InsideTracker: Taking a Step in the Right Direction

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I don’t post every day but you can find me on Instagram sharing my running, training and everything else related to running along the way!

As I mentioned last week, I went for a whole bunch of bloodwork the day after the marathon. I received those results and spoke to and received some feedback and guidance from my physician. I knew the results would be a bit skewed the day after the marathon so I wanted to get tested again.

I had begun interacting with Jonathan – one of the leads at InsideTracker – on social media back in the fall. I had first learned about InsideTracker from Mary‘s blog – she is one of the runners whose hard work and dedication I admire. I knew it could benefit me to have the same type of bloodwork done. But between work, running, family, holidays, I kept putting it off. I have the tendency to stay super organized with things that are fresh in my mind – and completely let other things just fall off. That’s what happened with this.

Honestly, in the back of my mind, I had begun to question the need. I’ve always been a big proponent of trying to get all of my nutrients and minerals from food rather than supplements. I don’t take any sort of pill or supplement – nothing. If I’m missing something, I’d rather change my diet that take a pill.

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    Boston Marathon Training – By the Numbers

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    I did this kind of post in the fall with Wineglass – and loved being able to recap and rehash the 3+ months I pushed for the marathon.

    This training cycle was a breakthrough for me – for a few different reasons. I will add that I consider the “cycle” to be from the start of the New Year until race day. I had been running fairly consistently through the New Year – but wasn’t following a training plan nor was I doing dedicated speedwork. It was more of the “I feel good today, let’s try this fun workout” or “I’ll go for 12-16 and see how I feel” for the long run. Most of my “long” runs were between 10-13 miles during the three months post-Wineglass with a few being a few miles higher (nothing over 16).

    First, it was truly the first time where I felt my race times matched my training (not Boston, but NYC Half). I had all but come to the conclusion that I am just a fast trainer. I like doing my long runs at a good pace and my tempos are fast (for me). For other runners, those paces may indicate a certain finish time in a race, but for me, they always seemed to be slower. For a long time, I was worried that I was pushing too hard in training. But then NYC Half happened and that was all the proof I needed to know that I had been training correctly (for me).

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      Podcasts + Running Mojo is BACK + Upcoming Races!

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      After feeling “off” for almost three weeks, I was over-the-moon when I started running Saturday morning and realized that I felt GOOD. So good, in fact, that I would have kept running had my sons not had soccer that morning.

      I decided to leave my garmin at home so I could just run and not worry or be distracted by pace. Even though I ran a bit last week, I felt like I was going through the motions. Every step just felt “blah’ and my legs felt heavy.

      I officially jumped on the podcast while running train Saturday. I’ll be the first to admit that I was so hesitant to give this a try. I love listening to music when I run and didn’t know how I would stay motivated to keep moving only hearing an interview or someone speaking.

      But because I didn’t have set mileage or pace on Saturday, I figured it was the perfect time to do it. One of the reasons I was excited to give it a try was because Lindsey was interviewing my good friend, Ashley – and I wanted to listen to the interview anyway – so figured I might as well try it while running! Lindsey started her I’ll have Another podcast a few weeks ago and has had nothing but amazing, fun women on her show. (If you are into the podcast thing, definitely give her a listen!)

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        Can You Really Balance Family, Work and Running?

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        For years, I remember seeing women who juggled successful careers, families and running and thought they had the kind of balance I hoped to one day have.

        I returned to work full-time this past fall after almost five years of being home with my two children. I’ve learned that (for me) there is no balance.

        I don’t know if it can ever be balanced. There will never be enough time in the day. And I believe the phrase “doing it all” is misleading.

        I would love to spend every possible moment with my boys and not miss a school pickup or a soccer practice on Wednesdays.

        I would love to not feel heartache when I am at work late finishing a project for a deadline. Or feel that I should have stayed longer at work rather than rushing home to see my boys.

        I would love to have more time to cross-train, stretch and recover properly from the miles I do run.

        And I would really love to sleep more.

        But I have found a balance in the imbalance. And here’s what I learned:

        I can’t give 100 percent of myself to everything all the time.
        But I can still give 100 percent all the time. It’s just that the 100% is now divided.
        And I can focus 100 percent on what I’m doing THAT moment, whether it’s work, housework, family or running.
        I have to be okay with “good enough” rather than perfection.
        Priorities can shift from one month or week or day to the next. The closer I get to the Boston Marathon, the more important my workouts are. I’ll choose a run over folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Offseason? Running isn’t as high a priority as to other aspects of my life.
        I have to be kind to myself.
        Sleep is always a priority.
        Sometimes, it’s best to do what will make me happiest, even if it may be viewed as selfish.

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          Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

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          Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

          My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

          At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

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            Having a Short Term Memory with Failed Workouts

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            Tuesday morning I had an 8 mile wave tempo (11-12 total miles). I was pumped for the workout because I LOVE wave tempos (more on these workouts in a coming post!). But after the 2 mile warm-up and then the first 2 mile wave, I didn’t feel great and decided to pull the plug.

            After a crappy workout or one where it gets cancelled, I try to spend a few minutes to determine what the root cause could be. These are the questions I ask myself:

            Have I drank enough water?
            Have I gotten enough sleep?
            Did I fuel properly yesterday/today for this run?

            95% of the time, it’s one of those three things for me. If it’s not one of those, than it could be a sign of overtraining or your body needing a day off.

            But after those few minutes, I forget about the workout. I move on.

            Bad workouts happen. Period.

            I shared this photo on Instagram yesterday and was blown away by the positive response I got.

            The reality is that I often talk about feeling tired and pushing through or not having a great workout but still finishing. And that is what happens sometimes. BUT, there are days, like yesterday, where my mind wins and my body just does not want to do the workout. I wanted to share what happened because nobody will ever nail every workout and it’s misleading to only share the good.

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              The Pendulum of Priorities during Marathon Training

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              I don’t post here every day, but I try to share my training, thoughts and tips on Instagram daily!

              The Boston Marathon will be my first marathon (in seven years) that I’ve trained for while working full time. I’ve learned a lot this cycle. I’ve become a better at time management. I’ve really learned the importance of sleep. I’ve learned that I need to be constantly monitoring my body for signs of over training or exhaustion.

              And I’ve learned about the swinging pendulum of priorities during a cycle. I think it’s a bit unrealistic to assume that your priorities will remain constant over the 3-4 months that you are training. Priorities will shift as the training cycle progresses. The closer you get to race day, the more important some of the key workouts and runs will be, and thus, the higher on the priority list that workout goes.

              Back in November, I blogged about how I was having a hard time finding the motivation to do long runs with my new schedule. I didn’t want to get up early again on Saturday after waking up early Monday through Friday. But, if I didn’t set an alarm, I had no motivation to run after my boys were awake and we were enjoying a relaxing morning drinking coffee/chocolate milk and playing games.

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                Learning to Race Well + Post-Boston Racing Plans + RnR Coupon Code!

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                I don’t post here every day, but you can find my daily running, thoughts and tips on Instagram!

                It’s no secret that the more you do something, the better at it you become. Want to swim better? Get in the pool and start swimming. Want to perfect a dish? Keep cooking it and making small improvements.

                And so, in order to race well, the best thing to do is to jump in and race.

                The reality is, no matter how hard and well you train, if you are a poor racer, you may never see the results of your work. Things like fueling improperly, going out too fast, overdressing, not being comfortable with the taper and letting the negative thoughts come into your mind can all be honed by racing.

                I don’t know if I would call myself a great racer, but I’ve made a lot of progress the last couple of years and can confidently say that I am a light years ahead of where I was two or three years ago.

                The more you race, the more you can take away from each experience. Find what works well. What things you need to improve upon. A bad race, while unfortunate in the short-term, will provide you a lot of insight into things you probably don’t want to do again. And can be a great tool to use in the long-term. Use it as a learning experience – write those nuggets of wisdom you learned down – and then move on.

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                  Treadmill Running Tips + Workouts to Make the Time Fly

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                  This post originally appeared on Women’s Running.

                  Whether it’s the dark mornings, the below freezing weather or the icy roads, many of us may be forced into treadmill workouts over the next few months as training for spring races begins to pick up.

                  Treadmill running has a stigma of being boring and monotonous – and it definitely can be – but there are ways to make the time on the “hamster wheel” challenging and even fun! Below are some tips to help you get through your treadmill runs followed by a great hill workout and a handful of butt-kicking workouts from a few of the Saucony 26 Strong coaches. These speedy ladies have all logged their share of miles on treadmills and are pros at making the time pass quickly while getting an awesome workout in. I also post a bunch of workouts I complete on the treadmill – you can find me here.

                  Variation: I try to mimic running on the roads when I am on the treadmill. I never run on a flat terrain and/or the exact same pace for more than a few minutes. Play around with the incline and/or the pace, even if it’s just picking up or slowing down the pace by a few seconds. This does two things: it keeps me distracted and it helps change up the muscles I am using.

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                    Running By Effort – and Why It’s Working For Me

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                    I don’t post every day, but you can find me sharing my daily running and thoughts on Instagram!

                    I shared in my race recap that I ran Sunday mostly by feel – and not by pace. But how do I do this and what does it really mean?

                    So, I still race with my Garmin and GPS on – mostly because I want the data post-race but also because it does keep me honest about going out too fast. My Garmin will provide me my mile splits – if I want to see them, I just need to glance down when I feel the vibration. As I’m racing, I can only see the total time I’ve run. (On Sunday, I forgot to do this before the race, but was able to change the view so I only saw the current time.)

                    I did this for the first time two years ago for the NJ Marathon. After a series of sub-par marathons, I did some serious self evaluation and came to the conclusion that I was letting the pace dictate the race. Race goals and paces were controlling me during the race. I would spend almost the entire race staring at my watch, obsessing over the pace. I was forcing the pace rather than letting it come naturally. And if/when I started to see the paces slow down, it would psych me out.

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                      2016 NYC Half Marathon Race Recap: 1:28:10

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                      Sunday’s race was truly one of the best racing experiences of my life. Of course a part of that is obviously because I PR’d (and set unofficial PRs in the 10k, 15k and 10 miles enroute). But a large part of it is because I followed the race plan and was able to negative split – for the first time ever! I was patient in the beginning of the race and then still had energy to fight hard the last few miles.

                      THESE are the races you dream of having. Not the ones where it feels like a death march the last few miles. But instead, where you are tired but still have that little bit of fight left. That last gear that you’ve been saving to shift to when it’s the right moment.

                      For me, that is the definition of a successful race. Paces won’t always be there. You can’t control weather. But having the strength (mentally) to keep fighting and pushing when you are getting tired is the way I dream about racing.

                      Race Morning
                      Sunday started off at 4am for my husband and I. He and the boys were dropping me off at the start and then after breakfast would be at the finish! The NYC Half is a point to point race – starting in Central Park and then after a loop, heading south through Times Square then over to the West Side Highway all the way to downtown NYC.

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                        Warming up during a run + NYC Half on Sunday

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                        Hello, hello!

                        Happy St. Paddy’s Day!! Our house had a little visitor last night!

                        This week has been a tough one. I find it odd since the previous two weeks were much more demanding at work and I was running higher mileage. This has been a bit of a taper (because of NYC Half on Sunday) and work has been more normal hours, but I’ve felt tired and just not thrilled with waking up early to run.

                        I’ve learned that Sunday evening into Monday sets the condition for the rest of the week. When I start the week off on not enough sleep, the rest of the week is tough because there’s no chance of making up the sleep until the following weekend. It’s like starting a marathon without being fully charged and rested.

                        The result was sleeping in on Tuesday (I reset the alarm to give me an two extra hours) and putting off a workout until Tuesday evening – which turned into a mostly easy run because I was just feeling too tired and “blah” after a day at work.

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                          2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7, T-6)

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                          Three week update coming at you today. Life, family and a lot of work got in the way of the last two week’s updates. Work has been nuts. But in a really good, challenging and rewarding way. I’m filling in a good number of the responsibilities of a coworker while she is away on vacation – so the days have been packed and long. By the time I get home at the end of the day, spend some time with my boys, have dinner and put them to sleep, I’m ready for bed. I don’t even open my laptop during the week!

                          And the weekends have been filled with lots of family time. My entire family came over last Sunday for an informal dinner and then this past weekend we were in NJ both days – celebrating my mom’s birthday on Saturday at my sister’s home and then taking all the kids to see the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Mall on Sunday.

                          I’m at the point in training where things are clicking, the mileage and intensity feel tough but sustainable (for the short term) and I am experiencing some big fitness gains. My reaction is always to put my head down and keep working. It makes sense, right? But my coach had other plans for me two weeks ago. We skipped a long run in lieu of some extra down time. I think it worked well. I feel energized and rested the last couple of weeks and was ready to run hard for the 1 mile race. Only 4 weeks of hard training left.

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                            2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

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                            Last year was my first time racing (or even running) the Forest Avenue Mile. It’s a local one-mile race that takes place immediately before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade – a hugely popular parade the runs along Forest Avenue in Staten Island and attracts 50,000 spectators each year.

                            I ran a 5:42 last year in less-than-ideal racing weather. Headwind and almost-blizzard like conditions – but it was an automatic PR since it was the first time I had ever truly raced a mile.

                            Initially, we had planned on doing a long run this week – likely Thursday – and then a quick recovery in time for Sunday. But, after a successful cycle so far, coach and I decided to skip the long run and use this as a cut-back week in mileage. I had a 3×3 killer workout on the schedule anyway, so we upped the warmup and cooldown a bit to make it a touch longer in lieu of a long run.

                            I can’t predict the future, but I feel like this was the best decision we could have made. I didn’t need a cutback week (yet) BUT it’s a good way to stay ahead of peaking too soon or overtraining. I still have 6 weeks until Boston, so plenty of time to make some more gains in fitness before race day.

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                              Social Media + Sponsored Posts + Things I’m Loving Lately

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                              Blogging has obviously taken a back seat lately. I haven’t written about anything except Boston training here. I’m finding that I can share more frequently via Instagram – photos with short blurbs of tips or lessons learned – that I’m able to do while commuting to or from work. It’s taken place of some of the blogging for the time being. (PS. Make sure you are following me – I’m doing an awesome giveaway later today!)

                              Prior to working out of the home, I was coaching and blogging as a means to help support my family. When my husband left his job at Hess in Dec 2014, we knew it was going to be a tough couple of years financially. We invested all of our savings into the company that he and his partner bought, he took a salary cut and there is no year-end bonus. So, obviously, I did what I could to bring in money for us. Returning to work was not something that made sense immediately since he was working long hours and traveling to Buffalo (where the company is physically located) very frequently (for a week at a time). It would have been hard to return to full-time work at that point.

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                                2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-10) + How to Do Speedwork on Treadmill

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                                I hope you all had an amazing Valentine’s Day with the ones you love! My guys and I got to spend the evening out – all dressed up. It was a great way to spend the holiday!

                                So we are 9 weeks out from race day. After a less-than-ideal couple of weeks of training, last week was a solid and strong week back. 63+ miles over 7 days of running. Coach and I have left one day mid-week as an optional rest day. Last week was the first week in months where I felt that I didn’t need it. I usually take it because I’m tired from not enough sleep. But, everything flowed so effortlessly last week that I didn’t feel exhausted or that I needed a morning to sleep in. So I skipped the rest day and did an easy run. I definitely think that if time or sleep were not an issue, I would be able to run 7 days a week for a stretch of time. My body responded well to that in the summer/fall. But the reality is that not every week will look and feel like last week did.

                                Here’s how the week broke down:

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                                  2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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                                  Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

                                  My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

                                  By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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                                    2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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                                    Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

                                    This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

                                    6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

                                    There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

                                    As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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                                      Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-14)

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                                      Happy Tuesday! Another solid week of training is in the bank. It was a bit of a cutdown week, in regards to miles, but the intensity and effort was at or slightly higher than previous weeks.

                                      But most importantly, my sister had a baby boy this week!! I am an aunt to a beautiful, happy, healthy little boy!!

                                      5 total runs (1 planned rest day, 1 unplanned) for 49 miles. I’m two weeks in to long runs on Fridays – and so far, they are working. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics of longer long runs (for instance, this week I have 18-19 miles so I would need to start around 4am). Not sure about where I’m going to run the miles (maybe break up inside/outside), but I’ll have the details ironed out by the end of the week.

                                      This Friday’s run required a 3:40am wakeup – which was tough because it’s at the tail end of a long work week, BUT, knowing that once it’s done, I get the entire weekend to sleep in and relax with my boys in the AM makes me energized to suck it up and get it done. I tell myself that I can deal with being tired one more morning – and the reward makes it worth it.

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                                        Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-15)

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                                        Running tends to mirror other aspects of my life. If I have a stressful week, running typically doesn’t go well. If I’m having a good week, running usually adds to the happiness. This past week was filled with so much family, happiness and love – and I feel like my running really showed that.

                                        6 total runs for 57 miles with one planned rest day. This was the first week where I made the decision at the start of the week to take a mid-week rest day – and man, did it feel GOOD. Sleeping in felt great but more importantly, I felt energized for Thursday and Friday’s morning runs, not exhausted or dreading them. So, for the time being, I’m sticking with a rest day (planned for Wednesday but staying flexible with the day).

                                        Here’s how the week broke down:

                                        Monday, Thursday, Saturday – easy miles in the bank
                                        6, 8, 6 miles – all easy paced/recovery runs. Monday’s run was garmin-free and the other two were with my garmin (I averaged 8:18 and 8:20 paces for those two).

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