Category Archives: The Long Run

Must Do Post Run Yoga Poses

Not every run is a challenge but the same things always feel good afterwards.  A cold glass of water, even in the winter, taking my sweaty socks off and hitting the floor for a few post run yoga poses.  There are a ton of poses out there but not all of them stretch out those hard working running muscles in my legs and hips.  Here are some of my favorites:

Child’s Poseyoga poses:  This pose gives my whole body a break and lets me hit the ground with a little bit of grace.  It gives my hard working core a chance to relax while releasing my lower back and stretching my feet.

Downward Facing Dog:  After a minute in child’s pose, it’s into down dog.  Even if I just jogged a nice recovery run, lengthening my hamstrings and chronically tight calves always feels great.  It’s also a good pose with lots of room for the lunges to open and close.  It helps me bring my heart and respiratory rates down with big deep breaths.

Pigeon:  This big hip opener is another chance to give my just worked legs a break.  Stretching out my glutes and hip flexors is important for making sure I stay loose for my next workout, whether it’s later that day or 24 hours away.yoga poses

Low Lunge:  Another awesome hip stretch, low lunge might be tops on my list.  I love reaching back to open my hip while taking big belly breaths.

yoga posesLegs on the Wall:  I’m not sure if this really counts as one of my ‘yoga poses’.  My legs are propped up on a wall and I’m totally relaxed.  I’ll use time in this pose to reflect on the workout I just had.

I use a different variety of poses for my morning and pre-run routines.  While my pre-run sessions gets me loose and the blood pumping, these post run yoga poses help me relax and regroup after a workout. 

Meredith

Do you have favorite post run yoga poses?  Which ones and why?

 

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?

One City Marathon + What’s Next

The 2017 One City Marathon is in the books.  I had a solid run and was happy with the results in an official finish time of 3:29.19.

I came out of the gate fresh and ready to go.  Too fast.  I settled in around a 7:45 pace and kept telling myself to slow down.  I couldn’t.  A lovely runner named Jim had settled in right one city marathonalong with me and we chatted our way through the first 14.

After hitting the half in 1:41, I knew I had to slow down or I would be in big trouble.  Of course, I also had it in my head that it was race day, I had tapered well and didn’t actually know what I was capable of.  I walked through a water stop at 14 very easily in an attempt to bring slow my body down.  As you can see from the splits, it worked a little bit.

I still felt good downing an extra GU at 18.5.  The fast half was starting to catch up with me and caffeine was just what I needed.  Of course, I also needed water.  Unfortunately the water stop at 20 was all the way on the other side of the road.  Across four lanes on the outside of a turn.  Hitting it would have added even more to my already extra long marathon.  I skipped it feeling confident I could make it to the stop at 22.

I made it to 22 and grabbed a cup of water as I walked by.  More attention would have been a good idea at that moment because that cup was barely full.  I got maybe 2 ounces of water before continuing on.  Not more than five minutes later I started to pay for it as my calves locked up.  I gave them a stretch and tried to slow my run down to a jog.  My pace inevitably crept back up and my calves responded with hostility.  I skipped the next water stop at 24 knowing if I walked I would struggle to run again.  Powering through the last two miles was one city marathontough but I did it, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

I had run 26.39 miles in 3:29.19.  While not exactly the race I wanted to run, I learned a lot and will be much better prepared for my next 26.2.  If there is one.

Next up is the Shamrock 8k.  Only five days after this marathon I’m not sure what to expect but it’s been a long time since I’ve run an 8k and would love to see a PR.  I’ll also have to decide if I really want to run the Boston Marathon.  There are 51 weeks a year I’m not that into the idea but when marathon weekend kicks off, I always wish I was there.  I’ll have more on that later because right now my focus is rocking 5 miles this Saturday.

Meredith

Did you run the One City Marathon?  Have you ever qualified for Boston?

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Last Long Run, Race + Ready

My last long run before next week’s One City Marathon is in the can.  It was 8 miles of fun with 10k at marathon pace.  It felt short for a long run but refreshing at the same time.  I like to do my last one eight to ten days out from race day and opted for this morning for a few reasons.  One was that I didn’t want to push it to Sunday.  The second was that I didn’t want to tack it on to another workout. 

The third is that In my infinite wisdom I also opted run a 5k this weekend.  I’ll be ‘racing’ the Big Wish 5k Saturday morning with no goal other than something to keep the intensity up heading into marathon week.  It definitely won’t be a PR but that’s fine with me.  I’ve saving it for next weekend.  Plus, with all this tapering, it’ll be nice to get out there with some other runners for a little laughter.

I do have a a little worry sneaking in that with three pure rest days and one shake out day I might go a stir crazy next week.  Recently I’ve used my Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook to fill some last long runof my non-running hours with great success.  These Superhero Muffins are delicious!  I guess my next move is to put some extra reading time and maybe a nap or two on the schedule.

So other than worrying about going taper bonkers, I’m feeling ready.  My legs are itching for a longer workout and my brain is ready for some discomfort.  This has been a successful training cycle no matter what and I can’t complain.  I learned a lot, pushed myself to more miles than ever before and stayed injury free.  All I can ask for now is some really nice weather on race day.

Meredith

How long is your last long run before a marathon or half?  Does it ever change?

Fit Friday: Taper Madness

I thought I might be able to avoid it but I was wrong.  I’m barely a week into my One City Marathon taper and the lack of miles has done it.  Taper madness is here.  With 15 days to go, I feel ready to race though I know more time to let my body rest will only be a benefit.  Here are a few of my go-to taper madness ‘Do’s and Don’ts’.taper madness

DO
Start reading.
  Take all those non-running hours and grab a book.  Or a tablet or an e-reader.  Even if you’re not actually running, you can get your fill of running excitement from any number of books.  One of my favorites is Eat & Run, home to a great story and some tasty recipes.

Meditate.  Practice relaxing.  That hour you’d be running is the perfect time to meditate and visualize yourself yourself crossing that finish line.  Get all the details from who’s standing near the finish line to what it reads on clock then remember if you’re not starting in Corral 1 to adjust it for your expected finish, not the gun time!  Visualization can be incredibly powerful and the more you see it happening, the more likely it is.

Plan.  Study the course map to create a game plan for hydration, find out what food is on the course and decide if you’ll be packing your own.  Figure out what your pacing strategy is.  Then come up with a few alternatives because we all know nothing ever goes just as we planned it.  Learn how you’ll get to the start and home from the finish area.  What’s the deal with gear check?  Read the race’s FAQ page to help you develop a bulletproof plan for success on marathon day.

DON’T
Be a Weather Monster.  Yes, the weather is a big concern for a 26+ mile event when you’re out there for hours and hours.  No, you can’t do anything about it.  Checking it every hour for three weeks will just stress you out and that’s no good at all.  Get a ballpark idea of what the race location’s weather is typically like that time of year, use your plan and make an educated guess.  The truth is it’ll probably change anyway.taper madness

Change.  Whatever you’ve been doing for the last 13 weeks, keep doing it for the next three.  Your body is repairing, healing and getting ready.  If your taper madness boredom leads to happy hour, you’re wrecking those weeks of hard work with poor sleep and dehydrated muscles.  Stick with the diet, nutrition and sleep patterns that have successfully carried you through your training.

Get nervous.  Something always goes wrong but that’s OK.  You trained then you planned and you’re going to show up.  There’s only so much you can control so don’t worry about anything else.  Bad weather, misplaced water stations and potholes all happen but with a solid plan you’ll be just fine.  Trust your training and yourself.

Meredith

What are your favorite ways to tackle taper madness?

Taper Time + A Strong Finish

It’s here!  Taper time!  My final long long run is in the books and marathon day is less than three weeks away.  I’ll be sharing my race plan for the One City Marathon later but for right now I’m looking forward to a little time to heal up.

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m far from injured.  It’s just the usual aches or hints of stiffness that sneak in after weeks of heavy mileages.  My left foot is a little grumpy for my first few steps every time I get up and some extra ab work has probably pushed them a little far.  Taper time is exactly what I need both physically and mentally.  I’m definitely ready to tackle 26.2 but need these three weeks to let my body get in the best position it can to help me succeed.taper time

I had a strong finish to my heavy training and will work to keep it going right through the finish line.  This week’s last long long run was 21 miles.  My goal was to run 8 easy miles, 10 at marathon pace and 3 more easy.  It didn’t go quite as planned.  It went better!  The easy 8 went off without a hitch and when I went to pick it up 15 seconds a mile, I couldn’t.  Instead of settling in at my goal marathon pace, 7:55, I found 7:45.  I was very comfortable there despite telling myself to slow down every ten seconds.

When one of my half mile splits around Mile 16 was 7:36 I thought I was done for.  I felt good but was waiting for things to turn south.  They never did!  I cruised through those 10 miles at a hair too fast a pace but had a strong finish and felt great.  Maybe my marathon pace isn’t 7:55 after all.  I’ve struggled to find it throughout training, instead finding a slightly faster or little bit slower pace more comfortable.

No matter what, it’s taper time and I have three weeks to nail down my pacing plan.  I can’t wait for race day to see what I can do.

Meredith

What do you do at taper time?  What if you’re running ‘too fast’ but feel good?

Yasso 800s + Super Long Run

There are less than 50 days until my spring marathon and this week was a tough one.  I kicked it off with a full round of Yasso 800s Monday and threw my long run in two days early for the sake of better weather on Thursday.  Both workouts were tough but surprisingly fun.

Yasso 800s are a famous workout that can be varied all training cycle long.  This was my peak week with a full dose of 10 repeats and they went well.  Used as a reasonably close predictor of marathon finishing times, each repeat features 800M of work and an easy jog of the same duration for recovery.  Since the prediction tends to be about 5 minutes off of actual finish times, I was aiming for each 800 to be at a 6:50 pace.  This would theoretically get me across the line in 3:25 and an adjusted 3:30, my goal time.yasso 800s

I had a great time getting back into action after a down week with this one.  My goal was to run each repeat in 3:25, 6:50 pace, on fresher than usual legs to simulate somewhat of a taper.  It worked!  I was contending with some headwind and benefiting from a tailwind at different points but my repeats were 3:22, 22, 18, 23, 18, 18, 17, 22, 16, 16.  The session left me feeling really excited for race day.

The week rolled on with some 400M repeats Wednesday and my longest training run of the cycle on Thursday.  It was a test with lots of marathon pace miles early then a few faster ones at the end.  I started this 5-4-3-2-1 run with a one mile warm up then 5 miles at marathon pace.  The next two segments, 4 miles and 3 miles, were each separated by an easy mile.  The two mile section was at half marathon pace.  After a painful easy mile 18, I rocked Mile 19 at 10k pace, finishing with a nice easy cool down.  It was definitely a challenging but enjoyable workout.

Meredith

What are your favorite marathon training workouts?  Do you like Yasso 800s?

Why I Don’t Use Strava + Never Will

I like to run alone.  All alone most of the time.  Yes, I do at least one group fun run as an easy workout each week and enjoy it.  I also refuse to run with my phone unless it’s one of those easy group runs and I’m hunting for items on the RunChatHunt list.  That’s why I haven’t, don’t stravaand won’t use Strava.  In fact, this is the article that inspired me to write this post.  There seems to be some Strava angst out there in the running world.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous application.  The idea of people pushing themselves in workouts to compete without actually having to be together is awesome.  It’s just not for me.  Here are the reasons why:

Leave me alone.  I like to run alone.  It helps me think, there’s no pressure and I can decide to swap a workout in the middle if my legs feel one way or another.

Too fast.  I’m very competitive.  Of course I’d want to be the segment (route) champ of every single one.  If I were tops on a segment, I’d want to stay there whether my schedule said easy day or not.  Sure I’d try to follow my plan but sometimes the competitive spirit would undoubtedly get the better of me to my own detriment.

I don’t need it.  It’s nice you think I had a good workout but I don’t really care.  Not that I don’t appreciate support because I definitely do.  I have bad days and good days just like everyone else and I’d rather keep them to myself.  I know when a workout was good or what I need to take away from a bad one.  Racking up ‘kudos’ could cloud my judgement or mislead me.  No thanks.

Safety.  I start and end most of my runs from the same places.  While my schedule isn’t too predictable, I prefer learning my locations to be more of a challenge.  I don’t run with music for safety and I most certainly don’t want to leave an electronic paper trail of posters advertising where I’ll be at the end of a 20 mile run.

I know it happened whether it’s out there for everyone to see or not and that’s just fine with me.

Meredith

Do you use Strava?  Why or why not?  What’s your favorite thing about it?

Tough Long Run + SPI Belt!

After last week’s missed workout, I was ready to get back to work on Monday.  I had a good workout on the treadmill with still icy roads to avoid to start the week and solid workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday things wrapped up with tough long run. 

After an easy run Thursday my legs were feeling beat up.  I hadn’t slept well for three days and was struggling with the choice to do a workout I knew would be hard on Friday or Saturday.  Saturday’s forecast was chilly, rainy and windy while Friday’s was warmer, sunnier and less windy.  The downside for Friday was I’d half to run after biking to and from work and coaching for several hours.  I really did not want to get wet.  My legs felt heavy and the day off would have been nice.  I chose pain over wet and did my tough long run Friday mid-morning through the afternoon.

The tough long run was not just going out for a finish fast or middle marathon pace miles event.  It was meant to be a threshold workout and a challenge.  Starting with a 2 mile warm-up, it was on to 3×2 mile (rest 3 min) repeats at marathon pace minus 15 seconds, then 8 miles easy, 2 miles back at MP-15 and a 2 mile cool down.  I almost bailed during the warm up but I started to feel better 2k in.  It was one ugly run. 

I settled into a groove during the 2 mile repeats that was 10 seconds too fast.  Slowing down for the easy 8 was also challenging.  I gave the final 2 mile push all I had to finish on a up note and cut my cool down short.  The weather was much warmer than predicted without the expected cloud cover.   I battled dehydration, hard trouble keeping my heart rate down and dealt with foot cramps toward the end.  Not the run I wanted it to be, it was still a decent workout that helped me work on my mental game.  They can’t all be great or we’d never get better.  I’m looking forward to next week’s 18 mile progression as another tough long run to improve on this week’s mess. 

I’m also excited to try out my brand new SPI Belt this weekend!  I participated in the winter edition of RunChat‘s RunChat Hunt for the second year and was lucky enough to win.  The tough long runchallenge works like this:  the RunChat community picks ten items for you to photograph while on the run.  Each time you snap one, share it on social media with #runchathunt for an entry to win a variety of prizes from awesome sponsors like SPI Belt.

I typically don’t run with anything other than a house key and, if needed, gels.  Yes, I like to have my peace and quiet but if I could easily carry something else with me I might.  Stay tuned for a review in the next few weeks!

Meredith

How do you handle a tough long run?  Cope with a no so good workout?

Fit Friday: Running Alone

Some people love to run in groups and some of us don’t.  I definitely prefer to do the majority of my running alone.  Maybe it’s because I’m an only child or because my schedule is funky.  After a sibling-less childhood, I grew accustomed to being alone and having to entertain myself running aloneso that I actually learned to like it.  I need it.

So I go running alone and it’s glorious.  No phone, no friends.  I especially like doing my long runs on Thursday mornings.  I know there won’t be anyone else out there.  Just me, the road and a few squirrels, yay!  This piece from Runner’s World sums up my feelings nicely for the most part.  I’m picky about ‘my people’ and value my peace and quiet.  A 15 mile run is my time to think, or not think, about what’s going on in my life without any interference.  It’s good prep for when I actually race and will undoubtedly be too busy running my own race to worry about who’s with me.

Is that to say I like running alone so much that I’ll always turn down an offer from a pal?  Absolutely not.  I’m the first one to tout the benefits of running groups or clubs.  Check out this post.  If friends and camaraderie are what get you out the door, that’s awesome.  The exponential increase in social running groups has been wonderful.  People make new friends, hit new goals and get healthier every single day with their running ‘tribes’.  It’s just not what works for me and even on a group run I’ll usually end up alone.  I’m happy to socialize before the run or after, cheer for the final finishers and congratulate everyone but I’ll do my running alone.

Meredith

Do you like running alone?  Why or why not?