Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 11: My Legs HATE Me

What a week this has been!  After my 20 miler from the week before, my training program tapers out for the next two weeks before another long run.  So I got a little excited and spent some time going hard in the weight room and hitting up some extra hill work.  By the time Saturday rolled around, however, I was reminded why I stick to the plan during marathon training.  My legs were DEAD!  I still managed to knock out my 8 miler to close out the week, but it weren't pretty.  Here is a recap of my 11th week of marathon training and why my legs hated me so much this week...

Monday: Spinning + Lower Body Strength
Like I mentioned above, without a long run planned for another two weeks, I felt like I had the green light to go ham on a lower body workout.  I typically shy away from heavy lower in general, especially during marathon training.  But I have been digging on how much stronger my legs are feeling with the added strength training (not to mention my booty gains) so I figured why not push it a little before my spin class.  Back squats, dead lifts, RDL's, single leg take off's, I was having a good ole time!  And beleive it or not, my legs were not terribly sore that day or the next (but stay tuned).

Tuesday: Speed Work [Mile Repeats] 6 miles Total
Despite my big leg workout the day prior, my legs didn't feel too bad.  My hamstrings were a little tight and I could feel some soreness creeping up in my quads, but other than that, I was pretty good to to.  So I hopped on the treadmill for my scheduled speed work.  I knocked out an easy warm up mile at around 8:30m/m then went right into my mile repeaters (with a 400 RI) which went like this:
Mile 1 - 6:37
Mile 2 - 6:31
Mile 3 - 6:26
I did a 1.25 mile cool down which took about 10 minutes and ended up with about 6 miles total.  I felt freaking amazing after crushing the speed work.  That was until the soreness from that workout and the day before started setting in later that day!

Wednesday: Total Body Strength + Taught Yoga
My legs were pretty unhappy with my by Wednesday so it was foam rolling and mostly upper body strength.  Later that night, I taught yoga but since I typically teach off the mat not much yoga for me.  I could really have used it though!

Thursday: Naked Run 6ish Miles
I just couldn't get motivated to run that morning.  I was having a pity party because I was tired, my legs were sore, it's boring and lonely on my treadmill and blah blah blah.  So I got some work done instead and decided to knock out my run on my lunch break.  I forgot my watch, so I had to run "naked" which I have actually grown to really like.  My legs were so tired that I felt like I was hardly moving.  That along with the insane heat that time of day made for an interesting run.  I kept telling myself that one more mile should loosen up my legs and I'll find my rhythm.  But after 6ish miles and I was still so darn tired and sore, I figured that would be a good time to call it a day.  It wasn't a great run but I got it done.  And it was time to foam roll!

Friday: Upper Body Strength + Hill Repeats [12x.10mile]
Hunter took the boys to school so I could sneak in a quick upper lift sesh before heading out to run hills.  We invited several of our athletes from the gym to come do hill repeats with us as a last hurrah for the summer.  We had 16 people show up ranging from 14 year old high school students to D1 collegiate athletes to 40 something year old stay at home moms!  Although hard work, The Hill (as we like to call it) was much more fun with such a great group of folks.  We even did 2 extra repeats and I wore the weight vest for one of them!  I love the challenge of running up that hill.  I feel it makes me stronger both physically and mentally.  My legs, however, had about enough of me pushing myself this week and felt as if they were filled with lead by Friday night!  Since it was Hunter and I's last Friday night together until the end of football season, we decided to enjoy a little bit of wine.

Saturday: 8 Dreadmill Miles
Come Saturday morning, I was regretting the wine, regretting the hills, regretting my speed workout, regretting lifting heavy legs, just regretting it all when I felt like a snail on the treadmill.  I had to really dig deep and push through on this one, not succumbing to my excuses. This certainly wasn't my worst mid-distance run of this training cycle but definitely not my best.  If anything, it taught me to train a little smarter from here on out.  I'm 54 days out from race day and now is not the time to get too creative and overzealous in my training.  I need to have good solid training runs and most importantly, stay healthy.  Yes, I will continue to push myself, that's just who I am and what I do.  But I vow to do a better job knowing when to pull back a little, foam roll and stretch more and take some rest if need be.

Sunday: Birthday Yoga
I am normally pretty lazy on Sundays (as far as structured exercise goes, it's hard to be lazy with 3 and 4 year old sons).  But when a dear friend of yours invites you to a private yoga class in honor of her birthday, you go!  It was so awesome getting to practice with my favorite Yogi and several of our friends!  What a neat way to celebrate your birthday by gathering those closest to you and doing what you love.  Our teach was absolutely amazing, the class was wonderful and exactly what I needed after a long, hard week of training!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Week 10: Another Long Run in the Books

I cannot believe I am already 10ish weeks into training and I only have like 8ish more to go.  Yes, I have kinda lost track but I do know when race day is, so don't worry I won't miss that!  This was quite a week for my family and for me in training.  My boys started a new school, I accomplished my first 20 miler of my training cycle and I had a super busy, but fun filled weekend. 

Here is a recap of this past week of training...

Monday: Easy Upper Body Lift
My sons stared a new school last Monday.  I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get them there, meet their new teachers and get them settled in to their new classrooms.  I think the whole experience was a little more nerve-wracking for mommy because, despite my anxiety, they seemed to just go with the flow.  Both Nolan (4) and Lincoln (3) walked right into their new school like they owned the place and seemed to settle in just fine!  Because of the busy morning, I did not teach my usual spin class that morning, but I did get in a light upper body lift that afternoon.  I had a 20 mile on my schedule for Thursday, so my workouts leading up to that were to be relatively light so I wouldn't be too sore or burnt out for the run.

Tuesday: 5.5miles of Speed Work
Not all treadmills are created equal.  Hunter and I have nicknamed ours "The Evil Treadmill" because it seems to be much faster than the ones at the other gyms we go to!  Even it's previous owner would agree, so we are not crazy!  It was definitely humbling the first several runs on it and is even still somewhat tricky figuring out what pace to use.  But I feel like I'm getting the hang of it and had a great speed sesh on Tuesday.  I did 8x800 with a warm up and cool down.  Getting up super early to run on The Evil Treadmill is a little tough for me, but I was certainly glad I made it happen.  Later that evening, I squeezed in a little extra speed work running around the neighborhood with my munchkins.

Wednesday: Easy Upper Body Lift + Yoga
With a long run scheduled for the next morning, Wednesday's lift was a light upper body.  I did some simple super sets of a variety of barbell presses with cable column pulls at 4x10 for each.  Lifting is my bread and butter so it's always a little hard for me to pull back in the weight room.  But I have ran with an insanely sore upper body before and it ain't fun.  So I have since learned my lesson and do the best I can to not overdue it in the days leading up to a long run.  Later that evening, I taught my yoga class and even participated in some of the hip opening exercises.  I was feeling pretty good that night and ready to rest up and tackle my run the next morning.
Thursday: LSR 20 Miles
I'm still struggling with my pace quite a bit out on my long runs.  I don't get a chance to run outside much during this time of year because of our hectic schedule with work and the kids, so I am not use to the heat and humidity, especially for that duration. I know I shouldn't make excuses, but my body or mind are never prepared for that distance in those conditions.  Each long run, however, I have been pushing myself more and more and am seeing improvements.  My pace is actually getting better with the added mileage.  Though still not where I want and need to be, I find that improvement to be somewhat promising.  I've been approaching each of these long runs with a relatively positive attitude, despite the struggle, and the mentality of what can I learn from it to better prepare me for race day?  It was steamy hot and humid and another slow steady run for me, but it was better than my last long run and it's now done.  I know what I need to work the hardest on and that is my mental game.  I am a strong runner and a fierce competitor when the conditions are favorable, but I need to learn to dig a little deeper when the stars aren't aligned for me.  I've got 2 months until race day, and it's time to get focused if I want to reach  my goal.

Friday: Upper Lift
My legs were not in the least bit sore from my run, maybe the extreme heat and humidity helped warm them up and keep the blood flowing.  Or maybe me going turtle pace helped them from getting too sore, hehe.  Though I was feeling good and ready to rock on Friday, I knew the smart thing to do would be to still take it easy.  So no sleds, hills or MetCon for me that day.  Just a light upper body pump to go into the feeling feeling good!  That night I went out for my first ever girls night that did not include running!  Can you believe it!?!  I met up with my amazing mommy friends who I met almost 5 years ago in our breastfeeding support group.  We have been buddies every since but unfortunately our schedules (especially mine) do not allow us to see each other much.  But on Friday, some of got together for wine and painting, then a movie.  It was a blast!

Saturday: Easy 5 Miles + 1200m Swim
Remember what I said about Friday and feeling good, I took that back on Saturday.  I was feeling fine until I went to run and my legs were DEAD.  Not so much sore as they were just not wanting to cooperate.  The fatigue had definitely set in.  I had hoped to knock out an 8 mile recovery run, but 5 was all I could muster.  So I threw on my suit, grabbed my cap and goggles and finished out my workout with a 1200m swim.  Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, but I'm thinking about jumping into a sprint triathlon next month.  I feel pretty good about my biking and if I can get a few good swim workouts in before than, I feel like I should be good to go.  I swore I wouldn't do any races while marathon training but I am just itching to do a tri and want to break up the monotony of running.  Nothing is set in stone yet, so we shall see!

Sunday: Rest Day
No scheduled workout for me on Sunday.  It is, unless I'm racing, ALWAYS my day of rest.  Since it's the only day of the week my husband and I both have off, we schedule our workouts for the week so that Sunday we have off and can spend it with the family.  This Sunday, week spent the morning at the Orlando Science Center, then the afternoon at a birthday party for one of Nolan's friends.  It was a wonderful, and tiring day, filled with family, friends, food and excitement.  We all were pretty exhausted by that evening, so it was snuggles and a movie on the couch then off to bed before another busy week!

So that was my week of training.  Definitely one of my better long runs but I still need a lot of work if I want to get my BQ.  I feel like I am finding a good balance of workouts, work and family time this training cycle, so that is awesome. 60 days until Chicago and I'm just trucking along, working hard, staying positive, still having a life, and just hoping at all works in my favor come race day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Week 9: Running Naked and Mixing It Up

I've been having a new theme each week to help get me through this daunting training cycle.  I have only referenced the heat and humidity about a zillion times, so I won't waste too much time discussing how much training in the summer during Florida absolutely sucks.  But as the weeks move on, the mileage builds and the temperature rises, I'm finding it harder and harder to stay motivated.  So this past week, I decided I was going to go off the grid a little, ditching my strict training program, sleep in a bit, and just run for the pure joy of running.  In the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, in Florida!  And despite it being a thousand degrees and zero cloud coverage or any shade, running with no goal, no pace and no time was actually pretty awesome.  It was very liberating and reminded me of what it was like when I first started running.  Back before GPS or smart phones, back before I knew of speed work or tempo runs, back before I cared how fast or slow I ran, as long as I was out there running.  I got back to my plan later in the week, but for those few tech-free runs, it was pretty damn fun and just what I needed.

So here is a recap of my week of naked running...

Monday: Spinning + Total Body Strength
Taught Spinning as usual.  Had a kick ass class that day too.  I love it when there is a full house and everyone is feeling it too, the energy was through the roof!  Before class, I got my lift in.  Since I had ditched my expectations for the week as far as running goes, I figured this would be a great chance to get back to some of my Olympic lifts for my legs.  It was AHHHmazing getting to lift heavy in the first time in what felt like forever.  I was so amped up that day.  But later that evening and for pretty much the rest of the week, my legs were DEAD, ha!   Spent a lot of time with my foam roller as well as some stretching and yoga.

Tuesday: 5ish Miles
Since I had already decided I was not going to do my speedwork that morning, I got about 30 extra minutes of sleep then headed down to my office to work rather than run.  I have to admit though, I did feel a little guilty about deviating from my plan.  I do have a big goal that I will not obtain if I don't train hard, but as I learned last Fall, if I train too hard, I won't get to even try for my goal if I sidelined with an injury.  I knew I would still get my run in that day, so that helped with the guilt a little.  On my lunch break around 12:30pm, I was able to get out for my first watch-less run of two watch-less runs of the week.  I didn't concern myself with pace or time, I was just out there (in the 110 degree mid day sun) running my little heart out.  I would venture to guess I was going rather slow, but I didn't have a care in the world.  It sure was fun!

Wednesday: Upper Body, Core + Yoga
Rest day from running but not from the weight room.  Hit the weights pretty hard for a great upper body and core workout on my lunch break.  Spent some time foam rolling my super sore legs (from Monday) and it was back to work.  After my last group, it was off to get the kids then teach Yoga for my usual Wednesday night routine.  I typically teach quite a bit off the mat, but I did sneak in some much needed pigeon and crescent poses during class.

Thursday: 6ish Miles
I had so much fun with my naked run on Tuesday, I figured why not do it again on Friday.   I even went a little further this time around!  The nice thing about running in the middle of the day is that even though it's the hottest, there is the least amount of humidity.  There was also a bit of a warm breeze blowing too, so it actually felt (somewhat) nice outside.  Also, all that running in the heat really, along with the foam rolling and yoga, really warmed up and loosened up my insanely sore legs.  I was finally starting to feel human again!

Friday: MetCon + Hills
About a month ago, Hunter (the hubster if you didn't already know) suggested we go do some hill work out at a place he has worked with some of his NFL guys at.  You know me, if it involves running, a good challenge and my husband (who actually hates running) running with me, I'm all for it!  So a few weeks ago, the two of us went out and gave it a shot.  It was tough but not stupid hard, until later that evening when we could barely move due to pure exhaustion.  So we decided to make it a little tradition, of course planning it around my long runs, and even recruited some friends to join us.  I, of course assumed the 2 miles of hill work would simply not be enough of a workout for me that day and went through a 45 minute MetCon workout prior.  KB swings, box jumps, jump rope, battle ropes, etc., probably wasn't the best idea before running hills.  Man oh man was I tired the rest of the day.  But who am I kidding, I live for this sh*t, it's so fun!

Our hill crew, minus Hunter who took the pic
Saturday: 8 Mile Tempo Run
Last time I ran hills on a Friday and had a tempo run the next day, I actually ended up crushing it.  Maybe it was the mental toughness it gave me or my legs were just on another level from the day before, but I had one of my best tempo runs again this past Saturday.  I had forgotten my headphones and the run was on the dreadmill, but it was all in all pretty kick ass and just what I needed to close out the week.

By my training plan standards, this was not necessarily the best and most efficient week of training, but for my own sanity, it was what I needed.  I really enjoyed those naked runs, getting to run for the pure joy of running.  And it was also good getting to breaking up the monotony of running by hitting it hard in the weight run and having some fun with the hills.  Looking forward to getting back to the program this week with a long run.  It will be my first 20 miler since February and my last of three long runs this training cycle.  So it's time to really get focused if I'm going to turn this Boston dream into a reality!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dear Marathon Training, I Hate You: Tips for Dealing With the Marathon Training Blues

I'm at that point in my marathon training where I'm like, for lack of a better term, F*CK IT!  Before you go thinking I'm quitting my training or even running all together, just hear me out.  After 10 weeks of hitting it hard and 10 weeks still to go, I am at that pivotal point in my training where I am just burnt the EFF out.  I'm physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted by it all.  Despite all my Go Pro captured, Snap Seed filtered IG "runfies" with motivational quotes about working hard in relentless pursuit of my dreams, I got to be honest, I'm actually freaking struggling over here!  It is stupid hot outside and will only get hotter, my training runs have been hit or miss and I am lacking some serious motivation!

So what exactly does this mean?  Do I take a week or two off to reset and hope it doesn't derail my training too badly?  Do I give up on my training plan and just wing it, hoping for the best come race day?  Do I just suck it up, push through and ignore any signs of over-training or injury (been there, done that).   Or, even more extreme, do I just throw in the towel and not even bother any more?  And the answer is, well there is no easy answer.  What I do know, however, is after having been through this very phase in virtually every single training cycle I have ever completed, this too shall pass.  I will get over this funk, finish out my training and run my little heart out on race day.

But I certainly cannot just sit around waiting for my running mojo to just magically reappear.  Not only do I want to finish this, my 6th marathon, I want to a shiny new PR and to finally get that BQ I have been working so hard on for the past 3 years!  But I recognize there is a fine line between that relentless pursuit of our goals, and knowing when to pull back to avoid burn out, illness or injury.  It's about training hard but more importantly, training smart.  So, if you're in the same boat as me, here are a few things to consider when you feel like throwing up the proverbial middle finger to your marathon training.

Take a Little Break
Gasp, she said take a break from running during marathon training, has she lost her mind!?!?!  Obviously skipping several workouts or even a weeks of training is probably not the best thing to help you reach your goal, but taking a day or two off here and there when your body absolutely hates you will not totally derail your training.  In fact, it will most likely do you some good physically and mentally to slow down or stop every once in a while.  Recognizing the signs of over-training is vital in avoiding injury and illness.  If you feel you are reaching that point, take a little breather because getting injured or being sick is even worse than having some bad training runs here and there!  I have pushed back runs later in the day, or even skipped a run and did something else (like swimming, biking or yoga) even even just took a full rest day.  Sure, I felt a little guilty for not completely "sticking to the program," but my body, and mind totally needed it!

Make New Goals
I am by no means saying to give up on your goal all together because training has been rough.  You never know what you may be capable come race day, so don't give up hope.  But I always highly recommend a plan B, C and maybe even D goal as well.  Having just one BIG goal in mind with an all or nothing approach can potentially set you up for failure and disappointment, trust me I know!  Having an ultimate goal along with some "I can by happy with this" type goals will help take some of the intense pressure off as well as allow you to make adjustments for situations out of your control (like weather, GI issues, etc).  I suggest doing this for training runs too, especially the long runs.  It will help keep you accountable out there, giving you something to work for and will be great practice for race day.  

Readjust Your Plan
As you know, marathon training is time consuming, but it does not have to consume.  We do have jobs, families, other hobbies and a life!  Sometimes training can take too much away from that and we start to lose our appreciation for running.  If you find that your plan is too stringent, causing you to resent running, or even worse, causing you to over-train, change it!  I have tweaked my program mid to late training cycle for that very reason.  Make sure your plan is still preparing you for race day with the appropriate mileage, speed work and tempo runs.  But do some research, seek the help of a professional and/or seasoned runners and readjust your plan so it better suits your life, goals and commitment level.

Repeat After Me: "Marathon Training is Not My Job"
As I stated above, we have lives outside of training that often include careers, that some of us actually like and/or want to keep.  Though it would be pretty awesome if we were compensated for the time we spend running and thinking about running, but we don't.  We run because we enjoy it, it's our hobby, our stress reliever, our "happy hour" with friends!  Yes, you made a commitment to a goal, so stay focused and honor that, but don't take yourself too seriously.  When training starts to feel like a full time job, remind yourself it it's not your job, it's your hobby and it's what you love.  Be sure to reconnect with that love of running every now and then with things like a watch-less run, a new route, a group run or a fun, easy local 5 or 10k!

Take Some Time Reflect
Whenever I hit a rough patch in my training where I feel like I'm losing my love and feeling for running, I take some time to reflect on all the wonderful things running has brought into my life.  I like to look back at old pictures, Facebook posts and training blogs to be reminded not just how far I have really come in distance and pace, but how much I have grown as a person along the way.  Running has transformed my body, making me stronger and leaner than I have ever been.  Running has given me so much inner strength and courage to do the things that had once terrified me.  And most importantly, running has brought so many beautiful, encouraging and motivating people into my life.  So yeah, sh*t gets hard some times, but reflecting on all the positive things running has brought me and will continue to bring me certainly helps put things in perspective and drives me to keep on going.

Mix It Up
Often times during marathon training, running is all we feel we can and should do.  But this couldn't be further from the truth.  A solid training program should include cross training, strength training and recovery.  If you find yourself getting burnt out on just running, try adding in some other forms of exercise to help keep things fresh.   For me personally, I would go crazy if all I did was run.  Even during marathon training, I absolutely love getting after it in the weight room, swimming laps in the pool, getting out on my bike and hitting up a yoga class.  Having variety in your weekly training regimen well help your body get stronger, leaner, more efficient and even aid in recovery, but it also give you other things to look forward and work hard at during your training cycle, breaking up the monotony.   [Side Note: I know some programs focus solely on running and shy away from cross training, but consider yoga as well as a core training program to help mix it up, provide strength and aid in recovery.]

Take It All In Stride
I can't stress enough the importance of trying to keep it lighthearted.  Yes it is time consuming, yes it takes a toll on your body, yes it can be a little tricky getting in all your training runs, yes it can be terrifying (especially if it is your first or if you're going after a big goal).  But that doesn't mean it still can't be fun!  After all, you committed to doing this because though you knew it would be a big challenge, you also hoped it to be (at least a little bit) fun.  So let it be fun!  Try to relax and not take it all too seriously.  Don't beat yourself up after a rough training run.  Don't feel all is lost if you missed your mileage for one week.  Don't sweat the small stuff, trust me you'll figure it out.  And most importantly, don't lose hope even when you feel like your goal is so far out of reach.  Keep your head up, keep working, stay positive and have faith in yourself and your training.  Trust me, you WILL cross that finish line on race day.  So why not do it with your head held high, a smile on your face and pride that you kept at it and gave it your all!  And even more so awesome when you CRUSH your goal!