CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 09.23.18 (CIM Week 4)

Happy Monday!

Lots of easy miles, one good quality workout and a long run this week!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 09.17.18 – 09.23.18:

Monday – Easy: 8 miles (9:24 pace)

Tuesday AM – Quality: 11 miles (7:32 pace) + PM – Pilates

My workout Tuesday was a one mile warm up, 8 X 800 at threshold (goal pace was 6:20 – 6:30) with 800 recoveries (goal pace was 8:00 – 8:10) and one mile cool down. My coach told me not to go too fast on the first few repeats. He said even just a few seconds too fast in the beginning and my workout would be shortened quickly. I took his advice to heart and made this workout a test of patience.

I thought about the first and second half of my race as I ran and how I really want to have the patience to hold back in the first half so that I feel good during the second half. Patience is NOT one of my virtues and I have never been able to pull off a negative in the marathon distance. The goal at CIM will definitely be to negative split (with the second half faster than the first half).

I enjoyed this workout a lot. It felt very easy in the beginning. I had to make a conscious effort to not go to fast and to keep it controlled even though I felt good. I told myself over and over again to save it for the second half and that’s exactly what I did! By the end of the workout, I was definitely working hard. Even with the 800 “recoveries,” I averaged just under 7:00 pace for the 8 miles of work! Actual splits for each 800 were: 3:20, 3:51, 3:18, 3:47, 3:18, 3:49, 3:14, 3:53, 3:14, 3:50, 3:10, 4:00, 3:11, 3:50, 3:08, 3:52.

Wednesday – Easy: 8 miles (9:16 pace)

Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (9:29 pace)

Friday – Easy: 6 miles (9:35 pace) 

Saturday – Long Run: 15.5 miles (7:45 pace) 

Saturday was a two hour long run. Daniel and I were at the beach for the weekend and the change of scenery was really nice for the long run! We ran up and down 30A from Seagrove Beach to Seaside to Grayton Beach and back. I practiced my marathon fueling during this run as well. I had UCAN and coffee pre-run and then took a gel around mile 6 of the run. I actually forgot to take the fuel with me (because I never practice this and don’t ever even think about it … no bueno), so we had to stop at a bike shop in Pensacola on the way to find some UCAN.

This was supposed to be just an easy long run. There weren’t any specific pace miles or anything like that, but since I had only done one quality workout during the week, I decided to at least keep it on the low end of my “easy” range. Side note: running at the low end of my easy range for two hours was NOT easy! All in all, I am really pleased with how this run went. Our splits were very consistent. My stomach seemed to handle the gel just fine. I didn’t run out of steam at the end of the run. It was everything you can hope for as far as execution of a long run early in the training cycle.

I even got an “ice bath” in the Gulf post-run. The water wasn’t really all that cold, but it still felt good and I like to think that it did something beneficial for my legs.

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Sunday – Easy: 5 miles (10:11 pace)

Sunday morning I ran five very easy miles on the beach at sunrise. It was amazing. Beach running is so peaceful. I absolutely love being out there by the water. Oh, and I saw a golden retriever, so … good day!

Total – 61.5 miles

Have a great week!

CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 09.16.18 (CIM Week 3)

Happy Sunday!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 09.10.18 – 09.16.18:

Monday – Cross Train

I started the week off with a rest day from running. Cross training was an option if I wanted it, so I decided to go with it. I wanted to move my legs around a little bit without taxing them too much, so I did an easy hour of spinning on the elliptical. I can probably count the number of times that I’ve been to the gym for cross training over the last 5 years on two hands. It’s just not something that I typically do, but I actually enjoyed my time on the elliptical Monday morning. Sometimes my legs feel worse if I just do nothing, so a gentle cross training day seemed like a good option!

Tuesday – Quality: 11 miles (7:22 pace) 

Tuesday morning was my first big marathon pace workout. The workout was a one mile warm up, eight miles at marathon pace and a one mile cool down. I was a tad intimidated by this workout, mostly because eight miles seemed like a really long workout. I’m still trying not to think about the fact that I will ultimately have to do 18 more miles at that pace! Ha.

I ended up doing a two mile warm up, just because I can’t really get myself into “go mode” very quickly in the mornings. Daniel joined me for the majority of this workout, which was certainly nice and very helpful. In fact, I think he felt better than I did. He was having no problem carrying on a conversation, but I was in survival mode the zone and could only muster up a couple of sentences and a few one to two word responses to his.

My goal pace was 6:45 to 6:50. My splits were 6:57, 6:54, 6:42, 6:47, 6:55, 6:39, 6:47 and 6:48, which ended up being a 6:48 average for the eight miles. I was working to hit the paces, but for my first big marathon pace workout, I’ll definitely take it!

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First big marathon pace workout on the #road2cim is in the books! I did a 2 mile WU, 8 miles at marathon pace and a 1 mile CD. Goal pace for the MP miles was 6:45 – 6:50 and I averaged 6:48! @dgardner56 ran 5 of the MP miles with me and then I finished it up by myself (with @myrunangel). It was 73° with a DP of 73° as well, so a bit cooler, but still super humid. I’m proud of this effort! Of course, I always need some good puppy cuddles after a tough run! 🐶 Also, in one of these pics I am texting @jpcowart who did the same workout this morning and CRUSHED it. Like averaged 20 to 30 seconds faster than we thought! 🙌🏽 #marathontraining #mckirdytrained #road2cim #runitfast #likeagirl #runlove #puppylove

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Wednesday AM – Easy: 8.4 miles (9:04 pace) + PM – Pilates

Wednesday morning I had a seventy minute easy run. My left foot was bothering me a good bit Wednesday morning. It was sore on the ball of the foot and also along the outside edge. I think that the shoes I ran in Tuesday might have contributed to the “issue,” which has thankfully turned out to be a non-issue at this point. I have a pair of Altra Torins that I have been running in periodically for about a year. They are well past their expiration date as far as mileage goes and I am officially done with those shoes.

I was a little bit nervous that I might not be able to do Pilates Wednesday evening if my foot had still been hurting, but I iced my foot pretty much all day at work Wednesday and that seemed to take care of whatever was going on. I told the instructor that my foot had been bothering me some and we modified a few of the exercises slightly just to avoid further aggravation.

Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (9:12 pace)

I was going to play it by ear Thursday morning, depending on how my foot felt. I had another seventy minute easy run scheduled, but wasn’t sure if that would happen or not. The foot was a tad tender for about a mile, but then it felt totally fine. I iced it pretty much all day at work again Thursday just for good measure.

Friday – Easy: 7.2 miles (9:21 pace) 

I had a one hour easy run on Friday. I didn’t notice my foot during the run at all, which was a huge relief!

Saturday – Long Run: 14.1 miles (8:28 pace) 

Saturday’s long run was just an easy, time on feet run. There was no hard effort involved. It was all about just getting out there and getting used to running for a bit longer than usual. I was a bit more tired than I expected to be, but otherwise this was a good run! I honestly feel like I am not doing enough to train for CIM at this point, but I feel fairly certain that things will ramp up soon. I’m used to having two to three workouts per week, but I’ve just had one workout the last few weeks. Technically a long run counts as a workout, even if there are no hard miles in it, but still … it doesn’t feel like a workout.

Sunday – Easy: 7.15 miles (8:30 pace)

Sunday morning was a one hour easy run with friends and was a nice way to end the week.

Total – 56 miles

I don’t know how I managed to end up with an even amount of mileage because I have completely given up on trying to end my runs at an even distance. Somehow it worked out this week though. I like it.

Have a great week!

CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 09.09.18 (CIM Week 2)

Happy Monday!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 09.03.18 – 09.09.18:

Monday – Easy: 6.65 miles (9:07 pace)

I started the week with an sixty minute easy run with friends (thanks to Labor Day)! It was so nice to have that long weekend. I definitely wish we had more of those!  We met at Coffee Loft in Fairhope and did just under seven miles. We did the post-run coffee conversation thing and hung out for quite a while afterwards. It had been entirely too long since I have had coffee from Coffee Loft. They have the best coffee around, hands down.

Tuesday – Quality: 8.2 miles (8:34 pace) 

Tuesday morning I had a fun little track workout. It was a two mile warm up, 5 X 1000 w/ a one minute recovery, 5 X 200 w/ a 200 recovery and a two mile cool down. Thankfully, the 1000s were done at threshold pace instead of at V02 max pace. Otherwise, I would not have referred to this as a fun little workout. It would’ve been more like a big deadly workout. Ha!

I had some good company at the track, which always makes for a much more pleasant workout experience. Jessica did the workout with me and Daniel ran the 1000s with us. Mollie was also out there doing her thing as well! My goal pace for the 1000s was 6:25. Actual paces were 6:25, 6:16, 6:12, 6:15 and 6:07. I am so used to running 1000s all out that it was a bit of a challenge to hold back. I got a little carried away on those, but I felt relaxed and I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself too hard.

My goal pace of the 200s was 5:30. Actual paces were 4:57, 5:18, 5:00, 4:54 and 5:04! I LOVE me some 200s! I even switched out my shoes mid-workout for the 200s because I wanted to test out my new Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. I’ve never taken two pairs of shoes to the track with me before, but I think this is actually pretty common for folks to warm up and cool down in their trainers and workout in their “speed” shoes. I mainly wanted to test the shoes because I was planning to wear them for my race this weekend and I figured that it might be a good idea to at least run in them a little bit before then. They made me feel very fast!

Wednesday – Easy: 7.85 miles (8:56 pace) 

Tropical Storm Gordon graced us with its presence late Tuesday evening and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. I had a seventy minute run scheduled. Since the weather was iffy out, I conceded to the treadmill. Not that I mind the treadmill at all. I’m actually very thankful that I have it. I listened to Lindsey’s interview with Todd Williams, a two-time Olympian and founder of Run Safer. I enjoyed this episode a lot and I’m glad that so many people are having important conversations about safety.

Thursday – Easy: 7.5 miles (8:41 pace)

Thursday morning I had a one hour easy run. Daniel and I ended up running just over an hour (sixty-five minutes). We know most of the routes by distance and not by time, so it’s been a bit of an adjustment to try to figure out how to shorten the route to not go too far over the allotted time. The temperature and dew point were both 75 Thursday, which made for an exceptionally humid, muggy run. I could actually see the air it was so thick. I don’t like it when I can see the air.

Friday – Easy: 5.25 miles (9:19 pace) + PM – Pilates

Friday morning I had a forty-five minute easy run. Daniel, Bowie and I got in just over five miles. Nothing super noteworthy to report there. I wanted to make sure that we kept it very easy, which we did, since I had a race the next day! I went to Pilates Friday evening. I typically go on Wednesday, but school was cancelled and everyone’s schedules were a bit off this week with the storm. I was a bit concerned that doing Pilates the evening before my race might not be the best idea, but it seemed to workout just fine.

Saturday – RACE: 11.7 miles (7:50 pace) 

All the details you could ever possibly care to read about have been successfully documented in my race recap post. I did just over 3 miles as a warm up, raced a 5K, did just over 4 miles as a cool down and did 1 mile with Brooks when I got home. It was a smorgasbord of mileage that added up to what I might even consider a “long run.”

Sunday – Easy: 7.75 miles (9:00 pace)

Sunday morning I had a sixty minute recovery run. I ended up with seventy minutes, but the pace was on point. Our regular route at Warehouse takes us just over seven and a half miles, so I just went with that. My legs felt surprisingly good! Hooray! Although, my coach has warned me that I might be changing my tune by tomorrow. Delayed onset muscle soreness is a real thing. I’ve got an off day from running planned tomorrow just in case those DOMS try to get me. 

Totals – 55.7 miles 

That’s it for now! Have a great week!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Hurricane Run 5K (PR!)

You guys. I am over the moon! I hadn’t run a 5K PR in over 3 years … hadn’t (past tense) … until TODAY!

I plan to give you all of the painstaking details of this race. From what I did the days and the week leading up to the race, to what I did before the race, to what I wore, etc. It’s all getting documented 1) because I just want to remember it and 2) because I want to be able to replicate it in future races!

Let’s start with the basic details:

Who? Me! Ha.
What? Hurricane Run 5K.
Where? Dauphin Island, AL.
When? September 8, 2018 at 8:10 a.m.
How? With lots of hard work (years of hard work, actually).

I added this race to my calendar a month or so ago. At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I would run it or not. I figured that it might be a good opportunity to get in a shorter race before the marathon training cycle ramps up too much. My coach was totally on board and even mentioned that I might be able to PR at this race. Hmm … very interesting indeed. Seeing as how I hadn’t run a 5K PR in over 3 years, I wasn’t so sure. I mean, I was totally willing to test this theory, but I wasn’t sold on the outcome.

Let’s back up a bit and talk about what I did the week leading up to the race. I’ll be posting my regular training log either tomorrow or Monday, but for now, here’s a super condensed version:

Monday – 60 minutes easy
Tuesday – 2 mile WU, 5 X 1000 @ threshold pace, 5 X 200 @ repetition pace, 2 mile CD
Wednesday – 70 minutes easy
Thursday – 60 minutes easy
Friday – 45 minutes easy + 45 minutes of Pilates

Two weeks prior (training log is here) was also fairly low-key with just one workout. Basically, I was well rested going into this race. While that isn’t always feasible when you are in the middle of a longer training cycle, it certainly helps you to have a better chance to run your best on race day. I’ve never been one to over-run my workouts or my easy runs. I like to save the magic for race day! You know?

I made sure to focus on getting lots of good nutrients and plenty of fluids in on Friday. I made a smoothie after my run Friday morning with UCAN protein powder and frozen berries. It was delicious! I drank lots of water with Nuun (really I do this every day). I worked all day Friday, so I was not on my feet much at all (thank you desk job). I knew that I wanted some good carbs for dinner Friday evening, so we went to Moe’s (really we do this a lot too). I got the Ear Muffs bowl, which had lots of rice, beans, vegetables, guacamole and tofu. Oh! I also had a pint of Halo Top with a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. I guess I’ll have to eat that before every race now! Darn.

Saturday morning I woke up just after 5 a.m. We had about an hour drive to get to the race and we left the house just before 6 a.m. Daniel pulled the whole bit where he bribes me to get ready on time by telling me that we can stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way (but only if we leave the house by (insert whatever time here)). Apparently that is all the incentive I need to get ready in a timely fashion! Coffee in tow, we made our way across the bay and towards Dauphin Island.

We got to the race around 7 a.m., which gave me plenty of time to get registered, go to the bathroom, etc. I planned to do a 20 minute warm up, but we ended up running the entire course beforehand. When we got there, I noticed that the finish was set up in a different spot than when I had run this race before. At that point, I was little bit nervous that the course was going to be different and I wasn’t going to know where to go. I’d rather be certain where I am going and if there are any tricky turns, etc. before the race so that I am not relying on a foggy, mid-race brain to make a decision about where to go. I’m glad that we did this too, because I was pretty much all alone out there!

After the warm up, I switched into my new Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% shoes. I’ve had lots of questions about these shoes. In short, I love them! This was only the second time I have worn them though. I ran the 5 X 200 portion of my workout Tuesday in them and that was it until this race. According to Nike, the shoes “feature Nike ZoomX foam (which is ultra-lightweight, soft and capable of providing up to 85-percent energy return) and an embedded full-length curved carbon fiber plate (that increases stiffness to provide a sensation of propulsion). Together, this delivers an average of 4-percent improvement in running economy when compared to Nike’s previous fastest racing flat.” I’ve not run in any of Nike’s previous racing flats in order to compare, but you can definitely feel the propulsion when you run in these shoes. It basically feels like you have springs under your feet.

After the warm up, I also made the executive decision to ditch my singlet and run without a shirt. This is actually the first time I have ever run outside without a shirt on. I know this may seem like a silly and insignificant detail, but it was honestly a big step for me. My hesitation about running without a shirt has been two-fold and has resulted from things in my past (things like being a victim of sexual assault and having an eating disorder (and just having really poor body image in general)). I made a decision to put those things aside. My body isn’t perfect and no one cares. It gets me where I need to go (sometimes quickly :)) and it has treated me well over the years even though I haven’t always treated it well. The clothes that I wear (or don’t wear) on my body do not make me safe (or less safe) when I run. It’s time to move passed all that (both in my life in general and in this blog post specifically).

The bottom line is that it was over eighty degrees. The dew point was seventy-five. I was miserable in my very lightweight singlet. I decided that I didn’t want anything weighing me down (literally or figuratively). It was time to run free! As far as other clothing items go, I wore my Lululemon Train Times 6″ shorts, a plain Nike sports bra (I think it’s the Pro Classic Swoosh compression sports bra) and my Injinji toe socks. These are my favorite shorts, bra and socks by far. The shorts are perfect if you prefer compression shorts and you don’t want them to move when you move. They also have a pocket in the back, which is a plus.

With about ten minutes until the start, I did a few strides. People have also asked about this and basically you just want to run a few short, quick intervals. I didn’t time them or even count them actually, but they are about 20 to 30 seconds each and you want to run at close to your 5K pace. The goal is to stir up the aerobic enzymes and prime the engine before heading to the start line. It helps your body to know that it’s about to get REAL.

I had an excellent pacing strategy going into the race (thanks to my wonderful coach)! I wrote the paces on my arm Friday afternoon. I find that the process of thinking about the paces and having it “tattooed” (albeit temporarily) on your body, makes me more accountable and more invested in the plan. Not sure if that makes sense, but it seems to work for me. The plan looked like this:

Mile 1: 6:00 – 6:05
Mile 2: 5:55 – 6:00
Mile 3: 5:50 – 5:55

If I ran at the upper end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 18:40 and if I ran at the lower end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 18:25. My previous PR was 18:23, so I really wanted to be at the lower end of the range. I had a good chat with my coach before the race and he really tried to reiterate the importance of not running the first mile too fast. As a reference, my splits for my last 5K were 5:57, 5:58 and 6:24 (insert facepalm). My “strategy,” if you can even call it that, at the last race was to start out close to 5:55 and see how long I could hold on. As it turned out, I held on for exactly two miles. That race was an excellent example of how not to race a 5K and I definitely took away some good lessons from that performance. I was all about starting conservatively and running smart this time around!

So where does that leave us? Oh, the race!

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I basically led the race from the gun. The guy in the red shirt above was in front of me for about half a mile or so, but once I passed him, it was just me out there doing my thing. I guess in the back of my mind I knew that there was a possibility that this might happen, which is why I wanted to be sure that I knew the course. I figured that I might have someone to run with for a little bit longer than I did though. I had no one to blame if my pacing was terrible. I was setting my own pace!

I told myself to be smart and I tried to run at an effort that was hard, but not all out hard. I didn’t stalk my Garmin. I didn’t want to psych myself out by seeing a pace that was too fast or too slow than what I was expecting. The first mile was straight as an arrow. No turns. No nothing. I approached the clock and saw 5:51. A tad fast, but … whatever. It is what it is. I told myself that as long as I didn’t slow down, it was fine! I still had a chance to run a smart race. I just had to run a smart, fast race!

The second mile looped around a neighborhood. There were several gentle turns and there was also lots of shade! I was so happy to have a bit of a reprieve from the direct sunlight. I suddenly realized that I probably had less than 10 minutes to go. For whatever reason, I have never thought about this during a 5K before, but that thought really perked me up. I still felt good (thankfully) and the thought of only having to hold on for 10 minutes absolutely seemed doable. Nothing super noteworthy happened during this mile. I just put my head down and did the work. When I got to the clock at mile two, it read 11:38. This meant that I had run a 5:47 second mile. I didn’t look at my watch to check the split and I honestly didn’t even try to figure out what it was. I know it seems like a simple calculation, but doing math while running is far from simple. I knew that I hadn’t slowed down and that was really all I cared about at that point.

The third mile had a couple of turns and then went straight back along the same road that we had run out on during mile one. The course was pancake flat. Once you make the turn for home, you’ve got just over three-quarters of a mile to go. I was looking forward to that final turn. It signified that I was at least headed home and that I had less than five minutes to go! At this point, you were back out in the direct sunlight, but that didn’t really matter. Even though I was starting to feel fatigued, I knew that I wasn’t going to crash. I made my mind up that I was going to finish strong! Daniel was waiting for me at mile three.

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When my watched beeped, I looked down and saw 5:53! Holy cow. I was doing it. I was actually doing it. All that was left was the final tenth of a mile and one final left-hand turn into the finishing chute. It wasn’t until I made the turn and saw the clock that I knew I was going to PR. I crossed the line in 18:12! I was ecstatic! And exhausted. If that isn’t one of the best feelings in the world, then I don’t know what is. All of those workouts, all of the hard work that goes into this sport that we all love so much, it’s all worth it.

Of course it is easy to realize and appreciate this after things all come together and you have a great race. This one was a long time coming for me though. I’ve been at a pretty consistent level of fitness for about three years now and I hadn’t had any major breakthroughs. I’m going to go ahead and call this one a breakthrough. Progress isn’t linear, but consistency pays off. Keep showing up and putting in the work. The results will come and even if they don’t, it’s still worth it.

Daniel and I ran the course again after the race as a cool down. I was still reeling with excitement. I kept saying, “I can’t believe that just happened.” I’m actually still riding the post-PR high right now even and I still can’t believe what happened. I’m even more excited about CIM now and I can’t wait to get back out there and work even harder (after a proper recovery, of course).

Whew. Well, I have successfully rambled on for far too long. Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon!

CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 09.02.18 (CIM Week 1)

Happy Labor Day!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 08.27.18 – 09.02.18:

Monday – Easy: 7 miles (8:34 pace)

Monday morning I had a sixty minute easy run on tap. I ran two miles on the treadmill while Daniel biked on the trainer and then we did five miles outside together. A lot of my runs are going to be based on time this training cycle. I’ve never trained by time before, so it’s a nice change of pace. My coach basically explained to me that our body doesn’t understand miles specifically, but it understands time and intensity of effort.

Tuesday – Easy: 8.2 miles (8:34 pace) 

Tuesday morning I had a seventy minute easy run. I accidentally typed seventy miles at first … this time thing will take some getting used to. Haha! Within the first mile of this run, an owl swooped down and almost picked me up by the ponytail! It was nuts. We saw his shadow as he came up behind us. I even commented to Daniel at how close the shadow appeared. Turns out it appeared to be close because the owl was about three or four feet from my head! Yikes. Daniel screamed at it and started flailing his arms, which worked momentarily. He came back down on us one more time though and Daniel successfully defended me again. Most of our easy runs are fairly uneventful, but this one was a bit of a hoot (lame).

Wednesday AM – Quality: 8 miles (8:13 pace) + PM – Pilates

My main workout this week was a two mile warm up, 10 X 2:00 hard with 1:00 recovery and a two mile cool down. The two minute intervals were supposed to be done at between 5K and 8K pace. On the one hand, I knew this workout would be a little bit tough since it was twenty minutes of effort at a fast pace. On the other hand, I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly as tough as it actually was. Goodness.

My coach wanted me to do this workout on the roads so that there would be some rolling hills. I was also instructed to adjust the effort based on humidity, which I definitely had to do seeing as how it was 77 degrees with a dew point of 77 at 4:45 a.m. It took me a while to settle into a good rhythm during the first few repeats (even after a little big longer warm up), but once I got going, I was fairly consistent and about where I expected to be pace wise. I got stopped by traffic with about 10 seconds to go on my next to last repeat, which was a bit of a bummer. It’s always best to refrain from running out into oncoming traffic though!

I wasn’t looking at my pace at all during this workout. I tried to focus on keeping the effort at the appropriate level. Once I got home and checked out the data, I was pleasantly surprised at the paces that I ran!

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I went to Pilates Wednesday evening. I wouldn’t recommend doing Pilates the day before a hard workout, but going the evening of the workout seems to work pretty well. I got some good stretching and strengthening in and slept like a rock.

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Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (8:51 pace)

Thursday morning I had another seventy minute easy run. My legs were definitely feeling the effects of Wednesday’s workout + Pilates combo, so I took it extra easy. There wasn’t anything eventful to report about this run.

Friday – Easy: 5 miles (8:56 pace)

Friday morning I had a forty-five minute easy run. Daniel and I got in five easy, uneventful miles. My legs were still pretty tired, but nothing was sore or anything like that … just a little fatigued.

Saturday – Easy: 14 miles (8:17 pace) 

My long run for the week was supposed to be an hour and forty-five minutes. I actually ended up going a bit over that (not by much). The weather was a bit iffy before the run, but being the stubborn runners that we are, several of us decided to give it a go anyway. We made it through one mile without any rain, but during the second mile the skies opened up and we got absolutely drenched! At that point we were already out there and committed to the run, so it didn’t really matter. I don’t know about you, but I am totally okay with running in the rain if it starts while I am already out there, but I don’t really care for starting a run in the rain.

We altered our route a bit to stay closer to the car than normal, just in case the rain turned into something more substantial. Thankfully it didn’t. The rain even cleared out for the majority of the run. It started raining on us again during the last few miles, but at that point it was actually welcomed and felt quite nice.

Running in the rain can be quite therapeutic. The only downside is that your shirt will potentially turn into a dress.

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Sunday – Easy: 6.5 miles (8:51 pace)

Sunday morning I had a sixty minute easy run and I was able to run with some of my best running friends! Love these girls so much!

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Totals – 57 miles 

That’s it for now! Have a great week!

CIM, Marathon, Nutrition

All the Small Things

Bonus points if you read the title of this post in your head to the tune of blink-182.

As I am about to embark on this marathon training journey, I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things outside of the actual running that I can do to make this training cycle, and hopefully the race that ensues, the best one ever! For me, the actual running isn’t really a problem. Don’t get me wrong, the actual running is VERY IMPORTANT. The principle of specificity tells us that if we want to get better at running, we need to … run. At this point in my running “career,” I know that I can and will do the work. I also know that there are plenty of other small things, that potentially become big things when all combined, that I have neglected a bit in the past.

I’ve been training and racing pretty consistently now for close to 10 years. Consistency has always been something that I’ve had going for me in various aspects of my life and it’s been especially beneficial with running. I’ve run over 150 races since 2010. I’ve improved tremendously since I first started running. My dad jokingly told me one day that he was surprised that I stuck it out with running since I wasn’t really very good at it when I first started. Ha! I’ve taken my 5K time from 24 –> 18, my 10K time from 50 –> 38, my half marathon time from 1:48 –> 1:24 and my marathon time from 3:24 –> 3:02.

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I’ve worked very hard to get where I am now and I am very proud of where I am. I feel like I have almost reached my full potential as a runner. While I definitely think that I have some more PRs left in me, I am not going to be making drastic improvements. I am fighting for every second of improvement at this point.

This got me thinking, what else can I do that I haven’t really done (or maybe haven’t been consistent with) in the past? I came up with a pretty good list of things!

Strength Stuff 

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I have pretty much completely neglected strength training during past training cycles. I actually have been somewhat consistent over the years with keeping core exercises as part of my regular routine, but that’s been the extent of it. I was looking for something that I could easily add to my routine that would complement my running. Enter Pilates.

I have been going to Pilates for about four weeks now and I am really enjoying it. I am only going once a week for 45 minutes, but that time will definitely add up over the course of the entire training cycle. Pilates has reminded me that core strength is not just about abdominal strength. The term “core” encompasses your entire torso, including your hips, abs, back, shoulders and neck. Your core acts as a stabilizer and a center for you to transfer forces through when you are running or doing other activities. A stronger core enables you to better produce force during activities such as running and helps you to better control and maximize the forces you are producing.

Pilates also increases your joint mobility and improves flexibility. Flexibility is definitely a weakness of mine. Specifically, I have zero hamstring flexibility. If Pilates can fix that, it’ll be a miracle! I am also doing regular stretching and foam rolling. I plan to keep that up throughout the training cycle as well.

Fueling Stuff

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Another thing that I have pretty much completely neglected in past training cycles is practicing my race day nutrition during my long runs. I know. It’s terrible and it’s basically a rookie mistake. For my first marathon (pictured above :)), I really didn’t know any better, but now … I really have no excuse. I *know* all the things that I need to be doing, but I just haven’t actually done them in the past like I should. That is going to change this training cycle!

A general rule of thumb is that you need 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates for each hour if you are running longer than 75 minutes. You should be fueling as early as 30 to 45 minutes into the run. Another general rule of thumb is that you need to drink approximately 5-7 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes (enough to replace fluid loss). I am terrible about carrying water with me when I run (read that to mean that I NEVER carry water with me). I drink plenty of water throughout the day, but I don’t drink it on the run. I’ve got to start practicing with both gels and water during my long runs.

I’ve had good luck with Generation UCAN for a couple of my past marathons (specifically, for my two best marathons). For both of those races I took one packet of UCAN (using a flavor with protein) before the race and then I had half a packet of UCAN (using a flavor without protein) at two points during the race (at miles 13-14 and 19-20). I got away from using the UCAN before my long runs during my last marathon training cycle after I had one run where I felt like it didn’t sit well in my stomach. Of course, that could’ve been due to a myriad of other factors and I think I will probably need to give the UCAN another try (especially since I still have a lot of it at the house).

I might experiment with taking UCAN before the run and then taking gels during the run. I used Huma gels during my last marathon and there are some flavors of those that I really like. I’ve never had an issue with them upsetting my stomach either, which is definitely a plus. Using gels during the race would definitely be a bit more convenient as well.

Another important piece of the fueling equation that I would be remiss not to mention is that it is of the utmost importance to make sure that you are eating a balanced diet filled with protein, carbohydrates and fats throughout your training. You can’t run well if you don’t fuel your body properly! I would say that I do pretty well on this front, but there is always room for improvement. My biggest concern is not getting overly obsessed with what I am eating. There’s a fine line between keeping track enough to know that you are getting enough and going down the rabbit hole of obsessing over all of the numbers. I definitely won’t be counting anything, but I will be trying my best to make sure that I am getting enough of everything that my body needs.

Mental Stuff

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I haven’t done a ton of work on my mental game in the past. I guess it’s probably fortunate that I haven’t really needed to! I am usually just thankful and happy to be running. With that being said, I know there are definitely things that I could do to up my mental toughness. I actually started reading Matt Fitzgerald’s “How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle” during my last marathon training cycle and I just couldn’t get into it. The only logical conclusion I can come to is that I must not have wanted it badly enough! I’m going to give that one another shot this training cycle!

I must say though, I am really jazzed about this training cycle. I haven’t been this excited about running a marathon in a long time (possibly ever!). I feel like I am giving myself every opportunity that I possibly can in order to be successful. I mean, I’m flying across the country to run a marathon on one of the best courses in the United States! If that isn’t setting yourself up for success, I don’t know what is. I am going to approach the race with an A, B & C goal. I don’t know exactly what those will be at this point, but I will likely share them with you guys when I get it figured out. I appreciate it when other runners put their goals out there and I’ve done the same in the past.

In the meantime I will try to stay focused and patient, trusting that my training and all of these “small things” that I am doing will get me where I want to be when the time comes.