Marathon Training IN THE WINTER …..

How hard is it for you to stay motivated thru the winter?  If you have a spring marathon on the calendar like the Garmin Marathon or the Flying Pig Marathon, then you don’t have many options other than to keep yourself moving.  But that doesn’t mean you have to pound out the same hard miles, in the same hard way that you would do in the spring and summer months.  Maybe change it up a bit and try something new?  Something that might get you out of the cold and onto the treadmill or indoor track when the wind chill slips below zero or the snow is flying so hard that those oncoming cars can’t even make out your reflective vest?

  Kara Roy (black jacket) and Jennifer Lee (blue jacket) run down Mountain Avenue in a snowstorm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my snowy runs but I can’t run a quality workout when I have to worry about my footing.  So I save my easy, fun, social runs for outdoors when the snow is flying.  Then I take my hard, fast runs inside where it’s safer.  I also shorten my training cycle and lower the number of days I run each week.  I focus on power and speed and strength.   This does a few things.  1)  Helps me to avoid burnout.  2)  Makes me FOCUS on the runs that I have on the schedule each week.  3)  Allows me some free time for cross training and/or weight work.   Winter workouts are important.  This is the time to work on the areas of your fitness that need extra attention.  Strength?  I need more of this and it’s definitely something I’ll be focusing on this winter.  My goal is 2 strength workouts each week.

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Nutrition?  How is this going for you?  I was doing GREAT before the holidays.  I had lost 12#s, then I got sick, did the holidays, ran a 50K & a couple marathons, now I’ve gained 5 of those lbs back and am facing down 16#s which I need to lose before I crush the Garmin Marathon in April.  So part of my winter marathon training is focusing on my nutrition AND making sure I am getting adequate water intake each and every day.  Lean proteins.  Fruits & veggies.  Healthy fats.  Whole grains.  Water.

salad & protein  water

Rest?  You betcha!  I’ll be honest; I’m tired.  So freaking tired.  I know I’ve ran a lot of miles lately but I’m also just a poor sleeper.  And I’ve been sick.  I’m definitely run down in more than one way.  I’m good about getting my vitamin c and other vitamins that help strengthen my immune system but nothing makes up for sleep.  Maybe the winter nights are longer for a reason?  Take advantage of the darkness and get some extra shuteye.  Sleep repairs your muscles, helps build your immune system and makes you feel better!  Don’t skip the sleep or you’ll pay for it later.  This week I’m dragging.  Do I need to swim in the mornings?  Yes.  Do I need to rest more than I need to swim this week?  Yes.  So I’m sleeping in and I’ll worry about how fast (or slow) I swim next week.  Priorities. 

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Marathon training is about so much more than the miles you log.  As you age, you may also notice that your body just can’t take the pounding that was once the norm.  That’s when you start to develop aches and pains that lead to injuries OR you can shuffle the deck and change the way you train.  Change can be for the better.  I’m mixing things up this winter.  I’m going to step back on my miles a bit and focus more on quality.  One long run, one tempo, one speed.  I’ve mentioned it before but I use the FIRST Run Less Run Faster app on my iPhone to plan my workouts.  It was a $2.99 download but I’ve used the program so many times that it’s paid for itself.  This certainly won’t replace a coach if you can afford one but a coach isn’t in my budget, a $2.99 app I can justify.  Smile  I’m looking forward to picking up the pace this winter.  It’s always hard for me when I start this plan.  I can never hit the numbers initially but as I build strength, speed and confidence, I’m always amazed at where it can take me. 

** Happy Running, All! ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Trying to Find My Speed ….

It may be a little early for some people to think about St Paddy’s Day but as a dedicated Shamrock Shuffler, that’s about all I’ve been thinking about for the last month.  Smile  Which means that I also need to start preparing to run a little bit faster.

Shamrock Shuffle banner

This is my favorite race of the year.  It’s a wicked fast race.  It’s a short race.  Participants bust 5 miles thru the city of Chicago on many of the same streets which we run during the Chicago Marathon.  It is the largest 8K road race in the world, hosting a massive 40,000 runners and bringing a million plus spectators into the city to watch US run.  Yep, it is for sure THE.BEST RACE.EVER.

In addition to the Shamrock Shuffle being THE.BEST.RACE.EVER. it is also the one race each year where I want to run fast.  Like as fast as I possibly can run at the given time.  Last year I was coming back off a very severe injury and was still not a 100% so I for sure would like to better my effort of 39:22.  I would also like to throw down my fastest Shuffle to date, meaning I need to run sub 38:56 (7:49 pace), which doesn’t seem that fast sitting here in my computer chair but I’m pretty sure it will be hard when I am out on the course huffing and puffing and trying to according to Aby STAY CALM and RUN FASTER

So, for the first time ever, I am pulling a training plan for the Shamrock Shuffle.  I’ve kinda been in long/slow run mode for a long time so need to remind these legs what it feels like to get up and GO!  Enter the Run Less Run Faster app on my iPhone and I’m instantly hooked up with a training plan that gives me speed and tempo runs to make this shit happen.  This week’s training:

Shamrock Shuffle Training_week 8

 

Key Run #1 – SPEED – 4x1000m @ 8.9mph (6:44   min/mi), with a 400 meter rest interval.  I normally walk a half a lap to guzzle water then run a lap at 6.0 mph (10:00 min/mi pace).  So my RI is actually as much as 600 meters.  Sorry but it’s all about survival here.  Smile 

Notes:  This week didn’t go well.  The speed caused me to pee my pants almost instantaneously on the first 1000m interval.  Then I just had trouble hanging on at that pace for 1000 meters.  It was hard.  Like super hard.  I’ll give it a couple weeks for my body to get on board and if I’m not coming around then I’ll slow things down.  Although I want to get used to running faster, I DO NOT want to get hurt and well, my right hamstring is always troublesome anyhow so I’ll give it an honest effort but will err on the side of caution and slow things down if necessary.

Key Run #2 – Tempo Run – 4 miles @ 8.1 mph (7:24 min/mi), 1 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down.  Yeah, I have this up on deck tonight.  I should have done it yesterday but I chickened out decided to clean my house from top to bottom instead.  It’s not like I wasn’t snowed in all day and didn’t have time to do both but I still skipped it.  No more time to put it off so if you hear whimpering and crying tonight, no worries, it’s just me.  To be  honest, I’m not sure I can do this but I need to give it a shot.  I can always back the pace down but I need to make an honest effort.  I also frequently find that although a pace is daunting to begin with, if I hang on then I my body gets into the grove and can manage more than brain wants to admit.  I’m very aware of the fact that if I always run within my comfort zone, I will never know what I can really do and well, this is the year that I want to see what I can do with the Shuffle.  I am not going to run comfortably hard this year.  I’m going to run hard.  And the tempo run is the key.  I think the tempo run is the most important element of any training plan IF I want to hit my pace.  And I am going to hit my pace this year and do it with a smile on my face.  Well, at least I’ll be smiling at the finish line.  Smile

Key Run #3 – 10 miles at 7.6 mph.  This is the long run for this training plan.  Since I’m still in marathon mode with Little Rock coming up on March 2nd, I’ll be doing a few more miles and I’ll be slowing the pace down.  If I weren’t also marathoning then I would for sure give the 10 miles as shot at 7:53 pace but I know it would be a big push.

Have you ever used a training plan for a short race?  If so, which one did you use?   I personally default to the Run Less Run Faster plan because the app is so easy to use and it just spits  out detailed workouts for me.  I like that.  The easier the better in my life.   Plus the plan only calls for 3 runs a week which makes it easy to squeeze in CrossFit  without fear of overdoing it.  I’m always open to new ideas so tell me your training secrets!!

** Everybody SHOULD BE Shuffling ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Running, “What’s the Plan?”

I haven’t talked much about running as of late but if you know me, then there probably wasn’t any doubt about whether I’ve been logging miles.  The run is my first fitness love and to be honest, if I gave up everything else, I probably wouldn’t be able to give up the run. 

That being said, there is a reason as to why I haven’t been talking about it much.  I’m currently running a “do as I say, not as I do” training plan so haven’t wanted to say too much about it.   I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  No need to tell me it won’t work.  I’ve done this all my life in some shape or form long enough that I’m okay with trial and error since I don’t get paid no matter how fast I run.  If doesn’t work out, then there are a billion races down the road for which I can revise a plan and try something different.  No worries! 

When I returned to running last fall after rehabbing the tendon in my foot, I had a lot of disappointing races.  I had somewhere along the way either lost my speed or my guts drive to run as fast as I could when I toed the line.  So I backed off.  What’s the point of going to a race and being disappointed?  I mean really, I pay to race, so it should be fun.  I want to walk away happy.  So I backed off and kept things social and fun for the last six months.  I focused on biking and triathlon and not so much running hard.  I had a lot of races hit my calendar on which I hadn’t originally planned.  I knew if I attempt to “race” them all then I truly would end up racing none.  So I picked a goal race, which just so happens to be where I’ve ran my fastest half to date, the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne, IN.  This is my “hometown” race, if there is such a thing.  I get to go home, spend time with my family, see lots of high school run friends and it just generally makes me happy to be there.  The race is always at the end of September and I haven’t been able to go for the last couple of years because of conflicts with Aby’s Cross Country schedule.  No conflicts this year!  We are heading to “The Fort” next weekend to race!!

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When I realized we could go this year, I immediately started to think about the fact that I’m ten pounds over race weight running fast .  I fully acknowledged to myself that my full race/training schedule, along with Aby’s schedule, life/home, work/commuting created a bit of a conflict with my goal to run a fast half marathon.  I needed a race plan and I needed one fast.  I was TRI training and eventually had to give in and start marathon training but still needed to focus on some speed.  So I improvised.  I’ve been using the FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) Run Less Run Faster app on my iPhone since the dog ate the actual book.  I was using the app for a marathon training plan but quickly revised it to a half plan and tweaked the numbers to hit my goal pace.  Not the way it’s supposed to work.  The app (or book if you own it) spits out a plan tailored to your CURRENT fitness level based on recent race times.  I knew my recent race times were not truly indicative of my fitness or ability level.  So I improvised.  And I kept it quiet.

Once a week I’ve been working on speed, from the training app.  Once a week I’ve been running a fast tempo, from the training app.  Once a week, I deviate from the plan and run long and slow to ensure that I’ll be ready to tackle 26.2 miles at the Chicago Marathon on October 13th. 

It’s almost time to see if this little experiment will work.  I’ve got nothing to lose.  I know that nobody will be disappointed if I don’t “run fast” but I’m ready to run with my heart on my sleeve and TRY to push the pace for 13.1 miles.  As insurance, I went out on a really long and shaky limb and contacted someone who will be running and gunning for the same goal pace (1:50:xx) as myself.  This will keep me honest and hopefully if I start to cry slack, I’ll get a reality check and sharp “suck it up, cupcake” to kick my ass back into gear. 

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I haven’t ran fast for a long time.  I’m scared.  Yet I’m also excited.  The fast tempo runs have given me just enough confidence to believe that I might, just might be able to do this  ….  but only time will tell.  8 days and the results will be written in black and white.

First I have to get thru this weekend!  I have a crazy double, which I’m mentally telling myself will be good prep for the Dopey Challenge in January!  Women Rock Chicago Half on Saturday.  F’N 20 Mile Run on Sunday.  I plan to run both slow and relaxed.  Then it will be mostly R&R next week so I will be rested and  READY TO RUN my ass off at Fort4Fitness.

** Don’t Let Fear of Failure Paralyze YOU  **  Amanda – TooTallFritz  **

Fitting It All In ….

Life is busy.  For everyone.  For some, more so than others.  I won’t bore you with the details of how crazy busy I am but will give you an idea of how my week looks on the “Finish It” type marathon plan, with a little “extra” added in to finish out my TRI season.  I know that many of you are aspiring for BQs or definitive finish times but I’m not at a point in my life where I’m able willing to do what it takes for those results.  I encourage everyone to take a step back, be honest and look at their individual circumstances before making a definitive goal or training plan.   If your honest with yourself, usually the path is clear.

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In a typical week, I follow the plan below.  That being said, there are weeks where it doesn’t happen for a multitude of reasons.  Plus, if I have a twinge of pain or I know a muscle is tweaked, I play it safe.  I don’t get paid to run or TRI, these activities are hobbies in which I participate for fun and fitness.  There is nothing fun or fit about being injured.  In fact, I speak from experience when I say that injuries suck.  So for me, the answer is to listen to my body.

MondayAM – Rest.  Weekends are hard and getting back to reality is even harder.  I plan to sleep in on Monday mornings so that I don’t feel guilty about skipping a workout.  PM – Speed work on the treadmill.  I use the iPhone app for the FIRST training plan that is associated with the Run Less Run Faster book.  I plug in my numbers and it spits out a training plan based upon a three day run week.  Perfect amount of run days with TRI training.  Plus the app is much easier to comprehend than trying to read the torn up hard copy of the book that my Weim ate last spring. 

Libby_pillows_Aug 2013

TuesdayAM – 5 am CrossFit. PM – Swim (goal is to swim 1 mile or more)

WednesdayAM – Tempo Run.  PM – Bike.  If life gets in the way, the tempo moves to evening and I skip the bike.

Thursday – AM – 5 am CrossFit.  PM – Swim (but this usually gets skipped.  Time is always an issue).

FridayAM – Long Bike

Saturday – AM – Long Run

Sunday – Rest.  If all is well with the family and I feel decent then I go out for  recovery ride on the bike.  It’s a REALLY good day if I get to fit in a recovery ride.  Makes me super happy.  Smile

Yes, I’m obviously on a finish it plan.  I won’t be winning anything by spreading myself out like this but I’m doing my best, with my schedule to balance the family, the job, the commute, the swim, the bike, the run & making an attempt to get stronger with CrossFit.   Don’t ask me about training bricks because they don’t exist only happen a couple times a year.

Look at your schedule and plan your week.  When you have a plan, it’s easier to make it happen.  Is it necessary to check everything off the list, each and every week?  No.  But it’s easier to make adjustments when you have direction. 

** Finishing IS Winning ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Still Living Off the High…..

Some people like coffee, some people like energy drinks, some people jump out of bed and are ready to tackle the world without so much as a blink of an eye.  What type of person are you?

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Michael and I sleep in toasters and well …….Mick and Aby look more like Garfield above, which means they do what, sleep in a roasting oven?    I think they could sleep/stay in bed until Michael or I quite literally pulled them out of their warm oven.  Pre-Michael, their slow wake up habits were a huge benefit to my fitness.  I could get up, dress, leave, run 20 miles and come home in time to make them breakfast.  Upon my return, they would still be 1)  sleeping or 2) “possibly” out of bed but in front of the tv/computer looking like two disheveled zombies.  They never once looked at me like “where have you been” when I walked thru the door after a 20 miler cuz it wouldn’t occur to them to care as long as breakfast was soon forthcoming.  Those were the easy days.  Early morning runs.  Early morning workouts, both during the week and on weekends.  Yes, I would absolutely hop out of bed at 3:30 am to run 8 miles before Mick would leave for work at 5:15 am.  It was easy that way and the bottom line is if you wanna run a marathon, it helps to long some miles.  I just wanted to run (and still do!).

Now we have another person in the house who sleeps ready to pop out of that toaster at any given moment.  This mom’s workout routine has been all jacked up for the last 2 years. This would be the point in time when the lil booger learned to climb out of his damn crib.  My morning workouts are now sporadic because my lil man pops out of bed as soon as he hears me move.  I honestly think he can subconsciously feel my heart beat and as soon as the BPMs go up, he knows its time to rise & shine.   We go in spurts where I’ll get in some decent morning sessions, then we will go for a long time where he wakes up each and every morning before I’m even out of bed or dressed.  Then I’ll have a period where I totally give up the early sessions because I get tired.  Yes, tired.  As in tired of fighting my lil man!  I’ve been on that “tired” phase for a while.  It’s not very convenient either cuz my workouts then have to be squished into my real life.  This week was a bit hectic with 3 volleyball games, doc appts, major school projects and well, I never did squish in my tempo session yesterday.  So the tempo fell to this morning.  It was the only option.  It was this morning or it would be skipped like last week.  So how to deal with Mr. Micheal?  Threats.  Bribes.  Begging.  I told him if he got up this morn and heard the treadmill running to NOT come downstairs.  No matter what.  I threatened encouraged  him to instead go get in bed with “sissy” and I’d come get him as soon as I was finished.  Apparently he got up while I was plugged into the Walking Dead.  Went to the top of the stairs.  Screamed for me.  Then screamed that he was going to get in sissy’s bed.  Total win cuz God will never give me more than I can handle and apparently He also doesn’t want me to die running a marathon due to ill preparation.  Thank you, Michael.  Thank you, God.

What I realized after my tempo session this morn?  Wow, do I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my morning workouts.  I’ve been happy all day.  Excited about life.  Not dreading work.  At peace.  Traffic was GOOD this morning!  It’s mid afternoon and I’m still living off the high.   Thank you, Michael.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, Walking Dead for helping me nail that tempo session.  Thank you, Run Less Run Faster for the training plan that pushes my limits while still letting me manage my life.

Last thing, I’m starting to realize that I can nail this marathon plan. I’m starting to believe that it just might be possible.  I’m starting to believe that I’m copping out on my speed sessions and I can probably really do them if I just suck it up have the right thing on Netflix.  If I can run the tempo session, I can run the speed session.  I have the ability.  I have the speed.  I can do it.  It will come together.

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Barely Hanging On…..

I don’t know if I ever formally mentioned that I’m using the Run Less Run Faster book as a guideline for my training for the Lansing Marathon.

This book has a chart which gives you a target finish time of what THEY believe you should be able to run, with proper training, of course.   It takes the “I wanna run X:XX:XX” out the equation when its right there in black and white that you can or cannot probably do it based on your current run times.   After you figure out your goal pace/marathon finish time, then there are multiple training tables which plan your training.  They also include a training plan for each of the Boston Marathon Qualifying standards.  Although, I’m not necessarily looking for a BQ because it seems impossible, I did select one of those plans because unlike the more generalized plans, it spells out each and every workout down to the pace you are “supposed to” run without any additional calculations necessary.

I won’t lie, this book is intimidating as all get out.  The premise is to run 3 key runs each week:  Speed, Tempo & Long Run, then add in two cross training days.  I chose biking for my cross training since I’m on deck for a 70.3 triathlon in July.  This 5 day plan works out well for my schedule because I can juggle the days, live my life, work, be a parent, be the “soccer mom”, and still not miss anything too important training wise.  In fact, I have never ran all the miles on a normal plan so I was willing to change my focus a bit this time around from “just run the miles” to “let’s sharpen the focus”.  I’m also not a person who wants a coach to whom I need to answer to but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like the idea of having a structured plan. 

As intimidating as the plan is in regards to hitting the numbers, I was a bit surprised as to how easy the workouts were to understand.  It is all spelled out for me and I just look at it on a day to day basis.  If I can’t do my speed work on Monday, I just move it to Tuesday and look at the day on my chart for the workout details.  I program my treadmill to the desired intervals and honestly, just try to hang on for as long as possible.  The paces are NOT easy for me.  Marathon training is not easy for me which is why I do it.  The paces, the plan, the training is a constant challenge.  I have not yet nailed a speed or tempo session and I don’t know why but that doesn’t seem to bother me.  I just keep on moving to the next workout as if I DID nail it and things are progressing.  In fact, they are progressing in a positive manner.  I “almost” nailed last night’s speed session.  In fact, I nailed a good 75% of it.  Progress in week 11 with a late start and a couple “rough” weeks.  I can’t wait to see where I am on April 21st when I fight it out mentally & physically at the Lansing Marathon.  I honestly do not believe that I will hit my predicted finish time for this marathon but I will be interested to see how close I come to their prediction.  I have considered sliding back to the next slower BQ training plan but what fun is that?  I don’t want to nail every workout but rather reach for it and keep trying to improve.  So  yes, I’m “in training” but I’m barely hanging on…… good thing I don’t go to the gym cuz I might scare someone.

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Do you like to train within your comfort zone or do you try to push the limits?  I’m sure if I had a coach instead of a book, they would back me down so that I could nail it and grow my level of confidence but I kinda like it this way because this is what I do for fun.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **