Pacers, packs, planks

Last night’s track workout was hard work (okay, I am coming to the conclusion that they will never be easy!), but I am already feeling some tangible improvements and this is only the third week in. Our workout last night was:

Grapevine/Karaoke drills

Backward running

High kicks

2 reps of an 8 minute tempo run followed by 5 minutes at a 5K pace

Feel good 400

Planks

I felt good about the tempo runs because I was just short of completing a mile both times, which means I am getting closer to an 8 minute mile. The 5 minute runs at 5K pace were surprisingly delightful. I did notice a difference in my pace between the two types of runs… the 5K pace was quicker and a bit springier.

Another thing happened last night–I found two other women who run at approximately my pace! We were able to pace each other and run in a pack. It is so much easier to stay steady when you are part of a pack.

Today I am resting, but tomorrow I plan on a trail run.

Happy Thursday!

10 Lessons on Running

Ten things I have learned about running:

1. A mile will never get any shorter, but you will become more patient.

2. Acknowledge the other runners you pass. Your smile or “hello” could give somebody the extra push to finish strong.

3. Use body glide. Chafing is simply the worst, and it happens to everybody.

4. Poop before you run.

5. Related–this is the Ritz Carlton of toilet accommodations on a trail run. If you aren’t as lucky and find yourself in a port-o-potty, don’t look down.

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6. Let another person’s decision to run be your inspiration. Don’t let another person’s decision not to run be your excuse. Buddy runs are fun, but people decide not to go sometimes for whatever reason. You still need to go!

7. A vacation/guests staying over shouldn’t interrupt a running schedule. When all is said or done, you will probably be a better behaved host or guest because you went for a run.

8. Have somebody take your picture after you cross the finish line.

9. You really cannot go wrong with bananas or apples with peanut butter.

10. Talk to other people about your running practice. They might be sick of it, but saying something aloud over and over again makes it harder to back out.

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A scene from yesterday morning’s trail run.

 

 

Checking in

Not a big update today, but I have a few longer posts in the works for the next few days. Spotty posting due to Passover celebrations and spring break at the university landing at the same time, but rest assured, I am running as usual!

I didn’t get a chance to write a week in review last Friday, but I’ve been doing a lot of gorgeous trail runs over the last few days, soaking up all of the early spring sunshine we’re getting (hey, in the PNW, this is something to celebrate!).

Tomorrow is my track workout and I am looking forward to it. More to come soon.

Who ran/is running today?

Seconds Matter

Last night’s track workout was a thorough test of endurance–physically and emotionally. There is something about the monotony of the track that really turns up the volume on the inner monologue. The thirty or so runners that attend these sessions are athletic, skilled, and dedicated. The intimidation of running with the others is waning, especially as I realize that I am a member of the group and I am getting out there and not letting myself quit.

Yesterday’s workout:

Warm up laps (1 mile)

Karaoke, backward running, high kicks

Two 12 minute tempo runs (a tempo run should be completed at a moderately difficult pace)

A feel-good-400 meter

Cool down laps

Planks, increased by 10 seconds from last week for each position

Knowing that the focus would be longer tempo runs, I thought this week’s workout would be a bit easier for me since I am a distance runner and not a sprinter. Last week’s mile trial was foreign to me (and a bit of a throw back to junior high gym class), but I was pleased with my performance. What I realized is that a 12 minute tempo run is exceedingly more difficult than a mile trial, for several reasons. First, in this setting, you are aware of your time at the end of each lap. That’s a lot of pressure to maintain a pace! Second, there is no variety in scenery, this is a track. Third, no excuses–if you walk, everybody sees it (I’m by no means disparaging walking… I am just saying that you end up walking when you need to, not when you want to). The first tempo run, I think I was a bit nervous. I finished the first three laps in under 6 minutes, which was a bad idea for the rest of the run. Once I hit that mile, I was wiped. And I still had time to burn… So the first tempo run was about 1.5 miles in 12 minutes. But I was winded at the end and dreading the fact that I had to do it all over again (this is where the mental endurance comes in big time!). Before the second tempo run, the coaches reminded us to relax and not start too fast. They also encouraged us to run in packs at a similar pace for two reasons: 1) shelter against a wind tunnel on one side of the field and–more importantly–2) keep each other going steady. I stayed with a group of three other women and we started the tempo run. This time, I was finishing each lap reliably at exactly 2:15. It was amazing what a difference a few extra seconds made! I felt good throughout the 12 minutes–I mean, I was challenged and pushing hard, but I was also sustaining my energy through each lap. I ran a bit under 1.5 miles at the end of the second tempo run, but felt so much more encouraged.

My time for the Feel Good 400 was 1:50. I just cut loose and had fun 🙂

I slept like a kitten last night.

Yesterday I learned that if you are completing a tempo run alongside others, you won’t be telling a story or cracking jokes. There is not much talking. Tempo runs are higher capacity–it’s an attempt to run at your hardest while sustaining energy over time. I also learned that pumping the arms is a really great way to keep the body propelled and the form aligned. I’ve started paying more attention to my upper body during runs, and I can feel the difference. It is shaving off a bit of time.

Finally, the biggest thing I learned is that running is naturally competitive–but as I was reminded by a dear friend–it’s a competition against yourself, not others. I wanted to quit in the middle of my first tempo run last night–so badly. But I pushed myself to keep going, and I am so glad that I did. I feel awesome today and am a better runner for finishing strong.

Hump Day at the Track

It’s a blustery March day with random deluges sprinkled throughout. Should be a fun and wet night at the track! I am looking forward to the session because every single piece of advice from last week’s workout was so valuable!

Monday was a gorgeous day and I enjoyed a leisurely run in the sunshine after work. I was going to go to Zumba last night, but it was canceled. I found out that I got accepted to do some post-graduate work starting next fall, and so we went out for a family dinner date to our local Mexican restaurant and had fun indulging in a bit of future-dwelling as well as tasty food!

I signed up for two additional fun runs (both 5Ks) in April, the weekend before and the weekend after the half marathon. Honestly, these are just fun excuses to get out and do the run I would be going on anyway with a bunch of other runners. I get the positive vibes by osmosis. Plus, my running club membership makes so many races and events available for little to no cost. It’s a pretty awesome deal.

I look forward to reporting back on this week’s track workout.

Passover is coming up at the beginning of next week, so my updates may be a bit lighter for the coming week, but hang with me, I’ll have a lot to talk about when I get back on regular schedule.

Happy Running!

Race Costume

I had a blast dressing up and doing a fun run for St. Patty’s Day! The rain even held off until the race was over. The course was a hilly 8K along the waterfront and surrounding area. I finished the race in 45 minutes, so about a 9 minute mile. Not record breaking or particularly speedy, but not too shabby considering I was wearing a wig and a fluffy tutu.

The plan this week so far is a run this evening, Zumba tomorrow, track workout Wednesday, rest Thursday, run Friday, rest Saturday (I am working in the morning and then we’re hosting an early Passover Seder that evening for friends), and I would really love to do a nice hefty trail run on Sunday. Let’s make it happen!

Happy Monday!

Week in Review

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Am I Right?

Sunday- 4.5 miles

Monday- 3 miles

Tuesday- Zumba

Wednesday- Track workout 3.5 miles

Thursday- Rest

Friday- Rest

Saturday- 8 miles (~5 mile race and I am also running to the race start line)

Total: 19 miles

Overall feeling: Strong, healthy, super excited for a fun race tomorrow

Right now my race outfit consists of skapris, a green shamrock necklace (think Mardi Gras beads) and a neon green wig that I found at Target for $3.00! My hair is currently the longest and bushiest that it has been in a long time, so I am hoping I can manage to fit it under this wig!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

8:24

I went to my first track workout with running club coaches last night and even though it took a lot of nerve and positive self-talk to show up, I am so glad I went! I know this weekly workout (extends through the end of summer) is going to equip me with so many tools, not just throughout marathon training, but for my running practice in general.

Last night our workout was:

Warm up laps

Grapevine/Karaoke Drills, High kicks, Backward running

8 minute tempo run

Stretch

1 lap at “ideal” mile pace

Recovery

Timed mile trial

Planks

What a great workout! I got some really good advice from one of the coaches about approaching a mile on the track. First lap is relaxed–the impulse is to rush out of the barn, but you’ve got to conserve a bit. Second lap is about FOCUS; don’t give up the energy from the first lap. Third lap is where you’ve got to push hard–the logic behind this is that people often over conserve until the fourth lap, but that won’t help your time as much as pushing during the third lap. Fourth lap is “all guts” and the last stretch to finish.

Since I usually run around a 10 minute mile on long runs, I wanted to complete my timed trial around 9 minutes. I surprised myself and crossed the finish at 8:24! I think if I had pushed just a little harder in the third lap, I could have gotten to the finish in 8:00. This time sets the framework for how we will measure improvement as our sessions progress.

All of the participants were so supportive and the coaches are great. I’m lucky to belong to such an awesome running club. I’m proud of myself for beginning this new chapter. I will definitely look forward to a very sweaty workout each Wednesday evening!

 

Delayed Gratification

You plant bulbs in the fall, and don’t see any evidence of a sprout until months later. Finally, in the warmth of spring, the petals are pried apart by the sunshine and the color opens to the sky.

The runner is like a bulb. The dedicated routine in the dark months is a time of taking nutrients in, of becoming strong, even if the changes are nearly invisible. Most of the growth is in the root system, the amazingly complex lifeline that delves deep beneath the ground. The temptation is to look down at the soil, resign to the attitude that it will always be soil, and discontinue nurturing the bulb. But if the knowledge that a bloom will emerge one day is maintained and believed and worked toward, the reward is eventually realized. Delayed gratification… the best gratification… a challenging goal to reach.

A jug fills drop by drop. There is no fast and easy way to be a runner, and the practice of running takes daily dedication, even on the days without running.

One day, I will bloom. Right now I am growing my roots.

It’s raining, it’s pouring, and I’ll be cross-training tonight!

I think the subject says it all. It’s a rainy mid-March day, and I am happy that I will be at Zumba this evening and not outside 🙂

I enjoyed the nicest little run through my neighborhood last night. It was so light outside! I even broke out my funky running tights in celebration (but let’s be honest, do I even need an excuse to wear these? They are always a good idea):

tuesday 3

No big updates or thoughts for today. What are you doing this weekend? Anybody have some Green-themed runs?