MCM Training: Week 16/18

Annnnnd that’s it!!! 16/18 and officially in taper now. Very excited for that. There’s been a lot of attention in regards to the race getting cancelled due to the government shutdown. But I decided until the race tells me otherwise, it’s happening. That said, on to the workouts!

Total Miles: 57

Hills: 10.27 miles

9×1.0mi (sorta) – 8:32, 8:12, 8:09, 8:15, 8:16, 8:19, 8:15, 8:01, 7:57

Run made easier by having two of the guys (including my coach) along for most of it. I was a bit worried coming into this not only because I was late for my intended start, but I also hadn’t been hydrating as well through the afternoon as usual. Doesn’t seem to really have stopped me though. First one was sort of a warm-up and sort of me attempting to get on pace.

Intervals: 9.25 miles

10x800m – 3:22, 3:26, 3:26, 3:27, 3:25, 3:28, 3:28, 3:28, 3:15, 3:06

Success! That’s both my 10 repeat weeks done! Skipped the morning to sleep in (fatigue has been getting to me) and no one else was planning to be out at 5AM. Took it easy and just went out to start at 6PM with another of the guys in training. Lucked out after my first repeat that Steve showed up as we were in the same pace range. Ended up running 7 with me and we stayed pretty consistent. The last two went really well (as the times show). Legs were tired, but managed on my own. Hydrated well during the afternoon and had a small snack about 45 minutes before the workout. Yay.

Long Run: 18 miles @ 9:36 pace

Actually expected this to be closer to 10 pace. Early miles running with a slower paced group, then running more towards 8:30s than 9:00s with Donna and Justin. Pain really hit me in the knee and several of my leg muscles at about 12 miles in, so I had to slow it down. Ended up doing like 10+ pace the last 3 miles with Randy and Mandy ( lots of those two, plus an Andy in our running group haha). Never quite had it hit me like that, so I wasn’t prepared for it. But I got the miles in!

After ice and taking it easy Saturday, a shorter recovery on Sunday went well. Just had a little tightness around the knee joint. Didn’t think about it until after, but I was out and about most of Friday with a good amount of walking & the buildup from these last few high mileage weeks probably strained it a bit. I’ll be taking it extra easy over the next 2 weeks so I can keep the knees in good condition for the race. Ice and rest as needed!

Now in taper!!! My life is currently complete, now if the race could just get here without anything crazy going wrong.

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MCM Training: Week 15/18

Yay! 15/18 and that means just one more week until taper. Plus we’re getting all kinds of emails and info about the race that has me excited. Now these politician people better get the government running again so all the museums and memorials can be open when I get there. On a totally different note, highest mileage week EVER!

Total Miles: 64

Hills: 10.26 miles

9×1.0mi – 8:21, 8:08, 8:20, 8:09, 8:00, 8:00, 8:08, 8:13, 8:11

Not super consistent but way better than the past few weeks. And I felt awesome doing it. Guess I managed to be well hydrated and timed my pre-workout snack well. Plus I got to mix up running a few on my own and then the rest with different people. It was still humid, but a degree or two cooler than it has been.

Intervals: 9.57 miles

10x800m – 3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:24, 3:23, 3:25, 3:24, 3:24, 3:22, 3:12

Was already feeling the fatigue from this week, so during the warm-up I was doubting if I’d be able to complete all 10. But Kathy as usual was her positive self and we just sort of took them in 2s. I was good about halfway through, then struggled with the last couple that Kathy ran with me (she did 8). After that, guess I was so close to the end that I was able to push through 2 more and finish. Legs were definitely tired, but all 10 managed.

Long Run: 23.1 miles @ 9:24 pace

Woohoo! Last really long run complete. The 18 miler next week will be nothing haha. Anyways, once again a bit surprised by what I was able to bring the pace down to. Early 11 with friends were in the 9:45-10:00 range. Which I was okay with because I just wanted people to run with. Then the later 12 with different friends ended up being largely sub-9. Getting back to the car at 20 and needing 3 more was a bit rough, but manageable. Tested out the shoes and socks I have planned for the race and they held up fine – now just waiting the top so I can test that out too.

So close to taper and therefore, race day! Actually managed this week of miles much better than I was expecting. Though I admit to taking naps to make up for early morning workouts. Made good use of stretching and compression socks – didn’t have to ice the knees this time. Managed to hit the workouts solidly, so I look forward to one more week before taper. 17 days and counting!

MCM Training: Week 4/18

Huzzah! That’s 4/18 and I’m a month in.

Running Miles: 40

Cycling Miles: 17

Pretty good week. The weekend post long run was thrown off a bit as I did a self defense class at a boxing gym with a friend. While enjoyable, they really focused on fighting back and my body was so sore! Thus, the recovery on Sunday and since has been fun with sore muscles. But now onto last week’s workouts.

Hills: 6.26 miles

4 at pace miles – 8:02, 8:24, 8:10, 8:14

So totally not consistent at all. Yeahhhh, just could not settle myself into a pace and had to constantly keep checking my watch. Also had one of the super fast guys (1:12 half marathon kind of fast) who did his workout in the morning just getting a few extra miles with us afternoon people at a ‘slow’ pace. Way to make me feel like a turtle when my paced miles are like a recovery for him. But at least I wasn’t yelling at him as he ran past me (instead we were arguing the whole time). Silliness at its best.

Intervals: 6.09 miles

5x800m – 3:28, 3:28, 3:25, 3:29, 3:20

This time I was semi-consistent and semi-on pace for once. Sort of. No issues with the workout, though I threw my pace off on the 3rd one. It was fun running with one of the girls coming back from injury (again, fast person – her back from injury is my training pace). While I won’t say it was easy, I definitely felt solid on the workout. Though I’m sure I’ll be cursing myself once I get to more repeats.

Long Run: 12.01 @ 9:01 pace

Look at that, exactly on pace. I was almost worried it would end up being too fast. Sounds crazy but the 12 felt easy. I spent most of the run in a daze without really noticing the miles going by. It was practically a surprise to end up at the park (one of the route’s water stops) and be near 7 miles. I was so excited to sleep in until 5:30! Course, that won’t be happening again for a good few months. I didn’t really feel much strain in my muscles and made sure to have all my recovery stuff.

Still getting adjusted to the days I bike and/or run. While the cycling itself isn’t straining (unless it’s windy) it is a different type of exercise and I think tires me a little more than running. After that self defense class, I obviously need to work on more than just my cardio more often. Another good week of training! From here my mileage will just keep ramping up.

What Makes An Athlete: Walking

I definitely stand by this quote from Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.

If you have a body, you are an athlete.

I know that individuals might not understand all the differences and complexities between different forms of exercise. But that does not mean that someone who walks to be healthy is any less of an athlete than someone who runs marathons or competes in Ironmans. It’s easy sometimes to fall into the mentality that if they are ‘not like me’ and aren’t doing the same level of activity, then maybe they’re not an athlete. The truth is they are just a different type of athlete.

Recently I’ve been reminded that the decision to put on shoes, step out the door, and take part in activities towards a healthier life is what really defines an athlete.

My point is this: the first step out the front door is the hardest and I respect anyone who takes it.

startSeveral members of my family, as well as a few friends, have taken up forms of exercise in an effort to become—and stay—healthy. Anything from cycling short distances to walking a few times a week. I hope to tackle the cycling perspective (from someone who isn’t me—aka not a cross training marathoner) in the future (maybe this will be a new segment like my tips posts). But today I really want to talk about walking and walkers.

My mother, who I’ll refer to as Mama P, got the final word from her doctor over 8 months ago. She needed to do some serious work to improve her health. Mama P was a borderline Type 2 diabetic, overweight, and has issues like arthritis that could be better handled if she took on a healthier lifestyle. So she sat down with her doctor to discuss what actions to take and then later with myself. We went over what she’d learned and how I could help get her started with exercise (I’m not a coach, but I know some stuff).

Due to the arthritis and some joint issues regarding her knees, Mama P had limited options for exercise if she didn’t want to do more harm than good. We discussed not only what she was comfortable with, but also what she was most likely to stick with. As much as she’d love to take up running, that just wasn’t feasible as a starting option. So we decided on walking.

There were two big hurdles Mama P had to overcome. And while some parts of those two were physical, the biggest ones were mental.

Hurdle #1 was the perception that because she spends a good part of her day job moving around and on her feet, that she was already in decent shape to walk for exercise. While I definitely do not doubt that some jobs require us to move around more, it doesn’t meant the transition to exercise will be easy and seamless.

Things you do regularly can create a base, but tackling an activity as exercise is just not the same.

Mama P may be on her feet a good amount, but wandering around the office is completely different from going out for 45-60 minutes to get exercise. Even if it was, in her mind, ‘just walking’ she was still forcing her muscles to go farther at a faster pace and raising her heart rate. That was a mental hurdle she had to overcome; treating it as the exercise it was. Not as the same thing she’d already been doing.

Plus Mama P had to deal with the fallout on the physical side. Because it wasn’t the same as what she thought she’d already been doing, her body had to adjust. It took over a month for her calf muscles to settle into the new level of activity without aches. Mama P became good friends with things like IcyHot and compression socks.

Hurdle #2 was almost entirely about her frame of mind and comes in several parts. The first is that she had to make the decision to change; Mama P had to be the one that said ‘I need to make time to exercise.’ Added to that Mama P had to accept that she was making an entire lifestyle change, not just attempting to lose weight. Change is gradual & we were looking past days and months into potentially several years to reach that point. It was more than taking part in exercise but also included what she ate and her schedule. She had to reset her priorities.

change

Finally, Mama P had to adjust her view of what walking was. She could no longer equate it to moving about the office or home. She had to mentally restructure her perception of walking. In doing so, she would be able to approach it as what it really was: exercise.

In the beginning she made excuses of “well I walked a lot at work” when she didn’t go out for a walk at home. Once she overcame hurdle #1, then she could tackle the fact that she still wasn’t treating walking like I treat running. In her mind, it still wasn’t exercise. But once she was able to alter her definition she was able to become, in her mind, an athlete.

Now changing a perception isn’t easy. In the case of Mama P, I took a sort of extreme approach. I signed her up for a 5K. Luckily, she treats events the same way I do. If we pay for it, only death or severe injury is going to stop us from doing it. And in the case of many events, from 5Ks to marathons, there’s a time limit for the road closures. Due to this, she had a distinct goal to work towards—being able to walk 3.1 miles within a certain time.

Seeing the steps Mama P has taken and the struggles she’s faced, I’m reminded that the hurdles don’t have to be the same as mine to be difficult. While I may face different challenges as a runner, she’s battling her own in an effort to be healthier. That, in my mind, makes her as respectable an athlete as any other I may be tempted to call the same.

So I’ll end with this. Here is a list, straight from Mama P, on what she’s learned. And more importantly, things she thinks you should know if you want to start your own journey and choose walking as the way to do so.

  • Don’t wait to finish this or that before you walk—make time now.
  • Vary your route to keep things interesting.
  • Got a dog? Take him/her with you sometimes.
  • Under the weather? Don’t walk or make it a short walk. Listen to your body.
  • Check the weather so you don’t get rained out or struck by lightening.
  • Don’t go hungry or dehydrated.
  • Just starting? Expect your legs and/or feet to be sore.
  • Watch the ground in front of you and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Carry a cell phone with you—there are pouches made for runners & walkers you can buy.
  • Make sure someone knows what direction you’re heading and how long you expect to be gone.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

MCM Training: Week 3/18

Another one bites the dust! 3/18 complete means I’m 1/6 of the way through. That sounded so much closer in my head…

Running Miles: 44

Cycling miles: 19

Hill Workout: 5.23 miles

3 miles at pace – 8:05, 8:18, 7:57

I’ve noticed on anything that requires repeats (hills and intervals) that my first mile at pace is always too fast. As you can see from the mile splits above (I’m supposed to be at 8:20). It felt (and likely was) extremely hot and humid this past Monday. I really needed to be better hydrated for this run. Added to that I was at the bike shop longer than I had planned, so I didn’t get a pre-workout snack like I was planning. So while I was able to complete the workout, I came out feeling pretty wrecked from it. Outside of being better prepared for the heat, the only workout related struggle was maintaining the correct pace.

Intervals: 5 miles

4×800 – 3:24, 3:32, 3:29, 3:19

And starting the first repeat too fast strikes again. In this case it’s my Garmin that threw me off. It was showing a pace of like 7:05-7:10, but repeat time was faster. On the second repeat, pace was at like 6:50-6:56 and yet was slower. So confusing. While the splits weren’t as close as I would have preferred, my legs felt fine and I settled into an effort level that I felt I could have done several more repeats. Hopefully I’ll be able to channel that again later in training.

Long run: 16.08 miles @ 9:17 pace

Little bit slower this week, but that was by choice rather than feel. Did the early 3 with one of the newer girls training for her first marathon (and so at a slightly slower pace). We made it back to start with the main group at 6AM and I latched onto one of the guys who usually runs a bit faster than me, but was going for 12. Figured I could run with him and then throw an extra mile on at the end. Pretty nice morning out, though we did end up being a little slower on the miles by about 5-10 seconds. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I could have picked the pace up a bit for closer to 9:00/mile no problem. We got back to the start with me needing another mile, which I did at a 8:30 pace.

I was a bit surprised as I expected the long run to be a little more difficult just because until training I haven’t really broken 12 miles. Again the week felt pretty solid. Had to make some adjustments for things like taking part in a Run for a Cause on Thursday, but I just did my speed work in the morning. Also got in a little bit of cycling. The one thing I’m noticing over and over is the hydrating. Going to start carrying around a gallon of water or something to be better about it. On a side note, tried the sports beans instead of a gel on the LR and that was way better for me. Not nearly as heavy and the lack of syrupy-ness was nice.

So that’s week 3, now onward!

Tips: Rest & Recovery

I feel the need to reiterate the emphasis on rest days and recovery after workouts.

Played the part of the irresponsible athlete over the weekend. Sunday was a full day at Disney World in the hot Florida summer with not nearly enough water to drink. I guarantee I was more dehydrated than usual. Then of course we got back and I went for a short run without really making sure to re-hydrate myself before or after the run the way I should have.

Jump to Monday’s workout in 90+ degree weather with some high humidity percentages. Again, the workout itself didn’t take as much out of me, but I once again failed to hydrate during the day the way I should have. Not just to recover from Sunday, but to prepare for the hot workout Monday evening.

As such I was in a much worse condition than normal for the Tuesday and Wednesday runs. More tired and I didn’t feel like the rest I was getting was enough to keep me going, much less support marathon training activity. I’ve been good friends with my compression sleeves and socks, even though the workouts themselves haven’t been that difficult.

So two big points. Rest! Slept a little longer, didn’t push as hard on the two 5 milers I did, and chose to opt out of the cycling I had intended to do. While I may want better fitness, I know that I had already strained my body in a way I shouldn’t with this heat. So I skipped the bike workout and focused on keeping a water nearby.

Finally, recover! Because I figured the workout on Monday wasn’t “that bad” I made the decision not to have my usual recovery drink. By the way, that’s the Nuun Hydration (http://nuun.com/) tri-berry drink for post-workout. I should have. Likely if I had, my Tuesday and then Wednesday would not have been quite as bad.

It’s important to pay attention to not only hydrating yourself, but having the tools to recover properly after a workout. Things like electrolytes are important. My favored recovery drinks are chocolate milk and a 16 ounce bottle of water with a Nuun tablet thrown in.

I’m not saying you have to empty gallons of water post run, but you need to recognize that hotter months require different needs than cooler ones.

Here’s a nice guide from Runner’s World that talks a bit about hydration and recovery drinks. They explain some of the how and why, so you have the theory behind the practice. Here’s another article from RW that talks about what kinds of drinks you should aim for based on the activity you’re doing. While they may reference it to running, you can make times and effort comparisons to other sports.

So just to reinforce: be mindful of your body and the conditions. Rest as needed (extra if necessary! Modifying a plan for how your body feels is perfectly fine) and make sure you’re taking the proper steps to recover. Especially if you are in training and have continuous weeks of workouts planned.

I’ve had the rough reminder that I need to be more careful. Now back to training.

MCM Training: Week 2/18

And another week done! At this rate 18 doesn’t seem so far away.

Total Mileage: 55

Running Miles:  38

Cycling Miles: 17

Week two was essentially the same as week one. Only difference was in my long run, at least on the plan. Otherwise, I’m working on incorporating more cycling for cross training purposes. Also nearly every day I do a mix of exercises for my knees and strength/core exercises just for general upper body fitness. Trying to round myself out more for overall body health versus the running only that I did for my first marathon.

Now on to the workouts!

Hill Repeats: 5.8 miles

Got an extra long warm-up for this one as it had been raining all day. Actually, the entire workout was done in the rain (no lightning or thunder thankfully). As such we had to take a round about way to the start or risk getting stuck in mud. I had 3 one mile hill repeats at pace (8:20); managed to do them faster with 8:11, 8:02, 7:57. It was so the rain that made me that fast. Felt solid the whole time and enjoyed seeing so many out even with the not so great weather (16 people!).

Intervals: 5 miles

4×800 – 3:28, 3:26, 3:34, 3:20

So the third repeat was off, but not sure by how much. I was messing around with the Garmin and had I’m guessing 3-5 seconds on it with me just standing around. Felt good to get out early on the 4th and get this workout done (6:30AM start with some others so we could be done before celebrations and parties started). Had Beka from Rebecca Roams with me for the first 2 repeats and one of the guys got pulled along on all 4 (much faster than he planned haha).

Long Run: 14.48mi @ 8:59 pace

Whew, glad to get this done. While I’ve done 10-12 pretty regularly for the last few months, this is the first time after I was cleared to run (Sept. ’12) that I’ve done 14. Wasn’t quite sure how my legs would handle it. Felt pretty good for the bulk of the run. The early 4 were a bit fast as we wanted to be back in time for the main group start at 6AM, but didn’t strain me too much. Then the 10 mile loop was solid. I really only started to feel the tiredness and strain in the last mile or so, but even then it was pretty light.

During the long run, I tested out an energy gel that was okay but still a bit too syrupy/heavy for my comfort. It’s always good to figure out what fueling options work for you during lengthy exercise early in a training plan. Not just so you’re prepared on race day, but also so as not to struggle through the longer training runs. I have a couple different kinds of energy gels and non-gels (sports beans anyone?) that I’ll be testing out on my long runs over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully by the time I hit an 18-miler I’ll know what I like best.

I was a bit more tired around workouts likely due to adding in more cycling miles. However, I hope that by making it a regular habit to cycle 2-3 times a week I can get rid of that fatigue. And since it’s summer, need to be extra careful about drinking water. Noticed feeling a bit more dehydrated on a couple runs than I should have. Overall this week went just as well as the last. Even with the crazy heat and lots of rain.