Training Plan #57

Guess what kids?  I have a new training plan!  Shocked?  You really shouldn’t be.  I change my mind on my training every 10 seconds.  When it comes to picking a plan I have the attention span of a 3 year old.

What happened to Simply Shredded and 20 miles a week?  I will spare you the details (because they are boring) but in a nutshell, no strength training (not even body weight training) on Dr.’s orders until mid April.  Definitely cuts out the dead lift, bench press and barbell squat in Simply Shredded.  Also, as it turns out 20 miles is a lot to squash into my schedule each week.

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I have been wanting to run this route for over a year and finally did it! Victory!

And thus, a new training plan is born. 🙂  Since I can’t do any strength at the moment, I have the opportunity to focus on my running.  Last week I ran sprint intervals a couple times, did some cross training on the bike and topped it off with a 12.5 mile run from my house to work with a friend on Saturday.

My BRF just started using a new app called Gipis so of course I had to check it out.  I really like that it gives you an estimated race time and shows how you can improve.  It is super customized to you and your goals.  It adds a good combination of easy runs and speed work.  So I’m going to try the Gipis, spruce it up with a little cross training and some hypothetical strength training days (for later).  And there you have it, my latest and greatest.Capture

Monday: run & strength
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: cross training & strength
Thursday: run
Friday: REST
Saturday: long run
Sunday: cross training

I’d like to say that this is *the* training plan that will support me all the way to marathon day.  But let’s be honest folks, it probably isn’t.  I know I will probably “upgrade” to something newer, better, shinier, fancier.  The good news is, I’m still learning what works for me, I’m still getting stronger and faster.

And I’m not stopping.  Ever.

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“3 Walkers, 1 Runner”

As I’m recovering from my ego blow from the Hot Dash last week and trying to ramp up for this 17 mile trail race in April, I set out for a 10 mile training run today.  I left my house doubtful of my ability and still thinking about last week and wondering if I’d even be able to put up 10 more miles today.  As I headed into the park about a half a mile from my house, a woman was pushing her two small children in a double stroller.  I could hear her narrating things they were looking at on the trail.  As I passed she said “Oh look, a runner!  That makes 3 walkers, 1 runner, kids”.  We both smiled and waved.

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It’s amazing what a small phrase can do.  I don’t think she has any idea how her words powered me through the rest of my workout.  Mile 3 when a side stitch kicked in “1 runner”, mile 6 when I was bored “1 runner”, mile 8 when my blister returned “1 runner”.  I am not fast by any means but I did finish the 10 miles I planned on today.  I listened to myself and my current ability and kept it slow.  I felt way better than I did last week.  The weather was great and I even discovered some new trails in my home town.

In other news: I got my grade back for my finance course – A!  I haven’t worked so hard for a grade in a long time.  Feeling pretty happy about that one.  I’ve had this past week off of school but it’s back to the grad school grind next week. 🙂

wpid-wp-1426362125201.jpegRight now though?  It’s burrito time.

Hot Dash or Hot Mess?

Let’s just say yesterday’s race, the 10 mile inaugural Hot Dash in Minneapolis was less than hot.  Here’s a recap of my experience, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier.

I went into this race with the mind set that “it’s 10 miles, I’ve run farther before, no big deal”.  My last race was a half marathon at the end of October ’14.  I figured I’d done a good job maintaining my running stamina by running 2-5 miles, 2-3 times a week on the treadmill.  This was my first mistake.

Woke up on race day, showered, got my gear in order, inhaled a bagel and some water.  As I turned the knob to leave for my car a thought crossed my mind: “Oh shoot, forgot the body glide. No worries, I’ve got my good socks.” Skipped it and left the house.  Mistake number two.

Picked up my friend and we drove down to the cities.  Found a great parking spot (we were an hour and a half early) and chilled in the car for a while.  We headed down to the start with plenty of time to use the porta-potties and get set in the coral.  National anthem, then we were off – exactly at 9:00 am.  (Gotta hand it to Twin Cities in Motion.  Every race of theirs I’ve run has been perfectly punctual.)

At the start line!

At the start line!

Mile 1: Was feeling great but went out too fast for my current fitness level after a winter of short treadmill runs.

Mile 2: Realized I went out too fast and tried to pull back.

Mile 3: Still trying to recover from my initial burst of energy, my Spotify is interrupted and my playlist starts going haywire.  This has happened before – I realize my 8 year old is on our same account trying to play music.  I try texting and calling him but he won’t answer.  I call my husband but my 6 year old answers.  I tell him to tell his Dad to check his phone to get our 8 year old off the darn Spotify account.  Finally the competition for the music ends.  (I find out later it was actually my 6 year old who was on it.)  This whole ordeal slowed me down, I had jogged slowly trying to figure it out, walked some.

Mile 4: Get myself regrouped, pace is back up – enter, the side stitch!

Mile 5 & 6: Just plodding along as best I can.  Wound up taking way more walk breaks than I usually would.

Mile 7: Blister on the left foot, keep on jogging.

Mile 8: Taking even more walk breaks now due to blister.  Get some semi-urgent work texts, so I answer those and some work emails.

Mile 8.5: Hubby texting me that he can see my progress on MapMyRun and is virtually cheering me on – so thankful for that!  Kicked it up and tried my best to get my pace up.

Mile 9.5: Blister is killing me now, start running with a limp just tapping my left toe which causes an increased strain on that calf.

Finish: As I’m rounding the corner to the finish I see about 5 people who Hot dash(somehow) look to be in worse shape than I am.  I figure I can just sprint and at least have passed a couple.  As I’m running like my life depended on it my overused calf collapses.  That’s the best word I have for it.  It just quit working.  I thought I was actually going to face plant across the finish line.  But I didn’t, I finished strong and was never more happy for a race to be over.

My slowest race pace in a really long time.  Later at home I showered, I cried, I slept.  Then I got over myself.

Whenever I’ve made a mistake, my grandmother has asked me one question: “Did you learn something?”  The answer is yes.  I learned many things along this 10 mile course.

  1. Don’t go out too fast!  I say I won’t every time but the race excitement always gets the better of me.  Need to work on that.
  2. Don’t take a significant distance for granted.  Next time I’ll train better.
  3. For goodness sake, DO the body glide!  It takes literally less than a minute!
  4. Be more flexible.  I should have just switched to a different music app or gone without.  I let that slip up mess with my mojo way more than it should have.

Enough of that.  There were some great things about yesterday too.  Had a lot of fun with with my running buddy before and after the race.  The race itself was really well organized – plenty of porta-potties, water stops, parking.  The course was relatively flat (I cannot tell you how grateful for that I was!).  It wasn’t too crowded.  Post race snacks were really amazing: (fresh!) bananas, large water bottles, chips, bread, nut roll, “dash hash”, beer.  The after-party village area was also pretty great: fire pits to warm up and a contest for the best runner in lumber jack costume.

I did run 10 miles.  I did finish the race.  I learned some valuable lessons.

Today I ran 2 more miles, just to prove I could.wpid-wp-1425841333174.png

My next race is a 17 mile trail run.  I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles.  I’ve never run a trail race.  I have a month to take what I’ve learned and get ready for this thing.  Here we go!

1,000 Days of MyFitnessPal

Crazy milestone.  I’ve logged into myfitnesspal.com (MFP) every single day for the past 1,000 days.  I’m not sure if that’s dedication or insanity but there it is.  Here are some things I’ve learned through my experiences the past 1,000 days.

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Before MFP in March 2012

Let’s first paint the picture:  Rewind to June 2012.  I had previously tried tracking calories using SparkPeople.com with little success.  I would use it, not use it, use it, not use it – you get the idea.  I was visiting my sisters in Virginia when my youngest sister suggested myfitnesspal.com.  She said her (now) husband started her on it and liked the

My first day logged on MFP.

June 3rd – My first day logged on MFP.

usability.  At first I was a bit skeptical since I already had SparkPeople but figured I’d check it out.  Loved it.  When I found out there was a streak counter for days logged in, one thought came to mind “oh it’s on like Donkey Kong!”.  I’ve logged in every day since.  When I first started using the app I wasn’t very active.  I hated working out and just figured if I ate less I didn’t have to exercise.  I was a busy mom, chasing my kids, playing with them in the yard etc. and figured that was enough.  Looking at my diet now, I ate pretty poorly back then.  Lots of pizza, convenience foods (think EZ cheese, pop tarts, mountains of girl scout cookies).  Whatever was easy and whatever I wanted.

I started using the app to just see what I was eating.  From there I started slowly reducing my calories and did my best to stay within about 1,200 daily since that was what MFP recommended for my height.  It wasn’t easy and I often had “cheat” days where I didn’t feel like logging all my food.  But I did continue to log in.  Every. Single. Day.

January or February of 2013 I realized I needed to start exercising.  I realized I liked the MFP app so much I might as well see if there is anything that rewards consistent exercise the same way.  Enter Nexercise.  I don’t use this app anymore but I can’t tell you how big of a part this app played in my journey to health and wellness.  You get virtual badges for doing different kinds of activities or more minutes of an activity.  It counts everything from house cleaning to badminton to swimming.  It even listed specific brand exercises like those found on BeachBody.com.  There were weekly points where you could compete with strangers or your friends.  And boy did I!  I told myself that it didn’t matter what exercise I did, I needed to do something every day.  And I did.  And I discovered a whole world of new activities I love.  I jumped rope, I logged seemingly endless hours on the elliptical, I played baseball with my kids, I did yoga, I walked (I walked a lot), I biked, I took fitness classes for the first time in my life.  I was so excited to see my Nexercise steak continue and rack up the points.  I also noticed that MFP gave you extra calories for eating with all of this activity.  Now we’re talking. 🙂  I started logging my food more consistently.

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First 5K – May 10th, 2013

Enter (my now very best running) friend.  I saw on her Facebook page that she had registered for a night time glowed up 5k.  It looked super cool.  She invited me to come.  My thought was I could never run for 3 miles.  She was super encouraging and said it was okay to walk and some of the others who were going would be walking too.  I remember this vividly: I was at a hotel in Wichita Kansas for work and wanted to see if I could do it.  I got on the hotel treadmill and huffed and puffed for about 46 minutes.  I walked, I jogged, walked some more, cursed a little.  But I survived 3 miles.  I registered for the race that night.  I kept up with my other activities but didn’t really train for the 5k.  When race day came around I some how ran (okay, slowly jogged) the whole darn thing.  I was on such a high, within the week I was asking her when we could do another race.  I was hooked.  I registered for a 10K, but knew I needed a training plan.  I completed every day of the couch to 10K program sometime during that Summer in preparation for the race at the end of August.  In total I ran 9 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon - September 2014.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon – September 2014.

I kept up with running and eventually didn’t need Nexercise anymore to motivate me to exercise.  I continued to log everything into MyFitnessPal.  I took a couple months off in Winter for a surgery but jumped back in with my first race of 2014 in March.  Eventually after much research I realized I need to start strength training.  I discovered that endless Capture2hours of cardio are not going to get me to where I want to be in regards to my physique, strength and endurance goals.  In May I began the ChaLean Extreme program from BeachBody but abandoned it after about a month when I joined LA Fitness and started working with a trainer instead.  My sister also helped me get started with eating IIFYM-style after I saw her using it with great results.  Increased calories to support my fitness was great.  Additional muscles and strength were also an added bonus.  I kept running.  I racked up a total of 467 miles in 2014 and finished 20 races. I continued to log into MFP.

January 2015

January 2015

MFP has changed my life in a gradual yet wonderful way.  I wake up, I shut off the alarm, I log in.  Every day.  I’m the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life.  I love trying new things and being active with my family.  I have discovered a love of racing and am excited to start training for my first marathon in June.

And that, my friends, is how I’ve spent my first 1,000 days on MyFitnessPal.

Pick a lane? No thanks.

We’ve all seen that driver on the interstate, weaving all over the place, always trying to get in a faster, better lane.  This has pretty much been my approach to exercise from day one of my journey.  I’ve changed my training plan several times to the point where I rarely actually finish a training program.  There’s always something bigger, brighter, shinier around the corner.  After numerous attempts to complete as seen on TV type workout plans and failing, I one day told myself it didn’t matter what I did as long as I did something for exercise every day.  And the freedom in that variety is what got me going and hooked on fitness.  I did the elliptical, I did YouTube videos, I walked my dog, I jumped rope, I swam with my kids, rode my bike, did yoga, took classes etc.

In almost everything else I crave routine.  My mornings are coffee and talk radio in my car.  Every week day.  I buy the same running shoes when my old ones wear out.  I have a 16 year supply of perfume (same one I’ve been wearing since I turned 15).  Exercise for me has been the healthy dose of variety my life needs.10535615_10204454717304821_5735394766138690464_o

Through my trial and error process of fitness I’ve found that I truly enjoy running, paddle boarding, cycling and weight lifting.  I love the strength and physique I get from lifting.  There is no better feeling than the pride and glow of finishing a long distance run or race.  And paddle boarding and cycling are just fun for fun’s sake.  SUP and cycling for me don’t even feel like exercise. I would do them if there were zero physical benefits.  (Lucky for me there are though!)

Yay!  Exercise!  Healthy and wellness!  Where’s the problem?  I’m starting to get more serious about my lifting and my running (26.2 on 10/4/15).  After last week’s sickness and subsequent gym hiatus, I’ve been so happy to be back in the gym and making progress.  I’m getting stronger on my lifts, and I’m really enjoying it.  I’m also starting to look at marathon training programs since Spring will be here before we know it and I know I’ll need approximately 18 weeks of solid training.  Unfortunately some of my 1621786_10204793492373986_702821337161782815_nrunning acquaintances have questioned my low mileage and have made mention that I will need to stop lifting once I start actual marathon training, else I risk losing endurance. There is the concern that the additional bulk of muscles could cause running slowness.  On the other side, my lifting acquaintances have said that excess endurance running will ruin the coveted strength and muscle gains.

I don’t want to be spinning my wheels, putting in a lot of extra work just to have everything cancel itself out.  So are these my choices?  Option A.) Give up the heavy lifting, focus on a textbook marathon plan with some occasional body weight movements, or Option B.) Give up on the marathon and commit to a serious lifting routine with occasional high intensity interval sessions for cardio.  I have never been a rebellious individual.  I pride myself on doing most things by the book.  But when faced with these two scenarios I say “nope”.   Through the magic of wpid-wp-1424402190800.jpegGoogle I am finding there are is a super secret Option C.) – Hybrid training.  This page actually explains it very well.  I can have the best of both worlds without risking exhaustion or stalled progress!  Hybrid training combines specific training runs with heavy lifting.  What I love about this is that there is a way to do it and still have rest days and make improvements. I can have my cake and eat it too (and boy do I love cake!).

What does this hybrid training look like for me and my goals and fitness level specifically?  I’m not exactly sure yet.  More to come on that later.  But again, that’s the magic of the internet.  I know I’m not the first person to want the best of both worlds.  I’m embracing my lane changing habits to find what will work for me.  It may be a little risky, but that’s part of the fun. 🙂

 

Twin Cities Marathon: Registration Affirmation

I’m in!  Today marathon registration opened at 10:00 am.  By 10:30 I was registered with confirmation email and everything.  It’s not until October but it feels very real now.  This is going to happen.  I’m going to run 26.2 miles.  And I’m looking forward to it!

A few years ago my sister trained for and ran a marathon.  I remember at the time thinking that training for and running a marathon just seemed like the scariest, most awful form of self torture I’d ever heard of.  Who runs hours and hours a week for months to train and get prepare for a 3+ hour (if you’re fast) race?  It’s not a run for survival.  Nobody forces someone to run a marathon.  So who does that?

Back when my sister was training if you asked me to jog for even 5 minutes I would have laughed in your face.  Now a 5 minute jog is my warm up.  Now I crave hitting the pavement.  Now I am an athlete (granted, still a slow athlete) but I am going to run this marathon in October.  What changed?  All it takes is that spark.  I’m inspired by my sister (yes you, Pan!), I’m in inspired by my BRF (you know who you are!), I’m inspired by my badass canyon-running idol (you know who you are too!).

So rewind to 10:20 am today.  Entering in all this great information, credit card in my teeth, typing away: name, age, address, phone, shirt size, emergency contact,

Pace & finish time… blank stare, blinking cursor.  Not only do I need to commit to running a marathon today.  I have to commit to actually finishing it.  Stuff just got real.  I thought.  I thought and thought and thought.  I honestly thought the page might time out.  Then I typmarathoned 11 minute miles with a projected finish time of 4 hours 45 minutes.  I know that they won’t come out and drag me off the course if I don’t meet my time but somehow this felt like a pledge.  A pledge to get it done in less than 5 hours.  A pledge to give it my all.  This is my first (and maybe only) marathon and I’m going into it with a goal to finish.  Finishing in 4 hours 45 minutes is my target.  4 hours 30 minutes is my stretch goal.  Right now 11 minute miles are my easy I-could-run-forever pace.  I think it’s doable.  I hope it’s doable.  However, a wise woman once told me “hope is not a plan” (you know who you are too).  So the plan is this:  Show up and run.  Show up and run my heart out.

ABD in One Year

September 2012 I started my Ph.D., this was my Facebook status update “AH! Writing my first paper in 8 years. What did I get myself into??”.  It’s been a long three years and there’s still a long road ahead but one year from now, if all goes as planned, I will be starting my dissertation research.  February 1st, 2016.

So what exactly needs to happen between now and February 1st 2016?  A lot.  The most daunting of which is this: Comprehensive exams (comps) during marathon training.  If I keep all my ducks in a row though, I should be starting to taper my training for the marathon when I start my comps.  I had a momentary panic attack today when I realized how close I am to the end of this whole big Ph.D. thing.  Yes, I still have 4 classes left…and then some big tests…and then the really big paper but other than that I’m almost done!  Seriously though, I’m now legitimately more than half way there and that feels good.  One year from now, I’ll be All But Dissertation (ABD) and done with college coursework.  That’s a darn fine feeling if you ask me.

Racing: How much is too much?

Only a month into winter and registrations for the spring race season are opening left and right.  I ran over 20 races in 2014 and it was one of the best years of my life.  I love racing!  The past two years I’ve taken the summers off of my grad studies to train, race and recover to my heart’s content. The thing is I’m also trying to finish a doctoral degree and the way the stars align, I can’t take this summer off of school.  Bummer right?  I told myself I was going to seriously cut back on racing this year and only do 2 half marathons in preparation for the full marathon in October.  That’s it.  And then the crazy sets in…Okay, maybe one 5k with my son because he’s really interested in it.  And this 17 mile trail race looks really cool.  And It might be fun to travel for a race or two and see another city.  I haven’t done any races at all since October.  I’m really itching to get out there.  Maybe next month, is there a race next month?  Just one?

So far here is what I’m registered for.

  1. Hot Dash – 10 mile
  2. Get in Gear – 10K
  3. Zumbro – 17 mile trail
  4. Rock & Roll – Half marathon

I feel like a little kid who was told “just 2 cookies” only to be found 15 minutes later in the cookie jar up to my elbows, face covered in chocolate.  And no, you’ll notice the actual marathon isn’t on that list.  The registration doesn’t open for that until next week.  And it’s a lottery (don’t worry I have a backup 26.2 if I don’t get in).  The 2nd half marathon for training isn’t on that list either.  Oops.  Or the 5k I want to race with my 6 year old. Oops again.  So, it looks like… I’m an addict.  Not sure what to do about it.  I see a race online and immediately start checking the calendar (can’t overlap with hockey!) and digging in my purse for my credit card.  I don’t care about the stuff, the swag, the medal.  I don’t care about the entertainment or the beer.  It all honestly doesn’t even matter.  If it’s a race within a 2 hour drive of my house, I want in.  I don’t know if there’s a cure for this but I am going to have to figure something out.  Or learn how to write a dissertation while jogging and chugging power aid.

Mind Games for the Long Run

Some Back Story
I haven’t been running for very long.  I started in May of 2013 when a friend of mine encouraged me to run a 5k with her.  The very thought of running any distance at all sounded like torture let alone slightly over 3 miles.  Thing is, I love a challenge.  I remember it vividly.  I immediately got on the treadmill at the hotel I was staying for a work trip and walked/slogged through 3 miles.  It took me almost 50 minutes but I knew I would be able to at least finish a 5K.  I registered for it.  I ran it.  Let me say that again… I ran it.  The whole thing.  At the time I had never run continuously for that long.  I crossed the finish line and was hooked.  Here is a little known fact: I don’t really like running that much.  I’ll do it and I have those runs that are just incredible and give me the euphoric runner’s high.  Most of the time though, my training runs are just okay.  I don’t love running.  I love racing.  I live for race day.  I know race day is going to be awful if I don’t get my training runs though so I make sure they happen.

The Long Run: Mind over Matter
Even better than a race day is a long race day.  I’d call the 10 miler my jam.  It’s the perfect distance for me right now.  It’s challenging, it’s long enough to feel like a major accomplishment without the pain and next day soreness of the half marathon.  I’m easing into those feelings about my half marathon but those extra 3 miles make a world of difference.

IMG_0284Total honesty – anything over 5 miles still feels like a long run to me.  I dread it, I get psyched up for it and eventually push through it but I rarely look forward to the long training run.  I’ve learned through trial and error that running is as much about the mind as it is about the muscles.  When I get that feeling of I’m too tired, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this anymore, I give myself a quick check up.  Legs: Are your legs sore/hurting/injured?  Heart: Are you gasping for breath/heart rate too high? If the answer yes I will slow down or take a walk break.  But usually the answer is no for both at which point I know it has to be in my head.  I need to bring out my mental tool box and fix what’s broken.

For me at least the very worst thing I can do is think about how much is left.  How big of a bummer is it when you’re tired and bored and just don’t want to continue and all you can think of is I have 4 miles left, that’s 40 minutes if I’m lucky, which is almost an hour, I’d really rather be napping for almost an hour, so how much is left now? 3.8 miles, ugh this is going to last forever!  I found myself in that exact predicament 3 miles into my 6 mile easy pace run last night.  I really had to dig deep to keep focused.  Here are some tricks that I use that have worked for me.

  1. Try to think of anything else other than the run itself.  I think about things I want to get done for the week, things that have happened at work, what I might snack on when I’m done running etc.  Usually that will keep me occupied for a little while but if not I proceed to #2.
  2. Look at things going on around me.  Try counting trees or look for interesting people to watch.  Try to remember everything as if there’s going to be a test when I’m done.  If I’m on the treadmill try different music or watching a movie.  When this isn’t enough it’s time for #3.
  3. I visualize that I’m playing a game and I’m collecting “points” (fractions of miles).  For some reason getting something feels better to focus on instead of thinking how much is left.  Focusing on what I already “have” and trying to increase some virtual high score that doesn’t exist helps me avoid thinking about how much distance or time still remains. If you’ve played the Temple Run app, that is a great visual.  In the game you get more points for running longer.
  4. This one’s a little weird so bear with me.  I call it “God’s Thumb”.  If I need to speed up a little (which I probably need to do if I’m considering stopping) I picture a giant thumb applying gentle pressure to my lower back.  This simultaneously fixes my form and speeds me up just a little.  It also prevents me from speeding up by sprinting which will only lead to an energy crash later.  If I try this and still feel like I have nothing left, am super bored and not enjoying the run I move to #4.
  5. This is when I start pulling out the big guns.  This is my last big mind game and I only use it when I really need it.  I visualize my running friends are right next to me.  I imagine my trainers and coaches are yelling at me to push forward.  And these trainers and coaches are sometimes people I have never met!  Dolvett from Biggest Loser and Chalene from BeachBody are just a few.  If they motivate me, they join me on my little mental cheer team.  I also picture my family waiting for me at the end of the big 26.2 when it happens.

These have worked for me although I know I’ll need to add to my mental repertoire as my training runs get longer  Share in comments if you have some of your own!