Monthly Archives: May 2016

Global Running Day!

Wednesday is National Running Day.  At least it used to be.  Starting this year it’s Global Running Day or World Running Day and that’s just fine with me.  Everyone who loves to run, no matter how fast or slow, short distance or global running daylong, should have an opportunity to share that passion with others.  In accordance with that opportunity, I’ve joined a fun link-up where a group of Sweat Pink bloggers will be sharing our feeling with you.  You can check out all of the great responses here, on Kristen’s blog, JonesInForaRun.

Why do you run?  Lots of reasons!  It’s fun, it helps me relax, it’s a place to make friends, it challenges me and pushes me to see what my body can do.  It’s an excuse to be outside and appreciate the weather, no matter what it is.  Sometimes I run for those who can’t and sometimes I run to clear my head.  No matter what the reason, I’m always happy at the end.

How do you plan to celebrate National Running Day?  I’ll be attending J&A Racing’s Global Running Day Celebration and racking up a few miles with a bunch of my best running friends before enjoying some food and drink.

How many miles have you run so far this year? Do you have a mileage goal for the year?  As of May 30, I have run 517 miles with no mileage goal for the year.  I think having one two years ago actually hurt my training because it made me feel pressured to get in a certain number of miles each week instead of listening to my body and following a flexible training plan.  My goals in 2016 are quality workouts and faster races.

What big events do you have on the race calendar so far this year?  I finished my first marathon even though it wasn’t pretty and am looking towards new PRs at 5k, 10k and the half marathon distances this fall

Before I leave for a run I must have:  Water.  I can do without shoes, a watch or a tank top.  I can run in a bathing suit or sunglasses instead of a visor.  Fasted runs have their place, too.  What I can’t live without is water.

Do you track your runs? If so what do you use?  I track 97% of my running using my Garmin and Garmin Connect.  The ones that get left out are the repeats included in Crossfit workouts and watch-less recovery outings.  I’ll guesstimate those miles and add them on but I’m not picky about it.

Who is your favorite running partner?  It varies.  Because of my work schedule I run the majority of my workouts alone.  I really like running with the sunrise or sunset but any of my running friends are just right.

What races have you run so far this year?  Mississippi Blues Half Marathon, First Light Half Marathon, One City Marathon, ODU Big Blue 5k, EquiKids 5k, Coastal Delaware Half Marathon, Hot Chocolate 15k and Rock the Parkway Half Marathon.

If you have to give someone one piece of advice about running, what would it be?  Have fun.  Appreciate that you can run when there are lots of people who can’t.

Describe your relationship with running in one word:  Perfect.

Meredith

How are you celebrating Global Running Day?

The Never Ending Run

Have you ever had a never ending run?  When you know you’re moving and things are going pretty well until you look down at your watch to see it’s been five entire minutes.  Five minutes?!?  It felt like FOREVER.  You’re not extremely fatigued, sore, unmotivated or dealing never ending runwith horrible weather conditions but this workout will definitely seem like a never ending run.

I have definitely had my share for any number of reasons.  My head isn’t in the game because I’m distracted by something else going on that day or maybe I really needed a day off instead.  One thing I won’t do is bail on a run, unless I’m injured, even if it takes what feels like a ridiculously long time to complete.  So how do I get through these dragging moments?

The first thing I do is start smiling.  I’m likely to get frustrated when things aren’t moving along as I want them to, so I make sure to get back to my happy place.  I’m lucky I get to run whenever I want and I’d be silly to forget it.  Smiling also forces your face, and your entire body in turn, to relax.  It could also be exactly what the next person you pass needed to turn their frown upside down.

If I’m smiling, moving and still not getting where I need to be, I’ll evaluate my body.  Am I hurting?  What did I do yesterday or two days ago?  Looking back through my recent workouts can give me a good clue as to why this sessions has turned into another never ending run and help me fix it by finishing sooner, intentionally slowing down or stopping for a stretch.

The third step to get this endless run over with as painlessly as possible is to turn my watch off.  Maybe it’s stopping long enough to drop satellites and just finishing a timed run.  Maybe it’s turning if off altogether.  I’ll be just fine with one less day’s data to pour over.  Running is fun, keep it that way.

No matter what I do to get back on track with a tough workout, I know it’s a step towards making me mentally tougher.  And that’s good news for any workout.  Focusing, remembering your goals and realizing it could always be worse are great ways to turn a never ending run into a successful session.

Meredith

Have you had a never ending run?  How did you deal with it?

Easy Running for Faster Running

Going out for an easy run might seem pointless.  It’s hard to make sense of getting faster by running slower.  The truth is you do actually have to run faster sometimes if you’re going to lower finish times at races but you definitely don’t want to do it all the time.  A balance between hard and easy running workouts is the best way to build fitness without risking injury, easy runningovertraining or burnout.  The ultimate purpose of an easy workout is to build a foundation you can then load intensity on top of.  The lower effort runs allow your body to adapt to the stresses of road running while still being able to recover fast enough that you can get out there day after day.

Taking your workout intensity down with easy running will help you earn stronger bones, tougher joints, improved running economy, develop slow twitch/fat burning muscles and increased aerobic capacity without leaving you begging for an ice bath.  While some people might consider dramatically slower than race pace runs (up to 2 minutes per mile!) pointless, it’s important to remember every workout has a purpose.  Yes, we all need fast days to work on turnover, VO2max and race pace but getting time on your feet, recovering quickly and having a nice relaxing run isn’t logging ‘junk miles’ if your session has a purpose, it’s working towards your next race goal.

When you ask yourself why you’re running ‘so slow’ keep in mind that going hard all the time is begging for an injury (trust me!).  Your body has to adapt, recover and repair after a beat down on the track or a big hill.  Muscles are damaged and full of waste.  Blood vessels have to expand while learning how to process the higher oxygen demands you just put on them.  An easy running day can actually help speed those adaptations by clearing waste from muscles and increasing circulation.  If you go hard every time you run your body never gets the chance to adapt to higher demands you’re placing on it and things like overtraining, stress fractures and burnout all become big risks.

Alternate hard and easy workouts while listening to what your body tells you during warm up.  Maybe today isn’t the best day for those all out 100M repeats or a 5k time trial.  Make sure your easy running is just that, easy.  A conversational pace with a low heart rate up to two minutes per mile slower than race speed.  Keep the benefits of easy running in mind when you’re a little tired or a little sore and never be afraid to slow things down.  As long as your workout has a purpose, you can’t go to slow.

Meredith

How many easy running miles do you log?  Do you have trouble slowing things down?

5k Races + Loads of Laundry

I’ve already run two 5k races this year with three more on the schedule.  In 2015 I ran three total just because and I’m looking forward to racking up a few more as an important part of my fall goal race training program.

I really like the 5k distance because it’s a good building block for the half marathon and a great way to really push myself in a workout (plus it’s fun).  It’s nice to be able to race a 5k hard more than once a month then get back out there the next day for a long easy run without risking an injury, over training or burn out.  I’d love to do more 10k races but I just can’t find them frequently or conveniently enough.  So for now I’ll stick with the 5k for building speed.

My current PR is 21:14 and I know I can be faster.  When I set that PR last November, the course caught me off guard and I slowed more than I realized during a series of tight twists towards the end.  I’ll be racing the Norfolk Harbor 5k again this year, definitely looking to beat that time on a course I’m now familiar with.5k races  I’m pretty much just figuring out to run a good 5k race and it’s harder than I expected.  Go out too fast and it’s over before you finish the second mile.  Go out too slow and you’re selling yourself short.  I’m learning where that tipping point is for my body at its current level of fitness and hopefully that will be a big asset come my target half marathon.

While I’m loving the 5k distance as a training tool right now, my sights are firmly set on a new half marathon PR at Wineglass this fall.  In light of that bigger goal, I’m spending summer building my long distance base while working towards a faster 5k as a bonus.  This year’s base building phase includes two speed or tempo workouts each week with the rest long easy marathon or marathon plus pace miles.  Last week included three two-a-day workouts: Tuesday’s hard run-easy run, Thursday’s easy-easy runs and Friday’s lift-Crossfit.  SO MUCH LAUNDRY.  I forgot how much clothing I could use in seven days.  As it warms up, the clothing will be smaller to at least limit the number of laundry loads but it might be time to go shopping.

Meredith

Do you use 5k races as a training tool?  How much running specific laundry do you have?

EquiKids Cross Country 5k Recap

My favorite race of the year was Saturday and all mud aside, it was another fun day.  This was the fifth year consecutive year I’ve run the EquiKids Cross Country 5k.  It’s an event for the whole family with a half mile pony run for younger children, the 5k for everyone and a one mile run with the hounds.  I was excited even though I knew it was going to be muddy after five straight days of rain.  Trails, especially muddy ones, are far from my strength.

Race morning was overcast (but not raining!) with a little bit of humidity and middle of the road temperatures.  I went with long tights because of the mud, knowing I’d been running as close to the edges of the trails as I could for solid ground.  After my warm-up, I shed the half zip I’d been wearing against the morning’s cool breeze and lined up in my tank, long tights and about-to-be-muddy shoes.  We went off into the woods a few minutes after the little ones finished their half mile pony run.

There were the initial speedsters making the first section a bit crowded but they faded by the time we hit the woods.  I settled into an easy pace on the mushy surface and waited for my first foot to hit a puddle.  It took longer than I expected to find the first muddy spot.  Not being very skilled at racing through the mud, I slowly picked my way through with tiny, slow steps and picked things up when I was back on solid ground.  At the Mile 1 mark I had plenty of running room as the crowd spread out and it stayed that way through the end.  My watch was all over the place searching for help as I wove in and out of the trees with neither of us really knowing how fast I was moving.  I slipped a few times in mud, at one point swinging around a tree to help, glad I was taking things slowly instead of risking injury in an unfamiliar environment.equikids cross country 5k

I kicked as much as I could on the wet ground coming into the EquiKids Cross Country 5k finish and landed squarely in a big puddle of water.  It was a nice finish to a solid workout that had me smiling and working to stay balanced the whole time.  Definitely not one of my best 5k performances, I was happy to come out without having fallen in the mud or getting injured.  I ended up fourth female overall and second in my age group after the overall female was also the age group winner.  A bottle of water and two slices of pizza later, I was awarded my medal and made for the nice dry car.

It was another great year with weather that held out until after the dog mile, great people and good times.  In the end, 2016’s mud laced EquiKids Cross Country 5k taught me that I could probably benefit from hitting the trails more often.  With only one trail race and five or six easy trail outings per year, I tend to be overly cautious with my feet and also have lots of trouble feeling my pace on the soft surface.

Meredith

How do you run in mud?  Do you train specifically for trail races?

Got Sand Running? 5 Reasons You Should

Spring has sprung and as temperatures warm up the sandy of a beach looks more and more appealing for everyone.  Runners especially can benefit from hitting the beach.  Sand running is a great tool to get faster, increase strength, see some fresh scenery or stay cool on a hot day.  There are lots of types of sand, from packed wet sand to deep fluffy sand but no matter which one you choose, there are big benefits to be had.  Here are five great reasons you shouldn’t overlook those early morning or evening hours when it isn’t too crowded to get a workout in.

Strength.  With or without shoes sand running is a good way to sand runningearn stronger ankles and feet.  The uneven surface forces your body to respond in ways it doesn’t have to on the road or track. Your core has to work harder to maintain balance and large muscle groups are given an extra challenge.  For even more ways the beach makes you stronger, check out this list.

Cadence.  The best way to get anywhere in the sand is with short, quick steps.  Practicing this higher cadence by running faster in the deep sand will help you see improvements back on the road.  Give it a try by running as fast as you can 2-3 time with rest in the sand then slide your shoes back on and repeat on the road.  Instant gains!

Stay Cool(er).  A hot summer day is hot no matter where you are but being next to the water certainly helps.  Running in the surf keeps cool water running over some of your body at all times and the ocean breeze will likewise aid in preventing overheating.  Be wary of strong winds and plan your run accordingly.

Scenery Change.  Take things easy.  You’re already working harder than you would on the road, trail, track or treadmill.  Enjoy what nature has to offer and use sand running time to have some fun.  Try remembering all of the birds you saw or stop to watch the sunrise/sunset for a minute between repeats.  Unless you live down the street from a shoreline, get the most out of each experience.

Be careful.  Make sure you have a way to stay hydrated when you’re out there on a sunny, warm day.  Take a water source with you or put a bottle at your turnaround point.  Check tide tables and run a low tide, making sure to stay even by running an out and back course on the slanted surface.  Watch for holes, shells, other beach debris and rough patches of packed sand that can cause blisters and abrasions.

Take these tips on your next trip to the beach and reap a few of these big benefits from sand running.

Meredith

Do you run on the beach?  What’s your favorite thing about sand running?

Book Nook: Chi Running Review

I recently finished reading Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running.  I was familiar with the book’s content before I opened it but was excited to learn more about the method and possibly apply some of the concepts to my own coaching.  It ended up being a valuable tool to help me become a better coach and a very positive read.chi running

The book itself is well written and overall easy to get through compared to some more technical writing about the biomechanics of running.  Roughly half of the book is normal text while the rest of it is designed as a simple to navigate reference book that guides you step-by-step on your chi running journey.  It also includes sections on preparing to run, racing and nutrition that are full of useful ideas.

It was interesting to see the commonalities between Dreyer’s Chi Running and Romanov’s Pose Method.  I coach using a combination of lots of approaches, finding the biggest benefit is sometimes just being exposed to a new way to say the same thing.  Both chi running and pose running are designed to minimize injury risk while making you a more efficient runner.  They ultimately arrive there via slightly different pathways but the content of Chi Running is definitely worth exploring.  The idea of falling to move yourself forward and landing softly on your mid-foot are major focuses of both styles.  The differences between them occur in other areas, such as where your energy is coming from and how hard to train.

I don’t want to spoil all the fun of reading it yourself, which I definitely recommend, but I will say one of the things I like best about the chi method is its emphasis on core strength.  The mid-section is an often overlooked area for most recreational runners that could actually help them a lot.  Sit-ups and planks for the win!  If you’re looking for a solid piece of running literature, Chi Running is a great choice.

Meredith

Do you use chi running?  Why or why not?

***This is not a sponsored post.  I bought this book with my own money and all opinions are my own***