Monthly Archives: August 2014

A New Workout + Myrtle Week 3

Myrtle Week 3 isn’t technically finished yet, with Rock n Roll Virginia Beach coming up on Sunday, but since both the race and its expo will get their own reports, I wanted to share myrtle week 3two other exciting things about this week.  1. I overcame a slight injury and 2. I completed an awesome new speed workout on Wednesday.

Let’s start with the injury.  At some point during last week’s GHDs and sit-ups, I strained the transverse abdominal on my right side.  I rested Saturday, did a long run Sunday and a light recovery run Monday which meant I didn’t notice anything more than normal muscle fatigue until I went to strength train on Tuesday.  As soon as I went to powerfully engage my core (tuck jumps) or anteriorly tilt my hips (pull-ups), I knew what I had done.  The Myrtle Week 3 Core Muscle Strain of 2014.  Combine the fact that I hadn’t noticed the strain for three days and the lack of pain when I wasn’t trying to use that muscle, I knew my little injury wasn’t serious and I’d be just fine after resting it.  At least I could still run and do some things in the gym.  I bailed on my planned workout to avoid making things worse and settled for heavy back squats.

When Wednesday morning rolled around, I was excited to take on a new speed workout.  My legs felt pretty good for having an unexpected heavy lifting session Tuesday and  cooler, low humidity weather was on my side for a day.  This is what the as yet unnamed 6.5 mile workout looked like:

1 mile warm up
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
1 mile cool down

I was fried by the time I finished but ecstatic with how the session had gone.  My 400M and 800M laps were fast, steady and consistent which made me happy since I hadn’t done a hard track style workout in a over three weeks.  This is a tough one but definitely deserves a try!

A light shakeout run Thursday helped my tired legs get back on track for this morning’s Race Pace 5k.  The heat had returned and it was definitely not the run I wanted to get in on a sun baked, crowded boardwalk.  I fought through it, knowing that I was paying for going so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday and that I was a little bit dehydrated.  Even though it wasn’t the outing I had hoped for, I’m glad I gutted it out and made myself a little bit stronger.

Tomorrow is a rest day then it’s long run Pace Day on Sunday.  I’m really excited to wrap up Myrtle Week 3 with the 2:15 group and looking forward to meeting lots of awesome runners while hopefully helping them accomplish their PR goals.  I’ll also be at the Expo Saturday until noon at the Pacer Booth, right next to Garmin.  Come visit me!

Meredith

Are you running RnRVB?  Have you tried any new workouts lately?

Hump Day Reading Epidsode 1

Happy Hump Day!  I’m currently bouncing back between two excellent books in my reading queue, one of which I’ll be sharing in the September Right Now, so I’m keeping it a secret!  In addition to my play time reading, I go through tons of fitness related posts, articles and studies on a regular basis.  For no good reason, however, I have yet to share hump dayany of them with you.  In an attempt to put a bright spot in your Wednesday and with no better time than the present, here we go!

These are three things I’ve found interesting, beneficial or just fun to read in the past week.  I hope you’ll take a deep, hump day breath and enjoy discovering them as much as I did.

  • Pushups are a necessary evil for solid running form.  Good for posture, core stability and strength, a properly performed pushup is an exercise that can’t be beat.  In this video and accompanying article, Competitor Running explains why in a very user friendly way.
  • This piece from Time about getting happy.  More of an infographic than a stuffy magazine article, the statistics and graphics are visually appealing and intriguing.  Give one of their suggestions a try to see if it helps brighten the rest of your week.

I hope your hump day goes by a bit faster after taking a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy these.  Please let me know if you enjoyed this post and would want to see more like it.

Meredith

What’s your favorite thing to read?  Paper or digital?

Myrtle Week 2 Training Recap

Myrtle Week 2 is in the books!  Because I decided to volunteer as a pacer for the 2:15 group at Rock n Roll Virginia Beach next weekend, I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a tiny bit.  I’ll still be getting in a 13+ mile long run in Week Three but it won’t be the finish hard run I had planned on.  This didn’t concern me because I’m feeling so good about my training that I was happy to move it up a week.  In addition to moving my finish hard long run up to this week, here’s how the rest of Myrtle Week 2 went!

Monday:  60 minute tempo.  Sort of.  I was waiting on some rain to cool things off and get the pavement wet so I could take my new shoes out in the yucky weather but it took its time showing up.  I held off as long as I could then eased into a late afternoon run, peaking with 1200M at 5k pace around minute 30 then gradually decreasing my pace.  As soon as my watch face showed minute 37, the sky turned black, the wind kicked up and huge, cold, hail like raindrops began to fall.  I was OK with this, it actually felt really good to get soaked with cool rain and brisk breeze.  The lightening, however, I was not OK with.  I got home as quickly as I could, arriving at minute 43.  Needless to say, the 60 minute tempo run was cut short and I cooled down by jogging up and down the stairs a few times.

Tuesday:  Heavy lifting of the front squat and push press variety with the same bar for a bazillion reps (or 84).  My shoulder struggled but I could tell it has definitely gotten both stronger and more stable while the front squats felt light.  My legs powered through the workout but my mind knew I’d pay.myrtle week 2

Wednesday:  Five mile recovery run, foam rolling, stretching, massaging.  Sore as expected, this was much needed.

Thursday:  A ‘light’ cross training workout.  I say light because tabata GHD sit-ups sound much easier than they are, especially when you rarely use a GHD.  Sit-ups?  ALL DAY.  On a GHD?  Umm, nope.  The workout also included 30 front rack walking lunges.  Overhead walking lunges, DB walking lunges?  Yes, please.  With a bar in the front rack position?  No, thanks.

Friday:  Sore glutes, sore abs, sore quads and 14 miles (10 easy, finish with 4 hard) on the schedule.  It was also very humid, quite hot and altogether miserable outside even at 7:30am.  I rolled first thing in the morning then again just before my run.  It helped mildly.  Around mile 6, I knew I didn’t have enough to get the workout I wanted so I ended up doing an easy 10 that was mostly unpleasant and involved 4-5 stops for stretching.  I also decided to skip out on the Myrtle Week 2’s speed work and get that finish hard long run in on Sunday with eight easy, three hard and a one mile cool down.

Saturday:  REST!  My legs felt surprisingly good after Friday’s 10 miles.  I stretched, rolled and a did few air squats to get everything moving but otherwise just relaxed.

Sunday:  I pushed it on this 12 miler because I’ll be taking it easy during Week 3’s long run at the Rock n Roll and it went wonderfully.  Let’s start with the amazing weather.  Temps were in the low to mid-70s, humidity hovered around 60% and a nice breeze to keep me cool meant I was excited to get out and work hard this morning.  With eight miles at 15 seconds faster than long run pace, three at 10k pace and one cool down mile, Myrtle Week 2’s long run was a tough workout that left me feeling really positive.

This week was full of solid training and I’m looking forward to the next eight.  Myrtle Week 3 starts with a light recovery run tomorrow then goes into cross training on Tuesday, two days of intervals and one race pace run before rest on Saturday.  I’ll be out doing my long run Sunday at RnRVB with the 2:15 group and can’t wait!

Meredith

Have you ever used a GHD?  Did you love it?  Are you running Rock n Roll Virginia Beach next weekend?

Right Now: A Pet Friendly Hotel and More

It’s time for the August Edition of Right Now!  These are a few of my current favorites and I hope you give them a try, too.  This month’s faves add up to a pet friendly hotel where you can workout your mind and enjoy a lovely bottle of wine.

Staying:  Doug and I went to see the Phillies play the Nationals in D.C. Saturday, August 2.  We booked a pet friendly hotel so Jordy could tag along to see the Nation’s capital and it was awesome.  Le Meridien Arlington loves pets!  The hotel’s amenities include “a 3-tier Bark Bar at the hotel entrance, allowing furry friends to refresh. Pets are offered complimentary treats and food bowls, pet friendlymats and beds, and a special tag with the hotel’s contact information. Pets can relax at The Dish, the property’s pet lounge” (hotels.com).  There was a really nice dog park right across the street and all of the other dogs we came across were super friendly.  Other hotel highlights include its proximity to the Metro, only two blocks, clean rooms, free wi-fi, complimentary bathrobes and delicious breakfast buffet.  Next time you and your furry friend make a stop in the District be sure to check out Le Meridien Arlington.

Playing:  Lumosity.  I’ve been doing this for a while and love it.  I think it’s helped me tune up my mind, yes, but it’s fun.  Solitaire gets pretty boring after a while and I like the idea of challenging my brain to work more effectively while I guide an adorable penguin through pet friendlya maze to chomp on a fish.  With games that work on improving memory, flexibility, mental speed, focus and problem solving your mind is sure to get a good workout.  It’s a good way to wind down after a tough day or to play with while you wait for the shower in your pet friendly hotel room.  You aren’t able to access all of the games with the free trial so I definitely recommend diving in to give it a try.

Drinking:  Sauvignon Blanc.  Australian, to be exact.  I always enjoy a nice riesling but Summer 2014 has belonged to the Aussies.  Kim Crawford is a favorite although most offerings from the Marlborough region are quite tasty.  The wine bottle holds just enough acid to be crisp and it balances perfectly with fruity flavors.  These wines pair well with a lot of the dishes I eat during the summer months, like fish, fruit and veggie dense kale salads and grilled chicken.  The fruity and refreshing flavors that come from this grape are a perfect summer time pal.

Those are a few of my favorite things right now and I hope you have the chance to try them.

Meredith

Do you search for pet friendly hotels?  What’s your summer wine?

My First Pace Group and Myrtle Week One

After a much needed weekend off to shake off last week’s less than ideal long run, I began my ten week Myrtle Beach training with a solid round of workouts in Week One.  Monday and Tuesday are recapped here while Wednesday featured an eight miler with six at long run pace and the last two at half marathon pace.  Thursday was strength training with power clean and jerks to a new 1 rep max (yay!) and I rocked a great fifteen miler on Friday.  Yesterday was a light five and change mile run made up of two easy, two at 10k pace and a cool down to wrap up Myrtle Beach Week One.

Week Two features two tempo runs, two strength training days, one day of speed work and one fourteen miler but things heat up in Week Three.  Week Three of my Myrtle Beach Training includes the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach on 31 August.  I planned all along to use this as a long training run and because of that choice, I’m excited to announce I’ll be pace grouppacing the 2:15 group!  This will be a totally new experience for me.  The only other time I attempted to run with a pace group was my very first half marathon in Richmond, November 2012.

My goal was to finish under 2 hours with an elevated goal of breaking 1:55.00.  I found the 2 hour pace group at the Start and got ready to rock the race.  As soon as I crossed the line, something felt off.  I looked down at my watch when it beeped for the first mile and was shocked.  The 2 hour pace group had just clocked an 8:30!  I had been shooting to maintain a 9 minute pace so I forced myself to slow down and fall behind.  When the 2 hour group stopped for water a mile or two later, I passed them and never saw them again.  I ended up finishing in 1:54.04 then saw a lonely 2 hour pace sign cross minutes later.  Even though I was incredibly happy to have hit my sub 1:55 goal, I was disappointed and surprised the pace group had gone out so fast.  I felt for those who had counted on the pacers to keep them moving because we all know how going out too fast can ruin the final few miles of any race.

This is something I’ll be very aware of as my pacing buddy, our group and I cross the starting line to, hopefully, lead a few of our new friends to PRs at Rock n Roll Virginia Beach.  The pace for a 2:15 half is a hair slower than my easy recovery speed which makes me a little concerned I might try to pick it up.  I’m glad I’ll have my watch, a pacing pal and plenty of runners to help me keep it in check for my first pacing experience.  It’s going to be great to be exposed to a different side of racing and I hope I get to high-five lots of happy, successful runners at the Finish.

Meredith

Have you ever led pace group?  Is it something you would like to try?  Will you be running with me?

Back from Running Burn Out

I’m back from my running burn out.  I should never have burnt out to begin with.  I knew better.  When I wrote my post base building schedule I knew I would need to take a block of days off before rolling into my Myrtle Beach plan.  I figured I would just go ahead and do it at some point.  I didn’t.  I felt good, wasn’t hurt and kept running.

What a terrible idea.  I would never ask a client to do that.  Never expect them to.  Running an average of 35 miles for 18 weeks straight is ludicrous.  That’s what I get for not really paying attention.  Complete and total burn out.  I saw a few clients after my disastrous long run Friday then made my way home to take a much needed nap.  My legs felt like lead all day.  My upper body was tight and grumpy.  After foam rolling about 50 times, stretching, giving myself foot and calf massages and going to bed at 8pm Friday night, I burn outwoke up Saturday morning feeling marginally better.  I could have run if I had been forced to.  Luckily, I wasn’t, and Saturday and Sunday were total rest days.

Monday was supposed to be the beginning of my 10 week training plan for Myrtle Beach.  It wasn’t.  I opted to take this entire week with a medium amount of enthusiasm.  Light running, light weight lifting, a short long run and a hopefully completed 15 miler on fresh Friday legs.  No more burn out here.  With a plan in place and 80 hours of rest behind me, I felt 98% by Monday afternoon.  I was also very antsy to get out and see if my legs still worked.  I jogged two easy Monday miles.  It was fun and my legs still worked!  Disaster averted, burn out cured.

I did light strength training this morning and my legs are feeling better than they have in a long time.  I’m actually looking forward to running, and running hard, again.  I don’t need ten intense weeks to get ready to race.  Knowing I can get ready in nine makes having a light Week One just fine with me and the Friday 15 miler on my calendar lets me stay in line with the mileage for my ten week program even if the intensity is stepped down a bit.

The whole burn out thing was awful and it’s not something I’d ever like to deal with again.  I hope I’ve learned my lesson.  I know I’ll be much better off heading into the next nine weeks with fresh legs, a fresh mind and lots of excitement than fighting my way through ten weeks of tough workouts.  Bring on Race Day!

Meredith

How do you bounce back from burn out?  How often to you take breaks from running?

Play Week Five: Training Mayhem

Play Week Five originally had a 35 mile schedule.  Then it didn’t.  It’s been a week of wacky weather that dampened my plans more than once and I am ready for the fall at any moment.  Even with almost constant rearrangement wreaking havoc on my nicely planned schedule and wrapping Play Week Five up with a big reality check, it did manage to include 23 miles.  Here’s how they were supposed to happen, what really did and how I feel about it.

Monday:  LSD 10. 25 miles to go.
What really happened:  Got a late start and ended up on the dreadmill for a six mile tempo run.  In spite of the indoor situation and shortened half mile warm-ups and cool downs, I was happy kicking off the week with a 7 mile day.  28 to go.

Tuesday:  Heavy lifting.  Add a shake out run I knew I’d need after beating my legs up in the gym to make up Monday’s missed 3 miles and we’re right back on track.  25 to go.
What really happened:  Just the lifting.  I did give my legs a pretty good beating with lots of heavy deadlifts and tighten my calves up with lots of double unders.  I’m not sure why I didn’t force myself out to shake out later in the day but I didn’t.  Wasn’t motivated, wasn’t in the mood, something (a hint, perhaps?).  28 to go.

Wednesday:  800M repeats, 7 total miles.  21 to go.
What really happened:  It was humid and hot Wednesday morning but with rain in the forecast, I was excited to get some 800M repeats checked off on wet roads that afternoon.  Usually one to avoid the wet weather, I was looking to try out my new shoes on a slippery surface in case it’s not dry on race day.  I waited and waited and waited but the rains never came.  With dodgeball in the evening, I knew I had to do something before game time.  I canned the speed work, moved it to Saturday and settled for a recovery pace five mile shake out run at 4pm on a brutally hot afternoon.  23 to go.

Thursday:  Strength training.  Then I discovered would be able to do the 9am Crossfit class on Saturday with all my buddies.  I switched my now Saturday speed work with strength training and planned on running the 800M repeats I had missed Wednesday.  16 to go.
What really happened:  I woke up with a knee tweaked from dodgeball.  Thursday’s workout got tossed and I concentrated on Friday’s 15 miler.  Rest day, 23 to go.

Friday:  LSD 15.  8 to go.
What really happened:  LSD 11 and leg death.  With 90% humidity, the 75 degree day felt heavy from the first step.  I spent the first five miles running easily, feeling good about the next ten.  At mile six everything fell apart.  I started yawning uncontrollably (oxygen?), my legs said ‘no more’ and I could feel a blister starting to develop on my left foot.  I forced play week fivemyself to run five more miles for a grand total of 90 minutes and 11 miles.  During those final five miles I made a few decisions.

1)  My body was obviously trying to tell me something (see Tuesday shake out run that didn’t happen) and it’s time to listen.

2)  I am not running 12 more miles this week (see 3).

3)  I’m definitely burnt out.  I haven’t taken two days off in a row since the second week of April.  That was 18 weeks ago and it’s too much.  With three exceptions, including this one, each of those 18 weeks involved running at least 30 but up to 50 miles.  Even though most of my workouts have been decent lately, some better than others, my running hasn’t been where I want it to be.  Especially my long runs.  My legs are working hard and I’m getting nowhere.  They are exhausted.  I’ve never hit a wall or felt like this before.  This decline in performance can only mean it’s time to take a break.  Therefore:

4)  I’m taking the weekend, maybe longer, off.  A 23 mile week isn’t going to derail all of my hard work.  Some time off is going to make things better.  I probably should have thought of this sooner.  Should have even planned it.  I head into my 10 week Myrtle program Monday and would like to feel fresh.  (Note: I’m not entirely sure I know what ‘fresh’ feels like anymore.)  I’ll use the next two days to regroup, bathe in ice, foam roll, massage, work, sleep and maybe do a few push-ups.  That’s it.  And if I don’t feel better on Monday, well, I’ll just have to wait and see.

Meredith

Are you flexible with your workouts or do you stick to a plan like glue?  How do you handle burn out?

5 Reasons Runners Need Yoga

Yoga is a great addition to any running program and practicing it regularly can make you stronger, more flexible and better runner.  I originally posted a version of this on the FitNicePT Blog page (check it out, lots of great information) but it’s a valuable part of my training program, so I thought I’d share a few reasons why.  Even though I don’t take yoga classes and am certainly not the best yogi out there, I use poses to relax after yogaalmost every workout or run.  If you’re not currently including a little yoga after yours, here are 5 great reasons you should!

1.  Add yoga to increase flexibility.  Excessive flexibility through every joint and muscle can actually decrease running performance, but wearing shoes, working out and sitting in a chair all day reduces the important ability to move hips, ankles and knees in a normal range of motion.  Stretching restores the mobility to those joints, and a larger range of motion through the hips can increase stability.  Moveable ankles, stable hips and steady core muscles mean better efficiency and more speed when you’re running.

2.  Add yoga to breathe better.  Practicing yoga helps with breath control, making your body more effective when you’re working hard during a long training run, a grueling speed work session or hitting a race course.  Regulating your breath while add yogarunning can aid in keeping your heart rate down and help keep you from panting like an overheated canine.

3.  Yoga improves balance.  When you add yoga to your program, you’ll have better stability, your running form will improve and so will your efficiency.  Because most of us run in shoes and on roads, our balance can be underdeveloped.  Poor balance can make the body work extra hard to stay upright and on course, but when you have good balance, it’s a bit easier.  As a bonus, you’ll also be less likely to trip and fall the next time you hit a rocky section of the trail.

4.  Use yoga to compliment your running routine.  When gearing up for a big race and a new PR, use yoga disciplines like hatha or ananda to recover, stretch and relax.  During less intense training times, kick up your yoga practice and push your body by trying a tougher form like vinyasa or power yoga.

5.  Add yoga to decrease injuries.  Yoga improves alignment of your spine and knee joint.  Better alignment in combination with strengthening of the arches of your feet will lead to fewer injuries or chronic aches and pains.  Better balance will help lower the risk of a dangerous spill and relaxing stretched muscles means both quicker recovery from hard workouts and less soreness.

Ready to give yoga a try?  Find a studio near you and pick a few different classes to try.  Not every discipline works for every runner and you should be willing to give a few forms a chance to find your fit.  Take a look at this photo album for some of my favorite post run poses, then dive in!

Meredith

Do you yoga?  How often?  What’s your favorite pose?

Play Week Four: Training Review

Play Week Four was a very solid week.  I had a good group of strong runs and two great Crossfit workouts that left me feeling very optimistic about my odds of hitting my goals this fall.

Monday:  A very warm but not too humid 5K at 15 seconds faster than half marathon pace.  This was a really good workout in spite of the gnat that flew into my right eye just past the two mile mark.  The back to back fast runs, 1200M repeats on the dreadmill Sunday and the 5K Monday on pavement, felt especially good because I my pace was almost identical on both surfaces.

Tuesday:  AM:  Crossfit.  There was a lot of running in this workout, which suited me just fine.  I did three 800M sprints (1.5 miles less to go!), some medium weight squat cleans and a bunch of strict pull-ups that left me needing the evenings shake out run.
PM:  Three mile shake out run with Doug.  A nice, easy pace that got the blood flowing back into muscles I could tell needed a bit of TLC.

Wednesday:  Michigan Intervals.  Play Week Four rolled on with a workout I have learned to genuinely enjoy.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was as close to ideal as it’s been in a while with temperatures in the low 70s and humidity hovering around the 50% mark, either.  I came out of the gate a bit tight, as expected, but quickly loosened up to nail my speed sections and successfully get faster with each shorter distance while keeping a solid pace for my recoveries.

Thursday:  In preparation for Friday’s hard long run, I wanted to stay away from heavy lifting with my legs.  Luckily, the Crossfit workout had my upper body going to work with push presses and strict pull-ups followed by a dose of Annie.  My pull-ups are definitely improving and I hit a new record for double unders in a row (23!).  I’m actually beginning to LIKE them.  When did this happen?

Friday:  90 minute long run with 30 at or slightly faster than HM pace.  I was aiming for 11.5-12 miles and when I hit 11.5 at 87 minutes took my last three to cool it down.  I finished with 11.78.  It was warm and humid, though cloudy, and I spent most of the run hoping it would rain.  An outing I am definitely happy with, I had the extra bonus of running, me headed south, her headed north, into an old client around the 3.5 mile mark and chatting for a few minutes.  Yeah, yeah, I know, taking a break and letting my heart rate come down, yeah, yeah, but I still had 60 some minutes to go.  Stopping didn’t kill me and I’m really, really happy with this run.

Saturday:  Road Trip Rest Day.  Doug and I ventured up to Washington, D.C. to catch the third game of a Phillies at Nationals series.  The game was a massacre.  With both our starting pitcher and our manager being tossed in the second inning, my boys ended up losing 11-0 to the division leading Nats but we enjoyed ourselves after the obnoxious, profane fans in front of us were removed by security.

Sunday:  A nice little five miler around the Rosslyn, Arlington neighborhood.  I ran past and made a short stop at Arlington National Cemetery, by the Marine Corps Memorial, saw the Lincoln Memorial and enjoyed an easy, hill filled mini monument tour.  In spite of a bit of humidity and a mild fear of getting lost (I didn’t!), it was great way to wrap up a 34 mile week.

Play Week Four is in the books and I am extremely happy with how it went.  Next week brings 35 miles with it and the weather looks to be wet.  Or at least humid.  I have four weeks until RnR Virginia Beach and five weeks until my first real race effort of Fall 2014, the Bay Days 8K.  I’m ready to get going and see how much my training has paid off.

Meredith

How was your week?  Do you like exploring when you get out for a run in a new place?