes off a marathon time that I ran when I was 24 YEARS OLD, I would have responded with, "PFFFFFFFT!! You're high!!"

But I did it. Almost 12 years and 3 kids later... I DID IT.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adapt and Overcome Part 1

In the interest of time and my apparent long-windedness, I'm turning my race report into 2 parts. Also, I'm waiting for the race photos because I have nothing of visual interest to add! I was solo at this race. So here goes...

What's that saying?

I think the same applies to running/racing. You never know what's going to happen on race day, even with the best laid plans.

You can do everything right and sometimes things go wrong.

Knowing that I would need to get up at 4 am on race day (6 am start), I went to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night. I assumed that I wouldn't sleep particularly well, seeing as how most people don't the night before a big race. What I didn't know is that I wouldn't sleep AT ALL.

I tossed and turned for EIGHT. STRAIGHT. HOURS. 8:30 pm turned into 9:45 pm turned into 11:15 pm turned into 12:50 am turned into 2:15 am turned into 3:00 am. At no point do I remember dozing off. I just laid there, helpless and desperate. Tired but unable to sleep.

I have no idea why. This had never happened to me before. Was it the ONE glass of wine I had at dinner (at 5:30 pm)? Was it nerves? (I really wasn't that nervous.) Was I (deathly) afraid of oversleeping since I was all alone? (Even though I had 3 different alarms set.) Could I simply not get over the fact that I forgot my PJs and had to sleep in my underwear only in a hotel bed? (ugh-gross) Who knows? Perhaps  I sleep best with my mouth-breathing husband on one side of the bed and my 3-year old smashed up against me (our usual bedtime set-up these days). All I know is that I finally got out of bed at 3:45 am, tired and fairly deflated.

Let me back up a bit... this was after I got up at 3:30 am to poop, no less. What the hell? Who has to poop in the middle of the night? RIDICULOUS! Everything about my body was a mess.

After a warm 4 am shower, I choked down my breakfast (Bruegger's cranberry bagel) and 12 oz. of water (so not hungry or thirsty). Around 5:15 am, I packed up my coconut water /PreRace mix (4 oz of GAG!) and banana and drove to the mall (1 mile away) where the race start was. I finished the drink in my car after I parked and choked down 3/4th of the banana on the way to the porta-potties.

I got to the starting line around 5:50 am. I immediately sought out the 3:40 pace group. I had absolutely zero energy to do any sort of self-pacing/mental math. Just wasn't going to happen. The thought of obsessing over my splits made me even more tired than I already was. Even though I have heard mixed reviews of pacing groups, I took a leap of faith and just prayed that this particular pace leader wasn't a complete bozo.

SIDE NOTE: The 3:35 and 3:45 pacers were total BOZOS. We caught up to the 3:45 pace group around MILE 7 (WTH?) and the 3:35 pacer was nowhere to be found. Another runner around Mile 14 approached our group looking for the 3:35 group. Our pacer told him that his sign had apparently broken and he might have aborted the whole thing. Nice.

Gun goes off at 6 am. We take off into the dark. I didn't like it. 1st mile is hilly. I liked this even less. What I like the least, however, was the fact that running didn't feel great. In fact, the first 4 miles SUCKED. It felt like work. I wasn't supposed to feel like this in the first 4 miles of a marathon! These miles are supposed to feel fantastic... like I could do this forever. Instead, I felt like, "How am I going to do this for 26.2 miles? F!" 

Shit. The voices were already there 4 miles in:

"Maybe this just isn't my day."
"I'm thinking this pace is going to be too fast for me."
"If I don't have any energy now, how am I going to have energy at Mile 20?"
"Well, this wasn't my BQ race anyway, really. I had planned to BQ at Pasadena."
"Everyone else in this group seems faster than me. Like the chick talking to the pacer guy. She's so energetic and fit."

I was also stressed because 4 miles in, my fueling plans were already not working out as planned.

The course website said that there would be water at odd miles, Ultima at even miles. My plan was to drink water/Ultima at each interval and suck down my GUs starting at 6.5-7.5 (water at 7), then again at 12.5-13.5 (water at 13), 18.5-19.5 (water at 19) and then probably one more at the end if I felt like I needed it. (It works best for me if I take my GUs over the span of a mile rather than sucking the packet all down at once. That method = instant cramps/diarrhea for me.)

There was no Ultima the first 4 miles. Now what? When was it going to appear already? I was factoring in the carbs from sports drink in addition to my GUs for my fuel planning. This was throwing everything off. DAMNIT.

Around Mile 4, I decided it was time to

I needed to truly embrace the t-shirt I was wearing from the funniest running blog out there : Shut Up + Run.

I needed some energy ASAP. How could I get it? I know. I can draw on someone else's energy. Fake it till you make it, right?

So I started talking to Tina, the cute chick with lots of energy right next to me and Jim the pace leader. And wouldn't you know it... IT WORKED! Jim talked me off the ledge and told me to just take my GUs every 5 miles with water (so I started at 5.5 so I could get water at 6... I assumed they'd have water at 6 + I'll figure out the sports drink later.). Tina was like my instant BFF. We talked about our kids, our husbands, our training, our previous marathons, how we were feeling, etc. We helped each other through the hills and asked each other every so often how the other was doing/feeling.

Jim, the pace leader, was AWESOME. Lady Luck was on my side at least with this pacing group thing. Turns out Jim was pacing us slightly below 3:40. He knew that Tina and I were hoping for a BQ time, and he didn't think that getting us right under 3:40 was going to cut it. He had been pacing us at an average 8:20 pace (I wasn't paying attention, TBH. I had looked down at my Garmin only a handful of times.). Sweet! Exactly what I wanted!!

Things were looking up as we approached the halfway point, right around 1:48!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Carlsbad... Forever in My Heart

Two years ago, I got back into running after taking several years off to have babies. Before then, I just didn't have the urge to train and race. 2006-2009 were such transitional years for our family. I got out of the military and had our second son in 2006. We moved to TX in 2007. My husband was gone A LOT with his airline career. We had our 3rd son in 2008. We got back into the military after my husband got furloughed and moved to AZ in 2009... Running was simply not a priority for me until fall 2009 when I decided that I wanted to run the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January 2010 as my comeback race.

My goal was simply to break 2 hours. 

Me and my longtime running buddy Leslie after Carlsbad 2010

I didn't even have a Garmin at this point, but as I calculated my Timex splits during the race, I realized that I had the chance to break 1:50 if I could hang on. Oh, I hung on alright. I even pissed in my running tights because I knew I didn't have time to stop. That's how I roll. What? They're black. Who's gonna notice?

I crossed the finish line in 1:48:54. I had a huge lump in my throat. I couldn't believe that I did it. After 3 kids, I figured it was all downhill for me fitness-wise, yet I managed to run my second fastest half marathon time ever. (I have yet to break the 1:42:06 that I ran in 1996. No worries. That will be smashed to pieces at some point this year.)

Yesterday, exactly two years after I ran my second fastest half marathon ever, I ran the Carlsbad Marathon. This was my third marathon. I had a pretty lofty goal that I kind of kept to myself. Yeah, ok. I admit it now. I wanted to BQ. 

So much to tell you guys... but I have NO TIME right now!!! I have managed to get behind in my grad school class because my taper last week... Yeah, it was a mental taper for me too. I did SQUAT for class and now I am paying for it.

At any rate, during yesterday's race, I got to 13.1 miles at around 1:48. I actually said to the pace group that I was running with, "Oh my gosh! Two years ago, I crossed the finish line of the half in 1:48 and felt like I was going to collapse. Here I am at the half way point in the marathon and I feel GREAT! Woo hoo!"

It was such a confidence booster for me. This race had some challenges for me both before that point and after. 

But don't they all have challenges? When is it ever easy?

It wasn't easy yesterday by any stretch of the imagination. It took a lot of mental fortitude to get through it. I had to dig really, really, really deep.

But I did it.

Post Carlsbad Marathon 2012
8th in my AG (35-39)
43rd Woman Overall

I didn't just have a lump in my throat when I crossed the finish line this time. I cried like a baby. You would have thought *I* just made the Olympic Team or something! It was so much of everything... Lots of emotion coupled with sheer exhaustion. I actually did not sleep a wink the night before the race. It was unbelievable. More on that in the next post... 

I adapted and overcame. And that's what I will tell you about next.

Now back to the books!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Compression Gear

I love compression gear. 

Whenever I wear it, it feels like a big hug on my hard-worked (or working) muscles. I really think that it helps my recovery, and it's the final item in my arsenal of "things that have kept Allison healthy."

And now I present to you the most ridiculous picture ever.

Professional on the top... Party on the bottom.

That's me in my matchy matchy Aspaeris Pivot Shorts. Hilarious. I wanted a quick photo to show you guys what I was talking about, so I took off the black leggings that I wore to work and donned my fiery red compression shorts. Maybe next time I'll wear this outfit to class. I'm sure my students will think it's all good. I bet I wouldn't get any funny looks, especially if I completed the outfit with some knee high boots.

So... I absolutely love these shorts. 

Let me back up first by saying that when my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I sent her the link for these. She placed the order immediately. Wouldn't you know it? The next day, Aspaeris had a 25% off Christmas sale. 


I wrote on Aspaeris's Facebook wall asking if my mom could still get the discount. While these shorts are very reasonably priced at $60 ($50 with the $10 off coupon code that is available at checkout!), who doesn't want to save a buck? Or $15 to be exact with the 25% discount. 

I was told to e-mail the company to see what they could do.

I didn't hear back from Aspaeris re: the discount, so I was a little bummed. Oh well. However, at this point, I had already received the pair my mom ordered. I was impressed with the speedy shipping (2 days!!) and the quality of the product, so I pardoned the blow-off. 

On Day 3 post FB interaction, I received this e-mail:

"Dear Allison-Sorry for the delayed response to your request. Since your order has already been processed, would it be ok if we sent you another pair of shorts for free instead? If that is agreeable with you, please just send me your size, color and address, and I will send them right out!
Let me know if that is ok."

Um, yeah it's ok!!!!! I was stoked! I went ahead and ordered these snazzy red ones. Again, they arrived on my doorstep within a couple of days.  Awesome product & awesome customer service. That's hard to find anywhere these days!

I wear these shorts after every speed workout and long run. They are fabulous. You can check out the Aspaeris website to read up on the biomechanics (uhhhhh?) of the shorts. You can also check out their FB page to get the opinions of other bloggers who have posted their reviews on the shorts. 

You'd better believe these are coming with me to San Diego for post-marathon wear on Sunday!

Another piece of gear that I will be wearing during my marathon is this:

I wanted to find the goofiest possible picture of this product.
Dude. What's up? Porta-potty is ----> that way

I love Zensah calf sleeves not just for recovery but to actually wear during runs. Again, it's like a big leg hug. It just feels good.

Now to decide if I should wear my black ones or my white ones. Decisions, decisions! Still trying to finalize my outfit. Typical chick!

Do you have any compression gear???

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finding Humor in Your Neuroses

Who doesn't get a little neurotic during taper week? I've been relatively cool but still stressed about a few things, one of which is targeting my goal pace. My coach has been fairly non-commital about it until today. I present to you our textversation that reveals said goal pace.

A little background... We normally communicate via e-mail (mostly), however, he had a house fire last week, so little 'ole me (as well as the 100+ other people he coaches) had to take a back seat. He had about a million other more pressing issues than running, kwim? At any rate,  I quick texted him yesterday to get my workout for today, since I normally do speedwork on Tuesdays.

 Yesterday's convo

Today after my run...

Did I mention how much I love my coach? He makes me laugh. I need laughter this week. Keeps me calm!

5 DAYS!!!!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Last Long Run... 7 days to go!

Part of what I like about reading other running blogs is getting new ideas for training/racing. My gurl Momma K (I can't get onto her blog to link her name here! What the what?!?!) also asked me in a previous post what I did for nutrition.

In the spirit of that, I'll share what I did yesterday before/during/after my final long run before my marathon next Sunday.

Starting about two weeks out from a marathon, I drink a glass (4-6 oz) of Emergen-C as soon as I roll out of bed. Despite this, I have managed to get a bit of a scratchy throat from my 3 year-old. Boo.

I prefer this flavor.

On this particular long run day, I drank my Emergen-C and then made myself one of these: 

Photo stolen from someone else's blog.

I topped it with SunButter and strawberry jam. Drank 1/2 cup of coffee along with it.

Afterwards, I had another  6 oz. of water (guesstimate). 

About 20 minutes before my run, I proceeded to drink a scoop of PreRace mixed with about 6 oz. of White Cherry Powerade (another guesstimate).

I headed out the door for my run and about 2 miles in... Yikes.

Let's back up to what I ate the night prior: a salad and about 5 pieces (yes, 5) of this:

This was not a wise move.

It was one of those runs that made me re-evaluate my diet. It also made me thankful that I chose a route with a porta-potty when I most needed it. (I ran by the lettuce fields today-Yuma is famous for its lettuce fields.) Um, yeah. I need to eliminate dairy by Thursday of this week. Most def. 

Ok, I got through all of that (just barely). Whew.

However, I began to notice my bladder around Mile 6. What the heck is going on here? I suspect that I over-hydrated a bit + drank the PreRace a little too soon before my run. I also probably didn't need the coffee either. I am thinking that both these things act as diuretics, hence the feeling like I had to pee the entire run. Had to stop again around Mile 10.5. Good grief!

So what did I eat/drink on my run?

I carried a Chocolate Outrage GU gel (ate at 1 hour) and a fuel belt filled with 10 oz. Nuun in one bottle  and 10 oz. water in the other. I didn't finish either bottle today. Hard to keep hydrating when you feel like you need to pee constantly!

I finished 13 miles in 1:55 (8:52P). As soon as I got home, I did this: 

Pool bath (51 degrees) in lieu of ice bath. Pure misery. Notice my youngest kiddo hassling me about having my Rockin' Refuel. I'm not in the mood for begging right now!!!

Once the shock factor wore off, I explained how he could have a couple of sips.

12 minutes later.... Ahhhhhhhh. Transitioned a foot over to the hot tub with scholarly, hot husband. I like this set-up!

I took a quick shower after about 30 minutes in the hot tub (couldn't drag myself out), and then I had another snack of 2 small cinnamon raisin bagels topped with a small amount of cinnamon sugar butter. That is, after I donned my compression shorts... which I will tell you about in my next post!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Strength Training = Runner's Insurance

Let's talk about strength training... yet another facet of my training that I am convinced has kept me injury free.

Remember these guys? 

I got back into running in Fall '09. I've had a few weeks off here and there, mostly due to injury. The most common injury I've had is a strained hip flexor(s). Without fail, it has come back repeatedly during those times when I incorporated speedwork but failed to do strength training.

Every. Single. Time.


I'm no physical therapist or sports doc, but I believe that I am one of those people for whom strength training isn't a nice *complimentary* option to running; it's ESSENTIAL to my training. I suspect-and this is purely speculation-that I am too flexible. I have a dancer/gymnast background. I'm still fairly bendy. Much more than your average runner. I can't find the link anywhere, but I remember reading a study floating around a few months ago that discussed how better runners are actually *less* flexible. Or something to that effect. It's probably like a bell curve or something. Maybe there's a mid "optimum" range of flexibility and then on either side (too little or too much)... not good.  For me, I believe strength training helps to stabilize things down there and help strengthen the areas that may be a little lax (for lack of a better word).

Does that even make sense or am I completely talking out of my a**?


What do I do at the gym? 

I'll start with last year's marathon training cycle. I used this book: 

I found the running aspect of it to be decent. Hey, it got me under 4 hours (using his Intermediate Plan). I think what I enjoyed the most about his plan, however, was the strength training. Looks like you can get it on Amazon for $9.99 (Kindle) and $7.04 (used). I think the sections on the strength training are worth it. Like the running plans, he does beginner all the way to advanced. 

Onto this training cycle:

I'm sort of in a lifting rut although I've decided-this week and next-to suspend strength training until after my marathon. I felt like taking a break and allowing my muscles to recharge and rebuild before the big dance. 

Here's what I normally do though:
  • Smith Machine-I usually max out at around 95 pounds
  • Seated Leg Extension 
  • Calf Press
  • Leg Curls (prone)
  • Hip Adductor/Adductor (pervy looking machine)
  • Vertical Leg Lift Machine (for core)
  • Sit-Ups on Incline Bench (for core)
  • Assisted chin-up, tricep dip Machine
I do 3 sets of each. 1st set = 12 reps, 2nd set = 11 reps, 3rd set = 10 reps
After each set, I increase the weight by 5 pounds. Pretty tired after that 3rd set.

I shoot for twice weekly. During my next marathon training cycle, I hope to be able to add a 3rd strength session, but I'll be looking for something different. Ideally, I'd like to do three different strength workouts each week.

Blogger Chicago Runner Girl has recently posted a killer strength session that I will most definitely be incorporating. I actually did her circuit last week, but my hamstring seized up during my second set of single leg dead lifts... so that was the end of that workout. My coach was not too happy when I told him about it. I believe he wrote me something along the lines of "WTF to doing this less than 3 weeks out from your marathon?!?!" Yeah, I know. Big time knucklehead move on my part.

Also, I recently received a copy of P90X from a very thoughtful friend, so that's another option I'm excited to try to spice things up.

So tell me about your strength training... Do you pump it up?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hard Days Hard.... Easy Days Easy

Going back to this post where I talk about what's worked for me...

11 days until the Carlsbad Marathon, and I have truly never felt better. I ran 58 miles last week, and while I  remember struggling with fatigue on my Thursday 10-miler, I had a day of rest on Friday (if you don't count the P90X yoga that I did...) and I was back to business on Saturday morning. I actually ended up taking 1st female at a local 10k race with about an 80% effort.

I believe that a huge reason for the success of this marathon training cycle has been because I have learned to listen to my body. Additionally, I practice these rules of thumb:

1) My easy runs are EASY.
2) My hard runs are HARD.
3) I DO NOT do two hard days in a row.

Here is what my week in running looks like:

Monday-Recovery day from my long run the day prior. EASY PACE. I run by how I feel. 2 weeks ago, 8:58P felt easy. Last week, 9:03P felt easy. I listen to my body and make sure that I am not breathing hard and that my muscles aren't tight/straining.

Tuesday-Speedwork. My coach gives me a workout to do. Anywhere from 1/2 to 1 mile repeats (I don't really have access to a track at 5:30 am, which is when I usually do this workout). I run these HARD. Right now my goal paces are anywhere from 3:30ish for 1/2 mile to 7:20s for 1 mile. Yesterday I did 3 X 1 mile repeats at 7:19, 7:10. 7:09. Could I have done another one? Yes. I do run HARD, but I always finish feeling like I have one more in me. So I guess HARD doesn't mean RIDICULOUSLY HARD.

Wednesday-Recovery day from speedwork. I don't care what my pace is today. At all. As long as it's EASY. Today I ran almost 7 (went a little long) at 9:30P.

Thursday-Some sort of Tempo run, which my coach calls a "cutback." I'll do a 3 mile warm-up and then do 3-4 miles that look something like this: Mile 4-8:20, Mile 5-8:15, Mile 6-8:10, Mile 7-8:05. Finish up with 2-3 miles of cooldown.


Let's say I have a 10k race on Saturday (like last week). Thursday will then be another EASY day and Saturday will be my replacement for a speed day.

Make sense?


Saturday-Easy 6 miles remembering that Sunday is a HARD day (Long Run). Or, if I have a race, Saturday is a HARD day (obviously), in which case Sunday will be a relaxed (not progressive!!!!) long run.

Sunday-Long Run. The only thing my coach ever tells me about my long run is to do what I feel like doing... It used to frustrate me, but I now feel liberated by it. If I want to push the paces a bit (providing I DID NOT have a race the day prior), then go for it. If I want to chill, that's fine too. I generally try to shoot for around an 8:50ish-9:10ish pace on my long runs. This seems to have served me well as far as being able to recover quickly by the next day.

Oh, I also lift weights twice a week, but that's the next post. Stay tuned!

This is a most excellent book that was given to me by my running partner as a birthday gift. She gave it to me to help me deal with my recurrent injuries.

You know what? I am STOKED that I've only had to consult it ONCE... on my birthday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Two Weeks to Go!

Just finished up a great weekend of running!

On Saturday, I ran in a 10k: Yuma's New Year's Resolution Run.

I didn't even get a picture this time. Not even a pre-run picture of me in the kitchen like my last 10k. Bahaha! I will throw in a picture of my race shirt for visual interest, however.

I won this shirt from a contest I entered back in the fall. I had to talk about a day in my life. Apparently, it's entertaining enough to win stuff.
 SUAR is awesome!

The race was a serious rerun. Many of the same runners... pretty much the same course. It was changed up a little to make it actually a "10k" instead of 5.95 miles like last time (according to my Garmin).

Saturday's race plan was simple: Keep it controlled, conservative and finish strong. 2 weeks out from my marathon is not the time to give it my all to a rinky dink local race. Not to mention I had 22 miles on the schedule for today. I viewed this 10k as a replacement for a strong tempo run. I ran it at about 80% and finished in 45:45. I think I finished first female, but I won't know until tomorrow. Yes, it takes an entire weekend here to get official results for a race with about 250 people in it.


Moving on to today's long run: My coach had told me to see how I felt and downgrade to 20 miles if need be. I headed out the door thinking I'd do 21.


The winds were absolutely BRUTAL today. Just awful. And I definitely picked the wrong direction to run. The first 8 miles felt pretty good. Then I turned around. HORRIBLE. A 9:26 pace felt like an 8:26 effort. I had to sort of do a zig zaggish pattern in order to get home without completely draining myself. I'd run into the headwind for a bit, then take a L. Run that way for a while, then take a R back into the headwind. Then another L... and so on and so forth. Also, I had a GU gel that apparently had a leak in it, so that spewed all over the inside of my fuel belt. Boo.

I was glad when it was all over. I called it a day at 20.25 and ended up finishing at a 9:09P. Fine by me. That's pretty much exactly what I wanted to do today considering I exerted myself pretty hard yesterday.

And with that final 20-miler, I ended the week with 58 miles!

This training cycle has been fantastic. Now I begin my taper... if you can call it that. Doesn't feel like I'm tapering!

Lots of focus on hydrating, proper nutrition, and REST these next two weeks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shoes and Strike

I'm still here!

I was thinking that I'd have lots 'o time to blog on Christmas break. Not so much with the kids at home! (including the BIG one-my husband)

So what's new with me? I'm on Day 2 of Peak Week for the Carlsbad Marathon, just 19 days away! My coach does not follow a 3-week taper, so this week will have me finishing at 56 miles, next week 44 miles and then race week! (20 miles + the marathon) I was a little nervous looking at my training plan when I saw that the mileage didn't back way off as per your standard marathon training plan... I asked him, "Where's my 3-week taper?" and he told me I'd been reading too much Runner's World. Hahahaha. At any rate, he just set a new American 50k record in the 70-74 age group, so I'm listening to him. His longevity in the sport speaks volumes to me.

In my last post, I wrote about the things that I believe have improved my running over the last few months. Numbers 1 and 2 were shoes and foot strike. Let's start with shoes.

I am currently rotating between four pairs of shoes:

Brooks PureFlow

Saucony PowerGrid Cortana

 Brooks Launch

Saucony Shadow Genesis

Why am I doing this? My coach advised me that it's good practice to rotate between 4-5 pairs of shoes because it helps reduce the risk of injuries based on repetitive motion. Makes sense to me. Each shoe is a little different, and it puts your foot in a different position. By changing things up a bit, you're more likely to avoid a repetitive stress injury than you are if you wear the same shoes day in and day out. Not sure if this is a scientific fact or anything, but dare I say that I have not had any injuries or even any significant aches and pains since I started this system.

Now onto foot strike... 

As I re-entered the world of running and the land of blogs, I started noticing more and more the *trend* of the mid-foot strike. Tired of constant nagging hip/knee problems, I decided that was the direction in which I wanted to proceed. Unfortunately, I did so way too quickly and ended up injuring myself. First came the persistently sore calves (red flag) and then the rest of my R lower leg seemed to fail. Still never got an official diagnosis due to not being able to get an MRI, but I am thinking that it was a stress reaction (precursor to a stress fracture).

I spent nearly 8 weeks on the Alter G treadmill transitioning (properly) to a mid-foot strike and shoes that support a mid-foot strike (Saucony PowerGrid Cortana and Brooks PureFlow). I haven't had my form analyzed (yet) or anything, but I think I'm there! Knees feel great and knock on wood... no more hip injuries. Finally!!!

Next time, I'll talk about my runs, strength training and magical compression gear. Stay tuned!!