Running Log: 12/21-12/27 (back to normal in a small way)

This week was anything but normal, but at least I have a log again. The lack of normal started and ends with Christmas, of course, and figuring out when to do the long run despite all the planned festive activities.

Usually, I do my long run on Saturdays. This week, however, I decided I would not want to run 18 miles the day where a group of small children who would want to run around and play were coming over, so I had to reschedule that. By process of elimination (I can’t do it on Sunday, wouldn’t want to do it on Christmas, can’t do it the day or two after my last long-ish run), I figured it was either Christmas Eve or Wednesday. At some point on Monday, I realized while munching through the first festive feast of the season, that Wednesday would be a perfect day to do the long run: I’d optimize the fifth serving I’d just helped myself to, wouldn’t be dead tired (and useless) on Christmas Eve, and look fantastic on Christmas after the long-run bloat cleared the system.

So, my long run was Wednesday, which meant Tuesday and Thursday were rest days and I’ve been doing easy runs every other day, except yesterday, where my body said “hey! Let’s do tempo.” So I did.

Sunday, 12/20-3.6 easy miles to clear out the system
Monday, 12/21-7.8 early, windy miles to the beach and back. It was glorious to stand facing the sea with the wind whipping my ponytail back.
Tuesday, 12/22-rest with a nice evening walk
Wednesday, 12/23- 18.3 miles at 8:45 pace. Had a few 7:15 miles in there, so that felt really good. Figured out my nutrition along the way as well, realizing I actually need something every 5 miles, not 10k as I’ve been doing.
Thursday, 12/24- rest! And another nice evening walk with the family to see all the holiday lights
Friday, 12/25-really easy run with my brother. Wouldn’t have wanted to take a holiday to do a run on my own, so I’m glad my brother opted to come with
Saturday, 12/26- This time though, my brother wanted to relax, so I went out for an easy run, and after realizing I felt good going sub-8mpm, carried on with a 7:43 overall pace for the 7 miles.

So far, my week looked like this: dnc-3n4ogl56

I had a five-miler planned for this afternoon, which would have brought my weekly total to 44 miles. But I cut it short for the sake of time and my poor feet, so 3.86 more miles with 42.8 miles total for the week it is.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their holiday weekend, but that today involves no stress and lots of quality time with family and/or friends.

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Active Recovery

In my last post, I describe a little how I collect most of my running knowledge. A lot of my reading, of course, has to do with training- as a part of my search to find a good training plan for me. In these searches, I come across many running debates (you know, like low-profile versus high-profile shoes, running tights versus shorts over running tights), and one of them has to do with the uses of active recovery.

First, let me point out that the terms “active rest” and “active recovery” are often used interchangeably, but I argue that they should not be. First of all, the difference between rest and recovery should be clear. A rest day is one where you give your body and mind respite from the period of time where you did not give them a chance to back off and rest. Recovery is implied with rest, that is, by resting, you should be recovering. However, since recovery is something you do actively and it implies development from “I’ve just killed myself” to “I can do a few sprints right now,” the recovery is what I think can be active, while rest is just rest… no action required. Or, in more other words, active recovery are actions you take to maximize the repair of your body from it’s latest workout(s). So, for this post, I will be using “active recovery,” since I feel that “active rest” is a paradox and does not really describe the thing properly (semantics, tsk, tsk).

Runner’s World uses the term and break down the issues I have with using “active rest” as a term as well, so here’s that article.  Here’s another one (in case you’re super interested).

Anywho, to continue, most of the time active recovery is something talked about in the weight-lifting community. It’s something that seems more reasonable in that community, given the fact that weight lifters are not pounding miles of cement everyday (hence involving bones and muscle), but rather mostly using joints and muscle. They may not need rests as runners need breaks from running (though everyone needs a break at some point). However, these active recovery days are useful for anyone. As explained on breakingmuscle.com, “Active recovery focuses on completing a workout at a low intensity, but just high enough that it gets the blood moving and helps reduce residual fatigue in the muscle.” This makes sense to me, and may make sense to you too.

It used to be that people thought running also cleared out the lactic acid, but really the running helps increase the blood flow that helps bring the whatever to the muscle to help repair the microfractures.

So, obviously for runners, some of the best forms of active recovery involve activity that increases blood flow, but not impact on the body. Swimming, stretching, cycling, etc. are the most touted forms and since practicing them myself, I find myself able to recover more quickly from things like long runs and hard interval runs than I would if I took the day completely off. Here are some other suggestions of what to do on rest and recovery days.

Active recovery, long story short, is something I discovered once in a training plan, did some reading about through various sources (mostly my friend Google), and now practice, especially the day after my long run, to feel good for my next workout.

The end! Hope this is useful, and I’d appreciate comments about experiences you’ve made practicing active recovery, or suggestions for workouts to do to help recover.

 

 

how to get smart

Or, more appropriately, “how to get informed about running.”

One thing I get asked all the time (or I wish I got asked, to justify all the time I put into random reading) is how I know so much about running and sports nutrition. Seriously, I’m the running partner who constantly gives unwanted advice about anything, set off by a mere statement about the knees, pace, coffee you had for breakfast, or amount of sleep you got. I can’t help myself. I notice it while I’m doing it, but I get so lost in trying to call up the random spark of knowledge, that I ignore the slowly growing look of disinterest on my partner’s face. This habit is not helped by the fact that I teach English composition. I’ve become bored-face immune.

Oh well. Sometimes, the advice is welcome though, and it’s usually up-to-date with the latest sports medical and psychological developments, even if I’ve never studied either one (could be a second career path though, for sure). How do you get this way, you wonder?

Well, it’s a development. For me, it started with a subscription to Runner’s World when I had my first self-earned money and no vital commodities to buy otherwise. These magazines came in monthly, and I read through them like my textbooks (and as a straight-“A” student, you can imagine that it was everything minus the highlighter and the sticky notes). I absorbed all the knowledge until I finally realized, midway through the second year (it was a two-year special subscription deal) that the information repeated itself. Even if a different workout was highlighted each time, or the type of shoes always changed, at some point, the magazine recycled it’s articles like a bad romance author recycles his/her story-lines (sorry, guys). Runner’s World magazine is great for the beginning runner, looking for a fun magazine to read by the beach. At some point though, it’s time to move on. What it is good for, however, is to get its readers introduced to the breath of running topics: types of workouts, types of attire, types of nutrition, types of terrain, VO2 levels, great races, who’s who in the running world, etc. Yet, the depth of which the authors get into the topics is limited, as I realized later, by the clientele. Most of the world are amateur runners, so therefore Runner’s World smartly caters to those readers (who don’t want or need to know about how lactic acid necessarily works at the blood cell level).

For a while, I was a member of MyFitnessPal. Most of my friends on it were also runners, and we exchanged a lot of notes about workouts and because I could see their food diaries, I also had an idea of how nutrition=workout satisfaction. The good runners really did pay attention to their nutrition (types of fuel)… it’s really not a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out. But from the wise masters in my version of the online community, I learned about other sources to read besides Runner’s World magazine, such as Running Times. Running Times is a sub-publication of Runner’s World, and it caters more to competitive runners (most runners are competitive, but here I mean runners who raced in high school and college, and/or who are hunting down sub-elite times (or like to believe they can, like me ;)).

I don’t subscribe to Running Times, but rely a lot on their website. I’m often brought there by my Runner’s World “quote of the day,” which gives me a daily quote and article to peruse. The quotes are all some variation of motivation (i.e. you’ll feel/be better if you run! It will be hard, but worth it), but the articles are usually the latest news in the running world.

Now, through WordPress, many of my fellow bloggers remind me about key running advice or share their personal tips about how to deal with things like cold- or warm- weather running. Those who post their workouts give me a good idea of ways I can tweak my own plans.

However, nowadays, most of my knowledge comes from google searches about particular concerns of mine on a given day. For example, if I feel a pain on the outside of my knee, I look it up and get a bunch of information about possible causes of my pain, and I continue clicking links until I’ve gotten all the “evidence” and then can pinpoint the “culprit” after eliminating all the duds (hence, my online research has become some kind of detective work, as could be true for everyone). This kind of work means I collect a wide breath of all the options, and in reading in-depth about multiple of these options, I learn about things that don’t affect me at the time, but I save these bits of fluff for annoying my running partners. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, my brain has room for these things (as found at http://45.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc0hmeVCDV1ri1n45o4_r4_500.gif)

I read about what the best fuel is for a long run, a tempo run, trail run, how to handle high humidity, low humidity, what to do with little sleep, if you’re having a hard time sleeping, etc.

Of course, all this reading comes with the caveat that I don’t have the academic background or any real training in this field, but I have pretty sharp brain and know when to seek out someone who has the proper background and training (especially in matters related to injury and nutrition). A lot of it is trial and error anyway, since we all are different and have to figure out which set of advice works for us.

Still, I wanted to share some fun sources with you, in case you were looking for ways to fill up your time.

 

Paying it forward

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, but time- ‘nough said.

A while ago, all the way back in the beginning of November, a fellow blogger participated in “Sharing Sunday,” and shared some of the blogs she really enjoyed following. It is such a neat idea, and while it’s not Sunday, and I am not doing this to make anyone feel like they have another thing on their list to do (i.e. you DON’T have to pay it forward!), I do want to share some of my favorite blogs to follow, with you.

So, consider this my Christmas gift to you: several great running blogs that you can enjoy checking out in your free time (if you aren’t already following them… because they’re just that good).

Of course, Paula at Never a Dull Bling provides me with weekly entertainment from her happy hour ramblings. She also posts regularly about her training (hills, agh!) and about her cheer leading for her husband, James, who also blogs at 50 in 50 Marathon Quest. He and I run pretty similar times, so it’s cool to see how he’s doing and mooch off his training plans. Both are incredibly supportive in the comments section as well, which I’ve learned is what makes the WordPress blogging experience so great.

Then there’s Jim at trying to get faster as I get older, a really fast masters runner who is super consistent about logging and usually posts every day- something short and sweet with a touch of thoughtful zen.

I also enjoy following Colby at It’s A Marathon and a Sprint, her partner in crime Tina posts there too. These updates are usually hilarious and full of sweat, cursing, and tears.

Chelsea at The Dancing Runner and Hollie at FueldbyLolz are regular posters whose posts I look forward to several times a week. Chelsea does themed posts I can depend on (I always love her TGIFriday Faves) and Hollie is super fast and I love reading her race recaps and weekly workouts.

Harold at One Foot in Reality  kids himself. He really has both feet grounded and reflects on running and life in thoughtful, precise ways. He usually breaks down his posts into the situation, the way he feels about it, and rounds it out with “the reality is,” putting things into perspective. He’s also great to go to with advice!

So, there’s also Amy at The Tiny Terror another fast runner whose times are a little closer to mine which makes it fun to follow as well. Plus, we can both complain about running in humidity together.

Christopher at We Run and Ride is a great blogger who writes legitimate essays that take you on a journey. His posts usually involve some experience or metaphor that gets him on a written road that usually gets the reader back to what he started with, but with a lot of new ideas and observations to consider along the way.

Finally, a few blogs I only recently started following, but have come to look forward to are Inverted Sneakers, Pip in Motion, and Ben’s Running Blog (makes me laugh without fail).

Well, that’s it for now. I follow a lot of blogs, but this collection hosts my favorite ones (they’re the blogs I’ll open to read, even if I don’t have any time to like or comment!).

Finally, while I’m sharing, here are those finish photos of my brother and me. :-) We tied, but I won in the photo finish!

Cheers! – Dorothea

A tale of two logs- Running Logs 12/6-12/20

Really? I couldn’t think of anything less cliche for a title?

Short answer: nope. Long answer: also nope. Sorry folks. It already seems as though I can barely blog… with a post once every two weeks. But I have pictures this time!

Obviously, life was normal enough the last time I wrote. It was, after all, only the first advent and I knew I’d be done with grades and university obligations by the 13th… or so I thought. Unfortunately, I underestimated my obligations and yesterday was the first day I could breath deeply. Seriously, international freshmen are a different species of student.

But it’s all good. My running actually went well.

log

I won’t break it down like I normally do, but I will say that I had two tempo runs, two interval sessions, two long runs, and a race (that was more like a cool-down for my long-ish run yesterday) to fill the past two weeks, with three rest days and five easy days. Actually a solid cycle of training, other than the fact that I always wish I could do more miles. But those weeks will come. 12/7-12/13 was 40 miles, which is more than I’ve done in a good long while. 12/14-12/20 was 36 miles, which isn’t shabby for a down week.

The best runs of this cycle were the long run last Saturday and the runs yesterday.

Last Saturday, I set out for 16 miles. After how I felt during that week, I thought 15 would be okay too, but I also thought 16 were reasonable (even if I only did 13-14 the week before…). Turns out, the route I took brought me to near 16.7 miles, so I ended up with a solid long run at a pace that’s surprising even for me: 8:36. I did some miles at tempo (8:00-8:15) and some at something slower. I feel confident that I’m going to be able to do 8:30 at my next marathon, but I’d like to be able to do 8. We’ll see.

While I felt good during and following the run, I felt kind of tired this entire week. I don’t know if it was because of the psychological stress I was experiencing or the long run, but I was glad to just head out for 4-6 miles every day. I’m looking to do two 40+ mile weeks through New Year’s, with a 19-miler and a 20-miler, so there was no point in pushing this week.

The other special run of this cycle was a Jingle Bell Jog 5K. It was the slowest race I’ve ever run (that’s including my first ever 5K): 27:19 . I did it on purpose, though.. I really had to reign my self (and tongue) in, but I wanted to run the race with my brother, who is a tad out of shape (his PR beats mine by quite a bit). I wore the full Santa get-up and since this is in South Florida, it was quite warm. I also ran a long warm-up of 9 miles (met my brother at the race) so that I wouldn’t feel tempted to run too fast. It turned out to be worth it, as we both sprinted into the finish and have the first (and likely last) finishing photo of both of us together, and I’m waiting for those race photos to come in and share them.

So that’s coming up! As well as some serious post catch-up (I mean, I don’t always just need to talk about myself, I have some great running advice I’ve collected these past few months). Yesterday’s race (such a fun, holiday-themed run, the first I’ve ever done!) rounded out the 5K season for me, which brought my erhofft für (hoped for) PR. Now, it’s onward to a marathon PR (hopefully) and serious marathon training. I have a tune-up half marathon in January to look forward to, but I’m looking to building mileage these next few weeks to carefully get me to peak training condition.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and/or days off (if you don’t celebrate it). :-)

-Dorothea

 

Update: I’m still alive!

So, I’ve been off the radar for a while (in reading and posting blogs). I’m going to skip off again after this, but to check-in and make it easier on myself when I finally return for the end of 2015 (likely next weekend, life will be mine again), I’m doing a quick running log.

Last time you read from me, I had just PR’ed and was already part way through finals stress. This year, I have tons of papers (late and on-time) from my students to grade, my brother’s finals to help him prepare with, and grad school applications…plus the house needed to be decorated! So, I’m a wee bit busy and can’t wait for the break to begin next weekend.

However, I have been running, even if it was a bit rocky.

training_21 Nov 6 Dec

The first day after the race was fine. I did an easy 5 miles and shook out the legs. Things felt good! Then, I took my scheduled rest day and life was hunky-dory. Following that, I had an interval session planned. This was done at the track and I did 7 x 400ms with 400 m recovery jogs. The pace overall was fine, but nothing stellar, and I felt tired. I chalked it up to having just raced hard and didn’t really push myself, anyway.

Then, Thanksgiving prep got in the way of my run, and I started showing cold symptoms. That turned into a full-fledged cold, but not before I could get 8 miles in on Thanksgiving. They were nice (and windy) to the beach and back. Friday, my cold played out its game, hard, and I was miserable and forced to be productive on applications all last weekend. Still, I squeezed in a few short runs. They didn’t kill me (even though I just lay down in the grass at one point during Friday’s run, because it felt better than running), and life moved on. I took off the last day of running to work on my applications completely, because I know where to set my priorities… obviously. ;)

Starting Dec. 1st, things looked better. I was feeling healthier and had a little more time to run, even if I’m still tight for it.

Tuesday, Dec. 1- quick 10k. The legs felt good, I felt good, I had to get back before it got dark… (edited to add that this was actually an interval run! How could I forget? Probably because it wasn’t as easy as my selective memory had me believe, due to my cold. 3 x 7 minutes at 7:00-7:30 mpm, 3 min. recovery jog.)
Wednesday, Dec. 2- Easy five miles. It felt good to relax on this run, no stress and plenty of time for circuit training
Thursday, Dec. 3- short 3 miles. Got home late after driving around south Florida for three hours, but really wanted that run (and even if I would have actually been okay without it, it felt good to run in the rain)
Friday, Dec. 4- even shorter 2.3 miles… just to get the legs moving. I’m getting back into marathon training and wanted to get a  run in on the day before the long run.
Saturday, Dec. 5- longest run since the April marathon! Finally back into marathon training. 15.5 miles at a pretty good clip (8:37). To get the distance and be home in time for breakfast (because, let’s be real, it’s almost the best part of the day), I did a little less than 2 miles before the group run. Wore some compression socks after my shower, and wow, hose things really do help in recovery.
Sunday, Dec. 6- rest day, 2nd Advent, life is fairly good, but now I have to get back to grading.

Total: 32.5 miles. This is not as high as I’d like to see, but after the last two weeks sub-24 miles, I’m happy with this. I know that next week, with a planned 17-miler, it will be easy to get to 40 miles.

Hope everyone had a good weekend and has a wonderful week. Stay healthy! It’s that time of the year, but no need to get sick.

All the best and happy running.