Tag Archives: fit friday

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?

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?

Fit Friday: Get Back into Running

Getting back into running can be tough.  Whether it’s after an injury, planned off season, a pregnancy/infant or another life circumstance that’s pulled you away from your routine, finding the drive to start again is often challenging.  During my recent off season I was burned out.  I back into runningstruggled to get excited about heading out in the wind and cold for another training run.  Here are the things that helped me get excited to run again and will help you get back into running, too.

Find a run buddy.  When you’re in a rough spot and searching for a good reason to get back into running, a friend can be  your best bet.  Not only will they provide accountability for your workouts, they’ll keep you laughing and having fun the whole way through.  If you don’t already have a BRF (best runner friend), you can hook up with your local running club and find lots of them.

Set reasonable expectations.  It only takes two weeks to lose some fitness.  Be sure to remember that when you start training again.  You’ll get back to where you were before and possibly even further with some hard work but it’s not going to happen on day three.  Limit your speed work in the first few weeks, focusing instead on rebuilding your cardiovascular base and strength.  Significantly reduce weekly mileage in the beginning then add a few each week as get back into runninglong as you feel good.  Being armed with the knowledge that you’re not the same athlete you were before your time off is the best weapon you can have in your battle to get back into running.

Register for a race.  Races are fun.  Finishing a low pressure, fun 5k is a great way to remember how much you enjoy running.  The potential bling isn’t bad either.  Grab your new run buddy, remember to set a reasonable goal and race your way back into running with a smile.

Register for another race.  Now that you have a fun run under your belt and are pumped to hit the road training, throw those reasonable expectations and goals out.  Find another race in 8-12 weeks and set a harder goal for it.  Giving yourself something to work for will help give your workouts structure, keep you on a schedule and earn you another medal to show off.

Use these tips and like me, you’ll be exciting to run again in no time.

Meredith

How do you get back into running?  Why do you take long breaks?

Fit Friday: Overtraining Syndrome

Overtraining syndrome is a scary thing.  It can creep up without any notice, especially on us runners, and wreck a training season.  I’m pretty sure I’ve been close to suffering from it but with a few extra days off after feeling crappy I managed to bail myself out.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Here are a few ways to avoid this dreaded injury.

First, let’s see what overtraining syndrome is.  It occurs when the body is exercised at a frequency and intensity that exceed its recovery time.  How can you tell if you’re over training?  You might become exhausted without any explanation, stall out in both strength and cardiovascular gains or start seeing other, more serious, injuries like stress fractures.  Feeling sluggish after a workout instead of energized and having disrupted sleep patterns are also symptoms.  Of course, the best way to treat overtraining is to avoid it in the first place.  Here are 4 ways to prevent it from sabotaging your plans for a new PR.

1)  Food is fuel.  Make sure your diet isn’t the reason workouts aren’t going well.  Trying Paleo as a marathoner?  Could be it!  Eat enough calories to give you the energy you need to get through the day and replenish post workout.   Stick with quality whole foods and remember that the what you put in is what you get out.

2)  Mix it up.  Your body needs constant change to keep adapting, getting stronger and improving.  If you start to lose motivation or get bored, throw something new into your routine.  Try a spin class or kick boxing while alternating hard and easy days to give yourself excitement and variety with time to recover.overtraining syndrome

3)  Take recovery and rest days seriously.  Your next workout is only as good as your last recovery.  If you’re not foam rolling or hitting mobility drills each day your body is going to get worn out quickly.  Rest and recovery are just as important as exercise and not giving your body enough time to recover from strenuous exercise will inevitably cause fatigue, moodiness and injury.  Take at least one day a week away from the gym or running and be serious about it.  Use the rest day(s) to replenish the things your body has burned through, like carbohydrates, proteins, fluids and sleep.

4)  Listen to your body.  Still feeling sluggish four days after a hard workout?  Are your knees or shoulders hurting more than they should?  Is soreness sticking around beyond two days?  Is your performance slipping?  These are all signals your body gives to let you know it needs a break.  An extra day or two or five off won’t ruin the gains you’ve made.  Take the time to recover your body is asking for and you’ll not only feel better, but come back to better results.

Meredith

*a version of this post was originally posted on the FitNicePT blog*

Have you ever had overtraining syndrome?  How do you prevent it?

 

Fit Friday: Trail Running Tips

Leaves are falling, animals are packing up and there’s still time for a little bit of trail running before winter officially sets in.  Trail running is different than road running which means getting out on them isn’t only a refresher for your mind, it’s good for strengthening your muscles and challenging your body.  Here are a few tips to help you concur the trails when they’re covered in leaves instead of snow.trail running

Accessorize.  Make sure you’re prepared for trail running with the right trail shoes, sunblock, a hat, sunglasses and even maybe bug spray.  You can also check out running gaiters.  These fashion accessories help keep your ankles and feet safe from stones, sticks and other trail debris while you’re out enjoying nature.

Work on your six pack.  Running on uneven ground that constantly changes gives you an added balance you miss on the road.  The muscles of your core and lower back are what help you stay on your feet.  The stronger they are, the more stable you’ll be.  Stability makes you less likely to get injured and that’s a good thing.  Practicing balance and core strengthening exercises regularly to help your trail running performance.

Start slowly and stay that way.  Trails are uneven, inconsistent and tougher on ankles and feet than the road or treadmill.  With dirt paths, roots to watch out for and lots of other potential obstacles, trail running also requires more mental effort then road running.  Slow down and run by effort and time rather than pace, even if it means walking up hills in the beginning and plan shorter runs than you’d do on the road.  Build comfort over a few weeks by adding ten minutes each time you go work out in the wild.

Safety first.  Gear up with head lamps, pepper spray and some reflective clothing.   Be sure to take an ID, tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back.  If you can, take your cell phone or a map and be aware of what’s going on around you at all times.  Knowing the rules of the trail, such as yielding to downhill runners, equestrians and cyclists as well as staying on marked trails and running through, not around, puddles will all help you get home safely.

Bring fluids.  Trail running can be unpredictable.  Mud, rain, snow and streams all have the potential to make your run a little more hazardous, making the time it takes you to finish hard to determine.  The last thing you want to do is run out of water, so wear or stash it.  If your route crosses parking lots or picnic areas, drop a water bottle off before you start to run.  You can also use handheld water bottles, mini-bottle waist belts or a hydration pack to make sure you don’t get thirsty.

Meredith

Is trail running a part of your training?  What’s your favorite thing about it?

Fit Friday: Zero Drop Shoes

Happy Friday!  I’m in route to Baton Rouge for my final half marathon of 2015 and with that I’m looking back at how my running has evolved.  One of the biggest changes I’ve made is transitioning to a lower drop shoe.  I’m not at zero drop quite yet but I’m also good on shoes for a while.  Running in a flatter shoe has help me and getting into zero drop shoes can benefit every runner.  Here’s a little more about it!

Running in a pair of zero drop shoes doesn’t mean you’re running all but barefoot down a hot pavement road on race day nor does it make you a minimalist runner (I’m not).  Running in a zero drop shoe means your shoes are flat from the back to the front and your foot is parallel to the ground when standing still.

Most of us start running in shoes built with more cushioning under the heel than the forefoot.  The height difference between the shoe’s raised heel and lower toe is measured in millimeters (mm) and called the ‘drop’.  This measurement can very from 0mm to 15mm depending on the zero drop shoesshoe with the most common range between 8 and 12mm.  As the barefoot, minimalist and natural running movements have gained momentum, shoes with massive drops are starting to disappear as the potential benefits of zero drop shoes gain attention.

Why?  Many studies have found that running miles and miles with our heels dramatically higher than our toes can lead to big time injuries by creating additional heel strike forces, heavier landings and excessive foot movement.  Ever tried running in high heels?  Putting the foot in an unnatural position for the task you’re asking it to do is begging for trouble.  Running and biomechanical expert Jay DiCharry believes that running in a flatter shoe is ideal because it lets the body stay in a natural position without having to compensate for how the shoe might try to make the foot move.  This anecdotal ‘study’ is a great example.

Switching to zero drop shoes can decrease the landing forces on your hips, knees and ankles and worked in with stretching can make you less susceptible to injury.  Sounds great, right?  Be careful.  Transitioning to a pair of zero drop shoes isn’t as easy as picking them up at the store.  If you’re currently in a shoe with a big drop, start making the change to a flatter shoe by decreasing your drop by only a few millimeters.  Trade your 12mm drop shoes for an 8mm pair and give your body time to adjust to a possibly new movement pattern and different stride rate.  I’ve gone from 8 to 4mm and only run barefoot on the beach.

I’ve definitely found that being in a flatter shoe has improved my running and while a flat shoe might not be for everyone, there’s no good reason not to give it a try.

Meredith

Do you run in zero drop shoes?  Why or why not?

 

Fit Friday: Moving! and Workouts

It’s been one busy summer and it looks like fall is going to kick off with even more activity.  We are moving!  This adorable townhouse will be our new home as of September 1 and we couldn’t be more excited.  We’re moving back to the beach (4 blocks), I’ll be less than 1.5 miles from movingwork (can’t wait to ride my bike more), closer to friends and an easy walk to some of our favorite places for drinks and dinner.

Even with all the moving excitement, I’ve been getting all of my workouts in since Joggin’ for Frogmen.  The fall season looks to be a good one with attainable goals of hitting PRs at 5k and 10k.  Here are the workouts I’ve at least tried to rock since August began:

Week 1 August
Saturday – Joggin’ for Frogmen 5k (new PR!)
Sunday – Long Intervals – 4 x16min on, 4 min off (12mi)
Monday – Crossfit (Deadlift 5×3 then 34 seconds on/26 seconds off x double unders, pull-ups, goblet squats, deadlifts at 65% of 1RM)
Tuesday – Team RWB 4mi recovery run
Wednesday – Rest!
Thursday – AM – Hills in 68 degrees, 55% humidity that felt like heaven in PA (5 mi).  PM – 31 Heroes Memory run, 31 minutes/4 miles
Friday – Crossfit (5RM push-press – my shoulder was not happy- then 15min AMRAP partner x row 200, 10DB thrusters – 15lbs, 7 rounds)

Week 8 August
Saturday – Another easy run, 4.5 miles
Sunday – Long Run – 3x3miles, 7 minutes rest (11.5mi)
Monday – Crossfit (Skill work on full snatch – I need it – then 12 min AMRAP x 9 ring dips, 3 power snatches, 6 snatches – 7 rounds+14)
Tuesday – Team RWB 4mi recovery run
Wednesday – Crossfit (5RM deadlift – new PR – then 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 x deadlift, seated shoulder press [sub for HSPU], KBS, 30 double under after each round)
Thursday – Long Intervals – 2 x 2mi-1mi-800M, rest 5, 4, 3 (10.5mi)
Friday – 5 mi barefoot sand run with some up and down on the dunes just for fun :).

Workouts continue into the last two weeks of August in the midst of packing, transferring services, signing papers and arranging schedules.  I’m looking forward to our new home but also to finding some new running routes!

Meredith

What have you been up to as the final month of summer rolls on?  How do you manage moving?

Fit Friday: Workouts I

Two Fit Friday’s ago I decided it was time to start sharing my workouts again.  I have started seriously training again and since I love getting ideas from other runners I figured it’s only fair for them to borrow mine, too.  This week’s Workouts I is an adventure.  I’m not sure if I’d like to go with the bi-weekly headline Workouts I, Workouts II…etc or Workouts 1, Workouts 2…etc.  I’m going to stick with Roman numerals for a few weeks and see how I feel about it.

Here it is!  Workouts I:  Weeks June 27 to July 10:

Saturday (27 June):  Very hot and humid marathon pace 5 miler fasted on legs that felt like lead.  Not pretty but finished it.
Sunday:  Another ridiculously humid morning and to the treadmill I went.  Mile warm up, 90 minutes at 7:15 pace, 10 minute walk/jog cool down.  Happy with this run in spite of some knee pain.
Monday:  Rest, 30 minutes mobility, still a little knee twinge.
Tuesday: AM: Long intervals:  5 min on, 2:30 off.  This run was awful.  Hot, humid, no motivation, completely dead legs and fasted.
Tuesday PM: Easy 4.5 with Team RWB Virginia Beach that was also not very pretty.
Wednesday: Crossfit:
Thursday: Marathon Pace 8 miles (8 min pace).  Still hot and humid, ugh.
Friday: Crossfit

Saturday (July 4th):  You can read all about my July 4th adventures and 14 miles of mountani biking right here.
Sunday: Short Intervals (treadmill) – 400M on, rest at 1:1.  I set my watch to rest for 1:20 which was a few extra seconds per rep.  I nailed my 400s at 5:25 pace and felt great about this one.
Monday: Crossfit:  5×5 Front Squat then 50 thrusters for time with a 200M run every time you dropped the bar.  I did this barefoot and ran on the cement, which was new but felt pretty good.
Tuesday: 4.5 miles with Team RWB Virginia Beach.  Threw a pair of 400M pick-ups in there just for kicks.  It was still hot but this was my first really good run outside on the road in a while.
Wednesday: Crossfit: A new clean and jerk PR!  Mostly because I never split jerk.  Ever.  5×3 C+J then 3 RFT x 400M run, 20 unbroken wallballs, 20 unbroken kettle bell swings.
Thursday: Long Intervals: 800M on, 3 min off to fail.  Not too hot but humid.  Another very solid road run.
Friday AM: Felt like 92 after Boot Camp so I opted for an easy barefoot 4 miler on the packed sand that was very warm.
Friday PM: My originally scheduled outdoor speed work, 300M repeats, on the treadmill this evening.  Should be a bit cooler inside!

I’m feeling good about my training and am ready to get rocking on some serious speed work to prep for my 5k and 10k this fall.  I hope you can spice up your routine with some of theseideas from Workouts I.

Meredith

What’s your favorite kind of workout?  Speed, long+easy, Crossfit?

Olympic Inspiration and A Valentine

If the Olympics are good for anything, it’s inspiration.  Sochi 2014 coverage has been littered with tales fortitude and stories of individuals fighting through injuries, lack of inspirationfunding and personal tragedies to reach the pinnacle of their sport.  This piece really explains why.  Olympic stories are a great place to find the inspiration to drag yourself out of bed for a frigid early morning run, get back on the court after a bad game or fight to recover from an injury, but I don’t always need that much.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay injury free for the last two years, with nothing more than a serious dose of muscle soreness to keep me from training and racing.  While I don’t have to fight every single day to get out there and go, it doesn’t mean all of my training is a cake walk.  There are plenty of days I lack motivation, had a bad workout or am distracted with life and those are the times I take a look around and realize that the thing holding me back is nothing compared to what some people have to compete with.

inspirationThis morning, in fact, I was in need of a little dose of inspiration.  My Monday and Wednesday outings had been really, really good, but I had also pushed my body really hard, and probably as a result, yesterday’s speed work was good, but could have been better.  I knew I would pay today, and as expected, my legs were feeling fried when I rolled out of bed.  Waking up to Fit Friday with a 105 minute long run on the schedule this morning, I knew my run would be tough and I had to get it together before putting on my running shoes.  Luckily for me, it’s also Valentine’s Day.  Feel good stories of love are everywhere you turn and I definitely needed one.  While scheduling tweets, writing workouts and catching up on Olympic news, I came across this story.  I recalled it being mentioned during last night’s event coverage, but I was too busy saying ‘oh, my knees’ every time a skier landed a 100+ foot jump to really listen.  Well, that was all I needed to turn my motivation frown upside down.

The canines of Sochi had been a prominent pre-Olympic story line, and with all of the other unreadiness that ran rampant in the city, I wasn’t surprised this was the solution.  Fortunately for the dogs, there are people like Gus Kenworthy and these guys struggling to save their innocent lives.  It’s a reminder that it doesn’t take much to do the right thing and inspire people.  Not only are these animals adorable, they are safe and sound thanks to a few citizens with big hearts who knew these dogs wanted to see Valentine’s Day, too.inspiration

With a smile on my face, at least two hours worth of inspiration and a tail wagging Jordy rescue dog I knew would be happy to see me when I got back, I went out to run.  Even though I ended up cutting the run down from 105 minutes to 10 miles (1:15:34) due to tired, angry, oh-no-we’re-not legs and the 20 mph head winds I ran into for 6 of those miles, I feel good heading into next week’s 120 minute outing.  Better to listen to my body and shorten a training run than hurt myself.  Hopefully lots of foam rolling, massaging and ice will pull my legs out of this rut and I’ll have no problem wrapping up Shamrock Week 8 tomorrow with strength training and a short recovery run.

Meredith

When do you need inspiration?  What is it?  Do you have a rescue dog?

Running Room

It’s Fit Friday and I had a nice long two hour run on the schedule.  My 105 minute outing last week was solid, and just a hair longer than the last 105 minute run I had done in August.  I hoped today’s run was going to get me further than any other two hour run I’ve ever done, but that also presented a problem.  Running room.  The space to run around.  My plan was to take a course I do often, circle the local lake then head out around the nearby golf course.  Where the heck was I going to add mileage to this run?

In the spirit of adventure, I fueled up with a delicious GPS E2 and set out without knowing where I would pick up this running room.  You can only go around the block so many times before getting dizzy and bored, so I knew it would involve new turf.  Hopefully I wouldn’t get lost again.  Luckily, as I cruised around the lake for my first two miles, a light bulb flickered on above my tiny head (I mean that.  I can wear kids size sunglasses and only visors that close with velcro.  I’m a 6-3/4″ hat size with my very thick hair up in it.  It’s small).

Those dead end streets I had taken by mistake a few weeks ago would be my brand new running room today.  I took an out and back on every one of them.  A great place to find extra running roomSometimes I could see the loop from the main drag, and one of them went on for close to a quarter of a mile.  Half mile successfully added!  By the time I was an hour into this exciting running adventure, I was not only really happy with my pace, I was a) not lost and b) going to get every minute in without having to go around my block one single time.

As hour two began, I was rocking and rolling.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the majority of those infamous dead end streets were all on one side of the course, the other side is bordered by a development that doesn’t connect.  I managed to scrounge up a few more tenths of a mile with some cul-de-sacs, but starting heading home with thirty minutes remaining.  That was a little too much time, and I ended up having to take two trips around the block.  Those two turns weren’t entirely unbearable, and they wrapped a great run.

I’ll look at the map before next week long run on Wednesday and try to find another course with additional running room.  Taking the same route two weeks in a row would be boring, so I’ll be mixing it up no matter what.  Now it’s off to feed the Jordy dog, find something for dinner, settle in for some DVRed Jeopardy and a nice big stretch before bed.

Happy Weekend! 🙂

Meredith

How do you find new routes, add mileage and increase running room without going in circles?