Category Archives: Training

Blog Training

I don’t want to run. And even 3 miles feels like forever.

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I don’t want to run.

My alarm sounds, and my motivation to climb out of bed is 0%. Actually, if we’re being completely honest, it’s -1,000%.

The mileage doesn’t matter. Whether it’s 10, 6 or 3 — it all makes me go “ugh.” Not helping — my pace on all runs is stuck at 11 minute+ miles — slower than ever.

I’ve tried the “just go out for 2 miles” and the “just go out for 1 mile” … and all the other tricks in the book — ” ‘I regret that workout,’ — said no one ever,” tuning into music, focusing on one mile at a time.

I’ve been running for 3 1/2 years, and I’ve never felt quite like this. Sure, I’ve gone through individual runs or weeks where I wasn’t really feeling it, but I always powered through — and relatively quickly.

It’s been seven weeks since I dived back into running after a self-imposed three-week break around Christmas to give my legs — and mind — a rest. AKA, things I should have done after running my first marathon Oct. 9.

I have an inkling of what happened — I jumped back into running, and all other areas of fitness, too quickly. Four of those weeks I worked out 7 1/2 to 8 hours (yes, I double-checked my Fitbit stats just now) — higher than many of my marathon training weeks. I completed more strength, cycle and swim workouts in addition to my normal routine, which included one strength session and one yoga class per week on top of 4-5 runs.

I’d also stepped on the scale and realized my holiday indulgences hadn’t added 5 pounds — but 12. I wanted all that extra weight gone as quickly as possible — because now is never too soon.

At the same time, I also focused on dislodging bad habits I’d developed, specifically walking up somewhat-difficult hills instead of running (actually the best thing I could do, and I will stick with running vs. walking) and not skipping runs on some days my legs felt tired (I should have been kinder to myself).

It’s not surprising looking back that in the same seven-week span, I developed a virus that left me sleeping 15 hours a day and lower back pain that steered me to an entire workday spent on my couch — something that’s never happened before.

I ranted about my runs feeling so hard to my friend when we ran 5 miles on my birthday. I told her how my back injury seemed to develop: I ran 10 miles and the next day felt a dull ache (not entirely uncommon after long runs), but ran 4 miles, swam 20 minutes and went to a yoga class anyway.

She immediately honed in: “That sounds like overtraining” and “Kat, you did a lot of workouts in one day.”

I can’t be overtraining, I thought. I’m not running high mileage weeks. And I’ve always run the day after a long run and done yoga after. And yoga isn’t really a “workout” workout (Yes, I know it actually is). And I only swam 20 minutes, which isn’t a lot. And I’ve done similar strings of workouts before without “overtraining.”

The comparison game — to my own self — and the drive to ramp up my fitness quickly somehow developed into a beast in my brain.

It took a few days for my friend’s wisdom to sink in. As a result, I retooled my training plan — I’ll just focus on a 10K PR in May.

Then I talked to my trainer, and when he said I should stick with 10 miles for my long runs, even in 10K training, my heart sank.

It wasn’t until then that I fully realized I’d been looking for an easy way out instead of dealing head-on with the issue at hand — burn out, both physical and mental, and so early in the year.

Normally, this is part of the blog post where wisdom and wit combine into a solution, or at least some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Except, I have no solution. I am living day-to-day and considering my runs in the same way.

I don’t know when I’ll get my running mojo back, but I do know it will return again — someday.

Training

How Training for a Marathon Has Changed My Entire Body, Mind and Soul

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I officially started training for my first marathon — Chicago on Oct. 9 — three months ago.

I never expected jumping up into marathon training would be easy — I’d read enough and talked to enough runners that I knew that wasn’t true. Yet, I also never expected it would be so hard, either.

I almost gave up at week 3. WEEK THREE. And while I never reached that low again — propelled forward by great runs at 16 miles and 18 miles — I’ve doubted myself a million times since.

The 20-mile marker represented another turning point, and the end of the bulk of training. My mom met me at the end of that longest of long runs. I smiled, absolutely radiant. I’d done it.

At the outset of this marathon journey, I promised myself to be flexible. To not force myself to do any single run — especially the shorter ones — if it made more sense to rest or ease back on the mileage for any given day. Something my trainer said stuck in my mind: “You can’t run a marathon if you don’t make it to the start line.”

I also knew the long runs were the most important of this training cycle — you can move those around, you can adjust for heat and humidity, but you can’t cheat and skip them entirely.

And, I also told myself: one and done. That’s one 26.2 race and never again.

Sometime after my 3-week “what am I doing” freakout and the rebound several weeks later, that “never again” turned into well, maybe for Boston on a charity bib. Which turned into well, maybe for London … which turned into well, maybe for the world marathon major races. And somehow that turned into, well 18 miles wasn’t ridiculously hard, maybe I’ll do that length of run in the fall and spring when I feel like it and pick a corresponding marathon to go along with it.

Truth: I haven’t yet run 26.2 miles. And somehow there’s a part of me already contemplating what could be marathon No. 2.

When I get too far ahead of myself like that, I attempt reel myself back in. I remind myself of how much work it was to get to this point. Of how many Sundays I woke up at 5 or even earlier to run a ridiculous amount of miles in the heat and humidity that equals summer in D.C. Of how many days I ran 6-8 miles before work.

During my 20-mile long run, I struggled a little bit around the 12-15 mile mark. I told myself that my “it would be great to finish under 5 hours” in Chicago notion was ridiculous, and I should change that to 5 1/2 hours or 6 hours.

By the end of the run, I’d clocked an overall average pace of 11:19, faster than any long run I’d done in training using the 4:1 run/walk method. My final mile chimed in at 10:20. I took two one-minute walk breaks in that mile.

That’s insane.

When I find myself thinking of the next challenge after this marathon, I pull myself back quickly, to just focus on Chicago.

Yet, two half marathons a week apart no longer seems like a big deal. Marathon training seems to have taught my body that 12 miles is now a minimum long run. And doing a 5k before a half marathon — something I once worried about sapping too much energy from my legs — also no longer seems like anything.

I’ve signed up for 3 half marathons in the 5 weeks post-marathon, including one two weeks after Chicago. I’m honestly not sure I’ll go to the half two weeks after my first 26.2 — I want to listen to my body and ensure I don’t get injured.

At the same time, I can’t imagine not being able to finish that half, and the two others, so long as I take them easy.

In the past 15 weeks, I’ve given a lot. I’ve woken up insanely early, and gone to bed even earlier. I’ve dealt with that weird always-hungry feeling that seems to accompany marathon training, especially at first.

I’ve legitimately gained a few pounds, and my level of caring about that 3 pound difference on the scale is tiny compared to what it would have been a few years ago — or even earlier this year. I mostly ditched the scale for the bulk of marathon training, going up to 4 weeks without weighing myself.

I’ve picked back up strength training with a personal trainer and wondered why I ever left in the first place. I’ve kept up with yoga and wondered how, again, I ever did without it. I’ve largely nixed additional cross-training — cycle and swim — on my calendar and wondered how the hell I ever fit them in.

I’ve pushed my body to the limits, and found it can handle more than I thought.

There’s an often-quoted marathon quote: “I dare you to run a marathon and have it not change you.”

I haven’t yet run 26.2 miles, and so I say — I challenge you to train for a marathon and have it not change you.

So will I run another marathon after Chicago? Honestly, I don’t know.

This training cycle showed me just how time-consuming marathon training is. I’m not sure I want to deal with that again, and even if I decide it is worth it, I’m not sure it’s worth dealing with on a regular, annual basis — let alone multiple 26.2 races each year.

What I do know is I want to keep running. And I want to keep running toward something.

Whether that’s a new number of half marathons completed in a single year or running in all 50 states or a new PR at any given distance, I don’t know. Yet.

Training

20 Miles. Longest Run Ever. A Recap.

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I ran 20 miles this morning. A distance that once seemed completely and totally impossible. And it felt that way, in part, only today, at 5 a.m. when my alarm went off.

I was a little anxious off and on Saturday, but I slept well overnight — thank you, Advil PM.

My alarm went off at 5 a.m., and it was go time. I looked at my Weather app and was disappointed to see the temperatures hadn’t fallen as much as originally predicted, but I reminded myself that I was heat acclimated, that a few degrees doesn’t matter that much, and I’d largely be running with a breeze in my face, all while the dew point was dropping throughout the run.

I started out with a 76 degree temperature and 71 degree dew point.

I told myself I wasn’t running 20 miles, I was only running 12 miles. And I focused on 5 mile increments.

I knew the sun wasn’t rising until 6:45 a.m. now, but I’d forgotten how dark that would make a 6 a.m. start. I was running solo, and I wasn’t really comfortable the first couple miles, even after I got to the trail from my parents place about a 3/4 mile in.

The recent assaults on the W&OD and murders of runners elsewhere made me uneasy. I found myself thinking, especially until I got to the main trail, what I’d do if a car that was coming by stopped, or if someone tried to grab me as I passed by. I kept myself on high alert, and didn’t run with headphones. It was enough to tense up my legs and make the first 1.5 miles feel rougher than usual.

I felt a little better once the sun started rising around mile 2, and a lot better after I reached somewhere around the 4-mile mark. Enough folks were coming out to the trail now that I was seeing someone every tenth to quarter mile.

Finally, I could relax.

I began focusing on those 5-mile increments, where I’d take in my gummies. I wanted to make nutrition a huge focus of this run since I hadn’t taken as much as I should have during my 18-miler two weeks ago. I decided I didn’t care about pace and tried to take it as slow as possible. (In actuality, this ended up being my fastest overall pace during marathon training using the 4:1 run/walk.)

The first few miles — the first 2 in particular — were very muggy. When I reached the only turnaround point at mile 2, I immediately started feeling relief with a nice breeze on my face. I also knew the temperature would pretty much stay the same during my run, but with — thankfully — dropping dew points.

To make a sort of game out of my run and have a little fun, I decided to Snapchat as much as I could, focusing on water fountain stops to refill my bottles and gummy stops. I ended up not Snapchatting as much as I thought I would — it just seemed too time consuming when I was already eating up a lot of time refilling water bottles and eating gummies.

I’d asked my mom to meet me at the end of this run at a Starbucks in a Target at the Dulles 28 Center because I really didn’t want to deal with an out and back. I knew this way the wind would cool me off a bit, and I wouldn’t have to deal with the slow, long uphill on the way back, nor would I have to deal with any sun on my face or the (relative) lack of water fountains on the W&OD. And, I’d have something to look forward to. Plus, I figured I’d still be able to get my chocolate milk.

My legs started to feel a little tired around mile 7, and I thought, “well, that’s not good.” But there was a decent bit of downhill after that and I just focused on staying steady. A little after mile 9, I realized I would need a pit stop at a porta potty. I prayed the one I’d remembered from a couple years ago at Hunter Mill Road was still there, and luckily it was!

That was also my halfway marker. And I was entering uncharted territory on the W&OD. I’d never been out past Hunter Mill. I focused on the next water stop around mile 11.5, then onto mile 15, the next water stop and gummy station. In between, there was a slow and steady incline.

I took a brief break at the 15-mile water stop. I decided to change out my socks because I worried about blisters. At that point I had a little less than 5 miles to go. I was a little sore, and part of my mind was going: “Well, 26.2 is going to hurt,” but I focused on staying present and looking toward mile 18. I’d run that distance twice before, and I knew once I reached it again that the last 2 miles would fly by. I was starting to feel good.

img_9877At mile 18.4, I hit a walk break and saw a woman standing on the opposite side of the trail. I quickly realized that it was Dorothy! I couldn’t believe I’d run into her while, well, out running. We chatted for a while before parting ways. It was so great to catch up with her a bit and have a little bit of a mental break.

Only 1.6 to go. I knew it was in the bag. I stuck to the 4:1 run/walk plan, and yet my pace quickened — a lot. The last two miles were the fastest of my run, and by a lot.

I felt amazing ending the run strong, and then it was time to find my mom. I’d texted her I was going to be later than planned, and found her sitting on a bench outside Target. I’d left her a bag to bring to me with a change of clothing. I quickly switched out of my sweaty clothes in the restroom and realized I hadn’t stretched, so I tried to do a few here and there.

Refreshed, I left the restroom to hit up the Starbucks. Sadly, there was what ended up being a long line. Please, folks, can we separate out the folks who need like two quick things from the fancy drinks?

img_9880My mom mentioned a couple times — even before we entered the store — that we could maybe go elsewhere, but I knew I needed something stat. We got in line after my clothing change so no sense in going somewhere else that will take just as long or longer.

I got a chocolate milk, banana bread and water. I absolutely inhaled them as my mom drove back home.

Once back at my parents’ place, I got a heavenly shower, then it was coffee time. Thank God. Less than a half hour later I was starved, again. I ate an entire muffin — one of those big ones from the grocery store. I left a little after noon and went home for a nap.

But I didn’t nap well. I was too hyped from the run and the fact that it was 9/11 kept me tossing and turning. I’d thought about that cool, clear day 15 years earlier on and off again during the run, and it felt surreal. How did we get to 15 years from that date so quickly? How did we get to the point where so many entering the workforce, fresh out of college, barely or don’t remember that day so distinctly?

img_9875When I reached Dorothy, she remarked how weird of a day it was. She’d just run her mile 11 in 9:11. That stuck with me through the later half of the run, and allowed me to reflect on how much had changed in 15 years — not only focusing on American history, but also, just who I was at that time — a sophomore in high school — and where I am today.

So, what now?

Well, basically, marathon training is done. No more super long runs. It’s all downhill from here.

Next weekend is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half and 5K the day before, and I can’t wait.

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Blog Training

18 Miles, Feeling Good

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I ran my longest distance ever this morning. And I felt amazing.

After not feeling great Thursday, Friday and the beginning of Saturday — nauseous, dizzy sometimes, and extremely tired, fueled by PMS/PMDD — I was a bit worried about Sunday’s long run. I texted a couple running buddies and talked to my mom and eventually worked things out in my head.

By late Saturday morning, I felt like I was getting more back to my normal self. I’ve never been so happy to get a period in my life. I took a couple Advil PMs and was in bed before 9:30. I slept amazingly well.

I was a bit groggy when I woke up to my 5:15 alarm, but my attitude completely changed overnight. It was go time. Let’s do this.

One of the running buddies I’d texted the previous day was one of the two I was running with — Deirdre. I originally planned to do 4 solo before meeting up with her for a quick 2, then meeting up with the second running buddy, Allison, for the remaining 12.

Deirdre gave me a great idea that helped break up the run even more. She told me to consider doing 3 miles before, then 1 after all of us ran together or 2 and 2. That gave me a stepping off point Saturday night and Sunday morning to tell myself — you just need to run 3 miles.

The weather was great and it was clear from the start I’d do the full 4 solo. This run proved just how much low humidity — dew point at 59 — and slightly lower temperatures — start temperature in low 70s —  help me. There was a slight breeze, too. Starting from Iwo Jima was also great — I love that view and I arrived just at sunrise.

I got my 4 in, focusing on staying slow. Then I quickly met up with Deirdre for a quick 2 miles out and back. I got back to the car and it was time for a quick bathroom break, eating some gummies and a few pretzels — Deirdre’s suggestion to bring something salty.

I’d brought some Gatorade along and had taken a few sips during the first 6 miles, so I retopped that and topped off the water I’d drank, too. I finally added the two extra bottles to my  Fitletic water belt this past week, and taken it on two test runs to make sure the extra weight didn’t bother me and work out an additional bouncing issues — I ended up needing to tighten the belt a bit to make sure it didn’t move.

Then it was time to go again. 12 more miles. I miscalculated how long it would take me to do the 4, meet up with Deirdre, do 2 more, then meet up with Allison, so it was 7:52 by the time we set off.

I wanted to run around the tidal basin since I hadn’t done that in awhile, so we headed that way, ran around the monument then back toward Lincoln before going through Georgetown and hitting up Fletcher’s for a water refuel. We headed a little bit farther down the C&O — just to that bridge, then turned around to go back.

IMG_9734My legs, mainly my hip flexors, were feeling a bit tight the last 3-4 miles, but that was it — nothing serious. I felt strong and great and amazing. I kind of wanted to add on another two miles to finish at 20 for the day!

My watch battery died a little after mile 15, sadly. It lasted a good 8-9 miles from the first low battery beep before dying on me. I am sad I don’t have a full map to share. And I didn’t think to just turn on my Strava app when my Garmin died!

We made our way up from the Georgetown waterfront to Key Bridge, stopping for another water refill since we knew we’d have a little bit of a walk back to the cars.

We finished with a quarter mile on the bridge. I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I gave both my running buddies huge high fives and jumped a little in the air.

We hit up brunch after at Whitlow’s in Clarendon, then it was time for a glorious shower and a just as glorious nap.

What a great day.

If my 16-miler upped my confidence I can finish this marathon training, this run has amped that up even more. Up next (but not for a few weeks) is my next longest run ever — 20 miles — and the final one before the ultimate longest run ever for me: the Chicago Marathon.

 

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Blog Training

I Just Started Week 3 of Marathon Training and My Mind is Already Playing Games

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Running is 99% mental. Think positive, envision success and believe in yourself. I know all these things and yet just as I start my third week of marathon training, I’m already struggling, doubting, anxious.

Today was a 13-mile run. I’ve finished 12 half marathons and at least a half dozen other long runs in the 12-13 mile range. I even did a 15-mile run once, just because I was having a good day.
Oh, and all my other runs so far in marathon training? Yeah, those have all been great — my legs have felt great, my lungs have felt great, pace has felt great.

Despite all that, I spent last night tossing and turning, unable to get to sleep. I focused on the alarm set for 5 a.m. to beat the heat, the fact that I was at my parents’ place — where I often have difficulty falling asleep (gotta work my way through that one at some point) — the thought of maybe I drank too much at a brewery I toured in the afternoon, that I shouldn’t have had that ice cream when I got home, that my stomach felt bloated and full and gross. My mind churned and churned and churned for nearly three hours of being awake in bed.

I ended up calling it quits after midnight, drove back to my place and didn’t set an alarm. I knew I could switch my Sunday-Monday runs around if needed, but what I needed first was sleep and to calm the hell down. I still felt restless when I got back to my apartment, so I drank some water and took an Advil PM. I finally fell asleep a little after 1, and woke up at 7:15. I drove back to my parents and hit the trail around 8.

I got the 13 miles in (more on how that went later).

If this was the first time this sort of anxiety-ridden night occurred, I could simply move on with my life, say sure it was the beer or I just had a bad night… but I had a similar, albeit not as bad night last weekend before my 11 miler. And it’s a pattern that occurred before — about 1.5 years ago — when I struggled through some half marathons. I finally got over that last summer, and now something similar is rearing its ugly head but instead of just a single race day, it’s trying to strike every single weekend during my long run.

Honestly, if it keeps up I won’t be able to make it through my marathon training. And that’s what scares me. I know I can run 11 miles or 13 miles or 15 and build my way up to 20, and yet I’m stuck.

My 13 miler went OK. There were moments where I started to feel not just doubt but panic set in, and I tried to calm those voices and just take it a mile or two miles at a time. It was 100% mental — my legs felt fine. It was hot and there was no shade on the trail. I focused on drinking enough water, and making that a new mark to run toward. Then I focused on my turnaround point — at 8.35 miles because I ran down the trail a bit of ways before going the other direction — where it was time for some fueling.

I started to feel good around mile  7 or 8. But then I hit the turnaround where the sun was now directly in my face and would be for 3.5 more miles, plus there’s a slight uphill going back versus the slight downhill going the way I had been.

As luck would have it, the running gods sent me a blessing. While I was refilling my water bottles a little before mile 9, I ran into two other ladies out for a long run and they were heading back the same way I was going. We chatted briefly as we filled out bottles and I mentioned I was marathon training and doing 13 and not feeling it.

I asked if I could run with them and they very kindly obliged and even said they like running in a three-pack versus two. The next 2.5 miles with them went by much faster. They also use the 4-1 walk method, something I’ve thought about trying, especially with the summer heat.

The run pace was a bit fast for me at that time given how hot it was, the zero shade factor, how little sleep I’d gotten and how far I’d already run. I stayed with them, but felt overheated as we were splitting ways, and went to spend a few minutes in the shade to recover before finishing the last 1.75 miles, which felt fine.

I hope that’ll be a little confidence boost that if I do get a little hot on a long run, I can find some shade and cool down enough to finish up. The other good thing is I got both of the women’s phone numbers, and I’m hoping we can start doing long runs together.

So what have we learned here? Well, one thing I left out was the mass of texts I sent to Natalie at midnight (thank God for East Coast / West Coast time difference) and then some more after my run. She helped me realize a few changes I need to make.

  1. Not focusing so much on my wake-up time. Marathon training is enough adjustment without throwing something else in. My normal wake-up time for weekday runs is 6 a.m., so I’ll just focus on hitting that or even 6:30 for now.
  2. Ditto for sleeping at my parents. I just need to be in my own bed, with my own nighttime routine for a while, even if it means spending time in the car driving somewhere to do my long run.
  3. Running with other people. I’d really been struggling with this one, but meeting those two other ladies on the trail and Natalie nudging me that Pacers does long runs made me realize I need to try this out. Part of the issue is while I’ve long known there are a variety of long runs offered by various groups in the D.C. area, most of them are on Saturdays… when I work. But the closest Pacers store to me — an 11-minute drive — offers a 7 a.m. Sunday weekly long run!

While I’ve come up with these three solutions, I’m still a bit despondent and anxious. On my schedule next weekend is a 15-mile long run. I know I can complete that distance — it’s only two miles more than my run today, but I’m worried I will be stressed, anxious and well, worried.

Training

Chicago Marathon Training Plan

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Well, this is it folks.

My first full marathon is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9, and it’s nearly time I start training for it. Eeek.

In the nearly three years since I became a dedicated runner, I’ve completed 11 half marathons, with my 12th scheduled for June 5 in San Diego.

The bump up to a full marathon is only natural and something I started seriously considering a couple years ago. I’m glad I waited until now to embark on this 26.2 journey — I needed the time to learn not every race needs to be a race, deal with disappointment and a lack of confidence, recover from a foot injury in the late fall 2014 into early 2015 and run enough events to finally enter race day calm, cool and collected.

My running has really felt in sync and good for much of the past year and especially the past six months. I dealt with a two-week layoff because of tonsil surgery and, after what seemed like forever, came back stronger than ever. I ran my first sub-2 on April 17 at my 11th half marathon. That race was also my third half in five weeks, and five weeks after I set a new PR at Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C.

After that performance, I initially tried to jump right back into my normal half marathon fitness routine. Then, I realized I should back off a bit and take a break before entering marathon training. I skipped a half marathon even though I was healthy. I missed a 10K after I bruised my toe. I slept in a lot. One week, I only ran 8 miles total.

When I got back to my normal training routine last week, I felt good — despite a marked uptick in heat and humidity. And now I’m looking forward to marathon training, to testing and pushing my body to new levels.

My main goal for Chicago is to cross the finish line happy and healthy. I don’t plan to become a marathoner after the race — it might be one and done for me, something to cross off the bucket list. Or I may find I want to do one every year or two or three. We’ll see.

Until then it’s time to get cranking. For my training plan, I started off with Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan. After negotiations with my former personal trainer, I backed off where my weekly mileage peaks and dropped runs the day after the long run when they reach more then 12 miles.

I’ve still kept my cross training — yoga, strength, swim and cycle. While swim and cycle are listed on this plan for each week, I figure I’ll likely only get in one of those workouts per week. Speed workouts are still included, but only every other week and never more than 6 miles. I plan to do tempo runs and 3/4 to 1-mile intervals for those sessions.

I added two major dropback weeks. My old trainer recommended I take off completely, but I knew that wouldn’t work for me, so I scaled back to 20-mile weeks with just an 8-mile long run and 3-4 short runs.

Another thing you’ll notice about this plan is the number of half marathons sprinkled throughout. If I need to run 12-14 miles for a long run, I might as well run with a few thousand or more of my closest friends with water stops along the way so I don’t need to carry a hydration pack.

One thing I talked about with my old trainer is adding miles on weeks I feel good, and if I need to skip or reduce a few runs, that’s fine too as long as I complete the vast majority of the prescribed workouts.

Without further ado here’s the plan:

Week 1: June 12

Sunday: 8

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 3 + Cycle

Friday: 6

Saturday: Rest

Total: 26

 

Week 2: June 19

Sunday: 10

Monday: 4 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 5 (speed)

Thursday: 4 + Cycle

Friday: 6

Saturday: Rest

Total: 29

 

Week 3: June 26

Sunday: 11

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 4 + Cycle

Friday: 6

Saturday: Rest

Total: 30

 

Week 4: July 3

Sunday: 12

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 6 (speed)

Thursday: 4 + Cycle

Friday: 6

Saturday: Rest

Total: 31

 

Week 5: July 10 — DROPBACK

Sunday: 8

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 3

Thursday: 3

Friday: Rest

Saturday: RNR Chicago 5K

Total: 20

 

Week 6: July 17

Sunday: RNR Chicago Half Marathon

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 7 + Yoga

Thursday: 5 + Cycle

Friday: 7

Saturday: Rest

Total: 32

 

Week 7: July 24

Sunday: 15

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 7

Thursday: 5 (speed)

Friday: 8

Saturday: Rest

Total: 35

 

Week 8: July 31

Sunday: 12

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 4 + Cycle

Friday: 6

Saturday: Rest

Total: 31

 

Week 9: Aug. 7

Sunday: 17

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 7

Thursday: 5 (speed)

Friday: 7

Saturday: Rest

Total: 36

 

Week 10: Aug. 14

Sunday: 18

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 7

Thursday: 5

Friday: 8

Saturday: Rest

Total: 38

 

Week 11: Aug. 21 — DROPBACK

Sunday: 8

Monday: 3 + Yoga

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 3 (speed)

Thursday: 3 + Cycle

Friday: 3

Saturday: Rest

Total: 20

 

Week 12: Aug. 28

Sunday: 18

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 7

Thursday: 5

Friday: 8

Saturday: Rest

Total: 38

 

Week 13: Sept. 4

Sunday: RNR Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 8

Thursday: 5 (speed)

Friday: 5

Saturday: Rest

Total: 31

 

Week 14: Sept. 11

Sunday: 20

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 5

Friday: 4

Saturday: Rest

Total: 35

 

Week 15: Sept. 18

Sunday: RNR Philadelphia Half Marathon

Monday: Yoga + Cycle

Tuesday: Strength + Swim

Wednesday: 5

Thursday: 5 (speed)

Friday: 5

Saturday: Rest

Total: 28

 

Week 16: Sept. 25

Sunday: 10

Monday: 3

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 3

Saturday: Rest

Total: 20

 

Week 17: Oct. 2

Sunday: 8

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 2

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 2

Saturday: Rest

Total: 12

 

Week 18: Oct. 9

Sunday: Chicago Marathon

 

Blog Training

Race Day Goals: San Francisco Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

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I will run my 10th half marathon Sunday. In San Francisco. On my first visit to the West Coast. With one of my favorite people in the world — Natalie.

It’s been three weeks since my last half marathon — Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C., where I set a fresh PR. San Francisco has about twice the elevation gain, but luckily a lot of downhill too. I’m using this as a training run for my next sub-2 attempt in mid-April (with another potential sub-2 attempt in early May).

As such, I’m not really tapering for this race at all — the first time I’ve done that with a half.

That makes this goals post quite simple:

Goal A-B-C: 2:10-2:20. I want to take this race nice and slow — at a training pace. That means a 10-10:30 minute overall. If it makes more sense walk some of the steepest parts of the uphills, then so be it. Also, photos may need to be taken mid-race. Just sayin’ The idea is to finish this race feeling strong and ready to run fast two weeks from that day.

I can’t wait to run this race and experience all San Francisco has to offer. Bring on the sea lions. And the Golden Gate Bridge. And the delicious food.

Tips Training

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mileage Safely

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It’s rare to find a runner who doesn’t want to run a bit longer and farther — at least at some point during their life, year or training cycle.

We all want to push a little farther, be a little faster, experience a new distance for the first time. But how do you add on miles without burning out or getting injured?

Here are a few tips:

Slowly tack on the miles you’re running each week: That means adding just 1-2 miles onto your weekly long run and no more than 10-20% more mileage overall each week. This allows your body to adapt to pounding the pavement or trail for longer periods of time.

12804856_10110259654686654_6968306645442257508_nConsider giving a training plan a try: Every training plan I’ve ever looked at makes sure to slowly increase mileage and give you enough time to prepare for whatever event you’re eyeing. They’re meant to help you take your running to the next level.

Make sure you’re taking adequate rest days: Some folks will disagree, but in my book everyone needs at least one day of total rest each week. That means no running, no strength training, no cross training. Nothing other than your normal daily activities or a walk around the block. And one day may not be enough — you may need two or more depending on your fitness, lifestyle, abilities and goals.

Add some cross training to your workout routine: While you do need rest, you should definitely be cross training, too. That could be anything from yoga to cycle to swim. All are great ways to complement your running. These sort of low-impact activities help you build muscle and recover. Yoga is especially helpful, and something I wish I’d hopped on sooner. It really helps me stretch out my body in between all my running — not to mention the way it makes me destress.

Don’t let strength training go by the wayside: If yoga is important, strength training is just as important if not more so. I’ve occasionally let this fall by the wayside, but I’ve been better this training cycle at hitting the weights once a week. It helped when I switched from post-work sessions to pre-work sessions. I was less hungry and rushed to get my session over with. Strength training builds the muscles you need while you’re on the run and greatly reduces injury.

Add in drop-back, or decreased mileage, weeks: Resting at least one day a week is important, but so is scheduling intermittent weeks — every 3-4 weeks or so — in your training cycle where you back off a bit. These are called drop-back weeks. They provide a little added recovery so you can jump up to the next level in your workouts. It doesn’t mean you don’t run at all — but you scale back significantly on your long run and weekly mileage. You can add in a couple of light or medium cross training sessions if you still feel the need to workout. In addition to drop-back weeks, you should also explore off seasons, where you essentially do drop-back weeks a number of times in a row.

 

Half Marathon Training

Race Day Goals: 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon

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In less than a week, I’m running my ninth half marathon. It’s one I originally didn’t have on my calendar — remember that no big races until April promise?

But my racing schedule got a total reboot when I found out I was part of the Rock ‘n’ Blog 2016 team. (P.S.: Use code KATRUNSDC for $15 off almost any Rock ‘n’ Roll half or full marathon)

RnB16-codecard3After I settled down from the excitement of the announcement, I figured I’d run the D.C. race at a training pace or only slightly faster. Then I added the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon on April 3 — two weeks before what was supposed to be my first half marathon of the year and potential goal race.

San Francisco will be a sightseeing race — one I don’t worry about the time — so I began rethinking my racing plan overall. And as my long runs went well (and increasingly so), I began pondering my D.C. half strategy.

My running feels really strong lately. I’ve upped my mileage in the past two months without much issue and loving almost every run (I still slog through one or two every now and then — that’s normal!).

One achievement I’d like to rack up this year is running a sub-2 half marathon. So the question became whether that would even be possible now — a month earlier than I would have originally even thought of attempting the feat and on a course that’s not super hilly but contains enough elevation change to impact pace.

My current PR was set on this course, exactly two years ago at my first half marathon. So perhaps it is doable afterall. That said, the current forecast calls for showers and I feel it’s prudent to not push the pace too much on slick roads, especially in the crowded early miles of the race.DChalfmap

With all that background in your pocket now, I present my goals for the coming race.

A goal: Sub-2. This would mean everything would align — the weather, my legs, my pace. This would be an amazing race, but I’m not sure I’ve done enough speed work and long runs this short training cycle to make it happen. That’s OK, though. If I don’t finish under 2 hours this time, I am going to push to do so sometime this year.

B goal: 2:00-2:05. This would faster than last year’s super cold and rainy RNR DC race and close to my Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon time.

C goal: 2:05+. This would mean I’m not having a great day and/or the weather is totally not cooperating.

Half Marathon Training

OK, Maybe I Don’t Hate Training Plans After All

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Last year, I wrote that I basically hated training plans.

Then it came time to at least sketch out a strategy leading into spring half marathon season. Originally, I simply planned to run a half in mid-April and follow up with an early May 13.1 course.

So I wrote up my own guide, based on my experience with a little input from the Hal Higdon plans you can easily fine online. It included increasing my long runs by a mile or two each weekend and adding speed work sessions that slowly increased in terms of time spent running faster. It also meant finally getting back up to five runs a week versus the four I’d found myself stuck at for a while.

I greatly expanded my half marathon plans to include four 13.1 races between March 12 and May 8. And it was the training plan I crafted that helped me realize doing so many races in such a short period of time is possible.

Originally, the March 12 half — Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. — was a week where I wanted to run at least 12 miles. That meant I could easily add another 1.1 miles and figure out a pacing strategy later. Same thing with an April 3 half — Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco. I was originally scheduled to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler that day and I likely would have pushed the pace, so running a much slower pace and adding on 3.1 extra miles is no biggie.

Right now, I’m keeping my later two half marathons that I originally planned to complete — one April 17 and the other May 8 — but I may decide to run a shorter distance or defer for a year if my body needs it.

In the meantime, my training plan went splendidly with few hiccups.

It pushed me to do three runs three days in a row Wednesdays-Fridays to get in five runs a week. It made me finally get back to speedwork on the treadmill, which I’ve needed to do for more than a year. It helped me be more consistent with my yoga and strength training sessions. It got me to get my weekly long run mileage back up when I was kinda being pokey about it, and it increased my endurance. In fact, I’m finding I run better overall when I run five days a week and don’t take two rest days in a row — something that’s completely unexpected.

There’s only been one hiccup so far. And it’s the one that made me dislike training plans in the first place — once I write a workout down, I want to get it done no matter what. And while moving workouts is totally doable, sometimes it doesn’t make sense or isn’t best for my body.

Last week, I went back and forth about whether to make up for a 3-mile run I missed Wednesday because of my work schedule. I could have run those miles Saturday instead — after a 5 mile run and 7-mile speed session the prior two days — but that would mean I’d end up running 5 days in a row one week from my half marathon. Plus I’d already upped my long run from the usual 5 miles pre-half marathon week to 7 miles to see what a couple extra miles on my legs feels like for future training purposes.

I can be incredibly indecisive. In the end, I didn’t do the make-up run. I almost did. But I slept in Saturday when my alarm went off and I felt super woozy, and while I could have run in the early evening, I didn’t feel it made sense when I was hitting the road again in the early morning hours.

It certainly was a lot of overthinking over just three miles. But the fact is that while a few extra miles are unlikely to hurt anything, they’re also unlikely to help when boiled down to a single workout a week before a major race.

And a little extra rest the week before a half marathon never hurt any runner.