Monthly Archives: February 2016

Marathon Training Plan Changes

My One City Marathon training plan has actually been more of a roller coaster than a race training cycle.  I was super excited, maybe even anxious, to get it started.  I went overboard.  I ran a bazillion 20+ milers.  Marathon training burnout happened.  But I have a race in 15 days and it’s time to get back in gear to see what I can accomplish on 13 March.  With a new plan in place two weeks out, I am ready to finish this thing.marathon training plan

My original marathon training plan went down in flames.  It was a program I’d never ask a client to do so I figured I’d try it on myself.  Total backfire.  Too much, too soon and for too long.  I thought back to back half marathons in January would break things up but it didn’t.  As a result, my training was getting worse instead of better.  My long runs were completed but not always what they needed to be.  My speed work was solid and my lifting felt good.  It was those long runs.  Back logged fatigue and failure to recover along with not taking easy days easy enough added up.

Knowing I have the ability to finish this race while not getting injured I completely changed the last three weeks of my marathon training plan.  Instead of continuing to push for another week I decided to take a few days off, concentrate on making my body feel better, reevaluate my race day goals and figure out what my next series of workouts should be.  I started with three days of rest.

Monday was a total recovery day with tons of foam rolling, lacrosse balling, banded distractions and other mobility work.  Tuesday I did some heavy upper body strength training, rode my bike five miles and walked in the sand ring at EquiKids for over an hour.  Wednesday was another day of mobility work but the foam rolling didn’t feel nearly as bad for as long as it did on Monday.

Yesterday I was happy to trot through a nice little jog in wind with gusts up to 35.  It felt good for all four miles including a 400ish meter pick up I did at the 2.5 mark.  My legs were the freshest they’ve been in quite a while and this morning I felt great.  I slept like a champ, my body seems happy with a little work to do and my attitude has definitely improved.  Three days off when I should be peaking isn’t ideal but I needed it.  I’ve reset my mind and totally taken the pressure off to perform at a high level on race day.  I’ll be running 26.2 miles, not racing them.  Yes, I’ll still be shooting for a 3:30 but a 3:45 won’t crush me like it would have a week ago.  There’s always another marathon, right?

I’ll be taking this more relaxed attitude into tomorrow’s 20 miler.  Who cares what happens?  I know I’ll finish.  With my new marathon training plan in place, I’ll still have plenty of time to taper and the chance to get things right heading onto the race course.

Meredith

Have you ever changed your plan so close to race day?  Why?

Mascots + Marathon Training Overkill

training overkillIf you have ever attended a sporting event with me, you know I love mascots.  So you can imagine my excitement when Doug and I went to a Norfolk Admirals game Friday night and stepped directly into mascot central.  Before heading to our seats we snapped this photo with Hat Trick and Salty who are both adorable.  The game was fun as usual but the mascots definitely made my night.

While the hockey game was good, my weekend long run was not.  I’m a little over two weeks from my first marathon ever and believe I have entered the marathon training overkill zone.  I had 20+ miles scheduled but my heart and mind weren’t in it when I quit at 15 with exhausted legs.  It is the first long run I’ve bailed on without some serious pain.  And to be honest, I wasn’t even disappointed.  I just wanted it to be over.  Desperately.  I’ll force myself through hit twenty again next weekend with another week to taper and then look forward, hopefully, to race day.

Even with not so great long runs, the rest of my training has gone really well and my speed work is still good.  My long runs have been getting worse instead of better most likely because I was incredibly over enthusiastic about training for this race and started roughly three weeks before I should have.  Six 20+ mile runs in one training plan, especially for a first time marathoner (no matter how fit), is just a bad idea.  And I knew that when I kicked things off in December but…

I mistakenly thought that breaking the schedule up with January’s Back to Back challenge would help keep me fresh.  It didn’t.  It might have completely back fired.  My legs are tired.  Deep down muscle tired.  My head and heart are trying to bail on me.  This training overkill makes it pretty appropriate I posted about beating the bad workout blues last week and about getting out of your fitness rut yesterday.  My fueling, sleeping and recovery are good but right now they’re not good enough.  The only solution I see is to take a few days off of everything except foam rolling and biking to work then hope for the best.

There’s always another marathon if I feel like it.  Luckily, I’m not worried about finishing this one and having to get back after it in the near future.  I know I have the strength, fitness and mental toughness to gut through 26.2+ miles.  Hopefully I’ll shake this marathon training overkill in the next few days, get my mind right and head into the last 14 days of my training cycle with a good final long run and solid race on the horizon.

Meredith

Have you ever had training overkill?  How did you solve it?

Fit Friday: Bad Workout Blues

The bad workout blues are an unwritten part of every training plan.  A less than perfect run or strength session is bound to happen at some point during a 12 to 16 week training cycle.  When it does happen, a bad workout can turn your day upside down but hopefully it doesn’t happen often or cause injury.  I battled through a few while prepping for my first marathon and learned a few important things about beating the bad workout blues.  Here are the ways I avoid or treat them to bounce back quickly.

Get enough sleep.  I love sleeping but that doesn’t mean I always get enough.  I try really hard to stay on a bedtime and wake-up schedule so I’m at least getting as much shut eye as I can.  Sleep allows your body time to heal from your last workout and since your next workout is only as good as your recovery, it makes perfect sense sleep is a key element.  Having a sleepless night can wreak havoc on your body and suck out tons of the energy you plan on using for bad workouttraining.  Thankfully, one great thing about sleep is the human body’s ability to catch up on it.  On the rare occasion I’m not hopping out of bed bright and early for work or a long run, I take the chance to sleep as late as I can and you should, too.

Eat right.  At least aim for the 80/20 rule.  Fueling your body with the right things is just as important as getting enough sleep.  Whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies along with less sugar (unfortunately that does include booze).  I’m also caffeine free, no coffee or soda which helps me sleep.  On a two hour run I can burn around 2,000 calories and I want to be sure I’m replacing them with quality food items (maybe a well deserved glass/es of wine, too).  All that eating kicks the digestive system on and to work properly, it needs lots of water.  Proper hydration before, during and after a session is also super important.

Have good goals and track workouts.  Set a good goal (check out my goal setting series on YouTube).  Write it down.  Look at it every single day.  Journal your workouts and how you felt before, during and after them.  Or check the weather constantly while seeing how much you can shuffle your schedule like I do.  Knowing what’s coming keeps me focused and on track, prevents boredom and make me accountable, even if only to myself.  Having a record of what happened before a bad workout turns each one into a learning experience that stops them from happening in the future.

Listen to your body.  Bad workouts can be a sign of over training or injury.  Mix up cardio days with yoga, swimming and lifting days.  When I start feeling worn down, unusually sore or grouchy or dreading the gym, I know it’s time for an extra day off.  I’m also not afraid to call it quits when a workout is on a bad path.  One short session won’t derail my training and might prevent an injury.  Listen to what your body says and take it seriously.

Meredith

How do you deal with the bad workout blues?

Marathon Training Run 10

Marathon training run 10 could also have been known as the pretty decent turned bad run.  So what went wrong?  The biggest bump in the road was the low grade fever I’m pretty sure I was running, no pun intended, for at least the last hour.  Add that to temperatures never rising above 30, having bumped the run up a day due to weather and the angriest calves I’ve ever had, I’m glad I finished it at all.  I’m even happier that least half of it was good.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, I opted to move this 20 miler to Friday because of weather.  Predictions for the entire weekend had highs in the mid-twenties and wind pushing 30 mph.  All the time.  Friday with it’s high twenties temps and winds of 5-10mph looked much more training run 10manageable.  After a few hours working on my feet, extra mobility work and eating an extra breakfast, I was off.

The first 12 miles of training run 10 were excellent.  I felt good, was plenty warm, had water at Miles 6 and 9.5 with my first energy gel at Mile 8.  My pace was comfortable, hovering around 7:55, with a few pick-ups for some downhills even when I started to notice a bit of posterior chain fatigue around Mile 10.  Then it all went the other direction.  I couldn’t bring my heart rate down or take a deep breath.  My calves were screaming and my hamstrings weren’t being very peachy either.  I somehow maintained my pace for a few more miles, stopping to stretch and have my second energy gel at Mile 14.5.  Stopping was a bad idea.  I’m not sure how I got my legs moving again.  By Mile 17 I was starting to feel a little bit lightheaded.  By 17.5 I wasn’t sure how I was moving.  From there to Mile 19 I averaged an 8:10 pace but it felt like walking.  Mile 19 was back on track as I saw the finish line and knew I was that much closer to a nap.

I couldn’t hit the stop button on my watch fast enough and ran 20.00 miles in 2:39.  That does not include the 60+ second stop I took at Mile 14.5.  When I got inside I immediately rolled my calves and hamstrings.  After that I didn’t want to sit, or stand, or lie down.  I finally know what it feels like to leave everything out there.  Not one more running step was happening unless my life depended on it.  Never ever had I felt like that.  I fidgeted through some food, more rolling and a shower in the next 45 minutes.  Packed in compression gear, I stacked pillows, put my feet up and took a nap.  Never ever have I fallen asleep less than an hour after running more than an easy 5k.

I’m chalking training run 10’s trouble up to the fever I fought for the next two days.  Moving the run up a day and having to be on my feet for a few hours before the run didn’t help, nor did the 10 minutes of calf mobility work, the cold temperatures and sleepless Thursday night.  I’ve kicked the fever and my head feels clear heading into the last four weeks before I hit the road for my first marathon.

Meredith

What do you do if you feel sick on a run?  How do you adjust for a run later in the day?

Lululemon Wunder Under Pant Review

I purchased a pair of Lululemon’s Wunder Under Pant a few months ago and have really liked them.  They’re different than my other Lulu pants in a few ways.  They’re a different fabric, a full length tight and have only a single pocket.  After a few wears in several environments, here are the things I like about these tights in order of importance.wunder under pant

Fabric:  Nothing matters about workout gear if the fabric is awful.  Itchy, soggy, saggy anything can ruin a good sweat session.  Thankfully, Lululemon got this one right.  Slightly thicker than some of Lulu’s other fabrics, these “Full-On Luon” pants make for great outdoor workout gear.  Indoors they can be a bit warm for my taste.  The Wunder Under Pant is a built to be both “sweat-wicking” and “four-way stretch” which will provide comfortable and dry conditions through any combination of movements.

Functionality:  A “versatile, no-fuss” pant, the Wunder Under Pant can be worn for just about anything.  What it comes down to for me is pockets.  If I can fit my gels, key and ID in my pants without any additional equipment, I’m happy.  I love the functionality of a single massive pocket that can hold up to 3 gels along with a key and an ID in front of my left hip.  Even if they’re not a running specific tight, I definitely run in them and will continue to do so.  For the Crossfitters and obstacle course racers out there, they also feel sturdy enough to survive a missed box jump or tackle any obstacle without tearing wide open.Wunder Under Pant

Fit:  Designed to give a “hugged sensation”, the Wunder Under Pant doesn’t disappoint.  Snug without being constricting I’ve never once had to pull them up after a 400M repeat or set of toes to bar.  There’s no fear they might slip down or ride up.  The length is just right for low socks in the gym or high ones for a cold weather run and with complimentary hemming available at all stores, you can always make sure they’re just right.

Quality:  I’ve had good experiences with the quality of Lulu products across the board.  When one of my bra inserts was eaten by the washing machine, they were happy to replace it.  I’ve heard that pilling is a potential problem but I have had no issues with washing the tights on  regular or heavy in cold water and air drying (as with all of my workout gear).  Without the heat of a dryer, the size hasn’t changed, seams are solid and the fabric feels the same as it did on day one.

Price:  At $98 the Wunder Under Pant is a middle of the road price point for the store.  There are definitely less expensive options out there but with all of the positives I’ve already mentioned, they’re worth it.  When I have a marathon to run, the ability to pack all of my gels without an additional piece of equipment is priceless.

Meredith

**All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated in any way for this post.**

What do you look for first in workout gear?  What will you compromise on?

Marathon Training Run 9 (11 miles)

Training run 9 was my long run for the final ‘short’ long run of my One City Marathon training cycle.  Next up are two big ones before taper crazy time sets in.  My legs were tired from a tough speed workout Friday that I definitely didn’t properly recover from (no post run compression, not enough time with the Rumble Roller) and it probably didn’t help my body much getting over a hard workout that I had barely eaten anything Thursday due to some Wednesday night food that didn’t sit exactly right.  Excuses being made, training run 9 was actually really good.

Since a shorter run was on the ‘down week’ schedule but I still wanted to get in a decent workout, I decided to finish up my run at half marathon pace.  A finish fast long run even if it wasn’t that long.  I locked in a to run 10 or 12 miles depending on how my legs left when I hit 7 with a plan to run 8 at marathon pace and 2 at half marathon pace or 9 and 3.

It took me and my lazy legs about 3 miles to really get in a groove but there was very little wind on a beautifully crisp morning so I couldn’t complain.  Unbeknownst to me, a 4 mile race in conjunction with Polar Plunge 2016 would be racing down the Boardwalk towards me for the bulk of Miles 2 and 3 that was a nice distraction from my slightly grumpy body.

Coming off the boardwalk just before Mile 4.5 I had a shoe retie and calf stretch then rolled on training run 9to water at Mile 6 around 47 minutes.  I debated downing my GU a mile earlier than planned so I could have water with it but held off.  When I did open it at Mile 7, about 55 minutes in, the legs were barking a bit and I decided to meet my plan in the middle and wrap up with a total of 11 miles for the day.  Marathon pace for 8, half marathon pace for 2 and one final mile back at marathon pace.

Feeling decent, I rolled through to Mile 8 and accelerated with surprising ease when my watch beeped.  The next two miles went really well.  It felt good to pick up the pace and actually made my legs feel better than they had when I started.  The last mile, though, didn’t exactly feel like the cool down I had expected.  When I first came off the gas, I slowed down more than intended without really noticing and it took me a good 500M to settle back at a slightly faster marathon pace.  I ran through an easy last 1,000 meters to finish feeling good.

With a good training run 9 behind me and two more 20/20+ milers on my plate before two taper weeks, I’m starting to get excited about conquering my first marathon in 35 short days.

Meredith

How did you feel five weeks before your first marathon?  How long did you taper?

Fit Friday: Join a Running Club

No matter where you live, there’s sure to be a local running club you’re welcome to join.  I’m a member of the Tidewater Striders, a local group that covers all of Hampton Roads.  I’m awful at running clubtaking full advantage of all the things that come with my membership but love that they’re here if it does fit my schedule.  Earlier this week I published a post explaining the great benefits of hooking up with your local running club and it made me realize I might try a little harder to be more involved.  If you’re not already part of your local group, here are some good reasons you should join.

Runners are social.  Let’s face it.  When we’re not actually running, or even when we are, most of us can’t stop talking about running.  We love to drink beer and talk about what fuels our long runs.  These are the people who can relate to all of the things your non-running friends think make you crazy.  Running with a group and hanging out afterwards build strong friendships no matter what your speed.

Motivation.  We’ve all considered bailing on a run when the weather’s bad, too many cocktails went down last night or we’re sore.  When a friend, or whole lot of them, is counting on you to help them get those miles in, it makes missing a training run much harder.  We want to be out there with friends most of the time.  Miles go by much faster with some conversation and encouragement.  The accountability running with a group provides helps you stay on track towards hitting your next goal.

Guidance.  Yes, I’m a running coach and I know lots of about it but there is inevitably going to be someone with more experience, more speed or more injuries in a big group.  It’s a great opportunity to learn from the experiences of other people without having to fight through shin splints on my own.  I can usually get all the details on a race I’m interested in and some reviews without hitting the internet.  Finding someone faster isn’t too hard, which is great because running with someone faster helps make me faster.  A big group of runners is a library full of knowledge that’s just waiting for you dive in.

Safety.  Early morning and night are both dangerous times to run on the road and trail.  With a group or at least one friend who has the same workout scheduled on the same day to join you, you’re a whole lot less likely to get hit by a car or worse.  Two blinking red lights are better than one.

A few more extras that come with joining include discounts at running stores and races as well as community service opportunities.  I love supporting the small local races that fill the club’s calendar.  To find the closest local running club to you, check out the RRCA website and search by state.

Meredith

Do you belong to a local running club?  Which one?  What are your favorite things about it?

Marathon Training Run 8 (20+ Miles)

Marathon training run 8 is in the books.  A massive improvement from training run 7, I feel back on track with my One City Marathon prep even though it wasn’t one of my strongest outings.  I had thought about holding it off until Sunday to help me recover from a very hard speed workout Thursday but knew a long run on tired legs wouldn’t kill me.  Instead, it would help me build some marathon mental toughness and I suited up Saturday morning.  Of course, as if I wasn’t already on the fence, to add a little more ‘maybe you should wait’ incentive, I had forgotten to charge my watch and knew it wouldn’t last the entire three hour workout.

Well, I was already dressed, stretched and rolled.  I changed my route to an out and back so I would know how much ground I covered when my watch did kick it, packed up one GU and one CarbBoom, hoped my watch would at least make it half way and took off.

I felt pretty decent through the first hour.  The morning was chilly but warmed quickly with the sun as my tired legs finally woke up at Mile 3.  Running into friends at Mile 5 was a helper and the soft hills from Miles 6 to 9.5 gave me something other than ‘my legs are so tired’ to think about.  I had stopped for water at Mile 6 then rocked through my first gel at the sixty minute/Mile 7.5 mark.  Right on my beat up legs goal pace (7:55-8:00/mile), I was happy to feel gel’s caffeine give my legs a boost as I headed back to water at Mile 9.5.

The perk didn’t last long.  I hit my turnaround at Mile 11 thinking ‘all I have to do is make it home.’  Not really.  My return route included a detour back through those rolling hills of Miles 6 to 9.5.  Just before reaching my Mile 12ish water stop I heard the fatal ‘low battery’ beep.  At 12.6 miles, I had some water then rested a minute to drop satellites, switch into just time mode at 1:40 (still right on pace) and stretch my yapping hamstrings out.

One less watch face icon later, training run 8 was back in gear.  The distance to my detour’s turnaround felt shorter the second time around and now I really did just have to make it home.  With a basic idea of the day’s mileage and massive muscle fatigue dragging me down, I bailed on three hours and vowed to just finish at least twenty miles.  No injuries for me!  I have several more chances to cover big distances and was positive I was getting a great workout no matter how many more minutes I ran.  My second gel at Mile 15ish (the two hour reading) then water at Mile 16ish put me on the home stretch.

With a little math and knowing roughly my mile markers, I determined I was right on my goal pace through Mile 17.  That changed when I turned south onto the boardwalk for my last two and change miles.  Welcomed by a 10+ mile an hour headwind on already exhausted legs my pace definitely dropped.  As I shuffled through at a still happy to be moving pace, I hit what I estimated to be the Mile 21 and stopped.  In the end training run 8 was 2:48 and I think close to 21.5 miles.

I felt good about training run 8 even if I took a few extra breaks and don’t know my exact pace or mileage.  My hamstrings, glutes, calves, lungs and mind got a fantastic workout and that met the day’s goal.  Next week is a down week with a 90 minute long run then it’s back to the big ones before tapering into race day.  Six weeks to go!

Meredith

Why would you delay a run?  To charge your watch?  Weather?