How to… aw, forget it.

I admit, when I started this post, I was struggling. Maybe it’s because keeping up a marathon-cross-training regimen is difficult, or maybe because it’s just impossible. How many marathoners PR after being injured? Are my goals unrealistic?

In another internet search (because google is my magic crystal ball), I found this article: “can’t run, can still train”. It made me feel a lot more positive. It also serves as a good slider for my recount of a workout I did today, to make up for the 8 x 800s I missed.

You can call me crazy, but I really love interval workouts. I love the anticipation as I head to the track, prepare my water bottle, and limber up. The warm-up laps and the dynamic stretches are like foreplay, and walking up to the starting line for the first interval always gets a spike of adrenaline going. Of course, the first interval is always easy, not quite max effort, but good time. Then, the challenge is to get through the recovery well enough to start the next one strong. I love to challenge myself to go faster each time, to see the miles add up without the same monotony of an easy or long run. I love the final interval where I know I don’t have any left, and I can give it everything I’ve got. Unfortunately, this is the third week I’ve missed my intervals.

IMG_1245

but here’s what: I wrote some job applications and went to the gym. There, I changed into my workout clothes, saw I didn’t have my headphone (damnit!) and got on the elliptical machine. I did 1,6 km (that’s a mile) at moderate to high intensity to warm-up, and then I went to the spinning room- thankfully empty.

No one had used this spinner since the last time I was there, so I didn’t even need to adjust it. I opened my clock app and opened the stop-watch, started it,  and spun easily for 90 sec.s. Then, I upped the intensity and went as fast as I could go… After about 1 minute, I upped the resistance, got out of the seat, and then also went as fast as I could go. I upped a little more and, got into sprint position and, you guessed it, went as fast as I could go. After 3.5 minutes of this fast stuff (and feeling my heart rate rise), I dropped the resistance and spun easily again. 90 seconds later, it was round two. I did this for 10 rounds and at the end of the tenth one, Skrillex “Bangarang” (seriously, that song makes me GO) came on my iPod that I was using as a mini stereo, so I did another 55 seconds to finish out the song.  I got of the spinner, stretched out a bit, and then went back to the elliptical for a 1,6 km cool-down. My heart rate maxed out at 167, so I think I worked decently hard enough while spinning. The elliptical doesn’t replace running at all- but nothing really does. Feeling self-pity, I hopped on the treadmill for a bit… I made it 300 meters before deciding: no, not ready.

So, I don’t have my aqua belt on me, I don’t have an ellipti-go, and I sure as hell don’t have an alter-g treadmill. I couldn’t even afford the cheapest treadmill on the market. The one thing I do have, though, is a gym I can go to and they have elliptical machines and spinners. I can use both of these to try and get my game on. Next time, I’m bringing my heart rate monitor, so that I can make sure my HR goes above 160 for 67% of the workout.

The remaining challenge left to conquer is that cross-training usually has to be done for more time than the running would have been. Considering that marathon training is already an incredibly time-intensive activity, trying to replicate the training with cross-training activities is almost impossible. For example, Tuesday was long run day- 20 miles. My plan called for accomplishing that in 3 hours. If I follow the advice of 1.5 times the running time, I would have had to workout for 4.5 hours. Um… that’s not really an option- but maybe, if I’m not running-ready in time for my next 20 miler in two weeks, maybe I can make it an option. That’s dedication for you, I guess.

I could have titled this post “how to get through marathon training without running.” However, since I’m still trying to figure that out myself, I’ll just leave it at: I’m trying.

 

 

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Weekly Update: August 21-28

This week was, perhaps, the most successful week of running I’ve had since the marathon and before (back in April). I don’t know how, but I ended up in a training rut after the Hamburg marathon, opting for a laissez-faire approach that I’m giving up again in favor of the standard marathon training.

I’m starting with the normal five days of training with two quick days, two easy days, two rest days, and a log run to round out the week. My long run is reverting back to 10 miles, and it will be a steady increase with 10, 11, 12, 10, 12, 13, 14, 10, 14, 15, 16, 12, 16, 17, 18, 12, 18, 19, 20, 10, 20, and then two weeks to taper. It’s a good thing I’m starting now, because seeing how it builds up so slowly, I will want to make sure I get started right away!

I find that I really need to get into things slowly to prevent injury. It doesn’t mean that I can’t up the mileage on my daily runs, but I know that being careful about how fast I increase how much I run will be key to getting me healthy to the start of my fourth marathon.

Along the way, I want to do a few races. I’m thinking of a 10-miler in October and a half-marathon in December (since the marathon I’m planning for is on Valentine’s Day). Funnily enough, that sets me up for a 2-month cycle and is another thing that I hope means I’m not setting myself up for injury.

Now, for the recap!

My last rest-day was a week ago. Since then, my runs were an easy home-improvement wrap-up run (covered in white paint and everything) in my local park for 4 miles, an easy run to the beach for almost 7 miles, an easy Monday 4 miler, an interval session on the treadmill at the gym for 5K (.75 mile warm-up, and five intervals of 400 meters maxing at 10 mph, 400 meters jog-rest), an easy 5 miler on Wednesday, and another interval session yesterday.

Of the runs I did this week, yesterday’s run was my favorite. I don’t know why, but even though I’ve been dieting a bit this past week (need to get down to training weight after indulging for ten months in my less disciplined habits!), I was super pumped. Perhaps because I went to the gym shortly after my lunch? At any rate, after a half mile warm-up and jumping around from treadmill to treadmill to find the least obnoxious one (and the one that didn’t just stop in the middle of a sprint), I did four sets of progression runs. Basically, these looked like: run 400 meters at 6.5 mph, start moving up for the next 400 from 6.5-8.0 mph, spend the last 400s going at 8.5-10 mph; repeat. I had a few moments where I needed to worry, because my left knee did the weird split-second sharp pain after I increased my speed once, but having the slow progression meant I wasn’t transitioning from jogging to running too quickly. I focused a lot on keeping my form, and I felt awesome keeping my 10 mph for at least .1 of a mile each set.

I was so focused (and about this wet)

border-collie-696689_1280

The run ended after 44 minutes with a total of 5.3 miles. I left the gym soaked, but high off adrenaline.

When I got home, I made sure to roll my feet on my orange (a firm ball that has a right orange color that I use to stretch out my plantar fasciiti) and to drink a lot of water to flush out the lactic acid. I felt some strain on my quads near the end of my run, but my soreness this morning is not like it was last week, and definitely far from post-marathon, so I think I’m doing the right thing with this speed-work.

I’m excited about my “long” run tomorrow and decided to pull out the old TomTom runner again. I haven’t run with it in over a month, so I don’t know if it even still works! But it will be interesting to see how my speed holds up outside after all this time. I mostly need it because I don’t know how far 10 miles is from my front door…

Wish me luck!

A little idea of my runs in Hamburg

2015-04-09 12.33.392015-03-31 13.44.22

A short photo essay of my runs in Hamburg, especially now that it’s Spring:

2015-04-02 12.29.072015-04-02 12.34.49

2015-04-02 12.23.592015-04-09 12.37.01

The first picture is of the hill I run down to get from the street to the path straight on the Elbe. It’s about 1.6 miles to this point where I can look out across the river and see the clock tower, the second image.

Often, I’ll be accompanied by a freight ship on my way down the Elbe (I usually run west, towards the outskirts of Hamburg). The freight ship is sometimes helped by a smaller ship, but when it’s riding free down the river, I’m usually running right alongside, trying to keep up. On a good day, I can.

Finally, I am delighted by the images of spring popping up all around me. The daffodils makes me a little more giddy than other flowers (since I have to think of how I “wander, lonely as a cloud”), but the pink, yellow and white blossoms on the trees, and the blue, red and purple buds on the ground make running right now absolute color fests.

Running in Hamburg

is seeing a huge cargo ship slowly make it down the river at sunset.

Daylight savings ended in Germany on Sunday. This means that while it was steadily getting dark closer and closer to 6 PM, it now gets dark around 5:15 PM. Yesterday, I ran in the morning, but today I ran in the afternoon and realized too late that I should have been out the door by 4 PM.

I usually avoid running at night because I don’t like it. There are too many lights; not only do the lights from oncoming cars blind one, but In Germany, there are a lot of bike commuters and these commuters use bright, white LED lights that seem to make blinding all oncoming traffic their sole reason for existing (well, they’re lights… they don’t really have high standards). I found myself stumbling a lot as well, and I don’t like the sensation of uncertainty while running or otherwise. Needless to say, it being dark halfway into my run was lame.

However, one can’t avoid running in the dark if one wants to see the very end of a beautiful sunset. I was running west today, along the Elbe, and coming around the first bend after reaching the river was just, well, I would let a picture do the talking, but I have no camera on my runs. At any rate, the view of the river at sunset was incredible. About a mile down the river, I saw the outline of a huge cargo ship against the red, orange, and pink streaked sky. It was moving very, very slowly and it took me a moment to realize it was actually stuck and the tiny, tiny little boat coming up behind it was supposed to push it into deeper river water.

It’s not everyday you see the old partnership of large and small ship play out on open water. Against the backdrop of the sunset and the slowly crystallizing waning moon, I could have filmed the slow spectacle for some award.

Other than that, my run today was actually pretty bad. I got in 8 miles, but halfway through my right hamstring was doing some whining, followed by my right outer knee and then inner knee. This could just be some niggles following some intense soccer yesterday, but I’m also waiting for the day that my plantar fasciitis plagued right foot to finally calls for revolution. I’m hoping it waits a little. These niggles combined with bad stomach combo (lots of burping and farting) bought back the banality of my existence despite the epic view fest of my run.

Oh well, such is life.

Staking my Territory: Hamburg is mine

Today, I laid claim to the city of Hamburg. Every part of the city that runs along the Elbe from Blankensee to unfinished Elbphilharmonie that is.

The Elbphilharmonie… still about five years away from being finished. Also, another stolen picture. I need to figure out a way to bring a camera along on my runs.

Remember how I found a route that leads from my place to the Elbe River? Well, today I decided to run along that river for at least five miles. This took me from almost-suburbs of Hamburg all the way to the heart of its former trade halls and harbor.

I saw more of Hamburg than one of those silly bus tours would have shown me, and I covered the distance in good time too; not to mention, this was all free!

Hamburg long run

The highlights of this tour: Fisher Harbor, Patrician Houses of Altonauer Balkon (the architecture in general here is amazing), the Cruise Center Altona where a huge ship was docked, the famous Altona and St. Pauli Fishmarkets (which were in full swing, since it was Sunday morning after all… too bad I hadn’t brought any money for a fischbroetchen), the U-Boot museum, St. Pauli, part of the Elb-Park, the St. Michaelis Church (need to go in there sometime!), the Krameramtstuben (no idea what they are, but will visit soon), of course, the Elbphilharmie, and then the Landungsbrucken with the Alter Elbtunnel, ferry stop to get to Cuxhaven or Hegoland, and many tourist offices and signs.

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The weather yesterday was gorgeous. And that funny wavy looking building in the upper right with a crane hanging over it is supposed to be Hamburg’s greatest pride, the Elbphilharmonie (concert hall). It’s fighting with the Stuttgart train station and the Berlin airport for epic fail status.

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View from the Landungsbrueke. This morning I saw a few empty cargo ships, a sail boat, and many, many tourists.

The stretch along the Elbe that didn’t run directly through the city/tourist attractions was filled with runners. On my return trip back on this stretch I came across a lot of runners who were going in the same direction as I was and my competitive self wanted to beat them all, which I did. Miles 11 and 12 were about 7:30 pace, average pace for 12.8 miles was 8:12.

Good half-marathon training, but now I’m tired.

Hope everyone is having a great Sunday!

Classes start tomorrow (finally), so I need to see how my new running schedule will look like.

Race: The last 24 hours beforehand

Today was the day before my race. Likely, I’ll forget about this day a few weeks from now because it will be overshadowed by tomorrow, which is race day. But for now, today is the important day. I did a few things to prepare and hopefully I’ll have a good run tomorrow so that next time I have a race, I can look back at what I did right.

I started off the day slowly after a good night’s sleep of 7.5 hours. I probably could have slept longer, but I also was limited in what I can do. Since I am getting up at 4-ish tomorrow, I know that I won’t get more than 6 hours of sleep, but I can work with that.

I ate my usual breakfast of berries and yogurt, but I didn’t eat oatmeal as I normally would have done. Rather, I opted to bake a banana-date-walnut bread and noshed on that instead. I baked the bread for several reasons. The most important reason was because I had a friend come in from out of town and I wanted something special to serve him that I could also eat myself, since I’m sugar-free. I also wanted a good carb-source to get some tasty carbs in for today (also hard to do when I’m sugar free), but also have something easy to prepare for a pre-race meal in the morning. I could make oatmeal tomorrow morning, but bread seems so much easier at 4 AM. I think if there’s anything I regret tomorrow, it will be putting dates in the bread, but who knows? Maybe I’ll appreciate the extra propulsion forward. The recipe I used can be found here

So, since my friend was over, I spent a good part of the day hanging around, off my feet. When I was on my feet, I certainly wasn’t doing anything strenuous. I made sure to drink my regular amount of water, which is about four liters. I think most of it was in tea today, but I’ll drink a bit more this evening before I head to bed. 

Finally, one of the things I did to prepare was a shake-up run. Back in the day, I thought that one was supposed to rest the day before a race. However, since I’ve been around the running forums and talked to more and more coaches, I’ve learned to make the second day before a race the day off, and do a light run the day before the race. 

That’s what I did. After corralling up my brother to join me, I put on my running shoes that I am not going to race in tomorrow (my Mizuno Wave Creations. I’ll race in my Sauconys that I feel slightly more comfortable in, even though neither shoe is really idea for racing) and went out. I set my TomTom GPS runner for 21 minutes because my goal for tomorrow is 21:something (preferably sub 30 sec) and I wanted to envision the run in my head. So when my brother wasn’t filling my head with his plans for the weekend, I thought about how I would feel at certain moments in the race. At minute 12 I was thinking “okay, you’ll be beyond halfway there here. Things will start to look tough and you’ll start to want to slow down, but you’re only halfway there. On the plus side, you’ve only 1.5 miles to go, which is easy-peasy!” Three-quarters of the way through I was thinking, “alright, you’re into your last mile. Things are going to go down now. You’re going to want to compromise, you’re going want to make arguments with yourself about why reaching your goal time isn’t possible. But it will be possible. You’re prepared. You’re well-rested. You will be able to do it if you’re willing to go through a bit of pain.” When my watch buzzes for the 90% done, I know that I’ll have about two minutes left to give it all I’ve got. At that point, I know I’ll want to push myself. 

To round-out this live-race vision, I did some pick-me-ups to just feel some speed. The first one felt awkward, as it should after an easy 9:30+ mpm run, but the next few felt good. I didn’t push myself too hard, but made sure to extend my legs and get a real stride going. 

Now that I’ve done everything physically that I need to do for preparation, it’s all mental. I’ve got my socks chosen, I know what shoes, shirt and shorts I’m going to wear. I’ll bring my wallet for gas in the morning and my ID for packet pick-up. I am thinking of bringing a towel and a change of clothes, as well as filling up all my water-bottles to have in the car. 

I’m eating some sushi tonight (something I do every Friday and have done several times before races), playing cards and watching some tele with the family, and going to be around 2215. 

The only thing I haven’t really decided is whether to run with music. Most of my interval and tempo runs have been with music, so I’m afraid I’ve come to rely on it. On the other hand, I don’t want to be anti-social at the race or during the run. I want to be among fellow runners running for the good cause that is memorializing the heroes of 9/11 and funding ceremonies in the future. I believe in the cause this run is hosted for, because I believe it’s important not to forget what happened 13 years ago. I’m afraid to dishonor the memory of those this run is held for, because I won’t be participating actively with the participants and the volunteers while I run. I guess I can just try to do my best before and after the race. 

Race time is 6:30. It’s going to be about 84 degrees Fahrenheit with 90% humidity (ew). 

I’m going to be up at 4, out of the house by 5:30, and warming-up by 6. 

Wish me luck!! 

The quickest working anti-depressant

Sometimes the time it takes to go on a run and feel better is faster than the time it would take for an anti-depressant to work. 

Sunday was another run during TOM, and so it wasn’t done with the intention of getting my workout in or anything like that. Rather, it was a run that was supposed to make me feel more like myself again. And it did. No matter that I start my runs with varying degrees of optimism, enthusiasm and energy, I’ve never ended a run and regretting it or not feeling at least a little better, more in control of life. Sunday was like that. Even though Sunday’s run was post extra heavy intervals on Friday and a full day of gardening on Saturday (does that count as cross training?), and even though I was feeling like my legs were two bags of top soil, my arms wouldn’t pull like they usually do, and my mind wanted me to scratch myself out of my skin, I tied on my shoes and got out of the house for a while. 

The first mile went by too slowly, despite giving a lot of effort. This 10:1 ratio of effort to speed was probably also due to the humidity and the heat (93 degrees, 85% humidity?). I was not happy to be running. But I pushed myself an extra mile and found that by the end of it, I was beginning to find my stride and could appreciate the warm breeze that happened every so often. By the end of the last mile, I was almost sorry to run up to the stop sign that marks the end of my route. 

4 miles, 35 minutes kept me in shape through the evening. Even though the causes of my depression were still lurking, running numbed that for a little while. I bet a pill wouldn’t have had the same effect, and not as fast. 

Intervals, doubles, and rest days

I haven’t been very good at keeping up my blog, but I’ve been having good running weeks–enough to think that going to the race next Saturday is a good idea after all! My mileage is staying consistently at or below 35 miles per week, which doesn’t sound like a lot (and it’s not, if we’re talking marathon training), but it’s good for 5K race-prep, and the workouts I’ve been doing are definitely more intense than I would be doing during marathon training. 

I stupidly ran around 1300 last Sunday, which as anyone can tell you is the hottest part of the day. Combine Florida heat with Florida humidity and an 11 mile run, and you can start imagining the state I was in at the end. I basically had to peel my running shirt off over my head. 

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Now, imagine something even less attractive and more sun-dazzled, and that was me.

As if that experience wasn’t enough to convince me, this week I did my two heavy tempo/intervals runs around noon as well, and ended up hanging my clothes outside before I got into the house. I had to brace for the cold air-conditioning each time too, and it doesn’t sound as pleasant as it sounds. 

Daily Weather History & Observations- What I’ve had to run through (looking at the range between the avg and the high, since I usually ran around noon or 1300): 

2014

Temp. (°F)

Humidity (%)

Aug

high

avg

low

high

avg

low

24

93

86

80

85

67

52

25

93

87

81

88

74

59

26

91

88

84

67

62

52

27

91

85

79

74

62

53

28

90

86

82

76

69

63

29

93

86

82

79

67

55

30

93

86

81

77

66

55

So, on Sunday, I rounded out the week with an 11.3 mile run. Monday was a rest day on which I really just walked a bit around my home-university’s campus. Tuesday was tempo interval day, but I skipped it and did a light run instead (sometimes this happens before TOM). I just wasn’t feeling up to it by the time I got around to it at 1700. I also didn’t want to do a hard workout so late in the afternoon and have trouble sleeping. But Wednesday, I had all day and after a carb-heavy breakfast decided to do that tempo workout. According to the plan I pilfered from my college running coach, I was set for 3 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 2 min. jog recovery that I turned into 4 min.s. Woops. No wonder I was able to keep the pace at or above 7.8 mph consistently. Part of that also had to do with the fact that I was on the treadmill at the gym and had air-conditioning, albeit a struggling, weak fanning system. I reverted to some old habits that I picked up last year during training, and that was to make my run to the gym my warm-up and the run home the cool-down. This meant that I could use the interval setting on the treadmill to complete the actual workout with water and sweat-absorbing towels nearby. I picked up this habit because I didn’t have a GPS watch then, but now that I have my TomTomRunner, I can do intervals anywhere. Problem is, in the early afternoon in south Florida one wants to be nowhere outside… Being inside for part of the run, even though I ended up soaked through by the end anyway, at least enabled me to get in 4 miles for warm-up and cool-down and complete 5.4 miles for the tempo intervals. 

The tempo workout Wednesday was good, followed by a solid easy run on Thursday. Friday was interval day and because I was lazy and it really was TOM, I ended up not motivating myself to go out until half past noon again. But I did the same thing I did Wednesday, where I ran to the gym and did my drills and intervals there. The workout this time called for 20 x 45 secs FAST with 1:15 minute jog recovery. I initially set my run pace for 9.0 mph and my jog pace for 6.1 mph, but found myself upping the pace each intervals because it felt too easy. After a quick water break halfway through, I set the pace for 9.5 mph. It was definitely harder, but bumping it up every so often to 10 mph made me feel like a bad-ass. 

picture wtfcontent BADASS

Any run where I have witnesses to how hard I push myself makes me feel like a badass. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy running on a treadmill at the gym.

Of course, I am aware of the critique of running on treadmills for regular training runs and high-intensity runs, and I also know that it’s not a habit I want to develop again. The constant changes in speed without the natural speed-up, slow-down can be damaging long-term to muscles and bones. I also know that the speeds I run on the treadmill, especially short-term for 45 seconds, are not actual representations of what I can run on the road (as in, I probably would not have run that fast, heat and humidity aside). The treadmill’s belt works in a constant forward-pulling motion on my feet, meaning I use less energy to propel myself forward when I propel myself off the ground. I’m aware of that. Still, I enjoy my treadmill intervals sometimes because it helps break up what is otherwise a very long run. Friday’s run ended up at just under 10 miles, and then I did doubles after a break for lunch. Total for Friday was 12.1 miles… and so as you can see, this is how 5K training differs significantly from longer distance training. Basically, the interval and tempo runs days are longer days, since the training is designed to make you prepared for more intense speed rather than enduring speed. I see it as something that MYABR. 

So after Friday, which I wasn’t horribly beat-up after (a positive development in my training), I had a cross-training day by working in the garden all day (trimming trees and hedges, pulling weeds, raking, and carrying bags to the curb). I don’t know if gardening quite counts as cross-training, but I was using more core and arm muscles than in running, and it was less anaerobic. Plus, it got my heart going a few times and I got to get all sweaty and dirty. :-) 

Today, Sunday, I may go out for a run 6 miles or less. It really depends on how into my work I get. Hope everyone had a good week! 

Sore Mornings and Workout Updates

You know you’re a runner (or someone who spends way too much time on his/her feet) when you wake up in the morning, step out of bed, and wonder why your feet/legs/knees don’t creak, mumble, or moan. That’s because as a runner, you’re probably used to putting serious stress on your lower appendages (funny how the activity that we sometimes do to relieve stress causes a heck of a lot of it… about 2-3 Gs for at least 100 ms every second of a run; read the physics of it here). This kind of stress repeated daily throughout weeks and months will likely result in a build-up of issues that can no longer be recovered in an evening of rest like they used to (or can be expected from Wolverine).

Imagine how much fun being an athlete would be, if you could heal within seconds.

Therefore, waking up with, for example, sore feet, sore knees, knees that creak going up and down the stairs…at least for the first ten minutes in the morning, becomes a fairly common recurrence.

What causes morning soreness?:

These symptoms are obviously caused by things like hard workouts, raising the number of pounds in the gym, shoes that no longer provide the same kind of support that you need due to extensive mileage, the onset of an injury that you should keep tabs on and perhaps research/look for advice in a more credible source, tripping over the coffee table in the middle of the night, that sort of thing. But there are some other causes as well that can be regulated and the regulation of can these other causes can help mitigate the amount of soreness felt the following morning.

How to prevent morning soreness:

Stop running. :-)

Shoes/surface- Make sure the shoes you run in and the surface you run on are appropriate for your training and the state of effort you are putting in. Sometimes when shoes have been exposed to too much heat or have too many miles on them, they lose the support they’re supposed to give.

Avoid running in heat and humidity/use ice baths- this one will be surprising to some of you who live further north and think 75 degrees F is warm to run in. As someone who knows 90 degrees is manageable, I also know that nature can serve as a natural ice pack. When running in cooler temperature, the healing effects of ice and cold water baths can occur while running and also help relieve pain. That’s why, while running when it’s cold can be miserable and comes with its own set of problems, at least terrible soreness won’t be one of them. If/when you run in warmer temps, try to take an ice bath and/or use ice packs shortly after your run… within an hour or so.

Epsom salts- I don’t use these myself, but I’ve heard they are pretty good to smoke (just kidding), I mean, soak in.

Foam rolling and massage- I’ve been slacking on this myself lately (probably why I woke up sore this morning and felt inspired to write this post), but taking the time to roll out the muscles in the evening before going to sleep can really help clear out lactic acid or whatever (not sure about the science behind this) and does effect how you’ll feel in the morning.

Sleep- make sure you get enough sleep before and after the day of a long run. The sleep beforehand helps ensure that you’re recovered from recent workouts and the sleep afterwards helps recover. Every person is different, so people need different amounts of sleep depending also on their activity level, age, and genes. However, everyone needs to sleep more than the four hours that some people get.

Eat- a little bit of carbs before a run don’t hurt, but it’s important to give your body the fuel for recovery too. I don’t eat sugar, so I can’t use the standard post-workout pre-made smoothies, but I do try to make sure I get in some fruit and some protein (maybe peanut butter, popcorn, sliced ham) within 45 minutes of the end of my run. I’ve found that I’m hungry after a run anyway, but even on the rare occasion I’m not, a forced bite to eat helps prevent the fatigue and soreness later on and the next day.

Drink- Of course, runners tend to make sure they drink enough throughout the day to have something to sweat out in their workout, but it’s very important to have those H2O molecules replaced after the run. I think (again, not sure about the science of this) that the water helps clear out the muscles and replace used water, but it definitely helps in the recovery process.

I’m sure there are other tips (and you can comment below, to share!) but these are mine for now.

Conclusion to sore mornings

Oh, unless you experience this yourself, you may think that people who experience morning soreness must be injured, and while these people are likely to develop an injury soon, most of us don’t plan on developing an injury anytime soon. Consider people who weight lift, or how you feel after an intense interval session… the body is pushed beyond limits, and these ruptures in the limits need to be healed. When the healing takes longer than the 8 hours of sleep (quick plug: make sure you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep!!), obviously the pain is going to be there. Those of us in a bit of pain every morning are just stuck in a training cycle and can look forward to pain free mornings only when that cycle is over.

What else would come to mind when I have happy feet?

Workout updates

So, lately I’ve been in a training cycle that made me wince this morning when I got out of bed. I think I mentioned before that I saved my training plans from college cross country, and it basically prepared me to almost break my PR last fall. I still think I have it in me to break 21 minutes AND 20 minutes (and 19… but let’s just dream about that for now), and so I am training as well as I can, when I can. Right now, the plan calls for five and half hours of training a week, so it’s not too demanding on top of my studying for MA exams, but the intensity of the workouts is definitely more than I’ve needed for marathon training. I get most of my runs done in the morning, have a day of tempo intervals with doubles in the afternoon, an easy run, a day of short/fast intervals with a double in the afternoon, two easy days, and then a long-ish run of 70-80 minutes. It’s harder than marathon training, and yet somehow I prefer two weekly sessions of intervals and temps (for example 5 x 5 min. @ 7 mpm) over a long three hour run.

This week, my rest day was on Monday. I didn’t go for a bike ride after all; as the day went on, I decided to just take it easy. Why workout on the one day when the calendar gods don’t ask anything of you, right?

Tuesday, I had four intervals of 6 minutes at tempo/race pace. I did these in the morning and fasted, which was rough, but while I was a bit slower on the last two intervals, I was running outside in 90 degrees at 87% humidity, so I know that, by having put in effort, I was fulfilling the purpose of the run. No doubles this week because it’s a recovery week (wee!!)

Wednesday: an easy run of 45 minutes. It was in the afternoon though, after a day of vigorous house cleaning, so something went wonky in my sleep cycle and I didn’t fall asleep until 4 in the morning :/ Completing my intervals Thursday on such little sleep would explain why I was sore on Friday.

Thursday: after a tired warm-up of 20 minutes during which I was trying to convince myself to run for an hour, much less complete the scheduled interval workout, I managed some drills and strides and felt ready to go. I did ten times 2 min.s at 8.3 mph and faster. My ninth interval was for 9.3 mph, and the final one maxed at 10 mph. The recoveries were 1 minute at 6.1 mph… and I noticed that I was actually able to do the recovery runs (without jogging) because I was consistent about starting off slow at the start of each interval spurt. I’m getting stronger! So ya.

Friday (today): An easy run of 30 minutes preceded by a rigorous bike ride. A post on the benefits of cross training later!

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Progression Runs and Weightlifting, or MYABR, or Workout 8/17

I believe in the power of sleep, carbohydrates, good training, and weight lifting… anything that MYABR (makes you a better runner). Otherwise, I’m not such a fan of weight-lifting. It may sound hypocritical (after all, running isn’t that much better), but the thought of mindlessly repeating the same motion over and over again in a gym using synthetic furniture and sweat caked metal rods just seems like it should be avoided. I managed to avoid it, too, my first year of cross country. However, during my sophomore year, I joined track. There, runners were directed to do 3 sets of 25 crunches and 15 push-ups. As to be expected, I couldn’t complete them the first day we tried, but by the end of the season I was doing 5 sets of 27 and 17. 

My ambitions for running are sometimes fueled by superhero comics; though I’ve often wondered if superheros consider running or weight-lifting more in their training.

I continued with this combination of single upper-body and single-core workout for the next four years. Yet, I discovered that  when I started training for marathons and started stalking elite marathoners, what I was doing was unbalanced and not enough. Basically, even though these runners do upwards of 110 miles a week, they still take the time to do serious stability and weight work. Upper body strength work especially can help a runner get extra power in the last part of a race. I decided, when my family signed up for gym memberships, to sign-up with them. 

I started slowly, focusing on a few arm and core exercises. Steadily I built up the weights on these machines and on days I got bored, I did different exercises. I also started taking note of free-weight and body-weight exercises as well, slowly building more and more strength. 

Yet, unlike the many stories you’ll see on fitness websites, I did not fall in love with weight lifting. Yes, I do enjoy the rush after completing a workout, and yes, I do see a noticed improvement in my physique. On the other hand, I have also noticed more tightness in muscles and I’ve had to add more flexibility exercises to counteract my weight-lifting. I also started to look less lean and more bulky as my appetite increased accordingly and I let myself eat more. My waist is larger than it needs to be, mostly because I have abs that can turn 130 pounds of weight in either directly. But I did notice that i have more power in the last miles of my half-marathons, and my intervals were less difficult to complete. I am happy I do weight-lifting… but only because it’s something that MYABR. 

Something I enjoy more that MYABR is the progression run. Basically, it’s a run that does what it sounds like it does… one runs progressively faster throughout the run. One starts at a slow to moderate speed and picks up the pace every so often, ending the run faster than one started it. Many racers will note that this is how they aim to complete their races. I try to complete my races this way when I am smart enough to ignore the siren call of a quick start. Because of the race simulation these training runs provide, I do them every so often. I actually don’t plan to do them, I just complete a scheduled run as a progression run if I’m feeling particularly good that day.

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those days. As I mentioned in my Saturday post, I did that run as a progression run as well, on a treadmill, and I was afraid that it would affect how I felt Sunday. It didn’t. Instead, I made it to the gym (again, a masochistic, storm-induced decision to run 8+ miles on a treadmill) and started my run there. The schedule called for 70 minutes (I like how, in cross country, a “long” run can be completed in half or a third of the time that they usually are). The treadmills are set for a maximum of 60 minutes, so 5 minutes into the run I figured… eh, rather than run 60 minutes and then 10 more, I would do ten now and some weights before I did the longer hour stretch. I wanted to do some weight lifting Sunday anyway, and weight-lifting after a long-ish run isn’t such a good idea because it interferes with recovery and leads more likely to injury… at least in my case. Plus, after a ten-minute warm-up (1.12 miles) I was pumped!

So, after pull-ups, dips, leg curls, abdominal twists, shoulder presses, and some leg abductors (to help prevent ITBS), I was back on the treadmill. 

Starting at 6.5 mph, I moved up to 7.0 mph in about 10 minutes. Because I was feeling pretty good, I moved up into 7.5 mph by 20 minutes in, and then, to prevent a nasty DOMS, I took it easier for the last part of the run, increasing a mile per hour every five minutes. I ended up doing 7.09 in 58 minutes and cooled down fora bit. I probably could have run harder, but this was only a training run. I’ve become fairly injury-prone in the last few years, and I’ve learned that I don’t have to attack every run that I feel good on. 

Sunday’s workout was a good one. My workouts are not always this great, and sometimes they are better. Since I am mooching off a training plan I picked up during college cross county, I have a steadily increasing mileage and a jump in intensity of workouts that I need to be careful of. This time last year, I was doing 50+ miles a week. But after 2.5 months of doing this and then trying to pull off a 60 mile week, I injured myself. Since then, I am more careful. Right now, the intensity is okay and so I’ll be continuing this plan. I love running. 

Alright, alright. I’m curious, what do you readers/runners think MYABR? Do you like weight-lifting asides from the benefits it provides in running? Let me know!