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?

A Day in the Life: Wife, Vegan, Dog-Mom, Runner, Trainer

Day 2_10

Today I’m linking with Katie and many other bloggers (see below for the link up) for a “Day in the Life” post!”  I love these posts. It’s like taking a little peek into the lives of the bloggers that I follow. I’ve done this before, but there have been some major changes in my life since then (like a job change for one).

I’ve been sick for ever a few days, and my days have revolved around sleeping, coughing, sitting in bed trying to make the time go by, well, you get the idea. I know you don’t want to hear more about that!  So I picked a day from last week when I was going about my regular business.

3:30 am The alarm goes off. Alan hops out of bed because he leaves to swim by 5:00. I hit the snooze button a couple times, but I’m up by 4:00.

4:00-4:30 am Coffee! Alan and I chat a bit, then I check email, read a few blogs, answer a couple comments.

Day 2_2

4:30-5:00 am Pet feeding time! With seven dogs and two indoor cats, this takes a while. We also try to fit in a short walk before Alan leaves to swim.

Day 2_5

5:00-5:30 am I get dressed and ready to run. It’s finally warmed up a bit, so I’m not dreading getting out before the sun. Still, I bundle up with tights, gloves, and headband, not to mention breaking out the Halobelt and Knuckle Lights. Then, while waiting for the sky to lighten just a little, I go back to reading blogs.

Day 2_1

5:30-6:30 am I get my run done in an hour today. It’s six miles with the middle four at my half marathon pace. Done!

6:30-7:30 am Shower, dress, eat. Then I make my morning smoothie to take with me to work. This is my new habit, now that I have my new Blendtec.

Day 2_7

7:30-8:00 am Drive to work. I keep my mind occupied by listening to an audiobook. Currently I’m listening to Voyager, the third book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

8:00-10:00 am I work with two personal training clients. My schedule is not full yet, since I’ve just been working for a couple months, but it’s getting there. My second client is only 45 minutes, so I have time to drink that smoothie that I brought with me.

10:00-11:00 am I have an hour break between clients, so I go to the yoga class at my gym. It’s a pretty easy class, but sometimes that’s just what I need.

11:00-12:00 pm I have one more client, then I’m done for the day! On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I also work some desk hours, but on Monday and Wednesday I’m done after my last client.

Day 2_4

12:00-12:30 pm I swing by Whole Foods to pick up some essentials. I don’t do all my shopping there because it’s pretty expensive, but they have a great variety of vegan and organic food, so I make a point to shop on my way home from work once a week or so.

12:30-1:00 pm The drive home, still listening to Voyager.

1:00-3:00 pm I get home, greet Alan and the dogs, which takes a while (if you have dogs, you understand). Then I grab a snack, since lunch is usually late. Then I’ll sit down and work on my blog post for a while. This week I have a couple of sponsored posts that are due and mostly written, so it’s a matter of proofreading and re-reading what I’ve written. One requires a draft, so I send that off.

3:00-4:00 pm Alan and I go to lunch together. Today (as most days), we go to Subway/Starbucks. He grabs the sandwiches, I grab the coffees, and we eat at Starbucks. After eating, I check my social media, comments, etc., until it’s time to head home.

Day 2_8

4:00-5:00 pm I take some time to sit, relax, talk to my husband, watch a little television, and try to keep my hands off my computer/iPad/phone.

5:00-6:00 pm I give into temptation and check out my social media and blog comments. I also check on my analytics a bit, so I know where I stand for the day. It doesn’t sound like much, but an hour just slips away.

6:00-7:00 pm I start dinner. Tonight I’m making one of my favorites, Risi Salad. As I cook, I enjoy a glass of wine, and turn on HGTV and watch my favorite real estate shows (that’s what’s left over from our “going to be real estate agents” phase).

Day 2_6

7:00-7:30 pm Dinner time.

7:30-9:00 pm This varies. If I have a post that I need to get published, I spend some time fine-tuning it, checking links and proofreading (again). I generally publish around 8:30 pm. If I don’t have a post, I’ll either edit some pictures, spend time on social media, or, sometimes, I might just plop myself in front of the television for the last hour or so of my day.

9:00 pm Bedtime. I usually read a little before lights out, but not for long, because I’m always pooped by the end of the day. And I need my rest if I’m going to get up and do this all over again tomorrow!

Day 2_9

Join the link up and let’s hear about your day! Be sure to visit a few other blogs to share the love!



5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 3

Run a 5k

Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 3

By the end of last week, you were running up to running two minute intervals, with walk breaks of only 30 seconds. Hurray for you! (Just getting started? Here’s week one.) Hopefully, you’ve been following the plan, resting when prescribed, icing, stretching, etc. Our goal for this week is to bring the running up to five minutes straight! Let’s get started.

Remember, you always want to start your workout with a warm up, and for now, it will be walking briskly for 8-10 minutes. And always take about five minutes at the end of the workout to cool down, nice easy walking is best.

Day One: You’re going to start with last week’s Day Five workout. After your warm-up, run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat five more times. Finish with your cool down. Do not skip the stretching and icing.

Day Two: Kind of a mixed bag workout. After your warm up, run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Now, run for three minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for three minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for three and a half minutes. Cool down. (If you feel like you need a little longer break after the longer intervals, please go ahead, but don’t walk for too long.)

Day Three: Still your rest day. Yoga, weights, etc. are okay.

Day Four: After your warm up, run for three minutes. Walk for one minute, then run for four minutes. Walk for 30 seconds, then run for three minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for four minutes. One minute walk, then a final three minute run. Cool down, stretch, ice.

Day Five: Complete rest today, we’ve got a big one tomorrow.

Day Six: After your warm up, run for four minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for five minutes. Walk for one minute. Repeat both intervals. Cool down, stretch ice.

Day Seven: Rest. You had a tough week, but look what you’ve accomplished! A total of 18 minutes of running with very little walking time. You can do some strength training, etc. but complete rest is okay, too.

Week three is complete! Congratulations. Next week, we’ll add another running day and increase those running intervals a little more.

Running Faster

CIFRefer 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 add one half mile to your run on one day of the week.

The Interval Workout: After your four lap warm up, run 800 meters at about your goal 5k pace (that’s two times around the track). Walk or jog for 200 meters. Repeat two more times. Finish with a cool down and a good stretch.

The Lactate Threshold Workout: This week we are doing this by time instead of mileage. Warm up for eight minutes. Run at a pace about 20 seconds slower than your goal 5k pace for five minutes. Jog for three minutes. Depending on your current mileage abilities, repeat once or twice more (don’t exceed the mileage of your “long run” day). Cool down for five more minutes and finish with a stretch.

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 the last post.

Keep up the good work! See you next week.

Reaching 2015 Goals with Help from Walmart Family Mobile

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappyNewMe #CollectiveBias

As I promised in my 2015 Running and Fitness Goals, this is a week of running. And writing about running. From how to stay healthy and uninjured, how to train, and now, how to stay motivated during marathon training.

Walmart Family Plan 6

Marathon training is pretty hard, especially when you’re, ahem, 57 and trying to set a high standard for your race. Day after day of running, increasing mileage, adding speed training, and of course, those beloved long runs of 18-22 miles. I better stop thinking about it before I really begin questioning myself!

Even though my husband is going to run the SLO Marathon with me, much of my training is on my own. When I’m out on the road I need a few things: safety, motivation, distraction, and diversion. Fortunately, Walmart Family Mobile and my new LG L90 Smartphone have me covered.

I recently headed to Walmart in Indio to sign up for Walmart Family Mobile and purchase my LG L90 Smartphone (I was looking specifically for that phone, so I had to go a little farther from home). I was happy that I did, as the Walmart in Indio is brand new, huge, and wasn’t very crowded. A perfect combination!

Walmart Family Plan 2

I was really happy to learn about the Walmart Family Mobile plan. For only $34.88 a month ($29.88 for additional lines) you get unlimited talk, text, and web, and 5GB of 3G data. With the skyrocketing cost of mobile phone plans, it is nice to know that here is a family-friendly, budget-friendly option available.

I purchased the LG L90 Smartphone. It has everything I can need in a smartphone, with an Android based system (running 4.4 KitKat for you techies out there). Since this phone is designated as my “Run Phone,” I immediately downloaded all the apps that I could think of that would help me reach my goals. This included music and audiobook apps, GPS tracking apps, running logs, and of course, Instagram and Twitter (still gotta share those milestones, right?).

Walmart Family Plan 3

Of course, since I love my social media, photos are important, and the LG L90 has a good camera.

Walmart Family Plan 7

I think the most important thing is that I have a good phone, with a strong 3G connection, that is convenient to carry with me while I’m running. You just never know when you will need to call for help and it really gives me a feeling of security to know I’m carrying this phone while I run. It fits easily in my Flipbelt or an armband, and is so light weight I barely notice that I’m carrying it.

Walmart Family Plan

I have it pulled out to show off the phone, but the LG L90 fits easily in the media pocket of my top.

We all need a little help with our goals from time to time. I love the motivation I get from this phone. It will help get me out the door, keep me safe and engaged while I’m out there, and record and track my training (and share it too!).

What motivates you to reach for your goals?

5 Reasons NOT to Postpone a Run. Plus My Training Plan

The weather has been really cold here in the desert. Yes, I know, when you hear California people say that you take it with a very large grain of salt, right? But seriously, lows in the 20s are cold no matter where you’re from, and especially so when you’re used to much warmer temperatures.

That chill has led me a couple times to postpone my run in the morning until it warmed up somewhat. Well, I think I’ve mentioned before that getting a late start makes me cranky, so when it happened again last Saturday, I composed this post in my head while I was running (the better to keep from snapping at my amazingly tolerant husband).

Training Plan

5 Reasons NOT to Postpone a Run

1. Now suddenly you’re too hot! If I head out the door as scheduled, I dress appropriately. Several layers, top and bottom, gloves, head cover, etc.  I have found, after some very cold early starts that I was perfectly dressed for the whole run. Comfortably warm. After postponing our early run and getting out around 9:30, it was still quite cold when we started, but within a mile I was too hot. At the one mile mark I shed my headband and top layer. At 1.5 miles I took off my gloves, and really wanted to take off one more top, but really didn’t want to carry my whole wardrobe around my waist. Fortunately I had been smart enough not to wear my warm up pants over my tights!
2. Running plans get changed. I’m training for the SLO Marathon (see my training plan below). I have goals for each run, and I really want to stick to the plan. The plan for last Saturday was a long run of about 9 miles, on the road. Getting a late start meant cutting it short, and because of that we headed out to the trails. We almost didn’t make it at all (so easy to say “skip it” when it gets later), but we compromised with a shorter run. But it makes me mad at myself.
3. It changes plans for the whole day. I love running early then getting on with my day. I do a lot of writing on the weekends (especially this past one when I had several deadlines coming up), so I like to get at. There are also errands to run, chores to take care of, all of which get bumped back or just don’t get done. That is one of the things that weighs on my mind when I’m running. Unimportant in the scheme of things, yes, but apparently enough to make me crabby.
4. Running late cancels out yoga. My Saturday yoga class is at 10. Running at 9:30…well, you do the math.
5. I pushed away my running partner. I was out there, but as I mentioned, I was grumpy. I try to keep it to myself, but my husband knows me very well. After a couple attempts to lighten my mood, Alan (wisely) gave up and let me stew in my own juices. We end up running separately, which is sad, because Saturday is our one day that we run together.
Training Plan 2
I realize that all of the above “problems” are minor little annoyances in the scheme of things. I’m trying to be a little amusing and ironic at my own expense because I let those problems get to me. So, the solution, from my point of view, is don’t postpone a run!

 

SLO Marathon Training Plan

Training Plan 3The plan still needs a little fine-tuning, but this is basically it. I didn’t include my yoga, Pilates, or any strength training, but they will be part of the plan as well.

Date Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Total Mileage
1/5-1/11/15 7.5 miles Rest 5 miles Half Marathon Pace (HMP) Rest Rest 10 miles 4 miles 26.5
1/12-1/18/15 6 miles Rest 5 miles Hills 3 miles Rest 12 miles 4 miles 30
1/19-1/26/15 7 miles Rest 6 miles Tempo (LT Pace) 3 miles Rest 13 miles 5 miles 34
1/27-2/1/15 7 miles Rest 5 miles VO2 3 miles Rest 15 miles 5 miles 35
2/2-2/8/15 6 miles Rest 5 miles Hills 3 miles Rest 6 miles PS Half 33.1
2/9-2/15/15 4 miles Rest 5 miles HMP 3 miles Rest 16 miles 6 miles 34
2/16-2/22/15 7 miles Rest 6 miles LT 3 miles Rest 16 miles 6 miles 38
2/23-3/1/15 8 miles Rest 5 miles Hills 3 miles Rest 18 miles 7 miles 41
3/2-3/8/15 8 miles Rest 6 miles HMP 3 miles Rest 6 miles Redlands Half 36.1
3/9-3/15/15 4 miles Rest 5 miles Hills 3miles Rest 20 miles 5 miles 37
3/16-3/22/15 8 miles Rest 6 miles MP 3 miles Rest 16 milesNeg Split Run 7 miles 39
3/23-3/29/15 8 miles Rest 6 miles Hills 3 miles Rest 20 miles 6 miles 43
3/30-4/5/15 8 miles Rest 6 miles HMP 3 miles Rest 22 miles 6 miles 45
4/6-4/12/15 8 miles Rest 6 miles Hills 3 miles Rest 15 milesNeg Split Run 5 miles 37
4/13-4/19/25 8 miles Rest 6 miles HMP 3 miles Rest 10 miles 5 miles 32
4/20-4/26/15 6 miles Rest 5 miles MP 3 miles Rest 2 miles SLO Marathon 16 + 26.2

So, here we go!

The SLO Marathon is on Sunday, April 26. If you’d like to join me you can save $10 by using the code WOODAMB at checkout.

Are you an early morning runner? What makes you cranky?