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!

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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! :)