Training: Recovering and Racing

Most of last week was spent recovering from the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon.  By Wednesday, my legs felt decent.  Which was great because the rest of my week was filled with longer work days.  Nothing I couldn’t handle though.

Monday: Easy 45 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 30 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: OFF
Friday: Easy 60 minutes
Saturday: Heroes to Hero 5k (18:41)
Sunday: 6.5-mile tempo run/total miles 14
Total: 44-47

Progression:

Week 7: 40 miles (13.1 miles workout)
Week 8: 43-45 miles (2 workouts: 1 race/1 tempo)
Week 9: 41-43 miles (2 races)
Week 10: 50- 53 miles (13.1 miles workout)

Week 11: 44-47 miles (2 workouts: 1 race/1 tempo)

Easy Runs:

As I mention every week, my easy runs were just that easy.  There was nothing of excitement and most of them were hot and sticky.  You don’t have to be exciting to blog and this is just a classic example.

Heroes to Hero 5k (18:41)

Fastest 5k since April 1st. 18:41 with a progression of splits (6:05, 6:04, 6:01)

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

I’ll have a full recap of the Heroes to Hero Run in the next few days.   On paper, it’s my fastest 5k since coming back from burnout.

To be honest, I never felt good.  On Saturday morning, I woke up exhausted and tired. While running the race, I felt as though I wasn’t getting any more tired but just running and zoned out.  Even before the race, my good friend said: “woah Hollie, you look exhausted and out of it” and I was.  My splits were 6:05, 6:04, 6:01, so it was definitely a nice progression (which almost never happens).

Other than the race, nothing too exciting last week.  This week I’m tapering down for the Runners World Half Marathon Race series.  It will be a busy weekend, and I’ll be racing both the 5k and the 13.1.  I will be honest, that I don’t feel as prepared for the race as I would like but I would rather be undertrained than overtrained.

The festival is a lot of fun and this year, my dad, is running the half which will make it even more enjoyable!

Running Posts from the Week:
Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon
Who Cares Where You Run?
Hoka Clifton 4 Shoe Review

Questions for you:
What was your best workout last week?
How long does it take you to recover from races?

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Crawlin Crab Half (1:32.29)

If you look at the time 1:32.29, you might think: “Woah LOLZ, didn’t have a good race”.  But that is far from the truth, last weekend I had one of the most enjoyable races I’ve had in a long time.  One of my personal worsts, but one of my most fun.

So how did I even find myself back home in the Virginia Beach area?

I had completely other plans which changed several times.  My husband got called to go on a trip which canceled plans we had been looking forward too for a long time.  I had the entire weekend off for them, but that is what happens with military life.  Instead of moping around, I thought about various things I could do: fly to Chicago?  Spectate friends? Go through with our original plans without my husband?  Or go see my family, whom I haven’t seen in several months.  Plus, a bonus for that was the J&A Crawlin’ Crab half marathon was that weekend.  J&A races (including Shamrock) are some of my favorite.  I love the atmosphere, the race is always well put together, and despite unfortunate weather for many, I’ve never had a bad experience.  (I’ve run Shamrock 13.1 5X, Wicked 10k, Virginia is For Lovers 14k (no longer exists), Surf and Santa, Harbor Lights) but until last weekend I had never run Crawlin’ Crab.

So with that, I made up my mind that week and drove down.  Since I wasn’t planning to run the Crawlin’ Crab, I wasn’t tapered, in fact, I was at my highest mileage week since before my burnout.

I woke up Sunday morning and went outside.  Immediately, I realized just how hot and humid it was. I added four layers of hair gel, decided to wear as little clothing as possible, and together with dad we left.

We got there around 7 am, and I found good friend Kris.  Kris asked if I wanted to warm up and I didn’t have the heart to tell her: In the 35 half marathons I’ve done…I’ve warmed up for 2.  Plus, when legendary Kris asks you to warm up, you say…ok.  I didn’t have any goals for the race but to use it as long run and get rid of my tan lines.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

We caught up a bit and headed to the race start. At the start of 8 am, the temperature was 75 degrees and 95% humidity.  I had already sweat through my clothes, but you can’t do much at that point.

The race started, and I saw a large pack form ahead of me including Kris.  I gathered it was somewhere between 1:20-1:25 finish time and didn’t think twice about trying to push about holding myself there.  I needed to run my own race.

The first few miles were relatively boring.  I ran each mile just a bit slower than the previous: 6:44, 6:48, 6:50.  I thought my body might be able to work itself into feeling better.  Not just because it was hot, but I also didn’t feel overly good either.  My legs felt zapped of energy. I had already disconnected from time and was just running my own race.  My primary and most important goal was to cross the start and finish line healthy.  Adding a 5k into a week isn’t as big of a deal as a half marathon.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

By mile 4, I was just hot. I was running alone.  I contemplated dropping out, but I didn’t want to do that.  Nothing hurt, I was just tired and hot.  The thought of running 9.1 (yes that .1 haunted me), was overwhelming.  Never the less, I started thinking about the race in smaller chunks.  I told myself: Think about making it to the halfway point.  By the time I knew it, I was approaching the halfway point.  I saw the relay exchange and my friend Jess was getting ready.  She said good job.

I grabbed both water and Gatorade at every stop during the race.  Even with the heat, there were plenty of stops, and the volunteers were lively about it.

Around mile 7 we ran along the water.  To be honest, I was hoping we would get a tailwind.  I had contemplated the options: headwind would cool you off, but tailwind would push you forward.  Ultimately, it was a headwind, and my miles crept up at 7:19 and 7:21.  I’ve run hot marathon miles faster, but I wasn’t sad or upset.  No one controls the weather, and you have to run the mile you’re in.

All of a sudden I heard a familiar DJ on the course and it was Jon L.  Jon was actually my wedding DJ, as well as a fast local runner, and friend.  We exchanged a few words and continued on.

After getting off the water, I saw the race director, Jerry on the golf cart patrolling the race and cheering for runners.  He said: glad to see you back in VA, and it really put a smile on my face.

Around mile 10, my good friend Andrew caught up and blew by me like I was standing still.  It was nice to have someone to chat too for a second because I had been running most of the race alone.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

For the last three miles, I focused on finishing.  I was counting down the seconds because it was hot, humid, and only getting hotter.  I divided into running 2X1.5 miles.  My first goal was to make it to 11.5.  During mile 11, there were crab joke posters which kept my mind occupied.  I’m always up for puns and kept myself occupied with that.

Finally, I saw mile 12.  One more mile.  I can do that.  I can run up the overpass and bring myself home to the shoot.  Suddenly, as if I hadn’t raced, I found myself with a surge of energy, and I just charged.  Then around 12.2, I realized…woah too early Hollie, simmer down, just make it to the end.

The last mile went by quickly and all of a sudden, I saw the giant finisher shoot.  I stared longingly at it.  As I approached the finishers shoot, and final strides I saw several friends and made it a point to wave to every single one.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

I crossed the finish line in 1:32.29 and as fourth female and 9th person overall.  One of my slowest races but I finished healthy, and in that weather, you can’t think about PRing.  (Not that that was ever the plan, considering the week before I thought I would run another local NJ 5k).  Kris won, and was also the 2nd place finisher overall!

I did a short cooldown with Andrew and then cheered for runners.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

I’m happy with the race and my effort.  The weather was not conclusive for anyone to have a fast race, and I had not planned to run.  I enjoyed the Crawlin Crab a lot and on a good weather day, I see it as a fast course.  The course was rather flat, with only a few hills (which is running over the freeway).

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced in the heat?

Have you ever signed up for a long race (13.1+) within the week?

Who Cares Where You Run?

Like anything in the world, many people including myself, are guilty of the comparison trap.  Now that social media is everywhere, it has become much easier to compare.

The constant changes in weather and hurricane season caused me to think of justifying where or when you’re running.

My personal mentality for running is simple:

Run When and Where You’re Most Happy

If you like running in the morning, night, inside, or outside, do what makes you the happiest.  As long as you’re happy, you’re a “real runner” but alas a post for another day.

The weather got me thinking out loud about justifying yourself.  Before social media, we felt as though we had no one to report back too.

If we wanted to run on the treadmill…fine…if we wanted to run outside…fine.  

There wasn’t a “which one is better” or “you aren’t a real runner if you run inside” type of mentality.

We didn’t go for a run and immediately upload it to whatever social media website preference.  I am as guilty as anyone for doing this.  I post my training logs weekly, I post photos on Instagram, and I love a good race recap.

With social media, it is much easier to fall into the comparison trap.  You can compare running where, why, how, when, how much…the list is endless.  Anything you want to compare, you can.

For instance, it’s easy to tell someone to get outside. It’s easy to say there is never an excuse to run inside.  Critiquing someone else is easy…but you know what?

 Who Cares?

Who cares if you run inside or outside?  At least you are getting out there doing your thing. Personally, I hate running outside in pouring, freezing rain.  It’s miserable, I look a mess and honestly it’s just not fun.  Sometimes I would instead zone out on the treadmill and catch on TV inside.  Maybe I want to use the treadmill for pacing.  Whatever the reason, I just want to run inside. I don’t ever plan to justify my decision of where I run…I just do what makes me happy.

Sometimes I would instead zone out on the treadmill and catch on TV inside.  Maybe I want to use the treadmill for pacing.  Whatever the reason, I just want to run inside. I don’t ever plan to justify my decision of where I run…I just do what makes me happy.

To those who think the only running is outside…that is false.

To those who think the only race out there is the marathon…also false.

To those who think there is no reason to ever run inside…

LOLZ, sorry running in the 35-degree rain is not fun.  I spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 racing in those conditions, and it was not pleasant.

I love shamrock…but the weather no

Running in hail is not fun.

Running in 120-degree weather is not fun.

Or what if you are short on time and want to catch up on your favorite TV show and fit a run in?  I think that’s better than sitting on your couch catching up TV?

Some people are not comfortable running outside, and it’s essential (for others) to realize that people do what they are comfortable.  Safety should always be a runners number 1 priority.

Finally, the majority of us are never going to be elite athletes, and we don’t need to have a rigid plan.  Even elites athletes use all sorts of methods.  Some elites love the treadmill, high mileage or low mileage.  We do what makes us happy and what is best for our personal needs.

Life is too short to do something that makes you miserable.  Running outside in the rain is miserable, and I feel no need to justify that to anyone.

I guess I’m thinking about the ways social media has affected our running.  Before social media, we ran how we felt like it.  If we felt like running outside, we did.  If we felt like running inside, we did.  If we felt like training for a 5k, we did…a marathon…we did.

Social media will always cause us to compare.  It’s something tough to avoid in our modern day world.  My point is that not to put others down because where and how they choose to run.

We are all one giant community of runners and human beings.  We do what makes us happy and move on with it.

Relevant Posts: 

Care Free Running
Why a Running Streak Does Not Work for Me
Running on an AntiGravity Treadmill

Questions for you:
Where is your favorite place to run?
What are you thinking about today?

Hoka Clifton 4 Shoe Review

I’ve run in a few Hoka One One Clifton.  I ran in the original Clifton as well as the Clifton 3.  I skipped the Clifton 2 because it was a bit too narrow for my foot.  The Clifton has continued to be one of Hoka One One’s more popular models.  It’s light but still, has the cushion people have come to love from Hoka.

Hoka claims the differences between the Clifton 3 and Clifton 4 are the most drastic.  In my opinion, I believe sizing was a drastic change between the 1-3, but the upper is much different in the 4.

Appearance:

I rarely talk about the appearance of shoes, but Hoka has made a solid effort to make their shoes look more friendly to the eyes.  When Hoka was first developing shoes, some of their earlier models I wouldn’t ever use as a “casual” shoe.  The Hoka Clifton 4 went through such a drastic change in appearance, that it’s now a shoe I bought myself a second pair to walk around in.

Fit: 

Fit wise, the Hoka Clifton 4 is similar to the Clifton 3.  It’s important, especially if you have wider feet (like myself!).  I wore a 10 in the Clifton 3 and continue in a 10 now.

The great news for the Clifton lovers is the Clifton now comes in wide!  That deserves 10 exclamation points by itself.

As Hoka claims, they did update the upper.  The new mesh is much more breathable than previous years and also has zero seams (which is trending in the industry right now).

Ride: 

The Clifton is known to be lightweight but very cushioned.  To me, it feels like a giant spongey marshmallow underneath your feet.  The Bondi feels much more firm and dense, while the Clifton is much more spongy.

Hoka claims this year the Clifton 4 will last much longer than previous models.  As someone who has run and works at a running store, I will say that the Clifton has been notorious for not lasting as long as many other similar brands.  They sacrifice durability with decreasing the weight of the shoe.  This year, is a different story and I’ve almost run 300 miles in the Clifton 4.  A shoe I was never able to put that much mileage on.

If you have run in the Clifton 3, the ride is very similar.  It’s like a giant marshmallow underneath your feet. If you are new to the Clifton or Hoka, it’s a lightweight but a well cushioned and soft ride.  You feel the roll as you move through your gait cycle.

Hoka Clifton 4 Shoe Review

Thoughts:

I like the Clifton 4 and it will continue to keep it in my rotation.  In fact, I bought a second pair to walk around in because I do believe it does look that good.

Current Rotation:
Saucony Freedom (long runs/easy runs)
Hoka Clifton 4 (long runs/easy runs)
Brooks Ghost 10 (daily runs)
Altra Escalante (speed workouts)
Saucony Type A/Endorphin (races)

Questions for you:
What is your current favorite running shoe?

Care Free Training

I haven’t really posted about my actual training in a while or where I want it to go.  I post my training log and progression since coming back from my break, but quite frankly I’m just running.  I am enjoying the journey to get back to fitness and taking it one step at a time.  I have no interest in training for a big marathon (or a small one), and I don’t have a goal race picked out for any distance.  Thinking out loud, I’m just slowly working my way back.

And you know what? 

I’m enjoying how my running is going right now.  I have absolutely no pressure to do anything (not that I ever had pressure beforehand) but now I have even less pressure.  In training and sometimes even life, I’ve always been one to fly by the seat of pants.  Now more than ever, that is relevant.  With my husband’s career, I can’t tell you I’ll be in New Jersey for the next year.  I can’t sign up for a race 6 months out because I don’t know.  We didn’t know we would go down to Alabama for 6 weeks last January, until a couple of weeks beforehand. I missed races I had signed up before in NJ during that time.

In my training, I normally have a rough outline of the runs and workouts I want to do for the week, but I never have an exact plan written down.

For instance, during a training week, my thoughts begin like this: This week I’ll attempt to run between 40-45 miles with five miles of speed somewhere…is it a race…maybe I’ll have to see what is around…if nothing works with my schedule, I’ll just do a workout. That is the extent of my scheduling and planning.

So Does Not Planning Really Help Me?

I have actually found that it does and it does a lot.  First of all, I’m not obsessed with pace.  I don’t care. I could run 10 miles at 10-minute pace or 10 miles at 8-minute pace.  It’s still 10 base miles.  I’ll run with anyone that wants to run, whether you run a 10 minute or 8-minute mile.  That’s why I rarely post paces online, Instagram, or anywhere.  Because I don’t know and honestly, for training runs…I don’t really care.

When talking with a friend, I realized that it hasn’t always been that way for me.

I used to be obsessed with pace and numbers.  There was a point in my running career that I would run in the same 10-second pace range for every run of the week.  That pace was between 7-7:10.  Do you know what I gave myself?  The glorious gift of a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.

Not to mention, during that period I never got faster, and I was miserable the entire time.   I was so antsy in training if my overall pace was 7:11+ and thought I had lost my all endurance.  It sounds silly now, but that is what the new runner in me thought.

Train fast to go fastRace myself and try and get faster every day.

For stat purposes: during that time of my running career, my 5k PR was 20:10.  I ran about 50 miles a week between 7-7:15 pace.

Now it’s 18:13 (and I had to look LOL).  During that time in training, I was running 60 miles a week with about 50 above 8:30 or even 9-minute pace.

My half marathon PR then was 1:36.56…now it’s 1:22.57.

But the most crucial piece is I enjoy going out to run without worrying about it.  For me, running is a hobby, and it’s something I want to do lifelong without stress.

So for me personally, not caring about pace has turned into continuing to improve on running.  Last fall, when my coach and I focused on paces, I found myself in a similar situation.  Burnout and not improving.

I can’t tell anyone how to train and what works for them and nor do I want too.  I’m telling you how liberating it is for me to be carefree about pace.

What it took for me to get to that point to relax my training wasn’t easy.  Honestly, without being injured or burnout, I don’t think I would have gotten here.  From injury, I quickly learned my body doesn’t respond well to fast runs every day.

I think I should have renamed my blog CasualLOLZ or something.

Relevant Posts:

Techniques to Recover Faster

Cross Training

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Questions for you:

What are your thoughts?

Do you schedule workouts every day or fly by the seat of your pants?

Dragon Run (19:06)

One of my favorite races of the fall is the Dragon Run in Swedesboro, NJ.  It’s put on by a local high school, and the money goes to a great cause.  Last year, I had a great race and was the first I was under 19 for the fall.  This year I did not break 19 but my legs were fatigued, and it was windy.  I had an enjoyable time though.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj finish me running

I got to the race, warmed up and by the time I knew it we were off.  It’s a big race, with a lot of high schoolers.  This means the start is crowded.  I was not bullying my way to the start with local high schoolers, so I found a good spot.  Once we were off, the first mile was packed, and I found myself running with local soccer players and a couple of cross country kids.  One kid was determined not to let a female beat him (because he told me that).  We crossed the first mile in 6:11.  To be honest, I was disappointed, but at the same time, my legs didn’t feel fresh at all.

I knew the course well and figured breaking 19 wouldn’t be in the cards.  I stayed along the two kids who helped keep me stay focused and not zoned out.  The second mile went around a 180 turn and over a few rolling hills.  I’ve had great training lately, but it means I’m not entering local 5ks “fresh.”  When you race as frequently as I do, you know that, and you ask yourself: are you going to taper for every race.  No, and use them as workouts.  The next mile went with little note, and we ran a 6:10.

During the last mile, I was tired, but the pack of guys I was running with started pushing so I did too.  We were two miles in so I was just holding on for dear life.  My friend that didn’t want a female to outkick him surged and I couldn’t keep up with that but kept pushing as much as I could. The third mile was a lot windier than the first two.  Around 2.75, we were joined by the walkers towards the finishers shoot.  You can see the finish from about .25 away and I always think the race will be short, but it never is. I ran the last mile in 6:03 and crossed in 19:06.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj finish me running

I was happy with my time, and while it wasn’t my fastest, I was happy with my effort level.  Last year I won, and this year I was second but enjoyed myself.  The overall winners won cupcakes from a bakery which I always enjoy.

Here I was telling the facility: I’ve been waiting for this cupcake since last year.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj me cupcake

This ends my progression of getting faster each 5k but this time would come.  It has to end somewhere!

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj me cupcake

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1 Run for Recovery (19:12)

Questions for you:
Do you have a favorite race award? 
Would you rather run a small race or big race?

Altra Escalante Shoe Review

Each year, I go to the Runners World festival, I get the opportunity to learn more about the brand and company.  Altra also gives bloggers a pair of shoes (of their choice).Altra also gives bloggers a pair of shoes (of their choice).  This year I knew the most about the Altra Escalante because we carry it at work and requested that model.  I was lucky that Altra was extremely receptive and sent me the Escalante.As most people know, Altra is known for a wider toe box.  As the founder Golden has said, it’s not a “wide” shoe but it’s foot shaped.

As most people know, Altra is known for a wider toe box.  As the founder Golden has said, it’s not a “wide” shoe but it’s foot shaped.  Well my foot is wide.  Altra is actually more narrow through the arch and heel which makes it a better fit for most people’s feet.

The other component Altra is known for is their “zero drop” shoe format.  This means the heel and the forefront are at the same level and flat.  It doesn’t mean it’s a minimalist shoe, but it is flat.

The Fit: 

I do believe the Altra Escalante is one of the better fitting running shoes right now.  I usually wear between 10-11 wide in my shoes, and in the Escalante, I wear a comfortable size 10.

The upper is made from a stretchy knit which means there are no seams to rub on feet.  It’s accommodating and with minimal seams, there aren’t pressure points.  This is especially important for someone who might deal with bunions or a wide forefront. The heel counter hugs the heel, so while the toe box is roomy, there isn’t any heel slippage.

me altra escalante shoe review

Ride:

As described above, something important to note, if you have never tried Altra before they are a “zero drop” shoe.

 What does this mean?

The forefront and heel are at the same height.  If you currently run in a higher stacked or higher drop shoe, your calves might be more sore as you integrate a flatter shoe into your rotation.  To prevent injury, you should slowly work the shoe into your rotation versus starting to run in it every day.

I’ve run in a few Altra shoes including the Altra Paradigm 1.5. I prefer more cushion and don’t have a need for a trail shoe.

The Altra Escalante is the most minimal design I have chosen and I’ve used for several runs from workouts too easy runs.  When I ran my first tempo run, I felt the ground, less ground than a racing flat but more than a high cushioned shoe.  I liked how responsive it was.  

When I ran a few easy runs, I could the softness and cushion that Altra has integrated into their shoes.   In total I’ve run between 50-75 miles in the shoe and haven’t had any issues. I’ve never run in it back to back days but don’t typically do that with any of my shoes.

While all of my runs were successful in the shoe, personally I love the feeling of running tempos in the shoe. I feel like I’m giving my body more cushion than a racing flat but getting my turnover up with a flatter shoe.

Summary:

So far I’ve liked using the Escalante for workouts and as a “faster” paced shoe.  I might experiment with it as a half marathon shoe but for now, it will be my staple workout shoe.

Thank you Altra for sending me the Escalante as well as the Runners World Festival for bringing me back as a blogger.  While I was given this shoe, I wasn’t paid for the review and all opinions are my own.

My running rotation:
Brooks Ghost 10
Brooks Glycerin 15
Hoka Clifton 4 (Review to Come)
Saucony Type A/Endorphin (racing)

Questions for you:
Have you tried Altra before?
Do you prefer more or less cushion in your shoes?