Monthly Archives: February 2015

More Snow + 15 Great Miles

Well, there is more snow on the ground here in Virginia Beach.  After last week’s fun run in the snow led to a series of school cancellations and bad roads, things started to clear up just in time to be undone.

There were three mid-day hours of snow predicted for Tuesday that turned out to be light flurries by the the time I took off for an easy five miler at 1:30 that afternoon.  I had been very excited for my first run in the snow this year and while I wasn’t as excited for this one, it was fun to run in a real life snow globe again.  The light flurries were still falling when I finished but bymore snow the time I foam rolled, stretched and showered, it was coming down hard.  Uh-oh.  Horror settled in as I imagined running Wednesday’s 14 miler on a treadmill.  As more snow continued to fall Tuesday evening, I hoped the weather guessers were right it would get up into the 40s on Wednesday and melt it off the roads I wanted to run on.

Wednesday morning didn’t look good.  The roads were snowy, slushy and unsafe.  Ugh.  I remained hopeful things would clear up but also resigned myself to a treadmill run.  In an effort to shorten the afternoon’s torture, I racked up four morning miles on the rower and was very happy when the sun popped out to warm things up.  By 2:30 the roads were clear, the air felt like 38 degrees and I was pumped to run 11 miles outside.  Ecstatic, actually.

more snowAs excited as I was about the weather, I was a bit nervous about the running would go.  It had been a while since my last 15 mile day and rowing is hard work.  I was concerned it had taken more out of me than I expected.  Needless to say, I was shocked when I hit my 10th running mile and felt amazing.  I don’t know whether it was the warm day, the sunshine or fear of the treadmill that more snowmade my legs feel so good, but I was pretty sure I could have cruised right through another 5k.

More snow was predicted Wednesday night and I scheduled an unplanned rest day for today.  This is what things looked like then I finished my run yesterday and what they looked like this morning.  I guess it isn’t really a total rest day, I did do a workout consisting of moving the sleet covered fluff around, foam rolling and stretching.  I’m really happy with the way yesterday went and can’t wait to get away from the treadmill for more than a few days in a row.  There are two weeks until Rock n Roll DC, where hopefully there won’t be any more snow, and I’m ready to see where I am in my training.

Meredith

How much snow do you have?  How do you deal with lots of treadmill miles?

The Last Two Week’s Workouts!

I started my 12 week training plan for the Prairie Fire Half Marathon two weeks ago.  The theme over the last two week’s workouts seems to have been ‘treadmills’.  With snow, ice and temperatures below freezing, outdoors hasn’t been much of an option and I’ve been spending an uncomfortable number of miles pounding the belt of a machine.two week's workouts

Most of my running, in spite of the boring-ness, has been pretty solid.  I’ve been happy with my paces and feel good.  I just can’t take the treadmill anymore.  Running 40 of my last 48 miles on them has been a beat down I definitely wasn’t prepared for heading into a spring PR effort.  My knees ached, my hips hurt and my shoulder started bothering me all during yesterday’s 14 miler.  I think at one point I was delirious.  I’m excited for the Prairie Fire and can’t wait to get back outside!  I know I haven’t done a training update lately, so here are the last two week’s workouts.

Monday:  1600M intervals in the cold.
Tuesday:  Rest!
Wednesday:  Interval work, 800-800-400×2.
Thursday:  Run 7 miles.
Friday:  Heavy lifting.
Saturday:  LSD 13 @ 7:40, treadmill.
Sunday:  Heavy lifting.

Monday:  8 miles in the snow!
Tuesday:  Rest.
Wednesday:  5 Race Pace miles, treadmill.
Thursday:  6.5 run, treadmill.
Friday:  Heavy lifting.
Saturday:  Long run, 14 treadmill.
Sunday:  Heavy lifting, run/row  (3.5 miles).  39 miles for the week!

That’s what the last two week’s workouts have been.  I’m excited to get down to business over the next 10 weeks, which include pacing at Shamrock and a fun run at RnR DC, to rock my Kansas race in May.  I’m ready to run outside again, even if it’s cold, and can definitely not handle any more treadmill runs for at least a few days.

Meredith

How has your winter been?  Do you like or not like the treadmill?

Snow Day 2015!

I got my wish of having at least one run in the snow this winter!

Monday morning was cold and, surprise, windy.  The weather forecast claimed the day’s high would be 23 but the morning’s 15mph winds would quiet down in the afternoon as snow rolled in.  I held out for the actual temperature to rise above 20 degrees (forget the feels like, I’d never make it out) and the softer winds.  Around 2:30, actual temp hit 21, feels like hit 15 and I suited up in stockings, long tights, wool socks, tank, long sleeve snow daylayer, fuzzy half zip top, ear warmer and gloves.  I stepped out the door just as a few flakes started to fall.  YES! 

It had been a long time since I ran with snow in my face and the very light snowfall was exactly what I wanted.  Every person who saw me probably thought I was nuts.  Crazy runners.  Around Mile 3 I was more than plenty warm in all of my layers but very glad for those wool socks.  The snow started coming down a bit harder as each of my next six miles passed and I lsnow dayoved it.  All eight miles were a blast.

Post run, I settled in for dinner and, hopefully, the first, maybe only, snow day of 2015.  After staying in my nice warm bed a little longer than usual, I eased into the day with some quality Twitter time and breakfast.  Next up was cleaning off the car.  Doug had already shoveled the driveway since we only own one shovel but my car was still piled with the white stuff.  The snow day snow was topped with a layer of ice.  I broke the sheets up and we pulled together to lift huge chunks of ice off the roof, trunk and hood.  It actually made for pretty quick work and Jordy definitely enjoyed chasing the strange snowballs.

By mid-afternoon stir crazy set in.  I had a rest day scheduled, which was handy since everything was closed and the roads were a snow day no running zone.  To the movies we went!  Once out of the neighborhood the roads were pretty clear and American Sniper was a fantastic film.  Snow day was a big success and my run in the falling snow was the perfect way to kick off a week that will include plenty of quality time with the treadmill.

Meredith

What do you do when you have a snow day?  Have you seen American Sniper?

Enough Wind + prAna Discount!

Enough with the wind, already!  It’s not the temperatures hanging out below 40 that bother me, it’s the incessant winter wind.  It’s so much work.  So much so that I should probably take it into account when I log my miles.

My last five outdoor runs featured winds at roughly 18, 13, 16, 17 and 14mph with gusts up to 30 and rare moments of stillness.  The days I’ve stayed in, it’s been exclusively to avoid even stronger winds.  Honestly?  Every single day?  I’m tired of my visor almost being blown off.  What I really don’t understand is how I can run around a square park and have a headwind on three sides.  Should there not be a crosswind at some point?  Can I get a crosswind?  A tailwind is great when I can get it, but it doesn’t help enough to make up for the hard work I’ve had to be going the other way.  Maintaining speed in a 10mph headwind can have energy costs of up to 8%.  In 20mph winds, it’s closer to 20%.  Ugh.

If I’m going to battle the wind and burn extra energy, I’d at least like to know it’s going to end.  Unfortunately, the forecast for the next seven days doesn’t look like much of an improvement.  Highs are all below 40 and winds are all above 15mph (up to 45!) with the exception of Friday.  It might snow Tuesday and I kind of hope it does.  I haven’t had the chance to run in the snow in too long and would really enjoy it just once this winter.  I have my 14 mile long run scheduled for Friday when the winds will soften to 5-10mph and the high will be a lovely 32.  I might try to head outside one other day this week (come on, snow!) but it looks like I’ll be spending some quality time with a treadmill.

I know running in all that wind is making me a better runner.  The resistance is great for strength and learning to run on fatigued legs.  Coaches put runners in chutes all the time to create the effect I have from simply walking out my door and turning left (or right).wind  At some point, though, enough is enough.  I’m ready for a break!

When I’m not busy fighting the wind, I have done a pretty good job of sticking with my 30 Day Take the Leap Challenge.  I’m not sure if I’m any more flexible but taking the time to actually be quiet and take some deep breaths has definitely been nice.  And, there’s a BONUS!  As part of the 12 day Bring Yoga Back Challenge, prAna is offering a 15% discount through 28 February!  Use code leapnpinks15 to order your new gear and save.

Meredith

How much wind do you deal with?  How do you stay positive when you know it’s going to be a hard run?

Barefoot Running on the Beach

It’s Wednesday already!  This week’s workouts are going well, even though it is cold and windy outside so today’s workout was pushed to the treadmill, I hope the short speed work sessions keeps things on track (or belt).  Last week’s workouts wrapped up with an easy out-and-back three miler on the sand in gorgeous weather.  I was really excited to leave my shoes behind and get in some winter barefoot running on the beach.

I’m a big fan of working out and running barefoot.  I spend the summer running at least once a week in deep sand and spend as much time as possible in the gym barefoot or, when it’s cold, just socks.  The barefoot running movement has gained, and lost, steam over the last few years.  Some runners swear by it, saying it keeps them injury free and happy, while others can’t barefoot running on the beachimagine leaving their trusty running shoes behind.  I believe if it feels good, do it, but I also think it’s helped my pavement running get better, too.  Here are a few of the reasons I make sure to incorporate getting sandy into my training plans.

Barefoot running on the beach in the mushy, giving sand, or even running in the sand with shoes, makes the contact time between your foot and the ground longer.  This lessens stress on the legs, hips and knees.  During high mileage weeks, this is a great way to protect my body and distract my mind.

This increase in contact time also means quads, hamstrings, calves and foot muscles have to work a little bit harder to get that leg through its cycle.  A study by The Journal of Experimental Biology found running on the sand can be up to 50% more difficult than running the same pace on the road.  Shorter but equally effective workout?  Yes, please!  Especially for shakeout or recovery runs, the sand makes sure I keep my pace easy.

All of the slipping and rolling that comes along with barefoot running on the beach requires small muscles, tendons and ligaments in my knees, ankles and feet to work harder.  Strong ankles and feet mean more stable road running and less likelihood of common running injuries.

It’s cool.  Yes, the a few steps through the surf works wonders but running barefoot on the beach ensures my feet get lots of air and the constant ocean breeze, or wind, helps keep my core temperature down.

Barefoot running on the beach means a shorter workout, less strain on my body, lovely scenery and stronger feet.  That means it’s good for every other mile I rack up, too.

Meredith

Do you use barefoot running in your training?  Where?  Why or why not?

Olives! + this Week’s Workouts

I’m not usually an olive eater or martini drinker.  OK, a vodka based fruity martini every now and then, definitely.  Gin?  No, thanks.  I always associate olives with the big salty stuffed ones I don’t like so when I saw a giveaway on the SweatList Facebook page, I was on the fence about entering.  I ended up going for it, knowing that if I won, I would at least be forced to try pearl's olivessomething new.  A few days later I had completely forgotten about my entry but seen a few posts about how much other ladies enjoyed them.  Then…

Much to my surprise, a package was waiting at home for me Thursday night.  Olives!  I received two four packs of Pearl’s Black Pitted Olives and a super cute bright yellow lunch box that will definitely be used.  Unfortunately, I was making a quick turnaround to go out for dinner and didn’t want to spoil my appetite.  Friday got shot down with an out-of-town emergency but I eventually got to sit down and try my prize Saturday afternoon.pearl's olives

The first olive I can ever recall eating by choice, I popped an entire one right in and chewed away.  Not too shabby!  With only big green stuffed salty martini olive to compare Pearl’s Black Pitted Olives to, I must say they are a massive improvement.  I would even eat more than one.  I did eat more than one.  I like the portable containers they come in, each one holding 10 olives and no liquid, but I do wish there was a way to reseal them.  Ten olives is a lot for a newbie to munch on in one sitting.  I’m not sure they’ll become my go-to but it’s good to know there’s another healthy snack out there I enjoy.

On to this week’s workouts:

Monday:  Body weight strength workout.
Tuesday:  5 treadmill miles.  3 at 6:40, 1 warm (7:50), 1 cool (8:00).
Wednesday:  90 minute long run at 8:00 pace (11.25 miles).
Thursday:  Rest!  Lots of foam rolling and calf stretching.
Friday:  Overhead squats, box jumps and a very easy 2 mile run (8:45).
Saturday:  Very headwindy 7 mile run at whatever felt good pace (average 7:40).
Sunday:  Heavy power cleans and easy 3 mile sand run.

Next week kicks off training for Prairie Fire in May and the cycle includes a trip to the nation’s capitol for Rock n Roll DC one week before pacing the 1:52 group at Shamrock.

Meredith

Do you eat olives?  Why or why not?  What was your best workout this week?

Can You Run Too Much? My Thoughts

Can you run too much?  If you have a serious health issue, are in brutal weather conditions you aren’t prepared for, doing a workout way above your ability level, are over training or any other myriad of things, you sure can.  If you’re an average person, running an average pace for an average distance, just trying to stay active, odds are you’re not going to run too much.

So what’s with all the rejoicing over this study that claims jogging too much is dangerous?  The media jumped right on it and has been all abuzz the last few days.  Here’s what WebMD run too muchreported.  And the BBC.  How about New York Magazine?  I could keep linking to articles, but you get the idea.

Why is this study, which is full of holes, going viral?  There’s little acknowledgement of the ‘don’t run too much’ study’s numerous shortcomings.  Why are these outlets so excited to tell everyone they don’t have to run?  They already knew 30 minutes of any physical activity five days a week will have benefits.  Riding a bike, going for a walk, yoga, swimming, all not running.  All great.

What is going on with the running haters?  Why is NYMag calling this ‘cool news’?  There is an epidemic of obesity in America.  It is costing taxpayers and insurance premium payers millions of dollars each year.  But the running industry has grown massively over the last ten years and made an effort to help fix that problem.  Running has been a phenomenal way for people to build relationships, get healthy while earning same fancy bling and do things they never believed they could much more than it’s caused harm.  Why so much enthusiasm for not doing it?

Yes, I am a fitness professional.  I help people reach their goals and I love it.  I’m also a passionate runner who spends every single day interacting with people who exceed the ‘thirty minute’ recommendation, whether it’s jogging or another modality.  Of course I’m going to stick up for my profession and my sport.  I know running isn’t for everyone, and that’s just fine.  In fact, there is research into the effects of extreme endurance sports on cardiovascular remodeling.  This study explains some of the real reasons you might want to slow down a bit but asking if you can run too much and supporting your answer with a different study that says it’s a simple ‘yes’ unfairly turns people away from an activity that could potentially be a huge benefit to them is sad.

The answer isn’t simple.  There are too many people with too many body types and too many health histories to make any kind of judgement about what whether the collective ‘you’ can run too much.  So…can you run too much?  Yes.  But you can also run too little.  The media should be pushing education about making competent choices with your body and listening to how it responds instead of jumping on, and pushing, an unreliable study.

Meredith

What’s your opinion?  What do you think the research shows?

My First Painting + Two Birds

My weekend was filled with avian friends.  Saturday was spent with two birds, the first of those two birds was a living one that gave me some serious excitement Saturday morning and the second was the pelican in my very first painting.  The weekend’s final feathered event was Superbowl XLIX and I was pulling for a Seattle win.

Thursday and Friday afternoons I had heard something thunking around in the attic above my office.  Saturday morning Doug climbed up there to see what it was.  He said he could see a black bird that seemed to be injured.  A-ha!  We called around to find someone to save it but before help could arrive, I heard a scratching at the attic opening and saw Jordy going ballistic below it.  The little rascal was trying to escape!  I closed all of the upstairs doors and opened the attic.  I figured a loose bird in the house would be easy enough to shoo out the front door (please don’t poop!).  A few minutes later, nothing had flapped by.  I went back to find the small bird hanging on the two birdsedge of the attic’s opening.  It definitely knew some fresh air had come from that direction and wanted out.  The bird didn’t seem to want to fly, so I gloved up, found a box and procured a towel.  After a quick getting-to-know-you flap and squawk, I wrapped the very pretty starling in a towel and was trying to lower it into the box when I realized its leg was stuck to something.  Unbeknownst to me, we had traps left up there from last year’s roof rat infestation removal process and the bird’s foot was in one.  A bit of maneuvering later, I safely got the surprisingly calm bird, both legs, a warm towel and the attached trap into the box and onto front porch.  Animal control came shortly thereafter and took the trouble two birdsmaker to, hopefully, fix things up and let it fly away.

Next up on my Saturday of two birds was the Pouty Pelican.  A friend of a friend runs Paint the Town and after rescuing one little bird, I was ready to memorialize it by painting another that evening.  I am not much of a painter.  Or sculptor, or graphic designer, or photographer, for that matter, so I was also a little bit nervous my Pouty Pelican would end up looking like a finger painting.  Luckily, Heather is a great teacher, makes everything simple and ensures everyone has a good time.  It’s fun to see all of the different styles and to put your own interpretation into the picture.  I went with a punk rock feel, initially not on purpose, by doing more of a mohawk than head feathers, but I think she turned out just fine.  From a blank canvas to some circles and streaks and finally to my finished product, two birdsI had a wonderful time creating this pouty, punky little pelican.

The weekend wrapped up with the Superbowl.  Even though my Eagles were out, I stuck with the bird theme and was rooting for Seattle.  Things ended a more disappointingly for them then it did with my other two birds, but there’s always next year, right?

Meredith

Have you done a painting event?  Who were you pulling for in Superbowl XLIX?