Training Log – 05.20.18

Hey-o!

I believe that summer is officially upon us (well not officially official until June 21st … but you know what I mean). It was very hot and humid this week. I know that will likely the broken record running report from now until approximately mid-November, but maybe in between now and then we will all get a bit more acclimated to the heat and humidity than we are right now.

Here is what my training looked like the week of 05.14.18 – 05.20.18:

Monday AM – Easy: 6.2 miles (8:38 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:31 pace)

We started off the week off with an easy run around campus in Auburn. It was fun to run on the streets where I first starting running. At the time, I could barely keep up with my friend, Carol, who ran with me on her recovery days.  She was one of those “crazy” runners who ran 10 miles every Saturday and had run lots of marathons (including Boston!). No offense to Carol (if you are reading this), but I truly thought you were off of your rocker!

Who’s crazy now? Likely both of us!

We got back home Monday afternoon and did an easy loop with D Holley that evening. He was nice enough to stay at our house while we were gone to keep Brooks company. He sent us “(p)updates” throughout the weekend, which we loved!

Tuesday – Easy: 5 miles (8:59 pace)

I was in major procrastination mode on Tuesday (with regards to running). I pushed my workout back a day and was |thisclose| to not running at all. I needed to do some thinking about my work schedule and so I decided to run alone and without any music or a podcast. Isn’t that bananas? I got some great thinking done! I forgot how nice a run without any distractions can be sometimes.

Wednesday – Quality: 9.65 miles (7:23 pace)

My workout Wednesday was a two mile warm up, 15 X 90 seconds hard (5:56 goal pace) with 60 seconds easy in between each set and a two mile cool down. I did this workout on the treadmill. I didn’t want to run at the track because that basically would’ve been 15 X 400 and when I thought about it that way, it just seemed ridiculous. Doing the workout on the treadmill allowed me to pace my intervals evenly and to give an honest effort. Once I start a workout on the treadmill, there is rarely (knock on wood) any backing down, whereas when I run outside, I tend to be easier on myself for some reason. Anyway … inside or outside, this workout was going to be tough!

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It’s crazy how long 90 seconds can feel when you are running hard. It doesn’t sound that bad, but those 90 seconds start to feel like 90 minutes (engaging in hyperbole from dramatic effect) once you get to the end of that workout. Oddly enough, the 60 seconds easy FLY BY. Why is that?! I ran at 10.1 mph on the treadmill for each of my hard intervals and I definitely got a solid effort in!

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Thursday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:25 pace) + PM – Easy: 8 miles (8:46 pace)

I overslept a little bit Thursday morning (actually Daniel turned my alarm off by accident and his wasn’t set until later), so I only had time for five miles. Truthfully, I didn’t really have time for five, but going to work with wet hair and no makeup can do wonders to give you extra time in the morning. I planned to do eight miles in the morning and five in the evening, so basically those runs just got flip-flopped. I was able to met Rebecca after work Thursday for part of my run, so that worked out really well. We haven’t run together much at all recently and were overdue for some catch-up time.

Friday – Easy: 7 miles (8:59 pace)

I got in an easy 7 miles Friday morning before work. I had to get out and run over to my parents’ house to take out their garbage. That really was my main motivation. Whatever works I guess! Ha. I listened to the Rambling Runner Podcast with Becky Snelson, who placed fourteenth at the Boston Marathon (based on overall time). She didn’t start with the elite women, so the BAA technically didn’t have to award her any prize money, but they ultimately decided to this year. Apparently men that don’t start with the elite men are still eligible for prize money, but women who don’t start with the elite women are not … things that make you go “hmm.”

Saturday – Easy: 5 miles (8:27 pace)

I slept in Saturday morning and ran with Daniel once he got home from work. We went around noon and it was quite toasty. 

Sunday – Quality Easy: 15 miles (8:24 pace)

I was supposed to do a workout as part of my long run Sunday, but I scrapped that as my legs felt really fatigued even during the first few miles of the run. I’m still not entirely sure why the fatigue was there, as I hadn’t done any quality work since Wednesday, but either way, it is what it is and I decided to just chill and not try to push it when I wasn’t feeling it. Sometimes it’s good to push yourself and sometimes it’s better to listen to your body and take it easy. I pushed myself Wednesday and took it easy Sunday.

Total – 65.9 miles

That’s it for now! Have a great week!

Guest Post: Tri Chewacla Triathlon

I was able to convince Daniel to do a post about his triathlon last weekend! Woo hoo! It’s a good one too. Enjoy! 

I didn’t think I would do a race recap on this one, but after talking with Sam, I decided it may be nice for me to have this to refer back to down the road. We actually referenced one of my other recaps in the car on the way to the race, so I guess that proves that it may be useful to have. Let’s get to it! 

I’m still fairly new to the triathlon and biking in general, but after doing IM Augusta last year, I decided I wanted to continue biking regularly and doing a few triathlons (this has really helped with my hip injury). I looked around and found the Tri Chewacla Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon. I opted for the sprint distance, which was a 500 meter swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5K run. After looking at the previous year’s results, I decided my primary goal would be to compete for an overall award and my secondary goal would be to compete for an age group award. 

Swim – 500 meters (9:42)

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I hate to admit this, but I haven’t been in the water to swim since getting out of the Savannah River in Augusta last year. Despite the lack of training, I was still confident that I could cover the distance. I also didn’t really feel like there was much to gain or lose in the swim in terms of my overall time. My goal was to be close to 9 minutes for my overall time on the swim.

My training for the IM was always around 2 minutes per 100 meters, so I felt like I could keep a sub 2 minute per 100 meter pace during this race and still feel fresh. Since it was a chip timed race, they let each person start individually to avoid a big pile up. I was approximately seventh into the water (definitely in the first 10, but not the first 5). There was a serious looking old guy in front of me and I figured he was who I needed to chase. I caught him midway through the swim and was feeling like I was in a groove. As I was finishing, I heard (or thought I heard) someone yell “First out of the water!” so I was feeling REALLY good then.

The run up after the swim was VERY rocky, rooty, and rough. I elected to slip on my flip flops out of the water and run in my flip flops up to my bike (they allowed everyone to do this if we chose to). This was probably a tad slower, but my feet were happier. This long trek to the transition likely resulted in a swim time that looks a little slower than I expected.

T1 (1:11)

Prior to the race I got an email outlining several USATF rules. I never knew this, but one rule that was highlighted was if you touch anything else in transition prior to putting on your helmet and latching it, you are automatically disqualified! I heeded these rules and felt like my transition went pretty smoothly. Helmet on, socks on, shoes on, grab bike, and go. I still do a stop and mount on the bike and I fumbled a bit getting it off the rack, so this could’ve been a little cleaner, but overall everything went according to plan.

Bike – 12 miles (32:59)

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I looked at the route online and knew that there would be a few rolling hills, but I felt prepared. My bike training prior to this has been 1-2 rides per week. One ride is a Tuesday 25 mile “hammer” ride which is pretty much an all out effort with the local bike shop, ProCycle & Tri. The other has been 20-30 miles easy after my long runs. The Tuesday rides have been tough and I have averaged in the 22-23 mph range so I felt like I should’ve been in shape for a 23 mph average for 12 miles. This did not happen.

Sidenote: I did a really hard track workout on the Tuesday before the race with Sam and I think my legs were still feeling that a little bit. As soon as I got on my bike and stood to get up to speed I realized my quads were already spent. I thought I was going to fall over from my legs being so fatigued and I hadn’t even gone a mile yet! I sat back down and decided to try to get my cadence up as high as possible and go from there. After a few minutes I was averaging around 22 mph but I knew getting to 23 was going to be a stretch.

I decided to just keep the effort up as much as I could and not ease off any in anticipation of the run. The old guy from the swim passed me around mile 3 (on his superbike) and he and I proceeded to flip-flop for the next 6 miles (don’t worry, we both allowed plenty of space between us with each pass and did not draft off one another). Finally we got to a big downhill where I thought I would be able to catch and leave him, but no, he crushed it (and me). I never could get closer than about 50 meters to him until we came back to transition. According to Strava, I averaged 21.9 mph and given how bad my legs felt at mile 1, I thought this was a good time.

T2 (0:43)

This was fairly simple. Racked the bike, changed shoes, grabbed my bib and I was out.

Run – 5K (20:39)

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I knew from my pre-race research that this run would also be a hilly course. However, I underestimated just how steep it would be. The race directors and event staff kept referring to it as “running up the mountain.” I love climbing in general and I feel like it is my strength in running, but since my legs were so fatigued and my quads in particular were tired, this is the worst I’ve ever felt in a 5K. I literally had the thought of walking go through my mind at one point (I did not walk though).

After transition I was ahead of the old guy and felt like that meant I was in a spot for a podium possibly. Half a mile in, I was caught by a young guy and knew at that point he had made up time on me so unless I could find some energy to gap him on this climb, my chances of getting on the podium were getting slim. We ran together for a bit until old guy number 2 appeared. He jogged right past us and we were both scratching our heads trying to figure out where he came from. We discussed the idea that he was a relayer, but since he was wearing a tri suit, we decided he had to have done the whole thing like us.

The guy running with me tried to go catch him, and I was left alone. At this point I had no clue if I would even place at all and began to dread the thought of being passed by people during the run (what should be my strength!). We summited the mountain and I noticed there was someone running in front of me who I had not seen. I later found out I was actually second out of the water and this guy had been so far ahead the whole time that we never saw him on the bike either. I decided that I would be really mad at myself if I didn’t truly push it and give my best on this last mile and a half. I was able to negative split the race (and yes there were hills both ways so it wasn’t just the descent that helped) and ended up finishing 3rd overall!

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Even though I didn’t hit any of the specific time goals that I had in mind (and felt like I was in shape to do), I am pleased that I was able to compete and grind on a day when I didn’t have my best stuff. I like reflecting after races (especially triathlons) and trying to see what I could’ve done to improve my time. Both of the top two guys beat me in the transitions (one by over a minute and the other by 35 seconds). We were separated in the overall standings by less than a minute and a half so I know the transitions are somewhere I need to improve if I want to keep competing. I also know I will have to do more brick runs and put more miles in on my bike in general to be able to continue competing.

Next up, I want to do an Olympic distance tri and really give it a good training effort. Also, to be very open, it’s been pretty disappointing to come off of the bike and not have my legs under me. I feel like this should be where I shine. I have had several strong brick workouts, but I’m not sure what I’m missing as to why I can’t seem to replicate it in a race setting. My best guess is to just put more miles in on the bike and run after every ride.

Any tips from some seasoned vets out there?

Race Recap: DIITB 5K

I ran the Do it in the Bush 5K at Cottage Hill Park in Mobile Saturday morning. DIITB is one of the few trail races that we have here locally. Cottage Hill Park is actually the place where Daniel and I first met!

The main event of the weekend was Daniel’s triathlon in Auburn on Sunday, but I was able to do this race Saturday morning before we left to head up to Auburn. The race started at 7:30 a.m., which was nice, not only to beat the heat a little bit, but also so that we could go ahead and get on the road a little bit earlier.

We got to the park around 6:45 and I was able to register and go to the bathroom before warming up on the course. I was a little bit worried about getting lost in the woods and I wanted to make sure that we ran the course beforehand just to make sure I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t sure if I would have anyone to run with, as you never really know who is going to show up on any given day. We talked briefly with Aaron Freesmeier, who marked the course, before the warm up. He gave us some pointers and we set off to see what the trails were like.

We didn’t have any issues at all navigating the course at all! Every single root was marked with orange paint (that must’ve taken a lot of time) and there were lots of arrows, etc. showing you where to go. I definitely noticed that I was working harder than normal to run my “easy” pace on the trails.

The race started off in the parking lot at Cottage Hill Park. It used to start on a soccer field, but apparently there were some “issues” with the course measuring long in the past and they decided to change that up this year. It’s a trail race though, so accuracy really shouldn’t be a huge concern. We were only in the parking lot for the first tenth of a mile or so and then it was to the grass around the baseball field (same as it always has been). We were on the grass for less than a half of a mile before we headed into the trails.

I was in second place overall as we entered the trails. The first place runner almost turned off course not too long after we got on the trails and I passed him briefly as he got his bearings back. I really didn’t want to be leading this thing through the trails, but here we were. At least I knew where I was going! I knew that was going to come in handy.

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I led the race through the first mile. The mile split was 6:29. The course winds in and out of the woods a few times during the second mile, but you are primarily on the trails the entire time. I love being in the woods and running on trails! I really wish that we had more trails and more trail races. I can totally see myself turning into one of those crazy ultra trail runners at some point down the road. Ha.

I likely need to invest in a pair of trail shoes though. I wore the Brooks Launch for this race (definitely not a trail shoe) and it worked out fine for a 5K, but if the race had been any longer, I likely would’ve wanted some better shoes. I love the Brooks Launch for road running though (I don’t want them (them being my shoes) to get their feelings hurt, so that seeemed worth mentioning).

I got passed back by the lead runner right around mile two. The mile split was 7:19. I didn’t know the split at the time. I decided during the warm up that I wouldn’t look at the splits since I knew I would likely feel like I was giving more of an effort than the splits showed.

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After he passed me, he almost ran off course two more miles in the last mile, but I was able to yell at him and tell him where to go. The last mile took us back into the parking lot for a brief moment, back into the woods and then back on the grass. Lots of varied terrain! I finished a few seconds behind the leader with a time of 20:02.

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It should be noted that the course was a tad short, but with a cross country style race, that is to be expected. My watch read 2.95 miles and my pace for the last mile was 6:37.

I LOVED everything about this race! It was such a laid back, fun approach to “racing.” I stayed upright, which is always good. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of my easy run on the trails Sunday in Auburn, but … it happens. I’m already looking for another trail race to do!

Have you ever raced on trails? What was your experience like? If you have any good race recommendations, send them my way!

Training Log – 05.13.18

Hey-o!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 05.07.18 – 05.13.18:

Monday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:42 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:26 pace)

I started the week off with a solo easy run and followed it up with a group easy run that afternoon.

Tuesday AM – Easy: 3 miles (9:11 pace) + PM – Quality: 9.8 miles (7:41 pace)

My workout Tuesday was a 2 mile warm up, 3 X 800, 6 X 400, 3 X 800 and a 2 mile cool down. I had a two minute walking rest between the 800s and a one minute walking rest between the 400s. I knew this workout was going to be quite challenging just looking at it, especially because the 400s were going to be done all out (my goal pace per 400 was 74 (4:58 per mile)). I’ve definitely never done any sort of repeats that fast before and, spoiler alert, I didn’t this time either. The 800s were at a much more manageable pace (my goal pace per 800 was 2:57 (5:56 per mile)).

Daniel and I did this workout together Tuesday evening and we had lots of company at the track! Kenny, Daniel Holley and Cody did 12 X 400 and Brad, Larry, Tracey and Mike were out there as well, doing some 1000s and 200s. The first few 800s were peachy. We hit those in 2:58, 2:57 and 2:57. Once we got to the 400s, *things* got real. We tried to jump in with the guys that were doing 400 repeats, but I couldn’t hang at their paces. They were also doing a 400 recovery and I was supposed to be doing a 1 minute walking recovery, so after running two or three repeats with the group, Daniel and I finished the 400s on our own. His paces were faster than mine, but mine were 80, 83, 84, 83, 86 and 86. All in all, not terrible. Nothing in the 70s, but still respectable.

The problem was that we still had three 800s left. I was huffing and puffing like I was about to blow down three little piggy houses. I actually can’t remember the last time I was breathing that hard! My last three 800s were 3:01, 3:07 and 2:59. I’m glad that I stuck with it, even if I couldn’t get my time back down to where they should’ve been. The reality is that all of our workouts are about putting in the effort to produce the desired adaptations that we are seeking and I know without a doubt that my effort was on point with this workout!

Wednesday – Easy: 5 miles (9:04 pace)

I kept it indoors Wednesday with an easy treadmill run. Tuesday’s track session was quite intense and I just needed to chill on Wednesday. I did a 20 minute “run your core” Jasyoga video. The focus of this video was on building core strength to stabilize your structure for functional (running!) movement, so that you can gain and sustain power when you get tired. Most of the poses mimic common running movement patterns, which makes sense.

I also got a deep tissue massage Wednesday evening! I spent more time on recovery than on actually running on Wednesday and it was much needed.

Thursday – Easy: 5 miles (8:58 pace)

I was still feeling a little tired and sore (likely from both the track workout and the massage) Thursday, so I kept it to another easy five mile run. I ran outside before work and listened to the Man Bun Run podcast interview with Sarah Sellers. This was the third interview with Sarah that I have listened to and it was just as interesting as the first.

Friday – Easy: 8 miles (8:59 pace)

Friday morning I did some climbing. I didn’t really plan this, but once I got out there, I decided that it would be fun to see how many hills I could run within about a mile of my house. I didn’t even get all of them and I ended up with 8 miles and 700 feet of elevation gain. Not too shabby! But also likely not anywhere near what I will need to do to prepare for the mountains of Colorado (side note: we are doing a Ragnar in Colorado in August!).

Saturday – RACE: 7.8 miles (8:06 pace)

Race recap is here! The TL;DR version will be this: I ran a trail race. It was not a goal race, but just a for fun race. I love running on trails! The end.

Sunday – Easy: 7 miles (10:28 pace)

Sunday morning we were in Auburn for Daniel to race the Tri Auburn sprint triathlon at Chewacla State Park. I’m hoping that I can twist his arm to do a race recap post! I was thrilled to be able to spend some more quality time on the trails Sunday morning. The trails at Chewacla are absolutely beautiful! I saw several deer, a few snakes and lots of other various wildlife out there. I also tripped on a rock and busted my butt (actually I busted my knee, shoulder and elbow (but hey, way better than busting my face)) at one point, but I think that pretty much comes with the territory of trail running. I’m definitely wearing my battle wounds proudly.

Chewacla

I spent more time on trails this weekend than I have in the past two years probably and it was AWESOME! Daniel had a GREAT race and it was fun spectating, cheering for him and catching up with some of our good friends from Auburn.

DG & me

Total – 55.7 miles

That’s it for now! Have a great week!

How to Race Your Best Half Marathon

We’ve talked one mile, 5K and 10K race strategies, so it only makes sense to move it on up to the half marathon, right? Right!

If you’ve read all three posts, you will definitely notice some common themes. I think it’s best, from a big picture perspective, to keep your overall race strategies fairly similar across these distances. As the race gets longer, there is more room for variation within each phase of the race plan, and there is more potential for outside variables to affect your race. These strategy posts can serve as fundamental building blocks for your race plan. You can easily tweak these strategies as needed based on any weather or course specific issues that you encounter on race day.

Fueling: Fueling needs vary from person-to-person, so I hesitate to give a fueling “strategy.” Fueling wasn’t specifically mentioned in the one mile, 5k or 10k race strategy posts, so adding it here should serve as a reminder that fueling needs to be addressed, at least on some level, during a half marathon.

The important thing is to test whatever you are going to do during the race during your key workouts and long runs. I try to eat a light, simple, and easily digestible breakfast an hour or two before the race starts (definitely nothing new!). If I get thirsty during the race, I will drink whatever water or sports drinks are provided along the course, but that is all I take in during the race itself. Personally, I find that I don’t really need an elaborate fueling plan for a half marathon, but others may disagree. Nailing down a half-marathon fueling strategy will likely involve practicing your fueling during your training and learning via trial and error at races.

Warmup: For a goal half marathon, I typically do a one mile warmup. Remember: you do you! Try to pick the pace up a notch or two to a tempo type effort during the last minute or two or the warmup to stir those aerobic enzymes and prime your engine for the race. Try to stay warm and loose while you stand at the start.

First 10%: As usual, try to avoid the early sprint out and ease into the pace. You’ll want to start off as smooth as possible and use the first mile to gradually settle into your rhythm and goal pace.

Speaking of goal pace, you may be wondering how you know what this should be. I recommend racing a shorter distance race (a 5K or 10K) during your half marathon training and using a running calculator to predict your goal half marathon pace based on that result. Take your predicted pace and create a goal pace range of about 10 to 15 seconds per mile around it. By easing into your goal pace over the course of the first mile, you will not only increase your chances of feeling good later in the race, but you will also be setting yourself up for a nice little negative split. Patience is a virtue that we want to possess during our longer distance races for sure!

Middle 70%: Once you settle into your goal pace range it’s time to relax, get comfy and plan to stay here awhile. The “middle” section of the half marathon is going to take us from the start of the second mile to mile 10. You will want to be running as strong, as smooth and as sustainable as possible (after all, this is a half marathon, not a sprint).

The goal during this middle section is to stay within the targeted pace range and use as little energy as possible to do so. Try to stay in the moment and engaged in the race, executing one mile at a time. If you think it is better mentally to break the race up into other manageable “chunks” then, by all means, do that. I have tried this in the past, with some success, but I end up coming back to the whole “run the mile you are in” philosophy most of the time.

Last 20%: You ran the first part of the race with your head, by easing into it and then staying mentally focused, holding a good strong rhythm through mile 10. Now it is time to race it home (the last 5K) with your heart, by competing and pushing yourself to give the very best effort possible on this day. Depending on how you are feeling at this point, you will likely still be within your goal pace range or hopefully even a little quicker if you can manage it. This is often the point in the race where, if you paced correctly, you will catch up with and pass a lot of people who didn’t have as much success with their pacing strategy and are slowing down.

Cooldown: After the race, get in an easy mile jog to flush out the system and jump-start the recovery process. It’s a good idea to take an ice bath or warm Epsom salt bath in the afternoon for recovery. It can be difficult to make yourself do anything else after the race, but it is always worth it to do a proper cooldown and pay attention to your recovery needs. We take our races seriously and we should take our recovery seriously as well!

What races do you have coming up?

 

Training Log – 05.06.18

Hey-o!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 04.30.18 – 05.06.18:

Monday – Easy: 8 miles (8:51 pace) 

I started the week off with a solo, hilly eight mile run!

Tuesday AM – Quality: 10 miles (7:40 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:23 pace)

Tuesday morning the Daniels and I hit the track again. Track Tuesday has become a “thing” again and I’m so glad! This week I did a different workout than they did, but as always, it’s just nice to have company out there.

My workout was 15 X 2:00 hard with 1:00 easy jogging recovery between each set. It was a tough workout! 30 minutes of “hard” running is no joke. I wanted to run this one by feel, so I programmed my watch to “workout mode” and I didn’t look at my paces or anything during the workout itself. I was really tempted to stop after 10 repeats, but I’m glad that I stuck it out. After looking at the data afterwards, my average pace for the repeats was 6:11. I am definitely pleased with that. It would sure be nice if I could run for thirty minutes consecutively at that pace, but hey, maybe one day …

I did an easy loop with Daniel Holley Tuesday evening while my Daniel did a group ride at Pro Cycle.

Wednesday – Easy: 8 miles (8:16 pace)

Wednesday evening my students turned in their final exams! Woo! It worked out for the Daniels, Cody and I to do an eight mile run around campus after I collected the tests. The change of scenery was nice and I enjoyed running in a new (to me) location. Both Daniels went to college at the school where I am teaching and so they were familiar with the campus and the route that we ran. Cody and I were clueless and were just along for the ride.

Thursday – Easy: 5 miles (8:53 pace)

I made the mistake of drinking a caffeinated drink Wednesday after our run (only because I was so thirsty and Daniel happened to have a drink in his car). I honestly thought that caffeine had little to no effect on me at this point, but as it turns out, it most definitely does if I drink it in the evening! I was up until after 1 a.m., which made for a less than stellar run Thursday morning and caused me to skip the afternoon group run altogether.

Friday AM – Easy: 8 miles (8:49 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:04 pace)

Daniel and I ran a few easy miles Friday morning and then I tacked on a few additional solo miles afterwards. I procrastinated my second double for the week (which ideally should’ve been done Wednesday (or Thursday at the latest)), so Friday afternoon it was time to make that happen. Luckily Cody wanted to run Friday afternoon and I so I was able to get in an easy loop with some good company.

Saturday – Quality: 15.5 miles (7:35 pace)

Saturday morning it was time for a quality long run. The prescribed workout was a two mile warm up, four miles at pace, half a mile recovery, three miles at pace, half a mile recovery, two miles at pace, half a mile recovery, one mile at pace and a three mile cool down. The pace miles were supposed to get progressively quicker as the workout went by (ideally starting out at close to 7:00 pace and working down to 6:30 for the last set). Writing that all out made me a little bit tired, so you can imagine how running it actually felt.

I thought about doing this run on the treadmill, which likely sounds terrible to many of you, but I know that if I run on the treadmill, I have the discipline to “make myself” do whatever the workout says. If I run outside, I am more likely to “give up,” or bail on a workout, especially if I don’t have anyone to run with. However, I know that doing workouts outdoors is more beneficial and Cody actually agreed to run with me and pace me for most of the workout, so outside it was! The temperature was nice when we first got started, but it definitely warmed up as we got towards the end.

Our splits for the first four mile set were 6:57, 6:59, 6:50 and 6:51. We then had half a mile to recover (which unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) was up a big hill) before it was time to start the second set. The splits for the second set were 6:36, 6:41 and 6:45. We had another half a mile to recover before the next set. The next set should’ve been a little bit faster, but all I could muster was 6:52 and 7:06. I was definitely on the struggle bus at this point, but Cody was able to finish out those two miles really strong. I still had one more mile to run hard for the last set, but my legs really just wouldn’t even go by that point. I told myself that I could try to get one more mile under 7:00 pace, but once I started that mile, the goal changed to trying to get one mile under 8:00 pace (which I did (but barely)).

All in all, it was a great workout! I got some solid effort in and I know that the strength I am building in workouts like this will help me in everything from the 5K to the marathon.

Sunday – Easy: 12 miles (8:30 pace) 

I got in a medium long run Sunday morning with some of the usual suspects. It felt great out and my legs felt surprisingly good.

Total – 76.5 miles

That’s it for now! Have a great week!

The Coaching Conundrum

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I recently got a question from a reader as to whether or not I was still working with the coach that I worked with for over three years. The short answer is, no. The long answer is going to turn into an overly wordy post that is likely not necessary, but for the sake of transparency, I want to share …

Let’s start of by talking about coaching in general. Having a coach is wonderful and it can be a very rewarding relationship to have. However, I don’t think that everyone *needs* a coach. If you are just starting out and you have a goal that is primarily to “complete” a certain event, chances are that you can find a plethora of training plans online that will likely do the trick. If you aren’t entirely sure what you want to do, but want to focus on general fitness and perhaps you just need some guidance as far as what paces to train at, then there are also lots of resources online (including the VDOT calculator) that can help you.

Running friends can also be a wonderful resource. Talk about your training plan with your running partners (as if you really talk about anything else anyway :)) and bounce ideas off of each other. You might be surprised at how much you can learn from the seasoned veterans in your group!

All that being said, I think that if you have a specific goal in mind for your current training cycle or you have specific long-term goals (i.e., each training cycle builds on the previous one and you are, for the most part, constantly training), you can afford a coach and you find a coach who works well with your needs, then having a coach is definitely the way to go! I much prefer working with a coach than coaching myself, even though I feel like I likely have the knowledge to coach myself. I mean, I technically have a coaching certification myself (but really, who doesn’t ;)). It’s really nice to have someone else that is invested in your training who can look at your workouts objectively and encourage and believe in you when you may not even really believe in yourself.

Prior to working with Coach Hadley, I worked briefly with another coach that just wasn’t a good fit for me. His methods worked well and I ran some of my best times (at that time). However, I didn’t feel like I got enough attention (I realize how diva-ish that sounds) and he also didn’t offer the type of encouragement that I needed (also likely diva-ish). For example, there was this one HUGE workout leading up to my goal marathon. It was the workout of all workouts, the make or break workout of the training cycle and (not to brag, but) I crushed it. I ran my heart out and really put a lot into that workout and the feedback I got was something along the lines of “that’s what I expected you to do.” Alrighty then … I’m going to need a little bit more head pats validation than that.

After that, I worked with Coach Hadley for over three years. He is a fantastic coach and I learned so much from working with him. His knowledge of the sport is incredible and he was very encouraging and very easy to talk to and work with. After my marathon in January, I decided to take a break from coaching. At the time, I wasn’t planning to focus on marathons anymore and I honestly wasn’t even sure what direction I wanted to go with my training at all. It just seemed like a good opportunity for a break.

Here’s the part of the story that has nothing at all to do with running, but will help to explain some of my indecision and lack of direction in general. You see, Daniel and I have been talking about starting a family. That’s right … you read it here first. We have been married for almost 8 years now (CRAZY) and having a kid (my preference) or two (Daniel’s preference) is something that, for the first time ever, is actually on our radar. I honestly wasn’t sure that it would ever be even on our radar, so this is kind of a big deal.

What I have come to learn over the last few months is that just because it is on our radar, it doesn’t actually mean that it is something we are ready to fully commit to at this exact moment. I could likely write an entire post about the decision (or lack thereof) to start a family and all of the pressure, etc. that comes with it. As an only child, I think that pressure is amplified by about one thousand percent. My parents (for the most part) haven’t put any pressure on me, but at the same time, there is no way to escape from the reality of the situation. I am the only person in the world that can give them a grandchild and none of us are getting any younger.

If we were to find out today that we are having a baby (this post is NOT a pregnancy announcement), would we be excited? Absolutely! Would we be scared out of our minds? Absolutely! People like to tell you that “you’ll never truly be ready,” but I like to think that a time will come when I might be a little bit more ready than I am at this exact moment. Having a child is one of the few things in life that can’t be undone. I’m not saying that I would want to “undo” it or would regret it in any way, but I do think the fact that I am keenly aware of this fact means that maybe, just maybe, I’m not quite as ready as I thought I was at one point.

I have realized over the last year or so that I actually do have some maternal instincts, which is quite a relief. I thought maybe those were missing entirely, but I think that they were just suppressed for the first 30+ years of my life (which is definitely not a bad thing (ha)). Funny story: Last fall, a client brought me some eggs from her chickens and I was almost in tears in my office thinking about how those eggs could’ve been little baby chicks running around my office. Side note: I do realize that those eggs actually couldn’t have hatched into baby chicks, but the point is, I couldn’t get the idea of baby chicks out of my mind.

I became a vegetarian shortly after this. The thought of eating animals is terrible to me and I don’t know how I did it for so long. You know … just another random side note that has absolutely nothing to do with running. I haven’t eaten meat in almost 6 months now! I haven’t mentioned it yet on the blog (at least I don’t think I have), so now seems like as good a time as any to share. I could likely also write an entire post about the decision to become vegetarian and how to navigate that as an endurance athlete who has a tendency to struggle with eating issues. It gets tricky.

So where does that leave us exactly? Well, to summarize, I am a confused thirty-two year old vegetarian who might want to become a mother at some point in her life and, in the meantime, will likely stick to running marathons. I kind of aimlessly trained for shorter distance races this Spring and I ran several races, while simultaneously surviving both tax season and my first semester of teaching as an adjunct professor at a local university. Again, not to brag, but I’m proud of myself for surviving all of these things!

Let’s bring this back to coaching, shall we? Over the spring, a local coach wrote my plans for me. This was great for what I needed at the time. I likely could’ve done this myself, but honestly, having someone else think for me and tell me what to do was very nice at the time. Overall, it just really wasn’t a great fit for what I am looking for and have come to expect from my coaches. I worked with him for three months and have since decided to move on to a different coaching group. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a coach that works well with your needs! If you are paying for a coach, you should be happy with the relationship.

After some thought and some research (thanks to a fellow Salty Running cohort for sharing her thorough coaching research with me), I have decided to work with Sarah Bishop (of McKirdy Trained). I am going to be focusing on some short stuff this summer (one mile to 5K) and then I plan to do another marathon in the late fall (likely early December) and also plan to do Boston in 2019! Woo to the hoo for long-term goals and clarity!

You might wonder why I didn’t go back to Coach Hadley. I definitely thought about it! He isn’t coaching full-time anymore (unless something has changed) and I am really just excited about the idea of something new and different. I could basically predict the workouts that I would be doing from training cycle to training cycle and that just isn’t much fun. If it is working, then fun isn’t really necessary, but at the same time, I do think that we should be able to improve and still enjoy the process. It was also difficult not to look back and compare my previous times for the same workout one or two years ago since I had done the exact same workouts several times over the years.

After talking with Sarah the first time, I was more excited about my training and running than I had been in years! Years! She is an amazing runner herself (she WON the Marine Corps Marathon in 2017 and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials) and she has complete confidence in me and my abilities, which basically blew me away. I’ve only done a few workouts with her at this point, but so far, it’s been great! She has given me specific advice on how to pace my workouts and has already adjusted a workout that I was super intimidated by to make it more doable (while still getting the same benefits).

As predicted, that got a little lengthy. I have a tendency to do that sometimes, but it’s really been a while so you were likely overdue for some rambling. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions! I’m always happy to hear from you guys!