Tag Archives: long run

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.


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.


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!


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

Fit Friday: Mental Preparation

Performing well at anything, whether it’s a test in school, a race on the road or an off the cuff speech, takes mental preparation.  While planning is an important part of each of those instances, you also need to be ready for the unexpected.  I’ll be going more in depth into this idea on the East Coast Run Project blog next week (sign up to get it here!) but right now I’ll tell you how it helped me rock Week 4’s long run.

My fourth week of marathon training called for a long run of 18 miles.  With my client training schedule my morning, when I prefer to do long runs, schedule have me two options.  Thursday or Saturday.  Either day, the weather looked nasty and my body would be tired.  Thursday would be chilly with temperatures in the mid-30s and winds over 20mph with gale warnings.  Saturday would be significantly warmer, mid-50s but still be windy (no gale warning) and, to step it up, a 90% chance of rain.

Naturally I opted for Thursday.  With only one bridge to cross I much preferred a strong headwind to soaking wet shoes.  A finish fast long run, I was concerned the wind would take too much out of me to really have the high quality workout I was looking for.  So I started my mental preparation.  I steeled my nerves for a cold, challenging run.  I visualized an average pace somewhere between my 8:10 goal and my ‘this sucks and is really hard’ pace of anything mental preparationbelow 8:40.  Over and over on Wednesday I said to myself that I could do it no matter how tough it got.

And you know what happened?  IT WAS AWESOME.  Aside from almost being blown into traffic on that aforementioned bridge.  I was plenty warm in my layers.  The wind was mostly quieter than predicted.  Instead of the constant struggle I prepared for the wind was gusty.  Thanks to that big tailwind my finish fast was actually extremely fast!

I felt amazing the last mile.  The run I had expected to be brutal was, in fact, fantastic.  I’m so glad I took the time to do my mental preparation.  It really paid off and was great practice for race day.


What’s your mental preparation routine?  Do you have a positive mantra and what it is?!

Workouts for Every Week

Every week I make sure my training is different than the last one.  Having variety in a training schedule is undeniably important.  I never repeat a workout more than once every two weeks and only in the case of mile repeats if that often.  Even though the exact content might change, the types of workouts I do consistent across every training week.  Each one focuses on a different aspect of improving my performance and the variety forces me to adapt in positive ways without over working one system or another.  Here’s what I find on my schedule every week of training:

Long Run:  Of course the long run!  As a distance runner the long run builds my fitness base and helps me stay strong.  Because my day, or days, off change, my long run doesn’t always every weekstart or end my training week.  That makes it a great place to practice mental toughness when there’s bad weather or I’m heading for an off day beat up.  Run at an easy pace, I’ll add more than one when I’m running big mileages weeks to keep wear and tear to a minimum.

Track Work:  In complete contrast to my long runs, track days are all about beating myself up.  Every week I tackle short intervals of anything shorter than 90 seconds or 800M.  These sessions are hard on my legs, core and cardiovascular system.  The goal is to improve my tolerance for lactic acid, build VO2max and keep my turnover rate high.

Tempo Run:  This type of run trades off between race pace miles and long, faster intervals over a mile run at a comfortably hard pace.  I use them to build aerobic endurance, spending the bulk of these workouts getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  They let me know that I can push myself and keep going when I thought I was finished.  It’s typically here I first notice a performance improvement.

Easy Running:  Sometimes these are called recovery runs.  I wouldn’t ever say these are ‘junk miles’ since they help me a lot.  It’s inevitable I’ll be sore and tired at some point every week and these usually 4-milers keep me moving without added strain.  I run them very easy, 30-45 seconds slower than my long run pace, trying to breathe every weekexclusively through my nose for the entire duration to make sure it stays easy.

Yoga:  I recently started adding more yoga and meditation to my schedule.  Each morning I flow through 10 minutes of hip opening and spine loosening poses.  Every night I do at least 15 minutes to wind down my day, finishing with breathing exercises, reviewing the day and planning the next one.

Crossfit:  I Crossfit or lift heavy weights three times a week.  The strength, balance and mobility required to properly perform the movement has undoubtedly improved my running.


What workouts are sure to include every week?  Do you have favorites?

Unbeatable Mind + Slowing Down

Last week I kicked off a year long journey with Unbeatable Mind.  Founded by Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL Commander, I’m excited to dive more deeply into some of the principles I read about in his The Way of the SEAL and Unbeatable Mind books.  Mark has years of Unbeatable Mind's Profile Photocorporate, military, yoga and leadership experience from which he has created the Unbeatable Mind program.  The ultimate goal is to ‘forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level.’  Dedicated to helping individuals reach their full potential by discovering themselves, the Unbeatable Mind community is a place where everyone wants to grow into a stronger, kinder, happier person.  And who wouldn’t want that?!

I’m looking to hit some big goals in the next 6-12 months (buy a house, PR the marathon, launch a new business project) and believe the things I learn will only help me reach each of those goals faster.  The beginning of my Unbeatable Mind learning was a bit of an overload because I tried to soak in as much as I could as quickly as possible but I’ve relaxed and reorganized.  I have twelve months to slow down and soak it all in, making sure I get as much as I can from both the program and myself.

I’ve also slowed down my long runs.  It’s been awfully warm the last few and after some hydration issues two weeks ago, I spend most of the miles telling myself to ‘slow down’.  I’ve also scouted out routes that are as shaded as possible in the morning or evening so no matter when I’m hitting the road I have at least some kind of relief.  I’m not sure what to expect at Red, White and Boom because of not having done any hard tempo runs in a while but with the race coming in the middle of my base phase, I’ll be OK with whatever happens.


Have you read Unbeatable Mind?  How do you cope with summer heat?

Sand Soccer + Long Run

Last week was a busy one with lots of miles, a lesson remembered and some serious heat.  The highlights were a weekend filled with my longest run, 12 miles, since Coastal Delaware seven weeks prior and the North American Sand Soccer Championships.

I checked my long run off Thursday morning before the weekend’s heat rolled in.  It was still warm, in the high 70s, when I finished and I got a very good reminder of how much I need to respect the summer sun starting around Mile 8.  I had plenty of water throughout my run but paid for leaving my electrolytes at home.  The pace was easy, 8:15 per mile, the whole way and I didn’t feel any signs of dehydration at any point.  Starting around the one hour mark, I started having some unusual muscle fatigue, a general loss of energy and some slight cramping of my calves.  There wasn’t anything I could do but take a few short walking breaks to jog the final few miles home.  I bounced back as soon as I sucked down the two vials of Oral IV sitting on the table.  My legs felt great and it was a solid run in spite of the salt issues because I knew exactly what was going on.  It was an excellent reminder of just how quickly things can go awry when the summer’s here.sand soccer

With a weekend free from a long run, I had plenty of free time after hitting the track Saturday morning to enjoy some of Virginia Beach’s annual sand soccer event.  There were about 1,000 boys, girls and coed teams of all ages vying for championships in their respective divisions.  Over a mile and a half of oceanfront sand real estate is turned into sand soccer pitches with one big ‘stadium’ area.  That’s where Doug and I settled in to watch Coasta Rica and FC Barcelona battle it out Saturday afternoon while working on our sunburns and staying hydrated on the 90+ degree day.  We had so much fun Saturday, we went back for the championship game Sunday in spite of the temperature pushing 100.  At least there was a solid breeze coming off the water to help keep us from overheating!  All of the guys are incredible athletes, racing around in the deep sand, scoring with bicycle kicks and perfectly controlling the ball at all times.  In the end, it came down to PKs and Team PUGG was the winner of a great match.sand soccerMeredith

Do you play sand soccer?  How do you deal with running in the heat?


Marathon Training Run 10

Marathon training run 10 could also have been known as the pretty decent turned bad run.  So what went wrong?  The biggest bump in the road was the low grade fever I’m pretty sure I was running, no pun intended, for at least the last hour.  Add that to temperatures never rising above 30, having bumped the run up a day due to weather and the angriest calves I’ve ever had, I’m glad I finished it at all.  I’m even happier that least half of it was good.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, I opted to move this 20 miler to Friday because of weather.  Predictions for the entire weekend had highs in the mid-twenties and wind pushing 30 mph.  All the time.  Friday with it’s high twenties temps and winds of 5-10mph looked much more training run 10manageable.  After a few hours working on my feet, extra mobility work and eating an extra breakfast, I was off.

The first 12 miles of training run 10 were excellent.  I felt good, was plenty warm, had water at Miles 6 and 9.5 with my first energy gel at Mile 8.  My pace was comfortable, hovering around 7:55, with a few pick-ups for some downhills even when I started to notice a bit of posterior chain fatigue around Mile 10.  Then it all went the other direction.  I couldn’t bring my heart rate down or take a deep breath.  My calves were screaming and my hamstrings weren’t being very peachy either.  I somehow maintained my pace for a few more miles, stopping to stretch and have my second energy gel at Mile 14.5.  Stopping was a bad idea.  I’m not sure how I got my legs moving again.  By Mile 17 I was starting to feel a little bit lightheaded.  By 17.5 I wasn’t sure how I was moving.  From there to Mile 19 I averaged an 8:10 pace but it felt like walking.  Mile 19 was back on track as I saw the finish line and knew I was that much closer to a nap.

I couldn’t hit the stop button on my watch fast enough and ran 20.00 miles in 2:39.  That does not include the 60+ second stop I took at Mile 14.5.  When I got inside I immediately rolled my calves and hamstrings.  After that I didn’t want to sit, or stand, or lie down.  I finally know what it feels like to leave everything out there.  Not one more running step was happening unless my life depended on it.  Never ever had I felt like that.  I fidgeted through some food, more rolling and a shower in the next 45 minutes.  Packed in compression gear, I stacked pillows, put my feet up and took a nap.  Never ever have I fallen asleep less than an hour after running more than an easy 5k.

I’m chalking training run 10’s trouble up to the fever I fought for the next two days.  Moving the run up a day and having to be on my feet for a few hours before the run didn’t help, nor did the 10 minutes of calf mobility work, the cold temperatures and sleepless Thursday night.  I’ve kicked the fever and my head feels clear heading into the last four weeks before I hit the road for my first marathon.


What do you do if you feel sick on a run?  How do you adjust for a run later in the day?

Marathon Training Run 9 (11 miles)

Training run 9 was my long run for the final ‘short’ long run of my One City Marathon training cycle.  Next up are two big ones before taper crazy time sets in.  My legs were tired from a tough speed workout Friday that I definitely didn’t properly recover from (no post run compression, not enough time with the Rumble Roller) and it probably didn’t help my body much getting over a hard workout that I had barely eaten anything Thursday due to some Wednesday night food that didn’t sit exactly right.  Excuses being made, training run 9 was actually really good.

Since a shorter run was on the ‘down week’ schedule but I still wanted to get in a decent workout, I decided to finish up my run at half marathon pace.  A finish fast long run even if it wasn’t that long.  I locked in a to run 10 or 12 miles depending on how my legs left when I hit 7 with a plan to run 8 at marathon pace and 2 at half marathon pace or 9 and 3.

It took me and my lazy legs about 3 miles to really get in a groove but there was very little wind on a beautifully crisp morning so I couldn’t complain.  Unbeknownst to me, a 4 mile race in conjunction with Polar Plunge 2016 would be racing down the Boardwalk towards me for the bulk of Miles 2 and 3 that was a nice distraction from my slightly grumpy body.

Coming off the boardwalk just before Mile 4.5 I had a shoe retie and calf stretch then rolled on training run 9to water at Mile 6 around 47 minutes.  I debated downing my GU a mile earlier than planned so I could have water with it but held off.  When I did open it at Mile 7, about 55 minutes in, the legs were barking a bit and I decided to meet my plan in the middle and wrap up with a total of 11 miles for the day.  Marathon pace for 8, half marathon pace for 2 and one final mile back at marathon pace.

Feeling decent, I rolled through to Mile 8 and accelerated with surprising ease when my watch beeped.  The next two miles went really well.  It felt good to pick up the pace and actually made my legs feel better than they had when I started.  The last mile, though, didn’t exactly feel like the cool down I had expected.  When I first came off the gas, I slowed down more than intended without really noticing and it took me a good 500M to settle back at a slightly faster marathon pace.  I ran through an easy last 1,000 meters to finish feeling good.

With a good training run 9 behind me and two more 20/20+ milers on my plate before two taper weeks, I’m starting to get excited about conquering my first marathon in 35 short days.


How did you feel five weeks before your first marathon?  How long did you taper?

Marathon Training Run 7 (21 Miles)

Marathon training run 7 was a mess.  It was the first long run in my One City Marathon training cycle that really pushed me to the edge of quitting both mentally and physically.  After having all of my earlier long runs go well, I look back and figure I was due for a downer.  While it’s over and taught me a few things, I’m looking forward to improving on it this week.

Training run 7 started, and ended, on cold windy day.  Temperatures were right around freezing and wind speeds varied between 23 and 25 miles per hour pretty consistently.  I started out with a tailwind for Mile 1 then turned around to face it for Miles 2 through 6.5.  During those wind in my face miles I had trouble getting my heart rate down.  I didn’t think wasn’t moving too training run 7fast and even tried slowing down more to compensate for the extra work.  By Mile 5 I finally had that under control when another wheel feel off.

My stomach growled.  Three miles before my scheduled GU and only 40 minutes into a 160 minute run.  Uh-oh.  I was hungry the entire run from Mile 5 on even after I sucked down energy gels at Miles 7 and 14.  Running hungry stinks.  It sapped my energy and caused my legs to fatigue very early.  At least I had the crosswind from Miles 6.5 to 10.

As if things weren’t going badly enough, I was back in the headwind when my knee started giving me some flack around Mile 11 and I spent the next ten miles trying to keep it happy.  Along with the knee pain came extreme muscle fatigue that forced me to see if having my second gel a mile early would help.  It didn’t.  A final turn around at Mile 15 gave me a tailwind for the final six but by that point I don’t think I even noticed.

Everything came apart at Mile 18 and I was happy to just finish without injuring myself. One good mile and twenty crappy ones in the books, I’m looking forward to getting back on track with a three hour run this week.  I’m chalking training run 7’s yuckiness up to doing a not-as-good-as-I-thought job recovering from my back to back half marathons in terms of calories.

With ten days to refill my tank, I’ll be tackling a three hour training run 8 this weekend.  I’m sure it’ll be at least a small improvement for my longest run ever and am still feeling confident that I’ll be ready to rock on race day.


How do you handle a bad training run?  Do you except a few in a training cycle?