Weekly Recap: SLO Marathon Training & Yoga

This whole work thing is taking its toll on my marathon training.

SLO Marathon Training, Week 7

While I’m happy overall with how my training is going, I still keep having to cut some of my weekday morning runs short because, well, money. If I have a client that wants to see me at 7:00 in the morning (or even 6:00, but that hasn’t happened yet), I really need to take them. Because in about three months they’ll be gone for the summer. It’s called making hay while the sun shines.

So, while I’m getting in the runs, they are shorter than I have on my schedule. In the coming week I’m going to work on getting out a little earlier, but I don’t like to go too early because I’m running by myself and, well, I’m scared of the dark. Here’s why…

This was a cutback week though, with my long run scheduled for 10 miles with five at marathon pace. That went well, though I did four at MP pace instead of five. I was running with my neighbor Christina, who is a new runner, but tough as nails. She did the whole run with me and kept me going during the faster parts. She even challenged me as we approached the end to pick it up to the corner. Bitch! I keep reminding myself she’s young enough to be my daughter. That helps.

run 3The picture above is from a couple weeks ago. Same crew though. Alan was with us but he had a steady pace 10 mile run on his schedule.

Here’s my post-run selfie. Mostly because I like taking pictures of our wind-kitties.

Run2

So I ran four times, 19 miles total. I’m still not happy with my total weekly mileage, but I’ll be working on that this week. I started off this week with a three mile run, and I managed eight 1/4 mile intervals, so I’m pretty happy with that.

The countdown to the SLO Marathon is on! Two months from today! Yikes, better get going. I have a 16 miles run on the schedule for the weekend, which is good, but I think the key is to get in my mid-week mileage.

By the way, the price will be going up on February 28, so if you’re planning to join me in San Luis Obispo on April 23 now is the time to register! You can save an extra $10 with my code WOODAMB. Do it!

slo

Take the Leap Challenge

At least my yoga is going well. I have managed to practice a little yoga every day since February 2. I haven’t made it to as many classes as I’d like, but I’ll do a few sun salutations to warm up, some hip opening and hamstring stretching poses to cool down, and take the time daily for a pose-of-the-day.

We working on a warrior series this week. Here are my first three days:

Week 3Warrior I

Humble WarriorHumble Warrior

Warrior 2

Warrior II

I’m so happy with this Take the Leap Challenge with prAna and Sweat Pink. The support of the other participants is amazing, and I love working with prAna. Not only do they make amazing clothing, but they care about creating a lifestyle of sustainability, kindness, and focus. My goal, once the challenge is over, is to continue on with my practice, maybe not daily, but several times a week. Yoga is good for my soul.

Random Stuff: Movies & #Vegan Food

Alan and I went to see McFarland, USA on Saturday. In a nutshell, we loved it! As a cross country coach I appreciated everything about the story of how running (and a good coach) helped to change the lives of the children of migrant workers in Central California in 1987. It was based on a true story, so even though it seemed a little formulaic, I didn’t care. I believe in the power of running and high school sports to help develop successful and confident adults.

We headed to lunch at Whole Foods on Sunday. We had their vegan Artisanal Cheese platter again. It was so good! And we shared the Taro Burger. Sadly, they no longer have the Jackfruit Crab Cakes on the menu {sad face}, but we did enjoy our meal.

lunchI also cooked up a great Tofu Scramble this week. In fact I’m still enjoying the leftovers!

Tofu ScrambleHave you seen McFarland, USA? What did you think? How was your training week? Any events, races, or great meals? Share!

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 7

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Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 7

While last week (week 6) was a bit of a break, that only served to make you stronger by giving your body a well deserved rest. At the end of week five, you were running 20 minutes with only one break. Fantastic! We’ll be building on that this week. (Did you miss week one? Click here.)

By the end of this week, you will be able to run your entire 20 minute workout without a break. Again, you will have three key workouts, with two other easy days (one of which is optional). Remember to listen to your body, take an extra day off if necessary, don’t skip your stretching, and finally, enjoy yourself. You’re a runner now.

Remember, all workouts begin with an 8-10 minute brisk walk, and finish with about a five minute walk, stretching, and icing. On your rest days, feel free to do some strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc.

Run_a_5K_Program.JPG

Day One: Repeat last week’s day six workout: Warm up. Run for 10 minutes. Walk for one minute. Repeat. Cool Down.

Day Two: Active Recovery Day. After your warm up, run for five minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat two more times.

Day Three: After your warm up, run for 15 minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for five minutes. Cool Down.

Day Four: Rest

Day Five: Here it is! Warm up. Run for 20 minutes. Cool Down.

Day Six: (Optional) Active Recovery: Warm up, run for six minutes. Walk for 20 seconds. Repeat two more times.

Day Seven: Rest

Coming next week: Now that you can run for 20 minutes straight, we will start adding on more time/distance.

Getting Faster

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Refer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts

The Long Run: After several weeks of increasing your mileage, with one cutback week, you are probably running a sufficient distance in preparation for a 5k. If you want to continue to increase your mileage, go ahead and add on a half mile to this run. If you are running six miles or more for your long run, you really don’t need to add on more at this level of training. If you choose not to increase your long run, add a half mile to one of your other runs during the week (not the speed workouts). Don’t forget to stretch.

Getting_Faster.JPG

The Interval Workout: Back to basic speed work, on the track, 400 meter intervals. After your 10 minute warm up, run 400 meters at slightly faster than your your 5k pace (about 95% of VO2Max). Recover by jogging or walking 200 meters. Repeat 11 more times. Cool down by walking or jogging 400-800 meters. Stretch (and don’t forget to ice after your workout!)

The Lactate Threshold Workout: On the road for this basic tempo run. After your one mile easy warm up, run two miles at slightly less that your 5k pace (about 85-90% of your maximal effort). Cool down by jogging a half mile, and finish with a stretch.

Remember, in addition to these workouts, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week seven is in the bag. See you next week!

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 5

Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 5

Well, you can call yourself a runner now! By the end of last week, you were able to run 20 minutes with only a couple of very short walking breaks. Nice job. (Did you miss week one? Click here.)

This week, you will continue to increase your running time and decrease your walking. You will have three key workouts this week, plus two additional easy running days (one of which is optional). Plus your off days, of course, which can be total rest, or where you can do some strength training, yoga, etc. Listen to your body and give it the rest that it needs.

Remember, all workouts begin with an 8-10 minute brisk walk, and finish with about a five minute walk, stretching, and icing.

Day One: Repeat last week’s day five workout: Warm up. Run five minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat three more times. Cool down.

Day Two: An active recovery day. After your warm up, run for four minutes, walk for one minute. Repeat three more times, then cool down.

Day Three: This will be a challenge because it your third day in a row, but remember, you’re a runner now! Warm up. Run for five minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for seven minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for eight minutes. Cool Down.

Day Four: Rest

Day Five: (Optional) Active recovery. Repeat day two workout.

Day Six: We are completely taking out two of the walking breaks! Warm up. Run for 10 minutes. Walk for one minute. Repeat. Cool Down.

Day Seven: Rest.

Nice job. Take care of yourself, eat right, stretch, ice, and of course, rest. Next week we get a little breather.

Running Faster

Refer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts

The Long Run: This week we are actually going to cut back the distance of the long run by one half mile. You’ve been steadily increasing your mileage for the last four weeks, and this cut back is intended to give your body a break.

The Interval Workout: Mile repeats this week. Three of them, on the track. You will be running at 90-95% of your maximal effort, with a goal to run each interval at the same pace. After your warm up, run four laps. Recover by jogging or walking 200 meters. Repeat two more times. Cool down.

The Lactate Threshold Workout: Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “Speedplay.” A Fartlek workout can be done in a variety of ways, with the focus on fun We’re going to hit the road again for this workout. After your warmup, using targets such as telephone poles, street lamps or trees, pick up your pace to about 85-90% of your maximum effort and run to the next pole. Drop your pace until the next pole. Keep repeating this workout for about a half hour. It doesn’t matter if the distances are not the same. After all, this is for fun!

 

Remember, in addition to these workout, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week five is done! See you in a week.

The Top 5 Marathon Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Marathon MistakesAh, the marathon. Twenty six point two miles of wonder, joy, and things waiting to go wrong. It’s hard to have a perfect race, but there are some things (aside from following your training plan) that you can do to make your experience as successful as possible. Start by avoiding these common marathon mistakes (that even the pros sometimes make).

1. Skipping Aid Stations

It was October 1999, in St. George, Utah. I was running the St. George Marathon. I was in great shape. I had trained all summer for this race. The race starts at an elevation about of about 5,000, it has a net elevation loss of 2,500 feet, which is misleading because much of the first 20 miles of the race are full of rolling hills, and what seems like plenty of elevation gain. It didn’t matter though. I felt fantastic. I was rolling along, at about a 7:15 pace. I felt so good that I didn’t want to mess with my stomach by taking in any gels or other sustenance (I had a history of extreme nausea during the second half of marathons).

This strategy worked fine until mile 20, and what should have been a final downhill cruise back into town. I hit the wall. Hard. I slowed down, struggled not to walk, and couldn’t even find a final kick as I approached the finish line.  What should have been a 3:10 marathon PR, ended up 3:16, still a PR, but not as easy to celebrate after losing over a minute a mile in that last 6.2.

I learned a hard lesson though. Start fueling yourself early and continue throughout the race. Practice during training so that your body adapts, and, either find out what they will be handing out in your marathon, or bring your own. Another tip when running through aid stations: Skip the first table or two, grab a cup from a volunteer, thank them, then pull out of the slow lane by the table (without blocking those that are bypassing the station). Try pinching the top of your cup. It will make it easier to swallow without spilling most of it down your front. If you’re using a gel, take it before your fluid.

2. Not Tapering Correctly

Tapering is hard. Who want to stop, at the peak of their training, and gradually do less for the last two or three weeks before their important marathon? It seems counter-intuitive. Won’t I lose too much fitness? Many a runner, from beginner to pro, has given into that temptation to run “just one more long run.”

Don’t do it. This is science people. After months of hard training, your body needs some recovery time so that it is rested and raring to go. Follow your training plan, which will probably allow some type of speed training up until the last week of your taper. Eat properly, drink plenty of fluids, and rest. Your well trained body will reward you with a good race. Find more information about tapering here:

Taper 14

Click on the photo for the full article.

3. Trying Something New

Whether it’s that adorable outfit you picked up at the expo, or the fuel that they are handing out at the race (if you didn’t plan ahead and use it during training), trying something new during your marathon is generally not a good idea, and could be a recipe for disaster. Many a runner has regretted choosing to run in those cool shoes that they picked up for such a great price, only to be plagued with blisters, knee pain, or other problems, midway through the race.

Everything that you will be using during your race should have been tried out during training. Even if you have a new pair of the same model shoe, test drive it for a few runs before your event. Plan your fuel, your race day outfit, your morning breakfast, ahead of time, based on what you have been doing during your training.

Marathon Quote

4. Starting Too Fast

This is probably the most common mistake among marathon runners of all levels, even the elites. When my husband Alan ran his first Boston Marathon in 1992, he had qualified, at the age of 43, with a sub-3:00 hour marathon. So, there he was, on the start line alongside the likes of Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter. Even as his jaw dropped to see those marathon legends next to him, a wise runner near him said, “Watch out. Don’t get caught up with these guys, or you’ll pay the price.” Then the gun went off. Alan tells me he hit the 10 mile mark in an hour. He managed to recover from those 6:00 minute miles (which would be a 2:37 marathon), by finally catching himself, slowing way down, and managing his race.

What is it about running that tells us, after training for months for, say, a 4:00 hour marathon, that once we get started and find ourselves running 8:00 minute miles, that some little imp inside our head says, “Yes! This is your day! You can run an half hour faster that you planned!”

Don’t listen to that imp. He lies. Stick to your running plan, and run at your goal pace, or even a little slower, as your start. Work through those nerves, don’t worry about what the other runners are doing, and run your own race. You’ll thank yourself. Remember, there is no such thing as “money in the bank” in marathon racing. It just doesn’t work that way.

5. Judging Yourself Too Harshly

So you’ve been training hard. You have hit all your targets, stuck to your plan. You followed all of the advice above, raced smart, fueled correctly, all of it. You know you’re on pace for that elusive PR. And then…it doesn’t happen. You fail.

Marathon Quote 3

Whoa. Back up! Erase that last word. You did all of the things above. You finished 26.2 miles with pride and strength. There is no failure in that. So many things go into the perfect race. Things over which you have no control. The weather. The race route. Road conditions, hills, turns. Sometimes things don’t fall into place. The stars don’t align.

Instead of beating yourself up, analyze what happened. What went wrong. Was it just a bad day? Were you ill? Take a look at the big picture. Then, pick yourself up, and try again. (After an appropriate recovery of course.)

On April 23, I will be running my 37th marathon, the SLO Marathon. Believe me, I have made all of the above mistakes over the last 18 years of running marathons. Hopefully I’ve learned from them. Although I will not be trying for a PR in San Luis Obispo (those are long behind me), I plan to run strong and smart. If you’d like to join me, you can save $10 when you register by using the code WOODAMB.

While this post is about marathon mistakes, many of them apply to races of any distance, especially the half marathon. What would you add to the list? What is the biggest mistake you made at a race of any distance?

Create Your Own Marathon Training Plan

Seven steps to making your own 16 week training program.

Marathon Training Plan

Are you planning to run a spring or summer marathon? Well, good for you! Do you have a training plan yet? It’s never to early to start planning your training, building a base, and mentally starting to prepare. While many of us can’t afford a coach (though it may not be as expensive as you think), a generic internet training plan doesn’t have to be the only option.

Believe it or not, you can create your own effective and safe training plan whether you are a beginner, looking to improve your times in your second or third marathon, or an experienced runner who wants to run at a high level. Just follow the steps below to create a 16 week marathon plan. Beginners, follow just the first five steps. If you have longer than 16 weeks until your marathon, use that time to build your base mileage. By the time you start the training plan, you should be able to run 10-12 miles for your long run, and about 25 miles per week.

Getting Started

Before you create your marathon training plan there are a few things you need to think about. First, you need a goal time. This can be based on a previous marathon or races of other distances (check here for a useful chart of time calculations). This time will be used for several purposes, including marathon pace runs, determining your long run pace, and giving you a guideline while you’re actually running your race.

It would also be helpful to know your race paces in the half marathon and 5k. If you don’t have those, that’s okay, you can gauge your training pace by effort level. Use a recent time, not your PR from two years ago.

Then sit down and figure out what days you can run. Think of your work and family schedule, then write down the days of the week that you can use for your training plan. Be honest with yourself. If you think you want to squeeze in a run on a weekday afternoon, but you know that you hate to run after work, don’t write it down.  Ideally you will plan to run a minimum of four to six days. You will need at least one day for a long run, so make note of that day. You will eventually need three to four hours for that workout.

Finally, make a chart that extends all the way to your marathon date. An Excel or Word table works just fine, or you can use a real calendar. See below for my revised SLO Marathon training plan. Label it Monday-Sunday, and date it through to your race. If you have any planned races, write them in. Now you’re ready to make your plan.

1. Long Run. The first step is to take a look at your long run. Working back from your marathon date, give yourself three weeks to taper. That will be your longest run. I would recommend at least 20-22 miles. For the first long run, write in your current long distance. Now, working back and forth, increase that mileage 1-3 miles per week. Every third week or so, give your body a break and cut back the long distance run by about 25%. Try to work in at least two runs of 20 miles or more.

Long runs should be run at an easy, slow pace, a minute or more below your goal race pace. During the second half of your training, plan to run about 5 or 6 miles of your long run at Marathon Pace, somewhere in the second half of your run. This will give you an idea of what race pace feels like, especially when your legs are already tired.

2. Recovery run. Ideally, the day after your long run will be a short recovery run or complete rest. A recovery run should be around 3-4 miles.

3. Speed Training. The second run to schedule in is your speed training run (more advanced runners will have a second hard run, see #6). Schedule this run so that you have at least one recovery day between it and your long run. Two is even better for beginners. The total mileage will be about 4-8 miles and you can choose from any of these workouts:

a. Hill Repeats
b. Tempo Workout: The link has directions on how to find your tempo workout pace and effort level.
c. Half Marathon Pace run: Warm up for about 10 minutes. Run 20-40 minutes at your current half marathon pace. Cool down for 5-10 minutes.
d. Interval Training: Longer intervals of 800-1600 meters, at a pace about 15 seconds per mile slower than your 5k pace.

Try to vary these workouts. If you know that your marathon has a lot of hills, you might want to schedule more hill workouts.

Note: If this is your first marathon and you “just want to finish” I still recommend this workout. It will help you feel stronger throughout your race.

4. Easy/Moderate runs. The other two or three days can be easy to moderate runs. Cross training is an option, especially for beginners. On one of those days, build your mileage a mile at a time to about 8 to 10. Just like the long run, drop the mileage by about 25% every third week to give your body some recovery time.

5. Taper time. Starting after your last long run, three weeks out from your marathon, you will start to taper your distance and intensity down. The first week, drop the long run by about 30%. That is the only change. Two weeks out from your race, drop your long run again, to about 40-50% of your longest distance. About 10 days out from the race, you will also start to drop the mileage of your other runs.

The last week of your marathon cut your mileage way back. Take an extra rest day. No speed work during this final week, though you might want to try a three mile marathon pace run several days out (that is exactly what it sounds like. Warm up for a mile, run two to three miles at your goal pace, then recover for a final mile.). Running the day before the marathon is optional. Called a “shakeout run,” it can help loosen up muscles (and shed some nerves), but it is up to you. Keep it short, and try to stay off your feet for the most part the rest of the day.

6. Second Speed Workout. If you have run a marathon or two (or three or four), and want to improve your time, add a second speed workout during the week. You can pick another option from above or try one of these:

SLO Marathon 4Don’t schedule your high intensity runs back to back. This includes your long run. Insert an easy or rest day in between your hard runs.

7. Run More. If you really want to set a PR or even qualify for Boston, you need to run more. Run at least 5 days a week, and 6 is optimal. That doesn’t mean to run through injury, or to disregard your body’s signals that you are overtraining. Be smart, rest if you need to, but to really run at a high level, you need to put miles on your legs.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to create a personalized marathon training plan that will be perfect for you! It will fit into your schedule, progress at your pace, and get you where you want to go. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or email me at debbie [at] livefromlaquinta.com. And if creating your own plan isn’t your thing, I can create a program for you that will be designed to get you to your goal.

Disclaimer: I am a coach, but I’m not your coach. Marathon training is challenging and you need to be in general good health (see a doctor if you’re not sure!) and have a solid running base to attempt it. Rest is very important, and if you notice any minor running aches and pains, or other injuries, take appropriate action to resolve the issue. Injury prevention is not addressed in this article, but it is a risk during marathon training.

Have you made your own training program before? What is your current training goal (running or otherwise)?

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 1

Are you ready to rock 2015? Do you want to change your life, lose weight, get fit, feel amazing? I’m here to help you do just that.

Note: While this is primarily a training program for first time 5kers, starting with Week 2 I will include a plan for runners who have completed a race or two, and now have the goal of running faster. Stay tuned!

While that might sound like a cheesy infomercial, it is not. It’s the truth. I’m going to help you commit to fit in 20-15. Not a resolution to exercise and lose weight. A commitment with a real goal. And that goal is…train and run, really run, a 5k.

Run a 5k

Oh, you say you can’t run. You say you hate running. You say you’ve got bad (fill in the blank) knees, hips, back, etc. I say to you, nonsense! You can learn, if not to love running, at least to enjoy the fresh air, the accomplishment you feel after a run, the way running can help with weight loss and management.

Just ask my friend over at It’s All About Me! Deal With It! If I may quote from her Winter Running post of several years ago, “I still wouldn’t classify myself as one of those people who enjoys running, or experiences the elusive “runner’s high.” But I do enjoy the peace, the calorie burn, the way it makes my body look, and how I feel when I am done doing something only 20% of the population is willing to do.”

Run a 5k 2

So just toss those negative feelings in the trash and head out of the door. DO NOT run. Yes, you heard me right. Do not run. If you are one of those naysayers, reading and saying, “No way, Deb, I tried running, hated it, hurt myself, bored me to death, etc., chances are, if left to your own devices, you would step out that door and run for two or three miles and either hurt your knees, back, or whatever, or simply have such sore muscles the next day you cannot walk, whereupon you say, “I hate running.”

We’re not going to do it that way this time. Now, of course, some of this depends on your level fitness before you start your training. For this first post, we will assume that you are a very beginner. You could probably walk one mile, maybe two, somewhat briskly, at least at the beginning. We’re going to get you started on a 12 week plan that will have you ready to run a 5k at the end. So, the first thing to do is pick up a race schedule, check online, and find a race that is scheduled about three months from now. (If you already run, but would like to run stronger and faster, don’t despair, my next 5k Friday post will have some tips just for you.)

Run a 5k 5

Day One: So, we’re walking out the door. A brisk walk, to be sure, but a walk. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Fresh air, nice sights. I do realize that this is winter, and some of you may need to do this on a treadmill, which is kind of sad, but the workouts are the same. Walk and dream of spring, it will be here before you know it. Now that you’ve walked about eight to 10 minutes, let’s try a little run. Fast, slow, it doesn’t matter. See if you can do it for a minute. Then, stop and walk again. Wasn’t that easy?

Keep walking for about two minutes, then try that minute run again. Do this three more times, finishing with at least five minutes of walking. Do not give in to that type A exerciser, the one who has injured you in the past, and try to run the whole time. Follow my instructions. Oh, and just call me Coach.

Run a 5k 3

This first workout will take about 30 minutes. When you’re done, spend some time stretching, particularly your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips. Check out this post for a great stretching program for runners. It is also helpful to ice your knees and shins.

Day Two: Repeat day one workout. Seriously. You don’t need to increase right away. You need to start slowly, stay healthy and uninjured. Repeat. Day. One.

Day Three: Rest. You can do some strength training if you want, or Yoga, but if you are really out of shape, keep the work out light. You’re easing into that, too.

Run a 5k 6

Day Four: Repeat the day one workout with one change. The running interval can be raised to 90 seconds, while the walking interval in between is lowered to 90 seconds. Don’t forget the stretching and ice.

Day Five: Rest. Totally (no this isn’t an excuse not to mow the lawn or cook dinner).

Day Six: Repeat day four.

Day Seven: You know that day seven is supposed to be. Rest (although again, strength training, yoga, Pilates, extra stretching, are all acceptable rest day activities).

Run a 5k 4

So now you’ve completed your first week of training. While it is true that you aren’t running very much (yet), you’re not injured either. Take a little inventory after week one. How are you feeling? Have you been stretching and icing? While I’m not covering it in this post, healthful eating is important too.

Next week we will continue to slowly add running time and reduce walking. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Visit your local running shoe store, where you can be fitted, allowed to actually run a little in your shoes, and someone can help guide you to the best shoe for you.

Check in next Friday for 5k Friday: Week Two of 5k Training. Beginners will receive their next week of training, while more advanced runners will get some advice on running stronger, longer, and faster. Stay tuned!

This post is revised and updated from a beginner 5k program I created several years ago.