Build a Better Runner

Consistency. Patience. Strengthen. Give Back.

This¬†sums up what I’ve been working on since RnR Dallas.

I had¬†a little chat with myself after that Dallas race. I was blunt and to the point. You could also call it a “come to Jesus meeting.” I know no one cares about my finish time (except me), but I also know I can get more out of myself. I have tried to figure out¬†why I didn’t “bounce back” after Cowtown like I have in the past. Most of my PR races were run in 2014, and then I dealt with plantar fasciitis and haven’t seen those speeds. It was exactly two years ago when I contacted Airrosti and cautiously came back to running 5 days a week. Then last year at this time I started¬†training for my first half-Ironman, and was only running 3 days a week. My average weekly mileage is lower and my workouts¬†feel blah.

In short: I’ve been giving myself a pass. I know that I’m a runner who needs to run to run faster. I also know that I run better when I weigh less than I do right now.

Enter phase one of Build a Better Runner: Lose the weight, do more strengthening, keep the mileage consistent. Which is hard as my body adjusts to eating less carbs and more muscular soreness. It makes the running feel harder. So when I go do speed work at the track and run 800s at my half marathon PR pace, my first instinct is to throw in the towel. This is where patience comes in.

…and foam rolling with Chloe.

I have a renewed vision of my goals and what I want to accomplish. Now I need to take the steps to get there.

My next race is a half marathon on the 29th. I won a free entry back in December, so I don’t know much about the course. I’d like to see my time back under two hours, but realistically I’m shooting for under 2:05. This is how my long run went on Saturday:

But it was great helping another runner get to 13 miles in preparation for her first half at Oklahoma City. She was so excited, and I was so proud of her!

On the non-running side, I’m wanting to give back to the running community where I can. My friend and I served as volunteers at the Big D Marathon earlier this month. It wasn’t the best weather, but it was out at White Rock Lake and it’s so pretty there.

I’m volunteering at Texasman (triathlon) at the end of the month. This allows me to still be a part of races while my husband and I are working toward our financial goals.

Also, congratulations to all the Boston Marathoners! I seriously admire all of you. I’ve kept it no secret that it’s my goal to qualify and run it. My motto right now: Don’t wish for it. Work for it.”

 

 

 

 

Still Learning

No matter how many times I train for a marathon, or how much it can feel same-ole, same-ole – I find that I am still learning new things. This was especially true last week.

I’m still trying to adjust to different schedules, and basically have decided I just need to roll with the flow. My son’s work schedule is interfering with my sleep. It’s just not easy to get up at 4:30 when I get in bed at 11 pm. As much as I like to plan, sometimes life gets in the way of training. But I’m a wife and mom first, so I just have to give myself some grace and work it however I can. I did that last Tuesday when I tried to get through my workout, and 20 minutes in I tossed the plan and scratched the workout. I was tired and overdressed and it just felt too hard that morning. I decided not to let a bad run define my training. I got up Wednesday morning and started with the same workout plan. That day I was able to get the workout done in the planned paces. I learned that it’s okay to let myself slide once in a while.

Saturday was my planned 22 miler, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting it done on my own. But I set out to do it anyway.

It was poor planning on my part when I realized I didn’t have enough gels or chews for the long run. I did have some fig newtons though and those are a good source of carbs, so I decided to try that for my fueling strategy.

And that’s why we practice fueling during training and nothing new on race day. That wasn’t¬†a good plan.

I never felt like the carbs worked their way into my system and by mile 16, it started to show in my pace. I also couldn’t figure out why my legs were so heavy after mile 10. I know I’m better prepared with endurance than that! Around mile 18, I wondered if sitting on the balance ball at work had something to do with it. Over the past two weeks I’ve gone from alternating between the ball and my desk chair to sitting almost exclusively on the ball. I spent more time moving last week, and where my legs were aching during the run sure seemed related to the ball. I’m going to back off of it some for now.

Because I had so much trouble in the last five miles, I stopped my long run at mile 21. I didn’t see how I would benefit trudging through another mile. I was pushing 3 1/2 hours by that point, and had quit marathons at least six times.

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Truth.

When I went in the house, defeated from my run, my daughter was dressed and ready for me to take her to swim. She is going to¬†try out for the high school swim team next year, and I told her I would take her over the weekend. She took it upon herself to pick the time. As much as I wanted to eat and shower and go have a good cry, I put my mom attitude up front, and got ready to go swim. I did leave my Garmin at home so I could move slowly through the water. I’d say that counted as another mile. It probably helped work out some of the soreness I would have had in my legs from the run.

Sunday, my husband and I went to the gym. I’m still working on my upper body. That’s three times in 8 days that I worked on my arms. I think that’s a record! I will get stronger.

 

And here’s a picture of Chloe just because it makes me smile.

img_8667Have a great week!

Pretraining

I talked a little about how I’m enjoying a break from endurance and spending time doing other things I enjoy for/with my family in my last post. I have to be honest though. My motives haven’t been entirely¬†selfless. In fact, I believe that what I’m working on now will help me immensely when I start marathon training for Dallas next month. So I’m referring to my plan before the plan to¬†as “pretraining.” I think it will pay good dividends this fall.

My big goal – for the third year in a row – is to break four hours in the marathon. I came closest in Houston in 2014 running a 4:02:03. Since that year, I haven’t closed in on a PR in any distance. I also gained 10 pounds since that race. When I began training for the half Ironman in March, I was able to lose a few pounds. The week after the race in Buffalo Springs, I was down six pounds from March. For the first time since I began running, I lost weight while training for a major race. I’ll blame the swimming. ūüôā

I pulled this book out after I finished the Cowtown in March and reread it. During my half IM training, I focused on the Nutrient Timing chapter. Now with a few more weeks before I start marathon training, I’m working the Quick Start to drop the last few pounds. There is a lot of protein paired with strength training lately.

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Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

In the past four weeks I saw¬†the scale hit below a number I haven’t been able to break under since the summer of 2014. That’s the beauty of using the same app to track food and weight for the past five years. Graphs can be useful. Now if I was only focused on the number, the scale might¬†be¬†a problem. But since I’m focused on being able to run faster – for longer – I see the scale as just one of the tools to measure progress.

Yesterday, I did my four week body fat check, and it has dropped a percentage point. That’s another measurement of my progress. My clothes fit comfortably again.

My long runs (even though they’re not that long right now) are averaging just over 9:00 pace.¬†In the summertime that feels good.

I feel stronger from the strength training. There is muscle definition in my upper body that has never been there. As I head into another birthday next month, I can say I have never felt fitter than I do right now. I’ve said this before. It still blows my mind how I am able to improve fitness year after year.

July 24, 2010¬†I started training for a 5k on July 24, 2010 with the goal of completing a marathon one day. That¬†step changed my life. As I continue my pretraining to get my body ready to handle the rigors of marathon training, I will keep the progress I’ve made in the past six years in the forefront of my mind.

 

 

 

 

Big Goals and Routine Changes

Toward the end of 2015, I saw a lot of posts/tweets/pics about goals for 2016, and race schedules, and plans. I started to feel¬†like I was behind the curve because I didn’t have my race schedule mapped out for the entire year. All I knew was I had a marathon at the end of February.

Then when I wondered if I would ever get it together, things started to fall into place. Now I have the main arteries in place to map out my training for the first part of the year. I’m set with my big goals at least until the end of June.

My blueprint for the next six months to guide my training:

Train to get closer to a four hour marathon at Cowtown by strengthening more, improving overall nutrition, and pushing myself more on the hard and/or long run days.

Tackle a triathlon with an open water swim before June.

So…I can then compete in my first 70.3 race at the end of June – which I registered for before the end of the year to save some cash.

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That was the easy part.

My motivation is high. My training is back in full swing. I had an awesome long run the day after New Year’s. It was my first run over 5 miles since Dallas, and I’d say it went well. There are benefits when I run with a group who are all faster than me.

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I made myself run hills because I know it will prepare me for Cowtown.

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It totally sucked, but I got it done.

My long run Saturday helped me feel better about my endurance. The weather was nasty, but I found that I was able to push myself through mentally. I always wonder what people think when they drive past me and the weather is less than ideal. Then I saw some a softball game going on at the park, and I thought “Well, at least I’m moving.” IMG_7104

On the weekdays, I have been focusing on finishing my runs by a certain time – no matter if I finish the mileage or not – so I can be sure to get my strength routine done. That means if I oversleep, I run less. Since I noticed such a¬†difference in my form during the Dallas Marathon from adding core training, I want to keep at it. It’s the little things that make the difference.

Nutrition. Well, I was doing fine after Christmas and up until last week. I lost a couple of the pounds I gained after the marathon. Then I hit a few bumps over the weekend (s’mores) but I’ll get back to it.

My biggest challenge right now has been my work schedule – which affected my blog. This post was started last Monday.

I’m starting my second week of working between two offices. When the owner approached me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to broaden my horizons, I said yes. I will not turn down opportunity to learn new functions. The hardest part for me has been adjusting my schedule. My workday is starting earlier (right after I drop the kids at school), which is fine with me, but I lost some of the time I would use to make and eat breakfast, finish getting ready, etc. In a way, it’s forced me to get my act together earlier. On the other hand, my appetite is all out of whack, because I’m eating breakfast earlier, and taking my lunch later. The major benefit to this though is that I’m a two minute drive from home, and I can go home for lunch. Larabars to snack on in between meals is the norm now. I also carry almonds, greek yogurt, and fruit. If you have any more good ideas for healthy, portable snacks, please share!

I’m sure in a few weeks, my schedule will settle down and I’ll be in a routine. That should be right about the time I get ready to start Half Ironman training, which starts right after the Cowtown Marathon.

I sure do love a challenge!

 

Scale Lies and Small Changes

Yesterday, my training for the Dallas Marathon hit the halfway point. 8 weeks down. 8 to go. I feel like I’m rolling along to my goal, while keeping up with the other stuff life sends my way. Last week I was fighting off a stuffy head/congestion for a few days. One morning, my youngest asked me if I was okay because I never sneeze that much. Tuesday, my boss reminded me I had sick hours I could use. I didn’t feel bad though; I just had the sneezes. I was glad to have a cutback week in my training, and really tried to get extra sleep. I finally started to feel like myself again on Friday.

Saturday’s 16 miler went better than expected, as I was trying to catch the group that was moving a little fast. I was trailing behind, feeling like a turtle, but talking to myself (yes, out loud)¬†about how good I was doing. I’m trying to work on my mental game too.

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I surprised myself with this average pace.

All day long, I expected my appetite to kick in, but it didn’t. For this training cycle, I just haven’t been as hungry. This is highly unusual behavior. Most of the time¬†after a long run, it’s hard for me to eat much at all. I recover with chocolate milk, and maybe a banana, and that usually holds me over until lunchtime.

So what has changed?

A lot, actually.

I’ll start with this contrast:

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By the way, free race photos are a great perk! Maybe one day I’ll be able to pin a bib on straight.

The picture on top is from a race 6 months ago. The Fairview Half. A race that fell after a high mileage marathon training season that started in August and ended in March. It may not look like a huge difference to anyone else. But at the time of the race in April, I felt terrible about myself. I was injured, and hobbled through the last mile. I was frustrated with my size, because all my shorts were tight and I was chafing in new places every time I ran. I had been running for over four years, and my weight had hit its highest point since I started. So I started making little changes.

The second picture is from last Saturday’s Showdown Half. While it wasn’t my fastest half, I felt stronger than I have in a long time. My clothes are fitting again, and I feel better about myself and my body.

The weight difference between the two races: 4 pounds.

The scale tells lies.

So how did I manage to change without losing the 10 pounds I so desperately wanted to get rid of?

I started doing planks and pushups every night. Forward planks, side planks, pushups on my knees. Anything I could do that would help boost my metabolism. Over the summer I focused more on strength: squats and lunges several times a week, donkey kicks, leg lifts. All the fun stuff. The triathlon training brought more changes in upper body strength. For the first time ever, I had definition in my arms.

I ate more fruits and vegetables. Tuna, almonds, spinach, spinach, spinach, yogurt, string cheese, sweet potatoes. This type of lunch is normal now:

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I also found that I just feel better when I eat this way. I think by running fewer miles per week, adding the¬†swimming and biking, it has helped sustain my appetite. My gut is still there – I don’t think it’s going anywhere ever – but now it’s not the only thing I see when I look at a picture. The changes may be minimal, and this may all sound vain to some people. For me, though, it means I am healthy and stronger. I feel more like an athlete – more balanced. And I’m doing it the way I should. With my history of disordered eating, it really is a big deal.

Okay enough of a rabbit trail, time to get back to training.

I’m looking forward to my second triathlon this Sunday in Denton – Monster Tri. I’m excited to see how the swim portion of the race¬†goes this time.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murphy’s May

Can I just tell you how glad I am to be in a new month?

May was rough. Murphy’s Law hit us big time. It actually started late April with the dryer and washer breakdowns, then on¬†Mother’s Day with the flooding under the house. The day after prom, when I was totally sleep deprived, I got this gem of a text from my 12 year-old (who is one tough wake-up on school mornings).

From the child who hates to get out of bed in the mornings.

Note the time of this text.

 

We had more flooding exactly two weeks after the first time. Apparently we are okay unless it rains hard all night long on an already saturated ground. But it sure does bring a family together when you’re working together to bail out water. The concern was to get it down enough so our entire first floor didn’t flood.

I started back on my Racing Weight guidelines to try to shed the 10 pounds that doesn’t seem to want to move. I set out for my 10k time trial – to get a base time – on Wednesday. I found out that I can’t run as fast as I thought I should be able to. I ended up calling it done at 4.5 miles. My legs were Jell-O. After my mile cool down, I got attacked by mosquitos on my walk back to the car. I was frustrated and disappointed in my pacing. Then I had to remind myself: patience, progress. I cannot pick back up where I left off almost 7-8 months ago (peak marathon training). I am still healing with the injury.¬†I am trying to lose weight by eating higher protein and less carbs. Those three things will affect my speed, and I need to focus on¬†what’s most important right now, and that’s to get my foot completely healed and drop the weight. The speed will come later. And that’s okay. Oh, and I have lost 3 1/2 pounds since March. Yay!

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So this is my base.

 

 

On Friday we had another heavy rain that lasted all night. I don’t know how much rain we got, but it poured for hours. I couldn’t sleep for fear of flooding again. I woke up every hour to check under the house and it seemed we were okay. Until 5 am when I planned to get on the treadmill. I learned how awesome my kids are, as they got up without complaint and helped me out. My husband was driving through that mess of a storm that stretched over 500 miles. He was worried about me. I was worried about him.

Thankfully, our heavy-duty sludge pump we ordered after the second incident came in that afternoon.

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

We were able to pump the rest of the water out in less than 5 minutes, and now the rain is out of the forecast for the next week. Of course.

Saturday long run was in the rain, but thankfully the lightning stayed at bay so we could get the miles in. 12 done to prepare for the Wounded Warrior half and I felt pretty tough splashing through puddles like a little kid. It did bring along some major Sunday soreness though. But I feel better going into this race with a couple of double-digit runs.

At least I feel I’m getting stronger, since I’ve been on the real-life cross-training/strength routine of dumping buckets of water, mowing and weed eating, dumping more buckets, and even more buckets of water. Whew!

I’ll be doing real push ups before I know it! ūüôā

Bring it June!

4 before 40 and a 15k

It has been a week. ¬†Somehow, I’m keeping my training and goals in place as life keeps throwing curveballs. At least this is a good week to have air conditioner problems. Thank you cold front.

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Those low temperatures were nowhere in sight for Sunday’s Too Hot to Handle 15k, but I was still excited about the race. I was looking forward to a nice new PR and my friend was running her longest distance in preparation for her first half marathon in September. This delivery earlier in the week added to my excitement.

 

All the Gear

All the Gear

Now I would get my first chance to represent Team Chocolate Milk.Ready to Represent!

Ready to Represent!

The nice thing about a 15k is that it’s not a half marathon. I have little experience racing this distance so I went out too fast – for the heat. My first five miles were the fastest. With starting temps around 80 degrees, the heat did take its toll on me. There were plenty of opportunities to cool off along the course¬†– shaded areas, sprinklers at the aid stations, and ice cold disposable towels.

I made a decision a couple of years ago after a difficult humid marathon that I would always pay attention to my body. I would rather finish a race feeling good than throw up or dehydrate. That means when I start to overheat I will slow down, dump water over my head, and walk if necessary. That’s exactly what I did. I started feeling the heat after the 10k mark, so¬†I lost¬†my negative splits. That was fine, because my focus stayed on my overall time goal.

 

I’m changing age groups in less than a month, and I am trying to run strong and PR the shorter distances. I call it my “4 before 40.” It’s a fun way for me to stay motivated through the summer heat while I’m working on building strength and speed. My new 15k PR gave me the motivation I needed. I still can’t believe I was 6th in my age group!

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1:21:06

The race was great. A lot of runners out in the Texas July heat. Run On knows how to put on a race. At the finish there were ice cold terry towels, a sprinkler cooling station in the shade, plenty of ice cold water, popsicles, and post race food. I made sure this time to have my post race chocolate milk in a cooler in the car. At a race earlier this year, I found out the hard way that the 4:1 combination of carbs and protein is exactly what my body Рand gut Рneeds to recover. Chocolate milk really does make a difference.

Post Race Celebration

Post Race Celebration

 

I have two races left¬†in my “4 before 40” – 10k on July 26 and a 5k on August 2nd. Meanwhile, I’m upping the protein and strength training for the next four weeks.

Happy summer running!