Training: Recovering and Easy Runs

Training last week was anything but exciting.  I ran the Shamrock half last Sunday, and I can’t say I’m fully recovered from the race.  I had thought about jumping into the Love Run Half in Philadelphia yesterday, but I didn’t feel like racing hard when I didn’t feel 100%.

Most of my runs throughout the week were easy, and there was too crazy.  I ran a couple of times with my husband before he left on Tuesday.  On Saturday, I ran into one of coworkers during her first run back after an injury that involved surgery.

I did have two workouts to ease me back into running hard:

Thursday:
8X2 min hard (average 6:21 pace)
4X45 seconds hard (average 6:00 pace)
4X 30 seconds hard (average 6:00 pace…goal was 5:27)

I didn’t feel awful during my workout on Thursday, but my calves felt sore.  After my workout, I went and got ART on my calves from Dr. Kemonosh and staff, which immediately loosened them up.  Why I didn’t go earlier in the week is a mystery to me.  They are still tight, but significantly looser than beforehand.

Sunday:
As I mentioned, I contemplated jumping into the Love Run, but my body was not ready.  Could I have finished?  Yes but I know I wouldn’t have been happy or thrilled with the result.
3X1 mile (6:20 average per mile)
3×1000 (6:19 average per mile)
3X600 (6:01 average per mile)

While this workout was slower than anticipated, I was proud of myself for getting out the door and getting it done.

Next Week:

Next week I’m racing the Phillies 5k (In the last 12 months, it is my fastest 5k).  I’m looking forward to it.  I have talked with my coach recently, and I believe I run my best as well as being mentally happier when I race frequently.  We will be adding several 5ks in my calendar and racing more frequently.

Posts from the week:
Why 5ks are the Best
Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)
3 Years or Reviewing NJ Diners

Questions fo you:
Do you find yourself running better when you race more or less?
What was your best workout of the week?

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Why 5ks are the Best

It’s no secret that I love racing 5ks. While I love racing in general, 5ks are the easiest to distance to race hard, recover, and race again next week.

Recently I was asked about tips and strategies of how to race and PR.  I can show you what has worked well for me in the past.  Keep in mind I’m not a coach or an elite!

During a 5k, you have two options:

Option 1: You blink, and the race is over

Option 2: You take the race out too fast, and it feels like five back to back marathons.

If you’ve run more than one 5k, you’ve probably experienced both situations.

So first why race such a short tactical and precise race?

It’s clear the marathon bug has bit a lot of people. The word “only” becomes associated with half marathons.

“New Runner” has become associated with those training for 5ks. To be honest, despite being short, 5ks are one of the hardest races distances to run well. There is little room for error.  Thinking out loud, most any athlete can benefit from adding a few 5ks into their training plan.

But Why?

Reason 1: The need for speed: 5ks make you feel fast. Longer distances make you feel strong while shorter distances make you feel fast.

5ks are quick and dirty. 5ks are all of a distance “race pain” in a short amount of time.

Reason 2: Easier to Recover From: If you have a terrible race, try again next week: I’ve had a terrible 5ks only to be followed by an awesome 5k the following week.

A few years ago, I raced one of the most mentally challenging and grueling 5ks I’ve ever run. It was slow (for me), my legs were fatigued, and I felt awful. I had high expectations and fell hard. I was devastated.

What did I do? I rested and recovered.  The following weekend, I ran an entire 90 seconds faster.
Reason 3: Benchmarks:  You can mark your progress. Two years ago in my quest to gain speed back, I raced no less than 30 5ks in a year.  I was able to track my progress and see small results lead to bigger results.

For some people, myself included, seeing progress is motivating. I like to feel like my hard work is paying off!

Reason 4: 5ks are Fun! It’s one of the few distances you can see a range of people finish. It could be someone’s first 5k or someone going for a PR. Either way, you see a broad range of people from every fitness level!

Tips for Racing 5ks:

These are tips that have helped me throughout the years.  I haven’t counted, but I’ve probably run about 100 5ks.  They still remain my favorite distance.

  • Get a good warmup:  While I don’t always warm up for longer distances such as a half marathon, I find I need to warm up at least 2-3 miles with a few striders before a 5k.  You want that blood pumping.
  • Pacing: I’ve learned that you have to give a 5k everything you have and then keep giving it more. If you take out a 5k too slow, you can often regret it in the last mile.  My goal is always to make it through the middle mile.  I remind myself after mile 2, the race is almost over.
  • Run the Tangents: Okay yeah so .1 doesn’t matter, but realistically it does! A tenth of a mile run in tangents can mean an extra 30-40 seconds.  In such a short race, that is even bigger of a deal.
  • The 5k Hurts: Of course it is easier to finish running a 5k versus a marathon, but it is not easier to race a 5k.  The 5k is all of the pain of a half or full marathon in a short amount of time.  Look around while you’re running and you will see plenty of other runners, riding the pain train.

The 5k is a rewarding and fun distance.  Sure, it’s the shortest to complete but that doesn’t make it the easiest!

Incase you missed any of the previous weeks Running Store and Training:
Thoughts While Working in the Running Store
Should Race in Racing Flats?
Are you Getting Enough Protein for Running?

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race distance?
When was the last 5k you ran?

 

 

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

Last year, at Shamrock Half Marathon I ran a 1:26.50.  This year, my chip time was a 1:26.49.  While not a course PR, I did beat last years time.  Despite the race conditions being very similar (I.E. awful), for me, the races themselves were drastically different.  My last mile last year was probably 7:30+ and this year my last mile was a 6:11.

So let’s start from the beginning.  Shamrock was never a goal race for me.  It’s a race I like to do and I was hoping to run better than last year.

How did I quantify running better? By not only having a faster race but also not drastically blowing up like last year.

So technically, even though I’m much faster than 1:26 fitness, I did achieve my goals. But to be honest, I’m effing tired of running in terrible conditions.  Over the past year, I haven’t many longer races that are in decent conditions.  Most races have been in either pouring rain, sleet, snow, high humidity or windy. The only good weathered race that comes to mind is the Runners World Half, but I ran a 5k the day before.

Enough complaining! Last Friday, I prepared for the worst weather and brought my thick mittens, waterproof Gortex jacket, and appropriate attire.  By now, I know I need to be overdressed in cold, pouring rain or I’ll be miserable.

My coach James Mckirdy, Heather, Dad and I got to the race around 6 am, and we were lucky enough to stay with a personal friend right near the start.  I warmed up with Mollie and Heather.  I rarely do half marathon warmups, but while warming up, I didn’t feel terrible or even that cold.  It was pouring rain, but I wasn’t “as” miserable as last year.

We got to the race start at 7 am, and we were quickly off.  The first two miles were into a headwind.  With the headwind, I began settling into a negative mindset.  I hit the first mile in 6:59.  I was devastated.  Another race I had tapered for only to be foiled by rain.  I tried to clear my mind but just progressed on.

In hindsight, it’s easier to look back and see…yes it was windy.  Yes, the weather was awful.  In the moment, when you look down and quickly see you aren’t hitting your goal, it stinks.  I ran the second mile in 6:58.  It was mindless, and I was just staying with a pack of people.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
So happy

As we rounded mile 3, I felt a wind break.  While it was still raining, it wasn’t as windy.  I ran a 6:54. Around mile 3, I wasn’t sure I would break 1:30 but I hoped I would be able to pick it up.  It’s a long gradual uphill from about miles 3-5.

During the fourth mile, one of the UGH moments of running happened.  My shoe came untied.  I was running in a new pair of Saucony flats, and while I did double knot them, they came untied.  Was it a combination of pouring rain and the material the shoe laces are made out of?  Probably because it happened 3 times and it stunk.  Looking closely at the shoe laces, the plastic coating seems to be the cause.

I stopped to tie my shoe and progressed on.  I didn’t catch the people I was with until around mile 5-6.  With the stop I ran the 4th mile in 6:49 but I was motivated because I knew I stopped for at least 15 seconds.  The race clock doesn’t stop when you tie your shoe, so neither does my garmin. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I ran the next two miles by myself.  I was alone and lost in my own thoughts.  The race conditions were awful, but I was slowly changing my mindset. I ran the next two miles in 6:30 and 6:36.

As we entered Fort Story, I thought about last year.  Last year, the wind from Fort Story broke me.  I went from running around 6:30 miles to running 7+ and crawling to the finish line.  I was determined not to let that happen.  The wind was blowing more through Fort Story this year, and it had blown sand across a section of course.  We ran through 2 inches of sand!

This year, I felt good during the middle miles, and I credit most of that to overdressing.  My other shoe lace came untied, and I briefly stopped to tie it.  I ran a 6:37 mile.  As I began thinking about the finish, I knew my body felt able and willing to run faster than a 1:30 than I had previously anticipated during the first few miles.shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed mile 9 in 6:24 and mile 10 in 6:25.  I began catching a few people, and one male was running with me.  I saw Chris who ended up finishing a few feet in front of me and 7th lady overall.  The man told me to “go with her”…

The last three miles were a blur.  I just found myself counting down the miles.  2 miles to go and then 1 and then the final mile.  I saw James and Heather with about .5 to go and shouted: “I’m not dying”.  I guess that is always a good thing for an athlete to say. I also saw my friend Sika, who had raced the One City Marathon the weekend before.

As we approached the boardwalk, I saw the finish line, and I knew it would be close to my previous time.  Until that moment, I hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility to actually run faster than 2016.

For no reason, I mentally separate a 1:26.XX half in a different category as a 1:27+-half.  I wanted to break 1:27 and sprinted to the finish. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed in 1:26.50…the same time as last year.  With chip timing, my official time was 1:26.49.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
My husband didn’t run but still came out to support us!

Thoughts:

To be honest, I’m tired of racing in bad conditions.  While I’m proud of myself for handling the race well this year, I am also tired of not racing in good (not even ideal but good) conditions.  I feel as though I’ve been in PRing shape for the last 6 months but the weather has had other plans.  I’m hoping the April Fools Half Marathon will have better weather.

Questions for you:
What is the worst race conditions you’ve run in?
Which race have you done the most times?

 

Training: Blizzards, 800s and a Half Marathon

Last week I tapered and got ready for the Shamrock half marathon.  While it wasn’t my primary goal race (The April Fools half in Atlantic City is), I still wanted to do well.  The weather forecast changed multiple times from might rain, to definitely raining, to wintery mix.  Basically the same as last year.

Training:

Monday:  6 miles
Tuesday: 5X800s (6:11, 6:07, 6:05, 6:03, 6:00)
Wednesday:  7 miles
Thursday:  7 miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 60 minutes easy
Sunday: Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.50)
 Total:  40 miles

Thoughts:

Workouts: 5X800s (6:11, 6:07, 6:05, 6:03, 6:00)

I’m always the least motivated to do short workouts.  Tuesday was no exception.  As most people know the Northeast had a significant snow storm that closed most things down that day.  I had no interest slipping around on ice with a regular run, let alone workout.

While the goal was to run 6:00 for the 800s, I was happy for getting the workout in and on a treadmill.

The rest of the runs were easy and in the cold.  I am ready for Spring!

Shamrock Half Marathon:

I’ll have more about this later in the week.  I ran a 1:26.50, which is exactly the same time as last year.  The conditions were not ideal, and throughout the race it rained, sleeted and hailed as well as a severe headwind.  It would be a lie to say I’m “happy” with the time because I know I’m in better fitness shape.  I am also tired of running in inclement weather.

While the race time is the same, it was an entirely different race from last year.  Last year, I took it out fast and crashed.  This year I ran smart for the first few miles, and my last mile was a 6:11.

While I know Shamrock was not a goal race, I was hoping to be faster than a 1:26.

Posts from the Week:
How I got to into Running
Should You be Getting More Protein?
Brooks Launch 4 Shoe Review

Questions for you:
Have you raced in inclement weather?
What was your best workout of the week?

Seven Years of Running

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you might know that March is my “runnaversery.”  My running journey started March of 2010 around St. Patricks Day.

For the last 7 years, St. Patricks day has held a much more sentimental meaning to me than drinking beer, wearing green and holiday spirit. Although I still do all three!  For the past several years, I have celebrated by running Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

Seven years ago, I ran a road race in college that would change my life.

Forever.

Yay college

It’s funny how half an hour altered my entire path.  As someone who loathed running previously, the fact that I enjoyed the sport was a whole new experience.

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

So how did it all begin?

In 2010, I saw a bulletin board at my college gym stating if you completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.

As a college student, you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  Going to college in the arctic tundra, I had plenty of short sleeve shirts but long sleeves were something I was always looking for.  “All” I had to do is sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay, sign me up. 

By that, I signed up and I didn’t run a single time before the race. 

YAY swimming…

I swam through high school and college and that was my thing.  I liked it, I was decent at it and all my friends did it.  With the exception of my freshman year roommate, Kierstin, I had no friends that ran.  People don’t run outside when it’s -30 in the winter.

Keep in mind my running history previous to March of 2010 is lackluster.  I failed the mile test countless times in middle and high school.  If I passed (yes IF), it was by mere seconds (passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12).

Incase you wondered, I didn’t tell a single soul I was doing this race.  They would never believe it, and I didn’t want anyone to know.   My dad was an accomplished marathon runner, and at the time both brothers ran cross country and track. My brother, Matt, could run 2 miles faster than I could run one.

The only two times I ran in college was to “impress” upperclassman on the swim team.  It wasn’t impressive, and I made a goober out of myself both times.

Upon contemplation of my first ever cross country race. Am I real runner now?

During the off season from swimming, I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.  It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming.  Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself into but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.

The race itself is a blur.  I don’t remember much other than I didn’t really hate it.

I finished the 5k is around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember not dying and also texting my dad (who was shocked) and then picking up my t-shirt and wearing it proudly.

I wore that t-shirt all around the following day.  I was going to wear my badge of honor.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed in running.  I ran 20 miles off and on weekly for the rest of the spring.

When it was sunny, I would run the same 5k loop around campus. 

An early photo (2011) warming up for a race with dad.

When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because after that point I considered myself “a runner”.

I didn’t run every day.
I didn’t run fast.
I didn’t log my mileage.
I didn’t run when it was the cold, windy or not perfect weather.
I had no desires to run with anyone or at a particular time…
I didn’t run anymore races until July.

But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it.  

Since then, I’ve run off and on through my life.  I joined my college cross country team and ran for a couple of seasons.  I’ve run 30+ half marathons and 2 full marathons.  I’ve met countless friends as well as met my husband through running as well.

My brothers, dad and I all ran a half marathon before my college graduation.

Running isn’t the only part of my life, but it has been a huge influence for me throughout adulthood!

RnR VA Beach 2015 with my husband

You can read an extended version of my running story with progression to where I am now here.

Questions for you:
When did you get your (workout) start?
What are you up to this St. Patricks Day?

Protein and Running

As runners, it’s important to get enough protein while training.  Protein allows us to recover quicker and stay healthy.

As someone who doesn’t always run from home and is constantly on the go, I’m always looking for portable sources of protein.  It’s impossible to just bring a steak around in my pocket.

That’s why when I was contacted to work with two companies I purchase from frequently: Quest Protein and Vitamin Shoppe, I jumped at the opportunity.  I shop with both routinely and have for years.

Thinking out loud, finding a portable protein bar can be tough but finding one that actually tastes good can be tougher!  I’ve pretty much tried every protein bar on the market and some taste like glorified cardboard.

A couple of years ago when staying with good friends Danielle and Amelia, I had several Quest bars in my backpack.  We all went out for dinner.  While we were away, their cats got into my bag and ate several of them.  What can I say, who doesn’t like Quest bars?

Quest cereal bars are just as good as their regular protein bars. The Quest ‘Beyond Cereal’ Bar has all the sweet crunch of a junk food cereal bar, but with the incredible nutritional profile you know you can expect from Quest.  When I’m training, I like to make the most of calories.  While I don’t stress about it, I would rather have a more healthy protein bar versus one with empty calories.

Each bar contains the following:

  • 110 calories and 12g protein
  • 2-3g net carbs
  • 6-7g fiber
  • 8g of Allulose a new naturally occurring sweetener found in figs, raisins & dates.runners and protein

Why do Runners Need Protein?

Protein is made up of essential amino acids.  It does more than help repair muscles after a hard workout. Protein isn’t stored for later use which means unlike fat and carbohydrates, there is a limit your body can use at one time. That’s why it’s important to spread out the amount of protein you get daily, versus having it all in one sitting.

runners and protein

What Does Protein Do?

  • Plays a role in cell repair and production
  • blood clotting
  • fluid balance

How Much Protein Should You Have During Training?

While training, it’s important to have between .55 grams/pound-.75 grams/pound.  Will you hit that every single day?  No.  Should you stress about it? No.  It’s just a guideline.

For comparison, I’m 130 pounds try and get about 70-100 grams of protein daily but I don’t track it everyday.

Personally, I like Quest Cereal Bars because they are quick and taste good. The new cereal bars are chocolate, waffle, and cinnamon.  All three are delicious, but given a choice, my favorite bar is the waffle. I don’t have to worry about storage, and I can pull one out while at work as well.

Questions for you:
Where do you get your protein from?
Do you snack often or are you a three meal a day type of person?

Brooks Launch 4 Shoe Review

The Brooks Launch 4 has quickly become a staple in my running rotation.  A month ago, my second pair of Launch 3 were getting beat up, so I needed a new pair of shoes.  I enjoyed the Launch a lot, so I decided to introduce the Launch 4 into my rotation.

Brooks is not paying me to review their shoes and I purchased the shoe myself.  All thoughts are my own!

Fit:
The fit of the Launch 4 has a few significant updates including fewer seams and it’s wider!  I barely wore a women’s size 10 in the Launch 3, and now a size 10 in the Launch 4 feels great.

Brooks Launch 4 Shoe Review

Feel:
The Launch 4 includes an entire extra strip of rubber at the bottom.  There are now 5 rows of rubber versus 4.  This means it’s more responsive to different forms of running. Brooks Launch 4 Shoe Review

The extra strip of rubber helps forefront cushioning as well as a smoother roll from the toe off.  What does this mean?

It feels like a smoother, less clunky shoe from the 3 (not that it ever felt clunky).

Weight: 9 ounces
Drop: 10 mm

Pros:

  • Cheaper: The Launch 3 was 110, and the Launch 4 is 100
  • More forefront cushion and deeper treads

Cons:

  • I have yet to find any

Current Shoe Rotation:
Saucony Freedom ISO (Long Runs, daily runs)
Brooks Ghost 9 (Long runs, daily runs)
Brooks Launch 4 (daily runs, tempos)
Saucony Type A (workouts)

Question for you:
What shoe are you currently running in?
What is your all time favorite shoe?