Monday Mentionings: March 7

Hello March! Let’s jump right into my week.

Jazzy and Michelle have become quite the buds, after Michelle came back from her trip, Jasper was happy she was home, and even slept with her for a while Monday night.  So precious.

Photo Feb 29, 9 35 47 PM

My tattoo has healed up quite nicely, and I got to put my bracelets back on!

Photo Mar 02, 10 57 44 AM

Oh Jazzy.  I put some of his toys up that were all over the floor, so I could vacuum.  Once it was safe to come back out (he’s afraid of the vacuum), he laid by them.

Photo Mar 05, 5 41 46 PM

Wednesday and Thursday I had solo runs, because Amy was feeling under the weather. Wednesday’s run was more of a tempo, and I was super happy after finishing.  Plus, I was happy that it was still light out!! Thursday’s run was amazing, the longest run with no walking in quite some time.

Photo Mar 02, 6 22 00 PM

Friday night, I had some wine, some pizza, and some House of Cards.  The 4th season debuted on Friday, and so far I’m 4 episodes on (no spoilers please!!)  All I can say is OH. MY. GOSH.

Photo Mar 04, 6 09 13 PM

Jasper was pretty unimpressed with House of Cards, but he did play with his hedgehog quite a bit.

Photo Mar 06, 10 49 41 AM

Saturday was such a great day too.  I went to cycle class, then met Amy for a 4 mile run.  It felt so much like spring outside.  There were people walking and biking and running everywhere! The sun was so warm, there was a breeze, it was just fantastic.

Photo Mar 05, 10 56 26 AM

After the run, we played around with snapchat and face swapped a few times.  Because we are 12 years old.  We giggled like we were 12, anyway.

Photo Mar 05, 11 05 12 AM

Later on Saturday, Michelle and I went to Chipotle for some amazing burritos, then spent several hours on the balcony soaking up the sun.  Michelle got some organizing done, and I painted my toenails.  And we sat in the sun and just enjoyed life.

Photo Mar 05, 8 20 06 PM

Sunday morning, after running with Amy, I got groceries, including cat food.  Jasper decided it was time to eat the cat food, right now.

Photo Mar 06, 10 33 50 AM

Later on Sunday, I went to the bike store to see about getting my bike tuned up.  A couple hours later, I had traded in my old bike, bought this pretty girl, and was proudly and happily riding her home.  I’ve named her Aspen.  She’s really pretty.

Photo Mar 06, 4 36 54 PM

Michelle and I made some bomb spaghetti for dinner on Sunday night, then did some Walmarting and got a blizzard at DQ.  It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Photo Mar 06, 8 59 00 PM

I have a 5k coming up on Sunday, and THE TIME CHANGES ON SUNDAY!!!  I hope everyone has a fantastic week!


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

Image courtesy

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!

Successful Running Week

I’ve just finished week two of my half marathon training plan.  I’ve had two fantastic weeks of training, and I hope the next 20 weeks of training pass by just as successfully.

Monday, I was supposed to have a tempo run, but I knew the weather was going to get really cold and I wanted to have an easy run on the last nice day before the temperature plummeted.  My legs felt tired and heavy, but I pushed through and had a great run at dusk.  Notice my little green blinky light I clipped on my SPIbelt.  3.5 miles.

Photo Nov 10, 5 40 43 PMThe very next day, since I was off work for Veteran’s Day, I bought a headlamp.   I tested it out and played with it for a while, but ended up not needing it for my tempo run since I ran during the day.  The first half of the tempo run felt good, and it wasn’t really until I turned around to head back home that I realized I had a slight tail wind, and of course, that resulted in a headwind, a very cold North headwind, on the way home.  I struggled to maintain my pace for the tempo, and it ended up dropping about 8 seconds per mile, but I considered the run a win.  I didn’t stop, and I pushed as hard as I could, and ultimately I was happy with my performance.  4.1 miles.

Photo Nov 11, 2 35 02 PM

Wednesday night, it was COLD! My entire run was after dark, and it took about a mile to really warm up!  On the plus side, my headlamp and cold gear pants/shirt performed wonderfully.  I was lucky enough to win a pair of New Balance cold gear tights from attending a Ladies Night at my favorite running club, KC Running Co. a few weeks ago, and wore them for the first time this week.  I also had a cold gear top, an layered with a wind breaker, gloves, hat, and ear muffs.  I was a bit chilly for the first mile or so, but once I did warm up, it was a nice little run.  3.5 miles.

Photo Nov 12, 6 02 13 PM

Thursday night was KCRC Groupie Run night.  Last week and this week, I ran with a new friend at the Groupie Run, and the last two weeks, we’ve run farther than the supported distance of 3 miles.  It was very cold, and my new friend tried out some Mizuno cold weather gear, that she ended up liking. I chose not to try out the gear, because I had already bundled up and didn’t want to undress and redress before the run!  4.1 miles.

Photo Nov 13, 7 15 19 PM

Photo Nov 13, 9 27 31 PM

Friday was an off day, and I wore my Feetures compression sleeves all day long, and my calves really appreciated them.  I can tell I’ve been running more than I had been the last few weeks, but my body isn’t screaming at me to stop, it’s just getting used to the increased mileage.

Saturday, I decided to do my “long” run instead of doing it on Sunday.  At this point, early in my training plan, my “long run” is only about a mile or so longer than my ‘regular” runs… but it will eventually build up to 12 miles.  I debated with myself during the first half of the run on Saturday, trying to convince myself I should just do the long run so I could relax and do an easy run on Sunday.  It was cold out, and  snowing lightly, but there wasn’t much wind, and the roads weren’t slippery.  Once I warmed up (after a mile or so), it was a pretty nice run, and I was ultimately really glad I did the longer distance.  4.25 miles.

Photo Nov 15, 12 13 49 PM

Sunday, a nice easy recovery run.  I’ve run in the cold all week, and decided to run at the gym on the treadmill.  I also was washing clothes and all my cold gear was in the washer.  I think my lungs appreciated the warmer climate, and it was nice to not wear so many layers.  It was also nice to really sweat a lot… I sweat a lot no matter where I run, or when, or how far, but in the cold, I don’t sweat quite as much.  It did feel good to be dripping wet with sweat after a run, it was very cleansing.   3.55 miles.

Photo Nov 16, 4 51 21 PM

I ended the week strong, and hope my runs continue to be mentally and physically rewarding.  I know that winter, cold, dark running is mentally challenging, as well as physically, and I am thankful the first couple weeks of runs have felt so good.

I ended the week with 23 miles.  My highest mileage week ever has been 27.7 miles.  That was back in March, about five weeks before my first half marathon, at my “peak” for that cycle.  I’m only 5 miles short of my peak for that training cycle, and I feel very confident with the progress I’ve made since that first half marathon over six months ago.  I am confident that I can safely increase my mileage and confident that I can build to the point where I can successfully run 13.1 miles and reach my ultimate goal of not walking the Rock the Parkway half marathon.  I have 21 weeks yet to prepare, and if my first two weeks are any indication of how this training cycle will go, I will indeed ROCK the Rock the Parkway!

Can you tell the difference between training cycles? Do you feel stronger each cycle, constantly increasing your fitness?  How many miles do you run each week while training for a half marathon?