Learning to Trust the Process

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If you receive Women’s Running (and you should!), check out page 8 of the magazine! I’m beyond excited to share the ads that I got to be a part of in February! There will be another ad or two in the coming months and the two 3-minute videos from the photo shoot should be released soon!

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#Trusttheprocess has been one of my favorite hashtags to use on Instagram and twitter the last few months.

I honestly don’t remember where I first heard or saw this phrase, but it struck a chord and has become one of the mantras I repeat to myself when things are tough or I’m questioning why I’m going to do a workout.

Trusting the process.

But what is the process?

The process is the training. The recovery. The racing. The (seemingly) little things. The doing.

It’s a process to get where you want to go. It won’t happen overnight so sometimes the best thing you can do is just chip away a little bit at a time. Sub-3:10 has been a big goal of mine for years. I stopped trying to do it all at once (because it wasn’t working) and started focusing on just training hard and letting paces, times and everything else fall into place when they are ready. I’ve chipped away the last two marathons and am hopeful that I’ve set myself up to achieve this goal in two weeks.

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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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The Magic of the Taper

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*Starting today, Instagram is “letting an algorithm decide what’s most relevant to show you, instead of a time-ordered selection from the people you’ve chosen to follow.” Think of it like Facebook. You won’t necessarily see someone’s IG post now – unless it’s someone you interact with regularly. More information can be found here.

I’ll still be updating on a regular basis – sharing my runs, thoughts, tips and more! You can find me here.

For YEARS, I had no idea what I was during the taper. I dreaded it because I felt forced to run less – which makes me crabby. If I willingly take a rest day or two, I’m fine with it. But when I feel like I’m being forced, I get irrationally annoyed and anxious.

The taper was also a time when I second guessed my goals. My confidence, which was usually fairly high, dropped and as a result, I did MANY things that ended up working against me on race day (running too much, going too fast, cross training, etc).

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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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1:28:10 Half Marathon PR!

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I am literally on cloud 9 this morning. Yesterday was one of the most amazing running days of my life. I will go into a full recap later this week, but wanted to pop in and share the good news (in case you don’t feel me on Instagram or Facebook!).

I went into the race with a 1:31:57 half marathon PR that was set 2.5 years ago at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race.

I knew that I was more than trained for a PR. A 1:32 is ~7:00 min/mile pace. My long tempos (6-8 milers) have been closer to the 6:50 range – on tired legs – so I knew that if I ran smart, I had a chance to run that pace for 13 miles.

Coach’s race plan for me was to start conservatively in the park, pick up the pace through Times Square and West Side Highway and then hang on and finish strong. The course fits very well with the way I’ve been tackling tempos – most of my recent ones (last year or so) have been negative split tempos, so I knew that if I just stayed patient early on through the hills in the Park, it could be a good race.

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Things I’ve Learned Since Returning to Work

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So, I’ve been working outside the home for almost 6 months now. It’s definitely one of those weird time paradigms because it seems like I just started but I also can’t imagine my days/life without this job.

Things are going extremely well. I’ve settled into a good routine and I whole-heartedly enjoy what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. I’m excited to start and build a career here. And it’s more than just a job for me now – it’s a social experience, too, which makes going to work enjoyable and even fun.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts – things I’m loving and not loving – about working.

Eliminate or cut back on the time sucks. This isn’t a nice to do, it’s a must do. I’ve cut back tremendously on the things that suck time out of my day – especially in the mornings when I’m rushing around and in the evening when I’m home and spending uninterrupted time with my boys. Prepping things like work and running clothes, coffee, lunch bags for the boys, lunch for me all save my husband and I a great amount of time in the mornings. I also don’t check social media or do much of anything on my phone until I am on the bus. It’s so easy to plan to check one thing and then 15 minutes later, the phone is still in your hand.

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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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2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

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Last week was the second week in a row where I went 5-for-5 with early morning wakeups (before work). I feel like I’m in a good groove with the mom/work/running balance. I know it won’t always feel like this so I’m trying to make the most of it while things are working well.

I’ve begun to look ahead and think about fall racing plans. I am leaning towards skipping a fall marathon this year. There are many reasons for this. Truth is, usually about 6-8 weeks out from a marathon, I start feeling like I will take a break, but the excitement and happiness from race day is usually enough to have me signing up for the next one. So I know part of my current thought process is affected by my current feelings towards long runs and the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to Boston.

But one of the biggest reasons is that I (currently) do not want to dedicate Saturday mornings for long runs. Now that I’m working out of the home during the week, our weekends, especially during the warmer months, will be when we do things – go to beach, go on day-trips and so on. I don’t want my training to infringe on those plans.

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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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