Spring 1/2 Marathon Training: Week 16 of 16!!

Final week before the big race!

Lots of thoughts going into this week. Am I ready? Most importantly, how will my stomach cramps feel? What is the course like? You know the routine 🙂

Well, it was actually a really great training week, and I felt confident heading into something I had put my heart and soul into the past 15 weeks.

The Deets:
38 miles. 5 total runs. 1 strength training session. 1 Core workout. 2 days of complete rest. 20140422-110725.jpg

MONDAY, APRIL 14:
Complete Rest Day. Don’t exactly like taking rest days on Monday (for some reason, it just feels like I’m wasting my rest day on the very first day. Anyone else get this feeling??), but alas, I knew I needed one, so I did what I needed to do.

Also, I had time in the morning before work to experiment with making “Bulletproof Coffee.” Have you tried it/heard of it? It’s a great and even tasty way to get in your good fats. (I talked about this in my last post) Here’s the basic recipe:
8-10 oz hot brewed coffee
1 teaspoon grass-fed organic butter (yep, butter!!)
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (yep, oil!)
sweetener of your choice
Put all in a blender or use an immersion blender, and blend away until it is really nice and frothy! Drink immediately. After about 30 minutes, the oil will begin to separate and it’s no bueno in my opinion 🙂  20140422-103716.jpg

TUESDAY, APRIL 15:
2 miles, 9 minute pace. Strength Training and Core. 1 hour professional deep-tissue massage
AM: Shoot. I slept through my alarm. This rarely happens, and I was not a happy camper about it. Maybe my body was saying it was really tired. Not the end of the world, but not the greatest way to start off race week, or so I felt.

PM: 2 miles with the Corporate Wellness Group. 9 minute pace. Once I remembered I couldn’t run on my own after the group run because I had a massage appointment, I was really not a happy camper. Again, I had to just let this go. Not the end of the world 🙂

During lunch break that day, I headed on over to the gym to do strength + core, as well as get in a good foam roll/torture sesh. Hate Love this crazy-looking device. 20140422-103558.jpg

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16:
AM: 7 miles total. 1 mile w/u, 5 miles at 1/2 marathon race pace (6:51), 1 mile c/d. After resting the past 2 days, I jumped out of bed at 4:45a.m (WHO AM I??), ready to go. HA. I had to do the workout solo, so I drove to a route I knew would be a great mixture of hilly, but one I had run previous workouts on, so I had the confidence to get’er done. I knew it would be mentally taxing to be solo, but it was just what I needed. Felt strong, and besides the pep-talk I had to give myself at mile 3, I felt GREAT when I finished. 3 days till’ race day!

PM: Met up with this handsome goob after work. He had just finished his first 80 minute training run ever! Really, Jon is super athletic (played soccer in college), and literally KILLS me every time we go on a bike ride, but running is something he’s never really gotten into. Proud of him for how well he has trained for his upcoming Olympic Distance Triathlon scheduled for May.20140422-103524.jpg

THURSDAY, APRIL 17:
AM: 8 easy miles with Tiff, 8:15 pace. 

PM: 3 miles with corporate wellness group, 8:30 pace. Where is my brain this week? I definitely should not have run 11 miles 2 days before my biggest race of the year. But, after running 8 with Tiffany, I realized, “SHOOT! I HAVE THE CORPORATE WELLNESS GROUP TODAY!” Oopsy!

Had an awesome lunch that day, though. I am really into these baked sweet potatoes with coconut butter and cinnamon. SO good. 20140422-103437.jpg

FRIDAY, APRIL 18: 
3 easy miles with 5×100 meter strides. RACE DAY EVE!! It worked out really nicely that I was off work on Friday. I SO needed it, and thoroughly enjoyed doing all things domesticated that I have neglected the past few months. Life is nuts right now with work full time, grad school full time, and planning a wedding. I put all those things aside, though, on Friday, and stopped to smell the roses, if you will 🙂 I literally stared at these succulents for 10 minutes.20140422-103618.jpg

Also made some KILLER blueberry muffins with walnuts. (Recipe from http://www.ohsheglows.com) Perfect pre-race day snack.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 18:
RACE DAYYYYYY. I’ll obviously do a full re-cap soon, but I will somewhat spoil the surprise and tell you the bittersweet news.
-I was first place out of everyone, including guys and gals! (small race with it being Boston marathon weekend)
-No PR..ran a 1:33xx 😦
-pretty disappointed, but like I said, I’ll re-cap that crazy experience soon. (got lost three times and ran the ENTIRE race completely alone. ugh.)
I’ll leave you with some fun photos, though! My mom and I post-race. Classic sun’s out, gun’s out pose 😉

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Can you tell I’m not a happy camper about the race? Ha. 20140422-103912.jpg

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If I could go back in time: Part 1 of a 3-part series on running injuries

I write this post from the perspective that  SO MANY runners are injured right now! It seems like 1/2 of the runners behind the blogs I follow are dealing with injuries. NOT FUN.

This 3-part series is about what I would do differently if I could go back in time. Maybe you’ll learn something or be able to prevent an injury in the future.

PART 1: If I could go back in time, I would go back and tell my fifteen-year old self, “Eat more.  In fact, eat more fat.  Good fat is actually good for you. Don’t get sucked into thinking fat is bad.” 

I avoided fat for a long time. Not because of anything other than growing up and hearing, “Fat is bad.” I wanted to be the best athlete I could. My goal was not to lose weight, but I was very restrictive with my diet in the name of wanting to be the best  athlete I could be. I don’t think that is a bad thing, necessarily, because let’s be honest, the Olympians aren’t out there shoveling cakes into their pie hole, BUT, to stay healthy and to keep your metabolism and digestive systems going, you gotta eat enough, and you gotta eat good fats. I simply did not know this. I didn’t have great coaches telling me what was good to eat, and honestly, I was just uneducated.

What happened next?

Well, when I was 16, I lost my menstrual cycle because I wasn’t getting enough nutrients, and BAM! Stress fracture. My first injury. How many times have we seen this in the running world with young women?! Way too many times.

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Shortly after this race, I developed my first stress fracture. I did not have a cycle at the time.

Here is what I wish I knew at the time, and what I would tell women:
-First, make sure you are incorporating enough good fats into your diet (avocados, coconut oil, peanut butter, hummus, etc)
-If you lose your period, do not ignore this. It does not mean you are at “peak fitness”, and it is not something to take lightly. This can affect your fertility and bone mass. No bueno. Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman have all had children. I do not know their personal health history, but in order to carry a fetus, they had to have a cycle. You can train at a very high level and still have regular cycles. In fact, you need regular cycles.

This is a perfect excerpt taken from Camille Herron, an elite marathoner who has qualified for multiple US Olympic Trials. (check out her blog: http://www.camilleherron.com)
“Unfortunately, diet and menstrual irregularities can be a huge risk factor, esp. for young women, often referred to as the Female Athlete Triad. It boils down to getting enough calories to match the energy demands– your energy balance. If you aren’t getting enough calories to fuel yourself, you certainly aren’t getting enough calories to provide for a fetus– the first thing to shut down is your reproductive system. Your estrogen level goes down, which also protects bone. Over time, you can lose bone mass, and your bones become more fragile and fracture-prone. Ladies, it is not normal to miss your period, month-after-month. If you haven’t had a consistent menstrual cycle, that is a direct correlation to your energy balance, whether you need to eat more and/or cut back your training load to get your period again. It has nothing to do with your percent body fat– you can be a woman with 10% body fat, and as long as you’re in energy balance, you should get your period.”  – See more at: http://camilleherron.com/2011/05/11/overcoming-stress-fractures/#sthash.dddBPldl.dpuf

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Proof body fat percentage doesn’t matter. Camille Herron (Left) talks openly about the importance of having a regular period, while Deena Kastor (center) and Kara Goucher (Right) have both had children.

This is an issue not talked about enough in the running world, and many times the ramifications are not good.

Also, like Camille referenced, it does not matter what your body fat percentage is. I got another stress-fracture even though I had put on quite a bit of weight, as you can see below. I didn’t understand. Don’t I weigh plenty enough? Still, though, I wasn’t getting enough good fats and calories, and my body was actually storing fat. Even with my body fat percentage higher, I still didn’t have a regular cycle.

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So, what did I do to fix this? Everyone is different, but first, I got on birth control to regulate my periods. Currently, I am experimenting with being off of it, because Birth Control pills can actually masque symptoms that need to be addressed. (They also really started messing with my moods. I was on them for 4 years).  I decided this year (2014) to go off birth control, and attempt to regulate my periods naturally, because I know it is possible, and I want to be more in control and aware of my body. So far, I’m on the right track. I’m determined to stay injury free. Here has been and what will continue to be my plan until I learn something else. (I’m always researching and reevaluating to see what is best):

1. Fueling immediately after a run instead of waiting a few hours to eat.

2. Eating good fats, especially when consuming vitamin-rich foods (research shows the nutrients found in many fruits+veggies are better absorbed when eaten with fat. Top a salad with a handful of almonds. Add avocado to that quinoa fried rice, or roast veggies in coconut oil.)

3. Taking a fat-digestion enzyme daily. It is called “Hi-Lipase” (After avoiding fat for a long time, I often get constipated after eating it.)

4. Getting my hormone and body levels checked bi-monthly through Biofeedback.

5. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP. 8 hours per night. (If these were numbered by importance, this would be number 1)

6. Taking a magnesium/calcium supplement. I use a brand called “Natural Calm”, and mix it right in with my water.

7. Eating whole foods. Lots of fruits, veggies, eggs, real butter, etc. 

 

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a race back in November of 2013, when I really began to work on my sleep and healthy fat intake. This was a PR race, too 😉

This list is what I believe will work for me. Hormones, menstrual cycles and injuries are all individual, and really are different person-to-person. If you take one thing from this post, I would suggest making sure you (or your girlfriend/wife/daughter) is having a regular cycle. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. I have personally experienced 2 season-ending injuries in the form of stress fractures, and I really encourage everyone to take a second look at how missing your period regularly negatively affects your body in many ways.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Enough said. Don’t try to self-diagnose yourself based off what I say. Seems obvious, but I’m supposed to say something like that here in the blogosphere. 

QUESTIONS: What has been your experience? Do you agree with this post? I would love to know your thoughts!

Spring 1/2 Marathon Training: Week 15 of 16

The past 7 days compiled my last hard training week before tapering for the “Hero Dash” for Backstoppers 1/2 Marathon in Cape Girardeau, Missouri! I’m looking forward to this inaugural race. I chose it for two reasons:
1. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to most big-name races ($50)
2. It’s only 2 hours from my house. WIN.

Okay, I lied. There’s a 3rd reason. Please look at the elevation of this race. I really hope they aren’t lying. 

Let’s talk about the last 7 days, shall we?
The Deets:
48 miles. 6 total runs. 1 strength training session. 1 Core workout. 1 day of complete rest. (Need to get back in the pool/on the bike for those cross-training days!)20140414-122844.jpg
MONDAY, APRIL 7:
AM: felt so nice to sleep in after our weekend away with Jon’s fun college friends (read: lots of booze and not much sleep 😉 ) During lunch, I did core and strength training. I have gotten bored with my typical core workout, so I ventured on over to the Purely Twins website for a nice little core sesh.

OMG. Best/hardest core workout of my life. This is how I looked for a good 15 minutes after finishing. 20140412-172534.jpg
PM: 6 easy miles with Beth. 8:17 pace.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8:
AM: 6 easy miles with Tiff. 7:57 pace.
I was catching up on blogs I follow and ended up seeing former teammate, Ashely Evans on Oiselle’s blog!! It was so cool, because really, Ashley has gotten SUPER speedy in the last few years. Like 2.48 marathon speedy. It was really neat reading about her and remembering fun times in high school. Love her perspective!

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And then I looked down at what I was wearing that day and realized we matched and I had the brief thought, “Maybe if my style is like Ashley’s I can be just as fast.” HA. 
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PM: 2 miles with Corporate Wellness couch to 5k group. 9.00 pace.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9:
AM: 7 Miles with Beth and Tiffany. 8:31 pace.
Woof. My legs were beat after yesterday. I need to get in the gym more than 1 day a week after this training cycle ends!

THURSDAY, APRIL 10:
Complete Rest day. I had class right after work, so I took a walk before class started to clear my head and grab some iced coffee. Walked up on this beaut. Wow.  I love spring.20140412-172359.jpg

FRIDAY, APRIL 11:
AM: Let’s talk about this workout. The goal was 5-6 x 1 mile repeats (depending on how I felt) at faster than 1/2 marathon race pace, but still controlled. Our goal (ran these with Beth) was to stay right at or around 6:30 pace. The recovery was to do easy running between each for 3 minutes. Here is how it went:

1. 6:29 (“Wow, I’m actually feeling good. I can’t believe Beth and I are having a deep convo about life while holding 6:30 pace. Who am I?!”)
2. 6:29 
3. 6:24 (“I feel okay, but man, when we turn around and go the other way, that wind is going to be a killer.”
4. 6:30 (“Gosh this is awful”)
5. 6:28 (“I’m only doing 5. Not doing 6. This is my last one. Someone put a fork in me. I’m done”)
*I tell Beth during the recovery: “Fine. I’m doing 6 repeats.” She laughs.
6. 6:24 (Beth tells me, “Just do a 1/2 mile and you can stop there.” My thought, “Okay. But yea, right. If I go 1/2 mile, I’m doing the final 1/2 mile!”)

While this workout didn’t exactly feel easy, I’m positive I could NOT have done this 6 months ago. Progress, right?

PM: class from 1 pm to 7 pm. blahhhh. Got another iced coffee from my favorite coffee shop. My favorite combo: a lil’ agave sweetener and lotsa’ cream 🙂

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Friday night is always pizza night. Roasted Garlic Parmesan with Mushrooms and Myer Lemons for the WIN. 20140412-172314.jpg
SATURDAY, APRIL 12: 
Long run with Friends. I probably could have used an easy day after that tough workout on Friday, but friends were running Saturday morning, so Long run Saturday morning it is! Long run with Friends always trumps Long run solo. 13 miles. 7.41 pace. Eli ran 10 of those 🙂

20140412-172300.jpgCame home from my run to find this little treasure from the fiance. This is a running blog, but I will say this: Single girls or girls in general, please stop getting into relationships with jerks/guys who do not know how to treat a lady right. But, also, don’t have outrageously high standards/expectations. Guys: treat a lady right. We LOVE flowers. We aren’t that hard to please. Flowers and nice words and a listening ear go A LOOONG WAY. Jon does those things remarkably well, I must say.

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Back to running.

SUNDAY, APRIL 13:
5 miles, 8.53 pace. I really had great intentions of making this a cross-training day. Buuutt, Julia was having to do her long run solo, so I told her I’d hop in 🙂 It ended up being great. We talked and caught up, and it was a beautiful morning. Don’t regret it, but after next weekend’s race, I’ll take some extra rest days.

Meanwhile, my stepdad brought their zoo to visit and help with my taxes. Eli loves his dog-friends. LOLZZ

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That’s all, folks! A solid week, I’d say!

Questions:
How many days per week do you prefer to run? How many days off?  
I go back and forth between running 5 to 6 days. I probably prefer 5 days of running, 1 XT day, 1 rest day.

If you could give one sentence of relationship advice, what would it be? I clearly am not married and don’t claim to know everything, so tell me what advice you would give to newlyweds, single folks, or folks planning to get married!

Spring 1/2 Marathon Training: Week 14 of 16

For most of 2013, my mileage averaged about 35-40 miles a week. During 2014, I’m looking at increasing an overall average of 10 miles per week.  This week was the highest in terms of mileage for this particular training cycle, after a rough start to the year (I dealt with some achilles/ankle pain for most of January).

The Deets:
50 miles. 5 total runs. 1 strength training session. 1 Core workout. 2 days of complete rest. 

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MONDAY, MARCH 31:
AM: 7 easy miles. 8.09 pace
PM: Jon and I had a date night to Lowes. Listen, we love Lowes. Jon has quite the green thumb (hello environmental science major), so anytime I have questions about plants or growing food, I immediately turn to him, and then I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to marry a man who is brilliant with all things horticulture. WIN. We planted our seedlings and are now watching them ever-so-closely as they sprout and we get SO MUCH FRESH BASIL FOR PESTO! 20140405-153739.jpgTUESDAY, APRIL 1:
AM:  Easy 7 miles with Beth, 8:20 pace.
PM: 2.67 miles with Corporate Wellness Group, 9:21 pace

I haven’t talked about this yet, but part of my job involves leading a health and wellness project. This spring, there are about 25 folks in the running/walking group who are completing their first 5 or 10k! We are 6 weeks into the project, and have 6 weeks to go–halfway there! I couldn’t be more proud of them.

After working late and running twice, it was time to flush out those legs. Before compression socks became a thing, I followed elite runner Camille Herron’s blog, and read that she wore diabetic tights during recovery. GENIOUS. I have been using diabetic tights for a few years now. These babies go allll the way up the leg and thighs. I wake up feeling suppaaa refreshed. I also like to lay with my legs and feet up on the wall. Look at those flesh-toned tights. Sexy.  20140405-153100.jpg
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2:
PM: 2 mile repeats. (dom dom dommmm…)
I was scared of this workout. Look, I’m a speedster, not an endurance monster, but still, when I think of speed, I do NOT think of 2 mile repeats. I think of 400s, 800s, and maaaaybee 1000s. I don’t even think I’ve ever done anything longer than 1 mile repeats.

However, Beth insisted this was going to be a good strong confidence boosting workout, and guess what? IT WAS! I honestly felt like I crushed this workout.
We did a 1 mile warm up, then headed right into the workout. Between each 2 mile interval, we ran an easy recovery mile at about 8:45 pace.

Splits—-> 13:02 (6:33,6:29). 12:58 (6:31, 6:27). 12:46 (6:29, 6:13).
6:13?!?! WHERE DID THAT COME FROM.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3: 
8 miles, 8:33 pace.
I ran the first 3 with the Corporate Health and Wellness group (9:40 pace), then ran 5 on my own at 8 minute pace.

FRIDAY, APRIL 4:
Complete Rest Day
I front-loaded my miles this week so I would have two days off during the weekend, as Jon and I each got a day off from work (first one since christmas. HALLELUJAH!) and headed up to the mountain where he graduated from college. A bunch of his college friends rented a house and to sum up the weekend, it was full of the following:
-laughs
-beer
-good friends
-delicious food
-more beer/refreshing beverages 😉
-much needed relaxation
-oh, and sand volleyball/rugby, too 🙂

20140405-153807.jpgSATURDAY, APRIL 5:
Long Run, 15 miles, 7.50 pace

I used this run to practice fueling and wanted to get in some good hills. Being in the mountains, it wasn’t hard to find them! Mission accomplished. My elevation gain was about 1,000 feet, and I took  about 10 ounces of Generation UCAN mixed with water at mile 8 after starting on an empty stomach. This was my first experience trying UCAN, and I have nothing bad to say about it!

I dropped Eli off at the house at mile 8 when I got my fuel, then was on my way to finish it out. Finished the last 7 strong and negative split the run! Success!

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SUNDAY, APRIL 6: 
Complete rest day. I usually use one day a week as a complete rest day, and one day as a cross-training day, but with high-mileage and traveling, I figured I could use an extra complete rest day. Glad I did. 

Overall, a great training week! A solid workout and a strong + hilly long run in an unfamiliar place. Can’t complain one bit. 2 weeks until race day.

New Friends and Life Changes

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Big changes can be scary. As Jon and I get ready for a big move (still not sure where) and getting married (ahh!), I find myself anxious about all the variables in my life about to change.
As runners, there’s no denying we are creatures of habit. I thrive off consistency and once I find something that works and makes me happy, sometimes it’s difficult to convince myself changes can be good. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken!?

Life wouldn’t be life without qualms and changes. For me, I have to remind myself to bloom where I’m planted. Difficulties are inevitable. How will I respond to adversity?

It’s interesting to note my biggest hesitation about moving: meeting new friends and finding a good training group. I’ve always made friends easily, and I describe myself as pretty laid-back. Why am I worried about this?
Making friends after college takes work. simple as that. No longer is the university providing opportunities to meet new besties. Gone are the “ice cream socials” and organized sports.

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I have the best training group in the world.

I read some posts a few weeks ago on Apartment Therapy about making friends in a new city as a post-grad. So interesting!

10 tried and true tips how to make new friends in a new city 

finding friendship at every stage of your life 

Our first goal is to get plugged into a good church and meet new friends there, and I also hope to find a good training group. Both are key for me. While I’m hesitant about changes because I’m so happy and comfortable where we are, I know this is important for Jon and I as he starts medical school, and ultimately, excited more than scared. Something about exploring a new city makes me really happy.

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What about you?! Do you get nervous about big moves and changes in your life?

Any tips on moving to a new city and meeting friends/training group?

Spring 1/2 Marathon Training: Week 13 of 16

I originally thought I’d probably drop my mileage a bit this week following the race, but I recovered rather quickly, so I went with it.
the deets:
45 miles. 5 total runs. 1 cross-training session. 1 strength training session. 1 Core workout. 1 professional deep tissue massage. 1 day of complete rest.

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MONDAY, MARCH 24:
Complete rest day.

TUESDAY, MARCH 25:
6 easy recovery miles. 8:36 pace. Core and Strength Training.
Legs felt significantly better today after resting yesterday. Starting to feel some spring in the legs again following the Andrew Jackson 1/2 marathon.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26:
6.16 miles. 8:32 pace.

THURSDAY, MARCH 27:
Burt Yasso 800s workout.
This was a good confidence booster. Did the workout with Beth and Audrey, who are both training for their spring marathon. (Beth for Boston, Audrey for Louisville). The.wind.was.brutalllll.
Splits: 3:00, 3:01, 2:57, 2:56, 3:00, 2:59, 2:57, 2:55.
Recovery was 3 min jog in between each. We did 8 repeats. This workout made Audrey and I think about our old high school track days (We’ve been running together since she was 14 and I was 17!) Here’s a little throwback for ya. That’s sweet little Audrey in front, and I’m the tall one in the back. We pretty much dominated West TN distance running 😉

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FRIDAY, MARCH 28:
55 minutes of easy spinning at the gym.
Watched this interesting documentary about  Tom Shadyac, the producer of Ace Ventura, the Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, etc.

And then…2 o’clock hit and I could barely keep my eyes open. Meet my newest obsession.

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SATURDAY, MARCH 29:
10 comfortable miles. 8:18 pace. Deep Tissue Massage.
Slept in a bit (started our run at 7:30 rather than 5:30 😉 ) for which my body was thankful.  Wasn’t the greatest of conditions (lotsa’ wind and rain), but I will say this: I think if I would have switched my 10 miler to Sunday, and did my long run on Saturday, the 10 miler would probably have been more like a 6 miler. Glad I ran the 10 miler the day before.

It was a heck of a weekend of running for me.

After the rain run and before the massage, I scarfed down some brunch. Just take a look at that french toast piled with coconut butter, pb2, and cacao nibs.

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20140329-173117.jpgSUNDAY, MARCH 30:
15 miles. 7:51 pace.
This is definitely on the longer end of my usual long runs. And, I was quite pleased with my overcall average being sub 8! Was a little nervous going into the run, especially after 10 miles the day before, but this is the time during a training cycle when you are stretched a little bit. Your body has to be stretched and stressed just enough to grow stronger. This week was that for me.

If there is one thing I believe is helping me recover quickly, it’s the vega recovery accelerator. This stuff is the perfect 3:1 carb and protein combo, and I’m not one to jump on bandwagons, especially supplement ones. This mix, though. Definitely a fan.

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Overall, a great training week for me! Looking forward to the next few weeks of hard training before tapering begins. Race day is April 19!