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 →

22 Miler: Try, Try Again

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This week’s long run ended on a high note. I got the mileage in that was on the training calendar – but more importantly, walked away with some confidence (physical and mental) that hopefully will help me in three short weeks. But it was pretty close to being a wash. My plan was a 22 mile dress rehearsal. Practice eating beforehand. Practice fueling and water during run. Wear clothing I plan to wear for race day. Basically do everything I can to simulate race morning – to see how I feel and make sure the food choices don’t upset my stomach. The morning started off great – some coffee and a quick stop at the local bagel store. It was 16 degrees (with windchill) and I’m still battling a hacking cough, congestion and cold so I decided it was going to be a treadmill run. Plus, I’m over winter and the thought of 3+ hours in the freezing cold (and wind) sounded absolutely awful to me. By 9:30am, I was on the treadmill ready to watch the Hunger Games while mindlessly logging the miles. My legs were shot though. I did a lower-body strength workout on Friday and could barely 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 →

How To Prepare For A Hilly Race

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Six years ago, I was training for my first Boston Marathon. I was incorporating tempos, intervals and long runs into my 40-50 mile weeks (I peaked at 55 miles). The only missing component were the hills. At the time, I was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq – and while I was fortunate enough to be on the largest American base in the country (which afforded me miles and miles of road to run on!), it was flat as a pancake. There was one hill (man-made) called “Signal Hill” which US forces used for all the long-range signal equipment. Signal Hill had a paved road that was roughly .3 miles uphill (steep uphill!). And at two points going up the hill, there were paved roads around the hill. This hill became my best friend. Rather than do hill repeats once a week, I made it a point to run up that hill at least once each run – and most runs 2-3x. It didn’t matter if it was an easy run, recovery run or long run – I was running up and down that hill. Fast forward to the 2009 Boston Marathon. My husband was running beside me around mile 19-20. I had Continue Reading →

It’s Okay to Not Want to Run Every Day – Women’s Running Post

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This was published on Women’sRunning.com last week! —————– I’m just under eight weeks out from my 2nd Boston Marathon and have had a strong couple of months of training. On paper, everything looks great – I’m nailing workouts, getting my long runs in and consistently running high weekly mileage (for me). But, that’s only part of the truth. The truth is, there are some days where I wake up not wanting to run. I would say 4-5 of the 6 days a week I run, I’m pretty quick to pop up when the alarm goes off. There is virtually no hesitation on those mornings. But it’s a fight to get me out the door on the other days. I want to go back to sleep or just sit on the floor with my children while I drink my coffee in my comfy pjs rather than deal with the below freezing temperatures outside or get on the treadmill again. The truth is, it’s okay (and normal) to not want to run every single day. When you are following a training plan, there will be days where you may not want to get up and run. I used to berate myself every time Continue Reading →

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

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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. @GarminFitness – Twitter Garmin Fitness – Google+ @GarminFitness – Instagram Garmin Fitness – Facebook 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! ————— read more

The Treadmill Incline Debate

The winter months usually go hand in hand with the treadmill incline debate. A lot of runners training for spring races are forced to their treadmills because of snow, ice or freezing temperatures – and understandably, begin questioning the ability of the treadmill to train them properly for their goal race. There are so many schools of thought on the treadmill incline. I know plenty of successful, strong runners who use either 0%, .5% or 1% (or more) when they are on the treadmill. But which is correct and what works best? Short answer – I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think you need to find what works for you and what you are comfortable with. Each has perfectly reasonable arguments – both for and against. And I have tried all three – when I first started running, I never used the incline. A couple of years ago, I started using .5% incline for all of my runs and then after Potomac in November, I bumped it up to 1%. I’ve been getting asked a lot lately about the incline I use for treadmill running (especially for my workouts) so wanted to share both my reasoning for Continue Reading →

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. 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 →

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 →

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

Boston Marathon Training Update (T-12)

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I’m trying to get back into the habit of sharing my weekly training updates for my next marathon. Boston is 12 weeks away (from Monday). Mid-April sounds so far away, but in reality, it’s just ten long runs.  And for me, it’s actually only eight since two of my weekends are taken up with races (a one-miler and half marathon). Last week was another week of base building and getting used to running on a regular basis again. Because there were no speed workouts or set paces for any of the runs, I took advantage and ran all without a garmin. I’ve run the roads by my home so many times that I know the mile markers based on cracks in the road. Garmin-free running has made the last few weeks so incredibly enjoyable. There’s no worry or thought about pace – running too fast or even too slow – and just running what my body feels is right for the day. It’s allowed me to enjoy the simple act of running – and to fall in love with running all over again. 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 →

Birthday #33 + Finding My Rhythm

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Last week was a solid week of training. I feel like I have found my rhythm – I’m working hard during the workouts, running easy on the easy runs and feel recovered and energized through it all. I ran a total of 73 miles, did core work 4x, strength work 3x, cross trained 2x (30 min each on trainer) – and did most of it while single parenting for the week. My husband has been traveling a lot for work lately and I was worried about how I would fit in all of these miles either with the stroller or on the treadmill. I’ve learned that there will be always be an excuse if you let yourself have one. If you really want something, you will always find a way. I also know that there are plenty of people busier than me – either at home with their kids, working full time or managing full time work and being a parent. Anytime I start to make an excuse, I think of these people and how they make their training work…and suddenly my busy week seems a bit easier. 73 miles, 7 runs, 3 workouts. Highlights are below: read more

Marathon Madness + Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (again!)

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I realized last week that I am running three marathons in the next 8 weeks. I mean, I’ve known that I was running these three for a few weeks now, but I never sat down and thought about running THREE. It both excites and frightens me. I’ve run back-to-back-to-back marathons (+) once before – three years ago – when I was training for my first ultra and really enjoyed the experience. But, I am not racing all three marathons – there’s no way I could do this physically nor would it be smart to try to ask that much of my body. Below outlines the timing and purpose of each: – NYC Marathon – Nov 2 (12 days): I mentioned on social media already that I am running the NYC Marathon for a 3rd time this year. This was a late addition to my calendar – but a no brainer and honestly, trumps my own goal race two weeks later. I am honored for the opportunity to guide my good friend, John, for the race. John is participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge and is representing Staten Island – just like I did three years ago. (Side Note: If you have Continue Reading →

2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

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Happy Monday! I keep forgetting that today is a holiday. My oldest is off from school but my husband has work – so it doesn’t feel like an actual holiday! Yesterday was the Staten Island Half Marathon. It was the 4th time I ran this race. Other than the first year, I can’t say that I’ve had a good experience with the race. Here’s a quick run-down: – 2010: 2:00:15 – 6 months pregnant. Ran it with my husband and good friend from college. Had a blast! – 2011: 1:38:57 – Ran it as a tuneup 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon. Was shooting for sub-1:35 but started way too fast and had a rough 2nd half. – 2013: DNF – Ran it as a tuneup before the Philly Marathon 5 weeks later. Started fast and started feeling hamstring pain around mile 8 so stopped at mile 9. I really was focused on a strong race and effort, regardless of the finish time – but I also was looking to get a big course PR and try to get an overall PR. For some reason this course is considered a fast course – but I really don’t know many runners who will agree Continue Reading →

PR Spotlight: How To PR Every Race Distance in 12 Months

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It’s been a while since I featured a runner here. I am trying to get back into a better routine with blogging – and part of that is this feature which I think can help a lot of other runners! I’m excited to share the store of Joe, a local runner from Staten Island, who I have had the absolute pleasure of coaching for the last year. Joe reached out to me last summer after running a handful of races including the Brooklyn Half Marathon and Scotland 10k. He was looking to improve his running – no specific times or goals – just wanted to improve. He is now a few weeks away from his first marathon – the NYC Marathon! And he has set some pretty amazing PR’s along the way: – Mile: 8:11 —> 7:22 – 5 miler: 49:31 (9:55 pace) —> 44:37 (8:56 pace) – 10k: 1:01:59 (10:00 pace) —> 59:07 (9:32 pace) – 10 miler: 1:42:12 (10:14 pace) —> 1:35:48 (9:35 pace) – Half Marathon: 2:18:05 (10:33 pace) —> 2:08 (9:51 pace) read more

Want To Run Faster? Start Here.

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This post was originally posted on Women’s Running. It can be found here. ——– There are a ton of resources available if you are looking to get faster – websites, books, even other runners. But before you can start incorporating some of the workouts into your training, the first thing you probably want to do is become familiar with the lingo- which can be a bit overwhelming if you are newer to the sport. I didn’t understand what a lot of the terminology was until I had already been running for years, but once I did, I was much more open to adding speed workouts into my training. Below are some of the most common types of speedwork. There are literally endless variations for each (and you can even get crazy and combine a few of them!) – but these will give you a good foundation from which you can build upon. Fartlek: Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish and involves short periods of fast running followed by short periods of slower running. There’s often no set distance or pace. You can even do it without a watch or Garmin. Fartleks are a great way to get your feet wet with Continue Reading →