2016 Racing Reflections & 2017 Goals

It’s that time of year again, a time for reflection and setting new goals. An opportunity to start fresh and make changes.

Within the next few days I will write up my final entry regarding my 2016 resolutions (I have a big announcement to share so stay tuned for that) and share my “life” resolutions for 2017. In the meantime I wanted to write a recap on my 2016 Running Races and share with you my running goals for 2017.

I had hoped 2016 would be the year I became a marathoner, but as many of you know I suffered an injury in August and couldn’t run for 3 weeks, putting that goal on hold. While it would be easy to dwell on the things that didn’t happen or didn’t go right, it’s much more productive to focus on what did go right.

This includes:

1) Completing my 3rd half marathon in a new personal best of 1:55:22. Bettering my previous time from 2 years prior by nearly 2 1/2 minutes. This was my first race of 2016, and I changed my training to be more speed focused than the previous 5 years I have been running. I still ran 3 days of a week, but instead of just ‘getting the miles in’, I spent 1 day completing a tempo or hill run, 1 day completing intervals and 1 day was my long run. The change in pace paid off.

2) Running a sub-25 5K, a 6 year goal. This was an “unofficial time” on a training run about a week after I ran my half marathon. I was feeling good, and decided to see if I could do it. I never thought I would achieve this goal, even changing it to something more realistic. Read more about it here

3) Completing my first 20K. This was a long standing local race that was really cheap to run, so I figured it was a great excuses to have some company on my long run for the week.

4) Finishing my 5th Boilermaker 15K under my goal time of sub-80, 1:19:30. This turned in a very memorable race as I landed in the medical tent post race.I can truly say I gave it my all during this race, Read more here.

5) I Participated in my first Cross Country series and made some new friends along the way. This was a step out of my comfort zone since I haven’t run cross country since I was in middle school. But it helped ensure I ran once a week, and I really looked forward to seeing everyone every week and mixing up my running.

Some these races seem so long ago, especially because I haven’t been running as much as I should and would like. It’s so easy to forget what my body is capable of, but the pictures, my scrapbook and this blog help to remind me I can do hard things. I just have to believe in myself and stick to a schedule.

With that in mind, and after a lot  of thought, I have (mostly) decided on what my  race schedule will be for 2017 (subject to change ;)) along with my overall running goals.

My races will be:

2 15ks: 1 new one in March, the other my usual Boilermaker in July

My 4th Half Marathon on May 7th: Goal is 1:52:30 or better.

My FIRST Marathon (take 2): Wineglass Marathon Oct 1st with the goal of finishing with a smile on my face 🙂 A Sub 4 hour would be nice too!

I also enjoyed the Cross Country Series, so I will most likely participate in that again.

Mileage Goal: 1,000 miles. This seems a little unreachable, especially because 2016 I am finishing up around 475, but considering the last 4 months I have only ran 1-3 times per week, I think this goal will help keep me motivated even when I am not training for a race.

What are your goals for 2017?

“If we write our dreams and goals down, we dramatically increase our odds of realization. If we share them with other they become potent and alive”-Kristen Armstrong

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Lost & Found

This week was odd for me, I think the full moon effected my mood because some days I was in a funk/and a little cranky, but after working out and running I felt A LOT better. I even found an item I had been missing for a year and an nostalgic item that I forgot I had, who doesn’t like that? So that was my inspiration for this week’s post!

For my workouts this week, my cross training plan from last week continued on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thankfully I wasn’t as sore this week. I chalk it up to making sure I ate a banana everyday, which I didn’t do last week (or it could be I’m getting stronger :-p).

For those interested, this is what my Thursday workouts look like, which take me a half hour and I am able to complete during my lunch hour. It really helps break up my day and I return to my office really energized. (disclaimer: this workout was personalized for my fitness level)

 

 


For my running this week, Monday I had a tempo run in my mind, and after the success of last weeks 5K PR, I wanted to see how well I could do running 4 miles. After a .25 easy jog, and some dynamic stretches I started running and felt good. After a few laps, I wanted to run by feel and tried not to look at my watch too much. The end result was 4 miles in a record time, beating my previous time from 6 weeks ago by 6 seconds per mile. It was so nice to see the improvement.
Wednesday I decided to get back to some interval work, inspired by my improvement in tempo runs, I hope for good things with my interval runs. I ran on the campus track, and had a few obstacles in the way- the field was set up for this weekend’s graduation ceremony so some of the chairs overflowed onto Lane 1 of the track, and then there were anchors/tethers holding the stage in place where I had to run in Lane 1 in order to not get clothes-lined!

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I did a 5 minute warmup, then I did 8×400, averaging 1:44.06. (1:51, 1:43.7, 1:43.9, 1:46, 1:44, 1:45.4, 1:45.4, 1:47.4, 1:39.1) which was more consistent than when I ran the same workout on March 30th. The last few were a little tough, but I pushed through and nailed it on the last one! I felt really good though.

My last run this week today, (Saturday), I planned to run 7 miles at my goal marathon pace (9 min/mile) since my legs felt good and I wanted to challenge myself. I started off right on pace, running a usual loop around my apartment, not completely flat but no big inclines but some downhills. Mile 4 was my slowest but it was basically all up hill (200 feet gain) but then I hit downhills again and kicked it in gear for the remaining 3 miles. I felt SOOO much better than last week, but a lot of it was mind over matter. I was determined to run strong and I did.
My run on Wednesday made me feel so good afterward, that I felt a desire to want to start keeping a handwritten running journal- even though I have this blog and a Garmin GPS watch that tracks everything there is just something about being able to see results all together on 1 piece of paper in my own handwriting. So when I got home for my run I went to pick out a journal to use (I have a whole bunch because I receive one from my grandmother every year for Christmas). She always puts a quote or encouraging poem inside, so I wanted to pick a journal that I felt best relates to my running journey. When I was digging through them all I found a running journal I started 5 years ago when I first started running, which I had TOTALLY forgotten about. My first entry was in February 2011 and I wrote about how my friend Kelly had just finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon and she inspired me to not only run more but someday run that race (that race is still on my bucket list, and Kel you still inspire me everyday will all you do xoxo). But this journal ended in August 2011 due to some health issues I was going through at the time, so there was still plenty of pages for me to continue using this journal.  I flipped to a blank page and started off fresh; writing a brief summary, and set up 2 side by side pages to listed my interval and tempo runs.

 

 

It does give me one more thing to keep up on but I feel this is a worthwhile project for myself as I am a very visual person.

 

 

The poem inside the cover of this journal is still a favorite relating both to life and running: You are Braver than you think! You’ve made hard choices and taken chances. You’ve met challenges and weathered changes. You’ve opened your heart ever when you knew it could hurt, and you’ve faced obstacles that might have stopped others in their tracks-but not you! Life takes courage and you’ve got it

Of course I had to reread what I had written 5 years ago and I was realized is that I was doing faster interval work on the treadmill than I started off this year doing. At first I felt like I really hadn’t made that much progress. Yet every year and pretty much every race I done, I have always dropped time, so even though my speed work isn’t too different, it was the miles and consistency that has helped me improve.

My ‘running story/journey’ officially started in the spring of 2011, but in the fall of 2011 I had health issues and a surgery, so I couldn’t run for 4 months. 2012 I focused more on distance training for my first half marathon and 15K and was still working through the surgery recovery. 2013 was a rough year emotionally for me, I felt very lost in my life, so I was just glad to get runs in when I could, as I didn’t have the mental capacity to run intervals. In August 2013 I started pursuing an MBA part-time while working full time, so for the next 2 years I was just happy to get runs in when I could. In April 2015 I started a new job which came with a 50 minute commute, and I was still finishing up school, so it was an adjustment in time management and shifting priorities. These aren’t excuses but me just working through why I haven’t done as much speed work in the last 5 years that I should’ve and could’ve been doing. In fact my Dad still tells me the same thing now that he did 5 years ago, and I wish I would’ve been more consistent because it makes me wonder where I could be today. Then again maybe I would’ve gotten injured, maybe I would be drained and have no desire to still want to run, I don’t know but my story has worked out how it was supposed to. I enjoy running and the escape it gives me, its a way I have ‘found myself’ but I just haven’t focused enough to really set an ambitious goal and work to achieve it. Over the last few years, I would run and usually just hope for the best in a race, thought secretly always wanting to PR. It wasn’t until this year (2016) that I have been able to really commit myself mentally and physically to speed work, and I’m ready now. I am ready to challenge myself to complete a marathon, I am ready to put in the work to get results. I’m ready to really see what I am capable of. I’m ready to make running even more of a priority than it was before. This is why I feel its important to share this with all of you.

The more I run the more I love my body. Not because it’s perfect, far from it but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am more capable of more than I ever thought possible

This week I also bought myself a $9 bracelet that says ‘she believed she could so she did, 2016’ as a reward to myself for my recent half marathon and as form of constant encouragement to train for and finish my first marathon this fall. I want to remember this as the year I started to really push myself consistently with running.

To support this dedication, over the last 2 weeks I have cut back on the number of nights I coach swimming after work (from 2-3x/wk to 1) so I could spend time working out after work (vs waking up early before work to do so), and its been great. I enjoy coaching, but I just feel like I really need to do this for me right now. Coaching is almost a year round gig (mid-Sept-end of July,40 weeks of the year) so by this time of year the coaches start to get a little drained, and I feel that way. I’ve noticed that working out energizes me and I feel like I needed these reduced hours to be able to do something for myself. I plan to only cut back on coaching through September when I finish my marathon, then I will reevaluate. But right now I am riding this running motivation high and I want to see how far it will take me.

This is one of my longest posts, so I will wrap it up for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a great week

Recommended article that I LOVE- How Miles have changed me

What has running or working out taught you? What would you love to commit yourself to? What is holding you back?

Recovery & Nostalgia

After finishing my half marathon on Sunday, this week has been one of recovery and a little nostalgia, I’ll warn you now I get a little sappy toward the end of this post.

Monday I had taken the day off from work, and I was glad I did to catch up on sleep, and just relax for the day. During the afternoon I went for a 30 minute walk to stretch out my legs and hips, which helped A LOT.

On Tuesday, I left work on time which gave me time to get a half hour workout in before coaching. I decided to complete Week 3 of the Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution program, something not super challenging but not too easy either. It was a good workout, and even though I consider myself in shape, it has been months since I did this workout so I used some muscles I haven’t used in a while, which meant I felt it a little the next day.

Wednesday I was back to running, I did a 1/4 mile walk/warmup, then 3 miles @ at 9 minute/mile pace. I probably should’ve gone a little slower, but after the first half mile my legs didn’t feel as much like lead anymore so I kept going! Following my run I did some planks, pushups, and marching glute bridges, 3x through.

Thursday I wasn’t as lucky as Tuesday and was only about to get a 20 minute workout in today before I had to leave to coach, so I did most of Body Revolution Week 4 , I wasn’t as sore the next day following this workout.

Friday was a good day. I met with a trainer at my work’s wellness clinic to go over a cross training workout plan for at least the next 6 weeks to complement my marathon training. Most of the exercises were all ones I have done before (glute bridges, dumbbell press, neutral grip pull ups, etc) but the plan adds ankle weights or instability, then it progresses to get more difficult with each passing week. I could have probably come up with a plan myself, but by delegating to a physical therapy student, I provided her with a learning opportunity, and gave me one less thing to try to figure out in my life. I am going to do a ‘test run’ of the full workouts next week to determine whether anything needs to be tweaked before officially starting my marathon training.

Today, Saturday, I did a ‘long run’. It was slow and steady (9:19) for 50 minutes, which came to 5.37 miles. Some parts of it felt better than others, but I just enjoyed being out on the road and entertained myself by listening to Me Before You on audio book. Is anyone else planning on going to see this movie next month? (Here’s the trailer)

Over the next 2 weeks or so I am not going to push myself in working out/running, I just want to ‘go with the flow’/see how I feel, and I give myself a little mental break before officially starting my marathon training plan.

Besides working out, May 6th, also marked my 4 year anniversary to the date since I finished my first half marathon, my first big running accomplishment. Which got me thinking about how much my life has changed since that day; I am in a different apartment, started this blog, have a different job, I started and completed my MBA, I have been through a lot of personal growth, and pursued things I’ve wanted. But one of the things that hasn’t changed is my running. It still brings me a lot of joy (more than frustration and anxiety), and has showed me that I can achieve anything by dedicating myself.  4 years ago I would have never thought it was possible for me to run 9 minute miles, let alone complete a half marathon at an 8:45 pace. 4 years ago I didn’t picture myself running 2 more half marathons or getting ready to train for a marathon. Each year of running I learn more about myself. Each race I get faster and it makes me want more. I have goals of running a sub-80 minute 15K, sub-25 minute 5K, and over the last few days I realized that I want to complete more half marathons and would love to eventual complete one around 1 hour 45 minute. It seems out of reach now, but I know with consistency, commitment and hard work I can get there someday. “I may not be there yet but I am closer than I was yesterday”

Running has taught me how rewarding it is to push my limits and to work toward a goal. It is my stress relief, my ‘me-time’, the one thing in my life I can control. (For more reasons on Why I Run)

What has running meant to you? Do you ever look back at your life a few years ago to see how much it’s changed?

One last thing, in case you are interested, you can now follow me on Instagram @sarahchasinglife

2016 Bridge Run Half Marathon results 

May 1st arrived, RACE DAY! My first race of 2016.

After a very restless sleep, I woke up to a steady rain. If it was any other day I would go back to sleep until the rain stopped or at least slowed. But over the last 12 weeks I have logged 142 miles to train for this race. It was not going to be a pleasant run but I didn’t know want my registration to go to waste and as one person told me.. I might as well go and if for nothing else treat it like a training run

I had laid out my clothes last night; that would keep me warm and semi-dry, I decided to wear my new shoes and I had pinned my number to my shirt so I didn’t stumble around this morning. I also had french-braided my hair- one of my race day traditions (or superstitions). I had my usual pre-race breakfast- eggo waffleswith peanut butter plus half a banana.

As I left the house in pouring rain, and drove to the race I just kept thinking… This sucks, this sucks, this sucks!! And hoped the rain would lighten up. As I got close to the start line I took a wrong turn even though it’s not the first time I have been to this race! The rain was just throwing me off, and I hoped it wasn’t a sign for how the race would go! When I got to the parking lot there was hardly anyone there. So it made me wonder if everyone else was staying home! Since I got to the race an hour early (mainly for the good parking spot), I just hung out in my car to stay warm and dry. It wasn’t until a half hour before the race did I use the bathroom (which were thankfully inside a stadium) and 15 minutes before the race I donned a cheap poncho and went to the start line to warm up, thankfully by then more runners had showed up.

As we all lined up at the start it wasn’t pouring as hard now but there were some technical difficulties so we all had to wait in the cold (low 40s) a little longer so the race started 7 minutes late. I lined up in a good spot, ditched my poncho because I didn’t want to try to take it off mid-race or have it create drag and was ready to go. When we started I had a pretty decent start and didn’t trip over anyone or get blocked. Over the first mile I kept looking at my watch to ensure that I didn’t go out too fast. My watch said I hit the first mile in 8:48, but I hit the mile marker at 9:05. My race plan was to run 9 min/mile for the first 3 miles then I would pick up the pace after that, I did exactly that. I felt good with each mile I ran, but was conscious of how many more miles I still had to go. I continued to decrease my average pace closer to my goal of 8:45.

The course was mostly flat, and the slight inclines that gave me trouble last time weren’t as bad this time around. Around mile 6.5 I saw my biggest fans/supporters, my parents, and was feeling great. At this point in the race I stopped trying to look at my watch so much and just run by feel. I planned to negative split the half, and I was on track to do that. At 8.25 miles I continued to feel good and I just had a feeling come over me that I would make my goal 1:55 time (8:45 pace) even though I still had to knock 5 seconds off my average pace.  So when the miles felt long around mile 9 and I came on one more hill I reminded myself that it was the last hill to conquer. I did a lot of self-talk throughout race ‘you got this’, ‘go for it otherwise you will regret it’, ‘just keep up with this pace’. Mile 10 to 11 was my fastest mile at 8:24, but then the last 2 miles were into the wind and I started to struggle. It didn’t help that around mile 11.5 my headphones started acting up and I ran without music because I really needed to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other instead of trying to fix them.

My legs were starting to feel it a little, and with the wind in my face, I needed a distraction so I started counting to 100 repeatedly until I made it to the 13 mile mark, saw my parents again and the downhill finish line was in sight. I didn’t think I had anything left in my legs, but I finished strong, and crossed the finish line in 1:55:22. Phew… I DID IT! Despite the wind and rain, I accomplished a personal best by 3 1/2 minutes, I was whipped!!

Once I got my hard-earned medal,I walked to the post-race tent to get some food, but wasn’t up for eating much right away. After I walked back to my car with my parents to get warm clothes, we went to cheer on the start of the 5K race which followed the half marathon, I like to stick around the race area for a little while to cheer on the other runners. But once I saw the 5K finisher 15 minutes later, I was freezing and was ready to go home… where I spent the rest of the day napping or relaxing on the couch because I couldn’t move! I am sooo glad I took tomorrow off from work! But it made me wonder how I will feel when I finish my first MARATHON in 4 1/2 months. Stay tuned for my training recaps on that, and thanks for reading!

Did you race this weekend? What was your toughest race condition?

This is it: Half Marathon Training Final Week

This is it, tomorrow is the big day! Just a brief update and final thoughts before I toe the starting line for my 3rd half marathon.

This week was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. After a 5.75 mile run last Saturday, I took it nice and easy (maybe too easy?) with workouts this week.

Sunday I spent the day spring cleaning and doing some yard work. Even though I didn’t do a specific workout, I didn’t lay on the couch all day, and it felt good to just get my mind off the upcoming race for a few hours.

Monday I planned to just do a nice and easy 3 mile run around campus. But my legs felt heavy. I am still trying to get a new pair of shoes to fit right, so I was thinking about those, and my stride just didn’t feel smooth. So by the end of it I had a lot of self-doubt for the race; have I done enough? Will my speed workouts pay off? What sneakers should I wear? On and on the questions went….. What helped what seeing this:

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It reminded me that if I have self-doubts going into the race then I won’t succeed. I know I needed to just relax because I have done the best in races when I didn’t over think everything, but it was far easier said than done…

Tuesday I took a rest day, probably should have completed some light body-weight exercise, but I did ensure I got 9,000 steps in that day so I could feel like I was active in some way. Wednesday was my last run of the training program- another easy 3 miles. I ran around campus again, but stayed on somewhat flatter areas. My legs felt better today and I was able to run around a 9 minute mile, then picked up a little the last 1/2 mile to stretch out my legs. My goal for race day is to better my previous time of 1:58:58 (9 min pace), I would LOVE to get around 1:55 (8:45 pace), but rain is expected so I am not sure how that will impact things. This last run helped my confidence and I hoped that with some good carb loading and a few more rest days I will be able to reach my goal.

Since Wednesday, I have been taking it nice and easy;  drinking lots of water, sitting vs standing all day at work (I have a standing desk), getting some lunch time walks in to stretch and trying to go to bed early to be well rested (Though the last episode of 11.22.63 kept me up a little late on Thursday night).

As I write this on a Saturday morning, when I usually go for my long runs, it feels odd to have some extra time in my day but I feel more energized and excited now than I did at the beginning of the week. I am ready and anxious for tomorrow, and I just have to trust the process and have faith in the last 12 weeks! 🙂

 “No matter what happens on race day, you have already succeeded” Read more: Dear Runner—You’ve Got This, And Here’s The Letter To Prove It

A few closing thoughts:

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What It’s Really Like To Run A Half Marathon (As Told By Mindy Kaling) – This made me laugh because it’s all true! I encourage you to check it out

The Best Emotion Running Can Teach You

“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often, and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.”

 

 

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Tapering: Half Marathon Training Week 11

“The great thing about tapering is you have an excuse for every irrational thought or action”

This week marked week 1 out of 2 of tapering before my race. For those who aren’t familiar, tapering means reducing mileage and getting more rest to recover so muscles can repair and be well rested for race day.

Monday I did one more tempo run, I started off with the mindset of just seeing how my legs would feel, and they ended up feeling MUCH better than last Monday. It could’ve been my new pair of shoes, or the nice weather, but I ran 4 miles in an 8:17 average pace! I felt good, it was a challenging pace, but comfortable. I hope to continue to grow the length that I can maintain this pace. I know I won’t be able to maintain that pace for the half marathon, but maybe by the time I run the Utica Boilermaker 15K in July I will be close.  I followed up this run with my usually small circuit of core work, glute exercises and some push ups.

Tuesday wasn’t as successful of a day as Monday; even though I set my alarm for early enough to work out before work, I just didn’t have the energy to get up. Which meant I needed to try to get it done in between work and coaching swim practice, while trying to make dinner. So my workout only turned out to be about 15 minutes- back to my body weight circuit made for runners a minute of each exercise: walk out planks, curtsy hops, skater hops, side planks, marching glute bridges, superman planks, squat-thrust climbers, windshield wipers, single leg dead-lifts.

Wednesday was a bit of an eventful day. I was actually successful in waking up early, but that’s because I had an appointment to get to at the Wellness Clinic on campus. I was schedule for a GXT Test or maximum exertion test. This was the first time I have done this type of test and was really interested to see what my results would be. The cool part about this test is Physical Therapy students are involved in the administering and observing this test. They got me all hooked up to sensors, take my blood pressure and walk me through what would happen- that I would run on a treadmill to determine my maximum heart rate and determine my VO2 Max number. When I got on the treadmill I also had to have a mask put on and could only breathe through that (think snorkeling), I had been warned about how awkward this is, but it wasn’t too bad. Since I am in pretty good shape I was able to start the treadmill at a speed 7.0, and after 2 minutes the incline would increase 2.5%, after another 2 minutes it went up to 5% incline, then 7.5% which was when I will started to struggle some, I fell toward the back of the treadmill and the staff stood behind me to catch me and was encouraging me to keep going. I pushed through and dug in for the last 30 seconds but I was starting to struggle to get enough air (my nose was plugged with the mask on), so I had to stop. My results were a maximum heart rate of 178, and a VO2 max of 48, which put me in the 92 percentile for my age group. As I was cooling down I wondering if I could’ve pushed myself a little more, but at the same time it was good hands-on experience for the students and it gives me an idea of what to aim for in my training.

Later in the day my legs were a little sore as a result of that run, so I just went for a slow and easy run around campus to get a couple of miles in. I was struggling and going slow between miles 1.5-2 so I planned to just go 2 miles, then I pushed it to 2.5 and was feeling better so I continued to 3 miles. Then did my usual post-run exercises.

Thursday was a scheduled rest day, and Friday turned into an unscheduled rest day due to some personal events coming up, but I didn’t worry about the extra rest day too much since I am supposed to be working out less anyway. So it was ok.

Today (Saturday), I ran 5.75 miles at a 9:30 pace. I would’ve felt more confident for next weeks race if I could get a little more speed out of my legs, but I remembered this article about how some times you need to just concentrate on running by feel not by the pace on the watch. I was happy to get the miles out-of-the-way, but all I could think about was next weeks race- the adrenaline, the crowds, being with other runners. How will all of this hard work and training turn out?!

Next week I will have 2 short and easy runs, and try to get lots of sleep and stay hydrated.

Does anyone have a race coming up? What are your feelings?

 

Feeling Ready: Half Marathon Training Week 10

With my last run of this week behind me, it’s all downhill to race day from here! My taper officially begins, and its coming when I feel my body needing it.

Monday was a tempo run day, my goal was to run sub 8:30 pace like I have been doing for the last few weeks, but my legs just couldn’t get in a groove. They felt tired, and I just couldn’t get my turnover going. When I realized there was no way I would be able to hit the 8:09 pace I did a few weeks ago I just tried to run on average what I hope will be my half marathon race pace..so I ran 4 miles in an 8:40 pace. I felt good, and it was good practice to try to get a feel for that speed. It would be awesome if I could keep up that pace for 13.1 miles!

Tuesday I worked out before work and did the 25 minute circuit workout I have been doing for the last few weeks. Nothing too noteworthy about that, but I did have to ice my ankle that night for seemingly no reason because it started twinging earlier in the day while I was sitting down eating lunch. It just seemed odd since it wasn’t like I was doing anything strenuous. My big toe on my right foot also started feeling like it had pressure/a spur or something on it due to the my form pronation. Needless to say I can tell my body will welcome the taper.

Wednesday I was excited because I reminded myself it was the last hard run I’d have to do until race day! Even though I had one more long run, I knew that wouldn’t be as mentally draining because that is an easy pace and I could just zone out. I have realized that over the last 10 weeks as beneficial as speed training is for strength/muscle development I feel it has sometimes been mentally draining to have the energy to really hit the paces I’ve wanted.  When I have uneventful and quiet days at work, I have lately found it hard to somehow come up w the energy to run fast. Since that day I was feeling the drain I decided to mix it up a little and did a 3.3 mile fartlek run around campus, which did include a little hills. I didn’t have a specific time or distance in mind when I picked up my pace but that’s what made it fun- it was whatever I felt like. I ran 2 light pole lengths, or from where the sidewalk rounded to the stop sign, or a little section of sidewalk in between buildings, I chose when and how far I would pick up my pace and then I didn’t feel bad to slow jog for a couple minutes. By the end my legs were tired going up the final steeo uphill but during that run I found my stride again and I felt good. I followed it was some ab wheel rollouts, Russian twists w a medicine ball, one knee military push-ups and donkey kicks. As I drove home I thought about how much of a “rock star”(aka runner’s high) I feel like when I challenge my body to different exercises and have a good workout.

Thursday was a rest day. Friday was a low key day, I did 8 miles (20 minutes) on a spin bike, then the same circuit of body weight exercises from Wednesday. I liked riding the spin bike, it almost made me want to get into cycling more, maybe I will end up riding more for cross training with my upcoming fall marathon. I will have to see.

Today, Saturday, was my last long run. It’s a little hard to believe, this training went by so fast and didn’t feel as overwhelming as the last 2 times I have training for a half. Back when I made my training schedule I had today marked down for 11 miles, but instead my Dad (a former collegiate runner) suggested I complete 10 miles again, but push the pace more than I did last week. So that is what I had in mind. I started off really good, my mile splits were 9:20 or below this week, vs 9:30 plus last week. Granted, last week I had sleet pelting my face, and it was about a 40 degrees difference between today and last Saturday, but it was a big mental win to feel ready for race day. With each mile I tried to have negative splits, and mile 7 I ran in 8:54, then it crept up to around 9 min miles again. But I was feeling really good. I have always been the kind of runner that seems to get faster the more miles I do, maybe it’s because I play it too safe in my early miles, but I prefer to consider myself an endurance athlete that just takes a while to get warmed up. I didn’t quite make it to the 10 miles I planned because around mile 7.5 I started getting a stabbing pain in my lower left leg above my ankle. It didn’t cause me to limb, but seemed random because I have never had any issues with that area before. I hope that it is just a little overuse injury that will be fine by race day, but I didn’t want to push it, so I just ran enough miles to loop myself back home. I ended up running 9.6 miles in a 9:08 average pace, so I was very satisfied with that.

For the next 2 weeks its crunch time to really take care of myself. Eat well, get plenty of sleep and not do anything stupid to risk an injury. Stay Tuned!

“Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the person we are destined to be”

“Every day gives you an opportunity to improve. With every run you can try to be better. Not just a better runner but a better person”

Will to Prepare: Half Marathon Training Week 9

Phew, only one more hard week to go, and down to 3 weeks until the “Big Day”. The closer the calendar gets to race day, the more I anxious I get on how I will do on race day. As I told a friend, this is the first time that I have really focused on speed training, so I have no precedence on how the work will pan out, which is making me over analyze!

In case you missed last week’s update

To recap my training this past week; Monday I was back on the treadmill due to Mother Nature playing an April Fool’s joke and snowing a few inches, and I didn’t want to risk slipping on ice. It was a tempo run day, so I set pace at 8:15/mi seeing as last week I ran an 8:09 pace. The plan was to run 3.75 miles, but the speed felt harder than it felt when I run outside, I was missing my tail winds! What was odd was my GPS watch accelerometer had a different (slower) pace than the treadmill by about 15 seconds per mile, so I don’t really know what the most accurate. Either way I got the full distance in.

Tuesday I did a circuit workout at home. After work on Wednesday I was in a gloomy mood again and debated whether I would rather run inside or do some other cross training  but the weather was mid 40s so I told myself that I would just go out for 10 minutes and if my mood didn’t improve I’d go inside. I decided on a hill workout because I just wanted to start running without having to motivate myself with going fast for intervals. So I did a 3.25 mile run with big hills throughout. The last time I did a hilly run was a month ago, so it was encouraging when the steep uphills weren’t nearly as difficult as there were a few weeks ago.  On the flip side, was that the flat parts my legs felt like lead, which seems to be a trend on Wednesday so I hopefully that won’t be an issue come race day when my legs will be well rested. When I finished the run, I was glad I went for the run, even though some parts were a struggle.

Thursday was a rest day. Friday I used the indoor bike for 4 miles for a little cardio, then spent another 20 minutes doing a core, glute and pushup circuit.

Saturday was my long run day- 10 miles.The weather was in the mid-30s and a little windy, with some snow. It pelted my face for the first 45 minutes or so (I know I should’ve worn a hat), but I didn’t stop because I thought of 3,000 runners who last week completed the Syracuse Half Marathon in far worse conditions. Halfway through the run I stopped for water, then finished up my last 5. During the 2nd half I thought about how nice it was to just be out on a run, it was time to myself, to think about life or nothing at all. The miles weren’t bothering me I was just putting one foot in front of the other without even thinking about it. My time/pace was slower than my goal pace, but I was enjoying being out on the road so for that I felt it was a win. With only 1 more long run to go I am not intimidated by the distance, and I shouldn’t be because it’s not like it’s my first half marathon, but I feel ready for the distance now.

With the race quickly approaching, I am also trying to make smarter nutrition choices and I made it all week without having candy and only a little bit of homemade baked goods (a couple mini muffins). That may not seem difficult, but if you know me you know I have big sweet tooth, so that was a good step for me.

With that I will leave you with the quote of the week: The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare

Have a great week.

Highs & Lows: Half Marathon Training Week 8

Exactly 4 weeks from today I will run my 3rd half marathon. I have 2 more weeks of increasing miles, then a two week taper.

This week I had some ups & downs in running, Week 7 ended with a 9 mile run. Sunday was Easter so I spent most of the day with my family, but I did do a circuit routine when I got home. Monday was a bit of a gloomy day weather wise, and I was in a gloomy mood. I almost ran inside because it was pretty windy out and there was potential for rain any minute. However, when I was walking from my office to the Wellness Clinic to change, I saw a group of 10 people running outside on the track and figured if they were out then there was no real reason why I shouldn’t be too.  Of course by the time I got outside they were all gone, Go figure! But they served their purpose in getting me outside. It was tempo run day, so I wanted to better my time from last week, aiming for 3.5 miles. At times I was running straight into 30+ mph wind, which meant when I changed directions I also had a nice tailwind! This lead me set a few records… A personal best time in 5k = 25:16 and finishing 3.5 miles in 28:30 (8:09 pace). After being in a gloomy mood that kind of run cheered me right up! It reminded me what is so great about running and exercise in general. “You may not always want to exercise but you are always glad you did!”

Tuesday I tried something different at my work’s Wellness Clinic. I did a circuit with a rowing machine- burned 21 calories then did 21 goblet squats, 15 calories on the rower followed by 15 up down planks, 9 calories 9 pushups, 3 calories then 3 assisted pull-ups. This took about 10 minutes, so I repeated it twice. After that I did some jump roping, planks, marching glute bridges and some rope battling for another 15 minutes. It was nice to mix things up a little bit.

Wednesday I surprisingly wasn’t sore from the change in workout yesterday. But my run wasn’t as good as I was aiming- it’s me being competitive against myself. I did 8x .25 mile intervals this week (with 1:00 minute rest). My splits were 1) 1:42 2) 1:40 3) 1:41 4) 1:40 5) 1:47 6) 1:48 7) 1:48 8) 1:46. As you can tell I was dragging on the last few ones, I tried to will my legs to go faster, but my turnover speed just wasn’t there. I even considered just stopping after 6, but I pushed through and did all 8 figuring even though I wasn’t going as fast as I wanted, at least I was still doing intervals.  Compared to how I felt after my run on Monday, I was at the opposite end of the spectrum today and a little frustrated. But not every run can be a good run.

Thursday turned out to be a rest day. Friday I was out-of-town visiting my best friend for her bachelorette party. She is very active, so we went for a run together. I did 6 miles and she did 5. I pushed myself a little bit on the pace in order to get a feel for what I wanted to go on race day (sub 9 minute miles). It turned out to be a big mental win for me because even though my first mile was 9:18, I increased my pace as a practice race day and by the end my mile splits were 8:50. I finished up the 6 miles in an average of 8:56 pace. So I feel a lot better about reaching for my goal pace. So I am just keep positive thoughts that it will work out.

Since I stayed at my friend’s house overnight,  on Saturday I went to her fiance’s gym to complete the circuit workout before driving home.  My friend also instructs a boxing class, and there was a last-minute cancellation so I stuck around to participate in that too. There were 4 stations set up- 1 punching a stationary bag, 2 stations of “punching the trainer” and 1 agility station. We were set at an interval, so every 2 minutes we would move to the next station, and we repeated for about 40 minutes, then finished up with some core work. As I write this my shoulders are sore from all the punching and my core is very sore too. I feel like if I were box more I would really like it. I mean how fun is it to throw punches and not get hit, even if I am not very coordinated to be able to coordinate combo punches, haha.

Overall this week had its ups and downs, but with only 2 more weeks of hard training left I can push through.

Quote of the week: “Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it’s about doing, being and becoming.” ~Mike Dooley​

What are you trying to become? Do you have an upcoming race you are training for?

Confidence: Half Marathon Training Week 7

“Experience tells you what can do, confidence allows you to do it”

Week 6 training wrapped up with an 8 mile run last Saturday, so Sunday was a rest day for me.

Monday was my tempo running day. It was a little cooler out that day- back down to mid 30s again, but I was prepared and had brought proper clothing.  To build on what I ran last week (5K in 26:13), my plan was to run 3.25 miles on the campus track at the same average pace or better. I ended up finishing the 5K distance in 26:08, ran a total of 3.33 in 27:58, a 8:24/mile pace. Which I was happy with,  and left the track feeling confident that if I continue to add a little distance each week, I will realize how long I can really maintain this quicker pace.

Tuesday, I did the circuit workout from 2 weeks ago , which included weighted lunges (both forward and backward)- which lead to me not being able to walk well the next day! Although this workout leaves me sore, I want to try to complete it more so that I get stronger.

Since my hamstrings were still sore on Wednesday, I wasn’t sure how my interval day would go. But I showed up to the track anyway. It was another cooler day, similar to Monday, and it would have been easier to stay inside, but I knew outside would give me a better workout and that was more important to me. Last week I did 6 intervals of .25 run, 1:00 rest, so this week my plan was to do 7 intervals. I wasn’t sure how it would all go based on how much I suffered last week along with how sore my legs were. So I took the time to complete a little longer warmup (.50 miles) in order to loosen up. When I started my interval my legs felt like lead; but I continued and figured that even if I wasn’t going as fast as I should be at least I was working my heart rate of the up and down speed. Once again, it turns out I did better than I thought. Each interval got faster than the next, which is actually what should happen; 1) 1:50 (7:24/mi pace) 2) 1:48 (7:13 /mi pace) 3) 1:46.9 (7:08 /mi pace) 4) 1:47 (7:08 /mi pace) 5) 1:42 (6:50 /mi pace) 6) 1:41 (6:47 /mi pace) 7) 1:40 (6:40 /mi pace). I cooled down with .50 mile. I felt MUCH better with this workout than last week, almost feeling like I could do 1 more interval, but was glad I didn’t have to! It was nice to feel the improvement and realize I must be doing something right.

Thursday my hamstrings were still sore from Tuesday, and Wednesdays sprint session probably didn’t help. So I just did some upper body exercises (push-ups, chin-ups, planks), and did some foam rolling. The foam rolling didn’t help a lot, so later that night I put a heating pad on my hamstrings and thankfully that did help.

Friday was pretty much a repeat of Thursday. I did some more foam rolling and my hamstrings were feeling better. So I completed a 20 minute workout with various body weight exercises including some squats and lunges, and followed it up with a heating pad again.

When I woke up on Saturday (today) my hamstrings felt SOO much better- no tightness at all- which  was a good thing because I had 9 miles to complete today. I mapped out a rolling hills course, but not as drastic as last week. I planned to stop back at my apartment halfway through the run to have a water stop since I figured it’s not a great idea to run 9 miles with no hydration. It worked out pretty well and was a nice way to break up the run. Around the 6 mile mark I tried to pick up the pace more for the rest of my miles since that was the flatter part of my route plus the more I ran the more energy I seemed to have, which could just mean I wasn’t running as fast as I should have been earlier on. My last 2 miles ended up with a quicker pace than my earlier miles, and the last .25 mile I aimed to finish with a strong kick. I finished 9.06 miles in 1:24:47 (9:22 average pace). As I looked as my splits, I felt like I could’ve and probably should’ve tried to go a little faster. But as a friend reminded me, better to go slow during training runs to avoid injury and save the speed for race day. The downfall of this run was that I did have a big stomach ache afterward. I didn’t know if it was because of what I ate for breakfast, not waiting long enough post meal until I ran, or whether it was because I was dehydrated but it’s important I figure out the reasoning in order to get the ‘refueling mid-run’ down as my runs get longer.

How was your week? Are you currently training for a goal race? Any tips on fueling mid-run?