Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16: Speedwork #1 {31 Days}

It seems that I am running out of persuasive arguments that will convince you to lace up your shoes and run a few miles.
So now I'll chat about workouts to mix up the running routine.  Before beginning specialized work-outs the base needs to be built - that means logging miles on a regular basis.
The first more specialized training I start is speed work.  Structured intervals for a set distance at a desired pace.  My most favorite ever work-out like this is 200s.  Back in my cross country days, when coach would point us toward the track rather than toward the trails everyone would groan - that is everyone except me.  For some reason,  I loved 200 repeats.  We would generally do 8 or so of them at 24 to 27 seconds with the second half of the lap used as a rest period.  I am really not sure if I enjoyed the actually running more or watching our coach try to keep track of each of the groups while spinning in circles in the middle of the field.  He really was organized, but on those days he definitely got a work-out as well.

{Work-out Summary:

  • 2 mile warm up run, 
  • 8 x 200s w/ 200 jog in between, 
  • 2 mile cool down, 
  • = 6 total miles
Note: warm-up & cool-down should be 1 min to 30 sec slower than goal race pace}

Lately, I have not gotten on the track for this type of speed work, but I think that it is in the plan for next week sometime.  And yes, I am looking forward to it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15: Fueling - During a Run {31 Days}

MIA this weekend, but such is life.

I did get my 10 mile run in on Saturday morning.  All by myself.  
I like to run longer runs with other people - 10 miles of my own thoughts get a bit sickening after a while.  I felt good and held a decent under 9 min/mile pace.  
As I was wondering I pondered my current half marathon goal.

Here is a look inside my brain for my discussion:
Wow - this feels pretty good - a run forever kind of pace.
(look at watch - hmmm.... 8:36 pace)
No people out here - will I do better or worse when there are other runners and spectators?
I think better.
(a few miles later)
Yikes I am feeling a bit out of energy.
(watch says 8:53 pace)
So that's about right - starting to feel sore and tired.
Try to push it in for the last 2 miles and see how if your body can handle faster paces when it is tired.
(I held a decent 8:30 ish pace for the 9th mile, but tapered off again in the 10th).
So the debate still rages on in my mind.  I think I need to commit to an 8:30 pace goal (equals a 1 hour 52 min half...)  It is coming, I think. 
On the above run I 'planted' water and fruit snacks along my route.  I ate only a banana before I left for the trails, so I knew I'd need some fuel at some point along the run.  So I carried a water bottle for 2 miles.  Since I was doing an out and back I figured that miles 2 and 8 were good points for some energy.  At mile 2, I was not feeling like I needed anything, but ate a package and gulped down some water.  Once I turned around, I knew that if I made it back to that mile marker my snacks would be waiting - on a run of that length it is important to provide your body with energy to complete what you set out to do.  I was very happy to see my things laying beside the trail.  I do not have a water belt and find them bulky to run with, so this method works for me!
Happy running - what are you plans for the week?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12: Running Journal {31 Days}

Oops missed another day, but if you were anywhere on my route to town yesterday, you would have seen my vehicles pass your spot at least a dozen times - crazy.
I did get my run in yesterday, and it was a good day all around.  Today I wanted to talk about running journals... I am a very bad example of how it is supposed to be done.

I have used Daily Mile to record runs and other workouts.  It also provides a way to record all aspects of your workout - calories, heart rates, route, gear, weather, etc.  This would be a great way to keep track of many ascpects of a run (or workout) if I could get myself to actually do it on a regular basis.  Plus as with most things these days there is a facebook like interface for interaction with others your know.

When I am on a program I tend to record more about who I ran with and where we went, but on a regular day I do not record anything.  My watch is great for keeping track.  Transferring data to the computer and on to myGarmin provides an easy way to look back at what I have done (myGarmin is just not aas user friendly/interactive as Daily Mile).

Recently I added up my miles since the beginning of September for a grand total of 92 miles - tomorrow's 10 miler should put me over 100 miles for this round of training.  Quite a milestone for me.  This is a motivation for me to continue keeping track of miles - I would also like to start recording some weather info, overall feeling, etc.  But I will go for baby steps at this point.

10 miles tomorrow - looking forward to it, mostly....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10: Schedules/Programs {31 Days}

Having a goal in mind provides motivation for me to actually get my legs out the door for a run.  If I am not aiming for a race it is always easy to opt out of a workout.   I still run when I am not training for something specific, but the intensity is way down.
Currently I am loosely following a program that incorporates running and Insanity as cross training from Coach Brandon Henderson, PhD.  I had completed the Insanity program a couple of winters ago, and had awesome results - lost 20+ lbs and could run 8 minute miles.  It was the 8 min/mile pace that had me wanting to use Insanity in my training for my upcoming race.
My initial plan was to pound out 60 days of the work-outs and then begin running, but the time I needed to complete the program left me with only a few short weeks to actually run.  I was okay with that until I googled 'half marathon Insanity training program' and found several sites.  Coach Henderson's (whom I do not know) program seemed the proper starting point - I was able to modify it as needed.
 Training Program: Above - Weeks 1-5, Below - Weeks 6-10 {Completed workouts in green!}
At this point I have rarely added the extra workouts after running for the day, and skipped much of the ab work-outs.  I will credit this schedule with providing my confidence that I can accomplish my goal, and with over a month of training left even re-evaluate my expectations.  Only a few skip days, but overall I feel I have given it my best effort.
I additionally have set up training programs for other events as well.  While I was expecting our 6th baby, my husband decided to try to qualify for Boston.  At the time he would have needed to average 7:13 min/mile pace to make the cut.  In order for this training to be feasible in our life, I needed to be on board, and as my bossy self I created a program for him as well, loosely based on one from Bart Yasso out of Runner's World.  Although he missed qualifying, he was able to run with out knee pain, which was a huge issue in his previous marathon training - so we counted it as a success, mostly.
Bottom line: I love to run for a specific goal, and once I commit to a program I usually stick with it until the end.  This time is proving harder as I know that if I maintain at this point the goal is attainable!  Oh, life is good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9: Good Days vs. Bad Days {31 Days}

 Some days I leave the house and my legs feel light and free, other days it is more of a struggle.  Why?
I still have not figured out the answer.  Experts may say diet, time of day, sleep, previous work-out, etc.
For me I am sure that it is a combination of all of these.  I have recently been trying to watch what I am eating - tracking calories and exercise, but I still just like food.  Although I know that an apple is a better choice than 2 frozen cookies, there are days that the cookies are the balm to my craving.
In a world where most runners go out in the morning, I am an evening runner.  I. am. not. a. morning. person. ever.  (well hopefully the morning of my half marathon that will be different)  During the week days I log all of my miles after dinner, my longer weekend runs are done when they fit in my life - often Saturday mornings.
Sleep - well let's just say I am a night owl who functions decently on 6ish hours of sleep.  As my dear mother-in-law says: there is plenty of time to sleep in the grave!  There are days that I get more, but when I am taking care of my body correctly 6 is all I need.
And rest days - well.... the program I am currently following has only 1 rest day a week, but the past couple of weeks have found me skipping Friday nights due to lack of time and/or a baby sitter.
So my question for this week is this: Why on Saturday did I have the awesomest run of my training yet, after minimal sleep (2ish hours), riding in a car for 4 hours, shopping for several hours, decent eating though?  But this evening's run felt harder - more 'normal' routine of parenting, eating, and sleeping?  Hopefully this bodes well for my goal in a short while; I do better with random and non-routine than I do with normal life.
Strap on the shoes and run a few miles, the good days will soon outweigh the bad or at least overshadow them.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8: Me time! {31 Days}

All of this talk of running partners also got me thinking about why I really love to run... and that is the 'me time' that comes as a result.  Whether I am running with friends, Adam, or all alone; I am Amy.  A runner, not Amy the mommy, not Amy the auntie, not Amy the cook, not the baker, taxi driver, nurse, doctor, maid, or anything else that being an 'unemployed' mother of several children entails.
I have friends who have great strollers that they can push while they run their miles.  I refuse.  Not that I have never run while pushing kids; 3 tucked into a bike/stroller cart, similar to this one while I trained for a marathon relay once upon a very long time ago.  Mine had a larger tire on the front that the tiny one on this model, and was excellent for running behind.  I often used it when I rollerbladed, as that is something I do not mind doing while pushing my babies!
In the past few years, I hold my ground and wait until there is someone around to take over while I run for a few moments.
I run because I enjoy how it feels during and after, but when I push a stoller the enjoyment of the during is sucked into a black hole.  Making it feel like work and completely not worth the effort - really who in their right mind actually enjoys running pushing a bawling baby down the road? how about stopping to find the baby's pacifier or toddlers crackers? Blah, so. not. worth. it.
So, I choose to run unencumbered by my children!  Unless they are capable of completely the desired course on their own 2 feet.  Then I enjoy running with my kids - fun stuff.  Runners really do share the best conversations.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 7: Running Partners {Take 2}

Running partners again.  The second best people to run with are my buddies - some of my best friends (old & new) are girls that I run/ran with.
The conversations you are able to have while running are always more candid and open.  Runners confide in each other, things they would generally never tell other people.  Other discussion topics often include: bodily functions, parenting advice, family drama, general news of interest, etc.  Basically nothing is off limits, and I love it!
Yesterday, my sister-in-law and I ran 9 miles at a fast-ish pace.  As we began to see our end point in the distance we both started to get emotional.  It was an accomplishment for both of us to hold the pace.  Some miles we chatted, but for a few there was that awesome comfortable silence of both of us working through the distance in our heads.  Such an awesome run!
 Good luck to all my lovely people out running the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis today - thinking of you!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Days 5 & 6: Running Partners

Well, I missed yesterday, sorry about that!  Life is so worth living.
Today, I am going to talk about running partners.  Or at least one aspect of them.  Over the years, I have run with several different people, but my most favorite person to run with is my best friend, whom is also my dear husband.
 Adam and I have logged many miles together.  Usually I run in a straight line looking in the forward direction and my heart rate is sky high trying not to slow him down.  But Adam, he runs circles around me, backwards, forward, zig-zag through woods next to us, along the beach, and his heart rate is about 30 beats lower than mine.  Still I enjoy this time we are able to chat and relax as adults without kids hanging around listening.
As our half gets closer, I miss him as a running partner.  He tore a muscle earlier in our training and has needed to rest.  Hopefully he'll be up and running soon.  I keep trying to convince him that he should just run with me during our run.  If he can keep from getting caught up in the moment and stay back with me I feel confidant I can accomplish a 1:50 half.  I am working on the mental toughness so that I will not need his help, but a pacer would be nice.
Whose your favorite running partner?  Tomorrow we'll discuss my next favorite people to run with.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4: Gadgets

The world of running is full of gadgets - GPS, Step counters, iPods, Shoes w/ chips embedded, etc.  I would like to think that I am more of a 'traditionalist' when it comes to much of these.  With the years and time I have spent pounding the pavement/trails, I have a fairly decent sense of pace and distance.  However, my dear friends purchased a Garmin Forerunner 70 for me as a birthday gift, and I love it!
Photo curtsey of Garmin
The FR70 is not a GPS, but a device that measures heart race and cadence and from there calculates pace, calories burned.  There watch comes with a heart rate strap and a foot pod (try keeping track of these pieces). It provides feedback of what is happening to my body when I run.  The nerd in me appreciates the graphs of heart rate and pace that I can download on to my computer when I get home.  It is the perfect gadget to satisfy my nerdy-ness, without being too much.  Generally, I do not run in unfamiliar places, so GPS tracking is not something I need in my running life.
Usually I run with out too much focus on maintaining paces, but when I have a goal in mind things are different and generally, I am not overly competitive.  I am finding a new side of my running self - competition with my own times/overall feeling/running in general.  At this point in my training I think that I could successfully complete my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon, and I really owe some of that to the info I can analyze during and after my runs.  Now comes the re-evaluation of my goal - do I work to increase my pace with over a month to race day or just appreciate that I am where I need to be already and work on maintaining this level of running for the next month.  There is a chance that I could find my way to a 1:45 goal, but I am still holding out committing to that - 8 min/mile for over 90 minutes.....  Time to do a bit of thinking - Running is so mental.

Get out and enjoy this beautiful fall - run a few miles!

PS. Hi Heidi, glad that you are out and running again.  I am hoping that Adam's leg heals so that he can resume his training with me, I miss my running partner.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3: Music & Running

 I love music - it is on all day long every day at my house.  I enjoy the background noise of it as I go about my daily routine.  I used to be embarassed by the music I like, but as I have gotten older I no longer care.  I like country - the old stuff 70s, 80s - best, but I listen to all genres on a regular basis.  As a 90s high schooler, I never really got into the alternative music that was so sweet during those years, so the fall back was country.
That being said, I never run with music.  Weird, I know.  I own an iPod shuffle.  It is loaded with a variety of good running/work-out songs, but I never use it.  Mostly I enjoy to run to clear my head - I like the way it feels to struggle through different parts of a run, whether that be an actual physical struggle of moving one foot in front of the other or a mental dilema/situation that requires thinking.

Plus, tried many different types of headphones/earbuds all of which either hurt my ears, do not stay in, or bother me when I get sweaty.  Maybe some day I'll find headphones that are actually comfortable to wear and realize what I was missing all these miles.

I do not think that everyone should run with only their thoughts for company, but for me it is what works.  I am not looking to be distracted from my activity, but rather enjoy the feeling of running.  In fact, I am likely in the minority in this practice.
Get the shoes on and run a few today!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: Therapy

I did quit running for a while - more took a hiatus.  My babies came at 2(ish) year intervals, so there were times when it felt like every waking moment was spent being mommy.  I returned to running following my 3rd baby - I was having some 'head' issues adjusting to my growing family, lack of school, and a husband who was working on a PhD while working full time.  {There is much more I could share about Post Partum Depression/Anxiety, but not today}
Running provided a healthy way to clear my brain, leave behind the mess and chaos of small children - if only for a half an hour.  During this time, I NEVER cared about mile pace or distance, but only that I was getting a reprieve.  I still run more for the outing than for the pace (more about that in a coming post).

I still turn to running when I feel overwhelmed, upset, or negative.  The pounding out of even just a couple miles always brings me home with a better perspective on life.  If I am struggling with a choice, I usually find the answer or at least the options and consequences.

Last week, Adam pushed me out the door - 'You need a run.'  And I did. And I ran fast (for me). 7:30min/mile for 2.25 miles.  That was when I reached where I was going, so I stopped.  Not sure how long I could have kept up that pace, but so what.  It helped.  And that is all that matters.

Only in the past year or so, have I begun to invite my children on an occasional run.  They can cruise in the mile runs at school, but keeping a steady pace for longer distances is a struggle.  I enjoy having  them participating in an activity I continue to enjoy.  I refuse to push a stroller and run - maybe this is selfish of me, but running is my out, my time for just me, my thoughts, and the open road/trail.

So what is your go to therapeutic activity.  Have you ever strapped on the running shoes because you know you'll feel better if you do? Or had a husband push you out the door?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Run {31 Days Series: Post #1}

I had really thought that I was going to opt out of the 31 days series hosted by the Nester this year, but it kept niggling at the back of my mind.  
Last round was a tough subject for me - 31 days to a place for everything and everything in its place.  I successfully completed what I set out to do, but I was not up for that kind of challenge (cleaning, organizing, & blogging) this time around!
Instead, I have chosen a topic I am passionate about... Running.  Ah, just typing the word gives me a little thrill.
I. Love. To. Run.
I do not run far or fast or furious (well, maybe sometimes I run furious).
It is a perfect balm for what ails me, except when my lousy lower back goes out.
Today I will tell you how I found a love for running...
In middle school I joined track - more to hang out with friends and pick grass than to run.  Initially I was a sprinter and never considered running longer distances than 200m, until a lady I was babysitting for chatted with me about her switch to longer distances when she was my age (how much she loved it, how much better she was at it, etc).
I found I loved to run the 800m - break that race into 200s and it is just such fun!
A half mile does not compute to the distance I have been traveling on my legs lately, but this is where it all started.  The boys cross country coach happened to be the middle school gym teacher, and he suggested running in the fall to help my 800 performance.
That advice/suggestion went in one ear and out the other, but my dear mother's ears were pricked and she encouraged me to join the team (thanks mom)!
I can still remember the first day of practice and the 2 mile warm-up that was further than anything I had EVER run in my entire life.  And that was just the warm-up, we still had the 2-mile trail and a cool down mile on the 'flats.'
The girls encouraged and welcomed me with open arms - at times on trail runs I am quickly brought back to my freshman year of training... senior leadership, 'i love you' sign language, happy camaraderie.  There really is nothing like the bond forged while pounding out miles.
This is not to take anything away from the following years, but there is a special place in my heart for that year.
I feel so lucky to have that foundation in my life, as it is now almost 20 years later (how can that be??), and I still carve a spot in my life for running.  Thank you mom for the push, coach for the help & motivation, and that 1995 CC team for welcoming me into your lives!

I am so looking forward to sharing all things running in this next month.  Lace up those shoes and trot a few for me!
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