When Your Mind + Body Are Not On the Same Page

IMG_4353

After each marathon training cycle, I find that my mind needs a break. Of course my body needs one, but I often find that my mind needs a longer one. A break from following a plan, figuring out how to rearrange all the puzzle pieces so I can fit in the necessary runs and from setting early AM alarms. I have found that it’s usually about 3-4 weeks of downtime. I am still running – but often, it’s a very “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of running. No set paces or distance – more just running what I feel up to running that day. More rest days.

And then when my mind and heart decide it’s time to resume training, my body immediately gets on board and training picks up. It’s been this way for the last 3 or 4 marathon training cycles.

This past April was completely different. My mind definitely need the normal break, but when I felt like I was ready to get back into things and resume training, my body was not ready – not even close to being ready.

read more

    Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

    IMG_2740
    IMG_2777

    Check out Instagram for a fun summer giveaway by Nathan Sports!——-

    I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

    Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

    To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

    read more

      Recovery + Weekend Fun

      IMG_6649
      IMG_6606

      Hibachi with my sons and niece!

      This past week was wonderful. No running, sleeping in (well, until the boys wook up at 5:45/6am), drinking wine every night and eating whatever I had a hankering for (which seemed to be a lot of chocolate and french fries).

      I woke up incredibly sore on Tuesday – more sore than I ever remember being post-marathon. Tuesday and Wednesday were just painful – the stairs mocked me each time I was on them. But it was a happy kind of pain – I still don’t think the smile has left since last Monday!

      I didn’t do much moving at all on Tuesday (which was necessary!). Wednesday, the boys and I went to the zoo for a few hours. It felt good (yet still a bit painful) to walk around – but it was too gorgeous of a day to keep them inside!

      I got on the bike on Thursday and Friday and did 30 min of easy spinning (didn’t even break a sweat) just to get my legs moving. No core work. No strength work. No running.

      Saturday was my first run. 4 achy, not-so-great miles. No garmin but I think it was about 9-9:15 pace. My quads still felt a little sore – I felt fine walking and assumed the run would be okay – but it was clear I needed another day or so of recovery. (I took Sunday off and ran 5 miles yesterday which felt much better.)

      read more

        Recovery + Speedwork + Honolulu Marathon

        photo 2 (24)
        photo 1 (26)

        Early morning miles with Jacqueline!

        The Potomac River Run Marathon was just over three weeks ago and I just had my first real speedwork. I took a few days off from running (and any sort of physical activity) after the marathon but started back up with short, easy runs mid-week. Since then, I’ve gradually increased mileage while keeping virtually all running to a super easy pace (I didn’t wear a Garmin at all for the first two weeks of running).

        The mileage looked like this:
        – 1 week post-marathon: 4 days of running – 22 miles
        – 2 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47.5 miles (including 10 miles with 10 x 1:00 on, 1:00 off -> no set pace)
        – 3 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47 miles (including 8 miler with 4 mile progression -> no set pace)

        I think there are multiple ways to recover from a goal race. I used to be of the mindset that I HAD to take an entire week off from running after a marathon and a few days off after a half marathon. My coach is of a different mindset, and believes in more of an active recovery. It was a change for me to run the day after a half marathon – even when I was a bit sore. But a short 3-4 miler and then a string of easy runs can work just as good, if not better, than complete rest.

        read more

          PRO Compression Giveaway!

          photo (3)

          Post-long run

          I find that the more miles I run, the better I need to be with recovery. My recovery regimen after workouts or long runs has really improved over the last year. I used to be awful about recovery – I would finish a run, shower and then go about my day. These days, I try to have some sort of recovery shake, stretch, sometimes take an ice bath (followed by shower) and then I put PRO Compression sleeves or marathon socks on for the next few hours.

          I am recovering faster and better which makes me able to have an enjoyable recovery run the next day and continue on with my training plan.

          But PRO Compression socks/sleeves aren’t just meant for recovery. I have been wearing them for most workouts and long runs as well. And I’ve been racing in them – I wore them for the the NJ Marathon in May. I feel like they give me the support my legs need during tough runs.

          “PRO Compression socks are designed specifically to deliver both maximum comfort and speedy recovery times. The science is complex, but benefits such as improved blood flow, stability and comfort are universally understood.  The moment you put these socks on your feet and incorporate them into your game, you will feel and understand the difference.”

          read more

            Marathon Recovery + Descending Ladder

            ladder

            Truth: I am not the best with marathon recovery. Maybe because it’s usually the end of a training cycle so the need to recover well to get back into training is low…meaning: recovery is not the most important thing. I tend to stay pretty sedentary, drink too little water and do zero stretching/rolling. This time was different. I have upcoming racing plans (lots to share about the rest of 2014 – won’t share right now since it kind of lends itself to a full post) so there was/is a need to recover and recover WELL. I am by no means saying that I am an expert in marathon recovery. But I think what I did have worked for me. I am 11 days post marathon and my legs feel fresh, my energy is high and my desire to train hard is stronger than it’s been in months. All good things. Especially given how beat up my quads felt after the marathon (which I think was from all the downhill running). Here’s what I did: Sunday (race day):

            • Vega Recovery: After a quick walk through of the Asics post-race tent, I got my checked bag, grabbed my Vega Recovery drink mix and downed it with 16 oz of water. I started using the recovery accelerator during my fall marathon training cycle and loved it and have continued to use it after almost every run. I feel like it works. From the Vega website:

            The first all-natural, plant-based recovery drink mix specifically developed to address all six key elements of post-workout recovery: muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis, hormonal support, soft-tissue repair, immune system support, inflammation reduction and rehydration.

            read more

              PRO Compression + Sick Again + Treadmill Running

              PROC-ambassador-2014
              pro compression5

              Scotland 10k

              Follow my blog with Bloglovin

              I’m pretty excited to share that I have been selected as a PRO Compression Ambassador. =) I have been wearing PRO Compression socks for over a year – often after long runs or stress workouts as recovery but also for several races.

              I did a full review of them last year that you can read here. Anyway, I’m excited to work with this amazing company and to share some deals and giveaways (!!) with you guys!

              ————

              Each week I vow to update on here a little bit more and then each week it seems like something else pops up that wins out over blogging.  Anyway, let’s catch up. I was finally starting to feel like I was getting into a good rhythm again after my little knee troubles a few weeks ago – successfully did a couple of speed workouts and got a few more longish runs in.

              • Monday: Rest Day (full rest day -> no cross training, core, etc)
              • Tuesday: 8 treadmill miles (8:10 pace) + core + strength work
              • Wednesday: 10 miles including 6 progression tempo miles (6:53, 6:51, 6:48, 6:46, 6:43, 6:39) + pilates + core
              • Thursday: 10 miles -> at night which was not ideal but at least I got the miles in

              My plan was to run 6-8 miles on Friday, 20-22 on Saturday and then run some recovery miles with my husband in Central Park on Sunday morning (we were spending the night in the city!).

              read more

                Race Envy + 50 mile week

                flying
                si advance

                I am pretty excited to share this article with you.  A reporter from the Staten Island Advance contacted me shortly after the Ironman for a quick recap of my race (time, event, etc).  After a short discussion, he reached out again for a more in-depth interview and ended up writing the below story which was featured last week in the Staten Island Advance. The full article can be found here.

                ———————–

                I had serious race envy this weekend seeing all the pics on Instagram and Twitter from those participating in Hood to Coast. I already gave my husband the warno that I want to do it next year.  I’ve never done a relay before but this just sounds TOO fun to pass up.  Now I just need to find a team =)

                Last week ended my first week of marathon training.  My coach (more on that in an upcoming post!) has me on a 8-days on / 1-day off schedule, so I ran all 7 days last week. 3 stress workouts, 4 days of easy running. I finished the week with 50.63 miles – my first 50+ mile week since early April! So I am already basically at the peak mileage I reached for my previous marathon. In the first week of marathon training. This makes me happy. The fact that I finished the week with an easy 5 miler that felt comfortable and fast makes me GIDDY.

                read more

                  More Recovery + I waited 7 months for this

                  week5
                  week3

                  Going for a spin in their new truck

                  Hey friends! So not much running last week.  Or blogging.  It was just what I needed.  Although I thought I was ready to begin marathon training, my body and heart needed more time to recover. More time to not really do much of anything.  Except sleep in, spend more time outside with the boys, stay up watching movies with my husband, eating whatever I wanted, and drinking a bit too much. After a week of binge living (ha), I feel ready to start training again.

                  So let’s catch up.

                  As it turns out, two weeks was not enough time for me to fully recover from the Ironman. My first run was one week after the race and was entirely too fast.  I knew it while I was running.  I should have slowed down.  But it was one of those runs where you just say “screw it” and run what you want. It was a celebratory run.  My victory lap.  My legs didn’t feel fatigued but I knew they were. Does that even make sense? 7 miles / 7:30 pace. Splits: 8:06, 7:43, 7:32, 7:33, 7:25, 7:19, 6:52. Whoops.

                  read more

                    PRO Compression Socks Review

                    pro compression2

                    Monday’s Workout:
                    6 easy miles at 7:33 pace.  A bit faster than I was anticipating, especially coming off Sunday’s 10k steady state run, but my legs felt fresh and loose so I just went with it. The run actually turned into a perfect progression run – with miles 3-5 at/just under 7:15 pace.  They felt totally comfortable and in control.  Makes me very excited for my upcoming half next Sunday. It was also the longest run (up to that point) in my Saucony Virratas!

                    Tuesday’s Workout:
                    Speed day.  5 x 1 mile repeats + warmup/cooldown.  I decided to try something different this week.  After some recent conversations on twitter about the benefit of eliminating the rest in between each mile repeat and only utilizing an active recovery, I wanted to give it a try.  I still like doing a 1/4 mile active recovery (usually I do the active recovery + 30-60 sec of rest to stretch/drink water) so my active recovery was about 2:15.  My goal is to get that down closer to the golden 2-minute recovery that I’ve been hearing / reading about.  To ensure I was able to get through all 5, I made a conscious effort to start a bit slower than I have been running my repeats.  Less recovery = slower repeat times.

                    read more

                      PowerBar Product Giveaway

                      Some of my favorite PowerBar products

                      I was honored to be a member of PowerBar‘s Team Elite this past year and had the opportunity to try a ton of their products.  PowerBar is going to give away some of my favorite products to two readers – just in time to kick off the new year and spring marathon training!

                      Energy Gels: Since my very first marathon in 2002, PowerBar Energy Gels have been my go-to refuel for long runs and races (Note: I’ve tried out a few other brands over the years, but have always come back to PowerBar’s gels).  They have gotten me through long training runs, marathons, and my first ultra.

                      The energy gels  provide the carbs and electrolyte of a high end sports drink and contain 4x the sodium of leading competitors.   The gels are formulated with PowerBar C2MAX dual source energy blend, a 2:1 glucose to fructose blend found to deliver 20-50% more energy to muscles than glucose alone and improve endurance performance by 8% (source).

                      I can happily say that I’ve never cramped or had any sort of GI issues during a race – which I attribute to my use of energy gels.  They come in 11  yummy flavors – some with caffeine (1x or 2x) and some without.  My favorite flavors are Strawberry Banana, Green Apple, and Chocolate – they taste SO good and have just the right amount of caffeine!  I typically take one right before a race and then every 5-6 miles (depending on how I feel/how fast I am running).

                      read more

                        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 !!

                        read more