Sep 18

Is Marathon Training SUPPOSED to Go Like This?

I was feeling very uninspired to write in the blog today, feeling content to just browse other blogs, Instagram and Daily Mile to see what everyone else was running today. I started to see a slight commonality amongst  a few of them, particularly those who like myself, are training for the Columbus Marathon. I’ve seen “physically, and emotionally tested”, “uninspired” which are in perfect synch with my “feeling drained” Instagram post from this morning.

IMG_1065.PNGI’m in a funk, plain and simple and I want to snap out of it. First, I need to explain my NEW Columbus pace goal and how this all came about. It’s was 8:45 for the first 9-10 weeks of training. I hit my marathon goal pace numerous times. Actually, a few seconds faster. Then the Montour Trail half marathon “happened”, a dark day for this runner. I found myself re-thinking my training and where it has gotten me.

Then, I bounced back, like a good, consistent, optimistic runner.

I had a great week, hitting all my paces and dominating my 20 mile run this past Sunday.

IMG_1028.JPGWell, somewhere between Montour and my epic 20-miler, my coach suggested, gently, that I might want to back off the 8:45 goal marathon pace and consider an 8:50 pace. He’s been listening to my feedback for weeks and wants me to be 95% confident on race day that I can hit my pace, not 65%. Yes, I was hitting the 8:45 pace, but it was an effort. Probably more effort than it should be, I guess.

umm, okay.

Sooo, last week 8:50 it was. I tackled most of my miles last week at an 8:50, even my 8 mile run on Saturday, Running mile after mile at or seconds off the 8:50 mark. Was it easier? Yes, I would say it was. Way it waaay easier? Not really.

IMG_1002.JPGDon’t get me wrong, I want to be 100% confident come race day too. But, honestly, I wanted to be 100% confident at an 8:45. An 8:50 WILL get me a Boston qualifying time, but it leaves very little wiggle room. I NEED to hit that 8:50.

The next thing that happened after the “epic 20-miler” is that I got a cold. Seriously, after 3 years of NO illness, I get a cold. It’s draining me. I missed a freakin run this week! I ran Tuesday, I ran today, but missed Wednesday. Neither run was epic, not even close. I finished them, got the miles in but they weren’t easy. Again, I find myself questioning my readiness.

Why, why, can’t I run consistently? ONe week it’s good, one week it’s bad.

Then I saw other posts (mentioned above) from other runners who were also feeling drained, uninspired and basically blah.

Anyone training for Columbus right now and following a plan is about where I am right now. In a lower mileage week in between two high mileage weeks. Between Tuesday last week and Tuesday this week I ran 50 miles. 50 miles. It’s a grind, it’s exhausting. No matter how worth the work it is, it starts to wear you down emotionally and physically.

I try real hard to think back. Did I have these feelings of doubt, exhaustion and uncertainty during my other marathon training cycles? I have no clue. I have carefully tracked my miles, but the emotions and feeling associated with those miles are not captured. But for some reason I think I did.

Yesterday, I spent 26 plus minutes watching the Columbus marathon course video (link on my facebook page). I studied the course map, the turns (must run tangents!) and I started to get genuinely nervous. Already. But this is what I do. We are 31 days out and Kim is getting antsy already.

For non-runners, yes, I appear to be extremely dramatic. It’s just a race. But for me, this is my first REAL SHOT at a qualifying time. Of course there will be other races. This isn’t do or die. But, man, will it be disappointing to not make it.

Next week will be my week to turn this around and get confident again. I need to get rid of this cold, get plenty of sleep and gear up for next week. I believe I’ll hit another 45-47 miles which includes a 22 mile run. Then the taper.

And, I write all this like I don’t love every minute of it. What would I be doing if I wasn’t struggling through a marathon training season? ;)

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Sep 11

What it Means, EXACTLY, to Run the Mile You’re In

After my disappointing race last weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my running. A LOT of thinking. I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I need to run a marathon at a certain pace, but I couldn’t even do it for the half the distance last Saturday. Quite honestly, it had me in a bit of a panic. I mean the sick to my stomach, tears in my eyes, hyperventilating kind of panic…

sheldon-breathing-into-bag-gifI felt like I’ve been spinning my wheels for 10 weeks and have gotten nothing out of it. I’ve since come to my senses and know this isn’t true. I’ve made real progress and my training is on track. I just need to refocus my attention on my goal pace and re-build my confidence running it.

I was talking to a good friend of mine who is helping my with my training and he suggested I focus on running the mile I’m in. So I thought okay, I need to focus more. But really, there’s a little more to it than that and he explained it to me. Spoiler alert: this is where your Garmin becomes your best friend.

MileThe idea is to literally, focus on one mile at a time. So, I set up my watch to display Lap Pace. In this case my laps are set to one mile. When I click over to the new mile, the Lap Pace begins tracking my pace FOR THAT MILE ONLY. I still have my current pace and average pace fields, but I don’t pay attention to them anymore. Lap Pace is what I zero in on.

If I’m focusing on running an 8:45 pace per mile, I would watch my lap pace, stalk it actually, for the entire mile. There may be elevation changes, like a hill that drive my lap pace higher than I want it to be. If I know I have a half a mile to go and my current lap pace is 8:58 after the hill for example, I need to really move to hit that 8:45 before the mile is over. Same thing with the downhill. In this case, there may be an opportunity to slow down and save some energy for the following miles.

The reason this “micro-managing” of miles can help is that you only have to focus on one mile at a time rather than managing the entire run. What I’ve done in the past, say for a 10-mile run, is focused on overall pace. If I let the pace get out of control and end up with a 9:03 at mile 7, it’s nearly impossible for me to run fast enough in the last three miles to bring that pace down to an 8:45.

Have you ever heard the expression “watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”? Same concept. Watch your lap paces and the average will take care of itself. I tested this out Tuesday and yesterday morning with fantastic results. It does take some practice knowing how fast or how slow you need to go within certain distance to nail the pace, but I figure practice will only make me better at this.

Wednesday’s run:

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So, if you’re having a hard time pacing your training runs, or execute races poorly, this may be one way of keeping your paces from being all over the place and staying in track. Not only that, but paying this close attention to pace really makes the miles fly by. It’s working well for me and I’m really anxious to try it out this weekend on my 20-miler Sunday!

If you give this a try or use this strategy, let me know how it works for you. :)

Sep 09

Montour Trail 1/2 Marathon Recap – a hard one to swallow

goalsIt’s always easy to sit at the computer and type out a post about how great training’s going and how great a race went. It’s quite another to sit here after one of the worst races I’ve had in years and break it down, relive it. But that’s what makes me an authentic blogger. It can’t all be roses and rainbows.

I’ve been working all summer toward my Columbus Marathon goal of a 3:50 finish. According to that, I should run a half marathon in 1:50. So, I signed up for the Montour Trail half marathon about a month ago thinking that this would be a great “fitness test” to really see how conditioned and ready I am to tackle 26.2 miles at an 8:45 pace. The goal pace this past Saturday was an 8:20. It’s an aggressive goal, but my last half marathon race pace was an 8:24, so it seemed within reach, especially after all the training miles I put in this summer.

The elevation of the course was challenging, especially for someone who struggles a bit with hill running. The weather was also a challenge for me with temps in the 70′s at the start with 85% humidity. It felt like I was running in the rain forest.

I thought if I just made it through the six mile ascent at a fairly decent pace, I could really pick it up on the way back down.

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The first 4 miles up were hard, but the last two were a real grind. They took a lot of out me. I made the turn to head down the hill but couldn’t get my legs moving fast enough to make up the time. At around mile 10, I started to lose interest. I just wanted it to be over.

It took me a few days to admit this to myself, but it wasn’t the slow pace that I’m disappointed with. What I’m disappointed with was how easily I gave up. I walked numerous times and stopped pushing. I have more respect for the person who ran the whole way, pushed hard and finished dead last. It was a difficult realization. It got hard, and I gave up. If I tried the whole way, pushed and ran a crappy time, that would’ve been a different story.

I know I have it in me to push – I did it on May 4th when it got tough. I’ve done it many other times, so the POSITIVE that I am taking away from this race is the fact that I don’t want to be the person who quits…again. When it gets tough I will slow down, regroup and keep pushing, not give up. I’m stronger than that.

Okay – so, moving on. ;)

I also want to mention that the next few weeks of training are tough, high mileage weeks. My job has become increasingly demanding and my family comes before my blog. I will try my best to update, but the stress of having to keep a schedule is just another weight on my shoulders. But the mood may strike at any time, so check back. :)

You can still follow my quick blurbs and running pictures almost daily on:

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Have a great week!

Sep 02

Motivation, 1000 miles and Columbus Marathon Training Wk 10

First off, I want to apologize for not posting a Monday Motivation yesterday. I managed 125 weeks straight and forgot yesterday during the holiday. So, here it is a day late.

me to beat youSecondly, I want to mention that I’ve already hit 1,000 miles for the year. Woo Hoo! Last year, around the beginning of December, I realized I was going to hit 1,000 miles for the year and I was so excited. It was the most I’d ever run in a year. Now, here I am finishing off August with 1,000 miles already. I’m still growing as a runner, getting stronger and working harder to get where I want to be.  I’ve also increased my average marathon training mileage. For the Boston and Lehigh marathons, I ran 388 training miles for each. This year for Pittsburgh I increased my training mileage to 537, and for Columbus, the plan is between 530-540 miles. The point to all this is…..if you stay consistent and put the work and effort in, you WILL get stronger as a runner. It’s taken about 5 years to get here and I’m still improving. I guess that’s what makes it fun.

Last week I can say that all my runs were pretty good.

Tuesday- I moved my speed work to Tuesday last week for some reason. 6×800 – 5 miles total, with warm-up, recovery and cool down

IMG_0711Happt Wednesday – 5 medium pace miles around my house

IMG_0730Thursday – easy miles around the industrial park before work

IMG_0755Saturday – 8 marathon pace miles along the river, downtown, Pittsburgh.

IMG_0780Sunday – 18 extremely wet, rainy, miles. I wasn’t up for this run at all and decided I was going to go as slow as I felt like going. The heck with the pace I was supposed to run. I took it mile by mile, wasn’t concerned with my watch and ended up running right under the 9:45 mark – exactly where I should be. Can you tell how happy I was when I finished (below)?

IMG_0820The beginning of Week 10 started VERY HUMID. Ugh, this morning the air was so thick. But my body has slowly adjusted throughout the summer and I’m much better than I was running in this muck than I was in July. I am modifying my plan slightly this week to accommodate a half marathon on Saturday. So here’s the schedule:

  • Monday – total body strength training
  • Tuesday – 5 mile tempo run, two miles at half marathon pace (8:20)
  • Wednesday – 5 mile tempo run, two miles at half marathon pace (8:20)
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Rest
  • Sunday – 8 miles easy (9:15-9:45)

That’s all the update I have in me for now. Happy running!

 

Aug 28

How to Stay Motivated (Stop Procrastinating Your Runs)

how_to_stay_motivatedI didn’t write my weekly Columbus Marathon Training recap this week. You know why? I procrastinated. I put it off Tuesday at lunch time until that evening. Then, I figured, well I can post it Wednesday. That didn’t work out. Then, It just kind of became irrelevant. Like most people I tend to procrastinate on the things that either require a lot of physical energy or seem complex and require a lot of thought. Sometimes, the task just seems so overwhelming at the time, that the thought of doing it makes you tired. Do you know the feeling?

As I was procrastinating on my weekly post, it dawned on me that one of the things that I rarely procrastinate on is my running. I never put that off. If I have miles on the calendar, they get done. Thus the birth of this post. I have always been somewhat self-motivated, but on days when the snow and temperatures are falling or when it’s rainy, hot and humid, I even need a little push to get out the door. Here are some of this things that have helped keep me motivated and have prevented me from putting off my runs.

 

1. BUILD A NETWORK OF RUNNING FRIENDS

I can’t tell you how much this helps. I can talk running all day and having friends who like to talk about it gets me in the mood to do it. I’ve learned little tips and tricks to make tough runs easier. I’ve learned new running routes from other people and have been inspired by their efforts and talents. It’s made running so much more fun and actually kind of social. We don’t always run together, but we may meet to start or finish at the same time to talk about our runs. Runners are truly the most positive, upbeat, high energy people I know, the type of people I like to surround myself with.

IMG_07612. SCHEDULE YOUR RUNS AND PROTECT YOUR TIME

I look at my running as something special that I do for myself. I do for my physical and mental health. My weekend calendar revolves around my runs. I protect those hours at all cost and never miss a run unless it’s completely unavoidable. If there’s a long run, I make sure I eat properly the day before and not drink too much or at all the night before. I also try to get enough sleep before long runs. Not doing those things will make it difficult to get up and get moving, so prepare for a long weekend run as you would a race to feel your best. I know this sounds like it makes you a boring person, but it’ll do wonders for your average pace. ;)

IMG_07563. MEET A FRIEND TO RUN

This kind of ties into number 1 but not always. I have lots of friends who run that I don’t actually run with. Finding someone who is focused on the same or similar goal and who runs roughly the same pace as you can be challenging, but so worth the effort to find. When you make plans to meet a friend, you’re instantly accountable to show up. During a run this is helpful as well because you can encourage each other during difficult miles. I can’t tell you how many times words of encouragement have helped me up and over hills.

 4. JOIN AN ONLINE COMMUNITY

This year I was encouraged to join Daily Mile. I’m so happy I did. Not only is this a great place to track your training and runs, but the people are so motivational and upbeat. I don’t have a whole lot of friends or connections, but I’m always shocked at how they try to give me encouragement when I have a rough run and congratulate me when the run is good. It could potentially help you with number 3. You can look for local runners and see if you can find someone who runs about the same pace. People are typically very open to welcoming new runners into their groups. Give it a try – I’ll be your friend. :)

IMG_0757-05. VISIT RUNNING BLOGS

I’m always inspired by people who document and share their running experiences. I don’t have time to read all the blogs I’d like every day, but I try to visit my favorites at least once a week to see what those runners are up to. Reading about other people struggles and not knowing you’re the only one is a great pick me up and reading about their successes motivates me to have more of my own. Plus I like looking at the pictures. Visit my Blogs I Read page for some recommendations.

6. KEEP YOUR GEAR ACCESSIBLE AND READY TO GO

This may sound simple, but if you’re already on the fence about running and having a hard time getting out the door, spending 20 minutes finding your running crap isn’t going to help. On the nights before I run, I always set everything out on the floor next to my bed. When the alarm goes off at 4:45am, the last thing I want to do is go on a scavenger hunt for my stuff. For long runs, I make sure I have my fuel and hydration as well as pre-run meal ready to go.

IMG_07677. KEEP YOUR GOALS IN PLAIN SIGHT

If you’re training for a specific event, this is simple. Right now I’m training for the Columbus Marathon so at work I have the course map and training plan hanging in my cubicle. At home I have my plan in hanging in my closet. These serve as constant reminders of why I’m running all these crazy miles.

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8. RUN EARLY

If it all possible, do your runs early. This has been a life saver for me. After working all day, coming home, making dinner, etc., I’m tired! I always feel freshest first thing in the morning. People always comment that I’m nuts when I tell them how early I get up to run, but honestly, once you start doing it, it kind of becomes a habit. Running early also keeps you from dreading your run all day.

9. IF ALL ELSE FAILS

Go run a mile, if after one mile you still don’t want to continue, maybe it actually isn’t meant to be.But I find that after I get out the door and get moving, I have crossed the biggest hurdle. Good luck!

Question: What tactics do you rely on to keep you motivated?

Aug 25

Monday Motivation

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Aug 24

So, Which Runner Do YOU Respect More

runner typesSo this was the scene sitting around the table at brunch this morning after my 17 mile run. It was me and runner 1, runner 2, and runner 3. All of them are friends that I’ve been “running with” or at least starting at the same place and time with for a while now.

Runner 1 is an incredibly talented female runner, super fast, who’s planning 2 marathons this fall. She’s qualified for Boston, twice, and ran 65 miles last week. She’s been running some of her “slow” runs at an 8:00 pace – yeah. Runner 2 is another very talented runner, male, Boston qualifier, who makes running look so easy. He says he’s going to hit a certain pace, and he does. Every time he races, he PRs and seldom does he “struggle’ through a run, not even his 20 miler this morning. They sat down at the table, feeling fine, and ordered normal food to re-fuel after their run.

Then there was runner 3. I ran with him for the first 12 miles of my 17 this morning. He wasn’t feeling it this morning and was having a hard time. He wasn’t REALLY struggling but it was harder than normal. It happens, I’ve been there many times. Runner 3 is a lot like me, has to work a little harder than runner 1 and 2 to get decent results, so I appreciate his effort TREMENDOUSLY. Runner 3 ordered a bowl of fruit and was disappointed that he didn’t finish the entire run.

I sat there nursing my ginger ale, the only thing I could stomach and talked a little bit about my run. It felt fine for the first 11 miles .Then it started getting hot. I was trying really hard to occupy my mind. Running around North Park I wondered why I never saw anyone swimming in the lake. I wished I was out kayaking so I could splash the cool water all of myself. I repeated the same song in my head over and over; “Funeral for a Friend” by Elton John….

“….love lies bleeding in my hand…”

All those things helped a little, but the last three miles hurt. My legs were exhausted and I was sweating like nobody’s business. As I sat around the table afterwards, knowing we’d all be back at it again next Sunday, I started thinking. Which one of these runner types earns more respect? The runner who has true natural ability and seems to fly through every run without issue, or the runner with less natural ability who despite the struggles, keeps coming back.

The answer in my opinion, is both types. I respect the runners who seem to be born to run. They conquer every mile with purpose and strength. I envy them and admire them. Runners like myself deserve respect too. I mean, obviously I have my share of struggles. It seems like a week of runs can’t go by without at least one of them sucking big time. But I’m there EVERY WEEKEND with runner 1 and runner 2 anyway. I’m proud of myself for that. Quitting would be so much easier. As a matter of fact – in my last mile, my final thoughts revolved around how much this sport sucks.

Until you cross that finish line. Then, it’s glorious.

After a long nap with my dog, Cooper….

IMG_0688And a session with my foam roller…

IMG_0699I’m already looking forward to next weeks 18 miler, struggles and all.

For all you runners out there who have such amazing raw talent, thank you! You motivate and inspire me. And for all you runners out there who struggle to get every mile done, you are my comrades, and I know what you go through each and every time you lace up your shoes. You also inspire me.

Aug 20

What I Ate Wednesday

You would think that marathon training would make you hungry ALL THE TIME. But honestly after I do my pace runs on Saturday and my long runs on Sunday, I don’t eat very much for hours and hours. I just don’t have the stomach for it. I love chocolate milk after I run but not much else. During the week my hunger goes in cycles; sometimes famished and sometimes not in the mood to eat at all.

Typically when I start running miles and miles a week, the weight starts to come off effortlessly. But this time around, not so much. As a matter of fact I’ve gained a few pounds. So, natuarally my first instinct is to start tracking my calories closely. Not just the calories, but also the breakdown of calories. It’s always hard to wrap my mind around the following concept, but the truth may be that I’m not eating enough for my current activity level. The dietitian told me this last training cycle and I responded by upping my caloric intake by 400 calories. And, it worked.

I’m no sure if I’m doing so good packing on the calories, but I’m working on it. Here were my meals yesterday:

Pre-run meal: black coffee and a Health Warrior Banana Nut Chia Bar

IMG_0612Post Run: Mara Natha Almond butter and banana sandwich with a huge water (one of my favorite things I ate this week)

IMG_0637Morning snack: no day would be complete without my almonds (1/2 cup)

IMG_0638Lunch: Spinach salad with chick peas, 1/2 hard boiled egg and tuna, cottage cheese and peaches.

IMG_0639I was too busy with meetings in the afternoon to grab a snack, so it was straight to dinner, which was a pretty great treat; Field Roast grain meat frankfurters, topped with southwest bean salad and Daiya Vegan cheese, corn and sweet potato fries.

IMG_0654IMG_0644That was pretty much it for the day. I typically don’t get hungry again before bed unless I stay up later than usual. Here are the stats for the day below.

IMG_0658IMG_0660IMG_0659My ultimate goal is eat somewhere in the neighborhood of 1800 calories. I fell short of that and burned 486. Doing this on a regular basis will tech the body to hold on to everything it takes in. However, I also have to mindful of eating the right calories as opposed to just packing them on with whatever.

Question: is it always a given that you lose weight during training?

Aug 19

Half Way Through! Columbus Marathon Training Wk8

il_340x270.464454484_24seYes! Half way through. It’s a good feeling to be half way through training, until you consider the fact that the hardest weeks are ahead. Most of the weeks up until the taper, 6 weeks from now, hover right around the 40 mile mark per week. If you’re training and have friends who are training, some of them may either be (1) injured or (2) can’t hack it and simply drop out. These weeks separate the people who really want it from the people who just thought they did! You have to be all in.

I’m hanging in there and still feeling strong – that’s the good news! Last week I had a couple of great runs and this week started out the same. This is the part where I explain that running is SO mental. It only took me 5 training cycles to really allow this fact to sink in. One bad run and it knocks you down a few notches. So much so, that your next runs start going south because the little voice inside your head screams YOU SUCK!

On the other hand, a couple of good runs and bam! You can conquer the world.

For part of last week, I didn’t have a watch, OR a phone, so no documentation on my runs, but I DID do them.

Tuesday – 5 miles in the pouring rain – no watch – ruin phone

Wednesday – 3 miles hill sprints on the treadmill – without falling off the back :)

Thursday is typically the most boring day of the week for running because it’s a recovery day (filler miles), but it was kind of exciting because I had a new watch to use. The Forerunner 220. I’ll go into more detail about the watch in a later post, but so far I like it. 5.25 miles at an easy 9:20 pace.

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New Watch!

Saturday – 8 miles at marathon pace. My goal was an 8:45 but I ended up with an 8:40. The best news about this run is that I ran the exact same 8 mile course as last week, but this week it was easier. Now that’s a confidence builder. All I can hope is that each week I see improvement.

IMG_0495Sunday – Long Run Day. This was a tough one. Sunday always is after Saturday’s run. Your legs are tired and when you first start it seems like such a LONG WAY to go. But I had Brianna with me and we chatted a bit so the miles ticked off at a reasonable rate. It did rain again this Sunday which kept everything relatively cool. I never mind a little rain. We did 16 miles at a 9:17 pace. Our long run pace range is 9:15 – 9:45, so it’s nice being able to stay in the low end of the range.

IMG_0551So as I mentioned, all good runs. I’m feeling confident, staying injury free and looking forward to another great week. I started today feeling very strong, but I’ll save that for next week.

The schedule this week:

  • Monday – rest
  • Tuesday – 5 miles (9:00-9:15)
  • Wednesday – miles repeats (4 miles) at 7:55 per mile or less
  • Thursday – 5 miles (9:15-9:45)
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 8 miles at marathon pace (8:45)
  • Sunday – 17 slow miles (9:15-9:45)

Question: if you have a good run/bad run how does it influence your training? 

Aug 18

Monday Motivation

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