Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Kind of Town

Tomorrow I'm headed to Chicago for a few days to move PTW into his prison cell tiny Ikea-furnished apartment. I'm super pumped for a change of scenery and some new running trails, but am looking for suggestions of where to go. Anyone? Bueller?

Lakerson, I'm lookin' at you, girlfriend.

Monday, August 29, 2011

So Long Sweet Summer

While this song has very little do do with running other than the name itself, it's a lovely little anthem to the end of summer... which means, we should be much farther along in our training than we actually are. Though I should maybe definitely be panicking a bit more than I am, it's hard to stress too much with such a sweet melody ringing in my ear. 

Hope you all are enjoying your final days of summer!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Cross-training too hard

Hot_Sundae by kered173
In the final day of analyzing Coach Jenny's 6 Reasons for Low Energy Runs, I'm supposed to take a look at my cross-training, but I can tell you right now, this is not my problem (via Ask Coach Jenny):

Cross-training too hard. I'm an advocate for weaving in cross-training for a variety of reasons, but when you push too hard, it can affect your runs. For example, CrossFit is a great workout, but it is done at an extremely high intensity. The combination of your half-marathon training and very high intensity cross-training sessions can create energy lows. It's all about balancing training stress and recovery to reach the finish line successfully.

I'm working on amping up my cross-training (in fact, I'm headed to the gym just as soon as I finish this blog post); however, I've been B.A.D. about it thus far. I've found that it's hard enough to squeeze in the appropriate number of runs each week, and then when you add cross-training on top of that, I starting having a Jesse Spanno "There's no time. There's never any time!" breakdown.

I have no false illusions about how important cross-training is. Liv is always on top of her cross-training workouts, and I think it's a large part of why she is totally smoking me with this whole running thing. I took some time off from the gym, so that somewhat hindered my variety of cross-training workouts. And frankly, when I'm there now, I spend more time people watching than I do sweating. And I'm sure I could come up with plenty more excuses if I wasn't already so hungry and ready to knock out this workout so I can stuff my face afterward. 

So rather than bore you with reasons why "cross-training too hard" is most definitely NOT my issue, I'm off to do some people-watching cross training.  1-2-3 BEND! 1-2-3 STRETCH!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Sleep

As I'm nearing the end of analyzing Coach Jenny's 6 Reasons for Low Energy Runs, I've become increasingly aware of all of the mistakes I'm making. While I've certainly known that I'm not nearly as dedicated to the 26.2 as I should be, I'm realizing that I've been entirely too lenient, giving myself far too many undeserved pats on the back. 

Today, I'm taking a look at my sleeping habits and how they're affecting my training (via Ask Coach Jenny)...

Sleep. A vast number of studies are validating the importance of sleep for optimal life performance. It's even more important when you are pushing your body in training. American women's marathon record-holder Deena Kastor noted on her website after having her first child, "Gone are the days of 12 hours of sleep." When you push, you need quality sleep to recover. One of the best benefits of long runs is the permission to nap.

As much as I struggle to wake up in the morning, I typically catch plenty of shuteye each night. It's one of the perks about this stage in my life that I do not take for granted (and I have the utmost respect for all the parents I know that get by with little to no sleep). Even so, my sleeping habits aren't the healthiest. I almost always stay up too late and hardly ever wake up early enough to run in the morning (when I'm at my best). I think this is one of the more difficult habits to break because it's such a natural and subconscious habit. 

I'm starting a new job in just a couple of weeks and will have an entirely different routine (no commute!), so I think this will be a great opportunity to alter my sleep schedule. I'm hoping to force myself into bed at an earlier hour so I can wake up, knock out my run and scurry along to work (it sounds so easy in my head).

In the meantime, I'm currently enjoying two weeks of unemployment. So if I can't squeeze in plenty of shuteye right now, then I'm pretty sure I never will. 

How much are y'all sleeping? What makes you feel your best?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Fuel Replenishment

I already know that fuel replenishment is a huge problem for me, and it's more than likely a major part of why my mid-week runs simply aren't cutting it. Here's what Coach Jenny has to say (via Ask Coach Jenny)...

Fuel Replenishment. You are what you eat, and if you aren't fueling with enough calories after long runs, it can create an energy void. This is especially true when runners are trying to train for a race and lose weight at the same time. Keep a fuel log and track the calories going in and out to optimally balance your caloric energy. This will also help dial in the quality of fuel as well. I use a free log called because it allows you to evaluate your total energy expenditure (training, lifestyle, and what you need to breathe) with your caloric consumption. If you drop much below a 15% deficit it can reduce your metabolic efficiency and create a lot of problems including low energy. For example, if you burn 2800 calories but take in only 1600 during the day, this creates a 42% deficit in energy lost. This will negatively affect your body's ability to recovery from the demands of your workouts. (Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Fitday – I just believe it's a useful tool for runners.)

I feel certain that I'm putting in enough calories each day, but I'm probably not refueling with the best types of food. I'd much rather reward myself for a good workout with a delicious cupcake when I should really be slurping down a protein shake instead. Don't get me wrong, I've come a long way since my days of eating goldfish for dinner. I feel like I'm getting closer to eating like a real adult (with the exception of a few too many frozen pizza nights). But in the final days before this marathon, I could certainly afford to take nutrition more seriously. 

While I love the idea of using a tracking system like, I've never been very good at keeping daily logs. I have a graveyard of failed diaries with only one page completed where I vow to begin logging my every thought. So while I'm sure I'll give a try, I highly doubt that it's the best solution for me. I think I'll be better off paying more attention to what is going in my body and how it makes me feel. 

I made the HUGE mistake of not properly fueling [read: overindulging in red wine and ice cream] before my long run on Saturday and O.M. to the G... I've never felt closer to death in my life. I stopped three times for the loo, saw spots by mile 10 and zig-zagged all the way home until I finally plopped down next to a homeless man on a park bench, feeling entirely too exhausted to walk the final 100 yards to my apartment. It was a "learning moment" that I care not to repeat. 

So with 2 months until race day (whoa!), I'm going to take nutrition a lot more seriously. What do you guys eat after a long run to replenish energy? I gnawed on an apple and tried to eat a bagel, but quite honestly, everything felt like sandpaper in my mouth. And what do you eat before a long run? I haven't quite mastered the fine line between eating enough to avoid seeing spots, but not eating so much that my long run turns into a bathroom crawl. Ideas????

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Quantity and Progression of Long Runs

In day two of analyzing my lack of energy during mid-week runs, I'm looking into the quantity and progression of my long runs.

According to Coach Jenny (via Ask Coach Jenny),

  • Quantity of long runs.  A solid half-marathon training program should include a variety of ingredients. When too many long runs are performed on back-to-back weekends, it, too, can cause energy drain. The long run progression should build and cut back regularly throughout the season. The cutback week with a shorter long run is, in its own way, a rest from the demands of building mileage. Without it, your body can experience fatigue. However, this usually is expressed in a continuous low energy level.
  • Progression of long runs. If the progression of long-run mileage is too demanding, it can cause fatigue. It is vital to efficient recovery and adaptation (growth) to start from where you are in the beginning of the training plan and progress gradually from there. If you are jumping up by more than one to two miles, this may be your culprit. It is better to go into race day with a shorter long run under your belt than to progress too quickly and toe the line tired.

Though you couldn't exactly call me a devout follower of my marathon training plan, I've done okay with meeting my long runs. I've rarely done the correct long run on its corresponding week of training, but I always knock out the right amount of mileage overall - and if I cut a run short one weekend, I make up for it the next. I haven't done any super long runs* on back-to-back weekends, so it's highly unlikely that Quantity of Long Runs is causing me to feel depleted. 

*I'm calling anything over 10 miles "super long" right now. And yes, I'm fully aware that I have a loooooong way to go before 26.2

Now as for Progression of Long Runs, there's a good chance that this could have something to do with my low energy levels. While I am running the correct amount of days throughout the week, I'm not always running the right amount of time. With the chaos of summer, I quickly realized that I'll just have to do the best that I can with the time that I have and not overly stress about getting the exact number of miles and minutes required by my training calendar. So for the most part, as long as I'm able to get something in each day, I feel like I'm doing okay. As such, I sometimes just set out for my long runs with a lofty goal of running such and such # of miles, without really taking into account that I haven't run everything I should during the week prior. Basically, I'm relying too heavily on my long runs to make up for what I've missed during the week... and it's safe to say that my body is probably thinking "WTF is she doing to me??!" each and every weekend. 

So, it looks like I may be on to something here. Though the best solution in my case is to amp up my mid-week training, rather than scale back the progression of long runs because I still have a very long way to go. Enter the paradox - how do I increase mid-week training when I'm feeling so friggin' tired??

Monday, August 22, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Training Effort

In day one of analyzing my lack of energy during mid-week runs, I'm taking a gander at my overall training effort. Here's what Coach Jenny (via Ask Coach Jenny) had to say:

Training Effort.  Are you training by effort or pace? A common mistake is to train too fast or too hard which leads to a slower recovery process. This is especially true when training in the record heat this summer.  Invest in training at a truly easy, conversational effort for your long runs and let your pace be only the outcome.  Avoid worrying about pace, as the long run is all about teaching your body to run longer and stronger.  This is also the case when training during the week. If it is 85 degrees and humid, your normal running pace will feel much harder (more taxing). Train by your effort (how you feel), and you'll get in a quality workout, recover faster, and regain your energy.

Hmm. Admittedly, neither pace nor effort has been a huge concern of mine. I've been more focused on simply moving, and not necessarily the quality of each run. There are certainly times when I force myself to step it up and squeeze in a few sprints to awaken my muscles and ensure that I walk funny the next day, but for the most part, I stick to a "truly easy, conversational effort" with both my long and mid-week runs. I mostly DO "train by my effort" and how I feel, which is exactly why my mid-week runs are so sluggish... because I feel SLOOOOOW. 

Alas, I fear that Training Effort is most likely not the culprit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

6 Reasons for Low Energy Runs

I've been majorly dragging on my mid-week runs lately, and it has definitely bummed me out in a big way. It's frustrating to feel like I'm mostly sticking to the training plan but my feet just shuffle along like a 90-year old woman racing to the early bird special. 

A large part of it is no doubt the result of my absolute inability to run in the morning lately. Try as I might, my body is permanently glued to my bed this summer until the very last minute when I absolutely HAVE to get up and get ready for work. So my weekday runs have been pushed to after work, when the heat is at its worst and I'm completely and utterly brain dead. 

Coach Jenny just identified six variables that could be weighing me down in a recent post, so I'm going to spend this week analyzing each (one per day) to determine why my body can't seem to keep up. 

Six Reasons for Low Energy Runs (Via Ask Coach Jenny):

  1. Training effort
  2. Quantity of long runs
  3. Progression of long runs
  4. Fuel replenishment
  5. Sleep
  6. Cross-training too hard
Time to get to the bottom of this...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Enough's Enough

TGIF, folks. I'm just about EXTREMELY over this week and ready for the weekend. The both good and bad news from this week is that Liv + I will no longer be co-workers. I've decided it's time to change things up a bit on the ole career front and am starting a new job in a couple of weeks. It has been pretty darn amazing working with both my BFF and my bro for the past few years, but enough's enough and it's time to move on. More details to come, but until then, here's my ode to the weekend... 

Enough's enough,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Not Me, It's You

Not so very long ago, I was gushing like a school girl over yurbuds and how they changed my life - well, at least the part of my life that involves running with earphones. And then, my highly coveted yurbuds died an untimely death and I was left alone with nothing more than the sound of silence. 

[Insert cricket sound]

That didn't last long. After spending entirely too much time inside my own head, I decided to fork over the $$ and replace the ole yurbuds, because my first pair was truly remarkable. They never EVER slipped and the sound quality was superb, and frankly, that's about all I really care about when it comes to earphones. 

But as with most things in life, it simply hasn't been the same the second time around. I was so excited when my replacement pair arrived in the mail and couldn't wait to hit the pavement with some new tunes. Instead, I spent most of the time fidgeting with the earpiece and trying to find a way to get the dadgum things to stay in my ears. I thought maybe I just needed to give them a little time - break them in - and maybe they'd mold to my ears (which by the way, are not freakishly shaped in any way... at least I don't think... so if you're thinking that perhaps it's my own fault, well then you'd be wrong... I think). 

But several months and countless head-on collisions later (due to me looking down at the yurbuds, rather than straight ahead), I've just about given up on these suckers. Maybe I just got some duds this time. I really can't explain why I've had such a different experience with this second pair, but I simply can't give the same raving review I once did. 

We've had some good times together, yurbuds, but I think it's time to admit that we've grown apart. Things just aren't the same between you and me... and I think we both know whose fault that is. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

In case we weren't clear...

Have we mentioned how ridiculously awesome lululemon is? Yes? Only 5,000 times? Well, they are. And here's one of the gazillions of reasons why...

Yesterday, Liv, PTW and I attended a FREE session of hot yoga at Down Dog Yoga specifically offered to Marine Corp Marathoners - so it targeted the muscles that get particularly tight when running. The class itself was amaze balls, and I'm currently feeling the aftermath in a big way. By far the highlight of the class was listening to the constant stream of sweat dripping off PTW within the first 30 seconds of class - it was truly offensive. 

But I digress. After all of that hard work, a MCM organizer stood up to give us some insider tips on the upcoming race and offer some encouraging words. And then, one of our favorite gals from the lululemon run club  popped up and offered us a free pair of running shorts! That's right - I got to pick out THE running shorts I've been drooling over from summertime wish list

I was one happy and extremely sweaty gal. Gracias lulu!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walkin'... Runnin' for Miles

It's Friday for me (not to rub it in or anything), so here's a little musical delight from the Civil Wars for ya...