Category Archives: Strength Training

Injury Free + Back to Training

I’m finally injury free!  While I never took any total time off, I did back down significantly from hard workouts and specific exercises.  Last week I incorporated some of the things I had been avoiding back into my routine with success.  My glute wasn’t extra sore, my gait was totally normal and everything felt good.

My transition back into real training started Monday with an OK Murph.  For those not familiar it’s a Memorial Day tradition performed in honor of Lt Michael Murphy that includes a one mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and a final one mile run.  Wanting to save my energy for the challenging workout I failed to warm up as much as I should have.  My glute gave me some trouble through the first mile but settled in with the squats.  The second mile was an improvement.injury free

Tuesday my legs were, not surprisingly, beat up.  A few easy miles helped them freshen up and again, I had no pain with a totally normal gait after warming up properly.  Yay!  Wednesday was also a few easy miles but this time in I also had the pleasure of being pouring rained on.  My shoes were finally dry by Sunday.

Thursday it was an attempt at the long run.  The humidity Thursday morning was a doozey but I felt good about getting the run done.  I started easy then picked up the pace as the sun rose to burn it off.  With my last few miles at marathon pace, I finished with negative splits.  It was a great first long run back and I couldn’t have been happier.

Friday my legs felt like lead and I took the day off.  Saturday was mile repeats that weren’t exactly on my previous pace but solid for coming off an injury.  Sunday I was back in the gym for strength training.  All in all it was a good welcome back week.  My glute held up without any pain or strain and left my feeling positive about how the rest of my summer will go.

My next race is the Allen Stone Memorial 5k.  I’m not expecting a spectacular performance but want to run well.  I have six weeks to prepare and am looking forward to working hard again. 

Meredith

How do you celebrate being injury free?  Sign up for a race?  A long run?

Missed Workout + Single Digits!

My spring marathon is less than 10 weeks away.  That means I’m into single digits in my training countdown!  The first seven weeks have flown by and I’m feeling great about where my training is.  I must be because for the first time ever I have a completely missed workout on my calendar that’s barely made me blink an eye.

My missed workout was the result of Winter Storm Helena causing some trouble in Virginia Beach this past weekend.  I planned ahead enough to get my long run checked off Thursdaymissed workout before the storm hit, leaving a strength session and mile repeats for the weekend’s work.  Friday night a few inches of sleet formed a base layer for three inches of snow.  Photo credit to my friend Ann who was brave enough to trek out there.  For me, forget it!  I swapped my days knowing I could run on my treadmill Sunday if I had to.

Or so I thought.  Just as I was pulling on my running gear to tackle the dreadmill Sunday our power went out.  Well, I’ll just wait but, of course, with no power there was also no heat.  The indoor temperature dropped quickly with the 30mph winds and way below freezing outdoor conditions.  No, thanks.  With the dog radiating heat from his bed, Doug and I bundled up to go somewhere warm(er).  By the time we got word our power was back on I had downed a cocktail or two and one stuffed tummy.  Not exactly quality running preparation.missed workout

Not getting all of my planned miles in for the week was disappointing but definitely not the end of the world.  Running 49 of 55 scheduled miles is pretty good considering I crammed them in over 4 days and the surprise rest day was nice after such a heavy load for me.  I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures, melted snow and getting outside later this week.

Meredith

How do you handle a missed workout?  Do you try to make it up or let it go?

Training Recap: The First 5 Weeks

It’s time for a training recap!  I’m five weeks into my 16 week One City Marathon training plan and feeling great.  I was a little bit nervous kicking things off because the mileage of this plan is higher than I’ve ever faced before early on.  Even with the extra miles each week, I feel fresher, stronger and more ready to run than this same time last year.  Here are the lessons I learned between crossing 2016’s finish line and starting to work towards 2017 that are making all the difference.training recap

Run easy.  I have a hard, hard time taking it easy.  I can run faster, so why aren’t I?  Running hard or medium hard all the time really hurt my training last year.  There’s a definite struggle on my recovery runs to keep the pace as gentle as it should be but I’m learning to like it.  Joining multiple weekly group runs and slowing down to chat has helped me immensely.

Eat more.  After reviewing last year’s early training recap with a focus on what I was eating, I realized I was probably not eating enough.  Based on the higher intensity of most workouts at that time, my caloric intake was lower than it should have been.  I definitely paid in soreness and exhaustion.  This cycle I’m doing a much better job of getting the types and numbers of calories I need.

More salad.  A big part of those extra calories is more veggies.  I talked about cleaner eating earlier this year and it’s paying off.  Crappy food isn’t even mildly appealing anymore (mostly).  There’s always cake or pizza for a treat.  And beer, of course! 

Lift less.  Last year’s training recap feature some pretty heavy weights a little too often.  Since I still love my time in the gym and won’t give it up, I’ve compromised with myself.  I’m lifting based on last year’s numbers and not going for any power or Olympic lifting PRs.  Lots of variety is keeping me challenged, and sore, so I know it’s helping me out without hindering my ability to perform on quality running workouts.

My legs feel great and my recovery is faster than ever before.  I’m feeling very positive about how the rest of this training cycle will go. 

Meredith

How often do you do a training recap?  Do you find it helpful?

 

3 Things I’m Loving Right Now

Tuesday isn’t the usual day for Favorites but who’s counting?  I’m loving these three things right now and got a little Monday excited to share.  Here they are!

Shoes.  I picked up a pair of Saucony Zealot ISO 2s last month and am really liking them right right nownow.  It took a few miles to adjust to all of the cushioning.  At first I felt like my gait was a little funky and the shoes themselves were a little clunky or heavy.  I definitely lose some feel of the ground in them but the comfort level is a nice trade off.

The cushioning makes them a great long run shoe while the 4mm drop doesn’t take away from the amount of work my legs have to do.  Winning!  I don’t think I’ll race in them since they’re so heavy but I do right nowlook forward to continuing to train in them.

Games.  I’m a nerd.  I Lumosity regularly and have a daily Sudoku calendar.  Yes, I even let a week pile up then complete them.  That said, I was excited to find this oldie when I went to clean out a closet.  A present from Mom and Dad way too long ago, I’ve toted it around for years.  I’m excited to be back working at it.  Rush Hour presents a tactile brain challenge that doesn’t force me to stare right nowat a computer screen.  Perfect.

Fitness.  With marathon training kicking off next week, I’m ready to be back in the gym.  That sounds backwards doesn’t it?  I like the challenge of Crossfit as a compliment to my running and enjoy the workouts.  I am careful to not let my strength training have a negative effect on my important runs.  That’s why I avoided this one.  Even though I didn’t participate in the super hard WOD, it felt great to be back with my friends for the EOD 131 Memorial Workout Saturday.  Bring on the cleans and burpees!

Meredith

What are you loving right now?  Any new shoes or workouts?

Moving Forward from Base Phase

I wrapped up my 8 weeks of base phase training last weekend, finishing July with an easy 13 miler for my second 50 mile week and a month total of 185 miles.  It seems like a long time to go until my target fall race, the Wineglass Half Marathon, rolls around but I know my next two training segments will fly by.  I have four week of prep followed by four weeks of peak training to look forward to and I’m excited to see what I can do this fall.base phase

With base phase behind me I’m feeling solid about my fitness level.  I did a good job of building up my weekly mileage without draining myself.  Racing the 5ks I did during base phase helped me stay on track with weekly speed work and kept my confidence up while I logged some slower miles.  Even though I ran both short and long intervals while continuing to spend time in the gym, my performance in each decreased slightly.  It was likely a combination of my focus being on something else and the hot, humid weather.

Now that I’m out of base phase and into prep phase I’m excited to see what a more intense, fewer miles load can do for me.  Hopefully some cooler weather will help, too.  The eight weeks I have before my goal half marathon perfectly work out with the months.  August is will be all prep phase and September all peak work.  This first week of August week features a 14 mile long run, more time in the gym and harder interval work.  Prep phase finishes with the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach 5k.  It’s a goal race for me and I might push up some hard, fast interval work a week early to get ready for it.  I’m confident the down week I have planned leading into race day will be all I need to feel fresh.

Meredith

Do you have a base phase?  How do you organize your training?

Fit Friday: Yoga for Runners

I used to think yoga was boring.  And, honestly, it can be.  Recently I’ve stepped up my yoga game as part of my Unbeatable Mind training and taking it seriously has helped me get more from my practice as well as start to enjoy it.  I’ll always be a runner but a little something else never hurt.  Here are some of the big benefits of yoga for runners.

Strength – Yoga can make you stronger.  Without looking like a body builder or becoming muscle bound and losing your ability to move quickly, practicing yoga will help strengthen every muscle and bone group you have.  Because yoga never uses one muscle group independently of another you get more bang for your buck with each pose than you would sitting in a gym’s machine.  Increased strength in the core, arms and legs means better endurance, more efficiency and faster race times.yoga for runners

Mobility – Look at the hip extension of an elite marathoner moving at race pace.  Now look at yours.  Mobility, or the ability to move a join through a full range of motion, is incredibly important.  The more your hip can open the faster you’ll get where you’re going.  Yoga for runners improves mobility at all joints, increasing ease of movement, reducing stiffness and potentially erasing some of those regular aches and pains you have before warming up.

Prevent Injury – A big benefit of yoga for runners is getting muscle groups to lengthen and strengthen in balance.  When doing downward dog, my arms, wrists, lats and deltoids are strengthening while my hamstrings, calves and Achilles are stretching to create stability in that position.  This helps eliminate the muscle imbalances created by pounding pavement for miles and miles each week that eventually lead to injuries.

Improved Breathing – If you can’t breathe, running gets really hard very quickly.  Hello, speed work in humidity!  Adding some yoga for runners to your regular routine will help increase lung capacity and teach you how to breathe properly using your diaphragm.  Filling your lungs completely instead of breathing shallowly and quickly means more oxygen gets to working muscles and more toxic carbon dioxide is removed, keeping your heart and stress rates lower.  Better breathing means better running!

Whether you use it to warm up, stretch out or as a cross training workout all alone, there’s lots of good information on yoga for runners here.

Meredith

What are your favorite yoga for runners poses?  How often do you practice?

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?

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?

New Training Cycle + I’m Sore

My new training cycle is in full gear.  Even though I’ve been ‘racing’ all month, the events have been more workouts than actual races as I’ve been slowly building my mileage back up.  Since my off season three weeks ago, I had weekly miles of 12, 16 and 20.  My goal this week was to hit 25 miles and add in some tougher sessions.

Monday was a rest day but I got things going with Tuesday’s Crossfit and the first official strength training workout of my new training cycle.  I definitely missed lifting weights while prepping for and recovering my marathon so it felt great to be back in the gym.  The WOD included back squats, front squats, kettle bell swings, burpees and overhead squats.  I dropped the weight for all exercises way down knowing I’d be sore as heck the next day and had fun.

Nailed it!  Wednesday morning I was pretty darn sore.  My quads were very unhappy, my shoulders mildly unhappy and luckily the rest of me was mostly neutral.  I did an easy four mile run that afternoon at 8:30 pace to shake out then spent twenty minutes with my best foam roller friend.  My legs felt much less sore Thursday morning but were still a bit touchy.

I debated swapping my schedule around since Thursday was supposed to be the second tougher workout of my new training cycle.  Speed work didn’t sound super appealing but I decided against moving the workout and hit the track for a better than I thought session.  Not that I was expecting much with my quads still less than 100%.  I almost forgot how much fun running those two curves can be.new training cycle

This morning I hit the gym again for strength training but focused on upper body to give my legs a breather.  Tomorrow is a rest day while I travel to Delaware for this week’s long run at the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon.  I’ll be pacing the 1:55 group and look forward to picking up an extra mile or two before the race to hit my 25 for the week.

All new training cycle soreness aside, it feels good to be getting back into a groove.  I know I’ll regain my fitness quickly and have a long summer to work on becoming a better athlete for my fall races.

Meredith

How do you deal with soreness?  Have you started a new training cycle?

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?