Hot Chocolate > Hot Dash

IMG_0098Yesterday’s Hot Chocolate 15K race went so much better than the Hot Dash 10 Mile.  It’s amazing what putting in effort and training can do.  The weather was gorgeous yesterday.  My best running friend (I call her “the instigator” – she signs up for these races and I just copy her :)) and I left my house at about 6:30 am.  All went according to our race agenda (we even found the perfect parking spot!) and were at the start with plenty of time to spare.  Even got to meet some friends of hers who are also running fanatics.IMG_0118

I have stuck to my marathon training plan religiously these past 6 weeks putting all of my fitness focus on running.  I was pretty excited for this race.  I have never been in any type of qualifying coral but my previous race time in the Sioux Falls half marathon got me bumped up to Coral J which was the first coral at the 15K race.  It was super fun to start out with all of the fast people.  Most of them passed me quickly but a few of us finished together!

hot chocolateI didn’t feel like I was pushing or going out too fast at all.  Looking at my splits, I probably could have pulled back a little more in the beginning but felt really good at the time.  Usually I die a little every time someone passes me (which is often because I’m slowish) but yesterday my montra was “my race, my pace”.  I focused on going as fast as I comfortably could.  After the first few miles the rest just seemed to fly by.  Every water stop also had gatorade which was really nice.  Since it was chocolate themed, each stop also had candy.  I skipped the sugary stuff for the most part except the very last water stop.  At mile 7.5 Sugar by Maroon 5 thrummed into my ear buds just as I was approaching the break and I took it as a sign.  I indulged with a good 45 seconds of snacking and Adam Levine fantasizing before continuing on to the finish.IMG_0117

Finished strong with an average pace of 10:30 per mile.  A huge improvement over my average pace at Hot Dash of 12:04 per mile for about the same distance.  And no blisters or injuries this time!

To “sweeten the deal”, the post-race snacks were totally awesome.  Hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, bananas and real water bottles.

That’s all I have for now folks.  GOOD LUCK to those of you running Boston tomorrow!  Have a phenomenal race!  I can’t wait to read all about it. 🙂

 

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.

“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.

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. 🙂

 

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Smoothies

Yesterday I was sick as a dog.  Picture death warmed over.  I’ll spare you the details.  Let’s just say I was super sick.  Got some work done in the morning then spent the rest of the day trying to recuperate.  Yesterday was also Hubby’s birthday – I felt terrible that we couldn’t have the celebration he deserves.  (Sorry Honey, I will make it up to you!)

Despite still feeling nowhere near 100% today, after not working out at all yesterday I resolved to at least get myself back in gear today.  Got my gym bag ready, packed a healthy lunch and a bunch of Dayquil gel tabs.  As I’m at work on conference call #1, it starts sleeting.  Yuck.  As I’m on conference call #2 it starts snowing.  By the time I’m off conference call #2 it’s snowing… snowing hard.  Several projects and another conference call down and I realize it’s stopped snowing all together.  Yes!  Going to the gym on the lunch hour will be that much simpler.  I’ll get to the gym, get in that workout I should have yesterday, get a quick shower, post workout smoothie and back to work – easy peasy.  Popped another couple Dayquil, grabbed a few tissues and was out the door.

I would like to say I pranced to my car but it was more like a lumbering shuffle.  Turned on the car and started dusting off the snow only to discover a layer of ice.   A thick layer of ice (remember that sleet?).  So I started scraping, and scraping and scraping.  By the time I was done I was covered in sweat, dizzy and nauseous beyond belief.  At this point I felt like clearing the car was the workout.  But I wanted to get that workout darn it!  I didn’t come out to the parking lot just to dig out my car and go back inside!  I told myself I had to at least drive the short distance to the gym and scan my key tag to get my check-in for the day.  If I felt up to it by the time I got there, I’d do the workout.  If I was still feeling like crap I would reward my puny efforts with my smoothie anyway and go back to work.

So what happened?  I finished the work out.  I hit a PR on my bench press of 50 lbs!  (Let’s not get too excited folks, the 2.5 lb plates were about the size of my hand – and I have small hands – but they were plates none the less.)  After that I pretty much phoned in the rest of it because I wasn’t feeling great but a half assed workout is better than none at all.  A little exercise did rejuvenate me and that post workout protein smoothie tasted all the better because of it.

Got to scrape the car again before heading back to work.

After work I had to scrape the car again.  Oh joy.

Went to my 8 year old’s hockey game.  They lost but he skated hard and played well.

Then I got to scrape the car again.  Yippee.

Home now, and the car is in the garage.  No more scraping for me today.  I think I may have earned myself another smoothie. 🙂

Simply Shredded (weeks 1-4) Results & Review

Here we are at the end of week 4 of Simply Shredded.  I won’t write out the entire workout but I am including a link to my training plan and updated training plan.  As I got started with the Simply Shredded program I needed to change some things to continue to incorporate my running.  So how did it really go?  Did I stick to my exact diet the entire time?  Did I really drink a gallon of water every single day?  Did I run as much as I wanted to?  The answer to all of those is no.  No, no, no.  Nope, not at all.  I’m a human being after all, not a machine (contrary to popular belief, and not in a good way) but I did keep track of everything; good and bad.  As it turns out, I’m a documenting freak so it was fun for me to keep track of all of these nuances.  I also put a heck of a lot of work in this month.  Hope you find it helpful.  Otherwise, it’s just more documenting for me to keep to review later – win/win. 🙂

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Starting picture on the left through to the end of week 4 pic on the right.

The Goal: Reduce fat/lose weight

Results – Pics & Stats
Yay!  All this hard work seems to be paying off.  I lost 4.5 inches and 4.5 lbs these last 4 weeks.  Not too bad!  I’ve included a chart with measurements taken after each week along with some pics.  I did my measurements, weigh ins, and progress pics every Saturday morning before breakfast to stay consistent.  (The “starting” picture is a bit dark as I had to take them earlier than usual that day.)
measurements

Workouts
I followed the Simply Shredded program for my strength training.  I worked on increasing my weekly running mileage and made sure to include some HIIT to get my heart rate really going at least a couple times a week.  I didn’t always do the ab exercises that Simply Shredded recommends on Fridays.  No real excuse for that other than I work abs pretty regularly with my trainer and just didn’t feel like doing abs those days. 🙂  The calf exercises were also hit and miss.  I go to multiple locations of my gym chain and some of the locations don’t have those machines.  I also figured my running worked my calves pretty well.  I would say I did those about 75% of the time or so.  I did increase an inch in both calves which I was pretty excited about.
workouts

Nutrition
Followed IIFYM as best as I could (see other post on nutrition).  I wanted to cut (lose weight/fat as apposed to gaining or maintaining) but decided to first start with maintenance calories since I wasn’t sure how my running would affect my goals.  I calculated maintenance macros for the 4 days of lifting the Simply Shredded program calls for.  I also added in additional calories in the form of carbs for my runs.  For my runs I used this formula: (75 calories x miles ran)/4 = carbs in grams extra that day.  I only ate these additional calories if I felt I needed them.  I usually did use some or most of them on those run days but usually not all.  I did not add any additional calories for my HIIT sessions.  My hope was that this would contribute to my weight loss instead of maintenance.  It seemed to work as I was seeing results each week.  Had I not seen results I would have reduced my intake.

macros

A bit about this chart: The red bolded days are those I did not stick to macros exactly with everything weighed out.  On those days I got as close as I could, focusing on eating lean protein throughout the day but an event or special scenario came up that I wanted

Typical day of eating.

Typical day of eating.

to enjoy without being the kill-joy with the food scale.  I know I was close those days but not spot-on.  I didn’t do any full “cheat” days, just a specific meal on those days highlighted in red.  I thought it was important to note those though.  If wasn’t seeing progress I could look back and evaluate those more closely.

Hydration
I made sure to drink about a gallon of water a day.  There were probably some days I missed by a few ounces but am pretty happy to be close most of the time.

Overall Summary
I’ve really enjoyed the workouts in Simply Shredded.  I love that they are so short I can fit them in over my lunch hour without issue.  I can tell I’m getting stronger with each session.  My struggle now has been coping without rest days.  I have taken rest days here and there by doubling up on workouts the day before or after.  It’s been okay but definitely more effort than my body is used to.  I think it is getting easier though and I am pretty excited about my results!  🙂

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.

Outside!

Capture1Wow.  Wow wow wow.  37 degrees, in Minnesota, in JANUARY!  The weather today was the very best present I could have asked for.  And it truly felt like a gift to be given a spring day in the middle of winter.  I went for a fabulous run with a good friend and let me tell you, the experience was just phenomenal.  I invested in a nice treadmill with some really cool features a couple months ago and it’s been great and super convenient.  But let me tell you, nothing compares to that fresh air, wind in your hair, sunshine on your back feeling of a good run in nice weather.  My pace wasn’t great.  I didn’t achieve any personal records.  I didn’t run any huge distance.  But I ran.  I ran outside and I had fun.  It was a great day.

Back in Business

Got my groove back this week!  I’ll admit, last week was rough.  Not every week will be spot on or perfect.  What’s important is recovering and jumping back in to keep the momentum going.  That grad paper I put a million hours into last week?  Got it back today – 100%!  Making progress on the new projects at the office.  Husband was out of town the past few days so it was just the kids and I.  No hockey practice the past couple nights (weird) but we’ve been spending time on their homework and piano practicing.  My grad work for this week is about halfway done which is a comfortable place for me on a Thursday.  I was able to get an earlier start to it this week which has made all the difference.

Capture2This week I powered through 3 out of my 4 lifting sessions, 1 HIIT session with my trainer and then 5 miles on the treadmill yesterday.  Another lifting session with HIIT to follow tomorrow and will round out the week with another 5 mile run on Saturday.  Weather is forecasted to be a balmy 32 degrees on Saturday so I may be able to run outside comfortably.  Comfortable running weather in Minnesota in January is such a treat so I plan to make the most of it. 🙂

Rest is Overrated

Running twenty miles a week in November was tough.  Twenty miles a week over the holidays was almost impossible.  Turns out I actually do need serious and legitimate study time for this class I just started.  So as I was doing my weight lifting today I was trying to figure out how I can get back up to my 15-20 miles per week.  I looked back and reconsidered why I had the goal of this mileage in the first place.  The whole point was to build running back into my life on a regular basis in preparation for actual marathon training which will require 40+ miles per week.  Goals need to be realistic and I need to face the music that right now 20 miles a week, with this particular grad course also on my plate, isn’t actually realistic anymore.

However, 15 miles may still be doable.  My lifting program is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  That leaves 3 days.  15 divided by 3 is… yup, 5 miles.  So it works out perfectly if I run 5 miles on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday each.  I’ll only have to get up early or sacrifice one evening a week (more likely) to exercise on Wednesdays.  The rest of my evenings can be devoted to this finance course for the remaining 7 weeks.  Weekends are easier to flex in a run around kids hockey practices and games.  (If it’s nice out, a run from my house to the rink is actually about 5 miles on the nose.)  Only minor down side to this plan is that leaves 0 rest/recovery days.  That said, I’ve had plenty of weeks without an official “rest” day before and have lived to tell the tale.  I think this will be fine.  This will also put me at 10 this week, and then back up to 15 starting next week which is a nice ramp up.  Once I’ve got this down I can look at increasing back up to 20 miles per week and beyond.  And if this doesn’t work… I can always re-evaluate again. 🙂  The important thing is to not throw in the towel and give up.