Life Lately, News, Updates and More!

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I realized the other day that I started blogging five years ago. Holy cow…that’s a long time. I also realized that I haven’t blogged in two months – the longest I have gone during my five years of oversharing (ha!).

The truth is, the lack of blogging wasn’t initially an intentional action. It first started simply b/c I didn’t have time to write some updates or share some of the recent races I had run. The summer was hectic and the start of fall proved to be even more so. The boys started school (both full-time) which initially seemed like it would make life easier, but that’s not the case. Our sitter got a full-time job and so between my husband and I we are juggling full-time work with dropoffs, pickups, homework and all the after-school activities they participate in (note: my mom and dad help out a ton as well!). They both have soccer clinic on Saturday mornings. AJ has baseball 2-3x/week and soccer (on his school’s team) 2x/week. Basically every day includes some sort of post-school activity. Between their activities, schoolwork, house work (we do not have a cleaning woman so all the heavy cleaning, laundry, etc is done on the weekends), running and just living, blogging moved from the “have to” list to the “nice to do” list and eventually to the “not necessary” list.

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    Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!

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    Brooklyn-Mile-Poster-7_28-683x1024

    The last three weeks have been the best running in months. I’ve had three consecutive 50+ mile weeks – all with some speedwork and some long runs – and I feel great. I’m starting to get that burning in my belly to start training hard again. More on that soon!

    I have some really fun short races coming up! This weekend is the Brooklyn Mile and I’m both excited and terrified! LOL. It’s the inaugural year for what promises to be an awesome race.

    I don’t think I’m going to PR but I’m going to see what I can do. I ran my PR (5:28) this past winter at the Forest Avenue Mile which is a very fast course (granted, weather conditions were not ideal the last two years).

    If you are in the NYC area, you should definitely consider this race – there are 7 waves – first the masters divisions (one for men, one for women), then the open divisions (one for women, one for men), then the elite race (one for women, one for men) and then the Friends and Family Mile.

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      Things I’m Loving + Exciting News

      Runner's Connect
      Runner's Connect

      There’s been a few things I’ve been meaning to share, but they haven’t worked themselves into other posts, so I wanted to include them in a roundup here.

      First, I am excited to share that I am featured on Runner’s Connect today! My super speedy friend, Tina, interviewed me a couple of weeks ago for the weekly podcast series. You can find the whole interview here!

      I’m also super excited to share that I have joined the Generation UCAN team as an ambassador. For those that have read here for a bit, you know I am pretty serious about brands I partner with – they have to be ones I believe in and provide products I use on a regular basis. And so, it made sense to team with Generation UCAN. I’ve been using the Superstarch Drink Mix for several years now – it has become my go-to before long training runs and races. And I’ve begun using their UCAN Hydrate (electrolyte replacement drink), snack bars and protein-enhanced mixes to supplement my meals and water consumption.

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        Training Highlights + Garmin Forerunner 225 Giveaway!

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        Hello from Alaska!! We are two weeks into our three week vacation and having an absolute blast. The last 15 days have been filled with nothing but outdoor adventures, delicious food, beautiful weather and time with family.

        Running and training have gone exceptionally well, especially given that we are on vacation. I’m always cautious about training during vacation. It’s definitely a fine line – I want to maximize time with family but I also want to maintain my fitness and momentum with training.

        I’m thankful that my husband and in-laws are supportive and encouraging of my running. Out of the 15 days we’ve been here, I’ve run 13 – the two missed days were because of jet lag (the 2nd day) and a packed day of hiking and driving last week. But several of the runs have been cut short – by 1-3 miles – because of shortage of time or just lack of interest to be gone for 70+ minutes at a time when the weather is nice and there are fun activities to do. And I mostly have eliminated core and strength work and cross training for the time being.

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          Looking to Buy a Garmin GPS? Start Here!

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          There is no shortage of running GPS watches on the market today – each one with a different capability and price point. And so it can be incredibly overwhelming to narrow down a watch from the long list available, especially if you’ve never tried any of them before.

          I have been a faithful Garmin user since 2007 when my sisters gifted me my first Garmin as a going-away/Christmas present before my deployment (I have the best sisters!). I’ve used many of them – ranging from the Forerunner 10 to the Forerunner 910xt and wanted to share my thoughts on the Garmin Forerunners on the market today. (Keep in mind that there are a ton of other Garmin GPS watches – these are just the Forerunner models!)

          All of the below watches offer these capabilities:

          • GPS enabled
          • Garmin Connect

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          Forerunner 10 (retails for $129)
          My review can be found here.

          The Forerunner 10 is an entry-level GPS watch that Garmin released two years ago. The Forerunner 10 is a “GPS running watch that tracks your distance, speed/pace and calories. It also identifies your personal records and motivation along the way.”

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            Jonathan Adler + Garmin (Review + Giveaway!)

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            I’ve had my Garmin trackers (both the Vivofit 2 and Vivosmart) for over four months. I wear one of them pretty much every single day – and when I don’t, my wrist feels bare and naked and I spend the day feeling like something is missing. There have been plenty of times where I have opted for a bare wrist and thus, no data (gasp! =) ) in lieu of fashion. For example, two weeks ago, my husband and I went to a wedding – we were all dressed up and the black band just looked out of place. It’s not that it looked bad – but it looked like what it was – a fitness tracker. The rest of me was covered in jewlery – and the band stuck out.

            Needless to say, I am so excited to help launch Garmin’s newest product line! Garmin has teamed up with renowned potter and designer, Jonathan Adler, to offer a collection of chic, pattern-printed accessory bands for the Vivofit 2 (as well as the Vivofit!).

            “Jonathan Adler + Garmin combines fashion with purpose-built wearables, so users never have to choose between personal style and trusted technology.” – Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales

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              Garmin Vivosmart Review

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              Back in December, I was asked to participate in the Garmin and Whole Foods #PathtoFit Campaign. I am a huge Garmin fan and absolutely love Whole Foods. The only issue was that the closest Whole Foods to me (these days) is ~45 min away; 90 minutes in the car (once/week for six weeks) was just a bit too much for me.

              So I was ecstatic when Garmin asked if I wanted to review the new Vivosmart (and give one away) in lieu  of participating. 

              Wearing an activity tracker has been an eye-opener. I don’t sit a lot during the day and assumed I was taking a lot more steps than I actually was. The most useful information was being able to see my steps broken down hour-by-hour so I could determine when I was moving most throughout the day and when I was stationary. The total number of steps, while interesting, doesn’t mean as much to me since my primary form of exercise is running.

              Below are some of my favorite aspects of the the Vivosmart:

              • No Buttons: There are no buttons on the Vivosmart. You toggle between the information by a simple swipe (right to left)
              • Invisible Display: It features a sleek, invisible display that comes to life when you get a notification or when you give the band a tap.
              • Standard activity information: Steps, Distance, Calories, Current Time and Heart Rate (if you purchase the heart rate model). No surprises here – this is the info that most of the trackers provide.
              • Smart Notifications: Hands down, my favorite part of the Vivosmart. It’s a bluetooth enabled device that gives you notifications on your wrist when you receive a text, email or phone call. This allowed me to keep my phone away from me during the day while still being able to see any important or time-critical messages or calls. Since using the Vivosmart, I have used my cell phone exponentially less while I am with my boys. Even when I would keep my cell phone in a pocket or on a table, I would immediately check it when a notification came through. And then I would continue to check Instagram, twitter and Facebook – at least a 5 minute process. 
              • Tells you when to “move”: After sitting still for one hour, the Vivosmart vibrates and displays “move” on the screen to let you know it’s time to move (once you move, it resets back to “0”). It made me more mindful of prolonged periods of sitting – something I had never paid attention to before.
              • Garmin Connect: The Vivosmart connects (via Bluetooth) to Garmin Connect on your smart phone where you can view all of the data that it is collecting including Mileage, Calories, Steps, Sleep info (see below). I loved being able to see each day’s activity displayed by hour – it provided a lot of useful information as to when I was most active and when I was spending longer periods of time sitting and/or remaining still. 
              • Sleep Information: Via Garmin Connect, you can view your total sleep time (you enter in when you go to sleep and wake up), periods of movement and restful sleep
              • Adjustable Daily Goal: You can either set a manual daily step-goal for yourself or you can have one generated based on your previous day’s steps (which is how I used it!).
              • Color Choices: You can choose an all black band or four other color choices for the band – pink, purple, blue or grey (You pick the color when you purchase the Vivosmart). The bands also come in two sizes to ensure it fits your wrist!

              My ONE complaint about the Vivosmart is the battery life – which I know goes with the territory of a bluetooth enabled activity tracker. Fully charged, a vivosmart can last up to 7 days. I got better about remember to charge it (the Vivosmart has a battery icon that comes on when it starts to get low) at night every 5-6 days to ensure that it was never in jeopardy of dying during the day!

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                Garmin Vivofit Winner + You Can Still Win a Vivofit!

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                photo (20)

                I announced the winner of the Garmin Vivosmart Instagram giveaway on Thursday – congratulations to Kelly!!

                The winner of the Garmin Vivofit giveaway is: Sarah Evans!

                A couple of ladies participating in the #Pathtofit campaign with Garmin and Whole Foods are/will be giving away a Garmin Vivofit (as well as gift card to Whole Foods!). If you didn’t win one here, go check out their blogs for a chance to win!! Dorothy, Christine, Lindsay.

                  Another Week Off From Running + Support New Runners

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                  I haven’t run since Saturday. This marks the 2nd longest non-running streak I have had in the last several years (with the longest being just a few weeks ago from the flu). I’m on a roll lately – just not rolling the way I would like.

                  I was starting to regain my energy in the days after the flu, but the whole next week, was back to how I felt the week before. I was running a low fever for much of the week and could barely drag myself out of bed at 7am (big difference from normal 4:30am wakeups) despite going to bed by 10pm. Most of my runs were at night because I felt better as the day went on.

                  Saturday was much the same and after postponing the long run until the afternoon, managed just 3.5 miles before I called it quits and stopped at my sister’s house. I felt so tired despite running over 35+ seconds (per mile) slower than usual for my long run pace.

                  I was in the car Sunday morning with my husband and boys when my tooth literally popped out of my mouth. It was from a tooth that had root canal last year – so the cap, plate and screw – all came out.

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                    Garmin Fitness Trackers + Garmin Vivofit Giveaway!

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                    Garmin has released two models in their activity tracker line – the Vivosmart and the Vivofit. The Vivosmart is the higher model – but both have several awesome capabilities (review of the Vivosmart coming soon!). Below is a chart outlying the differences:

                    I’ve hosted a bunch of Garmin giveaways lately. The 910xt and the Vivofit were/are not sponsored by Garmin (or anyone else for that matter). One of the perks of this blog and being on social media is getting awesome swag – both of these fall into that category. I already have a 910xt and knew I was getting the Vivosmart (plus my Garmin Forerunner 10 tracks steps and mileage) – so I certainly don’t need another activity tracker. I feel wrong for selling them since I didn’t spend my own money on them in the first place. So I decided to give them away as a thank you for everyone who reads, comments or supports me and my running journey.

                    The Garmin Vivosmart that I’m giving away on Instagram right now (go check it out!) is sponsored by Garmin. They had reached out to me several weeks ago to participate in a campaign they are holding ICW Whole Foods. I would have loved to participate, but unfortunately, the nearest Whole Foods is 45+ min away – and I couldn’t justify a weekly trip that far to buy my groceries, so I had to opt out. My contact at Garmin offered to send me a Vivosmart to review – as well as one to give away!

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                      Garmin Forerunner 15 Review

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                      photo (8)

                      If you have been reading here for a bit, you are already aware that I am a huge Garmin fan! I’ve tried a handful of different models – ranging from the entry-level Forerunner 10 (review here) to the advanced and multi-sport Forerunner 910xt (which I used for my 1st Ironman). I can’t say that I prefer one over the other – there are those that I would recommend to someone newer to the sport and then others that I would recommend for those looking for specific capabilities.

                      I recently had the opportunity to test out and review the Garmin Forerunner 15 – a GPS watch similar in capabilities to the Forerunner 10 – except for two major improvements: it tracks your daily activity (steps, mileage, calories) while also monitoring your heart rate (additional cost). Pretty awesome that one single watch can do it all.

                      The Forerunner 15 (from Garmin’s Website):

                      • Tracks distance, pace, heart rate and calories
                      • Activity tracking counts steps and calories and reminds you when it’s time to move
                      • Compatible with foot pod for recording distance indoors
                      • Up to 8 hours of battery life with GPS on or 5 weeks in watch/activity tracking mode
                      • Save, plan and share your activities at Garmin Connect™

                      I am completely serious when I say that I wear this watch every single day. Most nights I wear it to bed so I’ll have it on first thing in the AM (the only times it comes off is when I have to charge it).

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                        Things I’m Loving – Ironman Edition

                        Don't look too closely - not every frame is filled with pictures of our family yet. HA

                        Don’t look too closely – not every frame is filled with pictures of our family yet. HA

                        Husband came home earlier than expected yesterday (yay!). Even though I was able to take a 45-min nap before dinner, I guess my body still needed sleep as I slept straight through my 4am this morning. I hate missing workouts but I know that sleep is more important and that missing one measly workout (which was an easy swim at that) won’t make or break me in 15 days.  So unplanned rest day for me!

                        We are hanging out at home today and heading up to Lake Placid this evening at the boys bedtime.  Unless we left early this afternoon, we would hit a crapload of traffic which doesn’t bode well for a 9 1/2 month old who isn’t fond of the carseat.  Thankfully, I feel ahead of laundry and chores around the house – it helped having my wonderful in-laws here for a visit – I was able to do so many little projects around the house, including hanging these frames on our entry way wall.

                        And have I mentioned that whenever my in-laws visit, they bring a cooler of freshly caught seafood? Last visit was Ophelia crab…this time it was Copper River Red salmon. Heaven on a plate:

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                          Garmin Forerunner 10 Winner

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                          Good Morning!

                          The winner of the Garmin Forerunner 10 Giveaway is Gabrielle Mareaviva:

                          You have one week to email nycrunningmama@gmail.com to claim your prize before a subsequent winner is selected!

                          Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway!  Check back next week for another review/giveaway =)

                          Also, check out the new colors that Garmin has released for the Forerunner 10:

                          Check them out here!!

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                            Scotland 10k Race Recap

                            Race outfit

                            I got up early Saturday AM (5am) and did my usual pre-race routine: Drank my coffee, nursed the little guy who had just woken up (and decided not to go back to sleep), ate a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, drank some Nuun, packed my bag and was out of the house by 6:30am.  

                            I picked up my friend, Leticia (and her friend), and we made our way to the UWS.  After leaving the car in a garage by my sister’s building, I ran to the park and continued doing short out and backs from the start corrals as part of my 2-mile warmup.

                            I got into the start corrals by 7:45 (the race started at 8am) and tried to stay loose and warm. Despite beautiful weather this week, it was a chilly morning in NYC – with the windchill, it felt like it was in the upper 20s.  My race outfit changed about 10x during the previous 24 hours.  I went with Nike shorts, PRO Compression Socks, Saucony Guide 6s, Lululemon tank, Saucony long-sleeved shirt, and Saucony gloves.  {this is post-race but the only clothes picture I have!}

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                              Garmin Forerunner 10 Review + GIVEAWAY

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                              I am a Garmin lover.  I purchased my first Garmin in 2002 when I ran my first marathon.  I have no idea what model it was – all I remember is that it was huge and covered half of my wrist!  My second was a Christmas gift from my sisters before I deployed to Iraq in November 2007.  After a few wonderful years with the Garmin, I decided to upgrade in August 2012.  The Forerunner 610 had recently been released and I decided to spend the extra money and get the newest model.

                              The Forerunner 610 was on my wrist for my first ultra, when I won the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, during many of my runs during my 2nd pregnancy, and on all my outdoor runs postpartum…I love everything about it – the touchscreen, all of the cool features, the ability to customize what information is shown on each screen (up to 4 data fields at once!) to name a few.

                              I’m often asked which watch I would recommend for a runner’s first GPS.  I love the 610.  But to be totally honest, there are a lot of functions that are probably not necessary for a casual or beginning runner – I don’t even use all of the features the Forerunner is equipped with.  When I head out on a run, I am really only concerned about pace, time and distance.  And up until recently, Garmin hadn’t created a basic, entry-level GPS – all of the models came with functions and capabilities that a new runner (or a veteran runner that wanted basic functions of a GPS) didn’t need or want.

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                                Am I Holding Myself Back?

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                                Erin O had a question from the previous post (Cold Weather Running).  Does anyone have an answer for her? =)

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                                I have a goal pace (GP) that I try to stick to for all of my long runs.  These  GPs change week to week based on how I felt the week prior as well as what McMillan’s calculator says I should be running. I aim for my first 2-3 miles to be a bit slower than that pace, the last 1-2 to be faster…and all the others to be in that range.  

                                My first few long runs after my son was born was in the 8:20-8:30 range.  Since then, I’ve been trying to stay around 8:10-8:15.  I’m back up to distances that I haven’t hit since before I was pregnant (Jan 2012) so I’ve tried really hard to be cautious about not expecting too much and running a smart long run (for me that means not starting too fast).  

                                I ran 16 miles this past Saturday.  My goal was to average somewhere between 8:10.  First four miles were right where I wanted them to be:

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                                  Progression Run + Explosion of Thomas the Train

                                  Thomas the Train

                                  This past weekend was a cut-back long week.  I follow the “build, build, build, easy” concept when it comes to my long runs.  The last three weekends had been 10, 12, and 14…Saturday was supposed to be 8, but I decided to make it a speedy 6 and leave some extra miles for Sunday since I knew the weather was going to be unseasonably mild:

                                  I’ve been doing all of my speedwork and tempo runs on the treadmill, so I wanted to see how it felt to push the pace a bit outside and decided to do a progression run:

                                  • Mile 1: 7:47 (warm-up)
                                  • Mile 2: 7:19
                                  • Mile 3: 7:17
                                  • Mile 4: 7:14
                                  • Mile 5: 7:09
                                  • Mile 6: 6:59
                                  • 6 miles: 43:50
                                  • Average Pace: 7:17
                                  The last mile was tough – I wanted my watch to say sub-7 SO badly.  I miscalculated and was at 5.85 when I reached my home (such a kick in the pants to have to run by my home).  6:59 is the first sub-7 minute mile outside that I have had since I found out I was pregnant last Jan =)

                                  Progression runs are hands down my favorite type of run.  I often incorporate them onlong runs, tempo runs, and even easy days.

                                  A progression run is simply a run in which you finish faster than you start.  There are a TON of different ways you can do progression runs:

                                  • Miles: This is how I prefer to do my progression runs.  Basically, my goal is to run each mile faster than the previous mile.  I start super slow and end super fast (for me).
                                  • Thirds: Separate your run into three equal parts.  The first 1/3 should be the slowest, the middle 1/3 should be faster and the final 1/3 should be your fastest
                                  • End Fast: I do this on a lot of my easy runs.  I always try to make the last mile or two my fastest – not super fast, but aiming to be close to my half or marathon goal pace.

                                  Progression runs:

                                  • Force me to start slow.  I know I won’t be able to run the full progression run correctly if I start too fast
                                  • Are a great way to do a short tempo run or speedwork without devoting a ton of miles to it (the last 1-2 miles are usually at a pretty fast pace for me)
                                  • Satiate my competitive nature.  I am basically competing against myself when I do a progression run – I have to beat my previous mile time.  Nobody wants to lose to themself. HA.
                                  • Make the miles go by quickly.  I only focus on the current mile and concentrate on running that one faster than the previous
                                  • Are a HUGE confidence booster.  There is nothing as satisfying as finishing a run (regardless of distance) super fast – and feeling strong and in control

                                  If you want to learn more about progression runs, check out these articles by McMillan Running and Runners World.

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                                    How Do You Get Through a Long Run?

                                    The tweets, facebook updates, and blog posts have begun – all discussing fall marathons and the initial couple of weeks of training for these races. That means weekly long runs are starting – by mid-summer, there’ll be plenty of 20+ mile runs being completed in preparation for the upcoming races.

                                    One question I’ve been asked repeatedly is how I get through long runs – week in and week out – without getting burned out.  When I was training for the NYC Marathon and the Knickerbocker 60k (concurrently), I had successful training runs up to 30 miles.

                                    Long runs during marathon training are just as much based on mental strength as they are on physical strength (if not more).  So how do you mentally survive running 14+ miles every weekend for a few months??  Here are some things I do to get me through my long runs:

                                    • Break up the run.  Once the run begins, I try not to think about the total distance I have left to run until it’s well under half.  Being at mile 2 of a 22 mile run is a bit intimidating and can easily throw off your concentration.  When I ran 30 miles on my 30th birthday, I broke the run up into 6 – 5 mile increments.  I focused on 5 miles at a time (which coincided with a 5 mile loop that I was running on). Each time I finished five miles, I told myself that I only had to make it through the next 5 miles.  5 miles is totally manageable.
                                    • Concentrate on one mile at a time.  Focusing on just one mile and the pace I want to hit makes my goal pace seem more manageable. I tell myself that I have to run the next mile at x:xx pace – as soon as the mile clicks on my Garmin, I start working on the next mile.
                                    • DON’T be a slave to your Garmin.  Constantly looking at your pace and distance will make the miles drag on. One of my recent tricks is to keep my Garmin on the main display so all I see is the current time.  I get a vibrating notification when I finish a mile – that’s the only time I see my pace.  This may not work if you are trying to hit very specific times during your long run, but since I am running based on how I feel rather than pace, it doesn’t hinder my run.
                                    • Pick a new route.  I always enjoy runs where I am exploring or covering new terrain, so I often try to leave certain routes or areas alone during the week and save them for the weekend long run.  Just this past weekend, I ran a point-to-point route that I had yet to run – the miles FLEW by because I was enjoying my new surroundings.
                                    • Let your mind wander. Think about the rest of your day,  what you are going to eat/drink when the run is over, maybe an upcoming vacation or trip – whatever will keep your mind distracted.   When I was training for my first ultra, I had about 5 miles left of a 28 mile trail run – I was tired – and starting to get hungry (for real food – not just gels).  My husband was my roving support on his bike and told me that he would get me one of my favorite indulgent foods when we got back – KFC!!  That was all I needed to hear.  I spent the last few miles thinking about fried chicken, potato wedges, and biscuits.
                                    • Listen to Music. As I’ve discussed previously, I am a huge fan of having music on my runs.  It keeps my mind occupied and makes me happy.  For me, there is nothing better than when one of my favorite songs come on my IPOD and I get pumped up and pick up the pace during mile 20 of that long run.
                                    • Envision success.  Picture yourself running the last few miles of the marathon you are training for.  When I was training for the NYC Marathon, I did a few runs in Central Park to get used to the hills.  I ran the same route that the last few miles of NYC Marathon follows.  I envisioned myself coming into the park,  I saw and heard the crowds, I actually could feel the adrenaline of race day!  And would immediately get a boost of energy and excitement.
                                    • Allow time in your plan for rest/recovery/low mileage days. I follow the hard, hard, hard, easy rule for long runs.  For example, I’ll run 16, 18, 20 miles three weeks in a row followed by an easy or off week where I’ll run 10-12 miles.  The following week I’ll run 20, 22, 24 miles.  Knowing that I get that easy long run day helps me push myself through the current run.  Going back to my previous high mileage also gives me a buffer week in case I am sick, scheduling conflicts arise, or just need a week off from the long run.

                                    In the end, do the things that you enjoy – if you prefer music over running “naked”, bring your IPOD; if you enjoy running alone vs with a group, then make it a solo run.  Make the run as enjoyable as possible for yourself !!

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                                      Running with music does NOT make me slower

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                                      I’m a huge believer that while running can be a group activity, it is extremely personal.  What works for one runner may not work for someone else.  Through trial and error, we find what works best for us.

                                      For example, I take a day off before a long run and prefer to do a shakeout run after a long run.  I am rested for my long run and recover well from the back-to-back runs.  However, I know many runners who train the opposite way.  Sure, you can you argue all day about the benefits / drawbacks of each, but in the end, you do what you feel most comfortable doing.

                                      Another example – I wear a Garmin when I go on my “quality” runs (long, speed, and tempo runs) but I prefer to not use one on easy days because I want my body to dictate the pace – without being consumed with my pace.  I don’t judge those runners who will never run a mile without their Garmin or those who would never come within 5 feet of one.  Again, it’s a personal decision.

                                      I run with music.  Almost. Every. Single. Run.  I’m not ashamed to admit this.  I am a music lover – I enjoy everything about music.  Music makes me happy.  Which is  why I take it with me on runs – especially on long runs.  For me, there is nothing better than when one of my favorite songs come on my IPOD and I get pumped up and pick up the pace during mile 20 of that long run.

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