Race Week Tips

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Marathon training plans range can range from 12-18 weeks long (or more). But in my opinion, the most important week of training is the week with the least amount of training – race week. Occasionally missing a run during a training cycle or having an off week in training will likely have minimal impact on your race performance. But running too fast or too long, not getting enough sleep or not focusing on things like nutrition and hydration can have a huge effect on your performance on race day. We just entered the window for spring marathons (check out Daily Burn’s article on the Top 15 Spring Marathons in the US). With that comes some peak mileage, the taper and then race week. Race week always means several key things for me. Nutrition, Hydration, Sleep, Rest, Trust. I try to focus on just these five things – otherwise I feel overwhelmed, confused and unorganized. – Nutrition: Think plain, simple, light. Plan your meals this way and your stomach will thank you. I typically aim for carb-dense foods in the days leading up to the race and then add some protein the night before. But everything is very plain – nothing loaded Continue Reading →

Remaining Optimistic

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Well, it’s been a while since I did a training update. The #1 reason is because there hasn’t been a whole lot of training going on. I feel like I jinxed myself when I was talking about how great training was going. No less than two weeks ago, I started thinking about how I haven’t missed a single long run this training cycle – something that has actually never happened before. And then it happened. #ugh But I’m getting ahead of myself. I wrote on Tuesday that I was feeling a hundred times better and ready to jump back into training. Monday’s run was great – 12 miles with lots of hill repeats. I woke up Tuesday and felt a bit achy and just blah so I put off my run until the afternoon. It was warm (55) but windy as heck – 25-30 mph winds. I ran 8 miles and almost immediately upon finishing, knew that something was wrong. I had a pounding headache and just felt fatigued – not the way I normally feel after 8 easy-paced miles. My husband left on a business trip for the week shortly after I returned from that run and I welcomed Continue Reading →

Speed is Relative (Women’s Running)

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This post was originally featured on WomensRunning.com: I ran my first mile road race a couple of weekends ago. It was far and away the fastest mile I’ve run in my entire life. Kind of exciting, especially since it’s in the middle of a marathon training cycle. Immediately after the race, I was on cloud 9. I texted my family, my coach and a few close friends who knew I was racing and shared the exciting news. However while I was driving home, my thoughts started to wander. It dawned on me that my all-out, run as hard as I could for one mile – just one mile—was still slower than elite females run for 26.2 miles. It was slower than females run half marathons. And slower than some of my friends run 5ks. Ouch. In that brief moment, I compared myself and my success to others. I allowed that comparison to take away from the happiness and pride I should have been feeling. The thing is there will always be someone faster. Or someone who runs longer distances. Or someone who is a few steps ahead of you. Always. And you’ll never be happy or satisfied with your effort, Continue Reading →

How To Prepare For A Hilly Race

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Six years ago, I was training for my first Boston Marathon. I was incorporating tempos, intervals and long runs into my 40-50 mile weeks (I peaked at 55 miles). The only missing component were the hills. At the time, I was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq – and while I was fortunate enough to be on the largest American base in the country (which afforded me miles and miles of road to run on!), it was flat as a pancake. There was one hill (man-made) called “Signal Hill” which US forces used for all the long-range signal equipment. Signal Hill had a paved road that was roughly .3 miles uphill (steep uphill!). And at two points going up the hill, there were paved roads around the hill. This hill became my best friend. Rather than do hill repeats once a week, I made it a point to run up that hill at least once each run – and most runs 2-3x. It didn’t matter if it was an easy run, recovery run or long run – I was running up and down that hill. Fast forward to the 2009 Boston Marathon. My husband was running beside me around mile 19-20. I had Continue Reading →

Unplanned Easy Week

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Each marathon training cycle has it’s ups and downs. There are good weeks, bad weeks. Great runs, not-so-great runs. It’s all part of a normal, healthy training cycle. I’d like to think that I push myself pretty hard on my “on” days – intervals, tempos, long runs. I’ve been seeing some good improvement with paces, endurance and recovery times.   But the last few weeks have been different. I have had no desire, energy or motivation to push when I reached the point in workouts where things get tough. And I’ve just quit. Gotten off the treadmill, hit “stop” on my garmin. And called it a day. It started the week we were in Florida during my 3×2 workout. I chalked it up to being tired from vacation and all the walking around we were doing in Disney. Then, I had a great 1 mile race that weekend and felt like I was ready to go full-force the last six weeks of Boston training. I had a solid week of training – logged the planned miles, hit the paces in workouts and felt good. read moreTweet

It’s Okay to Not Want to Run Every Day – Women’s Running Post

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This was published on Women’sRunning.com last week! —————– I’m just under eight weeks out from my 2nd Boston Marathon and have had a strong couple of months of training. On paper, everything looks great – I’m nailing workouts, getting my long runs in and consistently running high weekly mileage (for me). But, that’s only part of the truth. The truth is, there are some days where I wake up not wanting to run. I would say 4-5 of the 6 days a week I run, I’m pretty quick to pop up when the alarm goes off. There is virtually no hesitation on those mornings. But it’s a fight to get me out the door on the other days. I want to go back to sleep or just sit on the floor with my children while I drink my coffee in my comfy pjs rather than deal with the below freezing temperatures outside or get on the treadmill again. The truth is, it’s okay (and normal) to not want to run every single day. When you are following a training plan, there will be days where you may not want to get up and run. I used to berate myself every time Continue Reading →

Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7)

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Happy Wednesday!! You are in for a treat today – you get TWO weeks of training updates! I know – almost too much to handle =) But before I get into my recent training, I wanted to share some news from Garmin (not sponsored – just a big fan of the brand and the people within the company). They have launched new Garmin Fitness social media channels on Twitter, Google+ and Instagram! Facebook is soon to follow. From their website: We want to hear and see pictures of how you crushed a daily step goal, or conquered a 20-mile training run. We want you to share your struggles and triumphs. We want to hear about how you are changing your life by going that extra mile. Our channels will feature content from YOU! Share your images and tag them with @GarminFitness or use hashtag #UpForMore to be featured. @GarminFitness – Twitter Garmin Fitness – Google+ @GarminFitness – Instagram Garmin Fitness – Facebook Also, to celebrate the new fitness channels, Garmin will be giving away one Vivosmart a day (for the next week) on their Instagram page. Go check it out! ————— read moreTweet

Unplugged Week + First Time To Disney!

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My family and I had a rather spur-of-the-moment trip to Florida last week!! My husband found out about a conference in Orlando that he was going to attend and threw out the idea of me and boys joining him. Between the brutal winter so far, the increasing desire to take the boys to Disney and the ability to see my grandmother (who spends the winters about an hour outside Orlando) and my dad (who spends a couple of months each winter with my grandma), it was a no brainer. So after my 20-miler Saturday morning (first of training cycle – whoohoo!), we hit the road (we drove the 1,000+ miles!). Unfortunately, we left right when a snowstorm was hitting the east coast. We had checked the forecast and knew we would be getting some snow, but I kind of gave the side-eye to the “winter storm watch” (the snow accumulations have been way off the forecasted amounts up until this point). Plus, we assumed that the roads, especially I-95, the main interstate on the east coast, would be A-ok. read moreTweet

The Fastest Mile of My Life!

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I went outside my comfort zone yesterday and raced a mile (for the first time ever!). The Forest Avenue Mile (on Staten Island) has been a race that I have planned to run the last few years, but when the time comes, I wimp out or make excuses as to why it’s not the right time (usually because it’s smack dab in the middle of spring marathon training). My coach and I decided about two months ago that this would be one of the two races I ran prior to Boston Marathon. Period. Boston training has gone really well (knock on wood) and I felt like a “down” week in mileage (both total and long run) might be a good thing before the last final push prior Marathon Monday. I did a mini-taper for this race. Regular speedwork on Wednesday, normal planned mileage for Thursday and then reduced mileage for Friday (6-7 miles) and Saturday (4-5 miles). So, onto the race. It started at 12:10pm which made it a bit tricky for me in regards to fueling beforehand. I ate my usual breakfast early (3 eggs with brussel sprouts, onions and tomatoes) and then a banana with almond butter late Continue Reading →

The Treadmill Incline Debate

The winter months usually go hand in hand with the treadmill incline debate. A lot of runners training for spring races are forced to their treadmills because of snow, ice or freezing temperatures – and understandably, begin questioning the ability of the treadmill to train them properly for their goal race. There are so many schools of thought on the treadmill incline. I know plenty of successful, strong runners who use either 0%, .5% or 1% (or more) when they are on the treadmill. But which is correct and what works best? Short answer – I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think you need to find what works for you and what you are comfortable with. Each has perfectly reasonable arguments – both for and against. And I have tried all three – when I first started running, I never used the incline. A couple of years ago, I started using .5% incline for all of my runs and then after Potomac in November, I bumped it up to 1%. I’ve been getting asked a lot lately about the incline I use for treadmill running (especially for my workouts) so wanted to share both my reasoning for Continue Reading →

Boston Marathon Training (T-9)

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I feel like my motivation to run in the cold is dwindling. I think it’s easier to suck it up and run in sub-0 temps when you know it’s just one or two days. But, for the last week, it’s been mostly sub-0 in the AM – and the 7 day forecast doesn’t look any better. Too funny not to share…and kind of what I have been feeling! Last week included a bunch of treadmill runs. Monday’s mid-week long run, Wednesday’s tempo, Saturday’s long tempo, Sunday’s recovery – all happened on the treadmill. Wednesday and Saturday I opted for the treadmill because the real-feel was single digits and my coach and I both felt that it was okay this week to use the treadmill to get the workout in (I would have had to adjust my paces significantly if I did them outside to account for the cold temps). Tuesday and Thursday were early morning runs outside (small victories). Monday Planned: 10-11 miles with 6-8x :20 strides Actual: 11 miles with 8x :20 strides I followed the same plan as last week’s run and incorporated a lot of 1:00 spurts of climbing. This week was 20x 1:00 at 4.5% incline. Continue Reading →

Running Links & Highlights (#3)

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Happy Monday!! It’s been a long, cold weekend for us – and most of the country. Every time I think the temperatures can’t get any lower, we get hit with colder and harsher conditions. I really haven’t wanted to leave the house unless it’s totally necessary -> -10 degrees is not comfortable! Here are a few of my favorite reads from the week! Let me know if you read anything that is worth sharing! The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself — And the Women Around You: Not running related, but this article is too good not to share. There are so many days I question my decision to stay home with my little guys (for so many reasons). “Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted — by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds.” 80-year old woman sets half marathon PR: An 80-year old woman ran a 2:13 at the Surf City Half Marathon last week – to set a national half marathon record. Kind of amazing! read Continue Reading →

What Do You Need To Run Your First Marathon (Women’s Running Post)

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Happy Wednesday! Hope you are having a great week! I shared my thoughts on the necessities of running your first 26.2 miles on Women’s Running several weeks ago. What are your thoughts? What’s really necessary and what can you forget about? ———————- Is 2015 the year of your first marathon? Or maybe you are itching to give the marathon a try but not sure if you are ready to make the jump? Whatever the case may be, the decision to run your first marathon is a big one – and can certainly be intimidating. There’s no shortage of information out there for advice, gear and training plans. But what is really necessary (and what can you skip) for your first 26.2? The Necessities Desire: This may seem obvious, but it’s important that you 100% are committed to the distance for your own reasons. If you are signing up for the marathon for anyone except yourself, you may end up quitting when things get tough. Running Base: You don’t need to be logging 40 miles a week to be ready to run a marathon. But having a solid base is imperative. You should be running about three times/week, ideally for about a Continue Reading →

Boston Marathon Training (T-10)

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Another successful week of Boston training is behind me…just 10 short weeks until Marathon Monday. Last week was my first 60+ mile week in over three months! The last time I was at/over 60 miles was October 20-26! After that week began a small taper for NYC Marathon, recovery from Marathon (~1 week), taper for Potomac River Run Marathon, recovery from marathon (2-3 weeks), taper for Honolulu, flu and tooth problems. I also hit 18 miles for the long run – longest long run in training since October 25. I’m definitely at the point in the training cycle where I feel like there is some good momentum behind me. I’ve had some kick-a$$ speed workouts and long runs have been (knock on wood) enjoyable and strong. As I mentioned in the post last week about mile repeats, my husband was away for work from Sunday through Thursday night. My parents are usually around and willing to watch the boys so I can sneak a run in outside – but my dad is visiting his mom down in Florida and my mom has had her hands full with my great-aunt who needed surgery. So understandably, I was on my own for Continue Reading →

Precor 9.27 Treadmill Review + Treadmill Review Linkup

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When my husband and I were shopping around for a treadmill, it was a bit overwhelming. There are an endless number of brands – and an even more endless number of models to choose from. We found some reviews online – but not enough to give us all the information we were looking for. I routinely get asked what treadmill I would recommend. It’s a hard question for me to answer because I only run on my treadmill – I have no other treadmills to compare it to. And that’s where this comes in to play – a handful of other runners and I decided to do a treadmill review linkup. We would each write a review of our own treadmill – which would give you multiple treadmill reviews – while hopefully answering the pertinent questions you have. You can view the reviews below (via the InLinkz links) or on our Pinterest board! We’d love for this to grow so if you have a review of a treadmill (or want to write one), please email me (nycrunningmama@gmail.com). —————– read moreTweet

The Pain of Mile Repeats

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Mile repeats were on the training plan earlier this week. In my opinion, mile repeats are the most painful speed workout. Running pretty darn hard for ~6+ minutes – with not a ton of rest (2:30) – and then doing it all over again. And again. And so on. 600s and 800s hurt – but I’m only running hard for 2+ or 3+ minutes, respectively. Mile repeats are more of a slow, painful death. But despite all this, I kind of love them. I find that I get almost giddy with excitement when I see them on the training calendar. I think part of my love stems from my history with them. I began doing mile repeats when I was training for the 2007 Army Ten Miler (as a member of the Fort Hood team). I remember the first track workout we did – 2×1600, 2×800 and 2×400. And I vividly remember my legs shaking uncontrollably by the last couple of laps – where it seemed like I was walking. My split times were not impressive and I am fairly certain I was the slowest girl on the team that morning. read moreTweet

Boston Marathon Training (T-11)

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Well, apparently we have another six weeks of winter to look forward to. Way to go, Punxsutawney Phil. I remember saying a few weeks ago that I felt like winter had been fairly mild. Yes, we had some cold days. But we hadn’t had any snow or any days where it was just plain miserable to be out running. Well, all that changed rather quickly and last week was a another week of horrendous weather (that much of the country has been dealing with). I managed to run outside three times – and was forced to the treadmill the other three (once because of the blizzard and twice because of ice on the ground). Monday Planned: 8-9 miles with 6×20 sec strides Actual: 10 miles – no strides I did this run as the snow was starting to fall Monday morning – I knew that at least two days would likely be on treadmill so I wanted to save my I’m going to lose my mind cards for later in the week when it was 100% necessary. It was actually quite beautiful to be out while the snow was starting to fall but I opted out of the strides because the roads were pretty Continue Reading →

Running Links and Highlights (#2)

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Happy Monday and Happy February! Hope you all had a great weekend! Here is this week’s roundup of the best reads from the internet! Let me know if there was anything you read that caught your eye! My friend, Ashley, is holding an auction on her blog right now. There are some really great prizes that are up for grabs. All proceeds from the auction will go towards Every Mother Counts. Go check it out here! 10 Runners Complete 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days: Runners participating in the World Marathon Challenge run 7 marathons (or 7 half marathons – their choice!) on 7 continents in 7 days. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Only downside is the cost – $36,000 a person to participate! Yikes! Matthew McConaughey to start in ‘Born to Run’: ‘Born to Run’ is one of my all-time favorite books – I had NO idea that there was a movie in the works! No detail as to other actors nor when the movie will start filming – but love that Matthew McConaughey will be a part of it! read moreTweet

Does Running Ever Get Easier? (Women’s Running Post)

This is a post that was written for Women’s Running several weeks ago: ————- I ran the Honolulu Marathon last month with my youngest sister. It was her first marathon and without question, the most memorable, special 26.2 miles I’ve ever run. We finished hand-in-hand, smiling and crying happy tears. But it was a tough race for her from the start, due to stomach problems beginning at mile 4. Later that evening, as we were falling asleep in our room, she asked me: “Does running ever get easier?” It’s not an easy question to answer. I know I’ve had the same feelings and questions. There have been countless times I’ve thought about a speedier-than-me runner while completing a tough workout and wondered how easy their tempo runs or long runs must feel. Or thought about how easy it must be for them to be that fast. In my opinion, some aspects get easier. But others are just as hard, if not harder, as they were when I first started running marathons 10+ years ago. I think running truly never gets easy (especially if you are training for a time or goal or PR). It just changes over time. read moreTweet

Boston Marathon Training Update (T-12)

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I’m trying to get back into the habit of sharing my weekly training updates for my next marathon. Boston is 12 weeks away (from Monday). Mid-April sounds so far away, but in reality, it’s just ten long runs.  And for me, it’s actually only eight since two of my weekends are taken up with races (a one-miler and half marathon). Last week was another week of base building and getting used to running on a regular basis again. Because there were no speed workouts or set paces for any of the runs, I took advantage and ran all without a garmin. I’ve run the roads by my home so many times that I know the mile markers based on cracks in the road. Garmin-free running has made the last few weeks so incredibly enjoyable. There’s no worry or thought about pace – running too fast or even too slow – and just running what my body feels is right for the day. It’s allowed me to enjoy the simple act of running – and to fall in love with running all over again. read moreTweet