Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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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.

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

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      vivoline

      Happy Wednesday!! You are in for a treat today – you get TWO weeks of training updates! I know – almost too much to handle =)

      But before I get into my recent training, I wanted to share some news from Garmin (not sponsored – just a big fan of the brand and the people within the company). They have launched new Garmin Fitness social media channels on Twitter, Google+ and Instagram! Facebook is soon to follow. From their website:

      We want to hear and see pictures of how you crushed a daily step goal, or conquered a 20-mile training run. We want you to share your struggles and triumphs. We want to hear about how you are changing your life by going that extra mile. Our channels will feature content from YOU! Share your images and tag them with @GarminFitness or use hashtag #UpForMore to be featured.

      Also, to celebrate the new fitness channels, Garmin will be giving away one Vivosmart a day (for the next week) on their Instagram page. Go check it out!

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        Boston Marathon Training (T-9)

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        I feel like my motivation to run in the cold is dwindling. I think it’s easier to suck it up and run in sub-0 temps when you know it’s just one or two days. But, for the last week, it’s been mostly sub-0 in the AM – and the 7 day forecast doesn’t look any better.

        Too funny not to share…and kind of what I have been feeling!

        Last week included a bunch of treadmill runs. Monday’s mid-week long run, Wednesday’s tempo, Saturday’s long tempo, Sunday’s recovery – all happened on the treadmill. Wednesday and Saturday I opted for the treadmill because the real-feel was single digits and my coach and I both felt that it was okay this week to use the treadmill to get the workout in (I would have had to adjust my paces significantly if I did them outside to account for the cold temps). Tuesday and Thursday were early morning runs outside (small victories).

        Monday
        Planned: 10-11 miles with 6-8x :20 strides

        Actual: 11 miles with 8x :20 strides

        I followed the same plan as last week’s run and incorporated a lot of 1:00 spurts of climbing. This week was 20x 1:00 at 4.5% incline. The remaining time was at 0% to give my achilles a break. Changing up the incline and / or pace are the only way I can get through a treadmill run these days. Although this run was almost 90 minutes, it went by surprisingly fast since I was playing with the incline every 1-3 minutes!

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          Recovery + Speedwork + Honolulu Marathon

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          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.

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            Marathon Recovery + Descending Ladder

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            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.

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              Less Black and White Workouts

              I’ve always been a big fan of workouts during marathon training where it’s easy to track progress: set intervals (400, 800, 1600), set distance and pace tempo runs, even wave tempos (odd miles at a fast pace, even miles at a pace about a minute slower). From week to week, my goal is either to increase the duration, distance or speed. These are black and white workouts that are easy to track improvements as well as predict race times.

              I’ve tried to relax a bit more this training cycle. After Philly, I looked at my training from the fall – and more importantly, at my approach to my training. I think having these black and white workouts numerous times a week may have been too much for me mentally. I tend to get so wrapped around a certain pace in workouts, that if things aren’t feeling great or I don’t hit the paces, I view the workout as a failure. I also have the tendency to push harder than I should in training because it’s pretty awesome to see splits drop from week to week. And I also know that I got so wrapped around what the predictors predicted for my race time, that I think I overshot my ability. (I was working at near race effort for some of the workouts.)

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                1st Birthday + 8 weeks to go

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                My youngest son turned one last week. Hard to believe that it’s been that long already, right? I feel like it was just yesterday that he came into this world. It’s been a fun year (sometimes crazy at times!) with a 2nd child and I could not have asked for a sweeter, happier little guy.

                My boys and I celebrated on Thursday (his actual birthday) with presents and cake.

                And continued the celebration with a fun birthday party on Saturday with family and friends from the neighborhood.

                Can we take a moment and discuss this cake? It was beautiful and SO SO yummy (white cake with cannoli cream.) One of my good friends from high school made this beauty!! She has made cakes for my boys’ special events the past few years and they could not be prettier or more delicious. (She’s VERY reasonable and is based on Staten Island. Her website is here!)

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                For the first time this training cycle, I felt like I had a wonderful week of running from start to finish. I nailed both my stress workouts (3×2 and long run) and felt so strong despite racing a half marathon last Sunday. The Philly Marathon is just under 8 weeks away. First 20 miler will be this weekend (with lots of miles at MGP – agh!), one more half marathon tune-up race, a few more weeks of hard training…and then taper begins.

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                  Intervals

                  Please keep my beautiful friend, Sarah, and her family in your prayers.  Her adorable 4 month old son, Jack, is undergoing surgery today.  You can read about her son and what he’s going through here.

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                  If you look at my marathon training plan, it’s a mix between being extremely detailed and very vague.  The long runs, types of workouts each week, and target weekly mileage is pretty black and white.  I know what I want to get done each week and I try hard not to deviate from that.  I run six days a week with three of those being quality days – long, 2x speed (either intervals, tempo, SS, LT) – and the other three being easy/recovery days. The workouts for the speed days are left blank.

                  I don’t believe that I have to do the same speed workout every single week.  It’s boring.  I like the variety of changing it up every week (or every few weeks). Intervals and tempo one week.  Intervals and steady state another week.  I typically decide what my plan is for the week after my long run (based on how I’m feeling) but have changed my mind the night before or even the morning of the workout.  However, I often do one interval workout a week.

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                    It’s Racing Time

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                    This Saturday is my first race (where I’ll actually be racing for time) since I found out I was pregnant a year ago. I’m getting anxious, nervous, excited to race again.  I’m running the Hot Chocolate 10k in Prospect Park.  If I run a sub-42, I can apply for the Saucony Hurricane Team.  I haven’t raced a 10k in years – the last one was in 2008 when I was deployed to Iraq.  I’ve never trained for a 10k.  So I’m not totally familiar with how I should be running this week, tapering (if, at all), and resting.

                    Love this quote:

                    I reached out to my friend, Mike, late last week to get his opinion on what type of run I should do this past Saturday.  My marathon training plan called for 16 miles.  I wasn’t sure if that would be too much on me before this weekend’s race and whether I should switch the workout to a longer tempo or progression run instead.  Mike recommended that I stick to the training plan and then focus on shorter distances during my speed workout this week.

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                      Speed Work Post-Baby

                      Embrace the Pain

                      Confession: the last time I did speedwork outside was years ago (like 3 or 4).  When I was in Iraq, it was impossible for me to find an area on the base where I could run without worrying about hummvees, tanks, or even indirect fire, so I began to do my speedwork on the treadmill.  I guess when you are left with no choice, you learn to love the only option you have.  I have stuck with the treadmill for the past few years.

                      After Saturday’s 6 mile progression run, I realized I needed to suck it up and start doing the speedwork outside.  While the treadmill can give me a great workout, I find that I push myself much harder when I am outside.

                      There isn’t a local track that I can go to so I will be doing my repeats on an area close to my home that has just under a mile of flat pavement (the last .1 or so is a bit of an uphill).  It’s definitely not ideal – I have to keep an eye out for traffic since I’m going through a bunch of intersections, but it could definitely be worse.  Trying to be optimistic – HA =)

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                        Birthday Celebration + PowerBar Giveaway Winners

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                        I’m still on cloud 9 from this morning’s workout.  As I’ve mentioned (repeatedly) on here before, I’m aiming for a sub-42 10k in a few weeks in order to apply for the Saucony Hurricane Team.  I woke up this morning with the desire to do a tempo run instead of my planned hill workout.  I didn’t really have a set plan of pace or distance, but figured I’d shoot for 4 miles around a 7 min pace.  I finished the 4 miles in 27:33 which comes out to about a 6:53 pace.  Mile repeats are definitely paying off – I felt much stronger and in control than I did when I tried this about a month ago (ran 4 miles at a 7:05 pace).  I needed this run to give me a boost after this weekend’s long run in the wind where I felt like I was barely moving.

                        My oldest son turned two yesterday.  Where did the last TWO years go??  It seems cliche to say that time is moving too fast – but it is  – and I feel like it’s multiplied when you have little ones.  There’s so many huge milestones crammed into such a short amount of time for them.

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