Monthly Archives: April 2014

Road Trip Nashville 2014

I’m back!  Nashville was a blast.  Visiting the city to run the Rock n Roll Nashville Country Music Marathon, and not set a PR, was exactly what I needed to keep my ‘running is fun‘ mindset.  I had a great race, stay tuned for the recap this week, got to explore a new and exciting city, and, of course, any road trip is always fun.

My fellow runner friend Lauren joined Doug and I on the trip, and Lauren’s mom and sister were also heading to town from Indiana to run (walk) with us.  The drive from Virginia Beach nashvillewas close to 11 hours, including a few stops and two traffic jams, but the scenery through the mountains was pretty and we arrived earlier than expected.

We stayed at a wonderful vacation rental and upon our arrival, the owner filled us in on the local scene.  The three of us got ready to go see what Nashville had to offer, then walked to the nearby Italian restaurant Bella Napoli Pizzeria so Lauren and I could get our carb load on.  After a scrumptious meal, we called a cab and prepared to take on the town.  A walk down bustling, live music filled Broadway led us to Honky Tonk Central, where we stepped into the three story, crowded, energetic and loud bar for one adult soda.  Tired from traveling all day, we were in the mood for something a bit quieter and found Fleet Street Pub on Painter’s Alley.  We drank imported beer and played nashvilledarts for a few hours before heading home.  It was a wonderful first night in Nashville.

Friday morning we eased into the day, then made our way to the Expo.  I picked up my number and swag, then moved up to Corral 2 before exploring the exhibitors while Lauren shopped for shoes.  The expo was crowded as expected, but we both breezed through packet pick-up and only got caught in the crowds once we entered the exhibitor area.  The massive Music City Center is an impressive affair, and as we left, we met up with Lauren’s parents for lunch.  We had lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery on Broadway, which was as yummy as always, then went to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.   The Hall of Fame was very interesting, and I learned a lot I didn’t know about the history of nashvillecountry music and how it’s helped to shape landscape of American music as a whole.  Naps and showers followed, then Lauren went to have dinner with her family, while Doug and I noshed on Mexican inspired offerings a Taco Mamacita.  Another delicious meal, good service paired perfectly with the fresh and unique food.

Once we all returned home, we pinned our numbers to our race attire, packed our gear bags and hit the hay.  A 5am wake up on Race Day kicked off my Country Music Half Marathon, but my next post recaps the race and our post-race activities, and I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll skip to Sunday morning.

A leisurely wake up, we packed the car and started to head home.  We  dropped Lauren off at nashvillenashvillethe car her family had left for her outside of downtown then Doug and I took a detour to The Hermitage.  A stunning property, neither of us knew much about it.  We walked through the Mansion, Museum and grounds while learning the Hermitage’s story and a bit more about the Jackson family.  Here we are in Rachel’s beloved garden, and on the right is where both Andrew and Rachel were laid to rest.

After arriving home Sunday night, I was glad I had Monday to recover.  It was a wonderful weekend, full of friends, running and history in a great city.  I certainly recommend a visit to Nashville when you have the opportunity, and be sure to check out Broadway, The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Heritage while you’re there.

Meredith

Have you been to Nashville?  Would you like to go?  If you’ve been, did you enjoy it?

Mango Lime Salmon with Black Bean Salad

*I’m busy running the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville this morning (recap coming next week), and then recovering, but I really wanted to share this delicious Mango Lime Salmon recipe with you all.  It’s paleo friendly (if you bail on the salad or sub them out – try avocado), low in fat, high in protein, rich in flavor and I love it.  Couldn’t think of a better time, I hope you give it a try!*

Mango Lime Salmon with Black Bean and Corn Salad

Basics
Servings: 2-4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: 2

Ingredients
2-4 Wild Alaskan salmon filets
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-14 oz can rinsed and drained black beans
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup frozen yellow corn
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1-2 cups mango salsa (recipe found here)

Instructionsmango lime salmon
1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2)  Place salmon filets on foil lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and white fat has risen to the top.
3)  Dice onion and green pepper, place black beans and corn in medium sauce pan.
4)  Saute onion and pepper for 4 minutes, add to beans and corn.  Add water, bring to boil until mixture is warm.
5)  Serve salmon over bean salad and top with mango lime salsa.

Add this Mango Lime Salmon to your meal plan and let it start bursting with flavor.

Running is Fun Race Week

I say it’s Race Week because I do have a race this weekend, but it’s really not, because I don’t plan on racing in Nashville on Saturday.  Tennessee is one of the 45 states, plus DC, I have remaining on my list of 50 to run, and to make every race a target event would lead to some tough training, leaving me with an inevitable injury.  No, thanks.  Running is fun, and that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend: running and having fun.  At the same time.running is fun

Remembering that, yes, in fact, running is fun, is something I’ve struggled with during my last two training cycles.  In my desire to set new PRs, get faster and see myself improve, I stuck fast to training schedules and didn’t allow myself the flexibility to fully enjoy my long, scenic training runs, my track sessions or even my total rest days, when I was too busy checking the week’s weather forecast and setting my schedule to match it.  My training wasn’t stressful, but I often put pressure on myself to stick with the plan I set, stay on the paces I had picked for each workout and maintain a balance with my strength training.  I started to lose sight of the reasons I run, that it’s not a job, and that I choose to do it.

I took 7 full days off after Atlantic City and last week was my first taste of running just to run in quite a while.  It was exactly what I needed to remind me that running IS fun, and almost two weeks into my new training cycle, I’m excited and happy to go out each day and get my miles in.  This improved attitude and outlook comes at the perfect time, as part of this new training cycle involves ratcheting my peak mileage up by almost 25% this summer.  I’m looking forward to my ‘Running is Fun’ Race Weekend in Nashville this week, hoping it will keep me mentally fresh.

I’m excited to see a new city, and get my usually solo weekly long run in with 20,000+ other people.  While I shouldn’t care about my Finish Time on my ‘Running is Fun’ Race Weekend, I can’t ignore it.  I’m guessing I’ll finish right around the 1:41 mark, with the race environment to push me along, but for the first time ever, I don’t have a target time.  Well, that’s not true.  With a current PR of 1:38.42, I’ll admit that finishing with anything over 1:43.00 would probably bother me.  The course does feature plenty of rolling hills, but they don’t particularly worry me.  I know my quads are strong (love those front squats, back squats and deadlifts) and that I’ve managed just fine on a hilly course before.  Again, with the ‘not racing’ thing going on, I hope I’ll handle them without having to fight much of a mental battle, keeping my outlook rosy and attitude positive.  Remember, running is fun.

Meredith

Do you ever lose sight of why you run?  How do you adjust your outlook?

Right Now: Reading, Wearing, Planning

I’m kicking off a brand new category with this post, and I’m calling it Right Now.  These are the things I’m excited to share with you, and want your opinions on, whether it’s what I’m reading, eating, wearing, drinking, lifting, feeling about running, thinking about running, where I’m running and more.  I’ll aim to hit three different categories in each post, but in case I find a few really good things (wines, books, running gear), I’m not making any promises :).  Here we go!right now

Right Now, I’m reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  I’ve read another of her novels, Dark Places, and thought it was fantastic.  Like its sister, this novel is gripping, drawing the reader into Camille’s (the narrator) world and holding you tight.  A psychological thriller, the tale of a small town gone big city girl’s return home is tangled, twisted and wonderful.

right nowRight Now, I’m excited to be wearing my new SweatPink shoe laces.  I’ve just broken out my last remaining new pair of Pro Grid Ride 5s, and lucky for me, they’re a perfect match.  I’m enjoying being a SweatPink ambassador, and excited to continue networking with, meeting and befriending my fellow SweatPink-ers.

Finally, Right Now, I’m starting to plan my 2015 Race Year.  I know it’s a long way from now, but time has been flying lately, and I don’t want to miss the boat, waste time or put myself in a training situation that could end badly.  I began planning for 2015 back in January, but that plan has already changed.  I’ve opted to add Rock n Roll Las Vegas in November to 2014, and with races in October, November and December, I might add RnR Phoenix in January.  The October Myrtle Beach Mini is my Fall target race, so much like I’ll be running Nashville for fun, Vegas and Rehoboth will simply be abnormally fun long runs.   I’m not sure what I’ll target for a Spring race, though if I do run Phoenix, it could be that, and I may or may not stick with the plan to run RnR DC and Kentucky in March, 2015.  Decisions, Decisions.

Meredith

What are you reading right now?  Planning on running in 2015?

Summer 2014 Training Cycle

My Summer 2014 Training Cycle began yesterday with my first run since Atlantic City.  I decided to go with one mile for each day of rest, which had me out there for seven miles, one warm up, one cool down and five at whatever faster pace I happened to settle in with.  I wasn’t particularly worried about losing any fitness by taking seven days off after my Shamrock/April Fools training program, and, just like I thought, my legs felt really good.  A great start to this new plan, I’m excited to see where I can go with it.summer 2014 training cycle

Yesterday’s run was exactly what I needed to get going in the right direction.  For starters, I held off my run until almost 11am, and faced temperatures nearing 75 degrees and 14-15 mile an hour winds.  That worried me a bit, since I haven’t had any practice in the heat, or anything close, lately.  I cruised through an easy warm-up mile without noticing the warmth, then picked up my pace a bit to see how I felt.  With my watch set to 800M laps, I didn’t look until I heard the first beep, but when I did, I was surprised to see I had picked up right where I left off, a 3:44 half mile.  I ran through the next 4.5 miles, without being overly concerned if I slowed down by 10-15 seconds per mile (good thing, because I paid for the Sunday Funday mimosas I had over the weekend with a little orange juice induced acid reflux) and wrapped up my outing happy.  I was excited to see my average pace was the same as it was two weeks ago, and to have not been really affected by the heat.

As I move forward, and the Summer 2014 Training Cycle starts to build my mileage to 50 miles per week, I worry I’ll have trouble slowing down.  It’s been a while since I haven’t found myself aiming for a race, new PR or Age Group award and even though this plan is geared at getting me ready to take minutes off my current half marathon PR in October, it’s much too soon to focus on that race alone.  All of my training thus far in 2014 has been hard work, and I’ve loved it.  Looking ahead, I’m not going to want, or be able to, run quite so hard all the time, especially when I’m just getting easy long runs in.  There will definitely be a learning curve in my Summer 2014 Training Cycle, and I’m eager to hop on it.

Meredith

How do you slow down for your easy, long runs?  Do you find it challenging?

Lululemon Run: Inspire Crop II

A few weeks ago, I realized it was just about time to say goodbye to an old pair of running tights.  That meant it was time to start shopping.  Enter tax-free clothing purchases in Pennsylvania.  I’m fairly picky about what I like to run in, especially when it comes to long runs and racing.  I like sweat wicking fabrics in capri style pants, unless it’s over 70 degrees, then it’s shorts all the way, I prefer compression, but it’s not necessary, and pockets, or at least a pocket, is a must.

In the search for new gear, I made my way to Lululemon.  I have several pairs of Lululemon tights, and like them for both running and strength training.  Other Lulu gear, tanks and sports bras, lines my drawers as well, and I am always happy to wear any of them.  With the singular goal of busy weekendleaving with new tights, I tried a few pairs on before I found something that was just right: the Run: Inspire Crop II.  I’m always excited to put on Lulu pants to see how many pockets they’ve fit into each pair.  The Inspire Crop features one back, zipper pocket (perfect for ID, key and cash) and two waist band pockets in the front for gels or other small goodies.  Yes!  A key bouncing around on my shoelace is annoying and a sweaty ID slipping around in my bra is even worse.  More than satisfied with the pocket situation, I clutched the sleek, black capri pants and cruised over to the register.

I left the store with one pair of black Run: Inspire Crop II in my bag and couldn’t wait to give them a try.  Lulu’s products tend to be on the higher end of the athletic/running gear price spectrum, but I’m willing to pay a bit more for comfort, quality and, as mentioned earlier, lots of pockets.  I first slid them on to get a feel for how they acted while filming this YouTube video.  They felt great.  Although they aren’t compression tights, the Luxtreme fabric stayed in place through the series of movements and the flat waist seam was quite comfortable.  Some running tights, notably my Under Armor ones, are loose at the waist and I find myself having to pull them up half a mile or so into a run, or after warm-up set or two.  A big plus for staying put.

After posting the clip, I threw the pants in the laundry and planned my next adventure with them.  A five mile run was the winner.  I air-dried the pants overnight, and two days later put them on for our first run together.  One big issue I have with most running tights, especially full length ones, it my tiny little calves.  I have had problems with pants being too baggy or riding up and chaffing my knee, but the Inspire Crop did neither.  The mesh behind the knee let my body breath while keeping my calves covered just the right amount the entire time I ran.  Another big plus.  Just as they had while I was split squatting, the pants stayed put for my entire run and I had no need to do the half mile pant pull-up.  Happy runner, here.inspire crop

Two successful experiences, two trips through the washing machine and it was off to Atlantic City.  I raced in the Inspire Crop because it would be my longest run for almost a month and I wanted to get as many experiences as I could in them before reviewing.  Racing doesn’t put any more wear and tear on the pants than a 15 mile run does and I already knew the Inspire Crop did a good job of wicking sweat away, so this wasn’t a concern entering Race Day.

The Inspire Crop were a great Race Day partner (new PR!).  I had my ID in my back pocket, no need to do the half mile pant pull up and sweat wicking, stay put tights that were comfortable enough I almost forgot I was supposed to be thinking about them.  The one mistake I did make was to leave the lengthy tag attached to the inside of the pants for this long run.  As I twisted and turned, the tag shifted and I knew I needed a quick adjustment at Mile 10.  Injury was avoided with a simple waistband readjustment and I removed the tag as soon as I arrived home.

I’m glad to have added Lululemon’s Run: Inspire Crop II to my rotation and might just race in them again in a few weeks.

Meredith

*These opinions are mine alone.  No financial compensation was received for this review.*

Do you like Lulu running tights?  What about other Lululemon gear?

April Fools Half and New PR

Day Two in Atlantic City featured the April Fools Half Marathon and my second race of 2014.  After Doug’s quality performance Saturday morning, I was motivated to perform, but afraid we would face a similar, sleepless fate April Fools Halfthat night.

We went to dinner at Broadway Burger Bar in the Tropicana, where the food was good, but our service was nonexistent.  I mean that.  They forgot about us.  Profuse apologies and free drinks followed, but after 30 minutes sans a server, we just wanted to leave.  After dinner, we sat at the casino floor bar in the Showboat to watch UConn beat Florida while I continued to hydrate and prep for the next day’s race.  I wanted to hit the hay early in an attempt to get some shut-eye before another loud night ensued, but the hotel was unexpectedly quiet Saturday night.  A nice treat compared to the mayhem we had encountered Friday, both of us awoke Sunday morning feeling much better.

April Fools Half Race Day dawned sunny and warmer than the predictions had shown.  I was ready to run, but not necessarily ready to race.  I had PRed at the Shamrock, and already moved my focus to my post Atlantic City training plans.  I dressed in my new Lululemon running tights and fueled up April Fools Halfwith my usual GPS E2.  I used the casino floor restroom at Revel, even though there was a bank of Port-a-Potties outside near the Start, and had time for a little stretch before heading outside to find the Start had been delayed 5 minutes.  Without corrals, and having seen Doug’s tight Start Saturday morning, I knew I needed to be near the front of the pack and made my way through the crowd just before the National Anthem was sung.

We were off right on the delayed Start time, and I did have to work my way around a few walkers during the first mile.  I hit Mile One with 1.08 on my watch and settled in for a good, long training run.  No new PR, oh well, no big deal.  The rest of the southbound portion of Boardwalk running was fairly uneventful, and the fast, flat course was forgiving on legs with the cushy wooden boardwalk giving them a little special treatment for the first and last miles.  Early on, there were few pedestrians to avoid, and I easily ran the first 4.5 quiet, scenic Oceanside miles without any worries.  After a slow Mile 1 because of the traffic, I clocked Miles 2, 3 and 4 at 7:38, 7:35 and 7:34 with a 5K time of 23:42.

We stepped off the Boardwalk at the Mile 4.5 mark and hit the road.  The scenery was a little less interesting here, but I kept a steady pace, crossing the 10K mark at 47:21.  I knew I’d hit a headwind at the turnaround point, and as I rounded the flag, there it was.  Miles 6.5 through 9 were north on the road, with a headwind that wasn’t quite as bad as the Shamrock, but a road that was more banked.  I tried to find a flat line to run because my knee was starting to get a little grumpy, keeping my thoughts on returning to the wooden Boardwalk.  My pace through this flat but angled road portion stayed right where I wanted it to be, in spite of the wind, and I was on pace to come in right around 1:39 again.  Just fine with me.

Turning back onto the Boardwalk at Mile 9, my knee started to feel better and the big hotels gave good protection from the wind.  My legs were feeling surprisingly good after facing the wind for 3 miles, so I thought about picking it up for the final 5K, shooting for a new PR.  The softness of the Boardwalk made dropping my pace from 7:34 per mile for the first 10 miles to 7:19 per mile for the last 3.1 easy.  Even with the faster pace, I had doubts about actually hitting my new PR because bikers, wanderers and morning walkers abounded on this return trip up the boards.  Most non-participants were aware of what was going on and stayed out of the way, but there were, of course, a few to run around and a bike that almost hit me.  It was a April Fools Halfgorgeous morning for an Oceanside run, the scenery coming back was just as nice as it was heading south and I looked at my watch only to realize I was on pace to PR for the second time this year.  I ran my last 1.1 miles hard to see just how much I had left, and crossed the Finish Line with an official time of 1:38:42, 27 seconds faster than Shamrock three weeks earlier.

I felt good as I grabbed my medal, a water, a banana, a few PowerBars and shook my knee out post-race.  I sat down for a stretch, happy with my performance, even though I attribute that mostly to the flatter course and lower winds.  The April Fools Half Marathon had 1455 finishers (not sure how many were women), of which I was the 14th Female, 6th in the 30-39 Age Group and 66th Overall.

I wasn’t the only runner who PRed at the April Fools Half, it was a big day for everyone I knew who was participating, as Hollie took a minute off of her previous PR and Charles lowered his by an amazing 12 minutes!  Other important aspects of the race include gear check, which was available, and that the course had plenty of well staffed water and Gatorade stops.  I did notice Port-A-Potties sitting next to the course at various intervals, though they didn’t appear to be getting much use.  Most of the route was pretty April Fools Halfquiet, and ACPD did a great job of keeping the course clear of morning traffic.  Smatterings of fans on Miles 2-12 were dwarfed by the big group on the Boardwalk for the last mile and Finish.

We didn’t hang out for the post race festivities, going to Johnny Rocket’s once again and indulging in a second delectable post-race breakfast.  With a final trip to the room, we loaded the car and headed for Philly after a wonderful Race Weekend in Atlantic City.  Race organizers did a good job, and I think I’m a little spoiled by the Virginia Beach Boardwalk being shut down for the Shamrock (yes, that event is much, much larger which probably plays a role).  The April Fools Half is definitely an event I would consider participating in again, though I worry if it gets too big, the runner traffic would be unmanageable and the course, one of the race biggest assets, would have to change.

Meredith

Have you run the April Fools Half?  What did you think?  Would you consider it in the future?

Atlantic City, Day One

This past weekend, Doug and I made for Atlantic City, New Jersey to get the Garden State crossed off my 50 States (Plus DC) list.  The weekend’s races day onewere spread over both Saturday and Sunday, with the 7K and 11K on Day One and the Half on Day Two.  We left VA Friday morning, dropped the Jordy dog off at Mom and Dad’s in Philly on the way then headed South East toward AC.

Upon our arrival, we stopped by our room and changed before making our way to the host casino, Revel, for packet pick-up and dinner.  Packet pickup was a small affair held in a spacious lobby area without an expo.  We breezed through, picking up our numbers, t-shirts and clear gear check bags, while swiping our bibs over a timing chip activator with the help of friendly volunteers.

After pick-up, we cruised around the casino floor and found a few options for dinner.  We decided on Disitrito Cantina, and enjoyed a meal of nachos and JG Steak Supremo tacos that paired well with our 40 ounce, shared fishbowl margarita.  After day onedinner we strolled down the Boardwalk to Showboat, where we played a few games before heading back to our room.

We settled in for bed, Doug looking to get a good night’s rest before his race and me just wanting some good old fashioned sleep.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for either of us.  Extremely emotional, loud, intoxicated neighbors kept doors slamming and hallways rattling with raucous noise most of the night and we got little to no sleep at all.  We arose in a daze, but made our way to the race course anyway.

Day One featured Doug’s race, the Shore Medical Center 7K.  It was his first race in a while, and in spite of his sleepless night, he lined up at the Start.  He wasn’t sure how much effort he could put out, but I had faith and after day onewatching the runners cross the Start line, I went inside Revel, sat in a comfy lobby area, hooked up to WiFi and settle down for 30 minutes of quality time with social media.

On the settee next to mine was a lovely gentleman, whose name I never learned, and we struck up a conversation.  He was waiting for his wife and opened the conversation with a line that couldn’t help but make me smile.  “How many of these have you been dragged to?”  Unfortunately, I had to break the news that it’s often I who am the dragger, but today was Doug’s day.  Through the course of the chat, I learned his wife had begun running as part of a weight management program, fallen in love with it (as most do) and shed, to date, 73 pounds on her journey.  As a trainer, coach and running advocate, I love hearing success stories like this.  It’s so inspiring day oneand proves just what a big difference a little hard work can make.

I made my way back outside with a few minutes to spare before Doug came running back towards me on the Boardwalk.  He was returning sooner than either of us had expected (yay!) and ended up rocking the run.  A traffic filled start and a poorly functioning, sleep deprived brain had him holding back, doubting himself at the beginning, but after turning back at the halfway point, he finished strong.  I’m proud of him, and this event was a good way for him to get back into running gear after a lengthy hiatus.  We’re both slated to run the half in Myrtle Beach, and I’m glad he’s excited about it.

After his race, we had a delicious post-race meal at Johnny Rocket’s then went back to the room for nap time before gearing up for my pre-race dinner and the first two games of the Final Four.

Meredith

Have you ever raced without sleeping?  How did it go?

After AC, New Training Plans

As I roll into the second quarter of 2014, I’m taking one valuable lesson with me and am well on my way to hitting my goal of 1,200 miles in 2014.  I’ll be running my second half marathon of 2014 tomorrow, and also have big, new training plans post-Atlantic City.  My training has been going well, I’ve been injury free for over 18 months and I’m ready to step it and see where I can go.new training plans

I’ve been seeing steady progress in the form of lower PRs every race I’ve been aiming for.  I wanted to PR in Philly, and I did.  A PR at the Shamrock?  Got it.  I’m also pretty confident this same plan could get me down to 1:36:00 without much trouble.  But why?  Why aim to take 30 seconds of my PR at a time when I could shoot for a minute, or minutes, at each target race?

No good reason.  That’s why I’ll be revamping my training plan in its entirety after this weekend.  I’d like to come in under 1:39:00 but won’t be heartbroken if I don’t make it.  I’ve already met my Spring goal and with a new plan in the works, I’m ready to move on.  My net target race is Myrtle Beach, in October, which gives me just about six months to get ready.  I won’t start training specifically for that race until the end of the summer, but my new training plans call for a big increase in mileage before hand.

I’ve never built my base mileage beyond 35, and that was always part of my training program.  I’ll be pushing up to, and possibly beyond, 50 miles per week in the middle of June, dropping back down to my usual 35 miles each week through September then tapering my way to the middle of October to get ready for the 19 October race.  A big part of the new plans is to keep my long runs under 16 miles, but add a second one each week and increase both the length and variety of my speed workouts.  In addition to increasing my mileage, my new training plansstrength training will step up to two days of heavy powerlifting each week with one day of Crossfit.

I’m excited to see what adding miles to my base and muscle to my legs will do for me when I lower my weekly mileage and go back to fewer, higher quality runs.

These new training plans begin in 10 days, and will include using my Nashville race, where I want to have fun more than I want to turn in a PR performance, as a long, hill-filled training run.  I’ll, hopefully, have a solid race tomorrow morning, then will take the next week to rest, play and cycle out of the spring before starting my new running experiment.

Meredith

Are you racing this weekend?  Have you tried anything new with your training lately?

2014 Lesson One: Be Flexible

The first quarter of 2014 has come to an end, and it went fast.  In spite of the gloom and doom weather, still not spring-like temperatures and bouts of bad weather induced depression, I worked hard to train for the be flexibleShamrock.  I succeeded at reaching my goal and came out with a new PR that was more than nine minutes faster than the same race 365 days earlier.  I credit my improvement to a few things, from simply running more to smarter training, but most of all to learning how to be flexible.

When I ran my first half marathon in November 2012, my goal was little more than to survive.  It had been a long time since I’d run regularly in high school, and I wasn’t sure my knee would tolerate serious training.  After battling through a rough patch during training that featured some serious tendonitis, I got smart, changed shoes and, as of today, have been injury free since.  After that race (1:54:04), I realized I had rediscovered a love for running that I had completely forgotten about in the years since high school.  I registered for the 2013 Shamrock and kicked off a training schedule.

I had a goal of breaking 1:50:00 on the flat, fast course, and was fairly rigid about my training program.  I rarely switched days, maybe took an extra one off if I was desperate and ended up with a 1:48:41.  I wasn’t too willing to be flexible, but I had success.  Time for a new goal.  I signed up for the Rock n Roll Philly in September 2013, set a goal of finishing that race under 1:45:00, and a long-term goal of eventually crossing a line before the race clock shows 1:30:00.  Bold, but certainly doable.  Like I had for the 2013 Shamrock, I stuck tight to the training plan I designed for Philly and hit my goal again.

After Philly (1:43:32), I started working on a training plan that would get me in under 1:40:00 at the 2014 Shamrock.  I planned on sticking with my be flexibletraining calendar to a T and didn’t see a need to be flexible.  I liked what was on the page in front of me, wasn’t concerned about injury, was willing to put in the hard work I’d need and knew it had worked before.  My training plan initially included strength training and speed work on the same day before my long run.  The plan worked wonderfully, and I steadfastly followed it, while my long runs were short, eight or nine miles, and they were good, quality outings.  By the time my first 90 minute run rolled around, however, I really struggled with it.  I quickly learned 2014’s First Lesson: that’s too much work.  My legs were just not ready for back-to-back, hard workouts like that.

It was time to rethink my once good-looking plan.  I would need to be flexible or I knew I was risking at least over training and at most, a serious injury.  I switched my strength training days, leaving only my speed work the day before my long run and had wild success.  My legs needed time to recover, because, after all, I’d only been training seriously for 10 months.  I settled into this new schedule and immediately felt better.  I saw big improvements in the quality of my long runs, and my willingness to be flexible paid off when I crossed the Shamrock Finish Line at 1:39:09.

Had I stuck to my original plan, I know I’d have been hurt and my training would have been completely derailed.  I’m glad this training cycle taught me Lesson One in 2014.  Successful running isn’t about following your schedule to the letter, it’s about listening to your body and learning to be flexible.  A timely and good lesson to learn in the first quarter of 2014, I’m sure it’ll come in handy while I rack up the miles this summer.

Meredith

How important is it to be flexible in your training plan?