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Posts Tagged ‘marathon training’

It’s about time I updated on how the 30-day push-up and abs challenges from darebee.com went for me. I completed them “successfully” in that I stuck to the plan of doing the assigned workouts every day for 30 days in a row. It wasn’t easy by any definition — it took 10-20 minutes per day and if I didn’t combine it with my run or cross-training, then I got sweaty twice a day! I liked to do the strength training in the morning because I found if I waited until the end of the day, not only did it weigh (ha ha, no pun intended) on me throughout the day, I also had a harder time doing the work because I was worn out from the day. So I’d wake up, do just enough strength training to work up a sheen of sweat, hop in the shower to rinse off, and get ready to take the kids to school.

The last day of the abs challenge called for 70 full sit-ups, 300 flutter kicks, and a 4-minute plank! That plank wasn’t pretty (picture me trembling through the last minute that felt like forever) but I did it! The push-up challenge was even harder though. I did every workout, every day, until the very last day. I was supposed to do 50 push-ups in a row on day 30, and I could “only” do 30. I finished the remaining 20 in 4 sets of 5.

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Ha ha – check out my notes on the particularly hard workouts: “tough!!” “wow” and “killer”

It’s been a month since I finished the challenges and I’ve kept up with the strength training about three days per week. I’m really pleased with the results. I still can’t do 50 push-ups in a row, but I feel stronger (mentally and physically), my body shape changed (no six-pack, but I do have more muscle tone), and I notice a difference in my endurance on runs (it feels easier to hold good form toward the end of a run). I’ve long been a believer in strength training and these challenges just affirmed the power of what a short time investment in body weight workouts can do for your overall fitness.

I’m in my third week of training for the Death Valley Marathon and there are just over 16 weeks to go until the big day on February 4. Last week I ran 38.75 miles but only because I did my 12-mile long run on a Sunday instead of Saturday and then the next 14-mile long run on the following Saturday. Usually I only run 3 days per week and cross-train on 2-3 other days. This week I did an 8-mile tempo run, in the evening, in the unrelenting heat of Southern California. That’s when I really felt like I turned a corner and got back on track (so to speak, again no pun intended) with my marathon training. And then yesterday I did 5.0 miles of hill work. I dropped my 11-year-old at ballet and drove with my 8-year-old to the park. While she played on the playground, I ran half-mile laps around the park on the grass, then ran up and down the hill that’s in the middle of the park. While I was there, the cross-country boys and girls teams from a local high school were training there too. Imagine the lithe, nimble bodies of 15-year-olds, contrasted with my 45-year-old mother-of-three body. But you know what? Instead of being humbled by them, I was proud! Go me for putting myself out there and running hard. And you know what else? One of the cross-country coaches gave me the best compliment. He asked:

What are you training for?

I just love that question/compliment. It’s the question I got when I was training for my first half marathon and someone caught up to me at a stoplight and asked me that and it finally made me feel like a “real” runner — when another runner recognized that I was training for a race.

Anyway, I told him I was training for the Death Valley Marathon, and he told me I was “looking good” and gave me a high five. Totally made my day.

Do you do strength training? Do you have any links to share to core workouts posted online? I like Core H (13 minutes) and 8-minute abs.

 

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Twenty-five days until Boston! I say that with a combination of excitement and nervousness. I’m at that point in the 20-week training cycle where all the hard work of training has started to wear on my body and spirit, so the doubts creep in. “If I’m struggling this hard to maintain race pace for eight miles, how will I ever do it for 26.2 miles?” and “That 20-miler was tough — I can’t imagine adding 6.2 miles on to that!” But then I remind myself about about the concept of periodization (dividing training into phases that build toward peak performance on race day) and the magic of taper (those last two to three weeks of reduced training that result in fresh legs for the race), and I trust that I am doing what I need to do to have the best race possible.

To keep myself motivated in this last month before Boston, I’ve taken advantage of some travel to run new routes in interesting places. When my husband and oldest daughter wanted to watch the tennis matches at Indian Wells, I made sure to get in a 10 mile run in Palm Springs.

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I could see a dusting of snow on top of the mountain as I headed out on my run from Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs.

I started my run at 11:00 a.m., which was very good practice for Boston. I’m in the third wave, which starts at 10:50 a.m. EDT. I prefer an early morning run or race, but I didn’t have any trouble on the 10 miles at that later time of day.

My next opportunity to “vacarun” (“traveljog”? “runtour”?) came when I transported 5th graders on a field trip to Rancho Soñado in Silverado, California. Parents didn’t need to stick around during the science lessons, so I drove to nearby Irvine Regional Park and headed out on the trails for eight miles.

First I picked the aptly named “Road Runner Loop.”

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Irvine Regional Park is home to a grove of heritage Oak and Sycamore Trees.

What a treat to find views like this in the middle of a densely populated suburban city.

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There is a zoo in the park, but I didn’t have to pay admission to see some wildlife! On the Horseshoe Loop Trail, I saw a bobcat!

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Not the bobcat I saw, but it looked much like this. Photo credit: dbarronoss.

Apparently my survival instincts need a little honing, because my first thought was, “What is a cat doing on the trail?” Once realization dawned on me that this wasn’t an overgrown house cat (doh!), my second thought was, “I need to get a picture of it!” Thank goodness that bobcat wanted nothing to do with me and didn’t stick around for its photo opportunity. I finally had the good sense to Google “What should I do if I see a bobcat?” Answer: Back away slowly. Don’t run or it might chase you! Make lots of noise. Spray it with water if necessary.

I walked very slowly around the next bend in the trail and there it was again! This time I stood still and watched it go right back through the brush to its original position on the trail. Once it was out of sight, I slowly walked along the trail until I thought it was safe to start running again. Whew! Thank goodness the last few miles were uneventful and the only creatures I saw were horses and people.

What’s the “wildest” creature you’ve seen in the wild?

I’ve seen bears (from a safe distance) in the national parks.

Where’s your favorite place to run or hike?

I’ve got to stick with the national parks here — I’ve had some fun adventures in Zion and Joshua Tree National Parks.

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Six more weeks exactly until Boston! Yesterday I got in my second 20-miler of this training cycle. It rained in the early morning but I knew it was going to be a good run when the rain stopped the second I stepped out my door at 7:15 a.m. Perfect running weather — dry, overcast, and 61 degrees for the entire run.

Distance: 20 miles plus a quarter-mile cool down walk

Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes plus 6 minutes of cool down walk

Pace: average 10:00 minutes per mile (6 miles per hour) not counting water stops and stoplights

Water stops: three (one at a park, one at a high school, and one at an elementary school)

Ounces of sports drink consumed: approximately 75 ounces (about half a gallon plus 1.25 cups)

Other runners I saw: 3 total, but not any until about mile 18.5! And then two of them passed me and I was a little bummed and kind of wanted to say, “But I’ve already done 18.5 miles!” Silly I know, a training run isn’t a race. Actually I hoped they’d stop and tell me what they were training for because I often see this woman running in the morning and I know she’s got to be training for a marathon. But she had her earbuds in and I didn’t want to shout after her.

Animals I saw: 4 — 2 very healthy coyotes who were more scared of me than I was of them, one rabbit, and one tiny snake.

Calories burned: approximately 2,434 according to MapMyRun.

Calories consumed in the form of powdered Gatorade: approximately 360.

Memorials I saw to cyclists and motorists killed on the route: 3 😦

Elevation gain: 1,266 feet

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Putting in some serious hill work in preparation for Heartbreak Hill at the Boston Marathon!

Times I thought about Boston while running: eleventy billion

Number of podcasts I listened to: 3 (Another Mother Runner, Runners Connect, Run Buzz Radio)

Number of cities I ran through: 5

Number of donut shops I passed and had to resist stopping in for a maple bar: 2. I’m not kidding. I had $5 in emergency money in my running pack.

Mile at which it started to get pretty difficult to keep running: 16

Mile at which I really wanted to be done: 18.5. That’s when my husband and 13-year-old passed me in their car on the way to a tennis match, and I wished they could have scooped me up and driven me home. My husband reports that I looked hunchbacked at that point (a sure sign of my being tired). But of course I’m really happy I kept going and finished strong.

What’s your favorite donut? What’s your favorite podcast or other choice to listen to? 

 

 

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Two months have passed since my husband lost his job. One month has passed since I started working as a substitute aide in special education classrooms. I’ve gotten a special education in the past four weeks for sure! I’ve worked at five schools and taught in classrooms ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade. I’ve taught a roomful of 30+ kids in general education and worked one-on-one with kids with Down Syndrome, autism, and ADHD. I’ve worked an average of 20 hours per week and maintained a workout schedule of 8-10 hours per week on top of that.

There are 11 weeks to go in the training schedule before Boston! Training is going well although I cannot say I am enjoying it as much now that I am having to squeeze it in around a very fluid work schedule. I might plan an 8-mile tempo run for Friday morning and then get a call at 7:15 a.m. asking me to substitute from 8:30-2:30. So how do I fit it all in? Here are five tips I’ve developed over the last four weeks.

1. Consider two-a-days. I’ve split an 8-mile run into four miles outside with my teenage daughter in the morning before work followed by four miles on the treadmill in the afternoon before dinner. It wasn’t fun but it was oh-so-satisfying to get the full mileage in for the day.

2. Be flexible. I don’t mean work on touching your toes, I mean be willing to move a cross-training day from Tuesday to Friday as need be. Or if it’s forecast to rain on Sunday (take that, California drought!), move that long workout to Saturday instead of Sunday. Trade a bike ride out for an Insanity DVD. Count yard work as your strength training for the day.

Gorgeous, rain-free day for 23 miles on the ElliptiGO on the San Gabriel River Trail.

Gorgeous, rain-free Saturday for 23 miles on the ElliptiGO on the San Gabriel River Trail.

3. Be forgiving. If you can’t get the full mileage in for the day, it’s a little tempting to write the day off entirely. But it’s way better to run 5.6 miles instead of 7 than to run 0 miles. I know it stinks to run 5.6 miles and be disappointed (hello – 5.6 miles is dang far), but it will feel a lot better to put those miles in and cross off the day than to leave that blank space on the training log.

4. Remember why you are training. Yes, I am training for a big goal race (Boston) but I am in this one for fun and for the experience. I actually enjoy the training and the satisfaction of checking off my workouts more than I enjoy a big goal race. So when I’ve had a hard day at work (think: kid running out of classroom, biting himself, crying, or refusing to communicate with me) I remind myself how much better I will feel if I get out on the road and zen out on a run.

5. Shake things up. I’ve been running for nearly five years now! I started in March 2011 when I was training for my first sprint triathlon as I approached age 40. It’s wonderful to look back on all the milestones — the first times I hit each new distance or ran a new race. But honestly? I am burned out on a lot of my local running routes! So after a hard day at work today, I came home at lunchtime and asked my husband to help me map out a new route for my 8-mile tempo run. And we chose a hilly trail/road route, and I chose to be flexible (see #2 above) and switch out 8 road miles at 8:00 pace for 8 trail/road miles with lots of elevation gain at 10:00 pace.

Just one of the hills on my 8-mile trail/road run today.>

Just one of the hills on my 8-mile trail/road run today.

The miles flew by as I was distracted by views of the ocean on one side:

That little bright line is the Pacific Ocean between Long Beach and Catalina Island

That little bright line is the Pacific Ocean between Long Beach and Catalina Island.

and the cacti near me on the other side and the snow on the mountains in the distance:

Not a bad winter day.

Not a bad winter day.

Do you have any advice for fitting workouts in around a work schedule?

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I love to hate the tempo run. Once a week I face my fear and get out for a mid-distance, steady, hard run of seven or eight miles. On a tempo run, you don’t get the rest intervals of a speed workout, and you don’t get the easy pace of a long run. It’s the workout that in my mind best simulates the effort required in half marathon and marathon races.

The reward for facing my fear and taming the tempo run is the tremendous sense of accomplishment when I finish! Today’s run was no exception. By all accounts it shouldn’t have been that great a run. This was the first week I’d gone back to work after 13 years as a stay-at-home mom to three girls. I worked 21.5 hours at three schools with nine teachers and aides, and 45 children with special needs. I was supposed to do the tempo run Friday morning, but frankly I went to bed at 9:15 on Thursday night and needed all the sleep I could get to face six hours at the junior high and elementary school the next day. By the time my day working and shuttling my own kids ended at 8:30 p.m., there was no way I was getting on my treadmill for eight miles. So I pushed it to Saturday morning, set my alarm for 6 a.m., got my teenager to her prospective high school for honors math and English testing at 7:15 a.m., and hit the high school track by 7:30. I knocked out the eight-mile run in 63 minutes, keeping a solid tempo run pace under 8:00 per mile after a warm-up mile at 8:34:

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The splits from the MapMyRun iPhone app.

So what are the tricks to taming the tempo run?

  1. Consider taking a rest day or cross-training day before a tempo run. Okay, I know a lot of people run five or more days a week, which doesn’t leave a lot of slots for rest days. But if you want to hit your tempo run with confidence, it’s best to do it on fresh legs. I usually cross-train on Thursdays before the tempo run on Friday. This week I took a rest day on Friday (and felt lousy mentally for it — I get so much satisfaction from crossing the workouts off my schedule), but that allowed me to really hit the track hard on Saturday.
  2. Choose a course that doesn’t have many (if any) stops. I like to do a tempo run on the track (“Tracks! They’re not just for speed workouts!”) because I don’t have to worry about stopping at stoplights or dodging cars on the road. I put on a podcast or audiobook to entertain me on the loops around the track, I get into a “zen” zone of maintaining that steady pace, and my body practically goes on autopilot. But if I can’t hit the track, I choose a dedicated bike/running path or a straight out-and-back in a neighborhood without stoplights.
  3. The warm up is key. Don’t try to go out at tempo pace. Spend the first mile easing into that tempo run pace.
  4. Carry your water or sports drink with you. Again, it’s not truly a steady effort run if you stop and start at stoplights or for water breaks. The only exception to that in my opinion is if you want to practice stopping for water at the aid stations for a race. The track is a perfect place to do this. You can set up your own makeshift aid station on a bench or the bleachers next to the track and practice running four laps (a mile) and stopping to grab a cup of water. Then either walk while you drink or practice drinking on the run, whatever you plan to do during the race. It took me a while to get the hang of it. One tip I appreciated was to speed up just before you hit the aid station so you bank a few seconds ahead of time. Then you can walk through the aid station, get a drink without spilling all over yourself, and catch your breath before picking back up to race pace again. That’s easier in my mind than hitting the aid station at race pace, walking, and having to make up lost time by speeding up faster than race pace after you start running again.

Do you incorporate tempo runs into your training? What’s your best advice for taming a tempo run?

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Two weeks ago, my husband lost his job. It came as a complete shock to us. We certainly never expected anything like this would ever happen, much less just three weeks before Christmas. But life kept on trucking, no matter that we’d been thrown for a loop. In fact, it was very surreal. All of these wonderful things were happening in our lives. My middle daughter turned 11 on December 11 (her “golden” birthday!) and we celebrated with a cake she designed herself. Those are Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups:

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Mike and I performed in six shows of the Nutcracker ballet, playing the parents of our “party boy” and Chinese dancer. It was such a joy to be a part of the production and to watch our golden girl thrive on the performances. She will soon go en pointe in ballet, and gets to play one of the lead roles in the summer production of Alice in Wonderland!

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It was fun to trade my typical running clothes for this gorgeous Victorian gown for a while!

My oldest daughter is applying to a special program in high school next year, and was recently selected to lead a flute ensemble in 8th grade band. And my youngest daughter is ready to begin competing in swimming and has nearly mastered the splits in gymnastics! We are so, so lucky in many ways. Thank goodness we had set aside a “rainy day” fund just in case, and have family members who are willing to help us through this difficult time. Life goes on as normal for the girls, and that’s the best that I could hope for right now.

I had just started training for the Boston Marathon — literally two days into the 20-week plan — when we learned that Mike lost his job. Suddenly marathon training seemed trivial and inconsequential. Why should I take time each day to exercise when I have more pressing things to do? But I quickly realized that it was more important than ever that I keep on exercising, for my mental health as well as my physical health. And it was important that I drag my husband along too! We love to spend time together and it feels like an odd sort of luxury that he is home and can go out for a four mile hill run with me on a random Tuesday morning. So I’ve kept up with the plan, no matter how much I haven’t wanted to head out the door. I always feel a million times better when I get back from a run than before I went out. And last Sunday was no exception. I had a 12 mile long run on the training calendar. It was a cold morning (by SoCal standards — low 50s maybe?) and the whole household was still asleep, but I forced myself to hit the road and I was so glad I did. I haven’t had such a strong run in a long time. You might recall that in my training for REVEL Canyon City, I was running 4-5 times a week and pretty much ran myself into the ground. Every run felt like a slog. Now I’m back on a plan of three runs per week plus two sessions of cross-training (bike, ElliptiGO, or Insanity workouts) and two strength training sessions. The runs are harder — a hill or speed workout, a tempo run and a long run — but because my legs are fresh for them, I feel strong and powerful! I’m back to the joy of running, and so grateful for that, now more than ever.

And guess what’s the best news of all! Santa heard my wish and I’m getting an ElliptiGO for Christmas! My parents have always been extremely supportive of me and my training, and they knew how much it would mean to me to have an ElliptiGO for those cross-training sessions. I can hardly wait to head out to Hermosa Cyclery again this week to pick out my very own Green Machine (yes, I’ve already chosen the color and named the ElliptiGO).

So please be sure to count your blessings, set aside a rainy day fund, and send some good thoughts Mike’s way in his search for a new job.

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Before the REVEL Canyon City Marathon last Saturday, I had a major case of marathon brain. I’ve talked before about how marathon brain is a lot like pregnancy brain — your mind is so full of the big event on the horizon that it blocks out most other rational thinking. I have two good (read: humorous at my expense) examples of how marathon brain made me positively ditzy before the race.

Friday night after I got home from the expo, I set out all my clothes and race gear for the next morning. I also took my driver’s license and one credit card out of my wallet and packed them in my gear bag. No sense in taking my entire wallet with me to the race, but I at least needed my driver’s license to get there. Packing went well and I had no trouble at 3:30 in the morning throwing on my clothes and getting out the door by 3:50. The problem came when I got home from the race on Saturday afternoon and could not find my wallet for the life of me. I searched high and low all over the house. I retraced my steps everywhere. It wasn’t in my purse. It wasn’t where I’d taken my cards out of my wallet in the living room. It wasn’t anywhere I would ever normally put my wallet, emphasis on “normally.” With my marathon brain, I’d taken the cards out of my wallet and then wandered off to get something else, wallet in hand. Then when I found that something, I put down the wallet. Two whole days later I found my wallet on the dining room table, on top of the sewing basket and underneath one of the kids’ pieces of artwork. What the heck?! I think I’d set my Saucony Bullet Shorts on the table to air dry, and when I went to grab those for the race, I traded them for my wallet.

But the worst evidence of marathon brain came at 3:40 in the morning when I went to put on some Glide to prevent chafing in my, shall we say, “nether regions.” I slathered it on and put the cap back on the container, only to realize it wasn’t Glide I’d just applied, it was deodorant! I was extra fresh for the race. 🙂 You’re welcome, fellow runners.

The "extra fresh" me at the REVEL Canyon City Marathon

The “extra fresh” me at the REVEL Canyon City Marathon

It’s been four days since the race and I feel pretty good. I haven’t been sleeping well though. I thought I’d sleep like a log after the race on Saturday, but I tossed and turned all night. I read somewhere that not sleeping well is a sign of over-training, and I’m sure for me it was a sign of over-exertion at the race.

I forgot to mention that my ankle (that pesky taper injury) didn’t bother me at all during the race. Darn — I can’t blame my lack of PR on that. I feel really lucky though. No lasting problems from the race. I left alone the big blister I got on the bottom of my foot from the downhill running, and it toughened right up after a hot bath. No need to drain it or remove the skin.

Did you ever get marathon brain? What do you do for blisters?

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