Get Speedy with These Four Interval Workouts

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This post first appeared on Women’s Running (It can be found here). 

One of the best ways to become faster, stronger or to increase endurance is by incorporating some speed work into your weekly routine. But it can be extremely overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the terminology or have never tried any types of speed work before.

But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. One of the best ways to introduce faster running into your routine (without it being so structured) is through intervals.

Intervals consist of repeated short segments of fast running separated by slow jogging or complete rest. The intervals allow you to run much faster than you usually do, adapting your body to higher demands and your leg muscles to faster turnover. Over time, you become more physiologically efficient. Intervals increase your overall speed.

Related: 6 Ways To Build Endurance and Increase Mileage

While there are structured workouts (for example: 400m or mile repeat repeats), you can do intervals in a more informal way. And you don’t even need a watch for some of these!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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          Treadmill Running Tips + Workouts to Make the Time Fly

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          This post originally appeared on Women’s Running.

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

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

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

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            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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              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 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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                  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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                    My “normal” day as a working + running mom

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                    I am five weeks into my new job and finally feel like I have a rhythm and routine that is sustainable and feasible – at least for the time being. I’m sure there will be obstacles or bumps along the way, but no sense worrying about how I’m going to get around them before they are even in my way.

                    A lot of readers have asked what a typical day is like for me lately. I wanted to wait at least a month until the dust settled and I had a better handle on the day-to-day routine.  So here goes:

                    3:45-4:10am: Wakeup. This varies based on the day, type of workout and number of miles I am planning to run. I make it as late as possible to squeeze out even an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep! Monday and Wednesday are usually my speed days and/or longer mileage days, so I tend to get up closer to 3:45 on those mornings.

                    Coffee. My husband or I set it up the night before, so it’s all ready by the time I make it downstairs. I straighten up, empty the dishwasher and do little things around kitchen until coffee is ready. Some mornings my husband joins me. We sit, drink our coffee and enjoy the quiet morning – and then when I run, he goes up to his office and starts working.

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                      Returning to Work + Juggling Training

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                      So, I returned to full-time work (out of the house) three weeks ago. I haven’t worked outside the home in almost FIVE years. I realized I never really talked about what I did before I became a mom and began blogging, so here is the full story.

                      I attended West Point for four years and then spent six amazing years in the Army. They were truly some of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life (I don’t know if there is any interest in what I did while I was in the military – please let me know if there is and I’ll talk about it in a separate post!).

                      After leaving the Army and returning home to NYC, I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me wanted to continue what I had been doing for the previous six years in the Army. I had all this intelligence experience and absolutely loved my last position (Lethal Targeting Officer for the Division). And so that was what I initially pursued. I applied for and was offered a job as a DEA analyst in NYC. But during the pre-employment process, a private company approached me and offered me an amazing job. They were based in DC but were willing to set up a small office for me in NYC so I didn’t have to relocate. The idea of a corporate job + making a lot of money won me over and beat out continuing to work in intel and the government sector.

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                        2015 Chicago Marathon Race Recap – Saucony 26 Strong

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                        I had the honor of running side by side next to Ruth for 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago on Sunday as she ran her first marathon. It was part of the Saucony 26 Strong program where Saucony partnered 13 “veteran” marathoners with 13 first-time marathoners – for coaching, advice and support over the last six months – with it culminating with the Chicago Marathon this past weekend.

                        I am so inspired, impressed and motivated by Ruth. She decided only a few years ago that she wanted to run a marathon (I actually think that it was at the 2013 NYC Marathon when I met her for the first time!). She was a relatively new runner at the time and spent the last few years working on increasing her mileage. She ran her first half marathon last spring and then began the training for 26.2. I love that her age, situation (she’s a grandma!) or lack of running background dissuaded her from chasing down her goals. She set her eyes on the marathon finish line and trained her butt off the entire summer through the brutal heat and humidity – and even through a fall and stitches on her chin a few weeks ago! And I’m so proud to have been with her as she accomplished her dream on Sunday!

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                          2015 Wineglass Marathon Race Recap – 3:12!

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                          This past weekend I completed my 12th marathon – and set a 3:11 min PR with a time of 3:12:04. I have an entire post that I will share when I get a chance to edit it – it highlights the last few months of training that got me to Wineglass in the best shape of my life. I wrote it during taper as a way for me to look back on training as Coach and I were going over race plans and time goals. But, I decided to hold off on sharing it until post-marathon.

                          I am thrilled with another PR – my 2nd big PR in as many attempts this year. Six months ago, my PR was 3:21:32. It is now 3:12:04. I have taken more than 9 minutes off in just over 5 months after years of fighting to break 3:21…and I am now knocking on the sub-3:10 door.

                          There is a small part of me that is a bit disappointed that I didn’t walk away with a faster finish time. I had a pretty amazing training cycle this summer – the best training cycle of my life – and the numbers definitely pointed to a sub-3:10.

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                            Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-2)

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                            The hay is in the barn, the money has been deposited…less than two weeks to go! Just one long tempo workout and a mid-ish distance run on Saturday and then nothing but short, easy runs before race day!

                            This was a big week of running for me. At this point in training, there are no short speed workouts on the plan. No more 600s, 800s, mile repeats, two mile tempos. Those were to build speed. For the last few weeks, the focus has been on longer workouts that will make marathon pace feel easier – long steady state, longer tempos and longer tempo intervals. See the similarity? They are all LONG. These workouts have been sprinkled throughout the cycle and have been gradually building in length – and three of them culminated this week – longest steady state (12 miles), longest LT tempo (5 miles – total 11 miles) and longest long-run tempo (16 miles w/ 8 @ tempo). I’ve seen these workouts on the plan for several weeks now – and I’ve been a bit intimidated. Each of them, alone, is tough enough. But to have all three over the course of six days made it even more so.

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                              16 Running Quotes To Motivate You For Your Next Run

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                              This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (it can be found here).

                              Sometimes it may be easy to find the motivation to get out the door at 5 a.m., set out for a long run in the summer heat or to move on from a workout that didn’t go as planned. However there may be some days where the motivation just isn’t there. I’m with you. Some days I need a little external motivation—and often, it comes in the simple form of someone else’s words.

                              Below are 16 running quotes that help me when I need that little extra bit of push to keep moving forward.

                              Winning the Mental Battle

                              “Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.” — Unknown

                              “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S Patton

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                                Wineglass Training Update – T-6: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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                                Last week was another solid week of training for Wineglass. Through Saturday, I had run 61 miles over 6 days with intentions of 5 recovery miles on Sunday – which would have made it my highest mileage week this cycle (66). But I woke up Sunday and my left foot was hurting. The pain was on the top part of my foot – towards the middle to outside part. It didn’t hurt to the touch nor was it swollen. But there was this sharp pain that came and went throughout the day.

                                My plan was to just let it be for a couple of hours and then try my run, but the pain had not subsided by 11am, so it became an unplanned rest day and panic started to set in.

                                I don’t run through pain. On a day-to-day basis, nothing hurts when I run – nor before or after. So anytime there is even a small amount of pain or even something that just feels “off”, I don’t run. It’s just not worth it to me.

                                I woke up Monday and the pain was still there – not nearly as strong, but enough where I felt it was not smart to force an easy-paced run. Coach recommended that I start some contrast therapy – ice, warm water, ice – and so that’s what I did. Thankfully, there was no pain for the rest of the day nor Tuesday morning when I woke up to run – so I ran…pain free! Hoping (fingers crossed) that it was just a cranky tendon (as Coach called it).

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                                  Why Your 1st Mile is the Most Important

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                                  This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (can be found here).

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                                  For years, I thought that the most important mile of each run and race was the last one. That’s the true sign of how the run went, right? If you finish fast and strong – and most importantly, feeling good – it’s likely you will put that effort into the “good run” category, regardless of how much of the run went well up until that point. But if you are hurting, slowing down or are counting the seconds until the run is over, it’s likely going to be a run you soon hope to forget.

                                  It’s easy to judge an entire run by that last mile. But I’d argue that it’s not the most important mile.

                                  These days, I put a whole lot more focus and effort into the first mile. Run that first mile too fast (which is SO easy to do, especially in a race environment) and the rest of the run could end up being pure torture.

                                  For everyday training runs, that first mile is my warmup. I aim for it to be my slowest mile of the day. It’s a mile where I let my joints shake out any lingering aches or stiffness, where my heart gets alerted that it’s about to do some work and where I give my body the time it needs to get adequately warmed up.

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                                    A Successful Tempo on Roads – Finally!

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                                    Head over to my friend, Lottie’s blog (Running On Veggies) to check out my Workout Wednesday Feature! I’m sharing what a typical day looks like for me – training, food, activities and so on!

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                                    So, I FINALLY nailed a LT tempo outside. After two failed tempo attempts the last couple of weeks (a 4 mile LT tempo and 8 mile AT tempo), I was both excited and nervous when I saw this little beast on the training schedule – it’s a short, but intense tempo.

                                    For those that have been reading here for a while, you may know that I have a much easier time with workouts on the treadmill – even with the treadmill at 1%. I don’t know what it is but I can run paces on the treadmill that I can only dream about outside. And so, I am always much more inclined to give in and use the treadmill on workout days.

                                    But the reality is that I don’t race on the treadmill. I race on the roads. And that is where I need to practice these paces. And to get the confidence that I CAN run these paces. So when I start to get tired or question my ability during a race, I can pull from these workouts.

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                                      Wineglass Marathon Training (T-8, T-7)

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                                      How is it possible that my fall marathon is just over SIX weeks away? That seems so close and between a trip to San Francisco for a good friend’s wedding, school starting, potential start of full-time work for me (more on that later), I know the next few weeks are going to fly by.

                                      Two weeks since my last update. Lots of tough but successful runs that are getting me excited to lay it all out there in six weeks. Here are the highlights:

                                      10 mile steady state miles – Getting comfortable at a moderate pace
                                      First steady state run this cycle. Steady state pace is a tough one for me. It’s slower than tempo but faster than an easy run. You should feel a bit uncomfortable the whole run, but not pushing too hard. You want to get a good workout in but not feel wiped at the end. Goal pace was 7:30-7:40. I tried to stay there but found it was easier to keep pace just under 7:30 (I felt like I was actually fighting my body to keep it above 7:30), so I went with it.

                                      The hardest part for me was jumping into that pace. I typically take a few miles to find my rhythm – my first mile is usually between 8:15-8:30 so to start at 7:30 was challenging – and the hardest mile for me. But, I finally settled in and found a good rhythm. 10 total miles – 7:26 pace. Splits: 7:29, 7:29, 7:26, 7:28, 7:26, 7:23, 7:29, 7:22, 7:26, 7:21.

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                                        Bugaboo Runner Review

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                                        A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Bugaboo and asked if I wanted to review the newest model in their stroller line – the Bugaboo Runner! Stroller running is still a large part of my training – although lately, it’s been so incredibly warm that the stroller runs are limited!

                                        When my husband and I were creating a registry for our first child, we looked at Bugaboo strollers. I loved so many things about them but there wasn’t a running stroller in the Bugaboo line. We had decided to register for one stroller and use it for everything – walks, trips to the mall and park and running – so it needed to be versatile enough to do it all.

                                        That’s where the Bugaboo runner comes in.

                                        The Bugaboo Runner is specially designed for running/jogging to deliver the smoothest run possible. It has 3 large wheels with air-filled tires and a fixed front wheel which gives you a smooth, straight run with utmost stability. (Source: Bugaboo.com)

                                        For parents who already own Bugaboo strollers you would only need to purchase the Bugaboo Runner Chassis. The Bugaboo Runner is a separate chassis designed purely for running and is compatible with:
                                        (1) Bugaboo Cameleon³ seat
                                        (2) Bugaboo Bee (2010 model and onwards) seat
                                        (3) Bugaboo Donkey seat – version 1.1*
                                        (4) Bugaboo Buffalo seat

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