About that blogging hiatus.

It’s been a couple of months since my last post. Anyone who read either of my last two posts probably saw the hiatus coming, or at least wouldn’t be surprised by my blogging absenteeism.

In summary, I’d been struggling to try to train for the Paris Marathon fighting a stubborn case of ITB Syndrome. I’d seen some signs of improvement, then the injury came back with a vengeance. As my training derailed throughout the month of February, every long run ended up being abandoned because I couldn’t bend my knee without that signature stabbing feeling on the outside of my knee. And I just didn’t want to make myself miserable by reliving the whole experience just to write a blog post. So I stayed away from blogging, and I think it was a good thing.

IMG_6964

Alter G selfie from an 8 mile run – one of the longest I finished without having to stop.

Into March, training improved a little bit. I figured out how to loosen up and stretch out the ITB area when it locked up during a run. What this meant was that I’d run 6-10 miles at an easy pace, then once it started, I’d have to repeat the cycle of running and stretching until I finished, sometimes every third of a mile. Even though my training improved again in March, I never ran more than 16 miles, and then only once. I never ran more than 11 or 12 miles without having to stop to stretch. I knew I was way undertrained for Paris. I seriously contemplated bagging the marathon and just enjoying a vacation.

IMG_6963

I did enjoy SOME of my runs this training cycle.

In the middle of all that, some other things happened:

  • I got a new job. This was totally unexpected; I loved my old job! A former colleague – one of my favorites – reached out to me about a position in her group. My initial reaction was to “just hear them out,” but the more I learned, the more it turned into something I couldn’t turn down. I joined the Assurance Risk Management group at a global accounting firm, which basically entails doing all kinds of things to help the firm’s professionals perform the highest quality audits.
  • I got into the NYC Marathon lottery. So that was unexpected. And not great timing given how Paris training went. I’m keeping an open mind about running this year vs. deferring to 2017…going to wait until I get back into the swing of warm-weather running before making any decisions.
  • I let running be “just running” and let it go when I wasn’t training. I have a tendency to get a little obsessive about whatever “big thing” I have going on – this was definitely the case during my last marathon cycle. This go-round, I generally did whatever training-thing I had on the calendar, then went about the rest of my life without much thought of training (or lack thereof). I hosted a brunch shower for my friend Britt the day after one spectacularly bad attempt at a long run. I finally got to feed people my breakfast pizza!
    IMG_8032

    There was food too.

     

Beyond all that, I voted in the primary, tweeted nearly every debate, got a charcoal grill, made a bunch of new recipes, and played with friends’ kids. Truth is, playing with babies is a great way to chill out after the worst of possible training runs.

Then I went to Paris, ran/jogged/walked a marathon, and spent two weeks gallivanting around Europe. I’ll get to the Paris recap soon enough, but I felt like writing a catch-up post before diving into all that.

Congrats to all of you who finished London and Boston and did other cool things while I was away!

Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 7-9

The recap in which training gradually falls apart

I’ve gotten behind on these training recaps. I’ve had more than usual going on personally and professionally – some good, some bad, none expected. I had already written most of the week 7 recap, so it’s more detailed than the others.

Week 7: 1/25 – 1/31

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:00/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Um, totally forgot the strides, but it was a gorgeous day for a lunchtime run. I decided to go ahead and deal with the nuisance of getting a running photo, which I promptly forgot to Instagram.

atlanta beltline running

So I’ll add my graffiti running photo to the Internet’s collection.

Seriously, this was more of an ordeal than it was worth, and I seriously wonder how people who Instagram running photos multiple times a week do it. #shareyoursecrets

I went to the gym for my strength workout, and it was – unfortunately – a day to get the opportunity to check off new feats of strength to see how strong you’re getting! Unfortunate because I get way too competitive with myself in these kinds of situations and work harder than I should considering I’m also training for a marathon. So shortsighted. Anyway, the feats of strength were related to variations of squats, strict pull-ups, and bar dips. I did a lot better with dips than pull-ups, and right now I’m just not limber enough to do what’s next for squats, which is a full butt-to-heel pistol squat. After attempting the feats of strength, there was a workout to challenge the muscles I had just worked to failure – pull-up negatives, rows, stuff like that – so it was hard. Even lunges with racked kettlebells made my arms feel like chicken wings.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day

HOLY MOTHER OF DOMS. There was not one direction that I could move my arms without nearly recoiling from the soreness.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

The thought of swinging my arms for just an easy run would have brought me to tears, so after a full day of lecture-style training with a nasty headache, no way was I getting through a faster workout, even if it was a relatively easy cutback-week workout. No unplanned rest day has ever been such a no-brainer.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + mini-strength

Annnnddd we’re back. I didn’t get to this workout until after dark, so I decided to take it to the treadmill in my office gym. The faster portion was fine, but the other miles were so boring.

I didn’t have time to get a proper strength workout in, and my upper body was still pretty angry, but I did a mini-strength workout focused on lower body after my rehab exercises. My office gym has a few kettlebells, so I did 3 sets of 20 kettlebell swings, 3 sets of 10 kettlebell deadlifts, 2 sets of 10 goblet squats, and 2 sets of 10 Bulgarian split squats.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I thought about skipping the rest day and taking this run really easy, but I ran about one minute and decided my body needed the day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:25) + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 9:52/mile + 4 strides

Slacked on the Myrtls. GUILTY.

I’ve had a couple pairs of shoes wear out on me lately, and since I’ve had an injury recently, I decided to head over to see what the pros recommended shoe-wise.

I don’t want to take over this post with the nitty gritty of what went down (although I learned some interesting things that may warrant a future post), but a proper video analysis at West Stride confirmed what I expected – mostly neutral/slightly supinated gait. I tried on a few pairs in the “daily trainer” category, and to my surprise I ended up in the Brooks Ghost. I’ve previously tried out Brooks shoes from the Pure line, which never really felt quite right on my foot. But the Ghosts were the shoes that felt so comfortable on, fit like a glove, and allowed me to go through a comfortable stride without feeling like I had to really “muscle through” any part of my stride (unlike others I tried).

IMG_6905

Sunday:

  • Plan: Yoga
  • Actual: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:21/8:59/9:09) + 26 minutes core + 15 min stretching-oriented yoga

The elusive marathon pace. I’m not of the mind that “I ran faster, yay me” because I don’t feel like I’m ready to run a whole marathon at those paces, so I kind of screwed up the point of the workout by running faster than I should have. But it did feel nice at the time.

During the GMP miles, I felt my shorts chafing my right thigh, but decided to sacrifice my skin for the confidence that would come with executing my GMP miles. I implore you, please never do this to yourselves. One week has passed and my skin is still not 100%. Once I was finished with the run, I looked down and saw blood all over my right thigh. This wasn’t just a slight chafe.

silver comet running

You didn’t think I was going to show a bloody chafe photo, did you? I’m far too queasy to ever see blood on purpose.

Week 7: 23 miles

As for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I did 3/4 of the planned core/rehab/Myrtl routines on my schedule.
  • Sleep – B: I hit my 8 hour goal every night except one, but I didn’t feel rested. Most nights, I was waking up in the middle of the night and I’d have a hard time going back to sleep. By Thursday, I was exhausted and went to bed before 9pm, which may have helped me “reset” – I haven’t had serious sleep interruptions since then.
  • Nutrition – C: I’m going to have to find a reliable way to track my fruits and veggies. I didn’t do it this week. I know I had some good days, but the point was to actually keep track.
  • “Body maintenance” – B: I did the bare minimum of stretching and foam rolling, and I checked the box with Sunday yoga, but after moving my schedule around I wasn’t up for much more.

I didn’t track these resolutions over weeks 8 & 9.

Week 8: 2/1 – 2/7

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Felt some discomfort near the bottom-inside portion of my left thigh, close to my left knee. UGH.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Rest

I was at work late (unexpectedly), then saw my late night as an opportunity to let whatever was bothering me on Monday’s run rest and heal.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo, :90 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest day

I had a morning dermatologist appointment, and I told the doctor I’d had my eye on this spot on my chest. He said it didn’t concern him much, but he’d do a biopsy to be safe. This was my first skin biopsy, and it took more skin than I expected. When the nurse gave me care instructions for the wound, one of the explicit instructions was to keep it dry for a day.

Me: So, does that mean I can’t go for a run?

Nurse: Well, do you sweat when you run?

Me: [head drops] yes.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo (8:35/8:32/8:28) + rehab exercises + strength

Left quad pain was still there, maybe at a 3/10 on the pain scale.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Chiro + 3 miles @ 10:08/mile + Myrtls

I got in to see my chiro that morning, who worked on the area and diagnosed insufficient quad strength as a contributing factor. He gave me an exercise to do, which I could do at my desk (it’s just using the quads to straighten the knee from a bent position).

My run did not go well. I had to stop around the end of the second mile to stretch/massage that spot in my quad. It started bugging my left knee a little bit as well. I skipped the strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 1.6 miles @10:42/mile + lots of foam rolling

Since I’d moved my tempo run to Thursday, the plan was just to get in 3 easy miles and some strides. I stopped as soon as there was discomfort – no point in sabotaging the long run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 15 miles @ 11:04/mile + core

This run was horrible on so many levels. 1) I didn’t feel fit at all. 2) that spot in my left quad was bugging me for the majority of the run. 3) I was angry at everyone and everything because of 1&2. (How dare that asshole on the bike pass me so quickly? Brag about your modern technology a little more, jerk.)

In the last 6 miles or so, I made a concerted effort to be positive. One thing I noticed was that my right ITB didn’t hurt at all. That was the best thing I could come up with (and it was indeed a good thing!)

I got home and alas, my right ITB felt like the last two months of rehab hadn’t happened. Mega pissed. Mega discouraged. I don’t have anything positive to say, other than I’m glad I have other things going on right now to distract me from how training is going (or, not going, as the case may be).

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Current mood.

Week 8: 30 miles

Week 9: 2/8 – 2/14

Monday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Nada

Right knee at ITB insertion point hurt just walking around. Lot of ice. Lot of foam rolling. Panicked call to the chiropractor’s office.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Chiro + rest

My chiro was out of town, so I got squeezed in to see his partner, Dr. Glass (who is so nice – I really love their practice). Dr. Glass wasn’t as concerned about the whole situation as I was, seeming to think it was just a setback. As he was testing my hip range of motion while I was lying on my stomach, it was so obvious that my right hip isn’t moving nearly as well as my left. The difference was pronounced.

I got some homework which is just a simple variation on foam rolling + static stretching, but I really like it. The idea is to sandwich some light static stretching into your foam rolling – so if you’re rolling your quads, take a break in the middle and do 5 5-second static stretches, then resume rolling. As for hip mobility, Dr. Glass’s recommendation was just to do a few leg swings intermittently throughout the day. So simple. That I can do.

He recommended a test run Thursday, and to do my long run on a loop so I could stop if needed.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3-5 @ tempo + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

I considered going to the gym and cross-training, but after staying late at work again, I decided to focus on rolling and stretching. Oh, and I found out Jeff had the flu. Influenza B. So there was some care taking involved.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 3 mile test run @ 10:30/mile + rehab exercises + PT

This run didn’t feel too bad. I could sense that my quad pain was worse the more I flexed my knee, and I also felt a dull ache under my left kneecap post-run.

I had a PT appointment, and holy smokes did that spot in my quad freak out when he needled it. I felt cautiously optimistic that it would really help.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I was pretty sore from the needling. Much needed day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:15/mile + strides + Myrtls

I really got after the foam rolling and stretching post-run. I felt ready to take on my 16 miler after this run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 8 miles @ 10:37/mile + core

I normally actively avoid repeating loop routes for a long run, so the loop I chose was one I’m not terribly familiar with, and it really wasn’t ideal (unavoidable road camber + too much opposing traffic to get off the side of the road). I called it quits shortly into the 9th mile. My left quad and right ITB had been feeling angry, then my left ITB started hurting. I felt like collapsing on the ground in dramatic fashion, but I would have probably hurt something else picking myself up. So I just stopped running and walked the rest of the way back.

None of the pain was horribly acute, and if it had been a race, I absolutely could have kept running. My level of discomfort felt about like last week’s run did, which sidelined me for several days. I hope that by cutting it short, I gave myself a fighting chance to get back on track with my training. What I did last week didn’t work, so I’ll just try something different and hope for the best.

Week 9: 14 miles

Right now I don’t have anything positive to say about training. I don’t want to train for a marathon anymore. If I were training for the Publix Marathon or something else close by, I would absolutely throw in the towel and let all this junk heal properly before training for another race. Any hopes of a PR in Paris are wild dreams right now. All I can hope for right now is to be healthy enough to continue training, finish the race, and stuff myself with croissants, cheeses, and Bordeaux when it’s done.

Paris Marathon Training – Week 6

Ahhhhh, the return of the federal holiday and the four-day work week. This week was set up to be great on both ends. It began with a long weekend and ended with a dear friend’s wedding. And all the training in between!

Week 6: 1/18-1/24

Monday: 

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:25/mile + rehab exercises + strength training + chiro
john lewis quote

This quote from Rep. John Lewis is painted on a wall just down the block from my apartment. I love being in an environment where I’m reminded of the work we have before us to reach the true ideals of our country’s founding – for everyone, not just land-owning white males 🙂

I have a real fondness for MLK Day for a couple of reasons: I live in Dr. King’s old neighborhood, and about 90% of my running routes go past the MLK Historic Site. I love seeing all the tourists and catching snippets of the history they’re getting on their tours of the site. I guess you could say that being in the neighborhood keeps the importance of the civil rights movement on my mind. Also, I extra-love MLK Day because I never got MLK Day off during my time working in public accounting, because busy season. Practicing CPAs, all my love to you these days. Stay strong and treat your body as well as you can. If you have to cry, I’ll be with you in spirit in the last bathroom stall.

My street was closed off for the MLK Day March. I couldn’t drive to my normal flat route, so I took a hilly route out my front door instead. It was an okay run, but afterwards I knew my ITB still wasn’t ready for the hills. The discomfort wasn’t intense, but it felt like I’d regressed in my recovery by a couple of weeks.

My chiro did some much-needed work on my right hip and knee, and unfortunately there were some new nasty spots in desperate need of release.

I tried to take it a little easy with strength training that evening since I’ve been struggling with DOMS into Wednesdays each of the last couple of weeks. The workout was heavy on back/arms/core, and it included LONG negative push-ups (20 seconds! It took me until the third set to get the timing right), alternating one-arm kettlebell swings, leg raises against a resistance band (love), and my very favorite new exercise – I’m actually considering writing a post to commemorate my love for this one – half Turkish get-ups with a press.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Cold, windy, dark, unremarkable run. Except that I rocked this awesome navy-on-navy outfit under my reflective vest. With Monday’s gym workout being somewhat core-heavy,  I streamlined the core work to focus on the types of movements that weren’t a part of Monday’s workout.

cold weather running outfit

You’re welcome for the running fashion advice. #notafashionblogger

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (90 sec jog recovery) + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (8:36/8:30) + rehab exercises + strength training

We got some cold, rainy weather in Atlanta so I decided to take this workout to the treadmill. I so appreciate how this training plan is easing me into the longer tempo runs that I know are coming. This was a pretty fun, satisfying workout that didn’t leave me beat.

I felt like I recovered from Monday’s strength workout better than expected. Maybe my body is adapting to regular strength training. This workout was pretty tough: 5×5 deadlifts (I’m adding weight cautiously, so after the warm-up I did 2 sets of 105 and 3 sets of 115), man-makers, jumping split squats, and Tabata kettlebell swings (a surprisingly tough workout for just 4 minutes!)

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day + PT

All the needling yet again. He hit all the usual spots (right hip, glutes, quad) and got into my left hamstring and calf (OWWW calf needling). I’ve had a gnarly spot in my right outer quad close to my knee that almost made me jump when it released. I’m hoping that’s a sign of good things to come!

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + travel to Dallas

I squeezed in 3 miles on a really iffy hotel gym treadmill in between landing in Dallas and my friend Laura’s rehearsal dinner. We got stuck in a nasty security line situation in Atlanta and didn’t have time to grab lunch to take on the plane, so I had a JD’s Chippery cookie before my run. No warm-up, no Myrtl routine, no strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 14 miles + core
  • Actual 14 miles @ 10:14/mile + nap

I had a nice run around White Rock Lake in the cold and sunshine. The only downside was there were more hills on the east side of the lake than I remembered, and I definitely felt that dull ache in my ITB come and go throughout the run.

white rock lake running dallas

I skipped the core work for a nap, ate a lot of Mexican food, then spent the evening celebrating the Bruders!

dallas wedding

the happy couple + adorable flower girls

college pals

college pals

dallas arboretum wedding

pretty bride

It was such a fun wedding – we danced most of the night to a fun band (even though they didn’t play any TSwift…I will forgive them.) Laura had college friends come in from all 4 time zones and more than one continent! She is that kind of person and friend – it’s not at all surprising that many friends would make long journeys to celebrate her. I loved every second of hanging out with this fantastic group of women, and as my friend Carly said, I wish we could do this every weekend!

The groom’s cake was Mexican Chocolate cake – yum! – and in addition to wedding cake there were also donuts. Who doesn’t love donuts? Between the dancing and the 14 mile run, I hit a new high for steps on my Fitbit – 37k steps. *pats self on back*

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Travel home

I was really exhausted form the weekend and took not one but two naps. I did make some  food to kick off the week (with lots of veggies!), so I wasn’t entirely worthless (just mostly worthless).

Week 6: 30 miles

Not the best week for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – B minus: I got in all the rehab exercises, but I skipped core work after my long run in Dallas.
  • Sleep – B: I didn’t meet my 8 hour/night goal (I was around 7.5 hours on average), and I woke up in the middle of the night nearly every night.
  • Nutrition – C: I lost track mid-week of how I was doing against my fruit/veggies goal. I know I had some good days, but C seems like a fair grade given that I don’t know for sure how I did.
  • “Body maintenance” – B plus: I skipped yoga for the second week in a row (oops) and didn’t foam roll on my weekend away, but I did well with stretching/foam rolling during the week, and I had my chiro + PT appointments.

When you go out of town over a weekend, do you typically get your long run in beforehand or do you fit it into your trip? 

Do you try to have decently coordinated running outfits, or do you just grab what’s comfortable and weather-appropriate?

Paris Marathon Training – Week 5

Week 5: 1/11-1/17

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 30 min easy spinning + rehab exercises + strength training

I planned my time perfectly, then forgot to bring my resistance bands to do all my rehab exercises between spinning and strength training. I did what I could before my strength workout – which included deadlifts, plyometrics, and some arms – then did the rest of my rehab exercises with bands once I got home.

In a quest to eat all my veggies, I made this Asian-inspired brown rice & quinoa bowl – the idea came from this NYT Food recipe but I added several things: most importantly, shiitake mushrooms sautéed with minced garlic and a little salt.

kimchi rice bowl with egg

I turned on the College Football national championship game and had a grand old time foam rolling and going through a few yoga poses. So my national championship game watching experience was…totally normal.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 9:36/mile + strides + core

I’m really not sure what happened with this run. I was sore from yesterday’s jumping split squats and squat jumps, and was super relaxed for a nice easy jog. From my effort, I wouldn’t have been surprised to look down and see 11:00 miles, so I was pretty surprised to see 30 seconds off my normal easy pace. My effort at the end got a little more labored, so I think I should have backed off more at the beginning.

adorable cat photo

This rascal loves core work time, if only to interfere.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

All the DOMS. Decided to switch Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:23/8:54/8:36)

I ran after work, knowing I’d finish in the dark. I ran the same workout last week with slightly faster paces, although both were in the ranges that my plan called for.

I think I ran this week’s workout better than last week’s, even with the slower paces. I stayed more relaxed/controlled, and I had more gas in the tank when I finished. I saw my current Garmin pace get down to 8:05/mile in the last half mile (oops), backed off, and cruised the last quarter mile to the end. I felt great afterwards.

BUUUUT then I got home AND I was so hungry AND so I made dinner AND so I forgot my beloved rehab exercises. **sad face**

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:14/mile + 4 strides + rehab exercises

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual 12 miles @ 10:36/mile + core

After moving my tempoish workout to Thursday each of the last two weeks, I knew this one would be a little tough. It was. But it was a really beautiful day, and I did a full 25 minutes of core work at home later, which was a big win.

long run silver comet

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Not a damn thing.

It was a holiday weekend and I felt like garbage. My Fitbit registered precisely 2000 steps. I did nothing.

Week 5: 25 miles

I saw some improvement in the resolutions I’m tracking for this training cycle:

  • Rehab/core work – A minus: I got in all the rehab exercises and core work, but I was lazy with the rehab exercises one day.
  • Sleep – A: Last week, I wanted to be more consistent with staying near my 8 hours/night goal. This week my sleep was on target according to my Fitbit…with a Sunday nap in there to pad my stats.fitbit sleep tracking
  • Nutrition – A: I hit my fruit/veggies goal like a champion! (I ate over a pound of spinach. It may have been overkill.) I had a smoothie after nearly every run, which made it so much easier to hit that fruit/veggie target. And I had just two meals from restaurants all week! Having friends with kids who invite you over for home-cooked deliciousness helps with this.
  • “Body maintenance” – C: I skipped yoga when I wasn’t feeling great, and I also missed an appointment with my foam roller. On second thought, do I get a “D” here?

How about you: do you have trouble getting enough fruits and veggies? Either way, let me know your secrets to getting your nutrition right. 

Paris Marathon Training – Week 4

If the work week is an endurance event, then the holidays really zapped me of my work-stamina. Wednesday felt like it should have been Friday, and that’s my week in a nutshell.

Week 4: 1/4-1/10

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: chiro + 40 min strength training

Last week, when I posted about how not planning enough time got in the way of my doing all the “little things” to keep myself injury-free, this was the day I was thinking about. I didn’t plan my day well and didn’t get the work done that I needed to do. The strength workout was a lot of shoulders/chest/triceps/back/core.

For the third chiro visit in a row, I got a resounding vote of confidence from Dr. Eng to keep up the good work and run all the miles. I’m starting to really notice how much better my hips, glutes, and quads feel with the work he’s been doing and my rehab exercises. He introduced the idea of getting on more of a “maintenance” schedule where I come in once a month. I think I could get on board with that idea next month, but right now I see the biweekly appointments as a security blanket – I know he’ll take care of whatever’s bugging me at least every two weeks.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Just a nice easy, sunny, chilly run at lunchtime. I love winter lunchtime runs. I felt the slightest tinge of ITB pain after my run, so I spent some extra time foam rolling and in pigeon pose.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

My core was pretty sore from the last two days’ workouts, and when some unexpected appointments took up a part of my day I hadn’t planned for, I decided to switch my Wednesday and Thursday workouts.

I noticed that when I take the train to run errands (like grocery shopping), I get quite a few extra steps in my day. My Fitbit registered over 13k steps – which, with my desk job, is pretty good for a rest day.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:12/8:50/8:23) + rehab exercises + PT

Another chilly lunchtime run, gray and a little foggy but really nice weather, and the workout went off without a hitch. I remembered to stay relaxed during the workout – sometimes I get anxious about workouts (I realize that is crazy, but it’s true).

Piedmont Park oval atlanta

As usual, I went to the PT with a lot of tightness through my right hip and outer quad, this week so much that my right leg pulled to the side when I fully relaxed it. He needled my right quad, piriformis, TFL, glute med (where I’d been feeling some soreness), and both my right and left psoas – those little boogers have been knotted up for over a year. I REALLY felt it in my right glute med for the rest of the day.

Friday:

I didn’t want to move my long run to Sunday, so I added in a rest day to help myself recover from Thursday’s workout. And I do love Friday rest days.

The end of the week finally came, and we celebrated by staying in with homemade veggie pizza and a movie.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual: 12 miles @ 10:45/mile + core

WOOF. This run was awful. It started out feeling funny and just never got better. I’m of the superstitious belief that if all your training runs are magical, your race will probably suck…at least that’s what I tell myself after days like this. I’m glad I got it done and I was extremely glad when it was over.

silver comet mableton ga

I bought two Powerball tickets with the spare change in my car, and managed 8 minutes of core work before throwing in the towel. Later, we had a busy night celebrating one of my favorite people’s 30th birthdays (happy birthday Sarah!!) and seeing off one of Jeff’s grad school classmates, who got a job with a construction software company in Silicon Valley. It was a much later night than I am accustomed to.

Sunday:

  • Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:09/mile + 15 min yoga

I slept in and was lazy most of the day after the exhausting Saturday. I made further strides toward perfecting the breakfast pizza – one egg on the crust and another broken over the toppings. I barely made it out the door before dark for the run, but I managed to get it done just before the sun went down.

breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizza v2.0: mozzarella, egg, thinly sliced potato, caramelized onion, mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, sautéed spinach, Italian sausage, and more egg/mozz.

Week 4: 25 miles

I have mixed feelings about this week of workouts – it was just an okay week. I also had mixed results with respect to my 2016 resolutions:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I was 1 for 2 on rehab exercises, and 1.5 for 2 on core work (I cut Saturday’s short). But I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t gone through the exercise of breaking it all down and coming up with these resolutions, there’s no way I would have done any core work on Saturday.
  • Sleep – B: I made my average of 8 hours/night, but that included one 10+ hour night and a couple of nights when I came up more than 30 minutes short. I’d like to be more consistent.
  • Nutrition – C-minus: I only got my servings of veggies 3/7 days, and fruits just one day. I’m really glad I started tracking this, because it’s an area that I can definitely improve. (Is it just me, or is it harder in the winter?) I did eat just 5 meals out during the week, which was better than I hoped to do.
  • “Body maintenance” – A-minus: I could have done more yoga, but overall I was consistent with seeing the chiro/PT, foam rolling, and doing what I can to stay loose and limber.

How was your week of training/workouts? If you set any resolutions or goals, how are they coming along?

Paris Marathon Training – Week 3

Whew! After last week’s Christmas Adventures Across Tennessee, I was happy to spend a laid-back week at home. I watched a lot of football and got to play with my new Christmas toys, especially my pizza stone! As of today (Sunday), I have made 5 pizzas in the past week. Maybe I will get sick of it someday.

Week 3: 12/28-1/3

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises
  • Actual: Travel to ATL + 30 min spinning + rehab exercises

Not the greatest cross-training session ever: I couldn’t get my wireless headphones to connect to my phone, and about 15 minutes of the 30 were spent halfheartedly spinning while fiddling with the headphones.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 3 miles easy @ 10:05/mile + strides + core

I went back to the Beltline for a nice run with the weather still in the 60s! As is my game day superstition, I planned my run outfit in Baylor’s school colors. For a while, I had been guiltily eyeing these overpriced fancy black and gold-reflective shorts from Lululemon, so I was happy to snap them up once they were marked down to well over 50% off. The game was a huge success for the Bears, and I’m pretty sure my spirit was a contributing factor.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ last 2 @ steady pace + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: 5 miles: warmup @ 10:31/mile, last 2 8:57/8:53 + rehab exercises

Jeff is in grad school at Georgia Tech, so he let me join him as a guest to Tech’s huge and really nice gym. This was my first “workout” in several weeks, so I’m out of practice being uncomfortable. This run wasn’t too terribly hard, but I’m glad my plan is easing me into more challenging workouts.

georgia tech rec center

The gym was closing as I was finishing up my rehab exercises. I did maybe 10 min of yoga  poses focusing on hip flexibility before heading out.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day + New Year’s Eve

I cleaned house all day – no fun but much needed – then we joined our friends Randy and Sarah to ring in the new year with football and pizza. I got to use my new pizza stone, which was a gift from Jeff – it was perfect because I have been contemplating buying one for over a year but never pulled the trigger. (It is also a perfect gift for him because he gets pizza out of it.) I’m not great at working with the dough, so my pizzas are oddly shaped.

 

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides +  Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:18/mile + 4 strides + Myrtl + New Year’s Day

I went back to the soft, flat half-mile loop I’d been running during week 1. One of the downsides of this spot is that it doesn’t drain well when there’s been a lot of rain, so this was the first day I thought it might not be a giant mud puddle. There were a few puddles left, and geese were loving the puddles.

piedmont park geese atlanta

I did not eat any black eyed peas this New Year’s Day, so I suppose there goes my prosperity for the year.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 10 miles + core
  • Actual: 10 miles @ 10:01/mile + core

My IT band pain had been bothering me on and off since Wednesday’s run, so I was pretty nervous for this run. I almost put it off until Sunday. I drove out to an asphalt rail-trail that is long enough to do a full out and back. If you’ve ever taken much time off from running, you probably know the feeling of your stride being awkward and the motion of running feeling labored (or is that just me?). This run was the closest I’ve felt in the last three weeks to running feeling natural, a sensation that felt like my body would run whether or not my brain told it to. I was encouraged by how the day went and hope that runs like this one become more frequent!

running trail cobb county

Sunday:

  • Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: 15 min bodyweight strength work + 75 min gentle yoga

I spent Sunday enjoying the last of my days off for the holidays. I don’t think my Fitbit even registered 5000 steps! I did a quick 15 minute set of bodyweight strength exercises focused on hips, glutes, and hamstrings, then caught a gentle yoga class.

Week 3: 21 miles

This week went as well as I could have hoped. I got in all my workouts – not too much of a challenge given that I didn’t have a full work week – but they went as well as I could have expected.

How did you spend your New Year? Do you eat black eyed peas every year, or pass?

Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 1 & 2

Just like that, marathon training is here. My favorite Christmas gift this year is the ability to run and train for this marathon. I was pretty nervous that it wasn’t going to happen during my time off, when test runs were ending in pain.

With the exception of Week 1, when I was running all easy without a structured training schedule, my training looks basically like this:

  • Monday: cross-training or easy run + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Tuesday: easy run + strides + core
  • Wednesday: tempo run / workout + rehab exercises + optional strength training or yoga
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: easy run + strides + Myrtl routine
  • Saturday: long run + core
  • Sunday: yoga + optional cross-training

I appreciate that all of the non-running stuff is written into the schedule, so I don’t have to think about when (or if!) I should do it. In my last post, I talked a little bit about discipline. While I think this looks like a lot, I’m running low mileage, so I shouldn’t have any trouble having the discipline to get all the “extras” in to stay strong and healthy.

Week 1: 12/14-12/20

Monday: Rest day + chiro + rehab exercises

I was pretty frazzled when I went to the sports chiropractor. I’d been injured for 3 weeks, I had a setback the week prior, and I started feeling pain on a test run I tried to do Sunday. I had given up on that run and was somewhat convinced that Paris couldn’t happen.

He had a totally different (read: more optimistic) perspective. He examined some of the “problem areas” we’d been working on, which had improved, to my surprise. He helped me see that I was making progress: I wasn’t feeling sharp pain while running anymore, only after running. This was true: the week before, I had a really nice run with a friend, then hopped on a plane to New York. My ITB got so tight while I was sitting on the plane that I had to limp through the airport after landing. It took 2 more days for me to walk without any pain.

The fix was so simple I kicked myself for not thinking of it: just foam roll/stretch immediately after running, and don’t sit in one place for hours. And with that, I could resume normal training. Simple!

That evening, we had our annual runners’ holiday party / gift exchange. We had a great time getting together and catching up. I ended up getting a green Under Armour hat and burgundy ear warmers: the perfect way to gear up for winter marathon training!

atlanta women's running

Tuesday: 3 miles easy @ 10:13/mile + core work + PT

One of the suggestions my chiro gave me was to run on soft, flat surfaces while coming back. The best/closest option is this half-mile loop. I did some stretching before driving home then did some foam rolling & core work when I got home. And just like that, no pain the next day!

atlanta running trail park

My soft, flat trail

I saw the physical therapist that afternoon, who did some dry needling in my glute, hip, and the outside of my right quad.

Wednesday: Indoor cycling class @ Cyc Fitness + rehab exercises

I have been meaning to try out Cyc’s spin classes since it is next door to my office. Everyone was super nice, and they share facilities with the Forum Athletic Club, meaning I could use their locker room & products after class before heading back to the office. Cyc has its own take on the indoor cycling class format, and while it wasn’t my very favorite, I had a good time and a good workout.

Thursday: 5 miles easy @ 10:10/mile + bodyweight strength work

I was happy to successfully complete another run without a hint of pain, even though the 10 loops around got pretty boring. Afterwards, I did a strength workout that focused on glutes, hips, & hammies by combining some movements similar to my rehab exercises (such as hip thrusts) with more fun strength exercises like pistol squats and single-leg deadlifts.

 

atlanta park skyline sunset

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: 7 miles easy @ 10:38/mile + core work

14 laps around the gravel loop, and I didn’t feel great from the start. It was just one of those “off” running days. I never felt ITB pain (yay!) and I listened to a podcast interview with Tom Foreman that was the perfect bad-running-day listening material. His enthusiasm for running is contagious, and he actually talked at some length about embracing the bad running days.

quinoa granola homemade

Then I made granola and all was yummy.

Sunday: 3 miles easy @ 10:22/mile + rehab exercises

About a mile and a half into the run, I started feeling a little bit of discomfort around the IT band. It was very minor – maybe a 1 or 2/10 on the pain scale. I paid extra attention to my form for the rest of the run, and the pain didn’t get any worse.

Week 1: 18 miles

 

Week 2: 12/21-12/27

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises
  • Actual: 45 min spinning + rehab exercises + chiro

I had an encouraging visit with the sports chiro. He was pleased with my progress, both with running the week before and the improvement in the tightness/imbalances that we’ve been working on. I got the green light to run all the miles!

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + core work
  • Actual: 3 miles easy @ 10:11/mile + core work + PT

I decided to try running my shortest run of the week on the Beltline, which is a little more convenient to me than the loop I’ve been running. It’s a rail-trail that’s mostly flat, but the downside is that it’s paved with concrete. I felt about the same amount of discomfort on this run as I did on Sunday: it was there, but it was never enough to be concerning. I skipped the strides because the idea of any faster running made me nervous.

I had a call with Jason about my training plan, and aside from helping me feel confident that I can be ready for Paris, he mentioned that sometimes with ITBS, picking up the pace can result in changing the angle of the leg in a way that is less stressful on the IT band. This made me feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of faster running.

In my PT visit, I got all the needling. Right quad, hip, glute, left hip flexor, and a little in the back. There was some improvement from the week before, but my right quad in particular is a nasty mess.

I required a little self-bribery motivation to finish up the core work.

creature comforts beer athena

 

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ last 2 @ steady pace + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @10:40/mile + rehab exercises

I did this run on the treadmill after work and I felt awful during the whole run. When I picked up the pace, I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. NOT AGAIN. F*$K this $H!T. I did my rehab exercises dutifully and foam rolled/lacrosse balled/stretched A LOT. All while crossing my fingers that this pain wasn’t indicative of something serious.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Travel to Memphis + Christmas Eve

I hesitate to call this day “rest” because it was really not very restful at all. As Jeff and I were about to embark on a multi-day journey from Atlanta and across Tennessee – with the cat – said cat decided to win the hide-and-seek championships of 2015 by posting up inside my box spring. Imagine my consternation as I searched the apartment for a cat that seemed to vanish. I wish my iPhone camera could have captured the moment when I found her staring at me through the hole she clawed in the mesh at the bottom of the box spring.

We drove the six hours and had Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle’s house out in the country near Memphis. It was warm enough to be outside, cool enough for bourbon by the fire, and altogether a fun time with my family.

tennessee christmas pudding

My uncle, lighting the Christmas pudding.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides +  Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl + Christmas

Three soggy, flooded miles along the paved trails by my parents’ house. I ran through a few ankle-deep puddles then decided to run the roads back to my parents’ house, which had some hills I decided to walk down. I still had a bit of discomfort in the knee on this run.

germantown tn running trail flood

Trail or creek?

Christmas was full of food, gifts, drinks, political arguments, and laughter.

IMG_6382

brother.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 10 miles + core
  • Actual: Travel to Knoxville

My plan was to wake up early and get the run in while in relatively flat Memphis, but when I woke up, my knee was feeling some discomfort from just walking. I decided to opt for extra sleep and put off the run.

IMG_6394

Road tripping with Lucy

Sunday:

  • Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: 10 miles @ 10:30/mile + core

We spent the day catching up with Jeff’s family. One of the highlights was hanging out with his brother, sister-in-law, and their baby girls. We saw them in the NICU when they were itty bitty, so it is so fun to see them as happy, chubby, expressive babes!

I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get my long run done, because Knoxville, AKA Rocky Top, is super hilly. What luck that Jeff’s sister-in-law was able to bring me to her gym as a guest for free!

Long running on the treadmill is quite a mental challenge. All the respect for you guys who regularly run long on the treadmill. I also did some core work after the run, but not the full 3 sets planned.

Jeff’s stepmom made an amazing homemade Italian feast, and I nearly ate myself into a coma. She also makes these Italian pastries that I swoon over every time. She sent me home with a freezer bag full of them, which was a delicious mistake. I’m already almost finished eating them…oops.

Week 2: 19 miles

I’m happy to be able to run and train, but I’m still not sure what to think about this knee just yet. I am seeing more and more value in the low-mileage training plan, because I don’t think my ITBS could handle what I would consider “normal” marathon training.

A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a healthy and happy 2016! If you’re running a spring marathon, let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Tom Foreman’s My Year of Running Dangerously

Running is about more than just pounding the pavement. It involves sliding into the proper state of mind. Getting into the groove. You have to reach far down to find that delightful slice of Zen that comes only when you breathe deeply, your thighs burn, and your heart thunders.

CNN correspondent Tom Foreman’s new book, My Year of Running Dangerously, chronicles his journey from occasional jogger to ultramarathoner over the course of the year. If this sounds crazy to you, you’re not wrong. 10% rule be damned!

Over that year, Tom ran the Mardi Gras Half Marathon, the Publix Georgia Marathon, the National Half Marathon, the Gettysburg Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, the Parks Half Marathon, and the Stone Mill 50. This book isn’t a how-to about the technical aspects of running and training, although Tom devotes plenty of pages to discussing road racing and trail running, all with a characteristic self-deprecating sense of humor.

Tom writes candidly about how his family life, relationships, and responsibilities as a CNN journalist covering the 2012 presidential election fit around his training and racing. He does all this with a sense of humor and honesty about his struggles and self-doubt. “Doubt,” he writes, “is a constant companion of distance runners.”

Tom’s inspiration to begin his year of running was his young daughter’s ambition. On Thanksgiving, his 18-year-old daughter Ronnie – then a freshman at Georgia Tech – asked him to train for a marathon with her.

Naturally, Tom’s relationship with Ronnie is central to his story. Tom writes about Ronnie as an admiring father: it is Ronnie, even more than Tom, who is the voice of wisdom in the book. Ronnie’s voice of wisdom becomes evident when she sets ground rules for marathon training with her dad: 1) be honest, 2) whatever the schedule calls for, we do, 3) no one gets left behind.

Tom’s work with CNN required him to train in unfamiliar places, and sometimes during odd hours of the day. He recounts a long run in the Las Vegas area when he got lost after dark. I couldn’t help but chuckle and nod my head with understanding as he described the apocalyptic scenarios that entered his head while he was unsure of his location or if he would ever make it back:

I gauged the angle of the asphalt by impact, and guessed where my next step should fall. I knew I could easily miscalculate, break an ankle, and tumble off into a ravine. If I went down out here I would not be found until the next day at the earliest, long after the cold and critters had done their worst.

Halfway through his book, Tom begins training for the Stone Mill 50, a 50 mile trail race. Ultramarathoning, especially on trails, presents unique challenges. Describing the long miles and hours required to prepare for the race, Tom writes, “It was like making time to watch Gone with the Wind each morning before breakfast.”

After initially struggling with the cuts, bruises, falls, and hills that vexed him as a new trail runner, Tom draws inspiration from Thoreau. He learns to enjoy his daily date with the trails of Maryland, even if those days are occasionally interrupted by phone calls of breaking news relating to Iran’s missile and nuclear programs.

Besides the daunting mileage and technical trails, in his ultra training Tom encounters a struggle familiar to many of us in the distance running community: finding balance. He realizes that his wife Linda – while she is patient and encouraging – is really tired of his absence and his incessant running chatter. On a visit to Atlanta to see Ronnie, she provides this wisdom from her own marathon training experience and her aerospace engineering studies at Georgia Tech:

You can put the biggest engine you want into a rocket, but if the rest of the spacecraft can’t handle all that energy, it’s going to blow to pieces. You’ve got to have balance. I realized after I finished the marathon that running one is not so tough. Doing it without letting the rest of your life fall apart is the challenge.

Tom adds additional insight to this thought:

This is a thought that is often overlooked in all the inspirational running books and websites. Plenty of writers talk about mind over matter and about runners “willing” themselves to the finish line, but precious few address the possibility that maybe doggedly chasing a goal is not enough.

The last several chapters of the book are devoted to what I’ll call the best race recap I’ve ever read: Tom’s recap of the Stone Mill 50.

Before the race, Tom reflects on the experience of Edison Peña, a Chilean miner who was trapped in a mine in 2010 for 69 days during his marathon training. While underground, he continued training, and ran the New York City Marathon less than a month after being rescued.

Tom discusses the mental battle that is the 50 mile trail race, the camaraderie of the ultra community, his pacing errors, and a few notable characters he encounters. He contemplates a DNF, resolves to “forcefeed (himself) like a pet lizard,” feels pain down to his bones, falls in streams, and at 40 miles describes himself as looking like “Larry King emerging from the desert.”

I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil his account of the Stone Mill 50. When I read it, I felt concerned and a little nauseous at times. I laughed, I winced, and I felt the highs and lows of the experience as if I were there with him.

After the race, Tom’s younger daughter Ali asks him why he ran the Stone Mill 50. In his response he tells Ali, “I stopped getting through my days, and I started getting into them. I guess I ran this race because I didn’t want that to end.”

Through experiencing this year of running dangerously, Tom and his entire family gained a love of running – all four of the Foremans are now running distance races. Yet, from Tom’s experience with the Stone Mill 50, his family gained valuable perspective:

Running isn’t the dominant force in our household. We like it, but primarily because it helps us enjoy our lives more than we have for some years…We all do a better job of putting aside our daily challenges and frustrations to enjoy our fleeting moments together…We laugh more, hug more, and dance more…

This is the real reason I love running like an idiot against the miles, against the calendar, and against the odds. Running puts me in touch with the moment, and reminds me how each one is rare and precious…

I run to show my daughters that life is worth more than just living. It is worth living deeply and passionately, in a way that looks forward and sees an endless road – inevitable and ideal.

As much as Mr. Foreman’s book is about running, it’s also a book about relationships. Tom is candid about his struggles to find balance between running, work, and family/friends. Ronnie understands this struggle and often gives him advice based on her own perspective and relationships. Tom’s wife, Linda, perseveres in encouraging him even when she’s sick of all the time he spends training, and Tom works to find a balance that works for his marriage. Their youngest daughter, Ali, is the the clever voice of non-running wisdom. Her witty quips remind Tom that his training is his choice, and he should enjoy it!

If you’re a distance runner, an aspiring distance runner, love someone who is a distance runner, or enjoy inspirational stories with a dose of humor, I recommend that you check out this book.

Will you be in Atlanta this weekend (October 17)? If so, make plans to see Tom Foreman at 10:30 am at the Tech Square Barnes & Noble store for a discussion of his book + book signing! Event details here.

Note: Penguin Random House provided me with a review copy of this book. I did not receive any additional compensation for this review. All opinions about this book are my own.

The Oprah-Marathon Runner’s World Article

This morning, I woke up to the following in my Twitter notifications:

Runner’s World published an online article from a contributor, JoAnna Novak, listing 5 reasons why she doesn’t want to run a marathon. “OPRAH” (in all caps and boldface) is her #1 reason. I was considering writing a blog post about it, and this tweet sealed the deal.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

1.) OPRAH:  Ever since Oprah ran the Marine Corps Marathon (with her time of 4:29:20) in 1994, marathons have been about completion. According to “How Oprah Ruined the Marathon,” Edward McClelland’s 2007 article in Salon, the queen of daytime television ushered in a new era of populist racing. Forget a competitive time—the point of running 26.2 miles could simply be … to finish? For better or for worse, I’m a perfectionist, an all-or-nothing gal, who wants to go big or go home. I’m not going big with a marathon so … I’ll stay home.

2.) THE ME-ME-ME SHOW: Just like that pesky friend who’s always announcing her new-found pescatarianism (minus oil, minus dairy, plus chia), the hobby marathoner just rubs me the wrong way! From her Facebook posts about the amazing sights she sees on her long run, to the adoption of idiosyncratic lingo, to the epic race-day dramas (fueling stations! strains!): call me a scrooge, but all that attention just cramps my running style.

This article struck a condescending tone, drew the ire of many, and was praised by a few. Here are a few points I took from the article, and my reaction to those points.

1. The perils of populist racing. A large, diverse, inclusive running community results in the following:

  • more runner-friendly trails
  • more races
  • more running groups
  • more running gear to choose from
  • more running magazines/articles
  • more RUNNING-RELATED EVERYTHING!

These results are wonderful for all runners! Can any runner honestly say he or she doesn’t value a greater number of choices in gear and trails?

BOTTOM LINE: All runners realize the benefits of a large, growing, inclusive running community.

2. Complete vs. compete: I’m not sure what the author is trying to say with these remarks. Is she saying that it’s not worth running a race if you’re not in contention to win? St. Jude, the headline charity of the marathon I recently ran, would certainly disagree. The St. Jude Marathon alone raises nearly $6 million annually for St. Jude. We ran through the St. Jude campus twice and were thanked countless times for running for the kids. Sorry, kids with cancer, JoAnna thinks only winners should run marathons. Also, see point #1 above – the number of marathons in existence would shrink considerably if the 3-hour-plus crowd stayed home.

I don’t believe she truly feels that way, but as an author, she should realize that words have meaning. “Competitive” means “of or relating to a situation in which people or groups are trying to win a contest or be more successful than others” (thanks, Merriam-Webster).

More likely, JoAnna doesn’t want to run a marathon because she may not be able to run an arbitrary time that she has deemed “competitive”. She implies that those who run four-hour-plus marathons didn’t care about their time and trained only to finish. I’d like to believe that I’m living proof that isn’t true – read my St. Jude Marathon training posts, and decide for yourself if I was training only to finish (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I also know slower marathoners than myself who trained their asses off and did their best.

I’ve observed an attitude among some above-average marathoners that ignores genes/natural ability as a factor in a person’s marathon time. A well-meaning runner friend once told me, “You can definitely run a 3:30 marathon. Just do speed work. That’s what I did.”

I could have countered, “You can definitely run a 2:02 marathon. Just train like Dennis Kimetto.” It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates my point.

I’m NOT suggesting that runners should begin telling each other they aren’t talented enough to meet their stretch goals. Rather, I believe that we should be proud of doing our best within genetic and other constraints (life, work, family, etc). No one in this situation is deserving of judgment or condescension. See #1 for further reading.

BOTTOM LINE: Results aren’t directly proportional to training and effort. Don’t write off slower marathoners as not being “competitive,” lest a faster marathoner/5k racer/etc do the same to you.

3. [Paraphrase] “People annoy me with their social media activity, so I will not participate in the same activities as they do.”

JoAnna, it sounds like you need to clean out your social media friend/following closet if it upsets you that badly. There’s no rule that you have to Instagram a photo from every run if you choose to train for a marathon. You do you.

You will probably never do any of the following if you apply this attitude consistently:

  • eat food of any kind
  • go on vacation
  • have children
  • have political opinions
  • cheer for a team playing a sport

BOTTOM LINE: Someone on social media will annoy you with their posts on any topic, including puppies, kittens, and bunnies. I cannot think of a more ridiculous reason not to do something that you otherwise would want to do.

My position is simple: don’t run a marathon if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to run a 5k, don’t. If you don’t want to attempt heavy weightlifting or crazy yoga poses, don’t. And don’t pressure someone to do something they don’t want to do. It’s not hard.

Someone once asked Jeff, a two-time marathoner himself, if he encouraged me to run a marathon. He responded, “I would never encourage anyone to run a marathon.” He went on to explain that training for a marathon requires time, sacrifice, pain, ungodly grocery bills – it has to be something you want to do for yourself. I agree with him.

There’s no shame in saying “I don’t want to run a marathon,” or “I only want to run a marathon to finish” and leaving it at that. We shouldn’t have to justify these desires to anyone. If someone tries to shame you or another runner for not conforming to his/her ideal of running, my belief is that person’s opinion doesn’t matter.

A New Year Approaches: 2015 Goals & Wild Dreams

‘Tis the season for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new year. The pinnacle of my year in running was two weeks ago, and I’ve recapped and analyzed it to death, so I’m going straight for the 2015 goal post.

I’ve found that going public with goals is helpful with enforcing discipline. Early in my marathon training, there were times when the only thing that got me out the door to train was the fact that I’d been open with the whole of the Internet that I wanted to beat Oprah.

Last week, Elizabeth had a get-together for a group of Atlanta female running bloggers, and spending just an evening with these ladies was inspirational. This group of women had their first BQs, their first children, ran ultras, got massive PRs, and started training for their first marathons and triathlons. This brief summary isn’t even doing the accomplishments of the group justice.

Believe training journal

To add inspiration to inspiration, I was lucky enough to get the Believe Training Journal as my gift in the dirty Santa game (thanks Amy!). I’d heard good things about this journal, but even flipping through it has exceeded my expectations. There’s a goal-setting section, and this quote really stood out to me: “Give yourself the freedom to dream without regard for what is or isn’t possible.”

That is 100% not my M.O.

Not even a little bit.

In an earlier post, I described my goal-setting process for the St. Jude Marathon. It’s very practical and attainable, not bad qualities for a first marathon time goal, but my goal-setting process is always that conservative.

So today, I’m going to throw out some practical, conservative goals and some wild dreams. I’m going to put myself out there and flex my oft-neglected dreaming muscles. It’s both freeing and scary!

  • Strive for balance. I left a job that ruled my life a year ago, and I’m not going to let anything take its place. This past fall, I struggled with letting go of training while on an awesome vacation. I’m not letting that happen again. My goal is to be a better friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, cousin, coworker, cat lady, and member of the community. Running has enriched my life, but I don’t want to become so singularly focused on it that it crowds out other important things.
  • Run a 5k in under 24:28. The Peachtree Road Race is one of my favorite events, but I always get bogged down by the crowds in the first half mile or so. The corrals are assigned based on qualifying race times, and by last year’s standards, a 24:28 5k would move me into a higher corral. A 24:28 5k is 1:03 faster than my 5k personal best, which happens to be the only 5k I’ve run. Anyone in the Atlanta area with suggestions of fast 5k road races in January-March, send ’em my way! I’d like to run 3-4 races in the next 3 months.
  • Avenge the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. I had a bad race last year. I want to avenge it. No specific time goals, just run a race I’m proud of.
  • Run a fall marathon. This goal is contingent upon being consistent with goal #1 up above, but I’d love to get another crack at 26.2 in the coming year. The most important goal will be training smart and doing my best, but if I could break the 4 hour mark, I’d be thrilled.
  • Contribute to the running community. Running has been a solo pursuit for me so far, but I’d like to expand my horizons: volunteering at races, running with buddies, pacing, etc. I think there’s a lot of support and camaraderie that I can give and receive by investing in the community aspect of running.

Wild dreaming time:

Atlanta people: I’d love your help with meeting my goal of becoming integrated in the running community. Give me a shout if you want to go for a run or volunteer at a race!
Also, let me know your 2015 goals!  Leave a comment or tweet at me – @racingoprah 🙂