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?

2016 Running Year in Review

It’s 2017 and that means it’s time to look back on the year that was.  I ran a lot, raced a bunch and learned plenty.  It was a productive year and I can’t wait to see what the next 52 weeks have in store.  Here’s my 2016 Running Year in Review!2016 running year

Miles:  I ran 1,514.4 miles in 2016.  Some were fast and some were slow.  There were cold miles, hot miles, good miles and bad miles.  I didn’t set a mileage goal for 2016 and was happy to see it was my biggest mileage year to date.  My final run of 2016 was 20.16 miles of marathon training and a great finish to an up and down year.

Races:  21.  I raced some, tanked some and paced some.  Ran alone, with a group and with the dog.  I started with back to back half marathons, wrapped up spring with a marathon and fell apart at my goal fall half.  In the end, my racing wasn’t always what I wanted it to be though I did manage to PR at the 5k distance (20:50).  Technically my marathon was also a PR but since2016 running year I had bleeding blisters to contend with for the last 8 miles and hobbled through the finish, I have trouble counting it.

Favorite race:  Every race I pace is a favorite.  It’s always so much fun to help another runner accomplish their goal and everyone should give it a try.  Even the two 5ks I finished first female in weren’t as much fun.  If I had to pick, Monumental Half Marathon and Wineglass Half (even though it wasn’t my best day).

Injuries:  The worst was a high ankle bruise that didn’t come from running.  Worst actual running injury would probably be a seriously chaffed nose from some cold, windy outings or marathon blisters.  I chalk my resilience, durability and injury-free-ness up to Crossfit and daily yoga.

The biggest takeaway from my 2016 Running Year was that it doesn’t always go your way.  I worked very hard all summer for a new half marathon PR in October and crashed.  It was just not my day.  I also learned I need to eat more when I’m running 60 miles a week and that it’s OK to have a bad workout.  Now focused on hitting my 2017 marathon goal, I got the fun back, enjoyed my last few weeks of 2016 training and can’t wait to see what I’ll accomplish in 2017.

Meredith

What did your 2016 Running Year look like?  What did you learn and what’s next?

Training Recap: The First 5 Weeks

It’s time for a training recap!  I’m five weeks into my 16 week One City Marathon training plan and feeling great.  I was a little bit nervous kicking things off because the mileage of this plan is higher than I’ve ever faced before early on.  Even with the extra miles each week, I feel fresher, stronger and more ready to run than this same time last year.  Here are the lessons I learned between crossing 2016’s finish line and starting to work towards 2017 that are making all the difference.training recap

Run easy.  I have a hard, hard time taking it easy.  I can run faster, so why aren’t I?  Running hard or medium hard all the time really hurt my training last year.  There’s a definite struggle on my recovery runs to keep the pace as gentle as it should be but I’m learning to like it.  Joining multiple weekly group runs and slowing down to chat has helped me immensely.

Eat more.  After reviewing last year’s early training recap with a focus on what I was eating, I realized I was probably not eating enough.  Based on the higher intensity of most workouts at that time, my caloric intake was lower than it should have been.  I definitely paid in soreness and exhaustion.  This cycle I’m doing a much better job of getting the types and numbers of calories I need.

More salad.  A big part of those extra calories is more veggies.  I talked about cleaner eating earlier this year and it’s paying off.  Crappy food isn’t even mildly appealing anymore (mostly).  There’s always cake or pizza for a treat.  And beer, of course! 

Lift less.  Last year’s training recap feature some pretty heavy weights a little too often.  Since I still love my time in the gym and won’t give it up, I’ve compromised with myself.  I’m lifting based on last year’s numbers and not going for any power or Olympic lifting PRs.  Lots of variety is keeping me challenged, and sore, so I know it’s helping me out without hindering my ability to perform on quality running workouts.

My legs feel great and my recovery is faster than ever before.  I’m feeling very positive about how the rest of this training cycle will go. 

Meredith

How often do you do a training recap?  Do you find it helpful?

 

Fit Friday: Mental Preparation

Performing well at anything, whether it’s a test in school, a race on the road or an off the cuff speech, takes mental preparation.  While planning is an important part of each of those instances, you also need to be ready for the unexpected.  I’ll be going more in depth into this idea on the East Coast Run Project blog next week (sign up to get it here!) but right now I’ll tell you how it helped me rock Week 4’s long run.

My fourth week of marathon training called for a long run of 18 miles.  With my client training schedule my morning, when I prefer to do long runs, schedule have me two options.  Thursday or Saturday.  Either day, the weather looked nasty and my body would be tired.  Thursday would be chilly with temperatures in the mid-30s and winds over 20mph with gale warnings.  Saturday would be significantly warmer, mid-50s but still be windy (no gale warning) and, to step it up, a 90% chance of rain.

Naturally I opted for Thursday.  With only one bridge to cross I much preferred a strong headwind to soaking wet shoes.  A finish fast long run, I was concerned the wind would take too much out of me to really have the high quality workout I was looking for.  So I started my mental preparation.  I steeled my nerves for a cold, challenging run.  I visualized an average pace somewhere between my 8:10 goal and my ‘this sucks and is really hard’ pace of anything mental preparationbelow 8:40.  Over and over on Wednesday I said to myself that I could do it no matter how tough it got.

And you know what happened?  IT WAS AWESOME.  Aside from almost being blown into traffic on that aforementioned bridge.  I was plenty warm in my layers.  The wind was mostly quieter than predicted.  Instead of the constant struggle I prepared for the wind was gusty.  Thanks to that big tailwind my finish fast was actually extremely fast!

I felt amazing the last mile.  The run I had expected to be brutal was, in fact, fantastic.  I’m so glad I took the time to do my mental preparation.  It really paid off and was great practice for race day.

Meredith

What’s your mental preparation routine?  Do you have a positive mantra and what it is?!

Coaching Rocks + Celebrating My Job

It’s Week 4 of marathon training but instead of basking in the lovely miles I’ve been ticking off I’m celebrating my job.  As you know, I’m a running coach, personal trainer, otherwise motivator and I love it.  There are lots of advantages to loving the work you do.  Less stress, more excitement and more satisfaction on a daily basis are just a few.  There are plenty of other things I could do and I’d probably even make lots more money but I wouldn’t have nearly as celebrating my jobmuch fun.  Settling for something tolerable and being unhappy for 40 or more hours a week just doesn’t sit with me.

Yes, it’s hard getting up before the sun most days of the year.  Standing out in the cold and 20 mile an hour winds isn’t always awesome either.  Figuring out how to build and run a business without any full time help is a challenge all its own.  At the end of every single day, however, it’s worth the cold toes and horrible sock tans.  Here’s why:

Improvement.  I have clients with all different backgrounds and abilities.  It really doesn’t matter where they start.  Seeing them want to put in the work it takes to be better is all it takes.  That’s why Team ECRP‘s motto is #DestinationFaster, not Destination 5 Minute Mile.  Who cares how fast you are right now if you’re ready to work hard and get better?  It’s pretty much everything when I receive an email from a newly faster runner that reads “If I never run again, Meredith, I want you to know today’s run was the best run ever and it would not have happened without your help…Thank you!”

If that doesn’t make you think you’re doing the right thing, I don’t know what will.  I am so proud of my athletes when they find success.  That’s why I’m celebrating my job this week.  An email like that gets you through the challenging sessions and is a great reminder that so matter where someone starts they can always try to be better.  It’s an honor to watch people work hard for their goals and even better to guide them on their journeys.

Meredith

Do you celebrate your job and what’s your favorite thing about it?

Week 3 + Being Unbeatable

It’s Week 3 of marathon training and things are rolling along nicely.  I’m feeling good after two weeks of increasing mileage and have two more to go before a down week.  One thing about this year’s most ambitious training plan yet is that I’m tying it to my Unbeatable Mind training.  While I am far from unbeatable yet, I am seeing and feeling some big differences from how I felt last year early on.unbeatable

Even with more miles on the calendar each week I’m more relaxed and flexible about what’s coming my way.  I’ll get the miles on the treadmill if I have to, in the middle of the night if I have to and at the end of the day, it’s all going to be fine.  Unless, of course, I get injured.

Which I might be on my way to but hopefully not.  I’ve had some funkiness going on with my right ankle or glute or Achilles that I warm up out of some days.  It’s definitely muscular and I’m trying different things to see what shakes it out the fastest.  Extra glute activation during my warm up, extra stretching of the calves and sometimes just loosening my shoe lace for a minute all help.  I’m making a big effort to listen to my body and figure out what it needs.

That’s how I can tell my Unbeatable training is making a difference.  I’m not freaking out.  There’s no desperate search for a quick fix.  I have a long way to go in both marathon training and mind training.  I’ll get to the finish but I want to be injury free when I arrive.  For now I’ll pay close attention to what works best to get me going on each run and stick with it.

Meredith

Do you ever over reacted to or ignored to a potential injury and what helps you be Unbeatable?

North End Run Club + Week 2

It’s Week 2 of One City Marathon training and I’m loving it.  Of course, I haven’t had a big mileage week or a 20 miler yet…  I do have 45 this week, however, that are going well so far.  I’ve done a few easy easy runs, one tough set of 400M repeats and some cross training in the gym.  It feels good to be back on plan with structure for every workout.  When I’m just winging it to stay in shape, it’s easy to get in a rut.  Giving each workout a purpose prevents that completely for me.

One purpose of some workouts is to rack those aforementioned miles up.  The issue with having all these miles to run, though, is that I’m always looking for a buddy.  The North End Run Club has been going on since late summer but because of my training, working and north end run clubEquiKids schedule, I wasn’t able to attend their Tuesday evening runs.  Until now, that is.  It’s a new session at the barn and my schedule is different.  That makes the North End Run Club weekly outing much more accessible for me.

The size of the group varies week to week but there’s a great core of North End Run Club-ers who come out every week.  There’s also an early Wednesday morning run at a nearby park that’s partnered with November Project but I unfortunately have clients at that time.

I’m ready for the challenge my most ambitious plan brings with it and really looking forward to spending more time with the other runners of North End Run Club as my mileage demands increase.  It starts with Week 3 bumping up to 50 miles for two weeks before a recovery week over the Christmas holiday.

Meredith

Do you run with any groups?  What do you like best about it?