Yesterday I set out to run my track workout on a beautiful, cool 66° late morning. By the standard of most, the conditions were perfect for my 1200m repeats. When I arrived at my favorite track after my warm-up, I was amazed at how difficult it was for me to maintain my 5:30 pace for each of my repeats (I ran 4 with a 400m recovery between each).
After I finished my 8.7 mile run, I sat and reflected on why this was such a challenging workout. I came up with a few reasons.
1. Keeping a consistent pace around a track is TOUGH! In the winter months, I do my speed workouts on a treadmill and I’m always amazed at how much easier they are. I guess that’s because the machine sets the pace, you just have to keep your legs moving. On the track, it’s your legs that set the pace and it’s not easy to maintain it for 3 laps.
2. After 4 days without a rest, my body is tired! So, I ask myself: Do I gain more fitness by pushing hard when I want to run easy? Or do I risk injury?
3. When you amp up your training to 55 to 60 mile weeks that include hill repeats, track workouts, and long runs of 20 or more miles, you need to eat more calories. This shouldn’t be all that difficult! What I’ve started doing is eating peanut butter on a banana before a run.
4. Mentally, I don’t encourage myself enough on these runs. When I know I have to do 1200m repeats I tend to silently say, “Oh no! I hate these things. They’re so hard!” Instead of, “Well, this will be a great workout and I’ll be so much stronger on the long run because this.” I have to remember to shine, especially when it comes to longer repeats.
Rest weeks are always welcome in my world of running and this past week was an opportunity to for my body to enjoy a little rest and recovery. Having completed a 50 mile week that included a 20 mile run the previous week, this was such a great break.
Rest weeks are not weeks absent of all running and cross training, however. I still did my track workouts and long run; each run was just shorter runs than the previous week. Also, I added an extra day of yoga and if you’ve ever done Power Vinyasa, you know that it’s no joke.
My continued focus is on keeping my mind positive and running easy on easy days.
Monday, August 11: Track Workout #1 – 6 x 800m in 3:40 with 400m recovery. After a 2 mile warm-up, I started my 800m repeats. For me, the first couple are always the most difficult but after I get into the groove, I love the repeats. I find that they keep my mind focused and the time goes by so quickly! Total Miles for the day= 7.3. Yoga day.
Tuesday, August 12: Easy run. 6.25 miles at an 8:53 pace.
Wednesday, August 13: Easy run. 5.20 miles at 8:49 pace. Yoga day.
Thursday, August 14: Long Run. 12.1 miles at an easy 9:06 pace. In the spirit of rest and recovery, my long run was only 12 miles today and I keep these miles easy. Typically, I run the last several miles at goal pace but not during a rest week. I enjoyed a great run and incorporated several moderately long hills in the course. Yoga today.
Friday, August 15: REST!
Saturday, August 16: Track Workout #2. 12 x 200m in 50 seconds with 200m recovery. Total miles for today: 6.25.
Sunday, August 17: Easy Run. 5.5 miles at 8:49 pace.
Total Miles for the Week= 42.2
It’s true: I love to train for marathons. About 7 years ago, the marathon bug bit me and I’ve been in love ever since. There’s just something about the challenge of 50 to 65 mile weeks, the thrill of the 20+ mile run, the whittling of the waistline, the tired quads, the peaceful mind that keeps me coming back for more.
It seems like just yesterday that I laced up my running shoes and set out on my first 20 mile run. I vividly recall the hours I spent planning for that run: mapping out routes, planning nutrition, packing my fuel belt, setting out water. Boy, have things changed!
Thanks to the invention of the Garmin 305, I can run just about anywhere and know exactly how far I’ve run and at what pace. Knowing that my body needs GU after 45 minutes, I can quickly estimate how many to take on any given run. And water? Well, I just make sure I run by a few stores and keep my water bottle at least 1/2 full at all times. The 20 mile run has gotten so much easier!
Running 20 miles is still challenging, but I don’t dread the distance any longer. Maybe that’s because I usually run that distance with at least one friend. Last Saturday I ran my 20 with a very large group and it was great. Once again, 3 of us ran the last 5 miles at goal pace and got faster as we ticked off each final mile. I love running negative splits; it just gives me such a great feeling of accomplishment!
This year I discovered a new product that has helped relieve leg cramps: Enduralyte Tablets. To me, they’re magic. I take two just as I start my run, and two every hour after. They keep my quads from feeling like rigor mortis has set in both during and after the run.
I’ve also discovered the benefit of running slowly for the first several miles. My legs stay fresh and I handle the hills with much greater ease. As an added benefit, I can chat endlessly with my friends. I’ve found that running the last 5 or more miles at goal pace makes me a much stronger runner and forces me to tap into my mental energy, my shine.
Finally, I’ve learned the restorative and strength-building power of Power Vinyasa Yoga. Practicing 2 to 3 times each week since early last July, I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in my core as well as my upper body strength. As a distance runner, it’s difficult to maintain flexibility but the yoga has definitely helped.
One of my goals for this year is to travel with friends to marathons. For too many years I’ve gone alone to wonderful races in wonderful places, and while I loved the marathon itself, I longed for the companionship of friends and fellow runners.
My wish is being granted! On October 12, 2008 my girlfriends, Karin, Amy, Carolyn, and I are running the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA. I’m so excited! We’re heading to Scranton on Saturday and returning Monday morning. This is just exactly what I’ve dreamed of for so, so long!
With our spirits high in anticipation of the marathon, we set out for our 18 mile run last Saturday with 4 other women. What a wonderful run we enjoyed! I typically run with men and, I must admit, it was great to go with all women. We ran the first 13 miles at an easy pace and laughed and talked and I even sang them a few tunes.
For the final 5 miles, Kathy and I picked up the pace to an 8:35 and finished our final mile at an 8:04 pace. While this wasn’t easy and not much chatting was occurring, it was a great workout.
This Saturday calls for 19 miles. Really, 19 doesn’t sound all that bad to me. When I’m with friends, the time just seems to fly by. For years I ran every run alone and I missed so much. I’m so thrilled to have friends who share my passion for running and actually don’t mind spending 2 or 3 hours on Saturday morning sweating with me!
Without a doubt, my favorite cross-training sport after biking is yoga. Specifically, I love power vinyasa, a form of yoga that is practiced in a hot room. At my yoga studio, Breathe, the yogis are outstanding and spend a portion of class helping us set our intentions and reading pearls of wisdom from their book (don’t know the name).
This Wednesday evening, I went to Mary’s 7:00 class assisted by Michael. It was wonderful. Not only was it a challenging workout, it was also a great reminder to me to practice being mindful. Mary led us through a breathing exercises instructing us to, “Breathe in acceptance, breathe out gratitude. Breathe in peace, breathe out joy. Breathe in love, breathe out compassion.” All week I’ve practiced this: in my car while driving in heavy traffic, at school with my unruly summer school students, at home going about my daily chores.
Mary also instructed us to let our bodies move through our vinyasa without thinking too much about each pose. She said, “Put your shine on and flow!” I got to thinking about that phrase, “Put your shine on”, and I realized that it could be a wonderful mantra for running.
How many times I’ve allowed my mind to think negative thoughts while running! Too often I’ve thought, “Man, this is so hard today. My legs are so tired. My pace is so slow. I should be running so much faster” Instead, I should let go of my thoughts and let my body run, focusing on putting my “Shine on”.
So, what does it mean to “Put your shine on?” To me it means to happily run my miles with the strong legs and heart and lungs that God has so richly given me. It also means to love my run, to love myself, to smile, to enjoy where I’m at at this present moment and to not dwell on where I should be or where I want to be with my run.
Tomorrow as I run my long run I’m going to focus on putting my shine on! Where ever you may run, may you shine!