Marathon Training, Yoga Challenges, and Grandsons: Just a little recap

Busy weekend = mostly pictures. That and the Westminster Dog Show is distracting me. So, a little recap with a lot of pictures.

Marathon Training

What should be the biggest part of my recap is, well, not so much. I’m having schedule clashes, with clients who want to work out at 7:00 in the morning, and while I’m willing to get out there early, I’m hesitant to get out there too much in advance of the sunrise. That’s a long excuse for only two runs this week.

Running 2I did get out early on Wednesday, finishing my four miles by 6:00.

RunningAnd I did a 14 mile long run on Sunday (Saturday we had family stuff). I ran the first 5 miles with Alan and our neighbor, then took off on my own for the rest. The fire station is my perfect water stop. They have an ice machine, plus, well, firemen (though there weren’t any about on Sunday).

Total mileage only 18 miles! That should improve in the coming week. My work schedule is a little better and I have a cut back on the long run next weekend.

Yoga Challenge

Ironically, I’ve done much better with the Take the Leap 30 Days of Yoga Challenge with prAna and Sweat Pink that I did with running. I’ve managed at least a short practice every day since the beginning, and since I’m doing the Bringing Yoga Back challenge too (which fortunately work really well together), I’m really happy with my yoga efforts. I didn’t make it to a “real” class this week, but I practiced at home, both in and outdoors. Take a peek:

Week 2A little doggy-assisted yoga, my favorite kind.

Week 2_2While Alan worked the PS Half Marathon, I took a little run, the did a little posing.

Week 2_3Not only do I get help from my dogs, I get a lot of interest from the cats in the neighborhood.

Week 2_4I spread out my mat on the driveway to stretch after my Wednesday run.

Week 2_5I think I did a pretty good lizard pose variation, don’t you?

Week 2_6Back in the house, a 20 minute balance flow, and amazingly the dogs stayed clear (they were probably afraid I’d fall on them, my balance was that bad).

Week 2_8We traveled to Huntington Beach on Saturday for our twin grandsons’ 10th birthday party. While they played basketball, I posed.

Week 2_7I dragged Alan out for this one. Up in the trails behind our house, he took so many great pictures of my downward facing dog that I couldn’t choose just one.

Phew, week two in the books. I’m am so ready for week three!

Grandsons

As I mentioned, our grandsons turned 10 on Saturday (yes, they’re Valentine’s Day boys). It was a basketball themed party, so Alan and I had a chance to throw the ball around a little bit too. It had been 20 years a long time since I played basketball, and I was playing in flip flops, but I still managed a couple free throws (it seems much farther away than it did when I was younger!), and more than a few lay ups. From my Instagram:

Yes, we did. #basketball

A video posted by Debbe Woodruff (@coachdebbieruns) on

And this:

BirthdayThey asked to do this. #10yearoldboys

Valentine’s Day

We’re not big Valentine’s celebrators. We try to show our love daily, so it’s just not a big deal. We did, however, take the opportunity to stop for dinner at Native Foods on our way home from Huntington Beach on Saturday. It’s not exactly romantic, but it is our favorite restaurant. As I told one of our smartypants Facebook friends, it feels more romantic to us than candlelight and steaks!

Native Foods 3Native Foods 2Alan ordered three(!) cupcakes, so we had ALL the chocolate! I was really well fueled for my long run on Sunday. And fortunately not too sore from the basketball.

So, that was my week in training and life. What’s happening in yours? Any races, events, family fun?

Running Strong with (in spite of) Exercise Induced Asthma

I have suffered from Exercise Induced Asthma ever since I started running, especially once I started racing and training at a higher intensity level. I didn’t realize at first what was happening. At the end of a race I would feel dizzy, nauseous, and weak, and take up to an hour to feel better. I chalked it up to my hard effort and really didn’t worry too much about it. But, as these things do, it got worse. Here’s a little timeline of my history with Exercise Induced Asthma.

Exercise Induced Asthma

May 1996: I was running a 10k in Yucca Valley. It was shortly after Alan and I had met, and he was going to pace me to a PR. He did that, but I don’t remember the last 2/10 of a mile because I was so seriously oxygen deprived that I passed out at the finish line. While I never coughed or wheezed, I was not getting enough oxygen to fuel my muscles, and it took me over two hours to fully recover. For a while I couldn’t even lift my arms up. On a happier note, I did finish second overall and first in my age group.

Later that same week while on an easy run, I had my first incidence of a full blown asthma attack. I coughed, I wheezed, I cried (it’s very scary and emotional if you don’t know what’s happening) which made it even worse. Because my mother had suffered from asthma all her life, I figured out what was going on, made a doctor’s appointment and got my first inhaler.

December 1996: I ran my first marathon, in Honolulu. Starting about mile 16 in the race, I started having problems breathing and began using my inhaler. It slowed me down considerably, but I finished.

Honolulu-Marathon

1997: My doctor tried a variety of medications. At one point, I was using three different inhalers and a pill that I took daily. It did help, but that’s an awful lot of medicine.

1998: I created a holster in which I could carry my asthma inhaler. After seeing a woman using a similar one at the San Diego Marathon (it was a gift so she didn’t know where it came from), I used the belt loop part of a flashlight holster with a big paper clip. The inhaler fit perfectly and was easily at hand whenever I needed it. I should have patented it and gone into production. I was asked about it at every race I ever did.

June 2002: The first marathon I ever dropped out of because of my asthma, Rock and Roll in San Diego. You can fight through a lot of things, pain, tiredness, but you really need to be able to breathe, and I couldn’t. I also dropped out of the same race two years later. The only races I’ve ever dropped out of for any reason.

2006: After a knee injury slowed my times and I just got tired of fighting the asthma, I ran my last marathon. For the next few years, I continued to run and race, but never trained at a very high level. I still had the asthma problems during races, but they were infrequent enough so that I stopped taking all the preventative medications and just stuck with my rescue inhaler (albuterol).

2013: With renewed enthusiasm for running, I decided to train hard with a goal of running a sub-2 hour half marathon for the first time in years. That meant adding speed workouts back to my schedule and running longer and harder. It also meant the return of the asthma. Alan (who suffers from asthma too) had been having great success with montelukast, which is the generic version of Singulair. I decided I wanted to try it as well, and after multiple allergy and other tests given by my doctor, I picked up my first prescription.

Exercise Induced Asthma - Health Ox Oximeter

In my first race while using the montelukast, I still had a few issues. I think one of the problems is that I was taking it in the evening before bed. I should have taken it in the morning, a couple hours before the race. Hindsight is 20/20, but I will know this for next time. I did, however, accomplish my goal of running a two hour half marathon.

Fast forward to 2015. After running the Rock and Roll Marathon last June, my first in over eight years, I am now training for the SLO Marathon, which is in April. I have stated that I want to run a strong race, so that means thinking about asthma medication again. I’ll be sticking with the combination of montelukast, along with a rescue inhaler. I don’t start using the medication until about three months out from the race. That is when I start to increase both the intensity and distance of my runs. I’m hopeful that the combination of medication and sticking with my training program will get me across the finish line one more time.

That’s my story. Now a little bit about Exercise Induced Asthma.

What is Exercise Induced Asthma?

If you cough, wheeze or feel out of breath during or after exercise, it may be more than exertion that is the cause. If you feel tingling in your extremities, dizziness, or like you are breathing through a straw, you may be experiencing Exercise Induced Asthma. Even if you’ve never had any breathing issues in the past, EIA may be causing you to slow down, drop out, and begin to wonder if exercise is all it’s cracked up to be.

Having Exercise Induced Asthma does not mean that you should stop exercising. On the contrary, exercise helps to strengthen your entire cardio pulmonary system, and proper treatment of the condition can help keep you active, whether you are an elite level swimmer, an age group runner, or a weekend warrior.

Symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma

Some of the symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightening in the chest, fatigue during exercise, and poor athletic poor performance. These can happen during or after exercise. Many people don’t realize they have EIA because they think the symptoms are their body’s response to exercise.

My personal symptoms start with a feeling like tingling in my extremities. I always think that they feel like they are not getting enough oxygen. I start to feel weak and my body suddenly needs to slow down. If I try to push through, I feel like the continued lack of oxygen will cause me to faint and even feel like I have encroaching blackness in my peripheral vision.

As asthma attack can be a life threatening occurrence. Get immediate medical help if your symptoms continue to worsen even after using a rescue inhaler or if your symptoms continue after you are finished with your workout.

Causes & Risk Factors

While no one really knows why one person suffers from EIA while another doesn’t, some things that increase the likelihood of an attack include cold, dry weather, air pollution, high pollen counts, chemicals (such as chlorine in a swimming pool), and having a cold or other respiratory infection.

Again, my personal experience is that warm, humid climates make it more likely to have an attack (contrary to everything I have read, but have heard from others). I also have difficulties at high altitudes, especially during the adaptation period. And while I will occasionally have an EIA attack during shorter, high intensity exercise, I seem to have more problems during lower intensity, but longer efforts.

Those who have asthma that is triggered by other causes are more likely to have EIA, as are children, smokers, and high intensity exerciser (like runners).

Treatment

asthma

So what is an athlete to do? For many people, a couple puffs from a quick relief inhaler such as Albuterol is enough to control symptoms.  These are called bronchodilators and can help open the airways during an attack as well.

If a bronchodilator is not enough, speak to your doctor regarding the medications that are available to prevent asthma attacks. This type of medication is taken on a daily basis to help reduce inflammation and keep your airway open.

In order to prevent an EIA attack, several things are known to help, including a long warm-up of 10 minutes or more, trying to breathe through your nose, covering your mouth in cold dry weather, and if allergens cause you to experience EIA, avoid them as much as possible (maybe skip a workout on a high pollen or pollution day).

Don’t stop exercising. As I mentioned, exercising improves your lung function, so it is an important factor in the control of asthma symptoms. And don’t be discouraged. It may take a while to find the right combination of medications. I have finished 36 marathons with (in spite of) Exercise Induced Asthma, with a PR of 3:16, and many races of shorter distances, so it is possible to race and train at a pretty high level.

Remember, I am not a doctor! If you are experiencing Exercise Induced Asthma symptoms or feel like you are having difficulties breathing during exercise consult your own physician. While I researched the topic, I am speaking from my own experience and yours may be completely different.

Training Recap, Blog School, Retweets, and an Announcement

Is it weird to get excited when a celebrity retweets one of your tweets? Then I guess I’m weird.

GabbySo Gabrielle Reece didn’t actually retweet my tweet, it was posted by @FitMamaLaura, but it was about my Blogfest post (where Gabby will be the keynote speaker), so that was pretty cool.

Blog School Registration is Open!

Registration for Blog School with Blog Genie opened yesterday and the new session starts on February 16. As I’ve mentioned, I was a graduate of the first session several years ago and it changed my blogging life. As a past participant I have lifetime access to all of the modules so if I feel I need to brush up on any of the topics, it is right there for me. I also became an affiliate because I believe that Rita offers such a great value.

Blog School

Blog School is a 6 month long, online training program that combines monthly lessons, detailed worksheets and an active community to help you plan, grow and profit from your blog. To offer you the exact steps you need to get the results you want. Because life is complicated enough. Blogging doesn’t have to be.

You will receive one module per month, so you can work at your own pace, have access to an online community where you can connect with other like minded bloggers, and get advice, encouragement, and the reality checks that you need. And as I mentioned, you will have lifetime access to all of the Blog School modules, so that you can come back and review them at any time.

Check here for more information and to sign up for Blog School. Don’t delay, registration ends on Sunday, February 15, and class starts on Monday!

Training Recap

I’ve done a lot of yoga, and I’ve pretty much kept up with my SLO Marathon training plan. My biggest accomplishment was a 12 mile run on Saturday, my longest run in months. On Sunday I went with Alan while he announced the Palm Springs Half Marathon. I originally planned to run it, but I felt I needed to catch up on my long run mileage. Instead I caught up with old running buddies, took a short recovery run, and, what else, did a little yoga in the park.

Long RunI’m so lucky that I have beautiful weather and miles of horse trails to run on!

The Big Announcement

If you follow me on Instagram you may already know this, but…

SarahThat’s my beautiful daughter-in-law and yes, she is 10 weeks pregnant with my second grandchild! He/She is due on September 2.

Have you been retweeted by a celebrity?

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back: Training Update

It’s been a tough two weeks around here. After avoiding the first go-round of illness that invaded my work place, it finally caught up with me. That’s what I get for being cocky I guess. In spite of a flu shot (which I have heard only protected about 20% of people because of a mutation in the virus), I got it badly. Actually, I’m not sure if it was the flu or just a bad cold, but I had a cough, congestion, headache, body ache, and generally just felt, well, shitty.

As far as training went, I feel like I had taken one step forward, then three steps back. I didn’t run for 10 days! That is really rare for me because when I get a cold I can usually muddle through, maybe missing one workout. I think that many times a short, easy run makes me feel better. Nope, not this time.

Keep Your Eyes on the GoalI finally got out for a short run on Saturday. Alan and I, along with a neighbor, ran four miles on the trails. I felt good, had no breathing problems. My legs felt fresh! Even though I woke up with a headache, I pushed through. The headache went away while I was running, only to come back with a vengeance when we finished. While it wasn’t a migraine, it was enough to send me back to bed, where I spent most of the rest of the day.

One Step ForwardWhen I woke up on Sunday I really felt like I’d turned a corner. While I still had a cough, my headache was gone, and I just felt good. I did keep it light, just a three mile run with the dogs, but it went well and didn’t knock me down for the day. Same thing on Monday. An easy three mile run and all felt well.

However, all this sickness and missed workouts puts me behind on my training plan for the SLO Marathon in April. I’m not worried about the speed, there’s plenty of time to get the benefit of that, but I’m a little concerned about both my long runs and my total weekly distance. I have to sit down and make a training update, and figure out how to get all the long runs I want, without trying to make too big a leap to get there.

On top of that, if I can just whine a little bit more, my schedule is filling up at work, which is a good thing, but it also makes it harder to get in the workouts that I’d planned. So, I will have to re-work my mid-week running plans too. Plus I picked up a class on Saturday, so that will bump my long run to Sunday. Yikes, I guess I just need to create a whole new plan. Good thing I have 13 weeks until the race!

So, as it stands, here are my goals for the upcoming week:

Monday: Easy three miles (got that one!)
Tuesday: Cross Training: Pilates Reformer
Wednesday: Five miles with a few fartlek bursts, just to see how everything is feeling.
Thursday: Cross Training: Pilates Reformer
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Five miles before work, Yoga class after.
Sunday: 10 miles (I feel like I need this to get back on track, but I’ll see how I feel and cut it back if I really need to.)

I won’t let these obstacles sidetrack me though. I plan to run strong on April 23, and I know I just need to keep my focus on that goal. All of these “problems” are just distractions tempting me to take my eyes off that final goal. I’m not going to let that happen.

What obstacles have you faced when trying to achieve a big goal? How did you overcome them?

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?

Honolulu Marathon, Blog School, and More!

I have a few (kind of random) things that I want to share with you. From the educational (Blog School), to the (for me) exciting (Honolulu Marathon), to the mundane (health insurance), I decided to just jam it all in one post.

Going Back to Blog School

Blog Genie’s Blog School is back and if you’re a blogger, you really should think about signing up. Rita Berry kicks off school season on February 2 with a free, three part “Road Map” to blogging.

Blog-School-Screenshot

The Blog School Traffic Roadmap, 3 part training is totally free and will give you the tools and strategy you need to start building your traffic, whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for years.

  • The 2 critical components you must get right before you build your traffic
  • Why promotion is the last thing you do to build your traffic and why most people try it first (and why they get frustrated)
  • The most valuable blogging exercise you’ll ever do, it’s what I still do every time I start a new blog or product
  • How to blog less for more traffic
  • Why the way we think about blog traffic is backwards and how correcting our mindset makes traffic so much easier to generate
  • The difference between high and low quality traffic and why you can create a better and more successful blog with less pageviews than you might think

I was a student in the first session of Blog School, so while this is affiliate link, I speak from experience that it is totally worth the investment.

Honolulu Marathon

In case you missed my Instagram post:

(I thought it was kind of cool that @HonoluluMarathon reposted this!)

Yes indeed, I signed Alan and myself up for the Honolulu Marathon! It seems like spur of the moment, but it really wasn’t. We’d hoped to go last year, but the stars did not align, so when a friend tagged me on a link to the early registration (only $55!), I took the plunge.

In case you didn’t know (or didn’t read the Instagram comment above), Honolulu was my first marathon. I wrote about it here. I’ve done the race six times, but I haven’t been back since 2003. Eleven years, but our plans will be the same. Fly over to Oahu on Friday before the race. After the race on Sunday, catch an island hopper over to Kauai, our favorite island, and spend four or five days in Hanalei. It’s a great place to relax after a marathon. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually want 2015 to fly by because the 2015 Honolulu Marathon is on December 13.

Medical Insurance

It sounds kind of silly to get so excited about something I took for granted while I was employed at my former job, but my new medical insurance starts on February 1! Yes, I have been uninsured since I was fired last summer. All that time, in spite of being really healthy, I’ve been worried about getting sick. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened (or won’t happen in the next 10 days, knock on wood). Thank you ObamaCare. Before my last job, I was denied affordable health insurance because I had a pre-existing condition: exercise induced asthma (I mean, come on, how ridiculous is that?). I will sleep much better now.

Fascial Stretch Therapy

I don’t talk about it very often, but I have been dealing with chronic lower back pain for several years now. I’ve tried a few things, including a chiropractor, stretching, and medication, but it has continued to be an issue for me. I’m sure some if has to do with what I’m doing right now, sitting here typing for a couple hours at a time. I think that finally I have found something that will make a difference.

Although Stretch to Win and Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) have been around over 20 years, most people haven’t heard of this undulating stretching technique that focuses on fascial continuities, rather than isolated muscles. Fascia is the connective tissue that that form sheets or bands beneath the skin to attach, stabilize, enclose, and separate muscles and other internal organs. FST is a special and specific technique that addresses the nervous system and joint capsules to help our muscles, which are surrounded by fascia, to function better, relieve pain, and correct minor structural issues of the body.

It is very popular at my fitness center right now, and I hope in the future to get certified myself, but last Saturday I became a true believer. We had a fitness event and I, sick as I was, manned the personal trainer booth, doing fitness and body composition assessments. We also had some lectures, vitamin B-12 shots, free chair massage, and other informational booths.

We also did free 10 minute FST sessions, which were the most popular item on the agenda. I finally had a chance to take a turn at the end of the event, and I got a little extra time (about 30 minutes). The therapist worked on my lower body, since that was my main issue. Afterwards I felt fine, but nothing super special. Of course at that point I just needed to go home and go to bed.

The next morning I woke up, and for the first time in months, maybe years, my back didn’t hurt. That was Sunday. Today is Wednesday and I am still pain free. As I said, I am a believer. FST is becoming popular among professional athletes as a way to correct imbalances in the body and improve athletic performance. I really suggest that if you have chronic pain that you look into FST. You can find certified therapists in your area here.

Have you ever tried (or heard of) Fascial Stretch Therapy? Want to join me in Honolulu on December 13?