Monday Motivation

The week before last was pretty routine and uneventful in my running/pole fitness adventures, but I was busy with work so I didn’t get much time for an update. Last week, we hit the two month mark until the Northeast Pole Championships (NEPC), which was already nerve wracking. Pole Sport Organization (PSO) sends you the list of competitors and the category they will be competing in after the registration deadline closes. Well, it closed on Monday, September 18th and the very next day, we received an email from PSO with The List.

I feel extremely out of my league for this competition. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel just a little crushed when I saw some of the names on the list. I expected some big names, but a handful of the women that will be competing are my pole role models. I save their Instagram videos and try to copy their combos and tricks – and now I have to compete against them. I generally don’t care about what people think of me, but when I saw that list I felt like my name didn’t belong on it.

I’m not usually someone who is negative or self-doubting, so those feelings passed after a few days. I still feel like I’m way out of my league, but I’m determined to show up to NEPC with a killer routine. I HAVE a killer routine, I just have to work on cleaning it up so the execution is flawless. I know I won’t win, but my goal is to look like I belong in that division. There are 13 people in my division. To give you a glimpse of the amazing talent I get to share a stage with, here is a video of one of my competitors from when she won the pro division at APC in 2016. You might want to fast forward until about the one minute mark if you want to just see the pole tricks and not the performance stuff:

Seeing that list might have been the motivation I needed, because I felt like I was at a plateau with my routine and it just wasn’t getting any better. It still needs soooo much work, but it started to feel a LITTLE bit better last week. Training for a pole competition is so much like training for a marathon. You have days where it feels effortless. You feel light and agile and everything seems to be coming together. Then, the next day, you feel like you put on a hundred pounds,  your muscles feel like lead, and you feel like you’ve never touched a pole (or laced up a pair of running sneakers) a day in your life. The highs and lows are tremendous and much like marathon training.

I’m really struggling with the pole training aspect this time around because my routine is much more challenging (for me) than my previous routine. There are more tricks, most of them harder and it’s actually packed into a shorter amount of time. My last song was a little over four minutes, but this one is just shy of three and a half minutes long. I can’t take the same training approach to this routine or I will get injured. I was so obsessed for awhile that I realized well over a month went by and I hadn’t taken a day off of pole – on top of running six days per week. So I did what I know how to do best and what running has trained me to do. I made a spreadsheet. I translated my pole workouts it into running terms. Yep, I’m a huge nerd.

In a successful marathon training program, I wouldn’t do a track workout, tempo run, and long run back to back. That would be physically impossible for me – especially if I expected to produce results, show improvement, and complete quality workouts. In theory, this is what I’ve been doing to train for my competition. Every single day is a hard day. If I saw a marathon training plan built like this, I’d never choose it because I’d know that I would never improve and there would be a high risk for injury.

While the effort is different here, with pole being a more strength focused workout and running being more cardio focused, the theory and approach is almost the same. Your muscle groups can only take so much before you need to take it easy or rest completely. It’s harder for me to pick and choose when I do my harder days at pole since I’m at the mercy of the studio schedule (and work schedule, boo!). I can plan my rest days and ensure that I actually take one, so I’m forcing myself to take one per week. This week, my brother is getting married and I’m going to have a lot of company at my house, so it’s likely I’m taking three whole days off. Of course I’m stressing about it, but I know my body will probably respond really well to the extra rest.

So last week ended up looking a bit like this:

  • Monday – AM 4 mile run, PM pole conditioning class and competition  prep
  • Tuesday – AM 5 mile run, PM competition prep and booty class
  • Wednesday – PM Level 3 Pole class and competition prep
  • Thursday – 4 mile run and competition prep class
  • Friday – 4 mile run; OFF of pole
  • Saturday – 6 mile run, pole conditioning
  • Sunday – 5 mile run with one mile at marathon pace (6:45); competition prep

Oh yeah, side note: I decided to start slowly getting some speed back in my legs so maybe I have a shot at sub-3 in Boston or at a spring marathon (I’m eying up the Eugene Marathon, any takers?). The drive to run a fast marathon is starting to return, so lets see if my legs will agree with my head. That one marathon paced mile felt pretty good, and it was the last run of the week so my legs weren’t exactly fresh.  It’s a small victory, but it’s one mile closer than I was last week! I really hope to run a few local races around the holidays to test my speed and motivation, so this might be a step in the right direction.

Anyone interested in the Eugene Marathon? Have you ever done something where you know you are in way over your head, but decide you’re going togive it your all anyway?

 

Advertisements

2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 12: 2/27-3/5

Seriously though. It was a rough week last week. It’s getting close to the end of the 3rd marking period at school, and that sums up my thoughts lately!

Had some really weird stomach issues last week, combined with a Saturday race. Hanson’s schedules long runs every other weekend with the option of doing one every weekend if you really want, so I opted to not do an official long run this week because of the race. I’ve been doing long runs every single weekend regardless of whether they are on the schedule, with the exception of last week because of my work trip and this week due to the race. Last year, the race and the work trip fell during the same week so it wasn’t as big of a deal. Actually, it wasn’t really a big deal this year either – I didn’t do a long run. Such is life.

Monday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 10 miles easy, PM pole class
Tuesday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 13 miles w/4 x 1.5 miles @ marathon pace – 10 seconds per mile (goal marathon pace is 6:45-50 someday, so I shot for 6:35. All were on pace and my last one was the fastest, averaging somewhere in the 6:20s) Highlight of the workout? I did it in shorts and a sports bra. On February 28th.


Wednesday: AM 6 miles easy, Pole Flow class, Pole Competition Practice class
Thursday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 4 miles easy – was planning to do 8 but had some weird stomach issue that started Wednesday night and felt crappy after one mile so called it a day at 4 miles).
Friday: AM 6 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice class – was planning on taking a rest day from running but I felt better when I woke up, so I went to the gym to do the remaining 4 miles of my Thursday run. I had a pretty good playlist going on Spotify and I was actually early for once in my life so I did 6 instead. My outfit for my pole competition shipped!!! I will at least give you a glimpse of it:

It should officially be here soon!!
Saturday: Quakertown 10 Miler (14 miles total with w/u and c/d), Abs/MYRTLs, Pole Competition practice
Didn’t run a PR but this happened:

I’ll get a race report out soon! I celebrated by going to dinner with friends to a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, Grain. I ate the best Chicken and Waffles I’ve ever had. Actually, I think it’s the only chicken and waffles I’ve ever had.

Sunday: 9 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice
Had to do something, because it was my birthday and I knew I wanted to eat as much of this as possible:

My speedy friend, Cassie, is a pastry chef and she made me my cake. I loved it. She is so talented!

= 62 miles

Overall, it was a really good week. I really think I was fighting off a stomach bug or something because from Wednesday night through about Sunday, my stomach felt terrible! I’m hoping I kept it at bay and that I’m past it now.

Did you ever eat chicken and waffles? What was the best birthday cake you’ve ever had? 

♥♥♥

February: That Time I Remembered that I Actually Like Running

img_9887

I didn’t track too much of anything mileage wise in the month of February. Since I really started my training for Boston after the holidays, I can tell you that I’ve put in the miles and the effort but if you want to know mileage totals and paces…maybe stay tuned for next month. I had a rough time in January because it just felt so hard, but February was a turning point.

  1. I ran my first race since July and didn’t die.
  2. Running/training became a habit again, rather than a chore.
  3. My tempo runs started feeling less like an activity designed to inflict endless torture/frustration, and more like a solid workout.
  4. I used the treadmill entirely too much earlier in the month, but I got to finish the month running in shorts and a sports bra. In February. In Northeastern PA. Shorts. Sports bra.
  5. I got back on track with being Paleo-ish and got close to my racing weight again.

I run the Super Bowl Sunday 10K every year. this year, it fell on February 5th. I was just getting my legs back and didn’t think I could come close to the time I ran last year, which is my 10K PR. My good friend, Kathy, and her husband Darin were also running. Darin told Kathy that he wanted to beat us at the race. He even sent me a screenshot of his Strava with proof that he was averaging 6:50 pace for his own 10K time trial. I was shit talking right back, although I knew the reality of my fitness at this point. It’s a pretty hilly course, and I’m not much of a 10K runner, so I knew my PR was somewhere in the 41 minute range – only slightly faster than what he was averaging on his training runs.

My personal goal was the same as last year’s goal. Run this as a tempo run (especially good use of this race since it’s hilly and I tend to stick to flats for tempos) and average goal marathon pace, 6:45-6:50/mile. I also wanted to beat Darin, but I wasn’t willing to go out too fast and blow the workout. The race began, and I felt fantastic. I ran comfortable and relaxed, and I didn’t work too much harder than I had to. I ended up averaging 6:41/mile and running 41:34 – four seconds slower than my 10K PR. If I’d known I was that close, I would have picked it up. I’m not disappointed because I never expected to come close to a PR, let alone feel that good. Kathy finished a few seconds behind me (41:46) and Darin finished a few minutes after us 🙂 🙂 43:41! He ran a great race, but it was even better since we were able to remind him about how we beat him.

img_9616

(Darin is in black, and his twin brother, Derrek, is the one in blue!)

Since last spring ended and I got burned out, I was having trouble getting out the door to run regularly. I would find excuses not to go or to just do it another day. I kept remembering how last year it didn’t matter what the situation was – I got the run done. It was like I was on autopilot. There were weeks where my shortest run was 10 miles and I never once thought, “ugh, can I just do this another day?” Once I got back on the training horse in January, I had that thought that every single time I laced up my running shoes. The week after the 10K, that changed. I was getting ready to do a tempo run. As I headed over to the trail I use for those workouts, it dawned on me that I wasn’t thinking about the tough workout ahead, or trying to figure out a way to push it off. I finally felt like I was on autopilot again. Even yesterday, when I was leaving work and totally exhausted and had a long strength/track workout to do, I just got out of my car and did it, no hesitation. I like that feeling. I missed that feeling.

Another January/February habit I developed was using the treadmill (or should I say, overusing). I started to become a real baby about going outside. We’ve had pretty much the mildest winter of my existence, and somehow I found reasons to not run outside. We got one snowstorm, so there was that – but I always found a way to say it was too cold, too windy, too cloudy, too whatever. In January and the beginning of February, I think I ran more miles on a treadmill than I’ve ever run on a treadmill. I just went with it. If it was the thing that got me motivated to run again, great.

While I don’t like to use a treadmill often, I think I relied on it because I felt like I could control my pace and force my body into working harder than I wanted (dumb idea, I’m sure). This was especially helpful with the tempo runs. I had a rough time getting started with these. I couldn’t even touch the goal pace from last year, let alone try to go faster. I found if I used the treadmill, I would at least do it and not stop – because God forbid I accidentally reset the treadmill before it hit the one hour mark. It would be like the run never happened. This past week, not only did I do my tempo run on a different trail, but it was at a different time since I had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate a work trip. It was outside, and it was my best one yet. Ahhh, finally. I think making myself force the pace on the treadmill helped get my confidence and speed back (probably not the smartest strategy, but whatever).

I gained a few pounds over the holidays (as usual, but not as much as last year) and started to get closer to my racing weight again, which feels great. I spent a lot of time training for my upcoming pole competition (Atlantic Pole Championships in DC on 4/2!) both at the pole studio and on my home pole, but that’s all I’ll say about that for now 🙂 By the time I do a March recap, I will be able to share much more about that experience because the competition will be over! But here is a picture of my new pole in my spare bedroom (we haven’t renovated that section of the house yet so it looks a little scary):

img_9732

Other fun, non-fitness related things…I got my orchid new to bloom! I bought this little guy in July and I’ve never had any luck with orchids ever in my life:

img_9800

My husband and I cook Valentine’s dinner together every year, and this year was wonderful:

img_9788

Homemade crab cakes (I need to get that recipe out because they were freaking amazing), homemade tarter sauce, homemade mashed potatoes and seared strip steaks, asparagus, and homemade chocolate creme brulee with homemade creme anglaise. I usually do all of the cooking around our house but I love when we do a meal together, and we usually do this for Valentine’s Day. So fun.

We also finished our pantry, which is an addition off of our new kitchen! So much room for activities!!!!

img_9914

How was your month? Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot with running?

2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 11: 2/20-2/26

(I swear weeks 1-10 happened.)

These weekly workout posts used to get a little lengthy, so I’m going to give you the abridged version this time around since basically, I’m doing what I did last year. Except instead of a color coded spreadsheet where I have everything carefully planned and then logged post workout, I just carry my Hansons Bible around and whip it out when I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing. Instead of worrying about, “am I running more miles than I ran last week?” I focus on running the minimum mileage on my easy days and only tack on miles if I want to, not because I feel like I have to.

This week was GREAT because of the six times I ran, five of those times WERE IN SHORTS. OUTSIDE. I live in Northeastern PA. Is this real life? It was also good because I had Monday off of work for Presidents’ Day, but challenging because I chaperoned a three day trip to Hershey. I do this every year and I’m able to get a decent number of miles in but can’t count on getting pace specific workouts in. There’s a great trail right by the hotel that I can log some long miles on if the kiddos aren’t too needy:

snapseed

Monday – 10 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Tuesday – 14 miles, Track/Strength – 6×1 mile at marathon pace -10 seconds/mile + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: Although I don’t think sub-3 is in the cards this season, I’ve been using about a 6:45-6:50 pace as my “marathon pace”, so the goal here was to hit 6:35-6:40 for these. I can’t remember what each mile was, but I remember that I kept them all under 6:35 (because I am a head case). I did a 3 mile warm up, 6×1 mile with 400 recoveries, and 3.5 mile cool down on the Saucon Trail. I felt pretty great until the last mile, when I really wanted the steak I had waiting for me in my fridge at home.
Wednesday – 6 miles am + core/MYRTLs & 5 miles pm, easy pace: I don’t usually do two-a-days but I ran before we left for the conference and when we got there and got settled, I had about two hours to kill so one of my co-workers and I hit up the trail for an easy run.
Thursday – 10 miles, easy
Friday – Rest day! I always schedule the final day of this conference as a rest day. Lack of sleep from chaperoning 172 kids for three days + travel day = no bueno. I did eat an entire bag of BIRTHDAY CAKE HERSHEY KISSES though! Did you guys know that was a thing? They taste like Funfetti icing and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been happier.
Saturday – 6 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Sunday – 14 miles w/8 @ marathon pace + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: 
No long run this week so I saved my tempo run for Sunday. It was a good call. Felt great, shot for the 6:45-6:50 range. No idea what every single mile split was but I know that my slowest one was 6:51 and my fastest one was 6:27. This was the first week that my tempo run felt like it should feel. Thank GOD because I was really starting to think my legs forgot about tempo runs.

= 65 Miles 

I got some new kicks on Monday – first running shoes I’ve purchased since JULY. My shoes all but had holes worn through the soles. Partially because I was on vacation from running for so long, partially because I forgot to buy new ones, and partially because I was lost since Brooks discontinued my beloved Pure Connects. HATED the Pure Flow 5, was trudging along in the Launch for most of my runs and the Hyperion for track/tempo runs. Launch just feels like too much shoe for all of the time, and the Hyperion is a glorified racing flat so not very comfortable. BUT THEN THE PURE FLOW 6 HAPPENED.

img_0049

It was love at first run. If you were in the same predicament as me…get these on your feet yesterday. LOVE THEM.

In the world of farmhouse renovations, we are currently finishing up an addition off our kitchen that includes a laundry room, and my husband laid the tile while I was away. We went with cement tiles through a company called Lili Tile – their Instagram is ridiculous and a gorgeous addition to your feed if you like to drool over home renovations like I do. It’s not grouted yet, and literally took this after he laid the final tile so it isn’t even clean, but I can’t even handle how much I love it:

img_9982

Everything in my house is very monochromatic and plain – lots of gray and white everywhere – so choosing a pattern was huge for me. The patina of cement tile is to die for. I will take some more pictures after it is cleaned, sealed and grouted but OMG YOU GUYS.

How was your week? What shoes are you currently running in? What’s the longest you ever went without buying new running shoes?

♥ ♥ ♥

Recovery Week 4: 5/23-5/29

You guys, I am going to do some serious writing, commenting and catching up this week. Last week was unbelievably busy. At work, it’s the end of the school year and I teach mixed grade levels. So figuring out who is supposed to be taking my final, reviewing for my final, cleaning out their locker, and whatever else needs to happen at the end of the year made my brain hurt a little. At home, we opened our pool and pretty much finished our kitchen. We spent the weekend moving our stuff in and then to top it off, we had a BBQ on Sunday. WHEW. I owe you guys race recaps, pole competition recaps, end of the month recaps, music (I MISSED LAST WEEK and I have SO MANY NEW BEATS FOR YOU!!), food conquests, etc. I will get my shit together.

Monday: Rest

Wasn’t supposed to be a rest day but we voted on our new teacher contract and I was at school pretty late. I got out too late to make it to pole class. It was a long, emotional day so I just went with it. “Going with it” included going out for dinner and getting fries. I needed them.

Tuesday: 6 Miles + Pole Fitness

I wanted to do some intervals like the week before but was pretty drained from the day before, so I opted for an easy run and pole class. It’s recovery right now, and part of what I want to embrace is just doing whatever I want. I ran easy on the Plainfield trail, and I felt great:

image

I also went to pole and worked on a few new combos and old stuff I neglected during competition prep.

Wednesday:Core/Strength/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Did my core work and had plans to run after work. Drove to Plainfield, changed my clothes, got out of the car and got right back in. I sat in the air conditioning until pole class. Yep. It was so hot and humid. So…NOPE! Pole was great and I had fun working on some combos I found on Instagram that day.

Thursday: 8 Miles w/45 seconds @ “5K” pace 

I tried something new. I got up at a god awful early morning hour and drove my ass to Saucon Park before work. I had to have enough time to drive there, do my run, drive home and shower and then go to work. I accomplished all of this and was in the car by 6:35am. I did, however, do my make up en route to work. Since it gets light so early, this worked out pretty well and I’ve decided that for the remainder of the school year I’m going to run before work…even if my alarm clock and makes me want to vomit when I set it. I like it SO MUCH BETTER.

Last week, I did some 30 second intervals so I thought I would do a similar workout but bump the time up to 45 seconds. My first track workout for Hansons is the week of 6/13 and it’s 400s. I think my goal for 400s is 1:28 (? I have to actually look it up, I’m just throwing a number out there) so you can see where I’m going with these little pickups. Anyway, I just went on the roads of Saucon – rolling hills – in lieu of a actually going to a track. This is not meant to be a formal workout, just reminding my legs that hey, we do have work to do soon.

My goal was to do 12 pickups at “5K” pace. I use “5K” loosely because I know what Hanson’s says my 5K pace should be for my marathon goal (5:47-5:57), but I also know what my last 5K pace actually was (6:03/mile). Still too many numbers for my “recovery” season, so I just picked up the pace and looked at the numbers later. My pace for each 45 second interval:

  • 5:37, 5:45, 5:54, 5:50, 5:50, 5:54, 5:43, 5:54, 5:54, 6:08, 5:47, 5:40

Not sure what happened with the one that was “off pace” but I felt really good on this workout. I had fun with it and thought 45 seconds at this pace was pretty reasonable.

After work, we opened up the pool and I threw my husband in, which was really fun until we realized his phone was in his pocket. WHOOPS. It was hot and the water was 55 degrees, so even after the phone debacle we went for a swim.

image

Friday: 6 Miles Easy + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Did my new get up super early and run before work routine and it was GREAT. I ran at Lehigh Parkway and had a fabulous run. I did some core work over my lunch period and then headed to pole after work. I FINALLY got my Iron X! NOT the most flattering picture but OMG I was SO PUMPED!! I did it twice in a row and held it for a pretty long time both times. Sooooo excited!

image

Also, we learned this pretty variation of a Sneaky V:

image

Saturday: Coopersburg 5K ( 2ish mile warm up and cool down, 7 total miles)

I’ll recap this one soon but let me tell you – I was sucking WIND on this one! Ha! It was a really fun morning, despite it being one of the hilliest 5Ks I’ve ever done.

image

Sunday: 10 Miles, Hills! + Core/MYRTLs

I live at the base of a pretty steep mountain, so I decided this was the week I would start incorporating some elevation. My pace was slow, but this was my run:

image

The end of the run was pretty nice. I want to try running that one in reverse at some point. It was a great course and I plan on doing something like this every single week. I did my MYRTLs and a quick core workout before having a bunch of people over for a Memorial Day BBQ.

I sucked at core and strength this week, but overall I had a good week. I’m really happy with how recovery is going but I’m looking forward to building up some speed again soon – Hansons Round 2 begins again in a few weeks and I am pretty excited for it!

♥ Run: 37 Miles ♥  

How was your week? 

Hansons: Post Race Thoughts & Round Two!

hansons
I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on using Hansons and this past season as a whole. I thought about what I liked, what worked, what didn’t, and what went wrong. I’ve come up with a few theories and ideas for moving forward. If you want to read my more “heartfelt” and “in the moment” post where I talked about how I benefited from Hansons, it’s here. It was really more of a post about my last tempo run turned sappy. If you would have asked me on that day, Hansons is all about sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and smiles. In reality, it’s certainly all of that, but add blood, sweat, and tears and it’s a lot little more accurate.

At this point, Hansons is an ideal plan for me and my current ability level, especially when following the program modifications. I learned more during this training block than I ever have before, which is more valuable than any PR. I learned so much about running, but also about myself.

What I Liked

I learned that I love following a plan with structure. In the past, I’ve used other training plans, a coach, or created my own plans. I’ve always lacked some sort of structure. I never did the same thing each week for the whole training cycle. This plan is very regimented and very simple: you always have a speed workout, a tempo and a long run (or an easy run depending on the week) each week on very specific days. This made scheduling “life” around training much easier. I never felt like I had to consult my training before I made plans – I knew what each week would bring. I’d try like hell to steer clear of doing “life things” on speed and tempo days. But if something happened and I had something else going on, I knew well in advance that I needed to make other arrangements to accomodate the workout.

I found that prefer running long on Sunday. In the past, I always ran long on Saturdays because it’s what my friends did. I don’t know if it was the way the plan was structured or just how my body felt, but I felt better running long on Sunday. Changing the day of my long run meant running solo or with new friends. I was still able to meet Kathy and Mark for a few miles on Saturday when they were running long, so it was like the best of both worlds.

I liked that as I followed this structured schedule and became dedicated to it, I stopped making decisions that worked better for everyone else. I don’t mean that to sound selfish or harsh. I realized how often in past training cycles I altered the pace or timing of a run to meet up with running friends. That’s fine to do sometimes, but at some point you need to be able to do the work on your own, too.

I like to think following this plan helped me figure out the line between taking myself too seriously, and having fun with my friends. I learned that it’s important to have a healthy balance: you shouldn’t always run solo, but you shouldn’t always run with a group. When you race, most times you race alone so it’s good practice. I know that makes me sound selfish, but I spent two years chasing PRs and something had to change if I wanted to see a change in the time on the clock.

What Worked

This could probably also be filed under “what I liked”, but whatever. I’m going to say it. I liked the speed, strength, and tempo run. It’s simple: they work.

The first ten weeks are devoted to building speed, so the workouts are run at 5K pace. Track workouts – this was nothing new. The progression, however, was new to me. In the past, I always jumped right to 800s or mile repeats and hoped for the best. Usually, I would do 3-4 track workouts in my whole entire training cycle. With Hansons, you start at the very beginning with 400s. Why do 400s in marathon training? Makes zero sense to me, so I never did it before (with the exception of my 2015 fall training cycle). With Hansons, your little 400s in week one turn into mile repeats by week eight. And – bonus – do you know what happened after actually working up to mile repeats? I ran a 5K PR – because I was ready for it.

By the time I got to week 11 and Hanson’s was telling me to switch to strength workouts, I was ready for the change of pace. Between the speed and the strength workouts, the strength workouts were my favorite. The focus was marathon pace minus 10 seconds per mile, and to hold that for just enough time that you were comfortably uncomfortable. The result? I felt unstoppable. The day I did my hardest workout from the strength set – 2×3 miles – I was on top of the world. I felt like I could do anything.

Let it also be known that workouts like “10 miles at marathon pace” still scares the absolute living shit out of me. I’m not saying this was ever easy, but ohmigosh. The feeling you get when you nail a workout like that. By yourself. On a Thursday afternoon in whatever the weather throws at you. YAS. You just know that you are capable of anything when you finish something like that. I’m not sure if you can sense it, but every item I’m listing as what “worked” for me all has something in common – confidence. I felt like I could DO this.

What Didn’t Work

This plan doesn’t address hill training. I made sure to try to choose rolling hills for my terrain for my long runs when possible, but I did use some flat trails for some of them occasionally to accommodate running with a group. I’d originally planned to do my easy days on roads with rolling hills, but as the weeks progressed, I wanted to do my easy runs on flat surfaces because my legs were tired. Sometimes, I was able to stick to the roads and incorporate a variety of terrain but most days I headed somewhere flat.

Most of my next training cycle is going to happen over the summer, when I have more flexibility in my schedule. The days are longer, and I’m not working since I’m a teacher. I’m able to go wherever I need to for my runs, so my goal is to try to stick to the track for my speed work, trails for strength workouts and tempo runs, and roads for my easy days. I’m not going to do hill repeats, but I will run hills. One day per week, I want to start running the hill by my house again – Honeysuckle Road. I’ve talked about that before, but I haven’t done it since the beginning of my fall training cycle. I haven’t done as a regular, weekly workout since 2014. This was an old picture from one of the last times I blogged about it:

honeysuckle

What Went Wrong

I wasn’t sure why I didn’t have it at Boston (other than the heat, I truly didn’t feel amazing) and have spent some time considering what factors to attribute that performance to. I don’t know many people who ran the race they trained for that day, so I could blame it on the heat and move on. I want to learn from this experience, so I need to be honest and consider other factors.

Did I go out too fast? Was it really just the heat? Was it the duration of the Hanson’s taper? Was it the races I incorporated throughout my training? Was I fighting off a cold? I blogged that in the beginning of marathon week, I had a weird spot in my throat that felt sore but it went away by the middle of the week. The morning of the race, I woke up with a headache but just chalked it up to nerves. If the outcome of my race had anything to do with illness, there isn’t much more I could have done. I was diligent about sleeping, taking vitamins and walked around with a Clorox wipe in hand the whole week.

Part of what went wrong was absolutely my pacing. Technically, I trained for a 7:03. If you go back and look at my tempo runs, my average for the tempo miles was always just under seven minute pace. I would bet if I went back and averaged them all out from the entire cycle, they would average out to be 6:57. In Kentucky, when I started at a more appropriate pace, I ran a 6:57 pace for the marathon. I think part of what happened in Boston had to do with my excitement over my training, resulting in me going out just a touch too fast. If the weather had been a bit better and I felt 100% (assuming I just didn’t feel great in general), it’s possible I would have gotten closer to a PR that day. But I didn’t train for sub-3, and all of the stars are going to have to align for that to happen even when I do train for it.

I was talking to Megan on our run this weekend and we discussed all of these factors. She’s brutally honest with me, has broken three hours many times, qualified for the Olympic Trials, and has been a coach. Neither of us think I raced too much during this cycle, but she believes the timing of my final race was my biggest error. While I had a great day at the Kutztown Fool’s Run, she thinks it was too close to Boston. She didn’t think my taper was too short, but did think the final race was a big part of what went wrong in Boston, and I agree.

So putting aside the heat and the possibility that maybe I wasn’t feeling 100%, the timing of my races and my pacing on race day were my biggest issues. Moving forward, the lesson here is to run the pace I trained for from the beginning, and to stop adding tune up races to my schedule about a month out.

Moving Forward

Every weekly update I did throughout my spring training began with my marathon goal and my training paces. I began to consider what I want that to look like for fall. I realize the reality of the races I chose: a hot race in October (Southernmost in Key West) and a hilly one in November (Madison, WI) may not be conducive to running a PR or sub-3. I’m not going to let those factors dictate my goal for the race or scare me away. I will take the conditions of those races into consideration as I train for them – add races this summer to practice racing in the heat, add hills to get ready for hillier courses, etc – but I’m not going to back down. If there’s one thing I learned as I’m conquering this 50 state goal: there’s always going to be weird weather and a hill you didn’t know about if you’re choosing to run in unfamiliar territory. I’m not being cocky and saying I’m not scared of it. I’m acknowledging that there may be some challenges on race day and I’m willing to give it my all anyway.

I’m going to be modifying the schedule the same way I did before to make sure I peak in the 80s again. I’d like to see if I can peak closer to 90, but I’m taking things one day at a time. One mile at a time. The only area I never messed with last time around was the sacred Wednesday rest day. The program modifications chapter does, in fact, state that you can add easy miles on your rest day if you’re trying to run more volume. I don’t want to run 7 days/week for 18 weeks, but I’m considering it for every other week in this round of training. I planning very short distances (2-4 miles) at recovery pace to see how my body responds.

Training for Key West begins the week of June 6th. Here’s a sneak peek of what my weekly workout post will look like… 🙂

Marathon Goal –  2:57 (that looks really really scary on here)
Marathon Pace/Tempo Runs –  6:45/mile
Recovery Runs – 8:45/mile
Aerobic A/Easy – 7:45/mile
Aerobic B/Easy – 8:25/mile
Long Run: 7:23

I was debating between 2:55 and 3:00 for my goal. Using Hanson’s online pace calculator, the improvement calculator, and the Hanson’s community page on Facebook, I came up with the 2:57. Luke Humphrey himself voiced his opinion and said 2:57 should be what I should aim for. This would be something like a 2.5% improvement in my current marathon time. The improvement calculator explains it like this: “Highly trained athletes should look for improvements in the 2-4% range, while newer runners can often expect slightly higher rates of initial improvements.” I believe 2.5% improvement is a reasonable goal.

I improved my marathon PR by almost five minutes this past spring. Running a 2:57 would be another five minute improvement. However, I hadn’t touched that time since 2014 and had been hovering in the 3:12 range on my best days over the past two years, so it was almost like a 10 minute improvement. I don’t think shaving 10 minutes off of a 3:02 is a wise goal, and five minutes is still extremely aggressive. My expectation is to train at 2:57 pace and hope to come in under three hours. At any rate, it’s certainly going to make it an interesting summer!

Just Move

trail_raceSometimes, the hardest part of running a marathon comes after the race. This is especially true if the race went the way you’d hoped. You’re partially on a high from the experience, but you’re also in this weird place. You need to recover and will likely lose a bit of fitness in the process. It leaves you wondering if you’re ever going to be able to repeat that performance again – let alone top it. If it didn’t go your way, some part of your existence was devoted to marathon training for the past few months, so it’s almost like losing part of your identity.

In the past, this post- marathon phase was a tough pill for me to swallow. Two years ago, when I ran my previous PR, I jumped right back into training. How could I take a break and lose fitness? I was going to run another PR in the fall and run a sub-3 hour marathon. I didn’t have time for rest. My heart and mind were on board, but my body rebelled. The cycle continued over the past two years and I got the same exact result, time and time again. Further from my PR, injured, and frustrated. Finally, in November after my rough day in Indianapolis, I’d had enough. I took a bunch of time off, came back refreshed and finally capable of chipping away at my PR. So this time around, I don’t feel like I’m losing part of my identity at all.

I never truly embraced recovery before, and some may argue that I still don’t. I started running again this past week. I’m still frequenting the pole fitness studio. I’m incorporating easy strength training and got back on the MYRTL train to avoid future injuries. I’d argue that it’s different from what I did over the past training block. It’s active recovery, and it’s all on my own terms.

I’m not beating up my legs Hansons-style, and I’m only doing whatever I feel like doing. But I am doing something. I can’t help it – I’m not one for sitting still. Sure, I can camp out on my couch for days like a boss and set some serious PRs in a Netflix Marathon, but I don’t feel good after doing that. I did a lot of that from November through the beginning of January. When I started training again, I was miserable. I treated my body like shit, therefore I felt like shit when I got back “on the wagon”. This time around, I’m not following any kind of schedule but I am embracing “movement”. I’ve vowed to do something everyday, but it doesn’t matter what it is. I’ve decided that my theme for May is to “just move”. I can decide what that means everyday. No solid plans.

In the midst of active recovery, copious amounts of cooking, and couch time, I also began planning. I don’t think too much about fall races until my spring season has ended, but I have a good idea how I want things to go down. When I began my 50 state conquest, I started with small goals. Make it to double digits – check. Make it halfway – check. My latest conquest is to check off all states east of the Mississippi River. That means I’m looking for marathons in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

I’ve weighed a bunch of options, and I’ve come up with a rough schedule. There are lots of shorter distance races planned as part of my training, but as for the marathons…the Southernmost Marathon in Key West in early October, followed by the Madison Marathon in Wisconsin in November! It’s still in the planning phases and I’ve got to make all of the necessary travel plans – but it’s looking like I’ll hopefully be checking off those two states next. Anyone interested in joining me? I’m traveling with my mom to Key West (we plan to visit some family in Ft. Lauderdale while we are down south) and with my friend/training partner, Kathy, for Wisconsin.somokw-logo-copy

madisonMarathonLogo

In the meantime, I do have a few late spring/early summer races on my schedule. First up is next weekend – but it’s a trail race! It’s the Jacobsburg 10 Miler. I’ve never run it before and I’m excited because I truly enjoy trail racing. I’ve stayed off the more technical trails (like the game preserve that I love dearly) to avoid falling, but now I’m ready to get out there again. I love trail running for building strength, and I run a few low key trail races each year.

I’m going into this race with a “race for fun” mindset. I really just want to get out there and run the trail. A friend asked me to do this race with her and I couldn’t say no. She ran her first race last summer before her wedding and loved it (the Race Street Run, remember that one?). On her honeymoon in Costa Rica, she was white water rafting and a tree fell on the raft (real life) resulting in a fracture in her tibia – which was the easy part of the injury. The blow caused compartment syndrome in her leg and she needed a double fasciotomy (literally sliced her leg open on both sides) to relieve the pressure. She could have lost her leg.

This happened in August, and the entire fall was a very difficult time for her. She started out in a wheelchair, then crutches, then one crutch – until she could walk slowly with no assistance. She returned to the gym in late fall, and began running again this spring. She ran six miles (the furthest she’s ever run – even before the accident) and wanted to do this race. There’s a five mile and ten mile option – she chose the five mile. She asked if I would do the race, so of course I signed up. I always wanted to run at Jacobsburg but don’t know the trails, so figured this would be a good way for me to explore. I’m not the best trail runner and this race is about my friend overcoming a significant injury and moving on. I’m looking forward to the change of pace!

What’s up next for you? Who’s recovering from a race right now?