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”? 

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?

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?

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

It feels like I picked the hottest and most miserable weather to get back into shape.  Even though I only took two months off due to injury, I lost a lot of fitness.  Honestly, that’s fine.  Thinking out loud, We can’t be in peak fitness forever and a break doesn’t hurt anyone.

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Getting back into shape isn’t always the most pleasant experience.  Getting back into shape when it’s extremely hot, can be even more miserable. A lot of fellow runners have asked how I am getting back out there.  I’m not a coach, expert or anything close.  I’m just a female who likes to run and blog through the journey.

Here are a Few Tips:  
  1. Track Everything: When coming back from injury, this is especially important. I began tracking when I felt any residual soreness and how I felt during the run.  Slowly, the residual pain started at 1 mile.  Then later it was 2.  Then even later it was 3 and finally after I finished a 5-mile run, I realized I was completely pain-free.  Tracking things allows you to see physical progress.
  2. Set Achievable Goals: You aren’t going to be 100% pain-free or set a PR within the first week of running. Setting realistic and achievable goals is important.  Maybe it’s to work up to racing again, or maybe it’s run consistently every day.  Making a goal keeps you focused.
  3. It’s All Mental: Fitness is based on a collection of runs and races. It isn’t based on one single event.  Even if you get discouraged during one single run, chances are you’ll have a better one soon.
  4. Stay Positive: This is easier said than done.  I try and focus on the positives on each run.  Even if the positive if just “I ran injury free”.
  5. Constantly Reassess: Injuries are tricky that way. Some injuries, you come back and feel on top of the world.  Other injuries, you feel as though it will take months or even years to go back to where you left.  To be honest, this is an injury that is taking longer than anticipated. I reassess my foot daily to see where I’m at and how I feel.
Finally, just remember your fitness is a collection of workouts. A day, week, month or event a year isn’t going to make or break your journey.

Questions for you:
How do you come back stronger from an injury?
What is your favorite type of weather to run in?

Hoka Clifton 3

For the last month, I’ve been using the Hoka Clifton 3 to run in.  After my ankle fracture, I wanted to find shoes with more cushion.  Even though I was training in the high cushion Saucony Triumph, I opted for something softer and with more cushion.  Lucky for me (eh), the Hoka Clifton 3 was released around the same time I began running more than a quarter of a mile.  Interestingly enough, the Hoka Clifton was one of the first shoes I reviewed on LOLZ blog nearly 2 years ago.

Hoka Clifton 3 Shoe Review

Keep in mind, there is no “best” running shoe.  What works for me, might not work for you.  (See: Why Running Shoe Reviews are Mostly Worthless). Hoka isn’t paying me to promote their shoe.

Fit: 

The biggest change for the Hoka Clifton 3 came to the fit. As many people realized, the Hoka Clifton 2 sized both narrow and short.  For a shoe that was supposedly a wide toe box, it wasn’t. That was a big reason I chose never to run in the Hoka Clifton 2. My toenails are important to me and I need a wider shoe.

The Clifton 3 has a similar to fit as the original Clifton and is much wider. I normally wear a size 9.5 wide or size 10. The size 10 fits well.

Ride: 

The Hoka Clifton is an extremely soft, marshmallow cushioned shoe. That’s a huge reason I chose to run in the shoe after my ankle fracture. I already prefer a high cushioned shoe, but I also wanted a shoe that was soft and felt as if I was running on pillows. The Hoka Clifton feels that way.

The Hoka Clifton is not a heavy shoe, but the third model feels as if it’s heavier in the forefront.  I like that feeling because it means more metatarsal cushioning.

Pros:

  • Wider than the Hoka Clifton 2 (a common complaint).
  • Inexpensive for the amount of cushion ($130)
  • Lightweight

Negative:

  • Could use extra width or a wide model.
  • The cushion does not last the traditional 400 miles. If you are training in them, you will be replacing them sooner than 400 miles.

Hoka Clifton 3 Shoe Review

Overall thoughts:

I like the Hoka Clifton 3.  I’ll continue to run in the shoe until the cushion is gone.  I can appreciate the shoe is much wider. However, it is still not as wide as the original model.  I do hope they either continue to widen it or release a wide version as well.

Similar models: Saucony Triumph, Asics Nimbus, Altra Paradigm and Brooks Glycerin

Questions for you:

Have you ever run in Hokas? 

What is your current favorite running shoe?

Healthy Kids 5k (20:01)

On Saturday, I ran the Healthy Kids 5k.  Last year, I ran a 20:13 and placed fourth female overall.  I had a great time last year and enjoyed the race.  My plans changed drastically last weekend, so I found myself with an open weekend and decided to go back and do it again.

I got to the race around 7:30 and it was hot.  Like most 5ks, I like to sign up race day. The temperature read 85 degrees, and I wondered why I was running.  I signed up and warmed up.  When the race started at 8:30 it was 91 degrees.

As with many local 5ks, I found myself boxed in behind young children.  They were weaving in and out, and I nearly tripped over one young female.  As the racers spread out, I found myself as the 6th person.  I hit the first mile in 6:20. It was 5 seconds faster than last week in hotter conditions.  My legs felt tired, and I felt overheated.  In summary, I didn’t feel good.

running 12

During the second mile, I grabbed water and poured it in myself. The wind was blowing off the riverfront, and I felt the wind against my sweat.  It was a combination of sweltering air and a slight breeze. It felt good.  I ran the second mile in 6:32. I was running alone, but it was fine.

I just wanted the last mile to be over. I was alone, and local 5ks don’t have a lot of spectators. I just focused on the end.  I caught one male and rounded a turn.  The third mile went into a nature persevere and a nice view of Wilmington.  There was a slight incline but nothing drastic.  I hit the third mile in 6:24. I was pleasantly surprised because I felt awful.

I crossed the finish line in 20:01.  I thought I had broke 20, but the results said 20:01.  I should have started in front of the kids I suppose. Oh well, it’s just a number and a few seconds don’t mean much.  I did, however, win opera tickets, so that was unique.  Last year I ran a 20:13 send was the fourth woman.  This year I ran a 20:01 and was the first female…you never can predict who will show up.

Running in Sports Bra

The race is 20 seconds faster than last week and on a hotter day, so it’s hard to complain about that.

I’m happy with my race and the improvement since last week.  I have no complaints, and I think in cooler weather I would probably be around 19:30.  I’m continuing to just rich on the bigger picture and finishing races injury free.  I’m not happy or sad about the race, I’m indifferent.  I finished injury free and that is all that matters right now.

Questions for you: 
Have you ever been to the opera? 
What’s the hottest race you’ve run?