3 Treadmill Workouts I’m Loving

In the fall my boyfriend and I splurged and bought a treadmill for our apartment. It was the perfect addition to our at-home gym in our basement, which we now refer fondly to as “the thunder dungeon” (I did not come up with the name, obvi).

Neither of us are particularly in love with running on the treadmill – and given the option, I’d say we’d both prefer to run outdoors any day – but when the mornings are really dark, and temps drop below zero, it’s pretty sweet having the treadmill conveniently located in our own home. Also, I can run in just a sports bra and booty shorts and binge on as much terrible TV as I want, which I don’t mind!

Lately, as part of training for 5Ks, I’ve been doing a lot of speed workouts on the treadmill. I would much prefer to do most of these on the track but unfortunately the one public track we have access to doesn’t have lights and I can’t get there during the day. Womp, womp.

However, I have discovered some pretty good workouts to do on the treadmill that aren’t completely boring or borderline terrifying (I haven’t fallen off yet!). I usually start each workout with a solid 15 minutes of easy running to warm up – also, my basement is cold.

3×1-mile repeats

  • I know some people will scoff at this and say “How could you possibly do mile repeats on the dreadmill?!” Well, my mile repeats aren’t super fast paced so I don’t think I’m going to absolutely eat it.
  • To do the workout: Start off with 15 minutes of easy running for a warmup and then do your first mile. I’ve been running them at 5K pace + 30 seconds, so for me that’s a 7:30/pace. In between each repeat I recover for 800m (or a half mile) at a super easy pace before beginning the next repeat. I’ve been trying to do each mile slightly faster, but I really only increase the speed by one. Finish with a 10-minute cool down jog.

Fartlek – 5-6 x 3:00 at 5K pace

  • Fartleks are a great workout to do on the treadmill because they’re based off of time rather than distance.
  • To do the workout: Start with a 15-minute warmup then jack the speed up to 5K pace for 3:00. Follow each interval with 2:00 of recovery jogging. Repeat this 5-6 times (or more if you’re up for it!). Finish with a 10-minute cool down.

Progression Run 

  • If you do a progression run based on time rather than distance, they aren’t so bad on the treadmill (especially if you have sometime good to watch!).
  • To do the workout: Start with 30 minutes of easy running followed by 15 minutes at steady state and finish up with 5 minutes at 5K pace. My progression looked like this: 30 minutes at 8:49/mile, 15 minutes at 8:06/mile, 5 minutes at 7:14/mile. I finished with a 10-minute cool down.

Remember, these workouts work really well for me, but they might not be the best for you. If you want to try them go ahead, I think they’re fun! But be careful not to push too hard. You don’t want to end up like this:

(Source: giphy.com)

(Source: giphy.com)

Monday Motivation: Make It Count

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and were surrounded by those you love. I also hope your first miles of 2015 were blissful and strong. I ran 10 miles on January 1 to ring in the New Year and they couldn’t have gone smoother. As far as resolutions go, I haven’t set any concrete ones like “I want to set a xx:xx PR in 2015!” or “This will be the year I BQ!” While I think those kind of goals are great to have, I don’t know if they always work for me.

Instead, I have a few things I’d like to work on in terms of running this year.

  • Get stronger with more consistent strength training.
  • Get faster by doing more speed work.
  • Fall in love with running again (I’ve been working on this since my disappointing run in Chicago).
  • Run gadget-less more often.
  • Have fun!

That’s it! Nothing too crazy, just a few goals to keep me on track this year. What are your running goals for 2015?

Training During the Holidays

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I once read on this cool, little website called runnersworld.com (cough, my employer, cough) that to maintain fitness when you’re not in training you just need to run 30 minutes 2-3 times a week.

I kept telling myself this last week as I watched days go by during the holidays and I barely ran more than 5 miles at a time. I ran exactly one speed workout (6 miles with 3×1-mile at goal 5K pace, so nothing to scoff at!) and managed to fit in three other measly runs between the presents, the family time, the cookies, and the wine… all of the wine.

Instead of feeling guilty about missing a long run and consuming about a billion calories, I reminded myself of that nifty running tip from RW. Fitness doesn’t disappear after a week of reveling and enjoying yourself with your family during the holidays. In fact, sometimes breaks like I had last week help to restore your determination in training, whatever your goal might be.

Last week I made sure to check off my most important workout and I planned it so I’d run that workout before heading back to Massachusetts to see my family. Why did I do this? Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to drag myself away from a delicious breakfast with my family in our cozy New England home on Christmas Day to run 3×1-mile. I knew I would be up late, drinking wine, eating delicious foods, and enjoying the company of those I love. Missing out on moments like that to run a workout is not worth worrying about my fitness.

Your fitness will be fine during the holidays. Enjoy time with your family, friends, and loved ones, and worry about your training after New Years and the holidays are just really lovely recent memories. You can hit the roads as hard as all the other New Year’s resolution-ers do every year.

Happy holidays!

Monday Motivation: Stronger Each Day

Last week I hit a new 5K training milestone – I ran six days and 40 miles total. I’ve hit 40+ miles before but that was always when I was training for marathons, definitely never for a 5K. It was the first time I’ve ever run six days in a week. Usually I run five days a week with one cross-training day and one full rest day.

I’ve added in more speedwork and a lot more strength and now I’m starting to see the changes. I’m seeing more definition in my legs than I’ve ever seen before. I’m feeling better and faster on easy runs. And paces that I once thought were impossible for me are starting to become more and more possible. So far, my personal little #5Krevolution is turning out even better than I had hoped!

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

What Should My 5K Goal Be?

Photo from Shalane Flanagan's Back the Track 5K where I ran another 23:02.

Photo from Shalane Flanagan’s Back the Track 5K where I ran another 23:02.

The other day I went on a lunch run. I didn’t have an agenda. I thought I’d go out for a 5-ish-mile easy run.

During the first mile I settled in to an 8:30/mile pace. Lately, this has been my natural “easy” pace. (In truth, it’s probably a little faster than I should be running on easy days but it feels comfortable.) The route I decided to run was an out-and-back and was rather uneventful until mile four clicked off and I looked down at my watch and saw 7:57/mile.

I don’t typically run 7:xx/mile during an easy run and I most definitely don’t run it comfortably. At least that’s been the case until this lunch run. I felt totally comfortable and didn’t notice a change in effort or breathing. Then my fifth mile clicked off and my watch read 7:47.

So what’s the deal?

About a month ago I posted about how I wanted to focus on speed for the winter. I decided to hone in on training for 5Ks because I think it’s a manageable goal, especially once the weather gets really bad. To work on this I’ve been incorporating more speed work into my training week. I’ve been running at least one tempo and one interval run each week and now I’m starting to see the impact.

My only problem is I have no idea how to actually “train” for a fast 5K. Sure, when I started running I did a couch-to-5K program. I ran my first 5K in 28:07 in September of 2012 but then I immediately began climbing the race distance ladder instead of working on speed.

I had never really raced a 5K until a month ago when I decided to test my fitness to see where I should start. I ran a 23:02, a nearly 2-minute PR since my previous 5K. After that I decided my first goal should be to break 23:00 but then my next goal should be… I don’t know?

If I’m running high 7:xx/mile pace at the end of an easy run, I don’t know what a more realistic 5K goal should be. Maybe a 21:xx? All I know is I like this newfound speed and I like the challenge running fast presents to me. Sure running long is fun too but right now, at the risk of sounding super corny, I’ve got the need for speed.

I’m welcome to any suggestions about what you might think would be a good 5K time goal. Share your thoughts in the comments! :)

Back to the Basics

My speedy shoes!

My speedy shoes!

On Sunday I ran a 5K PR of 23:02, good enough for fourth female overall (I thought I was third since spectators near the finish said I was but oh well!), first in my age group, and I won a turkey! Best.Prize.Ever.

Anyway, this was a really small 5K and it was run in conjunction with a larger 10-miler that my boyfriend ran (he also set a PR). The 10-miler goes up and over a mountain in our town and I wanted no part in that. Instead, I registered for the 5K as a way to test my fitness and see what kind of shape my legs were in a month after Chicago.

I was pleasantly surprised to have set a 1:50 PR off of my last 5K which was in April. Like I said, I went into this race just looking to test my fitness, but really, I wanted to set a PR and I wanted to win a turkey.

But, I had some other motives as well. The night before the race I told my boyfriend “it would be really cool to go under 24 minutes.” I think he didn’t want me to get my hopes up too much because honestly, I haven’t been running too much since Chicago. I’ve done a couple speed workouts, two “long” runs, and a bunch of easy runs, but that’s about it.

I had a feeling I might have some speed left and welp, during the race it came out. It felt so good to be running a race, actually racing a race, and moving fast. I don’t think I’ve truly felt that in my running life in the two years I’ve been at it.

So I’ve decided to spend the winter chasing after that feeling. Getting turnover in my legs. Doing speed workouts. Pushing my limits.

I don’t have a time goal or target paces. I just want to get that feeling I had on Sunday.

My next race is on November 29 at Shalane Flanagan’s Back the Track 5K in Marblehead. We’ll see what happens next!

Race Recap: Chicago Marathon

What happened?

That’s the text I got from my family and friends who were tracking me at Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. It was my third marathon and I had trained to run a sub-4:00. Through the half, I was on pace to run a sub-3:55 which would have been a 12-minute PR. I was feeling great, strong, confident, until everything fell apart at mile 15.

So, what happened? Let’s start from the beginning with what went right pre-race.

Our flight was super easy and we lucked out by getting extra leg space!

Jackpot! So. Much. Room.

Jackpot! So. Much. Room.

I had a nice shakeout run with my boyfriend and his friend who was in town for the race too. We ran fast but it felt easy.

Striking a pose at the end of the Navy Pier.

Striking a pose at the end of the Navy Pier.

We took a free shuttle to the expo and spent about an hour there in an attempt to not walk around too much.

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We rested during most of the afternoon before going over to a friend’s apartment to cook our own, homemade pre-race pasta dinner.

Our beautiful view while cooking dinner at a friend's apartment.

Our beautiful view while cooking dinner at a friend’s apartment.

I got about 8+ hours of restful sleep and awoke on race morning feeling refreshed and ready to go.

We got to the race with plenty of time to spare, however, we didn’t realize how long it would take for 45,000 runners to get through security. By the time I checked my bag at gear check and got in the porta potty line (to pee!) I had about 10 minutes until the corrals closed. The lines weren’t moving at all so I decided it was probably just nervous pee and I could hold it, so I left the line and headed for my corral to find the 4:00 pacer.

Our throwaway game was on point.

Our throwaway game was on point.

I found the pacer but I didn’t get to line up as close to them as I would have liked. Then, they dropped their pacing signs and were nowhere to be seen for the rest of the race. That was frustrating because I’m used to pacers holding the sign for the whole race so they can be seen. That wasn’t the case in Chicago.

Chicago is a crowded race so I spent the first few miles trying to get around people to find some open space, but there really wasn’t any. Going into Sunday my plan was to run with the 4:00 pacer through the half and then, depending on how I felt, step it up a bit. Since I couldn’t find the pacer after the gun went off, that plan went out the window. Instead I tried to just run based on feel.

This worked but I was nervous when I kept seeing my miles click off at 8:35-8:54/mile. I thought this was too fast but I was really feeling good so I just decided to go with it.

Then I started to get excited. I knew a 3:55 marathon was a 8:58/mile pace so I knew I was well under that. I told myself to just keep running at a comfortable place, no speeding up, but no slowing down.

Still feeling good, and smiling, at this point.

Still feeling good, and smiling, at this point.

After hitting mile 10, the pee that didn’t happen at the start, began to make it’s presence known. I tried to ward it off but by the half I knew I was going to have to stop at the nearest porta potty to avoid cramping later on.

I didn’t see a porta potty until mile 15 and by that time I had to pee so bad I thought I was going to explode. I lost a whole two minutes just peeing (sorry for the TMI) and because porta potties are disgusting, I had to squat. The second I started running again I knew my race was gone, my legs immediately cramped up and remained cramped for the final 11.2 miles.

Pain. Face.

Pain. Face.

My left calf and hamstring felt like they had rolled up into a ball. It totally threw off my form and I felt so horrible the rest of the race. I don’t remember a lot from the last 11 miles. There was a lot of walking. Plenty of self-pity. I even thought about dropping out.

Somehow I managed to stick it out and by the time I crossed the finish I just wanted to sit down on the ground and cry. I felt so defeated.

When I talked to my dad after the race he was very congratulatory and told me, sometimes the marathons to be most proud of are not the PRs but the ones you finished, despite the conditions. He’s right. There’s only so much you can train for and prepare for when it comes to running marathons. Leading up to Chicago, I was in the best shape I’ve been in for a race. I trained in all conditions, mastered my nutrition, tested my gear, found the perfect shoes – I was as prepared as I could have been.

We all made it.

We all made it.

So what happened? I think I learned majorly big city races are not for me. Or, at least they’re not conducive to a PR for me. Had it not been so crowded at the start, I might have been able to use the bathroom before and instead of writing about what went wrong right now, I’d be writing about how I set a 12-minute PR.

But there are so many things that can happen in a marathon. Things that we can do wrong as runners and things that are completely out of our control. Each mile teaches us something and we can use those lessons for future marathons. Had you asked me at the finish if I’d ever run another marathon, I would have scoffed in your face. But today, four days after the race, I found myself Googling fall 2015 marathons.

Motivation for Chicago Marathoners

Here we are, week 16 of training for the Chicago Marathon. In less than a week 45,000 runners will toe that starting line of a 26.2 mile journey through the Windy City. We’ve all been checking the weather reports religiously (obsessively) for the past week and it seems as though the weather keeps changing as much as our emotions. We’re nervous, excited, anxious, determined, but most of all we’re ready. Ready to tackle those dream-big goals. Ready to see what these 16 weeks have made us become. Ready to see how strong we are. Ready to see how brave we are.

I know I won’t be the only one standing on that starting line with sweaty palms, forcing the self-doubt out of my mind – I know I’ll be joined by 44,999 other runners battling the same doubts. But we’ve done the training. The 5 a.m. wake-ups. The 90 degree training runs. The endless 800m repeats, long runs, and easy recovery runs. The work is done, now it’s time to see what we’re made of.

Inside

Life and Training Update!

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

It has been far too long since I last blogged here (even though, I think my mom is the only one to notice my absence) but I’ve just been so incredibly busy.

Between training for Chicago, work, moving into a new apartment (!), and life, I haven’t had time to blog much. But my time away from my blog made me realize how much I actually miss it. I like having this space to jot down my thoughts, however random and kind of useless they might be.

Recently, I looked back at a post I wrote right before Chicago training started. I made a list of goals I hoped to accomplish during training for my third marathon. So, as my first post in over a month (and with less than two weeks to go until Chicago, yikes!) I thought I’d see how I’ve done on those goals. Turns out, not too shabby!

  1. Sub-4:00 – … Stay tuned!
  2. Become a morning workout person – Check! It wasn’t easy at first but I now do the majority of my runs before work. I actually really love getting up at 5 a.m. and getting my run done. Who have I turned into? I thought this was going to be one of my hardest goals to accomplish but I have a feeling this one will stick long after Chicago is done.
  3. Stop doing so many doubles – This goal went hand-in-hand with the morning workout goal. My training plan for Chicago called for several mid-week 8, 9, and 10-milers, most of which included speedwork, and I knew splitting up these runs wouldn’t be as beneficial. In my last training cycle, I can recall doing at least one double a week. This time around I think I only did two during the entire training cycle!
  4. Incorporate strength training – I’ve been slacking on this one a bit lately but over the summer I lifted and did strength two-three times a week. Now, I’ve been doing more core and yoga but still trying to do these exercises twice or three times during the week.
  5. Nail down my nutrition – Check! My nutrition wasn’t bad to begin with but I don’t think I was eating enough. Now, I’ve added in a multi-vitamin and have focused on getting more protein into my diet and I’ve noticed an improvement in my recovery.
  6. Operation bootay-shorts – Check! This seemed really silly in the beginning but I honestly was extremely self-conscious to wear spandex shorts in public, like really self-conscious. But after weaning myself onto them, they are practically all I wear! In fact, I plan on running Chicago in these beauties because they have tons of pockets and don’t chafe, or ride up.

I can’t believe almost four months have flown by and it’s almost time to toe that starting line again. I’m excited, nervous, stressed, anxious, and elated to run 26.2 miles through the beautiful Windy City. My boyfriend and I will be spending a few days there (my first time in Chicago) so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know!

If you’re training for a marathon, how have you done on your training goals?

We All Want to be the Next Joanie

From the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with Desi Davila, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and my friend Beachy.

From the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with Desi Davila, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and my friend Beachy.

“We all want to be the next Joanie,” Shalane Flanagan admitted before a packed press conference room following the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Shalane sat next to her training partner, Kara Goucher, both trying, but failing, to hold back tears. Shalane had just thrown down a ruthless race (2:27:08) in an attempt to be the first American woman in years to win the Boston Marathon, only to be outkicked in the very end.

I sat in the second row at the presser and while trying to remain an impartial journalist, as a runner, a female runner, and a Bostonian at that, it was hard not to get emotional.

In 2014 Shalane wanted revenge and ran an even more relentlessly fierce race. Although she didn’t win, she set a PR and broke the American course record of by running a 2:22:02- nearly five minutes faster than 2013.

“I have a good friend, Joan Benoit Samuelson, who for years has told me to run my own race,” Flanagan said after the race.

I used to hear stories about Joanie when I was growing up. My dad was a marathoner and before I was born, my parents lived down the road from her in Watertown. I wasn’t a runner when my dad used to tell me these stories. I had never been really good at sports and I actually hated running, so at the time I didn’t care. But now, my perspective has completely shifted.

I had the pleasure of running with Joanie in 2013 at the Walt Disney World Marathon while I was there for work. She joined us on a quick shakeout run the day before the half marathon. I ran by her side for about a mile and although we didn’t talk much, it was completely surreal. Here I was running next to a legend and it was like we were out on a typical, every day run.

I thought about all of this on my run this morning. When my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I really didn’t want to get up. I had 6 miles, easy on the schedule as part of my Chicago Marathon training. My first mile was slow, a 9:38. Before I started to beat myself up about it, I found myself thinking about Joanie’s impact. Today marks 30 years since her Olympic Marathon win in 1984, the first women’s Olympic Marathon, and as Roger Robinson described the victory in a piece for Runner’s World today, it “was the perfect symbol for the final full acceptance of women’s running.”

As I thought about all of this I noticed my pace start to quicken – 8:46, 8:40, 8:34, 8:10.

I was about a mile out from my apartment when I decided to just give it my all at the end. I finished in front of my door step and clocked in a 7:31 mile – fast for me but two minutes off of Joanie’s Olympic Marathon pace. But I felt strong.

Joanie’s performance at the 1984 Olympic Marathon changed women’s running forever. It brought it into the mainstream and made it possible for people like Shalane and Kara to want to become the next American female marathoning star.

I know I’ll never be the next Joanie, but we all could be.