Fit Friday: Love Your Treadmill

I’m not sure why so many runners dread the treadmill.  More affectionately known as the dreadmill, this is one piece of equipment I can 100% get behind.  While it does have its downfalls, the treadmill is a great friend to a runner and I wish it didn’t get such a bad rap.  Even though I stare at a wall when I’m on mine, here are treadmillfour great reasons to give running in place a little more love.

It’s always there.  No matter what’s going on outside the treadmill is ready.  Whether you’re facing 30 mile an hour winds and sub freezing temps like I avoided this week or 100 degree days with 90% humidity, it’s ready to go.  Feeling less than motivated?  Walking across the room is much easier than dressing up to go outside.  In a rush?  Not waiting for satellites definitely saves time.

Steady does it.  Set the pace and go.  It won’t change unless you tell it to.  Unlike running outside where crossing streets or catching sight of a pretty bird can distract and slow us down, the treadmill keeps us clicking along.  It’s easy to come off pace when we leave it to ourselves.  Not the case on the old ‘mill.  Use this training tool to practice pacing and have more success on race day.

Variety.  The treadmill can handle just about anything you throw at it.  From a long run to speed work, the only limit is your imagination.  It’s especially useful for those of us who live in the flatlands and want to hit some hills.

Rock out.  There are lots of safety issues outside.  From traffic and cyclists to dogs and potholes, the great outdoors can get dodgy quick.  Running with music is iffy at best and depends heavily on your location.  At home?  Turn that jam up.  You won’t have to worry about anything crashing into you, getting bitten or tripping on a root.

Meredith

What kind of relationship do you have with the treadmill?

Polar Plunge 4 Miler + Last Big Week

Saturday I ran the Polar Plunge 4 Miler.  It’s part of the Virginia Beach Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics and always a good time.  The morning features 4 mile and 1 mile races with an option to jump in an above ground pool afterwards while the afternoon is 100% plunge time.  Thousands of people dress up, party hard and dive head first into the chilly ocean.  I am not one of them.  The dryer and warmer the better for me.

I woke up and was really motivated to run.  Even though it was a scheduled day off, my legs felt good and I was ready for some nice easy miles.  Since the start was only 1.5 miles from, I suited up for the (feels like) 19 degree morning with 16 mile an hour winds and jogged down to packet pick-up.  The wind was strong out of the north and I knew I’d be running those last two Polar Plunge miles right into it.polar plunge 4 miler

After stretching out a bit, I made for the start.  The sturdy tailwind made for a quicker than intended first mile.  Mile 2 was also a bit faster than desired but I knew the headwind wouldn’t help on the way back.  I hit the halfway mark in 14:52.

The monstrous headwind slowed me down as expected after the out-and-back course’s turnaround.  Miles 3 and 4 were inconsistent with the gutsy wind but I kept my feet moving.  I crossed the finish line at 31:44.  My pace had averaged right where I wanted though my splits weren’t even close.  I finished second female over all, receiving a race medal and Polar Plunge Beachwear hat as my award.  It was a fun race at a new and different distance.  My morning wrapped up with a cool down jog home.

Now I’m in my last big week of marathon training.  There are five weeks to go before I toe the One City line and I’m looking forward to it.  A full load this week lightens up next then leads right into taper time (eek!).  I’m running more miles each week than ever before and am slightly concerned about going taper crazy.  Hopefully between now and then I’ll figure out something to do with all that extra time!

Meredith

Have you ever done a Polar Plunge?  How do you prep for taper?

Yasso 800s + Super Long Run

There are less than 50 days until my spring marathon and this week was a tough one.  I kicked it off with a full round of Yasso 800s Monday and threw my long run in two days early for the sake of better weather on Thursday.  Both workouts were tough but surprisingly fun.

Yasso 800s are a famous workout that can be varied all training cycle long.  This was my peak week with a full dose of 10 repeats and they went well.  Used as a reasonably close predictor of marathon finishing times, each repeat features 800M of work and an easy jog of the same duration for recovery.  Since the prediction tends to be about 5 minutes off of actual finish times, I was aiming for each 800 to be at a 6:50 pace.  This would theoretically get me across the line in 3:25 and an adjusted 3:30, my goal time.yasso 800s

I had a great time getting back into action after a down week with this one.  My goal was to run each repeat in 3:25, 6:50 pace, on fresher than usual legs to simulate somewhat of a taper.  It worked!  I was contending with some headwind and benefiting from a tailwind at different points but my repeats were 3:22, 22, 18, 23, 18, 18, 17, 22, 16, 16.  The session left me feeling really excited for race day.

The week rolled on with some 400M repeats Wednesday and my longest training run of the cycle on Thursday.  It was a test with lots of marathon pace miles early then a few faster ones at the end.  I started this 5-4-3-2-1 run with a one mile warm up then 5 miles at marathon pace.  The next two segments, 4 miles and 3 miles, were each separated by an easy mile.  The two mile section was at half marathon pace.  After a painful easy mile 18, I rocked Mile 19 at 10k pace, finishing with a nice easy cool down.  It was definitely a challenging but enjoyable workout.

Meredith

What are your favorite marathon training workouts?  Do you like Yasso 800s?

Midweek Move + 6 Weeks to Go!

Starting tomorrow I’m launching a brand new feature on East Coast Run Project‘s social media pages.  Called the Midweek Move it will be posted Wednesday mornings and feature a drill, running specific strength move, stretch or nutrition tip designed to help you become a better midweek moverunner.  You can check out the video and give our Facebook page a ‘like’ right here.  If you prefer Instagram or Twitter, it’ll be going out there, too.  The first clip demonstrates one of my favorite mobility exercises, couch stretch.  It’s a must do for anyone with tight hip flexors and a good choice for everyone else.

While I’m planning future posts and working on my video skills, I’m also less than 50 days from the One City Marathon.  My training is still going really well and I’m back in action with 60 miles this week.  I feel good, my legs are strong and fresh.  I’m mentally right where I need to be and it’s a huge improvement over where I was last year. 

The biggest (only!) concern I currently have for race day is what shoes to race in.  I really like both my Saucony Pro-Ride 9s and my Nike Lunar Fly Knits right now.  I’ve had a good 20 miler in the Sauconys but a great 18 miler in the Nikes and it’s a hard choice.  The Saucony pair has more cushioning but they are also heavier than the Nike shoes with a higher drop (8mm vs 4mm).  The drop isn’t too important since I’m training heavily in 4mm shows so I’m leaning toward the lighter, softer Nikes.  I don’t want the chance to blame a less than perfect race on heavy shoes!

Meredith

What would you like to see in a Midweek Move clip?  How do you pick race day shoes?

30 Day Yoga Challenge + Down Week

I started a 30 Day Yoga Challenge a few days after 2017 began.  Part of my Unbeatable Mind training, the challenge comes complete with daily instructional videos and support videos.  For several months now I’ve been doing short morning and longer evening yoga practices apart from this challenge.  So why add more?  It’s nice to take a step back.

I’m currently on Day 11 and have done a good job of keeping up with each day’s lesson.  Most of the concepts that have been covered so far are familiar but it’s a nice refresher.  Another yoga challengedifference between the yoga challenge material and my regular practice is timing.  I put the challenge on my daily to-do list rather than the bookmark I use my morning and evening routines for.  Taking a few minutes in the middle of the day to focus and relax has been great, I’ve even noticed a difference in my energy level the last few afternoons.

I’ve even had help from Jordy watching videos.  He preferred to rest in laying dog position instead of down dog pose.

The additional time spent doing yoga exercises each day has come in handy so far this week because it’s a down week.  After four straight weeks of heavy for me mileage (55, 55, 60, 61), this week’s 25-28 leave me lots of free time.  It’s only Tuesday but I’m not facing the taste of taper madness I thought I would.  It helps that with 47 days until marathon day I’m feeling really good about my training.  Every workout last week was very solid.  My body feels strong and fresh.  I’m eating, sleeping and training well.  Overall I’m positive about where I am heading into the final training stretch.  Bring on race day!

Meredith

Have you ever done a yoga challenge?  What do you do during a down week?

SPI Belt Review + 2 Fun Workouts

As I mentioned last week, I was lucky enough to win a SPI Belt through the 2016 winter edition of RunChat Hunt.  I intended to take it with me on an easy run last Sunday but totally forgot it.  That’s what happens when you never run with anything, I guess.  To make sure I followed spi beltthrough on my promise to tell you all about my experience, I zipped my GPS watch in it that night.

It just so happened my next run was a long tempo outing of 5 x 2k repeats with a 400M jog between.  Not only is this a fun workout, the weather was just about perfect, my legs felt fresh and I’d get to test the belt at a variety of paces.  Perfect!  I began with 2k at marathon pace then increased each rep to finish #5 at 10k pace.  Here’s how my new SPI Belt responded:

Fit:  The fit is great.  A highly adjustable belt allows for lots of freedom in where on my hips or belly I wanted it to sit.  For easier runs I liked it lower but for faster work I liked it tighter and a bit higher.

Comfort:  The belt was surprisingly comfortable.  I haven’t had lots of experience running with a belt but those I have had weren’t great.  The SPI Belt stayed in place without any bouncing and was barely noticeable when I wasn’t paying attention to it for this review.

Size:  I don’t wear fuel belts because every one I’ve ever tried has been too bulky.  The bands have been too wide or not fit well.  That was not an issue with the SPI Belt.  The thin strap adjusted easily to fit me just right while the width was not an issue at all.

Space:  My phone lives in a gigantic Otter Box so to make it fit, the case had to go.  I have this problem with plenty of small handbags, too, and it didn’t bother me.  Phone sans case, ID, credit card, key and gels, I shoved as many things as I could in there.  Plenty of room for all of your essentials.

My second fun workout was when I took the belt out again and got to forget it was there.  A great product that definitely met my carry-all needs.

Meredith

Do you have a SPI Belt?  What’s your favorite feature?

Why I Don’t Use Strava + Never Will

I like to run alone.  All alone most of the time.  Yes, I do at least one group fun run as an easy workout each week and enjoy it.  I also refuse to run with my phone unless it’s one of those easy group runs and I’m hunting for items on the RunChatHunt list.  That’s why I haven’t, don’t stravaand won’t use Strava.  In fact, this is the article that inspired me to write this post.  There seems to be some Strava angst out there in the running world.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous application.  The idea of people pushing themselves in workouts to compete without actually having to be together is awesome.  It’s just not for me.  Here are the reasons why:

Leave me alone.  I like to run alone.  It helps me think, there’s no pressure and I can decide to swap a workout in the middle if my legs feel one way or another.

Too fast.  I’m very competitive.  Of course I’d want to be the segment (route) champ of every single one.  If I were tops on a segment, I’d want to stay there whether my schedule said easy day or not.  Sure I’d try to follow my plan but sometimes the competitive spirit would undoubtedly get the better of me to my own detriment.

I don’t need it.  It’s nice you think I had a good workout but I don’t really care.  Not that I don’t appreciate support because I definitely do.  I have bad days and good days just like everyone else and I’d rather keep them to myself.  I know when a workout was good or what I need to take away from a bad one.  Racking up ‘kudos’ could cloud my judgement or mislead me.  No thanks.

Safety.  I start and end most of my runs from the same places.  While my schedule isn’t too predictable, I prefer learning my locations to be more of a challenge.  I don’t run with music for safety and I most certainly don’t want to leave an electronic paper trail of posters advertising where I’ll be at the end of a 20 mile run.

I know it happened whether it’s out there for everyone to see or not and that’s just fine with me.

Meredith

Do you use Strava?  Why or why not?  What’s your favorite thing about it?

Tough Long Run + SPI Belt!

After last week’s missed workout, I was ready to get back to work on Monday.  I had a good workout on the treadmill with still icy roads to avoid to start the week and solid workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday things wrapped up with tough long run. 

After an easy run Thursday my legs were feeling beat up.  I hadn’t slept well for three days and was struggling with the choice to do a workout I knew would be hard on Friday or Saturday.  Saturday’s forecast was chilly, rainy and windy while Friday’s was warmer, sunnier and less windy.  The downside for Friday was I’d half to run after biking to and from work and coaching for several hours.  I really did not want to get wet.  My legs felt heavy and the day off would have been nice.  I chose pain over wet and did my tough long run Friday mid-morning through the afternoon.

The tough long run was not just going out for a finish fast or middle marathon pace miles event.  It was meant to be a threshold workout and a challenge.  Starting with a 2 mile warm-up, it was on to 3×2 mile (rest 3 min) repeats at marathon pace minus 15 seconds, then 8 miles easy, 2 miles back at MP-15 and a 2 mile cool down.  I almost bailed during the warm up but I started to feel better 2k in.  It was one ugly run. 

I settled into a groove during the 2 mile repeats that was 10 seconds too fast.  Slowing down for the easy 8 was also challenging.  I gave the final 2 mile push all I had to finish on a up note and cut my cool down short.  The weather was much warmer than predicted without the expected cloud cover.   I battled dehydration, hard trouble keeping my heart rate down and dealt with foot cramps toward the end.  Not the run I wanted it to be, it was still a decent workout that helped me work on my mental game.  They can’t all be great or we’d never get better.  I’m looking forward to next week’s 18 mile progression as another tough long run to improve on this week’s mess. 

I’m also excited to try out my brand new SPI Belt this weekend!  I participated in the winter edition of RunChat‘s RunChat Hunt for the second year and was lucky enough to win.  The tough long runchallenge works like this:  the RunChat community picks ten items for you to photograph while on the run.  Each time you snap one, share it on social media with #runchathunt for an entry to win a variety of prizes from awesome sponsors like SPI Belt.

I typically don’t run with anything other than a house key and, if needed, gels.  Yes, I like to have my peace and quiet but if I could easily carry something else with me I might.  Stay tuned for a review in the next few weeks!

Meredith

How do you handle a tough long run?  Cope with a no so good workout?

Missed Workout + Single Digits!

My spring marathon is less than 10 weeks away.  That means I’m into single digits in my training countdown!  The first seven weeks have flown by and I’m feeling great about where my training is.  I must be because for the first time ever I have a completely missed workout on my calendar that’s barely made me blink an eye.

My missed workout was the result of Winter Storm Helena causing some trouble in Virginia Beach this past weekend.  I planned ahead enough to get my long run checked off Thursdaymissed workout before the storm hit, leaving a strength session and mile repeats for the weekend’s work.  Friday night a few inches of sleet formed a base layer for three inches of snow.  Photo credit to my friend Ann who was brave enough to trek out there.  For me, forget it!  I swapped my days knowing I could run on my treadmill Sunday if I had to.

Or so I thought.  Just as I was pulling on my running gear to tackle the dreadmill Sunday our power went out.  Well, I’ll just wait but, of course, with no power there was also no heat.  The indoor temperature dropped quickly with the 30mph winds and way below freezing outdoor conditions.  No, thanks.  With the dog radiating heat from his bed, Doug and I bundled up to go somewhere warm(er).  By the time we got word our power was back on I had downed a cocktail or two and one stuffed tummy.  Not exactly quality running preparation.missed workout

Not getting all of my planned miles in for the week was disappointing but definitely not the end of the world.  Running 49 of 55 scheduled miles is pretty good considering I crammed them in over 4 days and the surprise rest day was nice after such a heavy load for me.  I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures, melted snow and getting outside later this week.

Meredith

How do you handle a missed workout?  Do you try to make it up or let it go?

Fit Friday: Running Alone

Some people love to run in groups and some of us don’t.  I definitely prefer to do the majority of my running alone.  Maybe it’s because I’m an only child or because my schedule is funky.  After a sibling-less childhood, I grew accustomed to being alone and having to entertain myself running aloneso that I actually learned to like it.  I need it.

So I go running alone and it’s glorious.  No phone, no friends.  I especially like doing my long runs on Thursday mornings.  I know there won’t be anyone else out there.  Just me, the road and a few squirrels, yay!  This piece from Runner’s World sums up my feelings nicely for the most part.  I’m picky about ‘my people’ and value my peace and quiet.  A 15 mile run is my time to think, or not think, about what’s going on in my life without any interference.  It’s good prep for when I actually race and will undoubtedly be too busy running my own race to worry about who’s with me.

Is that to say I like running alone so much that I’ll always turn down an offer from a pal?  Absolutely not.  I’m the first one to tout the benefits of running groups or clubs.  Check out this post.  If friends and camaraderie are what get you out the door, that’s awesome.  The exponential increase in social running groups has been wonderful.  People make new friends, hit new goals and get healthier every single day with their running ‘tribes’.  It’s just not what works for me and even on a group run I’ll usually end up alone.  I’m happy to socialize before the run or after, cheer for the final finishers and congratulate everyone but I’ll do my running alone.

Meredith

Do you like running alone?  Why or why not?