Monday, December 12, 2011

New opportunities

So I think I'm finally over the back to back sinus infections and the IT band / knee issues.  At least I hope I am.  I've been eating better lately, cutting back on soda and started a weight loss challenge on   My arms are still store from yesterdays workout and all it was was 2X 10 pushups, sit ups, shoulder presses, front shoulder press, bird dogs, and planks.  I guess that means I've got some work to do.  My run tonight was good as well.  I had a meal replacement smoothy for dinner with some added protein and that really held me over for the run.  I of course followed my run with some Accelerade.  I've got big plans coming up involving my health as well as my running since the two pretty much go hand in hand.  Sevrine and I are running a 5k on the 18th as well as the Midnight Madness 3 miler on New Year's Eve.  I love my kid!  How awesome is it that a 6 year old is actually excited to go run a race with me at midnight!?  Her big goal is that she wants to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon together.  I told her though that I wouldn't let her run it until she turned twelve.  Such a fun goal to have though!  Well, off to bed!  Happy Running!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 - A good day to start fresh

Very few people know that 11 is my lucky number, or rather, my lucky number twice. :)  So, what better day to start fresh with my training and set some new goals than the one day that is nothing but my lucky number, and also happens to be Veteran's Day, another day that is special to me and my family.

As you know from my previous post that I am learning more about VO2 Max training and using my heart rate as a training indicator. From what I'm reading, I'm really intrigued, and very anxious to see how it will work and if I'll have similar results as others that swear by Daniels' Running Formula.

I plan on running today using his theory, but will not start the plan until Monday.  I know that it will be a challenge to run at a slower pace than I'm used to since I am so time/pace driven, but need to give the plan a shot.  It wants you to start at that slower pace to build a good base for more improvement later.  I think it also has something to do with burning fat and sugar. With the pace that I've been training at lately I'm burning more sugar than fat and will fatigue faster than if I were training my body to burn fat.  So, starting out slow will help me to be able to run longer and eventually as I improve that pace will come up without pushing me into that sugar burning level.  At least that's my understanding of it.  I may need more clarification or perhaps the cliff's notes version. :)

I will try and post my progress here, but we all know I get side-tracked and frequently forget to update this.  Happy Running!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Still learning

I completed my second Half Marathon on Sunday after recovering only 3 weeks ago from Bronchitis.  Needless to say, my performance was not what I was hoping for, but under the circumstances was better than I could have asked for.  My game plan was to try and stay with the 2:15 pace group for as long as I could and hope that I could still beat my original finish time of 2:27:51.  At the 9 mile mark my legs started to give me some real problems and I tried to stretch as best I could and keep going.  This was when I finially lost the pace group.  I only fell off my pace by about 40 seconds per mile.  It felt so much slower than it was strangely.  My legs after the race went into full rebellion and completely stiffened up with my right knee giving me some real problems.  It is still tender.  I haven't run since the race, but I did swim a few laps in the gym pool last night.  The legs are feeling a little better today, but I'm not sure if they're good enough to run on.  I will have to see how I feel in the morning. 

I had a good conversation with a fellow athlete at the gym about VO2 training which has me thinking and curious enough to by the book Flash recommended by Jack Daniels.  It's something to keep me busy while I'm letting my knee heal, and so far has some really interesting information.  I plan to start training using my Heart Rate Monitor to try and build some endurance before I start trying to increase speed again.  From what I've read, this will prevent me from over-training and the injuries that come with it.

I'll try and update this more often so I can document the progress.  Happy Running!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Half Marathon Training - Why am I doing this? v.03

There are some days that I just don't want to get up and run, but because I'm signed up for something I grudgingly get out of bed and lace up my shoes anyway.  There were a couple of days like that this week, and ironically I've had my best runs since I started training for my second Half Marathon.  This week I had a good track workout and was a little bit worried about how my legs were going to feel for the next few days.  I did feel a little tight after the track workout, but nothing I couldn't work through or just ignore.

Wednesday and Thursday were nice 4 mile runs with a 6 mile run on Friday.  The pace on Friday wasn't quite what I wished it would be, but I felt pretty good about it.  This morning's long run was awesome.  I left a little bit later than I wanted because of a lingering headache, but I went anyway at about 6:30am.  The first mile and a half were a little bit stiff, but after that I started to loosen up and it got a little easier.  I wanted to keep my pace around 10:30 per mile, but wasn't sure I'd be able to maintain it for 8 miles.  It was an incredibly pleasant surprise to see that not only could I keep that pace, but even drop the pace for the last 2 miles.  Legs are a little stiff again, but tomorrow is a rest day so I will be doing a lot of yoga and using the foam roller to get me ready for this week's track workout and consecutive runs.  Today is one of the first days that I feel like I'll be ready for the Half Marathon.  I don't know that I'll be able to finish in 2 hours, but I have no doubt that my PR for this distance will be huge.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Half Marathon Training - Why am I doing this? v.02

There are moments when you finally realize that all the work you’re doing is paying off in some way, whether it’s a change in the way you look, feel or both. In this case it’s a little of both. I’ve been attending track workouts for six weeks now and instead of feeling stiff and sore for days after I felt only minimal soreness on my run this morning. During the previous weeks I would dread my Wednesday morning run because it hurt and my legs were tired, but today was different. There was a small amount of muscle fatigue, but nothing that had me walking instead of running or cutting my run short as I’ve done previous Wednesdays.

The workout this week consisted of twelve 200M intervals with a 400M recovery jog (or in my case, walk) in between. Six weeks ago when I started, my fastest split/interval was 58 seconds for 200M; this week, my fastest split was 53 seconds, which I did twice in the series. My splits were 57, 56, 56, 54, 53, 55, 54, 55, 54, 54, 54, 54, and 53. After that first workout I was exhausted and sore enough that it affected my subsequent runs for an entire week. I’m amazed at how good I feel just six weeks later. The workouts are getting consistently more difficult and my mileage is increasing each week as I’m able to do more. I love being able to see progress even if minimal.

Along with the changes in strength and endurance, there are also some physical changes. I’ve been getting leaner with the increased mileage. There is obviously still work to do, but there is finally progress that I can measure.

I’ve been doing more reading lately with regard to over-use and other running related injuries and found that some muscle pain I’ve been having should be easily remedied with yoga practice and the resulting increased flexibility.  We'll see how I feel during tomorrow's run after doing 30 minutes of Yoga tonight.

All in all, I'm pleased with my progress so far, but have so much further to go.  One step at a time I guess.  Happy Running!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Half Marathon Training - Why am I doing this? .01

There are some days/weeks that things just don’t seem to go the way you wanted or expected them to. That was last week for me regarding my training. It’s my own fault, so I can’t really blame it on anyone but me, except in this case I had help. I have a tendency to stay up too late in general, but now it’s starting to affect my training. Even while I know that I need a certain amount of sleep to be able to function in general let alone train, I still find myself on the phone or awake at 11pm or midnight almost every night. Being that I have to be out the door at 5am to get my run in, you can see how this would be a problem for me. Just this morning I slept through my alarm and didn’t get my 4 mile run done. If I was going to miss a run, this would be the day to do it since I did my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday, but is beside the point. I may actually have to sign a contract committing to myself that I will not sabotage my own training.

Here are the things that I need to work on:
1 Getting proper rest
2 Eating healthy
3 Hydrate appropriately
4 Work on Core
5 Strength training

I’m sure there are more things that I need to work on, but those are the things that I’m going to focus on for now. The only way for me to accomplish my goals is to stick to the plan and ease myself into each of the new disciplines (I have none).

I already know that I need a minimum of 6 hours of sleep to function, so I will be setting a 10pm curfew on evenings preceding normal training/long runs and a 9pm curfew the night before a track workout (I live an hour away from our training location).

Eating healthy has always been a little bit of a struggle for me. I like my soda and skittles, way too much. I’ll be limiting the amount of soda I drink and instead, drinking at least 64oz of water per day. Lunch will be the more difficult change. I frequently forget to pack a lunch, partly because I don’t want to wake up earlier to do it and partly because I completely forget to do it. When I have packed a lunch in the past it was a processed microwave entrĂ©e, which I know is probably not the best choice. Time to pre-plan some meals I think and put them together Sunday night.

Hydration is something that I struggle with both prepping for a run and during a run. For runs that are 4 miles or less I don’t typically bring any water with me (maybe I should), but I wear a fuel belt with two 10oz flasks for runs that I will be out for 1 hour or more. You got excited when I said flask, but they’re really for water or some sort of electrolyte drink (i.e. Gatorade or something like it). My coach recommended that I drink 2oz of liquid every 15 minutes, but for some reason I have a hard time doing that. Also, at that point it is kind of like closing the barn after the horse has already escaped. I probably didn’t hydrate well enough prior to the run so what little water I drink during the run is like trying to plug a Dam leak with chewing gum. I’m already dehydrated. This is something I’m working on. I probably need a night/morning pre-run check list.

People have been telling me for a while that strengthening my core will make me a faster, more efficient runner. While I believe them, I have just been lazy and haven’t done it. I think about it a lot though. We all know that thinking about it isn’t getting my abs any flatter or stronger though. As a single Mom time and energy are in short supply, so I need to find the right exercise that will get me results in a minimal amount of time. I’ll be getting some recommendations from my coach to do this.

Strength training falls under the same category as core. Time and energy are in short supply. I do have some motivation for this since I do pay for a gym membership and my Daughter has been begging for me to take her to the gym with me for weeks. I did purchase a book titled Running Anatomy that has some really good strength exercises in it specifically to help Runners build the muscles that are the most important for them to maintain good form and prevent injury. Right now, the plan is to photocopy pages from the book since the workouts are recommended to do in certain groups to be most effective.

As you can see by this list, I have a lot of work to do. I know that if I can stick with it though, that it will have huge payoffs down the road in both pace and perceived effort. With that said, I’m off tonight to do some grocery shopping and am also consulting the team nutritionist for the team I run with. Happy Running!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Half Marathon Training - Why am I doing this?

I frequently get asked why I run, or why I choose to train for Half Marathons. I will add my disclaimer that I am by no means fast, as my coach and good friend so frequently points out to me. This hasn't stopped me from doing it though and his tough love approach is pushing me to improve every week. I think it is a combination of my inner competitiveness and my desire to prove to him that I can be competitive with other athletes in my age group on race day as well. He is still getting to know me as a runner, so we are still figuring out how hard he can push me during practice, and what my goal times will be every week. Yesterday was my Fourth track workout, for which I was assigned Three 1600M (1 mile) repeats with a 600M recovery in between. My goal pace was 8:30-8:40 for each mile (based upon my previous weeks assigned 800M pace). As a point of reference, my fastest 5k (3.1 mile) race time was 29:16 which translates to a 9:24 pace. At first I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to reach his ambitious goal, but would try it regardless. As a new runner, I am still learning all sorts of things about the sport and even how to operate all of the cool functions on my Garmin GPS watch. Unfortunately I was not able to hit my prescribed splits, but my times were consistent for each of my Three miles. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by the fact that I was really upset about not being able to hit my prescribed splits, but after talking with my coach, he is adjusting his training schedule based on this performance as well, since his pace may have been a little too ambitious for me at this point.

This is just background as to what my life as a runner is like, but does not answer the question “Why am I doing this?” I don’t think there is one answer to that. It started out as my getting out in the morning to have some time to myself and after the finish of my first 5k on May 14th, 2010, became an addiction and sparked a desire to get faster and make running a significant part of my life. After that first race, I started reading everything I could find online about running, whether it be form, nutrition, training, stretching, injuries, hydration, road etiquette and numerous other things. If I was going to take this on, I wanted to go into it knowing everything I could. Running has also been really good therapy for me. As a single Mom there are a slew of stresses that I have to deal with during the day, whether it’s job stress, stress with my Daughter, or stress with “the ex”. Running is my release. It allows me a set time of the day where I don’t have to hold any other title than “Runner”. It has also been a way for my Daughter and I to bond since I have been so blessed as to have her share my love of running.

I started training for my first Half Marathon in October of 2010 following a training plan that another friend/coach put together for me. I trained for that race mostly alone and battled with Iron deficiency and illness which derailed my training for 4 weeks. Watching all of the progress I had made go down the drain so to speak was frustrating and I had to try and keep things in perspective. I even allowed myself to be flexible with my goal for the race itself. My finish time was not as fast as I had hoped it would be, but when I look at the event and what I got out of it, I’m happy. My training has changed since I returned home from that adventure. I’ve added weight training and speed workouts to the schedule and have surrounded myself with people who share the same passion for running as I have.

This time around I run 5 days a week instead of the 4 I did before, and have added harder and longer speed workouts, but I’m starting to see some payoffs. Training in the summer is an exercise in patience and stamina, but will ultimately make me a stronger, faster runner. My best advice to myself and other for summer training is be patient and adjust accordingly. Heat effects effort. If you measure your workout by effort instead of pace or Heart Rate instead of pace it will be much less frustrating. Top coaches will adjust an athlete’s time/pace goals by 20% to compensate for the effects heat has on the body and perceived effort.

The next installment will cover more day-to-day training and all of the little details, but I’m sure at some point there will be more time for storytelling. Happy running!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

87 days and counting

There are just 87 days until the Women's Half Marathon and I'm starting to question how ready I'll be, at least to run it at the pace I want. I've started going to track workouts with a different group which so far is a lot tougher and I feel more accountable to my coach / friend for my effort and performance. The only downside is how tired my legs are for my runs over the days after. I'm going to try to be patient and take things as they come. Happy running.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

135 days til WHM

So, I got some advice from a friend that I should blog about my Half Marathon training to help make me accountable.  This is not new to me, however, I have been neglecting my blogs for quite some time now.  So, I begin again.  There are only 135 days left until the Women's Half Marathon here in Arizona.  To some, that may seem like a lot of time to prepare, but there is so much to do in that time if I'm going to ready to run it and do it in a time that I will be happy with.  My goal is to finish it in 2:00, but that is going to take a lot of sweat and pain to accomplish.  I ran just 19 miles this week, but I think next week will be somewhere close to 23.  It's been hard to stick to a training plan since the plans that are available to me are a 5 day/week when I'm used to running just 4 days/week.  I'm not sure if my hesitance is purelu subconscious or if it is my body telling me it's not ready for that kind of stress.  We will have to see.  Well, there will be more to come this week, so I will post more as the week goes on.  Happy running!

Friday, May 13, 2011

2 days left

It's hard to believe that race day is so near.  We're going to pick up race packets tonight and tomorrow is sight-seeing. I'm anxious to see how I do and hope that my training has paid off.  I know that this will be a good experience altogether and will help me learn how to better prepare for the next race. So for now, it's rest and fuel and just pray that everything goes well on Sunday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

14 days left

Hard to believe the race is in 14 days.  Yesterday I had to split up my eight mile run into 4 in the morning and 4 in the evening, but they both went pretty well, even after taking Sevrine hiking.  Today is a much needed rest day with 3 miles in the morning.  My mid week run will be 7 miles and 9 on Saturday.  I won't run a full 13 until race day, but I don't plan on taking much of a break from training before I start gettting ready for the next one.  I plan on doing a full marathon in 2012, so I want to start logging miles for that so I feel confident.  The trick is staying healthy and not hurting myself.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

17 days

I didn't get to do my 6 mile run last night as planned so I did it this morning, which means today's 2 mile run gets pushed to tomorrow, and bye bye rest day before long run.  Oh well.  My legs are actually feeling pretty good after today's mileage so I think I'll be feeling pretty good for my run tomorrow as well.  I have to say that my garmin is making my runs so much easier.  Being able to see my average pace per lap/mile is so much nicer than just seeing current pace.  I like being able to tell whether or not I'm on track for my target pace instead of just guessing based on how fast I ended up doing the mile. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

19 days

Today is a rest day.  Legs were still feeling a little spent for last night's 3. I need to lay off the soda and hydrate better so I don't keep getting a cramp in my side at mile 2.5.  It seems like it hits at the same place in my run every time.  Will try and do some cross training tonight to loosen up my legs. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

21 days left

Today was a rest day, which is good since my legs are still feeling a little spent after Saturday's 8 mile run.  Tomorrow is an easy 3, as long as I can take it easy it should be a good run.  I have a hard time going "easy" since I want to get faster.  It's like this incessant need to PR in every run.  I know realistically that every run won't be at a faster pace than the one before, but my legs forget that, or maybe it's my pride.  I'm not sure.  We'll see how it goes though.  I can't believe the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon is only 3 weeks away.  It seems like the home stretch is going by quickly.  I'm so excited and so nervous.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

22 days left

Had an 8 mile run this morning.  Went pretty well.  Had some soreness in my knees but overall was really good.  After 8 miles I finally feel like I'm going to be prepared for this race.  I've got another 8 next weekend, but depending on how I feel, I may add an extra mile to that long run.  So glad I got this run done and didn't even walk any of it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

23 Days

I forgot to post last night's workout, so here it goes.  Last night was supposed to be an easy 2 at an 11 minute pace, although I only managed a 10 minute pace.  Hamstrings are feeling a little tight this morning, which means my rest day is now going to be filled with yoga to try and get me stretched out for tomorrow's 8 miles.  Little more than 3 weeks left.  I can hardly believe it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

25 days left

I am now 25 days away from the Half Marathon.  Yesterday was a rest day, which I enjoyed thoroughly by doing nothing, except work.  Tonight was a nice 5.14 mile run.  Maintained a 9:30 pace which I was pretty happy with. Legs felt pretty good except that I couldn't settle into a rythym.  Oh well.  Happy with the way things are going so far.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 27

Switched back to my Kinvaras today after having so much pain on Saturday and felt much better about my shoe choice.  I love my Kinvaras.  They're light and they almost force me to use better form when I run.  I had 3.1 on the schedule for tonight and felt pretty good.  The heat does get to me a little, but overall felt really good.  I really need to make sure that I hydrate better since I do tend to cramp up a little at about mile 2.5 or 3.  Breathing was a little labored as well, but think it had some to do with the heat.  Feel like training is going well again and was able to maintain a 9:15 pace.  I want to see if I can run negative splits on Wednesday night's 5 mile run.  I can never seem to start out slower than 9:30 though, so we'll see.  Will just have to keep an eye on my watch I think.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

28 Days

Enjoying a much needed rest day today.  Will spend some more time with the foam roller to make sure I got all of the knots out and will spend some more time stretching to make sure I'm good for tomorrow.  The plan is also to hydrate better today to avoid any cramping.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

29 days

Today was my long run for the week. I had 7 on the schedule, but because of my route, ran 7.12, which is fine.  I got off to a late start because I was tired, then decided to load a gps running app onto my phone to track my run that way as well.  Instead of running at 6:30, like I should have, I didn't leave until about 8am.  I had some pain after my 5 mile run on Wednesday so wore my older nikes on my 2 mile Thursday run and the legs felt great.  Thinking that this was the shoes, I wore the nikes again on my 7 mile and this might not have been a great idea.  I had knee soreness for the entire run, and was reminded why I retired those shoes to begin with.  They're fine for short runs, but not for my long run.  Because of the heat, and some dehydration, I walked more of the run than I would like to have, but finished with a 10:00 pace.  Tomorrow is a rest/cross training day, so we'll see how things go.  We are getting so close now to the Half that I can almost taste it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Days!

We're in the home stretch now.  There are only 30 days left until the Half Marathon and I'm a mix of excited and nervous.  I'm hoping that the nervous energy and the training will push me to finish the whole thing without walking.  Missing 4 weeks in February really hurt me and I don't really feel like I've recovered from that.  My longest run before the race will only be 9 miles.  Part of me is tempted to accelerate my training a little and turn my second 8 mile run into 9 then have mile next two weeks be 10 then 11.  We'll see how I feel though on this weekend's 7 mile run.  Since it's my first Half I'll be in good shape as far as my time goes, but I set a goal to finish it in 2:10 and if I'm much slower than that I know that I'll be a little disappointed.  I've already commited to at least one more Half Marathon.  I'm also thinking of doing the Women's Half in November here, then possible doing the Full Marathon in Vegas the following year.  All of this I think will hinge on how I feel after the Half, but I've already got the racing bug and want to continue to get faster. So, welcome to the last 30 days of my journey to becoming a Marathoner. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

2 down

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get this run in today.  I went to bed early last night with the intention of getting up and running this morning, but that didn't happen.  Then I got home and family stuff took precidence and before I knew it, it was after 9pm.  The ice cream I had at 8:30 didn't help my run at all either.  I haven't been drinking enough water lately and I could definitely tell.  My lungs were almost burning right after I started.  Gonna have to make some changes so I can get through a run and love how all of me feels.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kiss me I'm Irish 8k

Well, all in all it was a fun race.  I wasn't completely pleased with my pace/time, but considering the herd in front of me, I should just be happy.  When I first started running I read everything I could get my hands on for new runners, from fueling before a race, stretching and road etiquette.  I don't think that other people have done the same thing though.  I heard specifically over the PA before the race, the director telling the participants that they slower traffic should stay to the right, which falls directly in line with road etiquette.  However, no one paid any attention to those instructions.  I waited for a few minutes to go to the start line to avoid the herd that was bunched up in front, and then had to pick my way through some of the most oblivious, prideful people in the Valley.  For 6k I had to dodge and weave the slower traffic that felt walking 4 people wide and chit-chatting was proper road/race etiquette.  I'm fairly competitive but this wasn't about passing people.  This was about a bunch of rude people preventing me from maintaining training pace, not to speak of race pace. 

The highlight of my day was having Keith there to support me.  It meant a lot that he came out to be with me, even though it meant a long drive and just hanging out for almost an hour waiting for me to finish.  He got some good pictures and was a great help.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Skirt Chaser 5k

I was not sure if I was going to run this or not because I've been down with a cold all week.  I had been off the week before due to a newly diagnosed Iron deficiency so going into this race I had only logged 4 miles instead of my normal 15/week.  I decided to go for it anyway because I was starting to feel a little bit better though. Well, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped.  I didn't fuel or hydrate properly before the race and got myself a little bit dehydrated waiting out at the park in the noon day heat without even a water bottle.  I didn't eat anything either which is a huge no-no, just had a muscle milk as I was leaving work.  I won't bore you with too many of the details, but needless to say I learned a lot about how to prepare for a race, especially one in the middle of an 80 degree day.