Monthly Archives: March 2016

Off Season + Scheduled Rest

Well, I said I was back and I meant it.  The problem is I’m just not back to very much.  I’m taking a serious off season right now and honestly not missing hitting the gym or road hard.  With four easy ‘race’ weekends in a row heading my way in a few short days, I’m enjoying the extra time off seasonto relax and working better scheduling rest in my training calendar.

While it might be true a runner has no off season (thanks, Pinterest), it’s been over seven months since I’ve taken more than six days in a row and I paid for that in my marathon training.  Post marathon recovery has been going well since right now I’m enjoying some slacker time working on mobility and little else.  I don’t know if two weeks counts as a ‘season’ but it sure feels like it.  Before now I never really thought about scheduling an off season, it always just kind of happened.  I’ve also never been through a harder training cycle than I just was.  Resting one day per week was always easy for me.  Listening to my body when it says it needs an extra was never a big deal.  Taking two to four weeks as an off season is totally new to me and it feels like forever since I’ve run hard, run fast or lifted heavy.

Lucky for me, I’ll have the opportunity to work on this all summer long.  I’ll be scheduling at least a week of rest every seven weeks as I work through my mid-May to mid-August base building phase. My weekly mileage will increase somewhat by default after taking full advantage of my current off season this week.  I’m tackling four easy ‘races’ with two pacing events, one lazy half marathon and one ‘let’s see what I’ve got right now’ 5k over the next four weekends.  After that, it’s two more weeks of scheduled easy workouts to officially wrap up my off season then get back to work for fall.

I’m also hoping these easy runs in fun race environments helps me get my mojo back.  This first intentional off season of not working out has me feeling funky.  My body feels good but I’m not that motivated to get back in gear.  I could go out for a short run whenever I want, the weather’s pretty great right now.  I’m just not chomping at the bit to get out there.

Meredith

Have you lost motivation during an off season?  How do you schedule rest?

I’m Back + Exciting Things

Wow!  It’s been over a week since my last post but I’m back!  Time has flown by in spite of my limited time spent lifting, jumping and running as I roll on with marathon recovery and down time before my next training cycle begins.  I’ve been busy with three exciting things I’m ready to share so here’s what I’ve been up to these last seven days:

1.  Decision Making.  I know in this post I said I wasn’t sure about my next marathon or if I’d even run another one.  Well, one of my I’m Back announcements is that I will be back.  I’ll be hitting the road for 26+ miles on 12 March 2017 for the 3rd One City Marathon.  It might be a quest for redemption or just to prove it was really the sock’s fault or more likely both.  I know I can perform better and now I’ve given myself the chance to confirm it on the same course on, hopefully, another perfect day.

2.  Reading.  While standing, of course.  Taking a break from hours of running in a week doesn’t give me an excuse to sit on my rump.  Rest is not recovery!  It’s been a while since I’ve opened a running book but right now I’m back to it with Chi Running.  I’m always hungry to I'm backlearn more, hone my coaching abilities and find new ways to help guide my clients to crush their goals.  So far it’s been a nice compliment to what I know about similar training theories like Crossfit Endurance and Pose Method.  When I’m back running more than three or four miles at a time in a few weeks I’m excited to see what I’m able to apply to my own activities.

3.  Creating.  I’m not an incredibly creative person in terms of art but when I get my mind set on something I’m all in.  I started FitNicePT ages ago and while I love my clients and what I do every day, personal training isn’t my main focus.  I’ve moved on to being more of a running coach and that’s where I’d like to grow.  It’s challenging to start a new project but I’m back on the grindstone and looking forward to where this project is going to take anyone who’s a part of it.

Meredith

What have you been up to?  What are you reading?

Marathon Recovery + What’s Next

This week has been all about marathon recovery.  The 2016 One City Marathon is a thing of the past and I’ve spent the last few days focusing on healing my body.  Especially those blisters.  Even though I know what to do when my muscles need some help I wasn’t sure what to expect during my marathon recovery period.  Would I be beat up for days?  Would I feel like getting back into the groove quickly?  Well, here’s what this week looked like:marathon recovery

Marathon Recovery Day 1 (Monday):  Gross blisters still hurt.  Legs felt OK except for calves and behind knee.  Walked on my heels most of the day, lots of foam rolling, bike to and from work, air squats and push-ups.
Day 2:  Blisters somewhat better.  Half mile very easy jog, lots of foam rolling, 5 mile bike.  Calves and knee still tight but able to walk normally with left foot.
Day 3:  Blisters dried out and itchy.  Bike to and from work, easy jog three miles with a few twinges of knee pain from unhappy right foot.
Day 4:  Bike 5 miles, mobility and foam rolling.  Blisters continue to dry out and I’m able to walk normally!
Day 5:  Run 3 easy miles.  Mobility and foam rolling.

Now that I’m moving onto the second stage of marathon recovery, easing back into some light training, I’m all eyes forward.  I’ll be pacing the 10 minute group at Hot Chocolate 15k Philadelphia on 2 April, taking an easy 13+ mile jog at Rock the Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri (State 19), hitting the ODU Big Blue 5k hard and wrapping up a month of ‘racing’ pacing the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon 1:55 group.

A quiet May follows that super busy April before starting to base build through the summer for  a busy fall on the schedule with PR attempts at both the 10k and half marathon distances.  I’m excited to get back to the 13.1, 10k and 5k distances.  Marathon training definitely helped me become a stronger runner and I learned a lot about how and when to push myself in a training cycle.

Meredith

What does your marathon recovery look like?  Are you racing in April?

One City Marathon + Blisters and Knee Pain

My first marathon is complete!  My 2016 One City Marathon was not the race I wish it had been but it’s over and that’s music to my ears.  I could turn my 26.38 mile journey into quite the saga except we’ve all had bad races and know the routine so I’ll break it up into the important parts.  one city marathonThe first half, the second half and some race review points.  If you want more on the race itself, check out my BibRave review here!

Race morning kicked off around 5:30 for a 7:00 start.  I had gotten a reasonable amount of sleep considering it was the night before my first marathon and the beginning of daylight savings time.  I ate a nice big cereal breakfast with two glasses of water, packed three energy gels in my pockets, slid on my shoes and was out the door.  It was a beautiful day with temps in the high 50s to low 60s with no rain, a light breeze and some mild humidity.  I felt good after a tiny jog and lots of hip mobility then entered the 8 minute corral.

We went off right on time and the first half of my One City Marathon was good.  Those first miles were the hillier of the two sections and I might have paid for going out a hair fast to get away from some start traffic.  After the first kilometer, I had tons of running room and did a good job of staying hydrated by walking through water stations at 4 and 8 miles after downing my first CarbBoom around Mile 7.5.  It was around Mile 11 I started to notice some pain on the balls of my feet.  Blisters!  I didn’t think much of them beyond ‘that’ll hurt when I take my socks off’ and ran on.

I hit the halfway mark at 1:43+ feeling nervous.  I knew I had gone out a tiny bit faster than planned but my legs felt good except for whatever was happening in my socks.  At 13.5 I downed my second energy gel then walked through a water station at 14 where I grabbed an extra gel from course support.  At some point between Mile 14 and Mile 16, things with my feet went from questionable to horrible.  To compensate for the blisters I must have started running on the outside my feet.  Something I’ve never done, it had to be the cause of the severe pain I had behind both knees that I’ve also never experienced before for Miles 16-20.

I fought through those miles with walk breaks and race pace running.  By Mile 23 I was almost in tears.  Muscles that had never talked to me in my groin were screaming.  My quads, hamstrings and calves felt like they should.  Tired but willing to work.  I just couldn’t push through the knee pain.  It was scary.  I scrapped any goal I had and focused on the fact that things felt OK when I walked.  Unfortunately I’m not a walker.  I’m a runner.  After a few run/walk miles that at least didn’t make me want to cry, I finally settled into a ginger but steady jog that involved misaligned feet and some serious left side heel striking for the final 2 miles.

With possibly one of the most positive splits in One City Marathon’s short history, I set my one city marathonmarathon PR at 3:58.23.  Exactly 26.5 minutes slower than I had wished.  I got my medal, a Gatorade and plopped to the ground with my gear bag.  I was scared to remove my socks but figured it was a good time since I had both flip flops and dry socks in my bag.  Off they went and I was actually happy to not see blood.  Massive goo filled blisters were popping between my big toe and second toe on both sides (forget the flops), and popped ones graced the balls of both feet.  I’d share a picture but you really don’t want to see.  Barefoot heel walking out of the finish area I grabbed a light weight race jacket that was exactly what I needed.  Better than a heat sheet for sure.

I sat down for a few minutes to give my beat up feet a break, eat a one city marathonprotein bar and drink a bottle of water.  Eventually, I did slide on the flops for my awkward, it hurts, flat footed march to the car.  One there, I finally remembered to snap a finisher photo.  My first marathon was over and that was good news.  All in all, my One City Marathon experience was not a bad one.  The race itself was well done with a wide open course and good swag.  Running 26.38 miles was hard and I absolutely wish I had been able to perform better.  I also wish I could pinpoint what exactly went wrong.  My very aggressive training plan?  A two week taper?  Maybe going out too two seconds per mile too fast?  Of all the choices, I’m blaming the socks, blisters and funky running knee pain.  Will I go back?  I’ve changed my mind each day but it’s looking probable.  For now, my fall schedule is full and I can’t wait to get back to business on PRing the half marathon.

Meredith

How do you deal with blisters?  Ever had pain behind your knees?

My First Marathon Race Plan

It’s finally here.  One City Marathon Race Weekend.  My first marathon and first marathon race plan ever.  That marathon race plan includes what I’ll eat, how I’ll fuel and hydrate on the course, what I’ll wear/the weather and the kind of race I’d like to run.  With daylight savings stealing an hour the night before, marathon race planI’ll also have to account for some extra sleep.  Here’s my final, but not final final, marathon race plan!

Before Eating+Drinking:  I’ve been hitting the pasta and protein combo hard this week and will probably have a trusty pizza Saturday night.  Not very exciting but definitely gets the job done without taking any risks.  Water has been a big part of my week as well.  I upped my intake and added a bit of salt to help me absorb it since I usually only drink to thirst.  A beer might be on the menu Saturday evening but it’ll be early enough to not have any negative impact.

On Course Eating+Drinking:  Tied in closely with the unknown weather, marathon race plan fueling is subject to change on the fly.  I’ll be carrying three energy gels and picking up a fourth at Mile 14 just for safety sake.  The first one will go down at one hour with the second at Mile 14 and third around Mile 20.  If I feel like I need more, I’ll bump them earlier and squeeze four in at Mile 23.  Water stops are every two miles and I’ll be hitting those as much as I need in the warmth.

Weather:  The weather forecast has improved quite a bit.  Yay!  It’s going to be warmer than any of my training runs with the temperature going from 56 at 7am to a high of 69 for the day but that’s better than the 75 predicted last week.  The wind forecast has marathon race plandropped from 10-15 to 5-10mph which should make things a bit friendlier and it looks to be negligible.  Not too warm, a light breeze and what should be low humidity definitely helps me get a little more excited for race day.  I’m just so glad thunderstorms are off the table!

Wardrobe:  I’ll be in a tank top and Lululemon capri pants with lots of pockets for those energy gels.  I haven’t trained in shorts at all over 18 miles and would rather be warm than chaffed.  In an effort to protect myself from excessive fatigue early I’ll be running in my 8mm drop Saucony Pro Grid Ride 5s.  I love my 4mm drop Brooks PureFlow 4s but my calves just aren’t strong enough to power through 26+ miles in them yet.  Low compression socks and my trusty Phillies visor will top off an outfit I hope stays dry.

Meredith

What does your marathon race plan look like?  How do you prep for wacky weather?

One City Marathon Race Week

One City Marathon race week has arrived.  After a rough final few weeks of training and some serious taper action, I’m looking forward to just getting it over with.  I can honestly say I’m not currently excited.  Hopefully as marathon race weekthe day draws closer, I pack my bag and walk through the expo the usual race weekend enthusiasm will kick in.

As far as marathon race week training goes, it’s a nice quiet one.  My ‘long’ run (8 miles) over the weekend went well in spite of some serious headwind and yesterday featured 200m repeats that were my fastest to date.  Today it’s a few miles of walking in deep sand at EquiKids then I’ll hit a round of 400s on Thursday and an easy shakeout Saturday.  Nailing those repeats definitely helped put me on a higher note heading into a run I wasn’t feeling too sure about.

With four days to go, I’m actually feeling pretty neutral.  Even though those Monday 200s were good, I haven’t had a good trip over twenty miles in three tries.  It’s hard to shake that as I first time marathoner and since things have not been going the way I wanted them to, I’ve lowered my performance expectations.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Less stress?  Add to that daylight savings time stealing an hour of sleep from everyone and a total downer of a weather forecast that’s calling for an 80% chance of thunderstorms with 10-15mph head/crosswinds for the duration.  Did I mention it hasn’t changed much since I started watching it 10 days ago?  Bring on the blisters!

Stay tuned for my race plan on Friday as I wrap up marathon race week with some big decisions about what I’ll be wearing, fueling with and how I hope to cover the course.  Maybe I’ll even get to announce a positive change in the forecast!

Meredith

What does your marathon race week look like?  Are you excited or nervous?

Marathon Run 847 + Taper Week

It’s One City Marathon taper week!  OK.  It’s really one of two but next week counts as race week to me.  This weekend’s final twenty miler also wasn’t my 847th marathon training run but it felt like it and I’m glad to be lessening my already low load for the next 11 days.taper week

My mileage has taken a hit in the last few weeks due to a scheduled easy week, a weekend of sickness, a disastrous long run and trying to get through a bit of overtraining.  Since I’m still trying to get back in the groove to actually run this marathon, taper week is just what I need.  I’ll get plenty of recovery time while rocking some easy miles, light cross training and a short speed workout before the weekend’s big 8 (or 9) miler.

My final long run, Saturday’s 20 miler, was decent.  Not great, not horrible just middle of the road.  I did take a more relaxed attitude into this run and it helped.  The 17 mile an hour headwind for Miles 1.5 to 6 and 9 to 11.5 did not.  I successfully let the headwind keep me at a slower pace for those sections while maintaining an easy cruise pace for the tailwind portions.  My calves were my biggest source of problems.  I’ve been training in a 4mm drop shoe, including this final 20 miles, while mixing in some at 8mm and my calves are beat up.  They’re a weak point that I’m not sure is a lack of strength or fatigue or both issue.

With my aching calves, I hit the stop button at 20.01 in 2:42.25.  At that moment, deferring to next year sounded like the best thing going.  It wasn’t because my whole body was tired but because I didn’t feel like I’d be doing myself any favors.  I would be pushing through something hard enough on a half full tank.  With two days to decide if I would push to 2017 I thought hard about what to do.  Sure, I felt crappy Saturday afternoon but did an easy jog Sunday that felt surprisingly good, a light cross train on Monday and chose not to.  I’ll take full advantage of taper week to help my body feel better, pick my race day shoes and put a plan together for race day.

Meredith

How do you deal with taper weeks?  Love them or hate them?  Why?