2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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    2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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    Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

    This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

    6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

    There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

    As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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      Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-14)

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      Happy Tuesday! Another solid week of training is in the bank. It was a bit of a cutdown week, in regards to miles, but the intensity and effort was at or slightly higher than previous weeks.

      But most importantly, my sister had a baby boy this week!! I am an aunt to a beautiful, happy, healthy little boy!!

      5 total runs (1 planned rest day, 1 unplanned) for 49 miles. I’m two weeks in to long runs on Fridays – and so far, they are working. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics of longer long runs (for instance, this week I have 18-19 miles so I would need to start around 4am). Not sure about where I’m going to run the miles (maybe break up inside/outside), but I’ll have the details ironed out by the end of the week.

      This Friday’s run required a 3:40am wakeup – which was tough because it’s at the tail end of a long work week, BUT, knowing that once it’s done, I get the entire weekend to sleep in and relax with my boys in the AM makes me energized to suck it up and get it done. I tell myself that I can deal with being tired one more morning – and the reward makes it worth it.

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        Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-15)

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        Running tends to mirror other aspects of my life. If I have a stressful week, running typically doesn’t go well. If I’m having a good week, running usually adds to the happiness. This past week was filled with so much family, happiness and love – and I feel like my running really showed that.

        6 total runs for 57 miles with one planned rest day. This was the first week where I made the decision at the start of the week to take a mid-week rest day – and man, did it feel GOOD. Sleeping in felt great but more importantly, I felt energized for Thursday and Friday’s morning runs, not exhausted or dreading them. So, for the time being, I’m sticking with a rest day (planned for Wednesday but staying flexible with the day).

        Here’s how the week broke down:

        Monday, Thursday, Saturday – easy miles in the bank
        6, 8, 6 miles – all easy paced/recovery runs. Monday’s run was garmin-free and the other two were with my garmin (I averaged 8:18 and 8:20 paces for those two).

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          Boston Marathon 2016 Training (T-16)

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          Now that I’m formally training for Boston, I figured it was time to bring back my weekly training updates. I like typing them out here. It helps keep me accountable and affords me the opportunity to look back on my training – highlighting the good and bad – as a cycle comes to an end and then again, after the race. I take note of what worked so that I can repeat it and what didn’t work so I make some changes.

          After about two months of “coaching” myself, I made the decision to return to Coach Mark Hadley. I had great success with his coaching the last 12 months. He helped me lower my marathon PR to 3:12 – and I know that I have a faster time in me – so I’m hopeful that with his guidance, I can get there.

          We are 15+ weeks out from Boston Monday – still a load of time. But I also know how fast these weeks can start to fly by. My focus for the next few weeks is to find what is sustainable. I am so appreciative of all the feedback I received from last week’s post. I read every comment and email – and had some really great suggestions and ideas. In the end, I’ve decided to try the Friday long run for the time being. That, coupled with an optional rest day on Wednesdays and I’m hopeful that the plan is feasible.

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            Winter Running Necessities: What to Splurge and What to Save

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            Running clothes and gear are not cheap. It can be a bit overwhelming if you are newer to the sport, and see all the expensive gear that comes out season after season.

            Winter running is no different. Between jackets, vest, hats, gloves, mittens, pants and so on, you can easily go for broke if you jump at every piece of gear that you see advertised.

            But dressing for winter running takes some finesse. You need to wear enough layers to stay warm, but not too much where it’s cumbersome or weighs you down. (I shared my clothing tips for winter running ).

            The truth is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to run through the winter, but you do need to ensure you have the necessities. So where should you spend your money and where/how should you save?  Below are my recommendations. (Keep in mind that I live/run in NYC so my winter may be different from yours!)

            Splurge

            • Gloves/Mittens: I started long distance running when I was stationed in Texas and deployed to Iraq. My first winter back in NYC was a huge shock for me. I ran a 15k in Central Park one winter day and can remember actually crying after the race ended because of how cold and numb my fingers were. I had worn the thin gloves that I used while I was in Texas. Lesson learned. I have no qualms these days with spending the money for a thick, insulated pair of gloves and/or a warm pair of running mittens. Protect your extremities!
            • Outer Layer – Jacket: Other than your shoes, this is probably the most expensive piece of running gear you will own. In years past, I assumed a few thin layers would do the trick, but my core always felt cold. I had nothing to protect me from wind, rain or snow. Last year, I bit the bullet and purchased the Saucony Reflex Jacket. At $110, it’s not cheap, but it’s wind and water resistant. So far it has kept me warm on 10+ mile runs in 20 degrees and rain+sleet in 30 degrees.
            • Hat: Again, for years, I assumed that a non-running cheap earwarmer would do the trick and keep my head warm. It didn’t. I was losing so much heat from my head. Once I started sweating, the band got wet and cold. My trick these days (thanks to Jess!) is to wear a running hat with a winter hat on top. It keeps my head and ears toasty warm without being bulky.
            • Good Pair of Tights:  Your legs will only have one layer so ensuring that it’s a good, protective layer is vital!

            Ways to Save:

            • Use What You Have: A lot of your summer or fall running gear can be used in the winter. They work just fine as layer pieces. Short and long sleeve shirts, shorts or capris work on the warmer days. Use these as layering pieces to keep your core warm.
            • One good piece: If you run 5 days per week, there is no need for 5 jackets. Purchase one (or two) good ones and use them over and over again. I have one heavy duty jacket, two pairs of tights, gloves, mittens and two hats that are my staples for this winter.
            • End of Season Sales: Amazon and some running sites (such as RunningWarehouse) often carry last year’s line of clothes for a fraction of the cost. Or get in the habit of purchasing ahead. Look to buy next year’s necessities when the brands put them on sale at the end of this season.

            (From now until Dec 31, if you use the code “26STRONG”you will get 20% off your entire order of full-priced items from Saucony.com,excluding the EVERUN and Life On The Run products)

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              Winter Running Necessities

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              Last year was the first winter where I can say that I truly ran through the entire winter season. In years past, I start out with the goal of running on the roads, but typically end up doing most of the sub-freezing runs on the treadmill. I strongly dislike cold weather – give me an 85 degree day over 0 any day of the week. But after a few spring marathons where I finished not feeling as good as I wanted or running the times I thought I was capable of, I made a promise to myself to try to learn to love (or at least accept) the colder weather. I wanted Boston to be a strong race and I knew that in order for that to happen, I needed to focus on more running on the roads, regardless of wind, cold, rain or snow.

              And so, in the Boston trainup, I did just that. With the exception of one tempo long run, every long run was outside.

              And virtually all of my easy or recovery days were outside as well. The speed days were a tossup – I chose the treadmill when I was worried about footing or visibility outside (hard to concentrate on not slipping when you are trying to run as fast as you can). With Boston on my race calendar again, I plan to mirror a lot of what I did last year. The 2015 Boston Marathon was my strongest marathon ever. It was one of those perfect racing days where you run strong the whole way through. The weather was less than ideal, but it was a great day of racing for me.

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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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                  Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-3) + Returning to Work!

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                  LESS than 3 weeks until it’s time to lay it all out there – getting close!!! I feel like the last 4-6 weeks flew by – just like the end of the summer. School started for my little guys on Monday – Pre-K 4 and Pre-K 3!

                  I’m also happy to share that I got another job offer this week – and will be accepting! Everything about this job and position feels right to me and I’m over the moon ecstatic to return to work. Most days will be close to 13 hours out of the house (it’s in Midtown East so the commute will be 60+ min in AM and 90+ min in PM) and I know running will have to take a backseat. Not sure what I’m going to do yet in regards with training and racing – I think decisions will be made as we go along and I see how much running I’m able to fit in. But I feel ready to shift around priorities and cut back where I need to.

                  So, Wineglass is rapidly approaching. We are down to 19 days. 19!!!

                  Thankfully, I had a pretty solid week of training last week. I felt great, the paces felt comfortable and most importantly, I feel like my motivation and excitement for training has returned. After the last couple of weeks of lackluster running and then my discouraging run/race at RnR VB last weekend, I was beginning to freak out with how poorly I felt. I was worried that those feelings would cause a landslide into the final weeks of training.

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                    Wineglass Marathon Training (T-5) + RnR Virginia Beach!

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                    So, this was a tough week of training. Physically, I am feeling fine – the pain in my foot disappeared as quickly as it appeared and I have been running pain-free all week.

                    But mentally, it was a challenging week. I flew out to SF on Friday morning for one of my college gf’s weddings, so coach and I adjusted the plan so I would get my long run in on Thursday. Realistically, there was ZERO chance (or desire) of me running long while I was in SF – my focus was on spending as much time with my West Point girls as possible – and a 21 miler did not fit into the plan.

                    So we decided to shift the week and do the long run on Thursday. Unfortunately, I woke up Thursday and just didn’t have the motivation to run for almost 3 hours. I made it 5 miles and called it a day. The thought of another 16 miles – alone and mostly in the dark – sounded miserable to me.

                    So the plan changed to me running at 4am on Friday. I’ve never run that early before but I needed to be on my way to the airport by 8am. I was in bed by 9pm with my alarm set for 3:30am. But of course, things never run that smoothly when you have a short timeline. I woke up at 12:15 and was up for a bit before hearing my older son awake around 1am. I ended up in bed with him for a few hours until he finally drifted off to sleep just after 3am. It was one of those nights where you just stare at your clock as it gets later and later and as you constantly do the math to see how many hours of sleep you could still manage if you fell asleep at that moment.

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                      Juggling Family, Work And Life With Long Distance Running

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

                      Training for long distance races (half marathon, marathon, ultras) is difficult in and of itself. It becomes a whole other challenge when you factor in all the responsibilities many of us have–being a spouse, having children, owning or maintaining a home and/or working a full or part time job.

                      I had more flexibility with my time before I was married and had kids. It was fairly typical for me to spend a couple of hours each day working out or at the gym. I’d run (with no set training plan–just however far I felt like running that day), cross-train and do some strength or core work.

                      These days it is a delicate balance to juggle my responsibilities with my training. My “free” time is limited. I no longer have the luxury of running whenever and however far I like. And so, my training has to be adjusted a few ways.

                      Make each mile count. Gone are the days where I just head out to run with no idea of how long or far I will be out. I’ve been forced to get smarter with my training. I am no longer able to waste my time running “empty” miles. Nowadays, each mile has to matter and every run has to have a purpose. I follow a training plan and ensure that when I leave the house, that run means something to me and my goals.

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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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                          Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-9)

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                          I started this post Sunday evening in the midst of one of those “can’t stop eating” days of marathon training. Last week was the longest long run and highest mileage week since Boston training…and it capped off the 2nd highest mileage month ever for me (have to go back to October 2014 for highest). So my insatiable appetite is understandable and expected.

                          On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being a completely successful week), I’d classify last week as a 9 – it would have been a perfect week of running had Wednesday’s tempo gone better. But, instead, I quit after 2 of the 4 tempo miles and turned the remainder of the miles into “easy”. I’d love to blame the heat and humidity, but I think it was just a result of a lot of things. And I refuse to complain about this weather because no matter how hot it is, it still beats the 0 degree weather we were dealing with in the winter.

                          My husband was away from Mon-Thurs evening – and I was able to run all of my training runs outside and solo (except one treadmill run). I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family who will come over to watch the boys so I don’t need to run with the stroller or on the treadmill. My running happened this week when I had the chance – couple of days were right smack in the middle of the 95 degree weather – but it beats being down the basement, right?

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                            Wineglass Training Update (T-10) + Slowing Down

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                            After months of falling off the early morning running wagon, I am happy to be back on! Last week was a pretty successful week of getting up when my alarm went off – most days around 5am (two days as early as 4:30am) – and finishing my runs before 7/8am.

                            My weekly mileage is slowly starting to rise again – I had back-to-back 60+ mile weeks and came out feeling rested and ready for more training. I think a HUGE part of that is how much easier I am taking easy runs these days.

                            I don’t know what it is, but it’s like a lightbulb finally went off in my head. And if there was a way to smack my younger self upside the head, I would. Looking back on the last several years of training, I know that I was running too fast on my easy days. I can remember coming back from an easy/recovery run and feeling wiped. Ummm…you shouldn’t be wiped after an easy run.

                            Lately, I’m focusing on heart rate or just perceived effort and I wear no watch most days (if I want the HR data, I wear it). I can tell you that it’s significantly slower than I have been running my easy runs. And I’m finishing up my easy runs feeling energized and ready for the day, rather than feeling like I want to crawl back in bed.

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                              Wineglass Marathon Training (T-12)

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                              I am getting into the swing of marathon training so I wanted to bring back the weekly updates in case you were interested in my training leading up to Wineglass!

                              But first, I want to rewind a moment. Before I tell you what I’m doing right now, it’s fair to give a brief overview of what has been going on the last few month. It’s been almost three months since Boston. I still feel like it was yesterday (and yes, STILL riding that PR and race high). Since the race, my focus has been on a few things:

                              • Recovery: This preoccupied most of the first four to five weeks post Boston. I ran four or five days post-Boston but kept all runs short and easy for a few weeks before starting any type of “faster” running. Some light core work but no strength work. My legs were pretty trashed from the hills so I decided to use only cycling and easy-paced running during the important recovery and regeneration phase.
                              • Consistency and base building: Last training cycle, I took a rest day the day after my long runs (some weeks I would cycle easy, but 75% of time, it was a complete rest day). This cycle, we’ve added in a short recovery-type run (3-5 miles) the day after my long runs – with the option of a rest day if I need it. Mileage has been averaging in the low 50s. That will naturally get bumped up a bit as training continues and long runs become longer – but shouldn’t be by that much.
                              • Strength, Core, Cross-Train: I was REALLY good about this for a couple of weeks, but I’ll be honest here – not much was done while we were in Alaska for 3 weeks. I had intentions of maintaining my core and strength routine, but the reality is that we were on vacation and I felt like running was enough time away from my boys and my in-laws. So I just accepted it and will be focusing on these over the next 12 weeks. Monday was my first strength and core workout and man, did I feel it!
                              • Maintaining mid-distance endurance: The longest I have run since Boston is 16 miles. Most of my “long” runs have been in the range of 12-15 miles. That is a sustainable distance for me. If I were to run 18+ milers on a consistent basis for more than a few months, I would probably risk injury and/or overtraining. Since we are 11 weeks out, the long runs will start to get longer (17 miler this weekend).
                              • More Tempo Long runs: Last cycle, I only did two long tempo runs. I’ve already done two (both 13 milers with 7 tempo) and likely will have another 1-2 before the race.

                              ———————-

                              Here’s what last week looked like:

                              Monday: 15.5 mile long run (talked about it here)
                              Tuesday: 4 recovery miles with my husband
                              Wednesday: Travel day
                              Thursday and Friday: 8 “easy” paced miles
                              Saturday: 13 miles with 7 uptempo (see below)
                              Sunday: 5 recovery miles

                              6 days of running (1 planned rest day due to travel/jet lag)
                              53.5 miles
                              2x stress workouts

                              There was nothing but hills while we were in Alaska but the upside was that the humidity was low! I was able to run 3 weeks during the summer without battling the Northeast heat and humidity while getting some awesome hill workouts in. Win-win.

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                                Fall Marathon Plans + Back Home!

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                                If there’s one thing I’ve learned about planning your racing calendar out, it’s that it’s not set in stone…not even your goal race.

                                Last fall, I had my eyes on the Wineglass Marathon in October, but after a few weeks during the late summer where I wasn’t feeling great and wasn’t up to long runs, I decided to forego Wineglass and chose the Potomac River Run Marathon in November – which gave me an extra 5-6 weeks of training.

                                Earlier this year, I signed up for Wineglass again. I wanted that to be my goal race this fall, but after Saucony reached out to me to be part of the 26 Strong program again, I decided, once again, to forego Wineglass and choose a later marathon. I had entry to NYC Marathon, so decided that would be my goal race with the Chicago Marathon with Ruth (as part of 26 strong) as a long training run.

                                But there’s been this nagging feeling in my stomach about the fall that I couldn’t shake. My worry is that running 26.2 miles in Chicago with Ruth could jeopardize NYC three weeks later. I’m not the type of runner who can run 26.2 miles and recover and then RACE 26.2 miles soon after. I’m concerned that there will be some fatigue from Chicago that is lingering by the time NYC rolls around.

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                                  Training Highlights + Garmin Forerunner 225 Giveaway!

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                                  Hello from Alaska!! We are two weeks into our three week vacation and having an absolute blast. The last 15 days have been filled with nothing but outdoor adventures, delicious food, beautiful weather and time with family.

                                  Running and training have gone exceptionally well, especially given that we are on vacation. I’m always cautious about training during vacation. It’s definitely a fine line – I want to maximize time with family but I also want to maintain my fitness and momentum with training.

                                  I’m thankful that my husband and in-laws are supportive and encouraging of my running. Out of the 15 days we’ve been here, I’ve run 13 – the two missed days were because of jet lag (the 2nd day) and a packed day of hiking and driving last week. But several of the runs have been cut short – by 1-3 miles – because of shortage of time or just lack of interest to be gone for 70+ minutes at a time when the weather is nice and there are fun activities to do. And I mostly have eliminated core and strength work and cross training for the time being.

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                                    Hydration Help + Stopping During Long Runs

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                                    First sunrise run in a while!

                                    I always blog a lot less when I’m in between training cycles. I guess I just feel like there isn’t much exciting training to share, so why bother sharing anything? But I also know it’s helpful to share all the details of training – not just when things are going great or I’m logging 20 mile runs.

                                    I’m still in the building stage from Boston. I’m up to about 45-50 miles/week and have been enjoying the fewer miles, shorter long runs and lazy mornings. But NYC is rapidly approaching and training will really start to pick up soon, so I’m trying to get back into routine of early morning running as well as core and strength work regularly.

                                    I had been planning to run the Memorial Day 4 miler for months. After a few days off for my hamstring pain, I was ready to give Monday a go. But, my coach and I made the call Saturday afternoon to scrap the race. I felt no hamstring pain – and hadn’t for several days / runs. But there were points where it felt tight – and my gut was telling me not to chance things on a race that wasn’t even a goal race.

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                                      North Face Mountain Athletic Training App

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                                      This post brought to you by The North Face. The content and opinions expressed below are that of NYC Running Mama.

                                      The Mountain Athletics line by The North Face isn’t just about gear. There is also an app that provides access to expert created, 6-week strength and conditioning training programs specific to outdoor sports including running, skiing, climbing and mountaineering. 

                                      Features of the Mountain Athletics App include:

                                      • Monitored Progress
                                      • Detailed session calendars
                                      • Workout Schedules
                                      • Coaching Messages
                                      • Tutorials

                                      After downloading the free App (for iOS), users can choose between the various 6-week training programs. I (obviously!!) chose running. The running program alternates between

                                      • Strength & Core (mix of upper/lower/core workouts)
                                      • 2 mile assessment (every 2 weeks)
                                      • Running Speed and Power Workout
                                      • Recovery/Rest day

                                      I think this app is a great tool for runners who are looking to get faster and stronger. The speed days are 400m sprints with a short warmup and cooldown. (Note: if you are training for longer distances, you can use the “Running Speed and Power” day as your speed day. You can add on some additional miles before/after to make it a longer run. And then you can follow your normal running plan the other days.

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                                        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. – Gary Mack

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