Week 9: Half-marathon training update

I’ve never appreciated these beauties more than after my runs!

First off I want to apologize for the tardiness of this post! I was on a mini vacation this weekend and work has been crazy busy since I’ve been back so I didn’t get to post about last week’s training. If you read any of my posts last week you know I tweaked my knee during a race on July 28 so last week was kind of a dud training-wise.

I knew I had hurt my knee the minute I started feeling the pain. While I’m still not completely sure what I hurt, it felt like an IT band syndrome flare up. So, in an effort to avoid hurting myself even more I decided to take a break from training for a few days and focus on strengthening and cross training.

Most of my week consisted of cross-training, yoga and strengthening exercises. However, after resting for a few days I decided to try an easy run with my knee on Tuesday. Bad, BAD idea. I wasn’t two minutes into the run when I felt the sharp pain in the outer side of my right knee. I stopped after only a mile, feeling defeated, upset and  kind of concerned. I abandoned the run and turned to some strengthening exercises instead.

I took another few days off, making sure to ice my knee every day and stretch a lot. I focused on doing yoga for runners from Lululemon and other strengthening exercises. On Friday, I decided to try running again because I thought my knee was feeling a little better. I was on vacation in Maine and decided to take a 3-mile run along the beach, staying on the sidewalk. My knee was still sore but I was able to make it through the run, stopping halfway to stretch. I knew this was a good sign and that my knee was starting to heal.

After my run I did some yoga outside which was really good because I was able to stretch out my IT band. Saturday, after watching the women’s Olympic marathon, I was motivated to get out on the road again. I decided to do a longer, easy run that circled a 5.5-mile loop on the road, a gravel trail and a natural trail. This was really great on my knee because incorporating the trails lessoned the impact on my knee.

I felt really great on this run, especially towards the end when I really got my stride back and felt like I was just coasting. I wrote about it in another post but I think this injury has helped me to appreciate the gift of running. Having to take a few days off killed me but once I got back on the road I was able to cherish every stride. I also am lucky to be able to go running in beautiful places and I was able to enjoy my surroundings and really take it all in. I think sometimes us runners take our gift for granted. But having to be out of running commission for a little bit I was able to really appreciate every step I took. And I’m sooo happy to be back on the road! Happy running!

Water debate for long runs: hydration belt v. handheld water bottle

  1. FitHappyGirl
    Hydration belt or no hydration belt? How do you stay hydrated on long runs? #runchat
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 14:43:06
  2. oiselle
    “Hydration belt or no hydration belt? How do you stay hydrated on long runs? #runchat” @FitHappyGirl
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:00:26
  3. ashleychandra_
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl Water belt for the win! Makes you look hardcore (YES!) and feel hydrated at the same time! #winning
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:04:35
  4. ultimatestamina
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl I use a small hand-held to stay hydrated on longer runs #runchat
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:09:55
  5. rfaura
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl I must use the larger Amphipod in the Florida heat and humidity!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:18:51
  6. bleung
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl Hydration vest with Nuun in my water! I don’t like the belt but haven’t tried hand water bottle yet!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:22:05
  7. bleung
    @FitHappyGirl I love it! I get the lemon lime flavor. Sometimes I overhydrate and forget Nuun, I end up w/muscle cramps! Nuun prevents that!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:28:03
  8. SarahChan
    @bleung @oiselle @fithappygirl def Nathan hydration vest with Nuun. Worked for my half on Sunday. Also big fan of handheld for short runs!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:50:47
  9. azrunparents
    @oiselle @fithappygirl I used to use a belt but now prefer a small hand held.
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 15:52:10
  10. enduroTwerd
    @oiselle @fithappygirl no hydration belt! Handheld or water fountains or stashed water bottles.
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 16:11:41
  11. mrshallberg
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl love amphipod handheld – but don’t go more than 13miles, I’d think a belt would be in order for longer runs #runchat
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 16:17:11
  12. RoadBunner
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl Nathan handheld 99% of the time.
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 17:39:42
  13. TriCoachDawn
    @oiselle @FitHappyGirl Belt for anything longer than 10 miles. Will carry a bottle for 1-2 hours or if it’s hot. #stayhydrated
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 17:57:51
  14. SolanaLeigh
    @oiselle @fithappygirl if its over 16 km I wear my belt, or I base my route around water stations on the Vancouver seawall!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 18:51:46
  15. SolanaLeigh
    @oiselle @fithappygirl shorter runs I run with a handheld, I have both amphipod and Nathan bottles, both are great!!
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 18:52:53
  16. paulettezf
    Water bottle with hand strap or public fountains, don’t like anything on my waist. RT @ap10k: @oiselle @FitHappyGirl #runchat
    Tue, Jul 17 2012 21:00:12
  17. oiselle
    @FitHappyGirl Handheld may be the way to go, lots of positive feedback. We like it!
    Wed, Jul 18 2012 08:58:08
  18. azrunparents
    @FitHappyGirl handheld feels like it is weighing me down a little less. I didn’t like the way the water bounced around on the belt.
    Wed, Jul 18 2012 09:08:29

Week 6: Half-marathon update

It’s a lifestyle. Train like there’s no finish line. (via Pinterest)

Another week has flown by in training and for the most part it was pretty great. I say for the most part because my long run was definitely not my best but I’ll get to that later. Week six started on Monday and according to my training program it was a rest day so I decided to do some strength training for my core and arms. I did a 25-minute ab workout On Demand that kicked my butt! I couldn’t believe it because I consider myself to have pretty strong abs but I was sore for at least three days (but I kinda liked it). I also did some arm exercises which I’m hoping to post soon.

Tuesday I went to the gym to do a quick 4-mile run and more strength-training. I was so excited to have my sister come along as my gym buddy! She has always been an athlete but said I’ve inspired her to workout more which I was really happy about. After my run (and her cycling) we did some floor exercises to strengthen our quads and some more arm and ab workouts.

Wednesday I went into Boston to a track near Fenway to do an interval workout with my cousin. We ran nearly two miles to the track and then did 4×400-meter sprints with a cool down run. It was a pretty great run besides the heat which was a killer. I am definitely noticing a difference in my mile times because of the tempo runs. If you haven’t started doing them I’d really suggest you start because you’ll notice a HUGE difference in your times. Check out a post I wrote a awhile back about how to run a tempo run with variations if you need some tips!

Beautiful view of Boston from the track!

I woke up early on Thursday morning to do a quick 3 miles run at 6:30 a.m. and it went pretty well. I ran it in 24:51 which was a good time for me and I felt great. My average pace was 8:34 per mile which is a great pace for the half-marathon if I can maintain it for 13.1 miles.

Friday was a rest day so I decided to wake up early still and do a power yoga session on Lululemon’s YouTube channel. It felt great to do the stretches and hold the poses after running the three days before. I have also found yoga to be helpful in my breathing while running.

Saturday I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to go for my long run for the week. According to my training program I only had to run 8 miles, which, compared to last week, felt like it would be nothing. However, the temperature at 8:15 a.m. was already in the low 80s and so humid so I was relegated to doing my run on the treadmill at the gym. Basically, everything that could go wrong went wrong. My headphones got tangled in my necklace causing me to stop to get it all untangled. My knee didn’t feel great the whole time so I took it easy. Most of all I just didn’t feel good at all, my stomach was acting up and it was just terrible. I made it to 8 miles which is all that matters but I was pretty disappointed with the run.

Sunday was another rest day but I decided to do a recovery yoga session on Lululemon’s YouTube channel. This was really good because my legs were still pretty tight from the day before. Also, all week I’ve stuck to my Plank A Day Challenge which has been great!

Although my long run for this week didn’t go as planned I think the rest of my week went pretty well. I’ve been lucky to not have any hiccups in my training so far (knock on wood) so one bad run isn’t a big deal. I’ve decided to fuel my disappointment in that run to getting better this week and I’m taking that energy to prepare myself for a 12-mile run on Saturday. I hope everyone else’s training is going well so far. Keep me updated and run happy!

Week 5: Half-marathon update

A very rain-soaked road race on the 4th of July!

This week was yet again another amazing week of training. I ran my first official road race and my longest run yet! I logged just about 19 miles this week- same total as last week, different way of adding it up.

Monday night I did a tempo run at the local track. Instead of doing my normal tempo run, I used “run interval” mode on the Run Keeper app on my iPhone. It had me run a total of 2 miles with 400-meter sprints mixed with slow running. It went really well and I ran my fastest pace at 7:32/mile.

I rested on Tuesday and did some yoga in the morning to stretch. On Wednesday, I ran my very first road race. I know this is kind of weird because I’ve been blogging about running since March but this was my very first race. It was so great (besides the fact that it was pouring)! I finished the 4-miler in 37:16 with an average pace of 9:20 which I was pretty pleased with, given the conditions.

I gave myself a total rest day on Thursday and then ran an early morning run on Friday. I wanted to test my speed especially after the race so I decided to do a 2.5-mile run around my neighborhood. I was SO excited when I came back and checked Run Keeper to see that I ran my first mile in 6:30. That was the fastest mile I have EVER run! I was so excited to see how much my work has really paid off! The one criticism I have of this run is I wish I could have done a negative split, that is running faster in the last half of the run than the first. I’m going to try to work on that in the next few weeks.

2.5 miles- average pace- 8:27, fastest pace- 6:30

Saturday was my long run day, a full 10 miles. This is the longest I have ever ran and I have to say it was my most fulfilling run yet! I ran a total of 10.26 miles in York, Maine with my cousin Paige who is also training for the half-marathon with me. Our route was pretty hilly but we were unafraid, I was even really, really excited!

Map of the 10.26 mile route.

The run was fantastic! We decided to go at an easy, what I like to call “conversational” pace. This means while running, you’re able to hold a conversation with someone without getting winded. We thought we were going pretty slow but turns out our average pace was 8:41/mile, a faster average pace than I had ever done. We finished the run in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 3 seconds. The craziest part was our fastest pace was 4:51/mile! What!?!? When I looked at the breakdown, mile by mile of our run, I couldn’t believe how well we did. We peaked at mile 8, when we ran it in 6:36 and ran our fastest pace of 4:51. In total, almost all of our miles were sub-9:00 besides the 6th mile where we had our steepest incline.

10.26 mile run: average pace- 8:41, fastest pace- 4:51.

After this week’s training I am a full believer in the biggest you can dream, you can make it happen. Four months ago I could barely run a mile without feeling like I was going to fall over and die. Now, I feel like I can go forever and I’m just getting faster. More than anything, it makes me so happy. I hope everyone else had a good week of training. Happy running!

Tweets for #13.1 miles

  1. THE COLOR RUN – Be a Color Runner
    Fri, May 11 2012 06:59:17
  2. FitHappyGirl
    “It always seems impossible until it’s done” #13.1 #running #reasonstorun
    Sun, Jul 01 2012 15:13:30
  3. authorjimlynch
    “Running isn’t about winning or losing, it’s neither about glory or achievement, it’s all about not quitting.” Ben Vachon #runchat
    Mon, Jun 25 2012 14:02:09
  4. BrentJBoersma
    just noticed i’m on pace for 1,000 miles running this year… but barely! 502.7 for 1st half of 2012. ;-) #runchat
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 12:59:01
  5. theloveofkale
    When you start to focus on something you perceive as a flaw, turn it into a positive. That is how others see you. #FitFluential #truth
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 05:20:11
  6. onerunatatime
    RT @GirlRucki: My life changed when I stopped thinking “I could never be that lucky” & started thinking “of course I can be that successful.” #FitFluential
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 13:31:41
  7. MilePosts
    Week 1 of marathon training. 16 solo miles meant 35 were #doublestroller or #triplestroller miles :) http://www.mile-posts.com/2012/07/02/week-1-marathon-training-i-need-your-help/ #findyourstrong
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 12:13:21
  8. ericasara
    Just hit 2 miles & it’s painfully hot. I deserve a quick sunset break, right? http://instagr.am/p/Mjs4WGIGww/
    Sun, Jul 01 2012 17:09:49
  9. RunningQuotes
    “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” via @AffirmationSpot #run
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 13:31:14
  10. RunningQuotes
    Not every race is perfect, not every run is perfect. Getting out there, is perfect
    Sun, Jul 01 2012 19:28:01
  11. chicrunner
    If I’m running four miles tomorrow morning, this should make eating macaroni and cheese for dinner as a “carbo load” okay tonight…
    Wed, Jun 27 2012 17:30:59
  12. Shape_Magazine
    RT @fithappygirl: this weekend I ran 9 miles without stopping as part of training for my first half-marathon #success
    Mon, Jul 02 2012 09:10:12
  13. authorjimlynch
    “Every day is a good day when you run.” -Kevin Nelson #runchat #running #marathoner #marathontraining #fitfluential
    Thu, Jun 28 2012 06:25:32

Week 4: Half-marathon update

This week was extremely successful in terms of my training. I was able to fit in four runs this week, which was really great and on my days off I did yoga. I have always been interested in using yoga with my run training but never really tried it. However, it is included practically every other day in the LuluLemon SeaWheeze Half-marathon training app that I’ve been using so I figured I’d give it a shot. Turns out yoga really does help! The stretches are designed for runners and get at those hard to reach muscles in your legs. Yoga also helps to stretch out the IT band and hamstrings. Not to mention it’s a great relaxer and helps runners focus on their breathing.

As far as my runs went this week, I was really impressed. I logged 19 miles in total, breaking down to a 4-miler on Tuesday, two 3-milers on Wednesday and Friday, and the grand finale, 9-miler on Saturday.

My Saturday run was the farthest I’ve ever ran and it felt absolutely fantastic. I ran 9 miles in 1:30:00, which I know is pretty slow but I wanted to take it easy. Intellectually, I knew I would be able to do it because the weekend before I ran 7 miles. However, the night before the run I had a nervous pit in my stomach. I had told family and friends that this run would be my first “long” run and it was kind of make or break. Most of them were supportive but others seemed to doubt me. Nine miles is a long way, I clocked it in my car the day before to get a sense of just how far it would be and realized, “Wow, this is not just a run, it’s freaking long!” But when I woke up on Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. my first thought surprised me. The first thing I thought was, “I get to run today.” I was excited! I wanted to prove the doubters wrong and prove myself wrong.

When I finished the 9 miles I felt great. I wasn’t winded, my legs felt good and I realized I just ran 9 freaking miles! I even finished the run with a huge smile on my face because I honestly couldn’t believe I did it. The best part about it was, there’s only 4.1 miles left to 13.1.

This week I’m planning on doing a tempo run on Monday and then I have a race on the 4th of July in Maine. It’s only 4 miles so it should feel pretty easy compared to 9! In other news, I just started to read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and it’s pretty fascinating. Maybe I’ll write a review for a post once I finish?

Week 3: Half-marathon update

This past week was a great training week for me. I ran four times during the week, including a tempo run on Tuesday evening at a beautiful track in Boston (with a great view of the city in the background), a short 3.5-mile run on Wednesday morning, a long 7-mile run on Saturday morning and a short recovery run on Sunday.

The tempo run was good besides the heat. Last week was the first heat-wave of the summer up here in New England and my lungs could definitely tell. I did the 3-mile tempo run in the evening as the sun was going down but the heat was pretty tough even at that time. The next morning, I woke up early to begin my run at 6:30 a.m. to try to beat the sun and the heat. It worked for the most part but towards the end I was feeling the heat.

My long run on Saturday was the longest I had ever run and it felt fantastic! It was 7 miles long, along the coast of Maine. The distance wasn’t bad at all but there were a lot of hills that got to me. The biggest ascent was in mile 5 and was 74 feet, with 0 feet of descent. That was tough! The total ascent was 144 feet and 139 feet of descent. But for the most part, I think I did pretty well. I averaged a 9:10 mile during the run and I’m hoping I can keep that up as I increase mileage.

My Sunday recovery run was the best of the week. It was a quick 5-k- I didn’t time it but it was roughly 25 minutes- along the coast of Maine again. My cousin Paige did the run with me and it was so hot when we went out that we came up with the ingenious idea to wear sports bras on our run and our bathing suit bottoms underneath our shorts. Immediately after we finished the run we went down to the beach, took off our shorts and dove into the cool Atlantic. It was amazing! I felt so great after it was over, I wanted to do it again.

Overall I’m really pleased with my training this week. On my off days I did strength training to build muscle in my legs and core. I learned a lot about how my body reacts to distance and I am going to use that for my next long run. I hope you all had a great week running too! Be on the lookout this week for a post about the myths of “runner’s high.” Happy running!

Strength training for runners

If you’re as obsessed with running as I am, you actually dread the “rest” days. And if you love running as much as I do, I’m sure you don’t actually “rest” on those “rest” days. I use the ironic quotations because I know many of you are thinking, true, I cheat on some of my rest days and just run a shorter distance than normal because that counts as rest, right? Wrong. It is extremely important to actually rest from running on your rest days. Your body needs time to rejuvenate and reinvigorate your muscles.

However, there is a slight loophole to these so-called rest days: strength training. As important as it is to up your mileage and continue with tempo runs and interval training, it’s extremely important to strengthen your muscles. If you don’t strengthen you are at extreme risk for injury, which will surely make all of your days rest days.

As written in an article on Active.com by Tom Holland of Windy City Sports Magazine:

I contend that running doesn’t cause injuries, but rather illuminates our weak links and allows us to see what we need to improve upon. There’s no greater way of determining how to improve our bodies than by listening to and accessing how we respond to running.

So, you ask, I’m a distance runner, I don’t want to bulk up, what could I possible do to build muscle mass? It’s easy. Create a consistent schedule for yourself, maybe twice or three times a week, determine how much weight you should be lifting, and most importantly, do the exercises correctly.

Starting off, I’d suggest doing squats to build muscle in your quads (thighs) and gluteus maximus (your bum). These are the two muscles that are probably the most important to runners. I’d also suggest core strengthening exercises, particularly plank exercises.

Here are four key exercises you can try to start off:

  • Bodyweight squats- stand with your feet square, hip length apart. Squat down as if sitting in a chair. Be sure your knees do not go beyond your toes. Come back up to a standing position and do 12 repetitions, three times.
  • Push-ups- runners use there arms to pump along during their run so it’s important to build arm muscle. One of the simplest exercises are push-ups.
  • Planks- You want to be sure to increase your core muscles because having a strong core means having strong balance. Planks are one of the best exercises for increasing core strength because unlike sit-ups, they target the inner muscles of your core, helping you to deepen your strengthening.
  • Cross-fit- adding in another form of cardio to your routine will help your muscles develop in different ways and help you to avoid muscle memory (and getting bored). I like to do circuit training with jumping jacks, mountain climber, burpees and grasshoppers. Some people also enjoy bicycling, swimming or taking a group fitness class. Whatever your preference, make sure to add it in once a week.

Week 2: Half-marathon training update

Just finished week two of my half-marathon training and it went pretty well. I ran three times this week, one short and easy run, a longer run and a tempo run. I made a beautiful mistake with my tempo run this week however. I set out on the track to do the same run as last week (see my last post about “Demystifying the Tempo Run”) but instead of running 100-meter intervals, I accidentally ran 200-meter intervals, essentially doubling my run. I call this a beautiful mistake because I didn’t realize it until I finished and I still felt great, which was a huge improvement from the first time I tried the tempo run.

This week I am looking to do the same training plan but up my mileage by one mile for each run, with the exception of the tempo run. I also am looking to add in some more strengthening exercises this week to keep my body strong, building endurance.

Look forward to more posts this week about nutrition for runner’s, gear updates and more! I hope y’all enjoyed the weekend!

Demystifying the tempo run

How To Run A Tempo WorkoutWhen I started running, I kept hearing about tempo runs. I thought they sounded intimidating so I never attempted one. I knew they would good for speed work, but my focus was distance. I knew they were good for strengthening, but I did weight training. I also knew they were good for building endurance, but my three-times-a-week cardio kickboxing class did the trick for that. What I didn’t know is that when you start working full-time, it’s not as easy to run long runs every other day with cardio kickboxing classes in between.

Tempo runs are perfect to throw into any consistent running routine because they have the benefits of endurance and strength training packaged into one workout. As I train for the half-marathon in September, I’m learning tempo runs will be the key to allowing me to run the full 13.1 miles without being as tired.

Distance runners use tempo runs not only to work on speed but to increase endurance. According to an article on Runner’s World’s website, the “best predictor of distance-running performance is your lactate threshold, which is the speed you are able to run before lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood. ” After lactic acid is released into the blood, you start to feel fatigued and will have to slow down. Tempo runs help to slow down this process and in essence, speed up your run.

Traditional Tempo Run

If you haven’t tried a tempo run before, I would suggests starting with a traditional tempo run first. This consists of a 2-mile jog warm-up to loosen up your muscles and get your heart rate up. Then, you run for 2-miles at a “tempo” pace. This is NOT a sprint! Tempo pace is typically referred to as “comfortably hard.” You want to run faster than your normal pace but not so fast that it becomes difficult. After you finish the 2-mile tempo run, conclude your workout with a 2-mile jog/walk cool down.

As you start to get better at this, add a half a mile to your tempo run every two weeks. Pretty soon you’ll be able to run up to 6 miles at tempo pace.

Interval Tempo Run

If this is difficult, another option is to do a modified tempo run my uncle showed my cousin and me last weekend. This endurance-building run is easiest to do on a track. Start off with a 1-mile warm-up run around the track. Once you’re done with that, beginning at the 100-meter mark (the straightaways of the track) run at a fast pace, again NOT a sprint, but a pretty comfortably hard pace. When you get to the curve of the track, slow down to a jog to recover your breathe. Repeat this 8 times, equaling 2 miles. Then, do another 1-mile jog/walk cool down.

As always, don’t forget to stretch!