Mentally Training for Boston

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(Some of the below was part of a post I wrote for Women’s Running) If you have been following me on social media or reading here for a bit, you probably know that I am not the strongest racer. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for me. I have these strong, successful training cycles (and yes, they ARE successful cycles even if I didn’t reach my goal on race day). I work my butt off during the cycle, but there was always something missing as each race began— and as a result, I came up well short of my goal. The mental strength was missing. I had spent months strengthening my body— nailing workouts, completing long runs. But I paid zero attention to the mental side of running. As a result, I was not prepared to quiet the negative thoughts when they started creeping in during the later miles of the marathons. My mind would quit long before my body was ready to. Once the mind gives up, the body doesn’t stand a chance. Learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. Continue Reading →

Life Lately + Entering Taper

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Hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter! We started off the day with baskets, an egg hunt and lots of candy and chocolate. Shortly after the festivities, I headed out for my last long run – 18 miles. I can’t say it was a great run. It was incredibly windy (weather app said ~20 mph winds) but it seemed to be gusting MUCH stronger for a lot of the run. And it never seemed to be at my back. It was just one of those runs where you just want it to be over. Lately, I’ve been feeling really bored and lonely for the longer runs and would love to have a friend to chat with and keep the miles easy and relaxed. The plan for yesterday’s run was 14 moderate pace and then 4 fast finish. Well, the fast finish didn’t happen. I guess technically it did happen because I pushed harder those last 4 miles, but I didn’t come even remotely close to the paces that my coach had scheduled for me. I’m chalking it up to the crappy wind. 18 total miles – 7:52 pace. Ran blind for the first 14 and then spent Continue Reading →

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running (Women’s Running)

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This was one of the most enjoyable and fun posts to write – seven things I WISH (!!!) I knew when I started running. I’ve been running consistently for almost twelve years – and longer distances for about eight. I am certainly not an expert, but I have made – and learned from – my share of mistakes over the years. Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known or been told when I first started. And so I wanted to share some of these things with you, in case they might help you avoid the same mistakes! You should never go “all-out” in a workout. For a long time, I felt that unless I was soaked in sweat, dry heaving on the side of the road or treadmill, it wasn’t a good workout. I felt like I was in race mode every single day. Save the racing and all-out exertion for the race. That’s when it matters. You’ll get burnt out or get injured in no time if you are constantly racing yourself in training. Running slow won’t make you slow. It sounds silly now, but I truly believed that if I took it easy during a Continue Reading →

Remaining Optimistic

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

Unplanned Easy Week

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

Running Links & Highlights (#3)

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

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

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

The Pain of Mile Repeats

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

Boston Marathon Training (T-11)

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

Running Links and Highlights (#2)

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

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

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

9 Ways to Prevent Running From Breaking the Bank (Women’s Running Post)

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I wrote this post for Women’s Running a few weeks ago and wanted to share it here as well. At it’s core, running is an inexpensive sport. All you really need is a good pair of sneakers — and I’m sure some would argue against even that! However, I feel like every time I blink, there is a new gadget, accessory or piece of clothing that is on the market. Don’t get me wrong – I own a lot of these things, and I think a good number of them have their uses to make running more enjoyable. But, the reality is they aren’t necessary. If you are new to the sport of running, it can be overwhelming to see nothing but dollar signs all the time. Here are some ways to keep the costs associated with running down: Buy the previous shoe model: It’s always fun to own the shoes that were just released, but you will be paying the full cost for that pair. If you wait until the next model comes out, you can often get them for up to 50% off the retail price. They are still unused, new shoes, just last year, last month or even last Continue Reading →

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Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

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I ran six straight days last week. I feel like I need to celebrate in some way – you’d have to go back all the way to the beginning of December to find a stretch of running that long. The last few weeks have been frustrating. I returned from Hawaii and the Honolulu Marathon on top of the world. It was a whirlwind few days and I came home ready for Christmas, my in-laws visiting and some hard training – something I hadn’t done since before Potomac a month prior. Running felt WAY better post-marathon (Potomac Marathon) than I ever remember it feeling. But then I missed 8 straight days of running because of the flu (what my surgeon now thinks was actually the start of the infection in my gums). Not the end of the world. I’ve missed some longer stretches of running before and know that it doesn’t really make a noticeable difference. After a few runs, I felt like I was getting my mojo back. And then I missed another 7 straight days of running from the tooth/gum infection. read more

What Strength Exercises Should Runners Do?

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As I mentioned in my goal post a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been incorporating some strength work into my weekly routine for about 6-7 weeks now. I feel a difference – in literally every single run. Speedwork has been faster, long runs feel more comfortable and easy runs have been effortless (I have been running garmin-free for these so not sure about paces). It’s likely due to a few factors (reducing processed foods and sweets) but one of them is definitely the strength work that is now a regular addition to my weekly training plan. Below are a few of my favorite moves – I will preface this all by saying that I am not an expert, certified trainer or anything along those lines. So there may be more efficient moves that I can be doing or maybe I should be doing more reps, less weight – but these seem to be working for me. I tried to explain them as best I could as well! I’ve also been hesitant to share them because regardless of how I feel in training, the true test of whether strength work is paying off will come on race day. But I don’t Continue Reading →

When You DON’T Regret Skipping a Run

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I’m hosting an awesome giveaway for a Garmin Vivosmart – courtesy of Garmin – on Instagram! ——————————— After returning from Honolulu and running the marathon with my sister, I was ready to jump back into training. I took the following day off (which was a complete travel day) and began running on Tuesday (4 miles). I continued with nothing but easy-paced 8 milers the rest of the week – one day had 10×1 min on, 1 min off pickups in the middle. I went to bed Friday night excited and to resume long runs – coach had 19-20 on the training plan for me and physically, I felt ready. I woke up Saturday morning and from the moment my eyes opened, knew something was off. My head was aching and I felt like I was coming down with something. After a cup of coffee, I still didn’t feel any better and made the decision to skip the run for the day. Part of me wanted to just suck it up and go. I kept hearing various phrases and inspirational images that are often thrown around social media: The only run you regret is the one you don’t go on I never Continue Reading →

RnR Philly Half Recap + Heat Exhaustion in Cold Weather

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Subscribe to receive NYCRunningMama delivered to your inbox!! If you follow me on social media, you probably saw the pictures and chatter in the days leading up to last Sunday – my sister’s first half marathon! The weekend started off smashingly – 5k PR for me, a YUMMY lunch at a historic deli close to our hotel, fun time at the expo visiting our friends at Sparkly Soul and listening to Chris chat on stage and then meeting up with the rest of our family who arrived in Philly around 2pm. We hung out in the hotel for a bit before heading to an early dinner at an Italian restaurant. Dinner was delicious, the company was even better and the excitement was immeasurable. My sister and I left the hotel at 6:30am and walked the mile to the start area. While she hung out and relaxed in our corral, I did a short 2.5 mile warmup. My legs felt really tight (not sore) from the 5k the day prior and I wanted to make sure I stretched and warmed up before asking my legs to run another 13.1 miles. read more

Not Expecting Perfection

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Sometimes I get so wrapped up in expecting things to be perfect. For my long runs, I imagine popping up the moment the alarm goes off, feeling fantastic the moment my eyes open, being completely excited about the idea of a 20 mile run and having that bounce in my step for the entire run. And then when things don’t go as planned, I get so thrown off and down with myself that I have had the tendency to quit and give up. This has been a huge problem for me during training as well as racing. I spend so long dreaming of and imagining the perfect race that I often quit mentally long before my body is ready to. But training, especially marathon training, will not be perfect every step of the way. The more I race and the more I train, the more I learn this. There will be those magical long runs where everything clicks or those tempos where the pace feels effortless. But there will be just as many hard-fought long runs where every step feels like a death march or easy runs where you just want to sleep in. read more

5k PR -> 1st Sub-20!

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I showed up to the start of the RnR Philly 5k with no expectations. With the exception of a tough, tired interval workout this past week (that didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic), I hadn’t done formal speedwork in weeks (July 29th to be exact) and so didn’t have a good feel for how the race might go. My one goal was to run strong and consistent – to not go out too fast and finished satisfied with my effort and execution. Races like this turn out the best for me. No stress or pressure. Just the excitement of being at a race atmosphere (which I LOVE). The course was touted as being flat and fast – but just looking at the start and finish, I knew it wasn’t completely true (the finish had a very steep, short hill right at mile 3 – heartbreaker!). And the first mile was a very gradual decline (so mile 3 is a gradual incline). My garmin shows about 130 ft of gain (mapmyrun shows 110) – not anything huge – but even the smallest hill in a 5k feels like a mountain! read more

My Son’s First “Race” and Long Run Success

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent my husband and I the website for a local kids race, the Kids Running Obstacle Course (ROC). The youngest category was 4-5 years old, so we decided to sign our oldest son up up (he’ll be 4 in January). He has shown an interest in running and he’s a big fan of climbing, jumping, rolling, etc (like any young child!) so it seemed like a perfect first race for him. The race not disappoint. My son never stopped smiling throughout the entire 10-15 minutes it took to run over, under or through the obstacles. Some he was able to maneuver on his own and then either myself or Jenn (who was with her daughter) were there to help him over those that were a bit outside his comfort zone. I’ve wanted to sign him up for several kids races earlier this year, but I’ve been hesitant b/c I never want running to be something I force on him. My husband and I decided that the obstacle course aspect of it would be a good introduction into racing/running. read more

Healthy Snacking for Marathon Training

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I’ve written several posts the last couple of years on my fueling/nutrition for marathon and Ironman training. I feel like I’m always tweaking or changing something to try to find what works best for me, what’s going on in my life (pregnant, nursing) and what I am training for. I’ve gone from a non-restrictive diet (Ironman training) to one that was pretty close to being vegan/vegetarian (last fall for Philly). For the past six or seven months, my husband and I have settled into a diet that gives us the energy we need to train while not feeling restrictive. The staples in our diet have returned to things like greens, raw veggies, beans and quinoa – similar to how we were eating in the fall. But we are also eating meat and dairy more frequently these days.  Most importantly, however, are my smaller meals throughout the day – something that I have not been the best with. As I’m sure anyone who has their hands full with work, kids or a combo of both know, if you don’t plan ahead for your meals and snacks throughout the day, you’ll end up eating something unhealthy and/or not getting the nutrients that your body Continue Reading →