Last week was quite the interesting week. Yay for some sort of excitement of training right?
As most people know from Instagram, I ran the Crawlin Crab half marathon. I’ll go into more detail, but it wasn’t on my radar this year until last week. I’ve always wanted to do it.
Easy 60 minutes
Easy 60 minutes
Easy 60 minutes
Easy 60 minutes
East 45 minutes
Crawlin’ Crab 13.1 (1:32.30)+2 miles
Total: 50-53 miles
My weekday runs were just that, easy, and uneventful. If I had known that I would be running a half that Sunday, I would have probably run less each day or had an extra rest day because the half added a lot more mileage to my week.
Crawlin’ Crab 13.1: 1:32.30
On paper, this looks like a personal worst. It’s over 5 minutes slower than what I ran just three weeks ago at the Air Force Half on an easier course. However, at the start, the weather was 75 degrees and 95% humidity. I felt as though I was swimming.
As I mentioned, I didn’t plan to run the Crawlin’ Crab, but when my husband’s plans changed, I was left with a weekend with nothing to do so I drove back to hometown to see my parents. I had always wanted to do Crawlin’ Crab, so I toed the line of the half. Having the hardest week, thus far in my training, plus the weather, made it easy to determine it wouldn’t be a fast race for me. Everyone suffered from the weather, and even though I was swimming, I placed 4th female and 9th overall.
In all, I’m happy with the week of training. It’s not what I expected, but the Crawlin Crab felt more like a workout versus a hard race. I was more happy to meet my goal of having fun and seeing several friends.
As the fall rolls in (if you’re on the east coast, not so much fall weather), more people take to running outside. As much as I do enjoy the summer for “real life,” it’s more enjoyable to run in the fall.
Many magazines, including Runners World, host a “running streak” between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know plenty of people who have run months or even years of streaking. I, however, am far too injury prone for that. However, if a streak is what helps motivate people and get people out the door, I’m all for it. Thinking out loud, I’m all for doing what works for you, keeps you happy and is healthy.
But What is a Running Streak?
A run streak is simply running every single day. Some people say a mile every day is sufficient. Some people say more than that.
What are Benefits of “Streaking”?
More Motivation to Run:
It’s hard to stop once you get past 1…2…3…days…then somehow you find yourself at 100 and who wants to break that?
You Build a Base:
By streaking, you’ll probably run more miles, and your general fitness will improve. Like any training and fitness plan, you’ll have high points of feeling on top of the world, and low points and plateaus.
So there are many different clear positives of streaking! You build more mileage and endurance and possibly get stronger and faster. What type of runner doesn’t want to get stronger and faster?
So Why isn’t a Streak Something I’m Interested In?
I’m injury prone. I’ve come to a point with my running that I need to take a rest day fairly often. I run higher mileage and race a lot. Personally, this causes me to not only need but WANT more rest days. I take anywhere from 4-8 rest days a month. I like those rest days.
But to honest, even when I’m running lower mileage, a rest day is something I want. You don’t lose fitness from a rest day or even a rest week.
Sometimes sipping coffee during my typical run time is all I want to do.
For instance, a couple of Thursdays ago I woke up and felt unexpectedly sore. I didn’t plan to rest, but I knew it was the best option. I couldn’t even imagine running a quarter of a mile, let alone 1. So I rested. I drank coffee, read blogs, and went about my day.
If I were attempting a streak, I would have still gone for a run. That one mile would have done nothing for me fitness wise, but, I probably would have been sorer the following days.
Keep in mind, there is a perfect training plan for everyone. There is no single plan great for everyone.
Some people thrive on running streaks!
Other people like myself, don’t!
The beauty of running is there are so many paths to fitness once you cross your own personal start line.
In summary, running streaks have their positives and negatives. They are beneficial for some and not for others. Similar to running shoes, it depends on the person, the lifestyle, and the goals to whether a running streak will work for you. Either way, it’s important to have some sort of activity throughout the year.
Last week was my longest half marathon in a while and I’ve been spending a lot more time on recovery. Plus, as I continue to build mileage, I’ve been focusing more on recovery too. Most people know but I’m injury prone, so I can’t get away with not focusing on recovery. At this point, I don’t even try too.
Someone once told me that days off save seasons and I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Thinking out loud, now I apply them every time I have an injury scare. Believe me, I’ve gone to my PT convinced I have a stress fracture, only for him to say…no your leg is just tight.
Here are a Few Techniques to Help Recover Faster:
We all know you should but how many people actually stretch after runs or night. Probably not many of us.
I’m a big fan of ART. It flushes out acid from your legs and muscles quicker and you recover faster. I’ve always recovered faster when I opted to get a deep tissue massage or ART. If you are local, I highly recommend Dr. Kemenosh and his staff (and no they aren’t paying me to tell you that). They have helped me in multiple situations from fixing my hip/piriformis after my last marathon to loosening up my calves, and even feet.
Upping my Protein:
I’m not saying I have steak every meal but adding extra protein: including more eggs, greek yogurt, and lean meat has helped muscles recover faster. I’m not a nutritionist or dietician and don’t claim to be, I’ve just found it’s been working.
This is an obvious one, but more sleep allows the muscles to repair. We know sleep is important, but there are so many distractions that make it difficult to get to bed. I try and log off the internet around 9 pm. Sometimes I read, sometimes I go straight to bed.
Rest and Easy Runs:
This week most of my easy runs have been in the 9-10 minute pace which is fine. There is no point in racing training runs, that is when injuries are caused. If you struggle with not being able to run slower, I highly recommend leaving the watch at home.
Recovery from anything, whether it’s a race or hard training cycle takes time. Just like training, there is no secret that does it all at once.
Some off seasons I work hard to keep a base and stay fit. Some off seasons, I don’t. This year, I didn’t and I can definitely feel the difference. I have no regrets about that and fitness will come back. Last week, a reader, Mike, asked about keeping a base in the off season.
Everyone needs a break in their running. Running year round can result in injury or like me: burnout. Feeling completely out of shape isn’t the most pleasent way to begin running again, and there are ways to cross train and get the most from an off season. Ultimately, the off season should be used to rest and recover.
Here are a Few Methods I’ve Used to Keep Fitness:
Create a Schedule or Plan:
Like when you are running, it’s important to create a plan. Whether you want make a goal to run 2-3 times a week, cross train, or whatever, just make a plan. When you aren’t training for anything, it becomes easy to just not do anything. Believe me, from late April until early June, I took a week of rest which turned into 2 months. I worked out sometimes, but not enough to keep any base fitness. I was fine with that though!
Create a Realistic Plan:
Sure you could dedicate the amount you currently dedicate to running, but it’s an off season. Thinking out loud, you aren’t supposed to go hard, you are supposed to relax and enjoy other things. I typically recommend about half the time you would dedicate to running but make the plan realistic for you. Find new hobbies you enjoy, do new things, or heck do nothing at all.
Do New Things:
If all you do during your running off season is run or run fewer miles, it’s not really an off season.
Here are some other examples of other great fitness options:
Strenght Training: Some off seasons I get into it, some off seasons I don’t. I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable in it but you can get great strength training advice from those who are or a certified coach.
Swimming: If you read LOLZ blog long ago, you might remember I swam far before I ran. Swimming is a great full body workout. Let’s be honest, it’s more fun in the summer and outdoors but it’s just as good in the winter too.
Yoga: Yoga is becoming trendy. Especially hot yoga, now that it’s getting colder.
Spinning and Cycling: I’ve done a few spin classes before. I don’t need (or want) to invest in a road bike and fun spin classes are good enough for me. Plus normally they have top 40s music, which I like.
Group Classes: Personally, I like group classes in strength and cardio because I feel like it’s more fun, I actually do core and strength, and I like pop music.
Cardio Machines: Most runners like cardio marchines as much as they like the treadmill. I like them because I can catch up on Netflix, TV shows, or just be mindless for an hour and still get a good workout in. Sometimes, I catch up on the social media too. You can go nuts and raise your heart rate if you want, but gym equipment is all about what you put into it. If you slowly pedal an elliptical, you won’t get as good of a workout as if you go crazy pretending you are racing the elliptical user next to you.
Finally and Just as Important as Working Out: Don’t Forget about your Diet.
When you aren’t burning as many calories, you don’t need to eat as much. This is something I’ve always personally struggled with and I typically gain anywhere from 5-10 pounds. I did from April until now too. You should not deprive yourself but you probably don’t need to eat 5 cookies after a strength session. It’s all about balance.
Keeping a base has it’s place, just like everything else in the fitness world. I am a firm beliver, that it’s important to take a fair amount of rest so your body will be ready for the next training cycle.
Weekly workout logs are one thing but reflecting upon a month of no real “training” is weird. Am I a runner? Am I a running blogger? Do I just Instagram?
In June, I had all of the intentions to start running again. Life happens and that went on the backburner. Am I cool with that? Yes, my body is just resting from heavy training a lot longer than I ever imagined.
At this point, I’m barely able to keep record of my own training log. My running might be like a bad train wreck you may or may not be able to look away. That’s cool though, I’ll get back to serious training and crushing PRs at some point soon in my life. While I said this last month, I do anticipate August to be busy and September, not as much.
Moving forward, the month of July was laid back as far as training went. I ran when I could. I was able to run more outside than I previous ly anticipated but nothing more than 5 miles. In fact, I think the last time I ran more than 8 miles in a row was before April.
First and foremost, I am happy. Life is going fine and I’m enjoying everything that has kept me busy.
Something I did not anticipate, is it is hard to explain not wanting to run. When I tell someone I’m not running, they immadiately ask if I’m injured. Followed with am I pregnant. I’m not injured, pregnant, or whatever else. I
I’m not injured, pregnant, or whatever else. I prioritize other things and when I’m not busy volunteering and working, I’m living life.
I could wake up at 4, go for a run and be out my door between 5-6. Be gone for anywhere between 10-14 hours. Then come home and do it again. But honestly, that doesn’t sound pleasent and I still wouldn’t be training well. So I choose not to.
I posted on twitter but I want to jump into a local 5k this month. I haven’t picked one out and I don’t expect any miracles but I would like to just run a race and get my feet back in the water. Now, that I’m more aware of my schedule I also plan to consistently run. I’m hoping I can begin to build a base. My goal is to run 45 minutes/5 miles most days.
Questions for you: How was your training in July? Are you getting ready for anything?
I’ve mentioned countless times I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October. The April Fools half marathon was supposed to be “the redemption race”. As you can see, that didn’t happen.
That being said, I have no regrets about the race, and I raced as hard as I could for the day. It just wasn’t my day. Which is also unfortunate because the weather was also ideal. I have a lengthy post about training hard and not meeting your goals, but today is just a post about a girl running her heart out in Atlantic City.
I was back and forth with getting a hotel room down the shore but ultimately chose to sleep in my own bed. I left my house at 6 am and arrived at the race around 7:15. Somehow I managed to get the very last parking spot in the Resorts Casino Hotel which is a parking lot that fits at least 1000 cars. I’m always pushing the limits when I go to races, and of course, this was no exception.
I got to the race start and was able to use one of the dozens of nice casino bathrooms. I always think Atlantic City races are underrated. There is plenty of parking, nice bathrooms and they are well put together.
Not much of note happened before the race. I chatted to a few local friends beforehand but nothing crazy. The race started at 8 and off we went.
Immediately I noticed a woman take off ahead. I knew she would win.
Win the race I won last year. After about a minute of letting that sink in, I focused on my own race. You can’t control who shows up.
With that, I focused on the first mile. I’ve run the race twice before (in 2014 and 2016), and I know the course well. The first mile went down the wooden boardwalk. I was running in a pack, and we hit the first mile in 6:20. I was surprised, and honestly, I didn’t feel that bad.
The next two miles were uneventful. I ran with the pack, and we logged an exact 20 minute 5k. I felt extremely stiff when running. Throughout the entire race, I never felt like I loosened up.
Around mile 3.5 we got off the boardwalk and headed onto the paved street. As we crossed down, someone was on their cell phone texting, and I had to shout please look up. Otherwise, I would have run smack into him! At that point, I began feeling stale, and I suppose that would have given me an excuse to drop out. Other than that the fourth mile was uneventful.
During the next two miles, I focused on getting to the halfway point. I knew we would be turning around and I wanted to get my bearings. I knew my friend Erin was gaining behind me and I knew the elite woman was several minutes in front. Other than that, I was running alone and knew nothing. Around 5.5, I saw the leaders turning around, and the elite lady was second overall for both and female. That was amazing to see (because she had also run the 11k the day before).
I crossed the turnaround in 42:30 and found myself side by side with Erin. She looked strong and was on target for a PR. It was super motivating because despite feeling like garbage, seeing friends succeed still motivates me. As we started running the opposite direction, I saw several local runners cheering.
I felt terrible was just trying to put it behind me. I hit the 7th and 8th mile in 6:48. There was a surprisingly strong headwind during the two miles, and it crushed me both mentally and physically.
There have been a handful of races I was one thought away from dropping out. Atlantic City was one of them. I didn’t have anyone expecting me at the finish line. There were no friends or family to look in the eyes for me to say why I quit. I never need anyone at the finish line, but it made it easy to justify just stopping. I wasn’t injured, but mentally I was destroyed.
For some reason, I kept going. I remembered both marathons with 3 miles to go that I felt the same way: like I would never get there. I just remembered the race was probably 30 minutes more of my life and I was done.
We ran back onto the wooden Boardwalk could see the Resorts hotel and the finish several miles in the distance. My friend Erin, myself and another male were running down the boardwalk side by side.
By mile 10, I just gave it everything I had and surged. I didn’t have much left in the tank but ran 11 and 12 in 6:30.
As I remembered, the last mile of Atlantic City races feels never ending. You see the casino where the race ends but don’t see the actual finish line until a quarter mile to go. I had broken up the pack and was running alone.
I finally saw the finish line and gave it everything I had, but it was not enough. Erin passed me in the final stride and won out second place. Our chip times were identical but overall goes by gun and she finished one second faster. I finished bittersweet. I fell short of my training cycle goals, and I placed third in a race I had won last year.
Even though I finished with my slowest time on the best weather day, I’ve had for that race I was happy to finish healthy.
It’s been nearly a week since I finished and had time to reflect. My goal for the last 6 months was to PR at the April Fools half marathon, and I missed that goal by about 4 minutes. As I mentioned in my last training post. 1:26 is a respectable half marathon time, but it’s not the time I trained for. When you don’t meet goals, it stinks. I’ve accepted it and moved on. While running is what I choose to post about on social media, it does not define my life. I finished the training cycle healthy, and while I didn’t meet any goals or expectations, there are many more years and training cycles left in my life.
I won’t lie and say I’m happy with the race because I’m not. I will not, however, let it define me and I’ll continue to move forward.
I do have Broad Street 10 miler next weekend, which will be more of a fun race for me than anything. Last year, I surprised myself and ran a 1:01.57. This year I’m excited to spend time with my family. Of course, I would love to run well, but I’ve removed expectations from the race, and my only goal is to have fun.
I’m still formulating plans and goals for the summer, but the summer is the time for enjoying local races in the community.
Questions for you:
Have you ever not met expectations for a training cycle?
I thrive on the excitement of races. While every race is not a PR, I have found I thrive on racing frequently. I also enjoy it. I like meeting new people, pushing myself to the finish line and getting a good workout in. Thinking out loud, I decided to compile a few tips and tricks that help me in any of my races.
How to Race Well:
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:
I believe that to run a goal race well; you should have a few practice races.
It is good to practice your nutrition, gels, CLOTHING, and pace goals beforehand. Of course, you can do this in a training run, but nothing beats the real deal. I know it took me 30+ 5ks to execute and PR at the Flower Show last year. I highly doubt it takes most people that long.
Remember you’ve been preparing for the race. You’ve put in the work, and all that is left is the actual race.
Good nerves are not a bad thing but don’t let them get the best of you. A while back, I was interviewed on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, I’ll have another. She asked if I got nervous during races and the answer was not really. I race so much that while I do have a few nerves and butterflies, it’s never overwhelming because I’ve been in that situation before!
(Race) Confidence is key!
REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING:
Between racing and training, the majority of time is spent training. Don’t forget about how you’ve prepared for the race. Focus on the good aspects of training. Let’s be honest, a bad run sticks in our head longer than a good one. Try not to forget about the good training runs too! Those are what build your confidence!
Before a major race, I like to scroll through my training log and look at the runs I crushed and felt confident!
I feel a lot better going into a race knowing I crushed goal workouts.
CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN:
After the weather in 2016, I learned to toughen up in bad weather. Before 2016, I had never really raced in bad weather. The first five years, I had always lucked out, but very few races ever go smoothly. It’s important to realize there will always be uncontrollables at a race and how you handle them will define your race! This is a lesson I’ve learned with running and life. You cannot control everything.
Uncontrollables can be many things:
the race start is late
the weather is awful
or the course is changed
You can’t control every variable of a race, but you can control how you react. Every racer deals with the same uncontrollables. Remember, every racer is dealing with the same issues and we are all making the best of it!
ENJOY THE RACE:
Every race has both high points and low points. Embrace the good points as much as you complain about the low points. Even in 5ks, you can have amazing moments and moments you want to forget.
REMEMBER THE END PROCESS AND MEETING YOUR GOALS IS WORTH IT.