The Start of Chicago Marathon Training

(Source: Etsy.com although it's no longer available. Womp womp.)

(Source: Etsy.com although it’s no longer available. Womp womp.)

I love the beginning of a new training cycle.

Similar to the first day of school, a new training cycle is filled with opportunity. There are goals on the line and the hope of success at the finish. There’s also room for mistakes, meaning plenty of opportunities to learn. Sometimes you don’t feel completely prepared at the start but to me that’s the beauty of training for a marathon. You can plan for everything but then the unexpected can happen.

Yesterday marked day one of training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon. While I feel prepared in the logistical sense – I have a training plan and goals – I’m not sure my fitness is where it should be at the start of marathon training. After my failure of a spring goal race in April, I took it easy (maybe a little too easy) and I think I got a little out of shape. I spent the winter and spring training for a just-out-of-reach half marathon time goal. While I felt overly prepared going into that training cycle, I lost sight of the smaller things like taking easy runs easy, not pushing the pace too much in workouts, remembering to stretch, and more. Forgetting those things during training turned my just-out-of-reach goal into a completely out of reach goal.

That’s not going to happen for Chicago. In Chicago, I know I’m going to reach my goal. I’m going to train hard but not overtrain. I’m going to stretch and listen to my body and not push myself when it’s telling me to take it easy. I’m going to challenge myself in workouts. Wake up early for long midweek mileage. Eat right. Get enough sleep. At least that’s the plan for now.

More than all of these plans and goals I want to have fun with this training cycle. Training through the summer can be miserable, hard and really test the dedication of even the most determined runner. But with my last training cycle I pushed myself too hard and began resenting (even hating, sometimes) running. I don’t want that this time around.

I love the beginning of a new training cycle because of the opportunity but also the unknown. Good luck to everyone training for Chicago!

{Monday Motivation} Love the Process

My running has been in a bit of a slump lately. If I’m being honest with myself, I think I’m out of shape. Since my bad race at the end of April, and the doctors appointments that followed (still trying to get that sorted out), I’ve had to take it easy. No speed workouts. No racing (although I did run our Heartbreak Hill Half which was a blast!). No pushing the pace whatsoever. I hate this! But with training for the Chicago Marathon starting in a week, now is not the time to push myself too hard and possibly get hurt.

During this “off” period though I’ve been able to get some other habits into place that I hope to continue with during Chicago training. I’ve been going to spin at least once a week and I’ve been running in the mornings. I’m learning to love my morning runs because it’s just so peaceful and the cooler weather doesn’t hurt. I’m loving spin because of the challenge it poses for me. I think I’ve needed these changes these past few weeks to get me more motivated to start training hard for Chicago. I know once I start my training plan I will be able to focus in and get inspired, but for now, I’m learning to love the process. Happy running this week!

LoveProcess

{Monday Motivation} Heartbeat

I saw this graphic on Pinterest and thought it was a good reminder for this week as I await results from the doctors to find out what caused my chest pain at the half marathon about a month ago. I keep stressing about whether or not the results will allow me to continue to run (fast), how I will react to the news, and what my life would look like if I couldn’t run. But none of that is important right now. Someone once told me, “Worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is just a waste of time.” And it’s true. So I’m going to relax and wait for the news but in the meantime I’m not going to worry, I’m going to just live.

Heartbeat

#RUNootd (Running Outfit of the Day)

OOTD_intro

My mom always told me, “If you think you look good, you’ll feel good.” I think this totally applies to running. If you look good, you’ll run well. I’m not ashamed to admit I put a little bit ok, a lot, of thought into what I wear on my runs every day. If my outfit is some old race t-shirt and those fluffy Nike running shorts from high school (you all know which kind I’m talking about) then I might not feel as good on my run. But if I have on some bright colors and a well-coordinated outfit, I usually feel fantastic. This might sound shallow to some people who just wear whatever is on top in their drawer but whatever, that’s your prerogative.

Lately though, I’ve noticed some followers on Instagram asking where a certain pair of shorts were from or what shoes I was wearing, so I decided, why not share this with you all? I’m trying to get #RUNootd (Run outfit of the day) going on Instagram/Twitter. This might already be a thing (is it? I don’t know) but I think it would be fun to share our running outfits. So, to kick off my first #RUNootd, I bring you this outfit I wore today.

May 26, 2014 #RUNootd.

May 26, 2014 #RUNootd.

Tank: Oiselle Flyte Tank in bright pink

Sports Bra: Nike Pro sports bra

Shorts: Under Armour Heat Gear ArmourVent Shorty 

Shoes: Hoka One One Clifton (sorry, these don’t hit retailers until Fall 2014!)

Socks: Swiftwick Vibe

Some comments on this #RUNootd:

  • The Oiselle Flyte Tank is the perfect summer running tank. It hugs close to the body without feeling too tight and lets in a lot of air. I think it’s perfect for days when it’s really warm out but not warm enough to warrant a sports-bra-only run.
  • I have been eying this Nike sports bra since we featured it in the magazine last year. I am obsessed with the speckled colors and finally brought myself to buy it this weekend at our local running store (which was having a 25% off sale on all apparel, what what??).
  • As I venture into the summer of the bootay shorts, I’ve been looking for a pair that are short but come down over my butt so they don’t ride up. I also wanted a pair that would “vent” well and not feel too hot. Oh, and I was in desperate need of bootay shorts with pockets. These shorts covered all of these bases (and I also got them for 25% off at the Run Inn!).

I’m going to try to make this whole #RUNootd thing an actual thing so it would be awesome if y’all joined in. Share your #RUNootd on instagram, tag me even if you want me to see (@HannahMcGold), and let’s share our awesome running outfits!

Goals for #ChiTown 2014

ChiTrainingPlan

Sub-4:00 training plan from runnersworld.com.

I feel like I’ve been thinking about a fall marathon since January. Actually, I know I have. It’s always funny to me that after finishing one race, I immediately start thinking about the next. It happened to me when I crossed the finish at my first marathon at Big Sur last year and it happened to me after Marine Corps in October.

But I needed a mental break from marathon training. I wanted to take the spring off to try to get faster by running half marathons and shorter distances. My plan almost worked and I definitely got faster, but more than that, my mental vacation was just what I needed to get excited about training for a marathon again. And, man, am I excited for Chicago!

Now, here I am, with about a month to go before training starts and I’m already setting my goals. It might seem a bit early but most of my goals for Chicago are more “habit changers” than race goals. I won’t really know my race goals until closer to October 12, but I do know there are some changes I want to make to the way I train this time around that need to be set in place before training even begins.

  1. Sub-4:00 – Ok, so here’s my one “race goal” so far. I want to cross the finish at Chicago with a 3:xx:xx on my watch. Right now I have no idea what the xx:xx part of that time is going to be, I just want to see a 3 at the beginning. My current PR is 4:07:06 which I set a Marine Corps (26 minutes faster than my first marathon) and I’ve made leaps and bounds in terms of fitness and speed since then so we’ll see what I can do in the next 20 weeks.
  2. Become a morning workout person – This is going to be crucial for training during the warm and humid summer months. I’m lucky enough to be able to run during lunch at work but during the summer a lunch run can feel more like a burden than a blessing. I’d like to try to run before work at least two times a week. This is not going to be easy because I relish the fact that I can sleep in until 7 a.m. but I need to make it happen.
  3. Stop doing so many doubles – In past training cycles I’ve broken up many of my workouts in an effort to get the miles in. For example, if my training plan says “Run 9 miles with 6×800″ I’ll probably run the 6×800 with a 1-mile warmup and cooldown during lunch and then finish up the mileage after work. This is ok every now and then but you really don’t get the benefits of the full workout. I mainly do this because I’m not speedy enough to run 9 miles during lunch but I’m hoping that by trying to get these runs done before work I’ll be able to get the whole workout in.
  4. Incorporate strength training at least three times a week – Over the winter I’ve gotten into the habit of adding more strength training into my weekly schedule. Before my races this spring I was doing IronStrength on Mondays and another strength workout on Fridays. I want to add in another mini strength workout on Wednesdays as well. Jess from Race Pace Jess made an awesome “mini workout” to add into an already packed training schedule so I’m going to try to do that.
  5. Nail down my nutrition – I need to take better note of what I’m eating pre-run and how I recover post-run. I am usually pretty good with my nutrition but I think I could get a little better and really figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
  6. Be able to run/wear these shorts in public and not be self-conscious about it.  – I have these bootay shorts and they are meant for running but I only ever wear them around my apartment. For some reason I’m self-conscious about wearing them in public or going running in them, which is silly. So, in training for #ChiTown I want to gain enough confidence to be able to rock the spandex on a run without stressing about my butt falling out. This is my silly-but-important goal.

What kind of goals do you like to set for marathon training? Tell me about ‘em in the comments below!

Making the Smart Decision (For Once)

Plan BI used to pride myself on having a high tolerance for pain. I’ve been lucky to have only a few minor running injuries in the two years since I started, like IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, some possible Plantar, but nothing major.

That is until three weeks ago when I started having chest pains 8 miles into my spring goal race. The pains passed, I was able to finish the race, but I missed my goal of setting a PR and none of my runs have felt the same since. My easy runs have felt harder than they should, and my race pace runs have felt really tough – I’ve been walking, a lot.

I would be kidding myself if I said I was in shape to hit my goal PR this weekend at the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’d also be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t scared those chest pains would return mid-race. The truth of the matter is I’ve been really disappointed in my running since the race three weeks ago and honestly I’ve lost some of that confidence I gained over the past few months of training.

I’m not 100 percent and I know if I decided to race at Brooklyn this weekend, my heart wouldn’t truly be in it (no pun intended). So I’m not going to run. It sucks. A part of me thinks taking the DNS (did not start) is the easy way out but a bigger part of me knows this is the smart decision, both physically and mentally.

I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled so I can figure out what’s up and hopefully get the all clear. I’m just going to take this time to refocus, try to get healthy, and regain some of that running confidence in time to start training for my fall goal – The Chicago Marathon.

Have you ever taken a DNS for a race? How did you deal with it?

Enough with Cat Calling Female Runners

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Yesterday, I was nearing the end of my final tempo mile along a busy-ish road near work when all of a sudden a massive tractor-trailer honked his horn at me… four times.

I was so startled from the noise of the honking, and the fact that I was in the middle of a very fast-for-me mile, that I stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of catching my breathe and calming down, I turned to the truck and flipped him the bird with not one, but both of my hands.

I know, bad behavior shouldn’t illicit more bad behavior but I’ve had enough. And I’m not the only one. This week alone, I have been honked at five times during a run by guys driving by. Scores of women runners, of all shapes and sizes, have had moments like this. You’re running along, minding your own business, when a dude driving by beeps his horn at you, and whistles out his window, or says some other obscenities.

It happens to me almost every time I go for a run by myself. It happens when I go out running with a friend. It even happened once when I was doing a hill workout with my boyfriend who was about a half-mile ahead of me. No matter the time of day, year, or what I’m wearing I get beeped or cat called at.

A writer over at Competitor wrote a story about this today, which prompted me to write my own. Another writer friend wrote a post about it for Philly.com and told me that after she published her piece she actually got HATE emails from men (and women too!) defending these actions. What the hell, people?

Besides it being annoying and interrupting my otherwise killer tempo run, I wondered, what did that disgusting trucker think he was going to get out of that? He wasn’t turning me on. I wasn’t flattered. I was pissed off.

Like the author of the Competitor piece, all I wanted to do was get my tempo miles done, cool down, and go back to the office for lunch. Instead my run was interrupted because some trucker decided I looked good enough during my run to honk at. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for the problem, and I don’t have much faith in the changing the men who tend to cat call, but we need to make it clear that it’s not a compliment and it’s not OK.

7 Lessons I’ve Learned from Training for a Time Goal

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

This winter/spring my focus was to train to run a half marathon PR. The PR didn’t happen (yet) because of a weird fluke but I have another half coming up next weekend. I’ve never really trained hard for a half (besides the first one I ever ran) but my main reason for training with a time goal in mind was to help capitalize on some of the speed I’ve been developing. I figured, if I try to train for a maybe-just-out-of-reach time goal, it will force me to get faster.

Well, I have definitely been getting faster but it hasn’t been easy – and it shouldn’t. I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more but I thought I would share a few of my lessons here.

  1. It’s important to take easy days easy. Doing 2-3 speed workouts a week means you NEED the easy days for recovery, so don’t push the pace- it’s a recipe for injury and exhaustion.
  2. Do the pre-hab. Foam roll. Stretch after running. Hydrate. Compress. Ice (if needed). Doing these seemingly menial tasks will add up in the end.
  3. Don’t ignore the little aches and pains. I’ve had a few minor injuries during this training cycle and instead of being stubborn and “sticking to the plan” I’ve backed off and traded easy days for recovery rides or workouts for an easy run.
  4. Be flexible. This is so, so, so important. I am a type A runner (and person) and like to follow a plan to the T. But you know what? Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you get those little aches and pains. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. But that’s OKAY. Be flexible and don’t fret about a missed run here and there.
  5. Strength train. This is something many of us runners forget. It also can be controversial since there’s one camp that believes strength training can hurt your running performance and another camp that thinks strength training can prevent you from getting hurt. I’m in the pro-strength training camp because I think stronger muscles, and varying your exercises, can make you a more dynamic athlete overall. Plus, we all love to have vanity abs, am I right?
  6. Mix it up and run with a group. I’ve been going on group runs with my local running store a lot more during this training cycle than I have in the past and I’ve been loving it. Running with different people helps to keep training interesting and it’s awesome to have the support of others.
  7. BUT, don’t be afraid to run alone. I’ve made the mistake this training cycle of sometimes running with speedier runners on days that were supposed to be easy and I get stuck in that medium-hard pace. Running alone sometimes helps me keep my pace in check.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Let me know!

{Race Recap} St. Luke’s Half Marathon

On Sunday, while running the St. Luke’s Half Marathon (one of my goal races this spring), I almost had my first DNF.

The week leading up to the half was a bit hectic but I woke up on race morning feeling really good despite being filled with pre-race nerves. My legs felt rested. I wasn’t sleepy or exhausted. I felt ready to go after a sub-1:50 finish at the race.

Prerace photo with Team St. Luke's. (Photo credit: St. Luke's University Health Network FB page)

Prerace photo with Team St. Luke’s. (Photo credit: St. Luke’s University Health Network FB page)

We got to the start in time to take a team picture with Team St. Luke’s (since Adam works at the hospital) and had enough time to see our friends, take care of all the prerace necessities and get into the corrals. I had decided I would run with the pacer to at least the halfway point to try to keep my pace controlled. I found him in the corral and was happy to see one of my coworkers (who went on to absolutely crush his previous PR) in the pace group too.

We were aiming to average 8:24/mile for the race. The first few miles were a little quicker but I was actually shocked at how good I felt. Everyone had been telling me all week that I would crush the 1:50 time goal but as always self-doubt sunk in. However, after we ticked off about 6 miles around 8:17/mile I was surprised to find that my legs still felt fresh.

Around 6.5 miles into the race, the pacer told us, if we were feeling good, now would be the time to pick it up to get closer to 1:45. I decided at this point to not necessarily pick up my pace but to try to keep the pace group behind me. Just stay ahead of them and keep at a comfortably hard pace.

I managed to do this until mile 8 when everything suddenly fell apart. My legs still felt great and my energy was up but all of a sudden I started to experience a sharp pain in my chest and tightness. My heart rate was racing and my breathing was becoming increasingly labored.

This had never happened to me before. I mean, in speed workouts I’ve had some difficulty breathing but I’ve always just assumed that was because I was pushing myself. Never had I experienced the tightness in my chest or sharp pains. I decided at this point to stop and walk a little to try to get my heart rate down. After walking about 10 meters or so I started running again but much slower.

I walked once more during this mile up a hill and saw mile 8 tick off at 9:42/mile. There goes my sub-1:50 I thought. A man wearing an orange shirt ran up behind me and tried to give me words of encouragement, “Come one, you’ve got this,” he said. So I tried to pick up the pace again and work the downhills to see if I could at least get close to my goal. Just after passing the man who was trying to cheer me on my heart rate jacked up again. I started to walk and a volunteer asked me if I was ok. I really, really wanted to quit at this point. I was fighting back tears when orange-shirt-man passed me again and I decided to take some water and just try to finish.

I don’t remember how many more times I walked the rest of the race but it was a lot. There are a lot of hills in the last miles of this course and I wasn’t prepared for them. I came up the final hill right before entering the high school stadium where you run about 200 meters around the track before finishing and I saw Adam there cheering me on but I’m pretty sure my face said it all.

Usually in races I can give a good final surge into the finish but I just didn’t have it in me on Sunday. I came through the finish in 1:53:32, met Adam, and just wanted to sit down and cry in the bleachers. I felt so defeated and pissed off that something so out of my control had ruined my race.

It wasn’t until later on that I really was able to put it into perspective. My dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, “a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is also the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes – it’s no joke. When I told my parents what happened they were pretty concerned. I haven’t gone to see a doctor yet but hopefully I don’t have my dad’s condition and it was just a fluke thing that happened.

Either way it was a scary experience and it made me realize that no matter how hard you train, sometimes the outcome is completely out of your control. I think I did the right thing on Sunday by reining it in but in all honesty it probably would have been smarter to take the DNF and get checked out at the medical tent immediately.

Besides my awful race, it was a great day overall. Adam ran the half (just six days after PRing in Boston!) and set a new half marathon PR. We also saw three of our friends run their first ever half marathon, which was really exciting. Other friends and coworkers set some really awesome PRs as well and I’m so happy for them! I’ll take another stab at running a sub-1:50 in three weeks at the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Hopefully it’ll go better!

Celebrating with friends postrace.

Celebrating with friends postrace.