Specific Endurance – Why Running at Race Pace Matters

One of the big reasons why I chose Brad Hudson’s Book “Run Faster (From the 5K to the Marathon – How to Be Your Own Best Coach)” for my training plan for both the San Diego RnR Half Marathon (PR city!) and the upcoming California International Marathon was because of his emphasis on race pace training. After two unsuccessful attempts at qualifying for Boston,  one thing I felt that was missing from my training was feeling comfortable running the 8:12 min/mile that I needed to run for 26.2 miles in order to achieve my goal. I was comfortable running intervals, hills and tempo miles, but I lacked the confidence that I could truly sustain race pace on race day.

I ran A LOT of miles at 7:38 before I ran a half marathon at 7:38

I ran A LOT of miles at 7:39 before I ran a half marathon at 7:39

As I’ve explained before, Brad’s training principles are summarized in 4 key “Adaptive Running Principles.” The first of these is:

The goal of training is to stimulate the precise set of physiological adaptations that are needed to achieve maximum performance in a peak race. 

Ok it’s a little vague. And a little bit of a “duh” statement. We train to achieve our goals…. but what exactly does it mean? It means that depending on your goal, you will need to achieve a certain level of aerobic fitness (ability to consume oxygen efficiently – think speed work), neuromusucal fitness (the strength of your muscles – think hill repeats) and specific fitness (endurance – the ability to hold a fast pace for a long period of time – think race pace work). In order to be successful, you need all three types of fitness – but depending on how long your race is, and how fast you want to run it, the weight of each type will vary.

For the marathon, all three types of fitness are important and are used throughout training. As you progress through training, the emphasis will shift. First, you will want to focus more on strength (hill repeats) and speed work (shorter intervals, track workouts), but as the training cycle progresses, these type of workouts will be fewer and farther between (although still included), and the focus will shift to specific endurance.

One of Brad’s adaptive training methods, as outlined in his book, is the Progression from General Training to Specific Training. The principle of specificity refers to the fact that the body adapts very specifically to the demands placed up on it in training. One side effect of this is that the running fitness of every runner is always limited by their training. For example, a runner who is VERY fit while training through the winter in Chicago who comes to San Diego for a race will suffer as their training wasn’t specific to the heat. A runner who is trained for place 1st in a 5k likely won’t win a marathon a few weeks later, although they are very fit. You can’t be good at everything (boo!). The most important lesson we can learn from the principle of specificity is that to run a race at the pace you want to run it, you will have to practice running at that pace. 

Brad cautions that although race-pace runs are pivotal to training, they cannot be incorporated too soon. If you were to incorporate race-pace training from the beginning of a 16 week cycle, you would either burn out quickly and/or plateau. You must build up non-race specific running fitness first, and then build into specific endurance workouts just 4-6 weeks before your event. Attempting a demanding race-pace workout during Week 1 of a marathon training cycle will not only be ineffective, but it’ll likely hurt your ego, rather than building confidence. When properly executed, specific endurance workouts can be incredibly beneficial not just physiologically, but psychologically.

In terms of my own training, I began the training cycle with a combination of short, fast intervals as well as medium distance runs with a portion at a “moderate” pace. Slowly, I started incorporating more tempo workouts, building up my aerobic machine. The last few weeks and for the next two, I’m focusing on specific endurance in the form of long portions of my long run at just slower than race pace (e.g., 18 mile with 14 @ marathon goal pace  + 10-20 seconds), or shorter workouts with several miles at race pace or faster (on tap for Friday – 10 miles with 8 miles @ MGP).

For me, an added bonus of marathon goal pace miles is the confidence boost I get from it. Going into the RnR half marathon, I KNEW that I could run race pace (7:38 min/miles), which often felt very hard in training runs, for at least 8 miles. Once I got a few miles into the race, I thought to myself – I feel good and I know I can sustain a harder effort than this for 8 miles, so I better try. Instead of getting worried that I was running too fast or working too hard during the race, I was confident that I could handle the pace. Now that I’ve run 20 miles with 15 miles at 8:05 pace, I have that memory to use when it gets hard during the middle miles at CIM. If I could do it in training, I can do it in a race.

Specific Endurance Workout Examples (to be completed during peak training): 

  • 5K: 5 x 1K @ goal pace with 90 second recoveries
  • 10K: 4 x 2K @ 10K pace + 1K maximal effort w/ 1 min jog recoveries
  • Half-Marathon: 4 x 3K @ half marathon pace with 90 sec jog between
  • Marathon: 10 miles easy, 10 miles @ marathon pace

Do you incorporate race-pace running into your training? Do you vary the type of key workouts as your training plan progresses or do you tend to do the same workouts week to week? 

CIM Marathon Training Week 13 – Peak Week (Sort of)

Last week was peak week in terms of long run mileage, but this current week is also a very important (and tough!) week, so I hesitate to say that the hay is in the barn….because it’s not! I’m reducing mileage this week but I still have some key workouts to get in.

That being said, this past week went well! I started out a bit tired from the previous week’s faster 20 miler ever, and ended on a high note with a 5k PR.

Monday: 

Rest Day. Kickball was canceled because our opposing team didn’t have enough players (automatic win!). After work Mike and I went for a walk but that’s about it!

Tuesday: 

AM: 7 easy miles with Mike. Nothing special, just some slow miles with my running buddy husband.

Lunch: Pilates Level 2. This was only my second time with this teacher and she was great! A lot of new moves that I hadn’t done before and I was quite sore the next day.

Wednesday: 

AM: 9 miles with final 6 progressing from MGP + 20 sec to MGP. This run didn’t go well. I wasn’t upset, because this training cycle has been FULL of GREAT workouts and very few bad ones. It wasn’t terrible,it just wasn’t great. My legs were tired/sore from the previous weekend’s hard effort plus Pilates the day before and it was early. I ran 3 miles easy and immediately could tell my legs were not going to cooperate. As soon as I turned around at the 4.5 mile mark, I was greeted with a really strong headwind. I ran the remaining 4.5 miles into a headwind, with a net incline. There were some tough moments! I couldn’t for the life of me get my legs to move faster. I wanted to hit close to an 8 min /mile for the final miles and I couldn’t until the final mile when I was more protected from the wind. My legs started to wake up and somehow I got out a 7:53 mile, although it seemed like the same effort as the 8:36 mile I had done. Overall I averaged 8:19 on the 6 miles and my splits were:  8:28 (net incline), 8:22, 8:15 (net decline), 8:36 (net incline), 8:23, 7:53.

PM: After work I tried the new Club Pilates “Arm and Abs” class. I liked it! Although there was definitely still some legs – including quite a long bridge portion which I had to rest a few times during because my legs were tired!

Thursday:

Rest day. I was planning to do 5 miles easy but wanted to sleep in. After work, I was too tired and hungry to go out and run in the dark alone. Overall, I think it was a good call. Those miles were junk miles.

Friday: 

AM: 10 miles Zone 1-Zone 2. My legs were back to feeling refreshed for this run! I ran a really easy to moderate pace on this run and felt like I could run forever. I felt great and my legs felt fresh. It’s crazy how easy 10 miles runs have become.

Lunch: Club Pilates FIT Level 2 class. Again, this is mostly traditional pilates but with a little more intervals to get the heart rate up. The hardest move was a segment where we did a blank on the bosu ball, jumped our legs up to it, lifted it over our head, jumped back down into a plank and repeated. Then we’d do a long series of mountain climbers while planking on the bosu and then repeat the sequence again. Sweaty!

Saturday: 

Fit Foodie 5k! I treated this as a tempo run but it ended up being a really successful one as I pulled out a nearly 50 second PR! Total of 6.5 miles including warm-up, cool-down and race. Race report here.

Fellow San Diego Blogger Kate & Me at the Fit Foodie 5k

Fellow San Diego Blogger Kate & Me at the Fit Foodie 5k

Sunday:

22 mile long run. This run was a bit rough. I told myself I wouldn’t do 22 (my plan actually called for 23 which is what Mike did) if my legs felt too tired from the 5k,  but when I started the run, my legs actually felt pretty good all things considered. Mike and I ran together for the first 4.5 miles or so and then he went ahead. We ended up meeting up a few other times on the route because he stopped for water more often than I did, but I ran the large majority of the run alone. The time went surprisingly fast but it was HOT. Somehow, San Diego pulled out a 76 degree, sunny day in mid-November. The goal of this run was endurance, not pace, so I kept it easy (mostly low 9s). Toward the end, my legs were really tired and I started to shuffle a bit but I made it to the end.

Ready to Run 22 Miles

Ready to run 22 miles in the heat

DONE!

DONE!

The highlight of Sunday was tracking my friend Brooke as she dominated her first Ironman! She finished 5th in her age group (25-29) with a time of 11:25:49. Brooke jokes and calls me her coach and my one regret as her coach was telling her to change her clothes in transition! She was so close to 3rd place and  her transition times could have made up that difference. But to Brooke, none of that matters – she had a great day and is so proud of how it turned out. I’m so happy for her!

Brooke is a machine!

Brooke is a machine!

Weekly Totals:

  • Miles Run: 54.5
  • Stretch/Strengthening: 2.5 hours
  • Total Time: ~11 hours

Do you usually start the taper 3 weeks or 2 weeks out? 

Fit Foodie 5k Race Report – a PR on the way to a PR!

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A few weeks ago, fellow San Diego blogger Kate was giving away 2 entires to the Fit Foodie 5k in downtown San Diego. Since I love fitness and food, when I saw the giveaway I quickly googled the race and was happy to see that it fell on a Saturday (so I could still do my long run the next day) and was far enough out from the marathon to be safe to run. I figured, what the heck, I’ll throw my name in the hat and if I get in, I’ll use it as a training run.

Well, I won the entry (thanks Kate and the folks at the Fit Foodie 5k!)! I rearranged my training schedule this week so that my tempo run was on Wednesday and that the 5k would take place of the ladder intervals I was supposed to do. I went about my training this week as normal, including a 10 mile run and Pilates class on Friday. Going into the race, my expectations were that it would be a  good training run and that I’d just have to see what my legs had in store for me after 4 consecutive weeks of 50+ mileage.

The event started at 8 a.m. with a group stretch followed by the start of the 5k at 8:30 a.m. I had to pick up my packet and I wanted to get in a 3 mile warm-up run before, so I arrived downtown around 7 a.m., found a free metered spot (meter turned on at 10), ran over to the harbor, got my bib quickly, and went for the rest of my warm-up run. By the time I made it back, went to the bathroom, and took a Gu, it was time for the group stretch. The stretch was led by Kristin McGee, a beautiful celebrity trainer and Health magazine contributor and was very yoga based. It was really great!

Group Stretch!

Group Stretch!

I started near the front of the race and looked for Kate but didn’t see her anywhere. I didn’t wear headphones to listen to music but did notice that almost everyone around me was wearing them! Before we knew it, the race had started and I was running. I forgot to turn my Garmin off auto-pause so it took a few seconds to register I was running and my watch was behind the whole race. I decided not to look at my watch too much and run by feel anyway. The last 2 5ks I have run I went out WAY too fast and ended up really hurting at the end. So instead of getting caught up in that, I just ran what felt hard, but comfortable. I was really happy but also a bit worried when my Garmin clicked off a 6:57 min/mile average on the first mile but I was still feeling pretty good so I went with it.

Fit Foodie 5k Race Course - Source

Fit Foodie 5k Race Course – Source

The course had quite a few turns and one big U-turn on the path near Seaport Village. This is where I saw Kate who yelled my name and waved at me. She is still recovering from the NY Marathon (where she PRed and BQed!) so she wasn’t running for time. After we passed Seaport Village we turned onto Embarcadero Marina Park North, which was another small loop. A couple girls were breathing heavily down my neck and I could tell I was working less hard than them which I figured meant I wasn’t totally going to burn out. Once we exited Embarcadero Marina Park North, we ran down the sidewalk that lines the harbor again on a thin strip of sidewalk because the other side of the sidewalk was full of 5k runners who were behind us. I even heard one of them say to their friend “Those people are already coming back!?”

The final loop was on Embarcadero Park South and it wound around quite a bit before we exited. I was happy that I hadn’t crashed and burned yet and that my pace was still really solid. Once I exited the Embarcadero, it was just a short while longer down a long, wide stretch of sidewalk toward the finish line. I dug in deep, closed my eyes at times, and ran as hard as I could. Right at the end a girl that I had passed earlier came up behind me and flew by me but I couldn’t catch her. She did help inspire me to push it hard to the end though and I saw the time on the clock was under 22 minutes when I crossed the finish line. At first, I couldn’t really believe it but my Garmin confirmed the truth. I had PRed! I wasn’t sure by how much until I found the results – new 5K PR – 21:41, 6:59 min/mile average, 5th in my age group (30-39) and 9th woman overall. When I got home and looked up my former PR (which was from the FCA 5k I ran in April), I realized it was a 54 second PR!

San Diego Bloggers!

San Diego Bloggers!

As soon as the race was over I saw Kate as well as three other San Diego healthy living bloggers who I’d never met before. We hung out and chatted for a bit and then Kate, her girlfriend Brittany and I started to scope out the different vendors. Given the name, you had to know the Fit Foodie 5k was going to have great food. We started with the finishers goodie bag which had a bunch of bars in it and made our way from station to station, picking up generous free samples, tasting food and juices (my favorite was probably the mini acai bowls, complete with banana slices and granola!) and getting to know each other more. Kate and I read each other’s blogs but we’ve never met in person so it’s always funny to have a conversation with someone who you’ve really never met but you feel like you already know. She has been so encouraging during this training cycle as I get ready for CIM and it was great to get even more positive feedback from her on that as well!

Me & Kate

Me & Kate

Just some of the free race goodies!

Just some of the free race goodies! Not pictured – all the stuff I ate.

Other than the time PR, I was really happy with this race because of the way I handled the pain on the course. I embraced it and didn’t dread it. I told myself when it hurt that it was going to hurt at CIM but that I needed to push through. I paced myself correctly, pushed myself when it was time, and came out successful.

Coach – put me in, I’m ready! This was yet another confidence booster that I’m ready for that BQ. Even McMillan’s pace calculator agrees (saying I can run a 3:31 marathon based on this time).  All that stands between me and CIM is one last 20+ mile run tomorrow and then three weeks of taper. I can’t wait to race!

Have you ever surprised yourself with a PR? 

Goodbye Coffee

 

One of my last coffees - a soy latte on our anniversary.

One of my last coffees – a soy latte on our anniversary.

It’s been just about six weeks since I drank caffeinated coffee (I use that disclaimer because I did have a decaf Pumpkin Spice Latte on Asia’s wedding day!). Ok I did have 1/4 of a cup the morning before Long Beach Half Marathon because it helps move things along. But yes, I’m coffee free. Mike and I have both been big coffee fans for our entire relationship, with the exception of the 3 months we gave it up for P90X. We talk about coffee quite a bit, we have a ritual on weekends of walking down the street together to get it, and every workday I didn’t feel quite right until I’d had my fix. I wouldn’t say I was a heavy coffee drinker though, as the most I’d ever drink was 2 cups, and not even large cups. But, the addiction was definitely there.

So why would I give up my dear ritual? A few reasons.

First, I have been sleeping poorly. My new job (which I’ve now been at for over a year now) is stressful at times and I found myself tossing and turning thinking about work (or worse dreaming about it) as I struggled to fall asleep. This is probably the primary reason for my decision to give up coffee.

Second, I don’t drink my coffee black and the crap I put in it to make it taste so good is very NOT good for you. Overall, I eat a really healthy diet and I take pride in the fact that I put mostly whole foods into my body. However, every morning I’d add a very healthy pour (and I mean healthy) of processed creamer into my coffee. After experimenting with a fully vegan diet, I used to justify the creamer being OK to eat since it was technically non-dairy (which is gross itself? why is there no dairy!?) but upon later review, I realized it does actually contain lactose. But that aside, it’d be much better to just drink half and half than the stuff I love, which has an ingredient list far too complex to understand. I’ve always given myself permission to indulge in this treat, however, because all in all I think I eat pretty good and let’s be honest, YOLO.

Third, caffeine makes me pee A LOT! I already have the world’s smallest bladder and I drink a lot of water which doesn’t help, but I definitely have noticed that the more coffee I drink, the more urgent and frequent the trips to the bathroom.

There’s a lot of controversy about coffee. A lot of studies say that it’s good for you and a lot of studies say it’s bad for more reasons than the ones I mentioned above ( just google “why coffee is bad for you” or “why coffee is good for you”). I definitely think that for some people, it’s great! But for me, I think that I’m better off it.

So how did I do it? In the past, I’ve gone off coffee cold turkey. This has resulted in severe withdrawal symptoms (extreme tiredness, headaches, moodiness). This time I weaned myself off of it slowly over the course of 5 days and it worked much better. I started my first no coffee day on a Saturday because I didn’t want to scare off my coworkers. Sunday, I had a pretty bad headache all day and I felt tired and out of it. By Monday, I felt back to normal.

Since giving up coffee, I’ve noticed the following benefits:

1) Better quality sleep. I dream WAY more and I wake up feeling much less tired. The difference in how I feel when I wake up, even for my 5:30 a.m. mid-week wake-up calls, is extremely noticeable. Despite heavy training, I am rarely groggy and exhausted or thinking of when I will get to sleep next, which was much more common during heavy training mixed with coffee drinking.

2) Sustained energy throughout the day. No more adrenaline rushes in the morning and crashes in the afternoon.

3) Less moodiness at work. I find myself responding to stressful situations at work with less emotion than before. I used to drink an extra cup of coffee on very busy days at work and I think that the caffeine actually made things worse.

4) Less urgent and frequent bathroom breaks.

5) Increased running performance. Coffee may not be related to this, but I feel like it’s possible that the better quality sleep as a result of giving up coffee has impacted my training.

6) Weight loss. Within two weeks of giving up coffee, I lost about 2 lbs and now it’s 3. This definitely could be related to my increased running volume as well but it did correspond with giving up coffee!

Will I give up coffee forever? I’m not sure. For now, I plan to stick to it through the race. I can definitely see myself enjoying some coffee on our upcoming trip to New Zealand (we leave 2 days after CIM) but who knows. Some days I really want it, other days I could care less. Because I’m so busy at work, I tend to barely notice that I’m not drinking something in the mornings most of the time which helps. On the weekends, I’m focusing on getting ready for a run and that takes my mind off of it.

Do you drink coffee? If not, did you give it up or never drank it?

CIM Marathon Training Week 12 – Nearing the Peak

Last week was a confidence booster. As of Sunday I’m 4 weeks out and I feel great. The highlight of the week was definitely my long run. It was by far the best I’ve ever felt finishing up a 20 mile run and also the fastest I’ve ever run 20 miles outside a race. It feels like everything is just coming into place. I’m starting to really look forward to the race – I’m excited to see where all this hard work takes me!

Monday: 

Rest day. I was really tired on Monday and not feeling like even going to kickball after work so I just went home and got in bed at 9 p.m.!

Tuesday: 

AM: Club Pilates

PM: 7.4 miles easy with Brooke. Brooke and I met after work and ran around the UCSD campus since it’s mostly lit and she lives nearby. As always, it was great to have company!

Wednesday: 

AM: 10 miles with 3 minutes @ 10k pace every 5 minutes. After a 1 mile warm-up, I started the workout. I didn’t pay a ton of attention to my watch for the first few intervals since it was so early and I was still warming up. After a couple, I really started to feel good. The intervals were just long enough to work but not so hard that I was exhausted after them. I found myself easily running in the high 8s on a lot of the off segments. The 3 minutes averaged 7:28 pace and overall this run was 8:35 and I definitely felt like I had plenty of gas left in the tank after this run. It did the job of being challenging but not exhausting.

Thursday: 

AM: 7 miles Zone 1. I finally got new batteries for my heart rate monitor and was happy that when I strapped it on, my heart rate was nice and low for this run. It was about a 10 min/mile, but I’ve never run  this “fast” in Zone 1 before (when I first started doing heart rate training I had to walk at times in Zone 1- I would average almost a 12 min/mile).

Sunrise in Encinitas

Sunrise in Encinitas

Friday: 

AM: 10 miles “moderate.” My plan called for 10 miles at a moderate pace. It’s hard to define moderate but I decided I’d use this as a test to see what pace I could average at the very top of Zone 2 using my now operating heart rate monitor. Unfortunately, the heart rate monitor started acting funky within a mile of the run (saying my heart rate was either very high or very low), similar to how it was acting before I replaced the batteries, so I wasn’t able to really test my theory that I can now run in the 8s in Zone 2. Either way, I started to feel not so hot around mile 7-8 and ended up slowing down and taking it easy for the last 2 miles. We woke up really early for this run (5 a.m.) and I only had a banana before and nothing during, and I may have run out of steam. Or I was just tired from the week. Either way, I didn’t beat myself up about it as I knew that the real test was Sunday’s long run, not a silly “moderate” paced run.

Moon Set!

Moon Set!

Lunch: Club Pilates. The Level 2.5 class I usually take got switched to a new class called “FIT Level 2″ which as I learned, incorporated some higher intensity intervals. It wasn’t anything high impact – more like faster squats and lunges. My heart rate got up, there was a little more emphasis on legs than I wanted, and I got a little sweatier than I like to get during a lunch workout, but I was glad I went!

Saturday: 

Rest day. I slept 11.5 hours on Friday night! Mike joked that he had to check on me to make sure I was still breathing. I was out cold! I had planned to do some super easy yoga on Saturday but time got away with me and honestly, I just didn’t feel like doing it, so I didn’t. I had an enjoyable, relaxing day, including a pedicure with Asia who just got back from her honeymoon!

Sunday: 

20 miles with 15 miles @ MPG + 10 sec (actual average pace: 8:05 min/miles).  Mike and I got up early for this one because it was supposed to be hot on Sunday and we wanted to beat the heat and the crowds on the coast. We started the run at 6:45 and we both practiced our race day breakfast and nutrition, as usual. I also weighed myself before sand after to make sure I was drinking enough water (I drank nearly 100 ounces and lost 1.5 lbs so I think I did a good job!).

I ran the warm-up two miles with Mike and my legs didn’t feel amazing. 2 weeks go when we did a similar run (18 miles with 14 @ MGP + 10-20 sec), my legs immediately felt great. However, this time they were a little more sluggish. Mike started doing some strides and I was having a hard time getting my legs moving. Little doubts started to creep into my head. This was my 3rd week in a row with mileage in the mid/high 50s and I was wondering if my legs were up for the challenge. I was getting a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to repeat the amazing run I had 2 weeks prior.

Cloudy, hazy morning to start

Cloudy, hazy morning to start

However, once I picked up the pace, it was easy. Since my goal was 10 seconds slower than MGP, I decided my goal pace would be somewhere between 8:10-8:20. Right now my goal range for the marathon is somewhere between 8 -8:10 (8:12 is the BQ pace but that is cutting it close). I ran the first three miles fairly easily at 8:10 and then found the more I ran, the better I felt. The miles ticked by and I couldn’t hold back my legs. At times I found myself easily running in the high 7s.  The route I chose was the same as last time – north up the coast into Carlsbad and back. There are plenty of rolling hills and I think it’s perfect terrain for CIM training (which although has a net decline of 300 feet, there are also quite a few rolling hills, which I think I’m ready for living in San Diego!).

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The run is almost over! Happy the funk up!

Unlike last time where forward the end of the run I started to lose steam, I ran my fastest mile at the end of the hard effort (7:46!). I even had enough energy to take out my phone and snap a photo of the awesome new sign welcoming me into Leucadia (one of the 5 small communities in Encinitas) during one of the final miles.  I finished my final 3 recovery miles and wrapped up the run with an average of 8:32/mile, and the 15 miles turned out to be an average of 8:05/mile, which was faster than planned but felt easier than planned. This was truly the best I’ve ever felt on a 20 mile run, and possibly ANY long run. It was a great confidence booster!

Obligatory Garmin Photo

Obligatory Garmin Photo

I DID IT!

I DID IT! And yes, I have awesome running short tan lines

After the run Mike and I changed into our swim suits and headed down to the beach for the best ice bath on the planet  – the ocean!

Weekly Totals: 

  • Miles Run: 54.4
  • Hours Strength: 1:40
  • Total Time: ~10 hours

What is the best long run you’ve ever had? Do you ever do ice baths or ocean ice baths?

Things I’m Loving Right Now – Fall Edition

Fall is here! Kind of….in San Diego we’re at least seeing some colder weather in the morning and the evenings. I’ve worn boots 3 times! Now that wedding season is over, November is all about marathon training. So far, Mike and I have been enjoying a lot of relaxation time between running and going to work. A lot of the things I’m really into right now are a reflection of training and my extra free time (i.e. binge watching The Walking Dead is very conducive to recovery, besides the spike in my blood pressure every 5 minutes).

Fall Produce

Namely, pomegranates and squash. My new favorite salad is simple: mix together spinach, arugula (or not), roasted butternut squash (I buy the pre-cut kind at Costco and bake it all at once), goat cheese and pomegranate seeds together with a basic balsamic vinaigrette. Best salad ever. I’m going to bring it to Thanksgiving!

Goat Cheese, Pomegranate and Squash Salad

Goat Cheese, Pomegranate and Squash Salad

My First Persimmon!

My First Persimmon!

The Walking Dead

Can’t. Stop. Watching. Zombies. We are definitely addicted! The cliffhangers are brutal on this show. So is the violence – if you are squeamish, this probably isn’t the show for you. Also please do not spoil it for me – we’re still in Season 3.

Oiselle Lesley Moto Tight.

I feel HOT (as in sexy, not warm, although they do keep me warm) in these tights. They are so flattering. I wear them to Pilates and am almost offended when I don’t get compliments from strangers. In other news, it has recently become cold enough in the mornings for me to actually wear tights so this purchase came at the right time (it’s not cold enough in the daytime though – recently we’ve been seeing highs in the 80’s again!!!)

Ok not the best photo to show these babies off (I was really taking a picture of these crazy toe socks I got...)

Ok not the best photo to show these babies off (I was really taking a picture of these crazy toe socks I got…)

Better photo of the Moto Lesley Tights - from Oiselle.com

Better photo of the Moto Lesley Tights – from Oiselle.com

Taylor Swift 1989.

I must say I was relieved when I realized that at least Taylor Swift was born in the same decade as me so I don’t seem totally inappropriate listening to her album on repeat all day. As a long time country  and Taylor Swift fan, I wasn’t sold on the album the first time I heard it (it’s a pop album, not country) but it grew on me and now I can’t get enough.

Free Online Yoga.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love the website Do Yoga With Me. You can search their database for free yoga workouts of varying lengths and difficulties. There are several just for athletes. I’m particularly partial to the 25 minute Injury Prevention for Runners video. I also love fellow Oiselle athlete Susie’s 15 minute post-run yoga sequence on YouTube (Bonus points: her accent is great). Namaste.

What are you loving right now? Anyone else a T.Swift or Walking Dead fan?

CIM Marathon Training Week 11 – The First 20 Miler

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Almost 16 miles into my 20 miler

Last week I ran the most miles in one week that I’ve ever run! This was just after the previously highest run volume week ever. Needless to say by Sunday I was tired! There was less intensity this week but I think the volume from the 2 weeks started to wear on me a bit by the end. The 20 miler at the end of the week was a bit rough as I had some stomach cramping and achiness thanks to Mother Nature’s timing. I actually considered for ONE second taking my friend Brooke’s suggestion to stop at mile 15.5 and head home in her car but I kept running (and finished with my fastest mile of the whole run!).

The New York Marathon was also a highlight of the running week. I started following the coverage before my long run and came back from it to find out that some rock stars pulled out BQs/PRs in the crazy wind. Their success was fuel for my fire – no matter what conditions CIM throws at me, I’m ready! I almost got EXCITED for the challenge of miles 20-26.2 of the marathon. Who am I?!?

Monday: 

AM: Pilates 
PM: Kickball. You read right. Mike convinced me to join a friend’s kickball team which was in need of players. It was actually really fun, not intense at all and I didn’t even get to run the bases anyway as our team ended up being pretty large  and I am really good at kicking the ball straight into the air so it’s easy to catch. I wouldn’t even really count it as a workout.

Tuesday: 

AM: I had signed up for Pilates because I had 3 classes that would expire by the end of the week, but after we got home late and I realized how busy work would be on Tuesday, I figured I should do my run in the morning instead of going to Pilates. I knew if I went to Pilates the run probably wouldn’t happen late in the dark alone. So instead I ran 8 miles easy with Mike. I didn’t regret it!

Wednesday: 

AM: Threshold Run. 2 miles easy, 3 x 10 min @ half marathon pace w/ 3 min recovery, 2 miles easy (9 miles). I ended up adding a little on to the end to catch up with Mike so we could run together, so this run was 9 miles in total. I felt really good on this run, especially considering it was a pre-dawn workout. I aimed for somewhere between 7:30-7:40 and my average paces on the 10 min segments were 7:36, 7:27 and 7:36 (about 1 1/3 mile). I finished feeling like I could do a couple more!

Great Sunrise During My Tempo

Great Sunrise During My Tempo Run

PM: 20 minutes of yoga/stretching after work. My lower back has been super tight from sitting at my desk so long after all these workouts so this yoga felt great!

Thursday:

PM:  I got out of work early and got to sleep in! I definitely needed it. After work I ran 5 slow and easy miles and then took about a 30 minute break before heading to Club Pilates. The Pilates class was pretty tough and I took it easy on the legs. I even switched out the springs for easier ones to help out with that.

Friday:

AM: 7 miles easy with Mike! The dark runs aren’t nearly as bad when he runs with me. The pace was a little quicker and my legs were lighter than the night before which was a good sign.

Friday was Halloween – the finance team dressed up at work but that was all the Halloween excitement for me. Mike and I went on a fun date night but nothing crazy.

Saturday:

8.4 miles easy-moderate followed by 15 minutes of Yoga (Susie’s YouTube video), also with Mike. We enjoyed a wedding and baby/bridal shower-free weekend by sleeping in and taking a nice long nap!

Great Sunset Saturday

Great Sunset Saturday

Sunday:

20 miles, Zone 2. I wore my heart rate monitor for this run for the first time in weeks because the battery was going bizerk. I was happy that at the end of this run, although it was not exactly a breeze, my heart rate was 11 bpm under the top of Zone 2 (ie the bottom half of Zone 2) which is good. When I run 20 miles heading South on the coast form my house I always hit the turnaround point at the top of Torrey Pines. This run had about 1,400 feet of climbing in total. I ran the first 4.5 miles with Mike and the next 11.5 with Brooke which meant I only had to run 4 miles on my own. I’m so thankful for running buddies during this training cycle! It makes the miles fly by.

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Weekly Totals:
  • Miles Run 57.4
  • Strength/Stretching: 2.25 hours (not including kickball)
  • Total Time: ~11.50 hours

Wow! I didn’t realize that I ran for so many hours last week. I guess that’s what happens when you run a lot of miles and you also run a lot of them in Zone 2!

What is the farthest you usually run during marathon training? Do you run 20+ miles more than once? 

5 Lessons From Pro Runners

Source: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/nyc-marathon-group-fitness/

Source: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/nyc-marathon-group-fitness/

Only recently have I started to pay a bit more attention to the professional runners who make a living doing the sport that I so very much love. Since starting triathlon three years ago, I have followed the professional world quite a bit – reading Iron War & Chrissie Wellington’s book, attending Tri Club meetings with pro-triathletes both in attendance and as guest speakers, meeting and running with local pros (Beth!) in Encinitas, and of course, following the epic battles on the Queen K Highway every year at Ironman Kona.

In the last year or so, I’ve shifted my focus a bit more toward the running side of the world. Being a part of the Oiselle team has definitely been a reason for this change, as I’ve come to greatly admire Lauren Fleshman, Kate Grace and Kara Groucher as well as the many women from Oiselle’s Little Wing pro team who I met at Bird Camp. As for men road-racers, I’ve only really followed Meb, a San Diego local who I have had the chance to interact with both times I ran the San Diego RnR marathon, but I’m learning more and more about the others.

There’s a lot we can learn from the pros. There are out there doing what we love and instead of it being just a fraction of their life, it’s their whole life. If anyone knows what works, what doesn’t, what’s normal, what’s not, and what it means to run, it’s the pros. Here’s some of the best things I’ve learned from them so far:

1.Bad days happen to us all & they don’t define us. Unfortunately, Kara Groucher’s comeback to the marathon today at NYC Marathon didn’t go as planned. The gusting (up to 30 mph!) winds put a wrench in her original pacing plan and she and her coaches decided to have her follow the lead pack to block the wind. Unfortunately the lead pack was running too fast and she backed off early and spent the majority of the race fighting the fierce winds on her own. She also, for the first time in her career, hit the “wall” and had one of the worst races of her life. But, she finished and she wasn’t afraid to show her emotions at the finish line. We all have bad races, and those races don’t define us. I don’t think any differently of Kara as an athlete. I respect her and her performance today did not interfere with that respect. I think it’s a great reminder for all of us to remember that when we have our own bad races, it doesn’t mean we are now bad runners.

Source: Oiselle.Com

Source: Oiselle.Com

2. There are no short-cuts. We also learned this week that Rita Jeptoo, who was about to be awarded the World Marathon Majors award (and $500,000 to go along with it), based on her first place wins at the 2014 Chicago Marathon and 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon, tested positive for doping this week. I was extremely disappointed to learn of Rita’s disqualification. Her test results along with too many others, really put a lot of doubt in my mind about whether or not the majority of pro’s are doping, not just in running but also in triathlon. Put in the work, skip the short-cuts, and at the end of the day you will still have your honor.

3. Let’s be thankful we can run. know we don’t think about it often, but women haven’t been allowed to run for very long. It honestly sounds absurd as I write it but it’s true. Katherine Switzer ran the 1967 Boston Marathon and was the very first woman to finish a marathon road race. She almost got pushed off the course for doing so (read an excerpt from her memoir here), but she did it. My mom was a teenager when Katherine ran that marathon – it wasn’t that long ago! And it wasn’t until 1984, just a 8 months after I was born, that women were finally allowed to run the marathon at the Olympics, with Joan Benoit, an American, taking home the Gold. Because these things happened so close to our births, we often forget (or don’t even know) just how recently things were very different for women as runners. I am so thankful for women like Katherine Switzer who didn’t listen to everyone who told her that women were too fragile to run. Now, women run more running races nationwide then men (57% vs. 43% in fact). 

4. When things change, it’s ok to modify your goals. At Bird Camp, Lauren Fleshman gave an amazing speech on goals. She told the story of her high hopes for qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in the 5k, yet being derailed by an injury that only allowed her to run 11 miles per week (whereas most professional runners run upwards of 100 miles a week). Although there were times she wanted to quit, instead of giving up on her goal, she modified it. She set a more realistic goal – make it to the 2nd round of the Olympic Team trials. That was the motivation that fueled her hard workouts. Instead of putting so much emphasis on a far-reaching and likely unrealistic goal given her current circumstances, she switched it up. Her goal was still difficult, but attainable. And she did achieve it (see her post-race interview here). Lauren’s lesson – when things don’t go as planned, readjust and you can still achieve success.

5. Age is just a number. As demonstrated by Deena Kastor, who at 41 years old ran a 1:09 36 at RnR Philly this year, breaking the World Master’s Record and holds the current American marathon record of 2:19:36. Her half marathon pace, a blazing 5:19 min/mile, is faster than the average person could maintain for one lap around the track (myself included). Despite her age, she hasn’t backed down and is still chasing big goals.  She has proven that you can still be extremely relevant even if you don’t fit the typical mold.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much inspiration to be pulled from pro-runners and I have so much more to learn from them. I feel like my running journey has just begun.

What have you learned from Pro Runners? What is your favorite Pro Running moment? 

CIM Marathon Training Week 10 – Big Miles

I can’t believe we’re already at Week 10. This year has flown by and now it’s almost race time! 6 weeks to go as of last Sunday.

Last week was a confidence booster! I came out of this week KNOWING that I have what it takes to BQ at CIM. If only all the other conditions cooperate, it’s going to happen! I also came out of this week, my highest mileage week of this training cycle, and I believe EVER, feeling pretty good. No niggles, twinges (besides some gnarly blisters…), and my legs were surprisingly not too sore or heavy. These are the training weeks that make all the bad runs worth it!

Monday

6 easy miles

Tuesday -

AM: Pilates

PM: 8 mile run with 6 miles at half marathon pace. I left work as early as I could to beat the setting sun and headed out to the 56 bike path which is near my work. I totally forgot how hilly this path is. After my 1 mile warm-up, I was basically running straight up hill for 3 miles. Despite the hill, I tried to keep the effort at what I’d consider half marathon pace. As soon as I turned around, I was greeted with a seriously strong headwind, but at least I was running downhill! My average pace for the 6 miles was 7:48, which is a little slower than half marathon pace but considering the conditions and that there was no rest between miles, I felt good about it.

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Sunset through the trees on the bike path

Wednesday:

PM: 5 mile recovery run with Mike. I’m not digging this darkness! Nighttime runs are now bordering on scary. I’m glad Mike was there but some stretches of the bike path are completely black and my headlamp doesn’t’ seem to help.

Thursday:

AM: 7 miles – first 5 easy (3 with Allison), 2 moderate (mid-low 8s). I ran to Allison’s house and then we ran 3 very slow miles together. I was feeling good after, so I decided to pick it up a bit for the final 2 miles home.

Allison and I rocking our runs. She's killing it at 30 weeks pregnant!

Allison and I rocking our runs. She’s killing it at 30 weeks pregnant!

Friday:

10 miles with 12 x 2 min @ 10k pace. This is when I really started thinking about how much better it is to break runs into smaller pieces. After a 1 mile warm-up, the workout was to do a 2 min interval at 10k pace every 5 minutes. It made the 10 miles (half in the dark) fly by. I averaged 7:30 on the 10k segments.

Morning Sunrise

Morning Sunrise

Friday afternoon we headed out of work early and drove to Temecula for my cousin Jessica’s wedding which was held at a winery which was also a ranch. The reception was in a beautiful barn and Jessica and her husband’s first dance – a country two step with lots of swinging and dipping – was absolutely amazing! That rounded out the wedding circuit of 2014. If you were counting, that was 5 weddings, and Mike was a groomsman/best man in 3 and I was bridesmaid/MOH in 3 as well.

DSC_0462

DSC_0497
Saturday:

Rest! 9 hours of sleep plus a 2 hour nap. I had hoped to do yoga but the nap won.

It was also my weekly running buddy Allison’s baby shower on Saturday!

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Sunday:

18 mile long run with 14 miles @ 10-20 sec slower than marathon goal pace. As I wrote about in my last post, this was an absolutely spectacular run and I felt great for pretty much all of it. My average pace was 8:15 on the 14 mile segment and I almost felt like I had to hold myself back from running even faster for a lot of it!

Weekly Totals:

  • Total Miles Run – 54
  • Total Minutes Stretching/Strengthening – 50 (fail)
  • Total Time: 9.1 hours

Focusing and Succeeding

At the end of my last blog post, I asked for tips on focusing during the tough times of a race. Laura responded by saying that she breaks down the course into sections and focused on each part during the race to get her through. I really took this advice to heart, and decided to implement it for my tough long run today. I was a bit nervous going into this run because it was an 18 mile run with 14 miles at 10-20 seconds slower than marathon goal pace. That’s not an easy pace to hold, especially at the tail end of a 54 mile week.

My goal marathon pace is somewhere between 8 – 8:10. An 8 min/mile will get me closer to a 3:30 marathon and a 8:10 will get me just under 3:35. My goal going into this run was to run each mile during the 14 mile segment somewhere between 8:10-8:30. I figured I’d probably end up on the slower end of that spectrum but I wanted to keep the range open. Mentally I knew this would be a tough run, so I implemented Laura’s advice and wrote down my strategy for tackling each of the 18 miles in advance.

  • 2 mile warm-up: keep it super easy, don’t care about pace at all
  • Miles 2-4: Start easing into the goal-pace section, maintain around 8:30 min/miles
  • Miles 5-9: Pick it up a notch, focus on getting to the first water fountain and/or turn-around point
  • Miles 9-14: Maintain steady effort. The pace will probably start to feel harder, but focus on getting to mile 14.
  • Mile 14-16: Final 2 miles of goal-pace section. Turn on the after burners and push it.
  • Miles 17 & 18: Easy recovery, don’t focus on pace at all
Write it out!

Write it out!

I woke up feeling really good this morning. I got 9 hours of sleep for the 2nd night in a row (plus a 1.5 hour nap yesterday) and I had used Saturday as my only rest day of the week since we had a wedding Friday night and we stayed with family overnight. As soon as we started running (Mike and I ran the warm-up together then split off), I could tell my legs felt good. I was somewhat surprised since I had had a pretty high intensity and high volume week, but I figured the sleep must have done me some good.

As soon as I started the race pace segment of the run, I knew it was going to be a good day. My breathing was easy and my legs felt light. I felt great. I was trying to hold back a little on those first couple of miles but I kept finding myself running faster. Before I knew it, the first section was over. I didn’t focus at all on the fact that I still had 12 miles left to run hard, instead I just focused on the next section. I was feeling so good I didn’t want to stop for anything and didn’t end up making any breaks for water until mile 9.5. Somewhere around mile 4 I started to feel really, really good, and at times let my pace dip into the high 7s and very low 8s.

I kept my mind busy by setting goals for each mile and every time I achieved the goal it was a boost. This was a route with a lot of rolling hills (1,200 feet of climbing in total) so I didn’t get down on myself for some of the slower miles – I knew I’d make up for it on the net decline miles. Mentally, this was a  very successful run for me – I stayed present in the moment and never felt overwhelmed with the task ahead.

The final 3 miles of the race-pace portion got hard, especially the final mile which started with a big hill, but I simply focused on getting over it and then picked up the pace to make up the time I lost. By the end, I was running in the low 7s. The cool-down might have been the hardest part of the run since my legs lost all the momentum and I had less to think about while I was trudging down the street on those last 2 miles home.

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Splits for the middle 14 miles

Needless to say, this run was a big confidence booster. When I uploaded my Garmin data and calculated that I ran a 8:15 average for 14 miles, I was ecstatic. With 6 weeks left to go until CIM, I know I still have time to make even more gains, but this run in particular really made me feel ready for the race. Not only that, I think I learned a valuable lesson about how to keep my mind working in the right direction during challenging runs. I am definitely a person who is motivated by achieving goals, so by setting mini-goals for myself throughout the race I think I will be able to maintain a better pace overall while also keeping my mind where it needs to be- thinking about the current mile, not mile 24 or 26.

We celebrated our successful long runs with burritos at our favorite place. I might actually run 18 miles on the day I died if it were as good as today's run!

We celebrated our successful long runs with burritos at our favorite place. I might actually run 18 miles on the day I died if it were as good as today’s run!

 If you knew you were going to die that day, would you go for a run!?