Week 8: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

keep runningI really don’t know why I keep calling this my sub-50 10-K training wrap up because I’ve strayed so far from my original training program in order to gear up for this last-minute half-marathon but oh well! Here are last week’s training runs and workout:

Monday– I did a yoga workout for about 30 minutes to cross-train. I didn’t have much time because it was Christmas Eve and my family and I planned to spend the day in Boston before I had to go back to Pennsylvania. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a workout for family time but I was totally fine with that because I knew I wouldn’t get to see them for awhile.

Tuesday– Christmas! No workout for me today because I spent the morning with my family, squeezing every last minute out of my visit home for the holidays. I then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening driving back to Pennsylvania for work the next day.

Wednesday– 4.25 mile run during lunch at 9:10/mile average pace

Thursday– 5 miles at 9:48/mile pace- just wanted to get in some really easy paced mileage

Friday– 4.2 miles- I decided to do speed work on Friday on the treadmill because it was FREEZING outside! I did a five minute warm up and then 200m at easy pace followed by 4x400m at race pace (8:06/mile) with 200m at easy pace in between. I finished the run with about a mile cool down at easy pace.

Saturday– ran 4.2 miles in the snow! I ran 9:17/mile pace and it was such a relaxing run because the snow was just starting to fall but hadn’t stuck to the ground yet.

Sunday– I was supposed to do my long run on Sunday but when I woke up to 30mph winds with gusts of 50mph and below freezing temps, I figured I could push it off to Monday since I didn’t have work.

Monday– 12 miles at 9:20/mile pace – I was completely shocked at how well this run went! I felt really strong and comfortable the entire time. I didn’t have to stop or walk at all and I finished feeling like I could keep running. This run was an amazing indicator of how the half-marathon will go (knock on wood!) and I can’t wait to see the results of this training!

Happy running!

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Week 16: Half-marathon training update

(via Pinterest)

I can’t believe my first half-marathon is now only one week away! That being said, this past week I started to taper my miles so I’ll be prepped and ready to go for next weekend.

This week as super busy and hectic for a variety of reasons, one of which I will announce tomorrow because it’s a HUGE deal!! But training-wise I did pretty well. I’ve never run a half obviously so it was weird to taper because after running a 14-miler last Saturday I just wanted to do it again. But in the spirit of not getting injured and storing my energy, I did what my training plan told me to do and tapered.

Monday was my crazy busy day so unfortunately I only had enough time to do a quick yoga session and ab workout in the morning. I was on the move for the rest of the day which I will talk about later..

On Tuesday I did a 2-mile pick up run with quicker paces of 8:03/mile and even some 7’s thrown in there. I was really tired from work and the day before but I knew I had to get this run in so I sucked it up.

I had planned to run 3 miles on Wednesday but my foot was really bothering me for some reason so I ended up just doing 2-miles (and change). However, because I cut my mileage I decided to do some strength training which included squats, lunges and some lifting. Also, I did ab work as well.

Thursday was shaping up to be another busy day at work (I had to cover a meeting until 10:30 p.m.) so I knew I could only get in a quick workout in the morning. I did two Tone It Up workouts, as well as my own arm workouts and abs.

I got out of work early on Friday so when I got home at noon, I quickly changed into my running clothes and went out. I did a quick 3-mile run and the route included some pretty ridiculous hills so this run gave my buns a run for their money. It felt really great though to push up the hills.

Saturday I had to work all day so I couldn’t get in a run but decided I needed a rest day after the week I had.

I went out for my “long” run on Sunday and I put “long” in quotes because the run was only supposed to be 6 miles, which felt like nothing compared to last week’s 14-mile run. This run went really well though and I tested out a new route which is always exciting. I took it really easy pace-wise with this run because with the half only a week away, I’m not taking ANY chances.

Overall it was a really great week for training. I’m looking forward to the half-marathon next Sunday because I feel like I’m really prepared (knock on wood!) Also I can’t wait to tell everyone my big news tomorrow so be sure to check back here to find out!!

How is your training going? What are your thoughts on tapering before a big race?

Week 15: half-marathon training update

Oh my goodness I am so sorry this has taken me so long to post! Last weekend was a tad bit crazy for me and work has been out of control but I really wanted to update everyone on my training last week because it was nothing short of AMAZING!

For one, I hit a huge milestone and ran the farthest I’ve ever run- 14 miles! It felt so incredibly amazing, I almost didn’t want to stop (but my legs clearly had other plans!). I also was about to do the first track workout I had done in a very long time and that was pretty amazing as well. Before I go on, let me backtrack.

On Monday I started out my day with a little yoga for recovery on Lululemon’s YouTube channel. I wanted to do this because my legs were a little tight from the weekend before. After work, my cousin and fantastic training partner, met me at my office and we headed over to the local high school track to do a sprint interval workout. Neither of us had done this in weeks so it really felt great to get “back on track” and do some sprints. Her legs were also tired from the weekend before so we took it easy and did 4×800 sprints at 7:12 pace with about 400m of jogging in between.

On Tuesday I did some more yoga, as well as weight training for my arms and core exercises. Last week I didn’t get a chance to lift as much as I like to because I had some late nights at work, so I tried to get in some lifting on “rest” days.

On Wednesday I was able to get up early and head to the gym. I ran 4 miles at 9:33 pace and then did 1 mile on the elliptical. After that I hit the weights and did some squats and lunges. I also did a bunch of core exercises.

Thursday I did yoga and core exercises in the morning before work. I had to stay late for a meeting so I wanted to get in some exercise before. I did a power vinyasa yoga exercise and felt great after.

I drove up to my cousin’s new apartment in Marblehead on Friday because we had a long run planned for early Saturday morning. We had a great night checking out the local digs and carbo-loading, if you will, at the Barnacle, located right on Marblehead Harbor. However, we probably stayed out a little too late because the Saturday morning alarm clock came way too early!

Saturday was a big day for me because I had my longest run ever planned. My cousin is also training for a full marathon right now and according to her training schedule, she had to run 14 miles on Saturday. She wanted me to run it as well, and so I thought, 14 is only 1 more mile, why not? Our friend met us to do the run as well and we left the apartment around 9 a.m. (an hour after our planned start time.) We ran at a very comfortable and conversational pace and I felt like the miles just flew by. We made it to the halfway point and I couldn’t believe it was almost over! We had one problem though with hydration at mile 10. We had planned to quickly stop at a local beachside shack that usually has water but as we approached it, we saw that it was closed. Lucky for us the owner was standing right outside and said she would go in and get us water! After we had our water in hand we had some gels and were off again.

The last 4 miles were definitely a little more difficult after stopping but once the gels kicked in I felt great. The views on the run also helped to motivate us because we ran along the ocean and the weather was perfect. I was so excited to have ran a full 14 miles and it gave me even more confidence in my upcoming half marathon. I think it’s official, I’m addicted to distance running.

I took a complete rest day on Sunday after the long run the day before because my calf muscles were pretty sore.

Overall, it was a really great week of training. I felt strong and had tons of energy for my runs. This week I’ll be tapering in preparation for the half marathon which is now only a week and a half away!

What are you training for and how has it been going? Share your training stories in the comments below!

Week 13: Half marathon training update

I think my sweet new Nike outfit helped with my 8-miler!

This past week was a great week of training runs for me. I really can’t express enough how HUGE of a difference changing my form has made. (If you didn’t check it out yet, take a look at my post about how I changed my running form and simple steps to improve yours as well!) I have to admit, I was a little skeptical of the claim that changing my form would completely solve my IT Band problems but it really has. I’ve had three runs since changing my form and (knock on wood!) I haven’t felt any IT band pain.

I started the week out on Monday with an easy 3-mile run. I finished the run in 27 minutes and felt pretty good during it. This run was before I got feedback from Ryan Knapp about my form so I tried correcting my form on my own based on articles I had read. I knew I needed to land on my mid-foot as opposed to my heel so I tried my best to do that. I felt IT Band pain around 1.5 miles but was able to avoid a massive flare-up by really focusing on my form.

Tuesday was a cross-training day for me so I woke up early to get that done. I did two “Tone It Up” videos- Sunset workout for 12 minutes and the thighs workout for 16 minutes (times two)- because I had heard so much about them. I’m working on another post about using them for cross-training so check back soon for that! I also added in some leg exercises I read about in the Runner’s World half marathon issue. Then I did my plank a day and 50 calf raises because they help with alignment.

Wednesday was a big day for me because I received Ryan’s feedback and tips for correcting my form on Tuesday night so I was able to put them into practice during my 5-mile midweek training run. Overall this run went really well and I finished in 45 minutes. I focused on three things in particular (as mentioned in a previous post):

  • Lifting from my core in order to mid-foot strike.
  • Gunslinging my arms
  • Running with lean from my ankles

I really focused during my run on making sure I was implementing all of these tips. For the most part I found it pretty easy to incorporate them even though it felt a little awkward at first. The only tip I found difficult to implement was not running with my arms too high up on my ribcage. I tasked myself with focusing on this more during my next run.

On Thursday I did some cross-training at the gym. I did about 3 miles on the elliptical and then a bunch of strengthening exercises to help me run stronger. I focused on a lot of leg exercises because my legs have been feeling a little tired lately. I also did some arm exercises and planks.

Friday was a complete rest day!

Saturday was the real test for my new form because it was my long run day. I had 10 miles on tap but it turned into 8 miles because my stomach wasn’t feeling well but I finished 8 miles in a speedy 1 hour and 5 minutes! I couldn’t believe how fast I ran this run, especially with an upset stomach! This was my first long run since experiencing the IT Band pain and I felt like during the whole run I kept waiting for the pain to appear but it NEVER CAME! I don’t want to speak to soon however because it could still resurface but so far so good!

On Sunday I had to help my sister move back into college but it involved lots of lifting and going up and down four flights of stairs so I’m going to count it as cross-training.

Overall this week was great and I’m feeling a lot better about the half-marathon at the end of the month. I’ll be looking forward to the rest of my runs this week and hope my form will start to feel a little more natural.

Monday- 3 mile easy run, 27 min. average pace- 9:55/mile

Tuesday- Cross-training, Tone It Up workouts (Sunset and thigh workouts), planks, calf raises, Runner’s World leg exercises

Wednesday- 5 mile run, 45 min. average pace- 9:56/miles

Thursday- 3 miles on the elliptical, cross-training

Friday- Rest

Saturday- Long run 8 miles, 1:05, average pace 8:05/mile

Sunday- Moving (cross-training)

Monday Motivation: It takes a team

Training isn’t always easy. In fact, I’d like to argue it’s never easy. But isn’t that why we do it? To push our limits and challenge ourselves? I think so at least. But sometimes when injuries happen or you have a bad run, it can be hard to keep going. Self confidence can get low and doubt can rear it’s ugly face but if you have surrounded yourself with a support team, a team that believes in you no matter what, you can push through the doubt and continue going.

I have been lucky enough through my training to have a massive support team in the form of family, friends, fellow run bloggers and complete strangers. After overcoming (fingers crossed!) some IT Band issues, I have never been more grateful for the amazing people in my life who believed in me and dragged me through my own stint of self doubt.

Sometimes we don’t do as well as we had hoped but at the end of the day, if there’s someone cheering for you at the finish line, or dragging you across it, you know you’ve accomplished something. Happy running this week!

Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan were the definition of team at the finish line of the London 2012 Olympic marathon.

How to correct your running form to prevent injury

A few weeks ago I started feeling a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. It usually showed up about a mile into my runs and felt like someone had stuck a knife into the side of my knee. My knee would either lock up at this point, or, if I was able to push on and keep running, the pain would travel all the way up the outside of my thigh to my hip. I knew immediately this was an IT Band problem.

With a little more than a month left in my training for a half marathon on Sept. 30, and three weeks into marathon training for a race on Nov. 19, this was not going to fly. I needed a solution. Fast. After taking quite a few rest days, I felt ready to hit the road again for an easy, quick 2-mile run. Not so fast, my IT Band said and around 1.6 miles my knee locked up and I literally could not run anymore. I was devastated and took to Twitter, as I usually do, to ask my runner friends what was wrong.

After hearing from a bunch of people I was informed it was more important to find out what caused the problem before trying to fix it. One of my Twitter followers, Ryan Knapp, a triathlete and endurance running coach from Kansas City, suggested the problem may be my form. Ryan asked me to take a 30 second video of me running away from my camera and back to my camera. I then sent it to him through his website and he evaluated it.

He told me he could immediately tell I used to be a dancer because of my posture and he said he’s be able to help me. Here’s the video I sent to him:

(Don’t mind my Dad talking in the background…)

After reviewing my video, Ryan filmed his own video to explain to me what he saw in my running form and what I could do to fix it. He said overall, my form wasn’t terrible- I have good body position (meaning I’m not leaning to one side or the other) and I have very still shoulders. However, he told me I had three things I needed to work on- lifting from my core, swinging my arms correctly and lean more.

  • Lifting from my core- According to Ryan, the reason I was having the IT Band problems is because I was swinging my legs like a pendulum when I ran, causing my foot to land in front of me and subsequently causing me to heel-strike, a huge no, no in the running world. To fix this, Ryan said I need to focus on lifting from my core so my feet will land below me and be able to power up immediately after hitting the ground.
  • Arms- From what Ryan saw, I run with my arms kind of high up in respect to my ribcage and they go across my midline (the invisible line that runs down the center of your body). Ryan said this wastes a lot of energy and space. To fix this, he told me to “gunsling”- make sure my elbows go behind me and in front of me, somewhere down by my waist.
  • I run very erect- My running posture is very straight and according to Ryan, there should be a little bit of lean in a runner’s form. To do this, I want to lean from my ankles.

Here’s the video Ryan did for me:

Ryan said there were two simple exercises I can do to work on my form and get used to mid-foot and fore-foot striking.

  • Skip drills- This is where you literally skip down the street. According to Ryan, skipping helps the body (and feet) recognize what it’s like to push off from the fore-foot because it’s impossible to skip from the heel.
  • Jump Rope Drills- Simply pretend (or if you have a jump rope) like you’re jumping rope. This has the same effect as the skip drill but you’ll notice if you do this and then immediately stop, that’s the same effect as a heel strike, which is very bad. Jump rope drills will also help your body learn to mid-foot strike and fore-foot strike.

Yesterday morning I did these drills and put the tips into practice and I noticed a significant difference in my running. (Knock on wood*) I had hardly any IT pain and I ran an easy 5 miles in 45 minutes, pretty good time for me. I had to concentrate a lot more on my form throughout the run because the second I stopped paying attention I found myself going back to my old form. I talked to Ryan about this and he said, like with anything, it’ll take some getting used to. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!

If you’re interested in getting your form analyzed, feel free to contact Ryan either through Twitter or on his website.

Week 12: Half-marathon/marathon training update

Sadly there’s not much to report from this past week. My training plan called for an easy 2-mile run to start off the week last week and because of my work schedule I didn’t get to do it until Wednesday. Two miles is nothing to me at this point but about 1.6 miles into the run my right knee locked up and it felt like someone stuck a knife into the side of my knee. The pain was so sharp I had to slow to a walk immediately. Weird thing was, it instantly felt fine. So I decided to start back up again when the pain came back with a vengeance and I decided to slow to a walk completely.

I was so disappointed and angry. I thought to myself, “I have not come this far to get injured a month before my half-marathon.” So I decided to do the right thing and rest all week. No running at all. I worked out though pretty much every day and did a ton of yoga.

After much research and consult with other runners on Twitter, I realized I have developed an IT band irritation and the cause is most likely my form. According to Ryan Knapp, an endurance running coach and triathlete, the IT band flare up was probably the result of poor form. I first noticed the pain while running a 5k a few weeks ago but it went away shortly after. I was able to run 12-miles no problem a few weeks ago and 9 miles two weeks ago but 2 miles killed me.

Ryan is helping me fix my form and according to him I should be back running stronger and better well before my half-marathon on Sept. 30.

If anything, not being able to run during the past week has made me realize what a gift running is and how much I have fallen in love with the sport. At this point I’m just trying to stay positive and put one foot in front of the other. I’ll be sure to do a post too about my form and keep everyone updated on my training!

Monday- power yoga and 3:04 min. plank a day and an ab workout

Tuesday- 2-mile run. Injured.

Wednesday- runner recovery yoga and variation of planks

Thursday- 3-miles on the elliptical and strengthening for legs, arms and abs. 4:00 min plank.

Friday- Power flow yoga and planks/ab workout

Saturday- Rest day, swimming in the ocean

Sunday- Rest day (I was at a graduation all day)

Monday Motivation: I’ve got to run

After having some serious IT band flare ups on a run last Tuesday I decided to make the smart decision to rest my knee to avoid hurting myself even more. Besides getting off of my marathon training plan, the whole not running thing was killing me! Especially when the weekend came and I had to spend it with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and we didn’t exactly end on great terms. For me, running is my outlet, my stress reliever, my therapy, and after this weekend all I could think about was getting out on the road, clearing my head and finding peace again. Then this morning happened and I had a fantastic, easy 3-mile run, my knee felt pretty great and my mind was cleared of all negative thoughts. I’m still taking it easy on my knee but it felt so amazing to get back out there. I hope everyone’s training is going well and I wish you the best of luck this week!

Week 11: Half-marathon/marathon training update

Setting my training plan up the old-school way.

First off, the Healthy Living Summit this weekend hosted by Healthy Living Blogs was absolutely amazing. Literally words cannot even explain the impact this past weekend had on me, but that’s for a whole other post (probably to come tomorrow). But first, I want to give my weekly update about my training runs this week.

I’ve decided to still call it half-marathon training because I’m doing the half first but this also marked the first official week of my marathon training. Overall, the week went really well and my knee is definitely getting better.

My training plan (for the first week of marathon training) called for three runs this week starting with an easy 3-mile run on Monday. My average pace during the run was 9:21/mile with faster paces of 7:22/mile. This run was great and easy. I probably could have pushed a little harder but it was early and I wanted to be cautious with my knee.

On Tuesday I did some power yoga for strengthening in the morning and cross-training at the gym after work. For cross-training I went on the elliptical and did strengthening exercises, particularly with my legs.  I also did some arm exercises, ab work and did my longest plank every for 3:49.5! I was really excited about this, I may or may not have done a little celebration dance at the gym…

Wednesday was a speedwork day so I took to the treadmill (because I still don’t have a GPS watch) and did 4 miles with 2×1600 at a pace of 9:20/mile. I did the run in 37:00 and felt pretty good. I knew I was holding back and could have gone a lot faster but I wanted to be careful again because of my knee.

I took Thursday as a full rest day but did some yoga for recovery which was great for my hamstrings because they were feeling pretty tight.

Due to the Healthy Living Summit, I had to fit my long run in before the weekend so I did it on Friday night. My training plan called for 9-miles and I did it no problem! I had to do it on the treadmill because it was getting late, still really hot and I don’t have good reflective gear. I don’t know why but treadmill runs always seem harder, I think it’s mostly because I get bored but I don’t know. My average pace was 9:20/mile which was decent but I know I can go faster. I’ll work on it.

Saturday was the first day of the Healthy Living Summit for me and we had a CrossFit workout in the morning. This was my very first venture into the world of CrossFit but it wasn’t as intimidating as I expected it to be and I really liked it! I think I might try to add it into my workout schedule for cross-training.

Sunday morning we had a 5k fun run at the summit and that was really fun and relaxing, especially since we ran along the Charles River in Boston and into Back Bay. In all, it was a great week in training and an amazing week overall! I will write a post tomorrow to tell you all more about what I learned this weekend and to introduce you to some of the bloggers I met!

Here’s a quick glimpse of my week in training:

  • Monday- 3-mile easy run, 9:21 average pace
  • Tuesday- Power yoga in the A.M. and cross-training/strengthening after work
  • Wednesday- Speedwork, 4 miles with 2×1600 at 9:20/mile
  • Thursday- Rest and recovery yoga
  • Friday- 9-mile long run, 9:20 average pace
  • Saturday– CrossFit
  • Sunday- Healthy Living Summit 5k Fun Run

Total mileage- 20 miles

Week 10: Half-marathon training update

Always end your run with a smile!

Training went really well this week! My knee is feeling much stronger after taking a little running break due to an IT band strain. I ran three times this week and had two cross training days and yoga almost every day.

I started off my week with an interval workout at the local high school track. I did 2 miles with 4x400m sprint intervals. My average pace was 9:20/mile and fastest pace was 6:57/mile. This wasn’t my fastest interval workout but considering I had taken almost a week off, especially from interval workouts, because of my knee, I think I did a pretty good job. It was also a blistering 90 degrees with an insane amount of humidity so breathability wasn’t great.

On Tuesday, I went to the gym after work and did some cross training and strengthening. I did a mile on the elliptical and then worked my leg muscles and abs. Then on Wednesday morning, I did detox flow yoga which was really good for my knee.

On Thursday, I decided to test my knee with an 8-mile long run. I met up with my cousin after work but we had to wait until the sun began to set to begin our run because it was 95 degrees outside with 70 percent humidity. We started our run around 6:30 p.m. and I felt really great in the beginning. We started out WAY too strong though which proved to be a little too hard for my knee. Around mile 3 I had to stop and walk a bit because it was hurting. My cousin asked if I wanted to turn around but I knew it would kill me if I did so I decided to keep going.

The run was HOT and I was so thirsty the entire time but I was able to finish strong and strangely enough (yet again!) my knee felt great during the last three miles. In total, the run took 1:10:31, which included two short walking breaks (for my knee) and some crosswalks. My average pace was 9:33/mile and my fastest pace was 6:06/mile. Overall, it was a great run and I was so happy I was able to get out there and run the distance.

Friday morning was more yoga, I did the Lululemon Yoga for Recovery on YouTube.  On Saturday, I decided on doing an easy 3-mile run at an easy pace of 9:56/mile. I felt really great on this run and my knee felt better than ever! Sunday was another cross training and strengthening day which also went really well.

Overall, this week was great for training! I felt strong and ready to be back on the road. This week I have my runs planned out including an easy run, speedwork and a 9-mile long run. This week is also the beginning of my training for the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon so finger-crossed, I’m excited! I hope your training runs went well this week. Happy running!