week was a great of training. There weren’t any races that interested me, but I was able to log mileage and quality workouts. The running goal until February is log mileage and focus on workouts. The goal of the 2020 training cycle is to run under 1:25. I don’t know when it will happen and as I gain fitness, I’ll be able to get a better gauge, whether it be sooner or later. I don’t have a goal race picked out just yet. I need to stay injury free and see how fitness comes along.
AM: 6 miles
PM: Easy 4 miles with 6X30 second strides
AM: Easy 8 miles PM: 1-hour swim
20X400s with 200 jog in between
Easy 6 miles with Jen
14 miles averaging 8:47 pace
Easy 6 Group Run
Total: 70 miles
This week went better than anticipated. I felt like I got in recovery and was able to bounce back quickly. I wasn’t expecting to feel as good on Friday, but I ended up feeling good. My easy range ranges anywhere between 9-11 minute miles, so I was surprised to feel so good and average 8:47. 70 miles is the highest amount of miles I’ve run in a couple of years.
Even with marathon training and 20-mile training runs, I wasn’t running 70 because my body needs a heck a lot more rest after 20 miles than 14. I’m looking forward to continuing to build. I don’t foresee myself getting much higher than 80 but I know I thrive best on 70-80 miles per week. That’s where I’ve run all of my PRs.
I was nervous about this workout. I haven’t done this many 400s in a while. (Probably since 2018). I haven’t done this since X seems to be a theme lately, but it’s also why I haven’t been in PRing shape since X.
Since I’m focusing on longer races (the half marathon), I would prefer to have the endurance versus a few 400s at an all-out sprint. The goal was to run the 400s around a 5-mile pace. Since I chose to do the workout on a hilly road, it was a little slower and averaged 6:46 pace. While not as fast as I would like, I’m happy with the effort on the hills.
Sunday’s long run had a different twist. I ran 7 miles and for the second half, I ran .25 hard followed by .75 easy. It was tough and I wanted to stop a few too many times but I’m happy with my effort.
Asics has been around the running world for years. The Asics Cumulus, the Asics Nimbus, and the Asics Kayano are all over 20 models old. A few years ago, Asics changed factories and their shoe quality went down. The shoes were narrow and tight and many people went wider and even a full size larger. Shoe size is just shoe size but when you order the same shoe year after year and suddenly you’re a size bigger, it doesn’t do the brand any favors.
My point with that is from about 2015-2019, Asics was not great. In late 2019, they came out with the Asics Nimbus 22 and it was the first shoe in years I was impressed with from Asics.
Asics does win the award of most consistent with their technology. The same Asics Gel from the 1990s is the same Asics gel now.
Now that we have that long introduction about Asics let’s get to the Asics Cumulus 21, also known as the Asics Gel Cumulus 21. Although there is no non-Asics Gel Cumulus 21 and there is no shoe called the “Asics Gel.”
The Gel Cumulus 21 is a lighter, less cushioned version of the Asics Nimbus 22.
Asics Cumulus 21 Quick Facts:
Weight: 9.9 ounces
Heel to Toe Drop: 10 mm
Asics Cumulus 21 Fit:
The fit of the Asics Cumulus 21 is what so many people are curious about! Now, the Asics Cumulus 21 uses a dual-layer mesh. The toe box is wider and the Asics Cumulus 21 fits more true to size than it has in years.
First, Asics Cumulus 21 now uses a dual-layer mesh. While more durable, the engineered jacquard mesh upper doesn’t breathe as well as I hoped.
One thing I wish Asics would remove (from all of their shoes) is the heavy Asics logo. It takes up a lot of space and just seems like unnecessary weight. Many brands have already gone towards screen printing their logos on shoes, so Asics should go that route too. Although the Asics logo doesn’t hinder anything with the fit of the Asics Cumulus 21, it just adds unnecessary weight.
I do appreciate is the higher heel collar in all Asics shoe. The higher internal heel counter and holds the foot in position. My foot feels secure when running in the Asics Cumulus 21.
In running shoes, I typically wear between a 10-11 wide and I find the Asics Cumulus 11 wide to be the best fit. For a while, I couldn’t comfortably fit into the Asics Cumulus, but I can once again.
Asics Cumulus 21 Ride:
Asics, in general, is one of the heavier brands out there. That’s because Asics uses gel in (most) of their shoes and gel is a heavier substance. While the Asics Cumulus 21 is one of their lighter offerings, it’s still heavier compared to the Saucony Ride, Brooks Ghost, or Hoka Clifton. The Cumulus 21 is no different. The following is some of the features for the midsole and outsole of the Cumulus 21.
The staple in most Asics shoes is the silicone-based gel, which absorbs shock. Gel is no better than other cushioning systems, but there is more cushion in the heel. The rear and forefoot gel technology is designed for shock absorption with a Flytefoam, low-density foam, in the midsole.
The midsole is made up of both Flytefoam and Flytefoam propel midsole technology. What is Flytefoam? It’s softer, low-density foams that provide bounciness and responsiveness. Asics introduced Flytefoam into many of their staples shoes to reduce weight but also provide a more responsive ride. With the mixture of foams, I’ve found the Asics Cumulus 21 to provide responsiveness no matter the type of run.
Finally, like many shoes, the Asics Cumulus 21 uses “AHAR,” also known as ASICS High Abrasion Rubber. The rubber makes it great on rainy, wet, or icy days. If it’s icy or snowy, I’m more likely to grab the Asics Cumulus 21.
The Flytefoam Propel Technology, together with the rearfoot and forefoot gel technology, makes the Asics Cumulus 21 the softest and most responsive ride in a long time.
I’ve run a few different types of runs in the Asics Cumulus 21 and I find the best use is as a daily trainer or a shoe I’m standing around or at the gym in. I prefer the durable gel for long days at work or to reduce shock on easy runs. Lately, I’ve used the Asics Gel Cumulus 21 a lot for warmups and cooldowns for workouts and races.
Asics Cumulus 21 Conclusion:
The updated Asics Cumulus 21 is better than it has been in years. It’s exciting to see Asics getting back in the game. The Asics Cumulus 21 fits more comfortably and is a great trainer for someone looking for an everyday shoe for easy runs. It’s one of my favorite shoes to stand around, go to the gym, or even work in (yes, a running shoe that I use a lot for nonrunning). If you’ve run in the Asics Cumulus before, the major changes are the upper and a better fit than previous versions.
The Distance Series is one of my favorite local races in Virginia. Since I grew up in Hampton Roads, I always have both family and friends racing. The Distance Series has three races from January to late March to get ready for the Shamrock Half Marathon. There are 10/15/20 milers in the series or the shorter series 6/10/12.
The last Distance Series race I ran was in 2018, the 15 Miler. It was one of my best races in 2018. Usually, January is dreary and I like to take a short trip out of New Jersey. This winter has been mild, and in fact, the Distance Series was hot. I haven’t run a January race that was 65-70 degrees and humid in a long time (maybe ever). It felt like I was running a late May race! Anyway, I still had an enjoyable time and even with the humidity barely missed my “A” goal of under 1:10.
Dad and I arrived around 8 am picked up our packets and talked to a few friends. I saw good friend Mollie and we decided to warm up together. It was hot and to be honest; my body didn’t feel great. We jogged about 2 miles and then headed to the start.
The Distance Series 10 Miler went off promptly at 9 am. It runs on the Dismal Swamp Trail, which is a boring, flat, trail next to the Dismal Swamp. In the summer, it’s insanely buggy. The last time I ran there was the day before my wedding in 2015, my how time flies.
My A goal was to run a 1:10. Based on my 10k, my VDot indicates I’m in between 1:09-1:10 shape right now. I knew the weather was not ideal, so it was a stretch to run 1:09. I hit the first mile in 7:01. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, but I evaluated how I was feeling and knew I needed to run conservatively, otherwise it would be a death march to the finish.
I ran the next mile of the Distance Series 10 Miler in 6:57. I felt better about it. For the most part, I was running alone and just lost in my own thoughts. The 6 miler and 10 miler were together until mile 3, so it was tough to know who was running what. I wasn’t running for a place but more to see what kind of fitness I was in.
I crossed the third mile of the Distance Series 10 Miler in 6:57. I felt decent, but my legs were still stiff. I noticed we had a headwind, so I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if the last 5 miles were tailwind…then I realized, did I really want tailwind with how hot it already was?
The next two miles of the Distance Series 10 Miler went by without much note. I was just plugging along. Around mile 4.5, I saw the leaders heading back. I couldn’t tell if it was a tailwind. All I wanted to do was get to mile 5 to find out if it was a tailwind. I crossed mile 5 in 35:10.
As we headed back, I realized it was no wind. The air was a standstill and the humidity was high. I felt like I roasted the last 5 miles of the Distance Series 10 Miler. I just plugged along. Running in the Dismal Swamp can be mentally challenging because there are mile markers by the .25, so you literally count down. It felt like it was dragging.
As I was heading back, I grabbed Gatorade at the two remaining stops. I ran mile 5 in 7:01, followed by 6 in 6:57. The miles felt like they were taking forever; I just wanted to be done. Something happened that I’ve never had happen before and that my leg started to spaz out a little bit. I think I was cramping due to the heat. Once I grabbed Gatorade around mile 7.5-8, it felt better.
The next few miles of the Distance Series 10 Miler were uneventful and I ran a 6:59, 6:58, 6:59. I wanted so badly to be under 1:10, but I realized due to not running in a perfect line and adding almost a 10th of a mile, I wouldn’t be there. I crossed mile 9 at 1:03.15, and I knew I would need to haul butt to be under 1:10.
I felt like I was powering during the last mile of the Distance Series 10 Miler. I passed a few of the six miler races, but I had tunnel vision to the end. I saw the clock ticking 1:09.45 and I knew I was just a little bit off. I didn’t let that dampen my spirits and I still powered to the end. My last 30 seconds was about 6:12 pace. I crossed in 1:10.07.
Distance Series 10 Miler Thoughts:
I’m happy with my effort at the Distance Series 10 Miler. If it was better weather, I would have run under 1:10 but can’t change the weather. My effort was there and I was much more consistent. I didn’t “fly and die,” so I was happy with that. Plus, the last time I ran a 10 miler in October, I ran a 1:15.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might know that I’ve gotten my blood tested with InsideTracker on several occasions. Before starting a new training cycle in 2020, I thought it would be a good idea to test my blood again. I would rather know if I’m deficient in something now, instead of finding out the hard way by feeling fatigued in March and April.
I’ve already discussed how my goal for 2020 is to get back into shape. 2019 was not my year for running, but I want 2020 to be the year I get back into fitness. It wasn’t that I didn’t run in 2019, because I did; but my priorities ended up in different places.
One of the many things I wanted to do to prepare myself for my 2020 season is to get my blood retested with InsideTracker. The last time I got my blood tested was over a year ago. I had all of the plans to train and run hard in 2019, but that never happened. I still ran to stay healthy, but I didn’t run to be my best. It’s funny, because I did run many halves and a full marathon, but I was minutes off of any PR. You can’t go hard every year, and that’s something I’ve tried to remind myself.
Anyway, as I prepare for training in 2020, I don’t want to leave stones unturned. My body isn’t the same was it was in 2018 or 2019, and so I decided to get tested again. I wanted to have a baseline to see what I can work to improve.
Sharing your blood results can feel really personal. Like “OMG, I have low iron, am I a failure?” And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogging about food choices, it’s that diet is one of the most polarizing topics out there (second maybe to politics). I’m committed to sharing my entire process this year. I’ll talk about how I plan to build back fitness and hopefully feel better running.
What is my running goal?
My running goal for 2020 is to rerun a 1:25 half marathon (that’s 6:29 per mile). That isn’t a PR, but it is a realistic goal. Last weekend I ran a 10-mile race and averaged 6:58 per mile, it’ll take some work, but I know I can get there because I’ve been there before.
Get a Blood Levels Baseline (that’s in this post!)
Train and Fuel Accordingly
It seems simple, and it is, but as we all know, simple doesn’t always equal easy. I’m not putting a time limit on it. Maybe it will happen in the spring, or perhaps in the fall.
What is InsideTracker?
In case you’ve never heard of InsideTracker, here’s a quick overview. They test your blood for 40 biomarkers. From the test results, their science team makes personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.
InsideTracker is not a substitute for going to your doctor and getting regular health checkups, and they clearly state that they are not giving medical advice. InsideTracker makes recommendations based on your blood that will help you recover faster and healthier. Maybe you feel tired and running feels like a chore. You could be overtrained, or maybe you have low iron. Getting your blood drawn takes the guesswork out of “why do I feel like garbage.”
InsideTracker categorizes those 30 biomarkers into “optimized, needs help, and at-risk.” The optimal zone is exactly what it sounds like: normal and healthy. The needs help category is for areas that are a bit lower than they should be. Finally, the at-risk category means that there is something wrong and if you correct it, you’ll probably feel better. When a biomarker falls in the at-risk category and you need to be seen by a doctor, InsideTracker makes it very clear, and they can even send blood test results directly to your doctor.
InsideTracker Has All of the Following and More:
A customized dashboard for you
Customized Suggestions on your Blood Results
Physician-ordered tests only give you numbers
If you’re a runner, and you want to get your blood checked, but it’s not a life or death problem, I find it is easier than going through a doctor. With Tricare and military insurance, I am very fortunate that my insurance covers a lot of things.
If I had a medical emergency, my insurance would cover getting my blood tested and checked. I do not have any ongoing medical conditions and my everyday life is fine. I want to know my blood levels so I can tailor my routine to be the best I can with running. I want to make sure my blood is optimized for training and that I’m not missing key vitamins that my body needs. That’s why I chose InsideTracker. InsideTracker is designed for many people, including athletes, to check their levels.
Usually, I choose to get my blood drawn at my house with the mobile service. It costs a little extra, but getting blood drawn is not my favorite thing. In fact, I have passed out giving blood or from needles more often than not.
However, this time around the mobile service wasn’t an option, so on a good day for our schedules, my husband drove me into Philadelphia. (I didn’t want to drive myself, only to pass out at the office). Thankfully, it was fine. It feels silly typing out my fear of needles as an almost 30-year-old woman. I’ve given myself panic attacks getting blood drawn, so it’s not an easy deal for me.
The woman at Quest Diagnostics was great and I was in and out.
My InsideTracker test results:
I have several biomarkers that fall in the need help category:
My cortisol has lowered but still not Ideal:
My cortisol being lower came as a surprise for me. Running-wise, my body hasn’t been stressed, but the rest of life has been stressful. I was shocked that I’m finally trending in the right direction.
My creatine kinase is high:
Creatine kinase is essentially the amount of damage your muscles have. The more fatigued the muscles are, the higher it is. While mine isn’t dangerously high, it is higher than we would like.
My vitamin B12 is too high:
I do eat a lot of red meat, so that makes sense. I don’t drink energy drinks or sodas anymore (the only soda I like these days is Dr. Pepper on road trips). The recommendation here is that I eat less red meat. Luckily for me, many diners now serve Beyond Burgers… we’ll see.
My “inflammation group is too high”:
This could be several things, including getting tested two days after a hard 10k. One major component of my fitness plan for 2020 is to get more sleep. I already strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep, but truthfully I’m someone who needs more sleep.
My iron is low:
Until my mid to late 20s, my iron was always borderline high. The first time I was tested, I was skeptical that maybe it was a fluke, but being tested twice in a row with lower iron means that I do need to work towards getting more iron. I will start taking an iron supplement once a day.
Both my calcium and vitamin D levels are normal:
YAY! As someone who had too many broken bones in my early 20s (mostly from overtraining), I am happy to hear my vitamin D and calcium are at normal levels. I’ve worked hard to get more calcium and Vitamin D, and I’m glad to see that it worked.
Now that I have this valuable data about my blood, I can adjust my diet as necessary. I don’t plan to follow a strict diet or completely avoid certain foods. Running is lifelong and restricting anything isn’t going to do anyone any favors. There are a few foods I can add to help to increase my recovery, decrease creatine kinase, and lower cortisol.
Beans: I don’t eat a lot of beans. I don’t know why, but when I’m hungry, I don’t think about eating beans. So I’m planning to add a cup of beans on most days.
Wheat germ: Wheat germ keeps coming up as something that helps lower inflammation groups and improve overall health. I didn’t know anything about it until InsideTracker, so I’m looking forward to seeing how my body responds to it.
Iron supplement: I do believe most things can be gotten from food, but it can be difficult to boost low iron effectively, so I prefer to also supplement with iron.
Less red meat: I don’t plan to go vegetarian or vegan, but I also don’t plan to have steak every meal.
Sleep: Sorry, don’t talk to me after 8 pm.
In all, I’m happy I got my blood tested with InsideTracker. I’m looking forward to 2020 and putting effort into running again. I’m looking forward to seeing how my body responds in the next 3 months.
If you are interested in InsideTracker, you can learn more here.
Questions for you:
Have you gotten your blood tested? Have you used InsideTracker?
As I start training again, I’ve decided to call my next training block: “The Sub 1:25 files”. It has a nice ring, right?
As I mentioned on my 2019 training log, my 2020 running goal is to get back into 1:25 half marathon shape. While this isn’t a PR, it’s a realistic goal for me (since I haven’t done that in nearly two years).
I’m not putting a time limit on whether it happens in the Spring or Fall.
Easy 8 miles
Easy 6 miles
Workout (total miles 12)
Rest+ Travel to VA
Easy 8 miles with 10X20 second strides
Tidewater Distance Series 10 mile race (1:10.07) Total miles 14
Easy 8 miles
This week went well. I decided to drive down and visit my parents for the weekend in Virginia. While I got to see them over the Holidays, I wanted a few more days. Typically January NJ weather is gloomy and dark. This year has been extremely mild so far. I plan to run a few 10-mile races this year and last weekend could be the hottest one!
Wednesday: 3 miles at 10-mile pace (6:58) followed by 8X1 min hard/ 1 min rest
My workout on Wednesday was different than what I’ve done before. One of the main goals of my 2020 season is to do different things. Doing the same workouts, in the same comfort zone, doesn’t help you get faster, so this seemed fun.
The day itself was windy. Funny enough a few days later, I ran 10 miles averaging 6:58 pace. Both were challenging running days but in different ways. After that, I finished with 8X1 min easy/hard, which was mentally and physically challenging. I’m proud of myself for getting it done. Plus, I found $2 on the second portion.
Distance Series 10 Miler: 1:10.07
My “A goal” was to run under 1:10. I wasn’t expecting the humidity to be so high. I can’t remember another time I’ve run a 65-70 degree race in January. I didn’t run in as straight of a line as I could have which ultimately led me to running slightly longer than the 10 miles. Normally I wouldn’t care, but it was the matter of being under 1:10 or not being under 1:10.
Anyway, I ran the race consistently and all of my miles were between 6:55-7:01. I’m happy with my effort for the day.