Workouts: The Comeback Begins?

Training:

Last week was the best week of training I’ve had since being injured.  I don’t want to jinx myself, but I finished the week confident, healthy and motivated.  I haven’t felt that combination of thoughts since early May.

me running 1

So what happened?

Monday: Easy 60 minutes Core
Tuesday: Easy 11 Miles (Wissahickon Park) Core
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes
Friday: Easy 80 minutes with father in law
Saturday: Sunrise Serenity 5k (20:14)  Core
Sunday: 60 minutes
Total: 50ish miles

Thoughts:

All of my runs throughout the week were easy.  I was able to run with my husband on Tuesday and my father in law on Friday.  On Tuesday, my husband and I went to Wissahickon State Park in the morning.  Just like central park in NYC, Wissahickon is a great local park with miles of trails.  We easily got 11 miles on the main train.

As far as effort and speed, none of the runs were remotely exciting but I’ll take all of the injury free runs I can get.  I’m just slowly building the base.  The more boring the training log, the better it is for me.

The Sunrise Serenity 5k

On Saturday I ran the hardest 5k course I’ve ever run.  The race was an out and back course.  The first half went down the side of a mountain and the second half came right back up.  We didn’t do our research beforehand and were not expecting it.  Honestly, I’m extremely pleased with my time and I know on a flat course I’m in 19:30 shape.  The race definitely motivated me!

Post race with my father in law and husband
Post race with my father in law and husband

For Next Week:

I’m at the part of running and training that I feel good. However, I don’t want to get overzealous and get back into 70+ mile weeks.

Questions for you: 
What was your best workout?
When you’ve been injured, have you ever hit a point that you feel like you’re “back”? 

Sherban’s Diner

Last week, the owner of New Jersey and I met up at the Sherban Diner in South Plainfield.  We’ve both been to most of the diners in Somerset and Middlesex Counties, so Sherban’s was one of the few we haven’t been too.

We met up around 6 pm on a weekday. There were only a few people in the restaurant.

Her website, New Jersey Isn’t Boring, has opened my eyes to so many different things the state has to offer.  If you ever venture off of the turnpike, I highly suggest you check out her website.

Atmosphere: B
Sherban’s Diner has an older atmosphere too it.  Not in the traditional old dining car way but it is in an older building with an older design to it.  It was clean, and there was nothing bad about it, but it could use a remodel.  It reminded me of a casual “mom and pop” restaurant.

Sherban's Diner

Service: C
When we arrived at Sherban’s, there were only three other parties in the restaurant.  After waiting several minutes for a waitress to come over, a waitress asked if anyone had helped us.  We said no, and she said she guessed she would do it.  She didn’t come around often, and I felt as if I was begging for drink refills.  She also never asked if we wanted dessert and assumed we did not. It took another 10 minutes for dessert.

Coffee: B
There was nothing unique about the coffee flavor.  I did like the cute tea mugs they used.

Sherban's Diner

Food: C
When I arrived at Sherban’s Diner, I wasn’t that hungry.  They had several options.  I knew the “cucumber salad” was one of their signature dishes, so I ordered it, and honestly, there was nothing interesting about it.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t unique or interesting.

Sherbans Diner Cucumber salad

I also ordered the “famous” Greek Salad with chicken.  The salad didn’t come with anything unusual. I don’t know why the menu states it is as: famous.  It was one of the most boring salads I’ve had.  Plus, they didn’t give any pita bread with the salad.  It might be the first Greek salad without pita I’ve had. Sherban's Diner

I ordered the Greek bread as a side which was honestly my favorite part of the meal.  Sherban's Diner

Dessert: C
I ordered the Coconut cake as a dessert to go.  The actual cake was dry, but the whipped cream frosting was good.  The shredded coconut was overpowering.  The cake was decent but once again, it wasn’t that unusual.

Sherban's Diner

Sherban's Diner

Price: $$$
For my cucumber salad, Greek salad, bread, cake, and coffee the cost was $25.  Honestly, it wasn’t worth the price at all.  Something I found entertaining, is they charged 25 cents for a to go box.  Sherbans diner recipt

I’ve never been charged for a to go box before.  Was the price worth the meal? No.

Summary/Would I come back?
Sherbans Diner wasn’t anything to write home about. It wasn’t terrible, and everything was edible. However, it isn’t somewhere I would go out of my way to go too.  In fact, personally, I probably won’t be back.  You have to take the good with the bad, though.

I had a great time catching up which was the important part to begin with…You can see Cyd’s review here.

Summary:
Atmosphere: B
Coffee: B
Service: C
Food: C
Dessert: C

Overall:C
Questions for you:
Have you ever been charged for a to go box? 
Do you like coconut cake?

Why You Should Take a Rest Week

Cutback week…

Down Week…

Less Running…

Essentially all phrases that mean, not running…Why You Should Take a Rest WeekIt seems counter-intuitive to take a week to back off mileage, intensity, and speed.  So why do it at all? 

Reducing your training for a week can help keep injuries away.  Rest weeks allow your body to repair damaged muscles but also allow your mental state to rebuild.

As runners we often want to run as fast and as long as possible.  We want our mileage to be consistently high, and we want to be at our best all of the time.

Rest, down weeks and taper, can be the hardest weeks to incorporate into training.

When Should You Take a Cutback Week?

Like there is a different shoe for every runner, there is a different “right time” to take a cutback week for every runner.  Generally, every 4-6 weeks, athletes should take time a week of decreased mileage and intensity.

How Much Should You Actually Cut Back?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer.  Anywhere between 25-50% of weekly mileage or 50-90% of the highest mileage weeks.

How Can Rest Weeks Prevent Mental Burnout?

Let’s face it, at some point, most runners “burn out”.  My burnout came shortly before I got injured.  I tried to push through it but looking back my body was telling me to rest.  I should have rested both physically and mentally.

Taking a rest week allows yourself to “miss running” and to rebuild the confidence you once had.

Bottom Line:

Any runner, elite or not, can benefit from taking a rest week.  It will help recover mentally, physically and emotionally.  You aren’t going to lose fitness from taking a step back from running for a week.  In fact, you are going to recover and gain fitness.

Question for you: Do you take recovery weeks?

Hiking the Delaware Water Gap

As I mentioned in a post earlier, hiking has been something my husband, and I have both gotten into recently.  New Jersey isn’t the state you think of when thinking of great hikes but there are a lot of different fun and exciting trails we’ve taken.

I first got into hiking when I was completely injured from running.  Hiking made me feel healthy and strong.  Even though I’m healthy again, my husband and I are still enjoying the adventure of hiking.

Earlier in the week we drove up to the Delaware Water Gap in north west, New Jersey.  It’s one of the furthest points from our house and took about 2 hours to drive.  We wanted to hike to Sunfish Pond.

Sunfish Pond is a glacial lake formed from the last ice age.  It took us about 4 hours for the entire hike.

This is always a welcoming sign:

bear county

After hiking about 3 miles, almost completely up, we made it to the top of the mountain.  It was a gorgeous view over the Delaware Water Gap and we could see into Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

hiking sunfish pond view

We continued along the trail to get to Sunfish pond.  The pond was well worth the hike.

hiking sunfish pond 1

sunfish pond

t and i

We spent a little while out there and headed back home.  Since it has rained recently, there were a lot of small waterfalls and creeks.  Last time we hiked, most of the falls were dry!

hiking sunfish pond

Other Hiking Related Posts:
Hiking the Hollywood Sign
Hiking to Hemlock Falls
Hiking at Bear Mountain Park (Getting Lost)
Hiking Bear Mountain Part 2

Questions for you:
Do you enjoy hiking?
Is it flat or are there mountains where you live?

The Great Hat Debate of the Men’s Marathon

If you watched the Men’s Olympic Marathon, then you noticed the amount of talking about hats.  Most athletes that ran had at least one statement commentating on their hat.  The commentators of the Olympics is a post for another day, though…

mens marathon

image via IAAF

On the US side, Rupp, as well as Meb, changed hats and most competitors ultimately took off their caps.  Ward stayed hatless the entire race.

Why were the commentators so obsessed with the racers hats? 

Thinking out loud, I decided to take an in-depth look at the hat situation and see how it affected the athletes and their placing.  Because why not? If the world’s “best” marathon commentators allowed to comment on hats…why can’t I.

If you followed me on twitter, you know after five minutes of listening to #hatchat by the commentators, I jumped on board with #hatchat too.

Actual comment from the commentator:

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To clarify, Salzar later said the hats were filled with ice to keep the racers cooled.  Is that an unfair advantage?  I don’t know.

Any runner was welcome to have multiple hats but how many runners thought of that?  Are water stations going to eventually become aid stops?  Will you be able to stop, check your cell phone and play Pokemon Go at a water station?  Who knows how the marathon rules will progress…That being said, none of the athletes were breaking any rules by exchanging hats.

Let’s look at the three medalists: Kipchogue (gold), Lilesa (silver), and Rupp (bronze).   We can see both one and three started with hats but by the end of the race, neither had their original hat.  Several athletes exchanged hats during the course, however, Rupp was the only to medal.

At the beginning of the race and through about mile 10, it looks like several racers have white hats.  Only one lone athlete dared to wear blue, and he made it in the lead pack until around mile 20.

Let’s look at the various types of hats athletes used:

The overall winner began his race with more of a ball cap.  It had a flatter rim.

Both Rupp and Meb (possibly other athletes too), used various hats.  Each of their hats was filled with ice to keep them cool.

Early Stages of Race:

Lead pack of 35ish men:

  • About half wearing standard hats
  • One blue hat
  • One bandana/headband combo
  • A few visors but it seems more like a female racing strategy (I am a visor woman myself)
Mid-Race: 10-15 men
  • Half of the racers are wearing standard hats
  • One blue hat
  • One bandana/headband combo
  • No visors remain
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsLead pack of 7
  • Leader maintains hat
  • Rupp is on hat 4 (?)
  • Blue hat begins to fade
  • Three hats left
Lead Pack of 4:
  • Leader has dropped his hat
  • Rupp remains the only hatted athlete
  • Pace starts to drop
Final Few Miles:
    • No athletes have hats and pace quickens
    • The hat debate is over

So my questioning begins…Do hats make you race quicker?  Does throwing your hat off mean you are about to drop the pace?The most important question, however, is: How can Hats Help the Nonelite Runner?

I’m no professional but can a hat (or 10 hats throughout a race) help a common runner like me?

Here I am running in a visor (which I kept and have run many races and training runs in).
Here I am running in a visor (which I kept and have run many races and training runs in).

Hats can keep the sun or rain out of your eyes and can keep you cooler.  If you can find a hat that you like running in, there aren’t any real disadvantages.

Conclusion:

Will I wear a hat in my next marathon?  I will probably wear a visor if it’s sunny or rainy.  I like the sun out of my face as well as the rain.  I won’t have the luxury to exchange hats midrace but I’ll still use the one I’ve come to know and love.

Questions for you?
Hats or no hats?
Do you think the hat exchanges were fair? 

Workouts: Rest and Group Runs at Breweries

As I mentioned in my training log last week, the goal was to take a step back from training this week.  I’ve been consistently running for about a month now and needed a “back off” week.

Back off, rest, cut back….you get the idea.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest 15 minutes core
Wednesday: Easy 40 minutes 15 minutes core
Thursday: 3 Mile Group Run
Friday: Easy 40 minutes
Saturday: Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: 6 mile tempo  15 minutes core
 Total:  35 miles

Thoughts:
All of my easy runs were easy.  They were boring, untimed and I just ran for 30-40 minutes.  The Group run was definitely my favorite.  There is a local 5k in a few weeks called The Flying Fish 5k that runs from the Flying Fish Brewery.

I signed up for it, and our running store hosted a group run with them on Thursday.  We ran an easy 3 miles and hung out at Flying Fish afterwords.  It was fun to get a few miles with a lot of friends and just hang out.

Flying Fish 5k

Tempo Run:
This run gets it’s own blurb since it’s the first workout I’ve done since May.  Instead of racing this weekend, I opted for a tempo run. It put less pressure on my legs but still got turnover and speed work done.  While it was hot, my legs questioned how to run fast, and I felt awful, I’m glad I did it. I’ll have to rip the band-aid off for speed work eventually.  Right now I’m limited to one-speed workout a week: either a race or a workout but not both.

In summary, I’m happy with how the run went, but I do know I have a lot to do to get back where I was.

Next week I plan to get back into training.  I’m hoping to begin consistently adding longer runs and getting back into higher mileage.  I feel as if I’m in the limbo stage of running where I’m not 100% healthy, but I’m not injured either.  If you get too arrogant during this stage, you end up injured again.

Posts from the week:
Hoka Clifton 3 Review
Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury
Life as a Military Spouse

Questions for you:
Do you like group runs or running by yourself?
What was your best workout of the week?

Time to Eat Diner

A few weeks ago, Caitlin and I met at the Time to Eat Diner.  The Time to Eat Diner has been on my to-do list for a while.  I’ve heard it’s good plus who can argue with that name?  Out of all of the names, “Time to Eat” is in the top.

When in doubt, I will close my eyes. But don't worry, Chelsea looks great
When in doubt, I will close my eyes. But don’t worry, Caitlin looks great

Atmosphere: A
The Time to Eat Diner is located in Bridgewater, NJ after a semi-confusing roundabout.  It’s modern, clean and has been plenty of parking.

The inside is spacious with plenty of seating. You walk in next to a large bakery case. It’s clean as well which surprisingly has been an issue lately.  We were lucky to sit in a booth towards the front.

Coffee: A 
The coffee was great and had plenty of whipped cream.  The only thing missing was more coffee.

Time to Eat Diner

Service: B
The waitress was friendly, and the food was brought out quickly.  It might have been the fastest I’ve ever received food.

Food: B
It was exceptionally hot that day, and I was craving something cold.  I had only run half an hour but I sweat so much, and I didn’t want any hot food.  I ordered a Mediterranean salad.

Originally I wanted salmon, but they informed me they couldn’t do that, and so I stuck with the chicken.  When the salad came out, I was confused about whether it was chicken or salmon.  Both Caitlin and I stared at the chicken trying to figure it out: was it chicken?  Was it fish?

It was the fishiest looking chicken I’ve ever seen.  That being said the salad was filling, and there was plenty of chicken. When I ate it, it tasted normal, and I have no complaints.  I wish there were more mixed greens, but the salad was good.

Time to Eat Diner

Cost: $$
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $15. It was more expensive for the amount of food, but it was a good meal.

Summary/Would I come back?

I liked the Time to Eat Diner.  The meal was good, and there were plenty options.  It wasn’t the best diner, but it wasn’t the worst either.  It as odd they couldn’t add salmon, but that’s how it goes.

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Cost: $10-20

Overall: A

Question for you: What’s the restaurant with the coolest name you’ve been too?