08-22-2016

Week 8 – NYC Marathon Training

We are back from Rio! We got back last week from our South America trip (Paraguay to visit family then Rio for the Olympics). Overall, it was an amazing trip. Will post a full recap of it later this week.

Today, I wanted to talk about how marathon training is going so far. Last week was week 8 (wow) and I’d say training is mediocre. We were away fro 2 weeks so the training didn’t go as planned. It’s tough because in Paraguay, every day was packed with visiting family. Our entire family is in Paraguay, so when we go, we try to see as many people as possible.

Also, it’s not safe to run on the roads in Paraguay, which makes it even harder to run because we have to drive 30-40 minutes to the park. So unfortunately, we didn’t get any long runs in during that time, and probably only ran 2-3 times each week.

So last week was our first week back, and although the plan said to shoot for 14-15 miles, we have only ran up to 10, so I said let’s stick to 10 miles to get back into the flow of things. We still have 10 weeks left so I’m hoping we still have time to build up to those long runs and be fine. Here’s how last week looked:

MONDAY - Off. This was the day we got back from Rio. That 9.5 hour overnight flight is killer.

TUESDAY - 3 miles. Went on a 2 mile out and back, but then walked the last mile with my mom. It was super hot and humid, and being our first run back, I felt super out of shape haha. So we took it easy.

WEDNESDAY – AM 2 miles with  my XC team. PM 5 miles on the track. We did a 1.5 mile warmup, then 5×1000 meter repeats, then a short cooldown. Felt pretty good actually. 

THURSDAY - 4.5 miles, out and back, easy pace.

FRIDAY - 10 mile long run. UGH this run. From the beginning I knew it was going to be an off day. Isn’t that the worst when you’re at mile 1 or 2 of a long run and already feel like crap?

I tried GENUCAN before the run, and then had a DOUBLE side cramp for the whole 10 miles. I had to stop and walk a bunch. It was awful and the slowest run. But I’m glad I finished because I thought about qutiting at 3 miles, 5 miles, and 7 miles lol. But I figured I had nothing to do that night anyway so I could go slow, plus we had a wedding the next day so it was the only day I could get it done.

Has anyone tried GENUCAN and have tips? I’m going to try it one more time during this week’s long run. Hoping it goes better. I feel like I just never feel good on long runs. I absolutely dread long runs, and they make me question why I signed up for a marathon haha.

SATURDAY - 4 miles, recovery run.

TOTAL MILES: 28.5 miles

How do you all usually fuel for long runs? I have tried gels but feel like I still don’t have sufficient energy towards the end. GenUCAN gives me good energy but the cramp issue is annoying. Hmm…

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07-27-2016

NYC Marathon Long Training Run Recap

Last weekend, my mom and I did the NYRR NYC Marathon Long Training Run in Central Park. I really did not want to wake up at 4:30 AM to get into the city by 6:30AM, but really had no choice since the temps were going to be HOT that day. Whether I ran there or alone, I’d have to be up early, so I figured might as well go run with everyone else training for NYCM. Plus, NYRR sets up water stations every mile, along with Gatorade and gels. They also had sprinklers every mile which were a lifesaver!

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Up early enough to see the sunrise over NYC.

We got there around 6:30 and parked, though funny story…I bought a pre-paid pass for a parking deck using the app SpotHero. Since my brain was clearly not awake yet, I ended up parking in the wrong deck (same street), so had to pay twice basically. SIGH.

Anyway, we got there with plenty of time to use the bathrooms, pick up our bibs and hang out for a bit. Usually we get there right on time and are rushing everywhere.

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The run was split up into pace groups. We decided to stick with the 12:00/mile pace group to start, because of the heat, and see how things went from there.

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My watch, my mom’s watch and her friend’s watch all said we were running at 10:30 pace in that first mile which was odd but we felt good so I went with it. We were ahead of the 12:00/mile pacer in the first mile, and then eventually my pace evened out to about 11:25 per mile. I just went slow and made sure I was feeling comfortable. I put in my music to just zone out.

I walked through every water stop each mile, then continued on, which didn’t affect my average pace at all. Does anyone do this in marathons? Stop and walk at water stops? Or do you drink while running?

After the first 6 mile loop it was starting to get hot but I still felt good. I did something I have never tried before – I dumped water down my neck and back…and it felt great! I’ve never tried that because I’ve been afraid of chafing. I know many suggest it to cool down but I already sweat enough as it is so throwing water on myself and making my clothes literally soaking wet seems uncomfortable. But it did the trick. I felt fine, heat wise, until about 9 miles (2 miles to go).

That is when it felt like it just got HOT. With one mile to go I was taking a few walk breaks and my mom was like come on, only one mile left. With a half mile to go, this woman running with her stroller passed me and I tried to stay with her (which I did for like 2 minutes LOL). When my watch hit 9.8, I sped up with what I could…plus I just wanted to get to that water table which also had Gatorade and cold, wet sponges.

We finished the 11 miles in 2:05 according to my watch. Goal was 12-13 miles but the course actually shut down right when we crossed due to the heat. But I’ll take it!

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The funny thing is, I was pretty nervous about this run. The night before I could NOT SLEEP AT ALL which is SO FRUSTRATING. I legit wanted to scream. I went to bed at 10:30 and didn’t actually fall asleep until around 2 AM. Awesome. 

I woke up at 4:30 and was thinking, “How am I going to run 11 miles on 2 hours of sleep?” But did some googling on my drive to the run and made myself feel better by reading about how one night of bad sleep won’t affect you TOO much.

Well, I’d say it didn’t really affect me thankfully. I felt good and kept a steady pace throughout. I actually ran 10 miles yesterday and ran it much slower…finished in the same time, but 1 mile less. So you really never know when you’ll have a good day or a bad day, but it’s all part of the training process!

Next week I plan on recapping my marathon training based on the week…this week is week 6 already!

How do you cool off when it’s super hot out and you NEED to get your long run in?

Has anyone ever changed shirts in the middle of a marathon because I am seriously considering that lol – my shirts are soaked within the first hour…blegh.

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07-21-2016

Back To The Real World + Marathon Training Update

Hi all! I’ve been MIA because of a few different projects and because I was in Myrtle Beach for the past 10 days. Now I’m back in NJ and feeling that post-vacation sadness :-(

I seriously love Myrtle Beach, and Dan and I have been going every summer for the past few years (minus one summer I believe). He is convinced of moving there but we’ll see if that ever actually happens haha.

I did run while on vacation and stuck to my marathon training plan, so that’s a definite win! The downside is some days I was S-L-O-W because of the heat and humidity (we’re talking like 13-14 miles per minute) but what can you do. Thankfully those were my  “easy” days so I didn’t care much. Plus, it was just as hot if not hotter (and more humid) here in NJ, so no matter what, I wouldn’t have escaped it.

 

A photo posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

This picture was from my first day of running and I was absolutely drenched. Was not acclimated to the heat at all yet. I ran inside in their fitness center before going outside which was a good idea because I don’t think I would have been able to do 6 miles total outside.

I loved my little running route from the resort, and one day I stumbled upon these beautiful, oceanfront mansions. A plot of land was listed for sale for 2 million so I don’t even want to know what a house costs ;) I would do my usual shady route and then end with stretching by the beach:

 

A photo posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

Before I get more into my marathon training can we talk about jet-skiing for a second?

Dan and I did a 3 hour jet-ski tour that took us out to the ocean to see dolphins (pretty cool). It was my first time driving a jet ski alone and I was terrified. The tour group would be waaaaaay ahead of me and would have to wait for me…one couple asked Dan if my jet ski had engine troubles LOL. So embarrassing.

But no joke, I was so scared. I couldn’t get the hang of going over the wakes of other boats on the waterway, and then once we got into the ocean it was even scarier. The guide had to come back and be like “You need to go at least 20 and you’ll have more control.” Again, LOL.

I was SO tense throughout, gripping that thing for dear life with my arms and legs, that the next day I could barely move because my muscles and lower back were so sore. I think next time I’d prefer to rent a jet ski on my own so I can go my own pace rather than trying to stay with a group :-P

Marathon Training So Far

We are already in week 5!! Can’t believe it. My mom and I are doing the NYRR Long Training Run in Central Park this Saturday (anyone else?) and running 12-13 miles. She leaves for Paraguay this Sunday so next week I need to run 14 miles alone…anyone need a long run buddy??!

We’ve been following Dr. Jason Karp’s plan from his Running a Marathon For Dummies book (which is very informative btw). I love…well, love and hate, the tempo runs. Tempo runs are my weakness, and we’ve been doing a lot of tempo paced runs and mile repeats at tempo pace, which is exactly what I need to get better at. I can do track workouts and 400 repeats no problem, but running a set pace that is challenging for a continous amount of miles is so hard for me.

While in Myrtle Beach, I did 2.5 miles (with 2 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down), and my goal for next week is to get 3 miles. Jason and I also talked about how time based vs. mile based training might work better for me, but I’ll write more about that next week.

I’m feeling strong so far, and despite not having a CRAZY base, having at least a base of 15-20 miles per week has really helped me.  I want this NYC Marathon to be a great experience, and to hopefully PR. I don’t want it to be like Chicago, where I was majorly struggling due to heat and held my mom back.

Starting next week I will do weekly recaps again of my training so I can connect with more runners – I love reading everyone’s weekly recaps and feeling like we’re all in this together :-)

Who else has started their marathon training?

I never do long runs alone so I’m kinda scared for next week…what are your long run tips to not get bored or get through it?

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07-06-2016

6 Marathon Training Tips For All Levels

This week is week 3 of marathon tranining and I can’t believe we just ran 10 miles yesterday. It’s amazing how fast your body can get back in shape. Just a month ago I was struggling to run 5-6 miles. Shooting to run anywhere from 3-6 miles today depending on how I feel. I want it to be a longer recovery day but I can only run at 2pm so it will be HOT. 95 degrees and 50% humidity. And I just do not want to run on the treadmill, so we’ll see…

Anyway, today I’ve got some great training info for you from the author of Running a Marathon For Dummies (and many other running related books), Dr. Jason Karp. I am following his intermediate plan in the aforementioned book. 

I sent him a few questions related to training that I thought might benefit other runners as well. Let’s get into it!

Training for a marathon? Check out these tips and insight from Dr. Jason Karp! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

1) What are your suggestions for adjusting pace in tempo runs or track workouts when it’s hot/humid?
Adjusting pace is okay as long as you are still running at the correct pace given the conditions. For example, if you’re doing a VO2 max interval workout on the track and it’s hot and humid, you still want to run at your VO2max pace whatever that pace may be on that day. It’s hard to know exactly by how much the weather will affect someone. Your VO2max pace may be a few seconds per mile slower on a hot/humid day, so adjust the time for your reps. If someone has a heart rate monitor, the pace can be adjusted by heart rate. For example, if on a cool day, you’re running at 7:00 mile pace at 100% max heart rate, but on a hot/humid day, you reach 100% max heart rate at 7:10 pace, then run at 7:10 pace that day.

2) I’ve seen you mention that exercising 250 min. per week and watching your nutrition will easily help you lose weight. Do those 250 minutes include easy runs? Or just hard workouts? What other tips do you have for getting to your race weight WHILE marathon training?
The number 250 is based on the 2009 position statement from the American College of Sports Medicine. It includes aerobic exercise. My next book is all about running for weight loss. Even though the subject tends to be made complicated, it’s really easy€” — to lose weight, you must expend more calories and consume fewer. So, when marathon training, don’t replenish all of the calories after long workouts. Only replace the calories you need to fuel your running and recover from workouts.

3) What do you think of cross training? Your plan has 1-2 days of rest. Do you think adding a day of cross training like cycling or swimming is beneficial? What about cycling in the AM and running in the PM, to get more cardio in but less impact on the legs?
I promote cross training for runners who aren’t running a lot of miles. In that case, cross training can definitely help with cardiovascular improvement. However, if you want to be a better runner, you must run. Swimming won’t make you a better runner.

4) Can you explain the running science behind the tempo runs and track workouts, and how they can help one achieve their marathon goal pace?
This can take a long time to answer. I’ve written entire books on this subject! Briefly, tempo runs help your endurance by training you to hold a faster aerobic pace by raising your lactate threshold, which is your fastest sustainable aerobic pace. Track workouts can help a variety of things, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with the workout. For example, VO2max intervals can help improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen because you’re running at the maximum capability for your heart to do its job. Anaerobic workouts can recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, improve your speed and the ability of your muscles to generate energy anaerobicall, without oxygen.

5) If you had to pick the ONE thing that I MUST do in training, what would it be? (i.e., long runs, tempo runs, sleep 8 hours per night, nap, etc.)
Train consistently and progressively from week to week and month to month and year to  year.

6) I know many people in the same boat as me, trying to BQ and feeling it is impossible. They are also in the same boat as me in terms of time goals. Dropping from a 4:30ish marathon to a BQ marathon time of 3:30ish. Do you think that is realistic?
It depends on the person’s genetic ability and the commitment he/she makes to train. With adequate training, most runners can run much faster than they are. Can someone go from 4:30 to 3:30? That depends on how much training went into that 4:30. If the person ran 20 miles per week without any other types of workouts, then I’d say probably. But if that person ran 60 miles per week and did tempo runs and interval workouts, and is still running 4:30, then a 3:30 is probably out of reach.

So there you have it folks! Some great info from Dr. Jason Karp. I’ve been stuck around 4:30-5, but I know I still have a lot I can do. Like running more, running more consistently throughout the year, doing more tempo runs, strength training, etc. So we’ll see what happens for NYC Marathon!

Who else is running a fall marathon?

What is your biggest running related question?

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06-23-2016

My Marathon Training Plan

So it’s finally here…time to train for the NYC Marathon. This week is week 1. I was going to do a 16 or 18 week plan, but then read about the benefits of a 20 week plan. Like having more time to gradually build up and also more flexbility if you miss some runs due to unforseen circumstances. So I decided to do the 20 week intermediate plan from Running a Marathon For Dummies by Jason Karp.

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(Bought these books together and highly recommend Champion’s Mind too.)

I have chatted with Jason a few times previously and that’s how I learned of his book. I was debating between this plan and Hansons. I have used Hansons before (2011 NYC Marathon) which lead to a PR, but I wanted to try something new AND believe this plan might better suit my weaknesses.

For instance, tempo runs and long runs are very challenging for me. I dread them. Track workouts are no big deal. I love them and while they can be hard, I never doubt that I will be able to do it (unlike tempos and long runs).

This plan has a heavy emphasis on tempo runs and intervals, and then in the later weeks starts adding VO2 Max intervals as well. The intermediate plan peaks aaround 50 MPW I believe. The book also offers a beginner and advanced plan. Here’s a shot of one of the training plan pages (this is the advanced plan)

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This is the first time I’m going into a plan with somewhat of a base. While I was only running 15-20 miles per week, I’ve been consistent with that and my cycling classes since January, so I am WAY fitter than any other time I have started a plan (aka at 0 miles per week lol).

The first track/tempo interval workout this week was:

  • 2 mile warm-up
  • 3×1 mile at threshold pace (for me, 10 min./mile but I ended up doing 9:30ish pace because I had read the wrong pace chart lol)
  • 1 mile cool-down

I actually did 1 mile warm-up + 1 lap cooldown because of time constraints. 

But I actually felt really good. It was a big challenging but doable. I honestly doubted myself going into the run – I figured I’d do 1 rep of the mile then have to drop down to 400s or something. Because 1) it was super hot and 2) I haven’t done mile repeats in years probably. No joke. And this is in week ONE! 

I am feeling good though – I know it’s only week 1 of 20, and I know it’s only one track workout, but I think it bodes well that I was able to finish mile repeats strong and on pace. I actually progressively ran faster too. So here’s to hoping it continues and I can FINALLY get a marathon PR, since Chicago was such a disaster.

I will be interviewing Dr. Jason Karp, the author of this plan, soon, so stay tuned for more info from him. And if you have any specific questions about running and marathon training, leave them below so I can send them to him!

SIDENOTE: If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably already seen this, but my mom and I finally started a running group! We met this other guy through a friend, who is connected with Asuncion Runners in Paraguay (my native country). So we decided to do a New Jersey chapter of that group. It’s not only Paraguays, but also from other countries. I’ve talked with my mom forever about starting a running group for the Latinos in the area. Many are new to running and just need some guidance and support from others – which is exactly what our group aims to offer. We are running our first 5K together this Saturday! 

I know many have said it, but running with a group really does make runs go by faster and it’s nice to have that camaraderie. I’ve been named the official Coach of the group ;)

Do you have a running group? How did you meet them/join them?

What training plan are you following at the moment?

Leave your running questions below so I can share with Dr. Jason Karp!

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06-20-2016

How To Improve Your Running Form

I cannot believe marathon training starts in 2 weeks for NYC Marathon…and for some of you doing a 20 week plan, it starts this week. I’m going to follow the first 2 weeks of a 20 week plan loosely, but not OFFICIALLY starting until 18 weeks out. Getting nervous!! Because running will really ramp up.

I’m not 100% sure yet what training plan I will be using, but I will post more about that once I choose (along with the 2 I’m considering and their pros and cons).

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about running form. We have all read about running form in one way or another, I’m sure…especially about foot strike. 

Running form can affect your injury patterns (or whether you get an injury), your efficiency and how much energy you use to run, your strength up hills or in that final sprint, and more. Here are a few tips that I have found helpful throughout my running journey and can maybe help you improve your running form as well:

4 ways to improve your running form today! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Arm Swing

Arm swing is something that really helps propel you forward, especially when you’re getting tired. When you watch race videos (or am I the only one watching elites race on FloTrack lol), you notice how they really use their arms and pump them hard in order to run faster.

This is why doing upper body exercises are essential as well, especially in your off season. The stronger your arms, the faster you will go once your body is tired (like at the finish line, or up hills). 

When you’re running up hills, think of your arms as pulling on a rope to get you up (at least that is how I imagine it). Pump them like pistons. Same thing when you’re tired. During track workouts, I will also imagine “whipping” my hand back with power in order to help me excel forward.

You also want to makes sure your arms aren’t crossing over your chest/mid-line. Your elbows should be swinging straight back, and your hands straight (or almost straight) forward. “Hip to nip” is what I’ve read in many places.

Lastly, make sure your hands are relaxed. It’s easy to get tense and make fists when you’re going all out, but you want to stay relaxed. Pretend you’re holding an egg in each hand – if you squeeze too hard, you’ll break the egg. 

So to review:

  • Use your arms as pistons when you need more power.
  • Hip to nip. Don’t cross the midline.
  • Relax your hands, don’t make fists.

Stand Tall

Good posture is key. And something I also have to work on. I’ve noticed after marathons/long runs, my neck hurts, and my lower back. During Chicago Marathon, about half way through, I had to stop to get ibuprofen from a medical tent because I had such a bad headache from my neck tension. As I mentioned above, you want to make sure you’re relaxed and loose.

On runs, I regularly check in to see how my posture is. More often than not, I have to re-adjust. A good cue (and one I’ve mentioned here in the past) is “chest up, shoulders back.” Once you roll your shoulders back, it will help align everything else. Your neck won’t be forward, your lower back won’t be too arched, etc.

Your gaze should be ahead of you not staring down at the ground (unless you’re on a trail run, in which case, look at the ground so you don’t sprain an ankle). And your core should be engaged. I will talk about that in the next point.

Quick review:

  • Chest up, shoulders back.
  • Look ahead.
  • Relax your face. It’s easy to get all tense when you’re working hard, keep your face muscles relaxed.
  • Head and neck straight up and down (don’t lean your head back or forward/down when you get tired)

Pelvic Tilt

Have you ever heard of “sitting in the bucket?” It’s a common term that describes many runners. If you have had lower back pain after a run, this might be why (and definitely why I do as well).

Sitting in the bucket is when, “the pelvis tilts forward and the hips push back. “This posture reduces the power of the hip extensors, stresses the lower back, and shortens your stride. This posture is responsible for a lot of runners’ back and hip problems,” from Human Kinectics.

According to Runner’s World, “when the lumbar area is contracted and weak, the pelvic girdle will begin to rotate backward, causing the back musculature to overwork. This causes pain and keeps you from activating the proper muscles to propel you forward, making you compensate with other muscles.”

If you were to lay on your back and press your lower back into the floor, that is the posture you should have while running. Obviously this is easier said than done, and requires good core strength, which is why doing core exercises is so important.

A good exercise to do (and one suggested in that Runner’s World article) is reverse crunches. Here’s my how-to video:

You can hold on to a heavy object or bench if you need to, and work your way up to just using your own body strength. I also like to do leg drops where I keep my lower back pressed firmly against the ground. I can only lower my legs a few inches, but the key is to not go to low where your back starts coming up off the floor. Eventually you’ll work your way up (or down I guess) to lowering your legs fully.

While you’re running, check in and see if you’re engaging your core. Sometimes on a run, I will place my hand on my abs or hips and push on them to remind myself to engage my core and move my pelvis back.

Foot Strike

This one has been controversial. Initially, people were all about forefoot strike, but then people started saying foot strike wasn’t the be all end all of running form…who knows exactly? My thoughts are that you have your own running gait/pattern. Your body moves in a way that is most efficient to you. Many elites have a heel strike, and many have a mid-foot or forefoot strike. I think the key point is that you don’t ever want to be OVER striding.

A lot of new runners I’ve spoken with have been like “so and so is so fast because she has really big strides, I need to do that too!” And I’m like please don’t! 1) You should be shooting for 180 foot strikes per minute and 2) big elongating your stride past its natural point, you will then be forcing a heel strike, which means more braking forces on your legs, which could lead to injuries.

Next time you’re on a run, count how many steps you take per minute. Surprisingly, I’m exactly at around 180 per min. This might vary depending on how you run, your leg length, etc. 

Going along with the stride length, I think another key point to remember is to try to land beneath your body (and not in front of it). You can achieve this by having a slight forward lean while running, as opposed to leaning back, which many do once they’re getting tired or working hard at the end of a race.

Quick review:

  • Don’t overstride. It will lead to injuries
  • Shoot for 180 steps per minute.
  • Have a slight forward lean…do not lean backwards!

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If all of this confuses you, I highly recommend getting a gait analysis done, or just filming yourself running. I’ve learned a lot about my running form by doing a slow-mo video from behind of me running on a treadmill. 

I wouldn’t recommend getting a gait analysis done at a running store because often times it’s just younger kids working there or they are trying to push a certain shoe…I don’t know, there are a lot of factors. 

I would say go to a physical therapist or athletic trainer to get a running analysis done…or even a running coach like my old coach Marc! He has a special software to watch your running videos and analyze all your specific angles (like foot strike, leg stride, arm angles, etc.) You can find his running gait analysis services here.

Have you ever had a gait analysis or had a PT tell you something that needed to be changed?

Have you ever felt lower back pain after long runs? The worst!

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06-08-2016

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels

Soooo…I meant to post this on Global Running Day but lately I just have not had enough time to blog consistently. I apologize about that! I will try to get back to the regular scheduled programming soon :-)

Anyway, I wanted to share these great running tips I gathered from fellow runners. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, I guarantee you’ll find something helpful here. I’ve broken them up into specific topics, so I hope you find something helpful!

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Training Plans & Tips

Getting Faster

Weather & Terrain Related Tips

Running & Life

So many great posts and tips! I need to read the trail running ones because I DO want to start running on more trails, especially since I have 5 week or so left where I can run for fun before marathon training starts.

For those of you training for a marathon (and marathon runners in general), do you run on trails even during training? Do you feel like it slows you WAY down? I run at least 2 min. per mile slower.

I hope these tips were helpful for you! If you have a link to one of your own running tips, please feel free to leave it in the comments so I can check it out and bookmark it for my next roundup.

Stay tuned for a France trip recap – spoiler alert: we only ran once lol.

How many times do you run per week as opposed to cross training? Or do you run every day?

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02-11-2016

Watt Based Cycling Training

I’ve been taking a new class at Ride + Reflect called POWER Ride. It’s been awesome. I take it Thursday mornings and it is probably the best workout of my week.

What is watt-based cycling training and how can it help you get stronger and fitter (especially if you're a runner too)? | http://reach-yourpeak.com

This watt based cycling class is based around your wattage output. So if you go to spin classes, if the bikes have meters (I love Ride + Reflect’s Keiser bikes), you’re able to see your mileage and watt output. What is a watt exactly? According to Competitor:

Strictly speaking, a watt is a measure of power per unit time (1 joule per second, to be exact). This can contribute to your cycling training because the objective nature of watt-based training gives you much more precision than either heart rate or perceived exertion since it is a measurement of the workload you’ve done independent from speed, winds, hills and all the other variables that can change how difficult you perceived a ride to be.

And according to Equinox:

Used correctly, watts can help you better understand how your energy is being transferred to the bike. Perceived exertion changes based on several factors such as your stress levels, how well you ate or slept before your ride, and the temperature outside. Watts are unbiased. “That’s what’s great about wattage. It takes out of all the variables,” Pennino says. “If you’re training off your heart rate,” he explains, “when you’re stressed, tired, dehydrated or sick, your numbers are always different. Watts, however, are always watts.” 

We start the class with a warm-up and then move into a 5-6 minute “test” to find your maximum wattage. We do a standing climb, and the goal is to get to a point where you’re at an 8-9 level of exertion. You watch that watt number climb up and try to maintain at the highest level you can. Everyone varies depending on their gear and RPMs. For example, I am around 150-160 max, while the “real” cyclists in my class hit over 200, almost 300 watts (dayummm).

So you find your max watts, then take a 2 minute rest, and then we get into the ride. So the rest of the class is based around that number. When we do sprints, endurance, hills, standing climbs, etc., the instructor tell us “ok get that number to 10 below your max watts” or “now we are going to stay at 100 RPMs but get your watts to 20-30 below your max.” It makes the ride more challenging because you can spin at 100 RPMs at a gear 8, but your watts will be low…so now you have to crank up the gears, keep 100 RPMs and try to hit that watt number.

No clue if that all made sense but basically what I’m trying to say is it’s a bit more challenging than a normal ride because you are trying to hit certain numbers. In a normal class, you of course are challenging yourself, but you’re not trying to hit certain numbers. It’s like going for a basic run vs. doing a track workout. When you have set numbers you need/want to hit, you will push your body even further.

I think this type of class also helps with mental strength, which will translate well for me with running. I’ve noticed on hard hill climbs during my runs, I’m thinking about the cues instructors give during classes. To shut out the pain. To ignore the burn and keep pushing. Push. Push. Push.

If you’re in NJ, I highly recommend taking the POWER Ride class (and any cycling or yoga class) at Ride + Reflect. If you want to build your own ride, I suggest doing a 5 minute test and seeing what your  max numbers get to. You want that watt number to be consistent for those 5 minutes – it’s not like you’re riding easy for 4 minutes then hit it for the last minute and use that number. Really challenge yourself for 5 straight minutes. Then afterwards build your ride based on that number. Throw in longer efforts, hill climbs, sprints, easier portions where you’re 50 watts below your max, etc. This article has some workout ideas as well.

I’ll admit, my running recently has kind of been lacking, but I’ve been consistent with cycling and love doing something different. But next week I do want to start running again and get back to 5 days of running.

Have you ever tried a cycling class based on watt output?

When the going gets tough in a fitness class or on a run, what do you tell yourself to keep going? My mantra in workouts and races is “Grind it out.”

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10-16-2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Race Recap

Where to even begin?? My mom and I finished our third marathon together on Sunday and it was a truly great experience. Yes, the race did not go as planned, but Theodora reminded me in her recap post that we should never lose sight of the fact that running 26.2 is a feat in and of itself. I think runners beat themselves up over their times (I see it on my own XC team) and forget that the fact that we CAN run is most important. PS – this recap might be on the longer side!

We got into Chicago on Thursday and did our sightseeing Thursday and Friday. We were up at 5 am for our Thursday morning flight, so we were pretty tired when we got there but I wanted to see as much as possible.

Thursday we decided to go to Millenium Park and check out Cloud Gate/The Bean, then walked along Magnificent Mile, and then took a bus to Oak Street Beach to take a lakefront walk.

thebean

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.06.45 AM

It was a lot of walking, which is why we decided to do it Thursday since we had a few days until the race.

Friday we slept in, then woke up for a shake-out run on the lakeshore path (which I loved!!). Then headed to the expo to pick up our bibs. I am dumb and forgot my license in the hotel, so we got there, tried to check in, then had to leave to get my license and come back. I’m pretty sure the woman didn’t believe me when I initially walked up, because I was like “omg I forgot my license!! can I show you my credit card or ANYTHING??” (worth a shot), and she said no (obviously), so I said I would be back. When I came back she was like oh wow you actually DID forget your license?? So I am thinking she thought I was trying to pick up someone else’s bib or something…good to know that they take all that seriously! Here are a few pics from the daytime:

lakeshore

It was cold and cloudy that day…it couldn’t stay like that for the race???

ownchicago

startline

We did a lot of walking around the expo because I had to buy a few things. We decided to buy gels at the expo and I forgot to pack my hydration belt (rookie mistake lol), so I had to find something. I actually bought a Fitletic belt with just the loops for the gels AND their water bottle add-on and I actually really loved it! (I can’t find it on their website actually but here it is).

I wore my FlipBelt just to carry my phone (it is so light you don’t even feel it), then the Fitletic belt to hold my gels and the water. It did not feel heavy at all. I tried their other belts at their booth but they felt too big and bulky for me.

I also bought a pair of lightweight running sunglasses since it was going to be super sunny and I don’t own running glasses. The race director’s email recommended it to protect your eyes, so I got some. I know…”nothing new on race day” but I wanted to be safe.

Afterwards, we went back to drop off our stuff at the hotel and then head to Willis Tower. By this time it was around 6:45 PM. There was not much of a line since most people go during the day, but we got up there around 7:20. Then my only gripe about this entire trip happened…

We are waiting in line for the SkyDeck, which is actually just 3 tiny glass boxes basically, and each has a line. This group of probably 10 tourists are in there legit setting up a photo shoot. One would shine their flashlight on them while others took pictures. They would take a million pictures each, then switch with other people, do different poses, etc. No joke, they were in there for FIFTEEN MINUTES.

The people behind them in line were starting to get annoyed and finally a man went forward and said you need to leave you have been in there for 15 minutes it’s not fair. They continue taking photos. Then a person who works at SkyDeck came up to tell them 1-2 photos per person and then leave. He also says SkyDeck is closing in 10 minutes so everyone gets 1 photo. That really pissed people off because we had all been waiting patiently AND paid, yet now we are going to get kicked out?? By the time my mom and I got in there, we took literally 2 photos and he kicked us out. We didn’t even get to take in the sights. For me, that was a complete waste of $40. I tweeted at them with my thoughts but never heard back – oh well. Why isn’t there someone at each SkyDeck area monitoring how long people take????

ANYWAY, here’s a photo we did manage to get.

skydeck

Moving on…so Saturday we went to Target to pick up race essentials (post-run recovery drinks, breakfast, etc.), ate lunch at Potbelly’s, then just relaxed all day. We laid in bed and watched videos on FloTrack Pro. I love the Driven series! We watched the Kara Goucher and Alexa Efraimson episodes to get ourselves pumped up to run.

Race Day

We woke up at 5:30 am and since we had put together everything the night before, we were quickly ready to go. We made our oatmeal with PB and banana, and coffee, and called our Uber. Our hotel was 2 miles from the start so it was super easy to get there (Chicago South Loop Hotel). On our walk to the starting area I was trying to eat my oatmeal but the nerves had set in. I had to force myself to eat it and not gag lol. I get bad race day nervous – I feel this way even in little local 5K races!

We got ready before checking our bags: leg massage with Tiger Balm, inhaler, tying shoes, putting hair ribbon on (priorities).

gettingready

Oh that picture just reminded me I also bought a Sparkly Soul headband at the expo. Thick and did not budge at all during the race!

Once we checked our bags we hit the porta-a-potties one more time and did some strides. Corrals closed at 7:45, and we were in the opening for our corral at 7:43 yet the woman wouldn’t let us in. She was yelling at a bunch of runners CORRALS ARE CLOSED and this one women said IT’S NOT 7:45!! The woman would not let her in and told her she had to move back a corral. Well that runner did not care; she jumped the barrier and ran away. The woman legit tried to grab the runners arm to get her back…come on, it is not even 7:45 yet. I didn’t really care because I knew our goal pace was going to be slower than those in F corral anyway, so we went back to G.

 startcorral

Our wave started at 8 am, and by 8:08 we had crossed the start. We were on our way!! We really had to hold back in that first mile – the crowds were crazy! In mile 2.5ish, I had to stop at the port-a-potties again really quick, and we lost 2 minutes, but we made it up by the 10K mile marker.

I don’t have splits because I did not wear my Garmin. I had read that Garmins lose their signal and gets all funky PLUS the night before, my Garmin refused to turn on. I was like, oh cool, bad omen. Of course, now it works perfectly fine. But I’m thinking it was a good thing, or I would have been so disappointed in the second half seeing my pace splits.

Anyway, so I don’t have splits but I’ll tell you what I remember.

We were on pace for a 4:48ish all through half way. I felt good still at that point. The first half was all shaded too so it was perfect. I started thinking about how I would write a blog post about how I PR-ed…don’t ever get too ahead of yourself in a marathon haha.

halfmarathon

At around mile 15 is where I started to feel tired and fading. The heat had started to play a role and the second half was not shaded at all, and as I have mentioned before I sweat A LOT. But I tried to not let it phase me. I kept repeating “Deal with it.” That was my mantra of choice.

I think around 16 or 17 I needed to put headphones in. I put on earbud in so I could still hear my mom if she needed to talk to me. When we got to areas with big crowds, that gave me a little boost and I’d try to pick it up a little.

By mile 18 I was like, nope, going to need to run/walk for now. I had a killer headache from neck tension I think. It’s weird because it’s not like my legs were tired or felt like lead, I think it was mainly dehydration issues. My face was now covered in salt. I made sure to take a salt pill every 30 minutes and stop at every water stop for 1-2 cups of water. I was taking GUs every 4 miles or so. I took my Honey Stinger waffle at 18 hoping it would give me a boost.

We got to mile 20 and my mom was like only 6 miles to go! At that point, I honestly thought to myself (didn’t say this to her though), “I don’t know if I can make it 6 more miles.” But I told myself to shut up and “grind it out.” That was my second mantra of the race. Honestly, if my mom weren’t with me and I didn’t want her to get mad at me (lol) I probably would have walked those last 6 miles.

At this point I knew 2 of our goals were out the window (anything below our PR, and 4:55). I was like ok, let’s try to do sub-5. But my pace just kept getting slower and slower. I was running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute. I would really try to pick it up in those 3 minutes. I stopped at a medical tent at one point to get advil for my headache that was not going away.

At mile 23, my mom was like come on! We can run these last 3 miles! I’m like, you can, I can’t. I told her to go on without me but she didn’t want to. I tried to continue picking it up when I could. I knew that now we were going to finish in over 5 hours.

Finally we hit one mile to go and I told her ok I will try to sprint for a 1 min (sprint…ha), and walk for 30 seconds. I would run as fast as I possibly could, recover for a bit, then repeat. I did pass some runners at least.

We saw the sign for 800 meters to go and I told myself I would run the rest of the way. It was 2 laps on the track. Then 400 meters to go (on a hill!!!) and then I saw the finish line. Wow people warned me about that hill before the finish and I’m sure in real life it is small but at that moment it felt never ended. We turned to the final straightaway and ran as hard as we could through the finish line.

Even though it was a miserable run (not as bad as my first marathon), we finished with smiles on our faces and happy to finish together.

medal

finishline

Final race time was 5:12.

Despite the race conditions, I would run Chicago again. My mom said she likes NYC Marathon better (I still think nothing can compare to that marathon), but Chicago had great organization and crowd support. Water stops were well organized as well, and they had various wet sponge stations and banana stations! Although in the middle miles you are kind of in no-mans land with not many supporters, the same could be said for some miles in the NYC Marathon as well.

This was our first race outside of the tri-state area AND our first marathon besides NYC (which we have done twice).

Yes I was disappointed with my time, but I also know I tried as hard as I could with the conditions that were given to me. Thankfully my mom was with me or I might have walked those last 3 miles. She pushes me in races and in practice, and although she said she didn’t want to run another marathon again, I know she will ;) She did great and had zero issues/pain…she probably could have ran 4:30 or something if she wasn’t with me. I feel bad holding her back because of my hydration issues, and it is something I really need to figure out. Clearly I need more than salt pills and water/Gatorade every mile. I don’t know what the solution is, but I have to figure it out.

Oh we also made “mom” and “daughter” shirts and got lots of comments on the course about it! My mom keeps saying we should write a book about our mother/daughter running adventures lol…new ebook idea perhaps?

daughtershirt

Surprisingly, after the race I was fine, legs-wise. I did stop in the medical tent at the end due to nausea, and they told me I was pretty dehydrated and gave me water + Gatorade. But my legs were fine. I was walking normally and felt no pain. So we went back to the hotel, showered, then went to check out Niketown. We wanted our medals engraved but the line was pretty long. I ordered myself a Chicago Marathon sweatshirt which should be arriving today :) 

We celebrated with an ice cold beer and some PF Changs. The next morning we were up at 5 am yet again to catch our flight back home. My legs were a bit sore for about 2 days but now I am back to normal and ready to get back to running. I usually take the winter off inadvertently because I will lift and stuff instead and am sick of running. But now, I want to keep training and build upon this training cycle so I can get that PR in NYC next fall.

If you read all of that…thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input…and if you ran Chicago (or any marathon recently) congratulations!! No matter what your time is, we must remember that 26.2 is a tremendous feat and always something to be proud of.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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10-09-2015

Marathon Mantras

Edit: I meant to post this yesterday but then my free wifi at the airport ran out lol.

I’m writing this while waiting for my flight to leave for Chicago :-O It still doesn’t feel real to me. I don’t think it will until I am IN Chicago and walking around. It will be awesome to explore a new city!

A few days ago I asked people to share their race day mantras with me. I plan on keeping many of these in mind as I run 26.2 miles, and wanted to share them with you as well. Thank you to all for your input, and also thank you to all of you who have read my posts throughout this 18 week journey and provided support and advice!

One of my mantras I plan on repeating in Chicago is: Deal With It. I read about it in the book The Champion’s Mind, and really liked it. I plan on thinking this when I start feeling tired and want to back off.

Here are some of the others that were shared with me (and their respective blogs so you can go check them out too!):

Running a marathon (or any race) soon? Check out these race day mantras to help you get to the finish line! 

  • I don’t know how helpful this little mantra is but ever since my late high school/early college years of when I was a track/xc runner, my dad always would say to me to repeat to myself ‘lookin’ good feelin’ good’ (i think its from a movie?!) and it always made me laugh! So to this day I still use it :-) – Alyssa (Bits Of Everything)
  • Then toward the end of the race I tend to say “do you have anything else to give” the answer is usually yes and I’ll pick up the pace or at least hold my pace. -Amy (Amy Says So)
  • I ask for prayer requests from FB people and assign each request a mile. That way, I always have something or someone to focus on. -Lauren (Running Slowly With Kids)
  • My mantra is : “the body achieves, what the mind believes.” Helps me everytime! -Daisy (Fit Wanderlust Runner)
  • My mantra is “Get There!” I have it engraved on my id band for my watch. It reminds me that my goal is to get to where I am going, it doesn’t matter what happens between the start and the finish if I get there I am a winner! -Missy (Getting Fit To Find Myself)
  • Your mind wants to give up before your legs do. -Katelyn
  • You can do hard things. -Sarah (Uplift Training)
  • Run THIS mile. — don’t worry about THAT hill or how far you have left to go – Coco (Got 2 Run 4 Me)
  • When any discomfort or pain comes up during a race I repeat “think, feel, relax.” I think about the exact area that hurts, really feel it, then tell it to relax and imagine my muscles healing themselves. You’d be surprised by how well this works! It’s a Zen Buddhist teaching :-) -Bri (Run Lift Yoga)
  • I always turn to Walt Disney when the going gets tough: “If you can dream it you can do it.” -Kathryn (Dancing To Running)
  • You can crumble or you can conquer. -Carmy 
  • I can do hard things. -Courtney (Eat Pray Run DC)

How good are all of those? One of my all time favorites is “The body achieves what the mind believes.” If you’re looking to improve your mental strength, I highly recommend checking out The Champion’s Mind. It really has opened my eyes as to how much your brain affects your performance.

Okay…time to get ready to board. HERE WE COME CHICAGO!!!

Edited to add: We are now actually in Chicago and it has been awesome lately. Heading to the Expo today! :-O

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