A Little Sunday Q and A

I’ve had some readers and friends ask me some questions lately, that I’d like to share.  I’ve never done a Q/A post before, but hopefully this won’t be my only one!  Feel free to email, Facebook, Tweet, or ask anything in person, and I’ll do my best to answer.  I am by no means a pro on running stuff, but I do like to research and learn more and more about different running related things, so I’m happy to share what I do know!

How do you keep track of your runs and workouts? I keep essentially 3 different records of my runs! I am a bit of a numbers and data freak, and like to know exactly what I did, with who, when, and how I felt.  I keep an old school paper planner record, which includes my mileage, pace, shoes I wore, how I felt, who I ran with, and anything else I may have done on that day, like a chiropractor appointment, yoga, weight lifting, etc.  It also has what the run was (tempo, speed night, long run, etc), and I keep all my races and times in this book as well.

Photo Sep 27, 2 49 07 PM

I keep a record on my phone with the Evernote app, which just has date, mileage, and who I ran with (KC Running Co, Amy, my mom, etc).  I keep track of my monthly mileage day by day, and have all my previous months’ runs and mileages in the same document on my phone/computer. Lastly, I am able to look at my run more in depth with my Garmin Connect app, where I can see my splits, cadence, elevation gains/losses, and heart rate, as well as my route.

Photo Sep 27, 3 07 17 PM Now, I do think it’s important to keep track of your runs or workouts, but it may not be necessary to keep as much data as I do.  Or maybe you want to keep more data! What you ate, what the weather was like, etc.  Sometimes I do note the weather, or if I felt especially bad or good, I jot that down too.  I know some people use specific running plan apps, or have their data in Garmin Connect or Map my Run, Nike, Run Keeper, or some other app.  I know others’ jot down mileage only on the calendar or in a planner.

The best advice I an give you is to keep track of your runs or workouts, one way or another.  Every once in a while I look back through my planner; I see the paces improving, the mileage increasing, and feel the progress in my hands.

Does speed work, speed training, hill work, or utilizing different types of running workouts help increase speed or endurance?  YES! A million times over, YES!  When I started running, I avoided hills at all cost, and I had one speed… run.  I didn’t run faster than I had to, and I often ran slower than I should have been.  As I’ve grown as a runner, I’ve used different training plans that utilize tempo runs, intervals, long runs, etc.

Since I’ve been attending group runs at KC Running Co, once a week we have a speed night. Sometimes we have intervals at the track, sometimes tempo or race pace runs, sometimes hill repeats, sometimes a timed mile or 5k trial.  Each week is different, and I can say with confidence that doing some sort of speed work once a week through the spring and summer has made me a faster runner.  I have PR’d my 5k and 10k, and I can tell my pace per mile is improving month by month.  The workouts are not always easy, in fact, they are often very hard, but with a plan laid out, and with my fellow runners at KCRC there to encourage and push me, I know for a fact that I am faster than I was before I consistently included speed work.

Photo courtesy of KC Running Co.

Photo courtesy of KC Running Co.

I highly recommend adding speed work into your weekly run schedules, even if it is one day per week doing some farleks or adding in a 20 minute tempo or a few strides in a run.  If speed is still scary, try adding in a few hill repeats.  Hill repeats are hard work… try to keep a consistent pace up the hills, and once you get to the top, run around a bit and then jog back down the hill, and repeat that 3-4, 6-8, 10-12 times, whatever you can.  Hills are hard, and they are kind of speed work in disguise.

How do I start running?  This is one of those questions that is so hard to answer.  How do you start doing anything? You have to make it a priority, and start slowly.  You can’t expect to go out and run 5 miles on your first day after never running before.  Personally, I used the Couch to 5k app almost 4 years ago.  There are several different apps that you can use on your phone; the app instructs you to walk, run, etc, in specific intervals.  I found success in this method, because previously when   I would “try to run,” I would go out and run until I was tired, walk until I was recovered, and repeat.  Well, I could run a while (3-4 minutes was a while back then), but I would walk quite a bit, and then when I tried to run again, I was stiff and I found that when I was stiff and it was hard to breathe, I would simply give up.

The Couch to 5k app (or similar) starts you off slowly, walking to warm up, and generally running 1-2 minutes to start, with walking about 1-2 minutes to recover.  It then builds you up slowly, over 8-12 weeks, adding in more running and less walking, until you can run for 30-40 minutes straight.  I repeated some of the weeks more than once, because I didn’t feel confident to move on to the next level.  The app generally has you run 3-4 times per week, but can be tailored to even 2-3 times per week.  I was successful with Couch to 5k, because once I could run 30-40 minutes, I’d signed up and completed a few 5k races, learned a lot more about running, and was able to build up further without the app.

Image courtesy memegenerator.com

Image courtesy memegenerator.com

I’ve heard people also having success by picking a 2-3 mile route or loop, and walking the loop/route 3-4-5 times per week, and slowly starting to incorporate running for a block or street sign to street sign, etc, until they are slowly able to build up to running the entire thing.  Then they pick a 4-5 mile route or loop, and build up to running all of that, then build up more, etc.  Personally, I don’t know if this would have worked for me; I liked the feedback, verbally, from the app, telling me exactly when to walk and when to run.

No matter how you decide to “start to run,” you need to understand it will take a while.  You didn’t learn how to ride a bike, or swim, or drive a car in one day, and you won’t “learn” to run in one day.  It takes time, commitment, and desire, just like anything else.  My advice is to keep with it, don’t get discouraged –  you will have bad days when it feels like you can’t run for 30 seconds.  I have these days, even now, when every step of my first mile feels like a struggle.  But if you keep with it, and run through it, you will advance.  (Another reason to keep a training journal or log, you can look back and SEE the progress, even if you can’t feel it!)

I’d better wrap up this post, because it’s getting quite long.  PLEASE feel free to send questions if you have them, and I will try my best to answer!

Monday Mentionings: August 24

This past week, well, mostly the weekend, was a busy one! I’m going to share a bunch of pictures, and just give a sentence or two to explain each.

Last Monday evening I had a great run and weightlifting session after a visit with the chiropractor.Photo Aug 17, 8 06 59 PMTuesday ended with a 4+ mile killer track workout, followed by a killer rain shower 10 seconds after we finished our run.  Love running with these people.11944888_10100324630645153_1457556465_nThursday was a beautiful evening for a run, again, with some of my favorite people to run with.  Also, I’ve mastered the mid-run group selfie, and I’m pretty proud of my skillz.11903575_10100324630570303_1999578238_n11949714_10100324630650143_1024623076_nThursday night I picked Thayne and Kristen up from the airport, and our first stop was Oklahoma Joe’s for some delicious BBQ.  Thayne texted me countdowns for several days leading up to this meal.11896892_10100324630605233_2067075220_nFriday morning, Kristen and I got up WAY too early, in order to run with Amy before we went to Hays.  I’m sad it’s staying dark later, but we had to utilize my trusty headlamp for our 3 miles at 5:15am.11923072_10100324630580283_690683337_nI drank too much water before and after our run, and had to stop and pee twice on the way home.  Had to take a #reststopselfie with Kristen.11920358_10100324630565313_1174308725_nGot a pedicure with Mom and Kristen shortly after we got to Hays.11942244_10100324630585273_136296171_nHad to hug Shay puppy for several minutes before she stopped crying.  I miss Shay puppy every day.11940225_10100324630595253_1041028770_nPhoto Aug 21, 5 18 56 PMWe went to visit Grandma and Granddad, and meet their new baby boy, Tiger.  Side note, how fitting and adorable is it that his name was Tiger before they adopted him?  Granddad now has a kitty, and the kitty now has his Granddad.11948013_10100324630635173_2002480191_nFriday night, Mom gave us our new Sparkle visors, and we wore our matching Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas shirts and tried to take a picture to commemorate our little Vegas adventure. Kristen makes it impossible to take a picture.  We have signed up for the 5k and the Half Marathon in Vegas, which should make for a super fun long weekend in Vegas, while we “Run the Strip at Night!”11910861_10100324630625193_607930741_nOh, Gordon.  Such a dapper young man.11909801_10100324630610223_1038741301_nSaturday morning, we had a fun little run.11897204_10100324630640163_1789497653_nAva and I enjoyed our snowballs and some playground time while we watched Thayne play in the Hays High Alumni soccer game.11938192_10100324630545353_211207791_nPhoto Aug 22, 10 58 16 AMFollowed the game with a Q burger.11944645_10100324630555333_969639176_n-2Finally got to see Jasmine and get a Bubble Tea; I’ve missed her the last few visits to Hays.11923399_10100324630620203_1103244265_nSpent some more time with Grandma, Granddad, and Tiiger.11910671_10100324630590263_1719557987_nSunday morning, Mom and I ran a few miles.  Another perfect mid-run selfie.  It was actually pretty chilly this morning, it was gorgeous outside after the cold front came through Saturday night.11911432_10100324630600243_593421049_nGot the last mile done with Shay by our sides.  I love this pup. (awesome photo courtesy of Momma)11933046_10100324630575293_283786346_nPUPPY!Photo Aug 23, 10 15 21 AMIt’s always sad to leave home.11920357_10100324630630183_487903455_n11920287_10100324630655133_1029758478_nRealized that we never took any pictures with Dad.  He took pictures of us in our Vegas shirts and before we ran on Saturday, but we didn’t get any with him IN them.  So a Dillon’s photo shoot happened before we left town.11896972_10100324630550343_476935994_n-2Thayne was sleepy on the way back to KC Sunday afternoon.11911832_10100324630560323_1112326883_n-2I got back to my apartment just in time to watch the Royals come back and beat the Red Sox in the 9th inning.  Yay baseball!  It was an exciting last inning.  Jasper could hardly contain his excitement. He was happy to get some dinner and cuddles.  I missed him while I was gone for the weekend.  THANK YOU to Amy for checking in on him.Photo Aug 23, 6 55 07 PMAll in all, last week was a great week.  My heart is full after lots of family time, friend time, and some quality runs. I am currently at 79 miles for August, so I’m right on track to hit 100 or more by the end of the month.  Next weekend is the Dot to Dot 10k, which is the first 10k of the Heartland 30k series.

Have a great week, friends!