Warm(ish) weather and new running shoes!

Enough said. Life is good!

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Finally got to take these babies for a test drive!

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Do I need a goal race?

Since I started running regularly, I’ve always had a goal race – something to focus my training and keep me motivated when life got busy, the weather got crappy, or I just started feeling a little burnout.  For lifting, I can keep on track if I choose strength goals or simply latch onto a progressive program.  Right now, though, I’m wondering if I need more – at least for running.

And, don’t get my wrong – my workouts are going well.  I’m stronger than ever (including before my injury) and enjoying my runs.  But, I’m getting an itch.  I feel like I need a running program.  It keeps things fresh, and helps me push myself.  Without a program, I usually run 2-3 miles on specific routes in my neighborhood.  WITH a program, I am forced to progress (and also to find new and interesting places to run!).

But then the questions start – should I sign up for a race?  If so, what?  I would love to run the Nike Half in October, but I’m not sure if finances will allow for travel to San Francisco.  I could also run the Rock and Roll half in Providence with my sister.  Or, I could try a 5k or 10k – there are appealing options (read: fun) for each distance on October 4.  So, what to do?

This is something I will be turning around in my head for the next few weeks.  On one hand, I love having a race to keep me honest.  On the other, it is nice to not be stressing about a race!  In the meantime, I’ll keep training.

Oh, and good news – Jeb has decided to start running.  We run together, which is great for me.  Even though my endurance is much better than his, he is naturally faster than me so my runs with him end up being great workouts (almost like a speed session)!

 

So, what do you think?  Race, or no race?

Snagged Some Sun

It has been raining here lately… a lot!  Normally, I like a bit of rain (hell, I used to live in Ireland – if you don’t like rain there, you’re screwed!).  I’ve also appreciated that there haven’t been too many oppressively hot days yet this summer. And, every day hasn’t been rainy (just most of them!) – we got in a hike on Sunday (during a quick reprieve from the rain), and have been less distracted by outdoor adventures enough that we’ve found time to go to the movies.  We saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and liked them both.   BUT, I’ve been lame and have not been running in the rain.  

Now, don’t get me wrong – I often really enjoy running in the rain, but I haven’t been feeling it (or any of the hassles that come along with wet clothes and gear!) and am really trying to keep things simple this summer.  So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been focusing on my lifting (cross-training) and yoga.  

Today, though, we had sun for about 4 hours (yippie!), so Wendy and I scooted out for an easy 3-mile run around the neighborhood.  It was nice.  Lifting is really helping with my running.  While my calves were screaming (as they always do when I take a break from running – even if only for a week), the rest felt great.  The same pace requires less effort – so, what would have been a really tough gut-busting workout has now become a relaxed run.  Why, oh why, did I put off getting back under the bar?!?!

When we got home, I had a nice glass of chocolate milk and read a magazine on the deck until the clouds came back!  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! 🙂

I missed National Running Day! (and other random thoughts)

What kind of running blogger misses National Running Day?  Whoops!  When I planned my workout schedule for the week, I had a full rest day scheduled for yesterday, which means NO running.  I did go for a walk and did some stretching, so that counts, right?

I’ve been really enjoying my cross-training lately.  I’m following the program in “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Hart Davis.  The program itself is great.  It focuses on glutes/hamstrings, and is challenging and fun.  Plus, it includes a lot of the work I have to do to keep my piriformis healthy (i.e. avoid injury).  To be honest, the book itself is just ok – the research is good, and it does give a basic overview of muscle development, etc.  I found the tone of the writing to be a bit off-putting (chauvinistic, maybe? – definitely generalizing what he thinks women want).  However, the book is worth picking up simply for the program and the exercise descriptions/photos.

I’ve been dragging a bit lately.  Lots on my mind (that I can’t write about here).  Suffice to say that I am working through it, and choosing self-care (like insane baking and tough workouts) to pull myself back up.

We made grilled pizza the other day.  It was amazing.  Yes, I know that “amazing” seems to be the most overused word lately, but I feel like the pizza we made was what Bertucci’s hopes to be.  I’ll post some pics later this week.

 

 

Keeping it Simple

I’m keeping it simple.  After following a pretty strict training plan for the last 6+ months, I needed a break.  The structured training was great for recovery from my injury, and gave me great confidence with my running progress.  However, since I don’t have any races scheduled, I’m taking it easy.

I’m lifting pretty hard, so I’m taking it easy on the roads.  Over the years I’ve learned that I have to listen to my body – the times when I haven’t is when I’ve gotten injured.  Wendy and I are enjoying our runs, and they are restorative and fun.  It’s nice to not stress about times or distance.

But, my little sister is running the Rock and Roll Half in Providence in September… and I’m starting to get the itch…  we will see what happens…

30 days to go!

Um – see that over there?  My countdown is truly on now – my goal race is only 30 days away!  Yikes.  To be honest, I am not feeling as ready as I expected when I signed up (though, does anyone ever feel REALLY ready for a race?).  There are a couple reasons for this:

  • My injury is not fully healed.  There are limits to how much I can train in certain ways.
  • I was rock solid about my training from November to February.  Unfortunately, I was also terrified that I would make my injury worse again or get reinjured.  This really affected my progress – although my endurance got better, and I REALLY enjoyed every workout, my pace did not increase.  I simply wasn’t pushing hard enough.  Lesson learned.
  • I’ve been feeling crazy swamped and overwhelmed for the last 4-6 weeks.  Sometimes, my workouts just haven’t happened.

Ah well.  No matter what, I know I have put in the time.  I just hope that my progress will be good enough.

 

In other news, Wendy and I are BOTH really enjoying the warmer weather. 🙂

Fear and Stride Rate

With the NWMDC Half coming up in just under two months, my focus has started shifting from building a base to building some speed. In order to finish that race, I need to meet a specific time goal – and it isn’t crazy fast or anything. In fact, before I got hurt last year, I could have easily met the time goal.

But I DID get hurt. I was in such a great training cycle, and something (or several somethings) just went wrong. I spent the entire summer nearly bedridden (I could get up for a couple minutes, but that was it – I couldn’t drive or sit long enough to even eat at the table). It was pretty horrible. Naturally, and unfortunately, memories of that time have been affecting my training. I have been VERY slowly building up my mileage – getting up to half-marathon endurance over 5ish months rather than the typical 2-3. I stretch all the time, and foam roll daily (sometimes more than once each day). I’m trying to train smarter, not harder. I pushed myself all winter, but not like I used to – I was so scared of getting hurt.

Now, I’m getting stronger. Also, I have a deadline. I have to let go of the fear, look at the numbers, and move toward my goal. So, since pace is my biggest issue, I am focusing on that. I will still do some long slow distance each week, but my other runs will focus on speed. This week, I started using a metronome to help with my stride rate. Lots of articles say that we can get the best running economy with a stride rate of roughly 180/minute, so I decided to work toward that. Knowing that I haven’t been working on speed at all (in about a year!), I set the metronome for 150 bpm and headed out for my 3.5 mile run. I kept everything pretty much the same as usual – followed my same route, kept my run-walk intervals the same, and just focused on staying on the beat. I found that the pace wasn’t too tough most of the time, but there were several times that I simply dropped off the pace. Maybe I was getting fatigued, or maybe I was just losing focus. Either way, I finished my run at roughly 20 seconds/mile faster than usual. Whoops – I guess I found my problem. So, on my shorter runs, I will work on keeping on pace and will also gradually increase it.

But, running with a metronome in my ear is simply no fun. I usually listen to audiobooks, but I’m thinking that I will revisit this once I get more confident in maintaining my pace. Maybe I will find some music that has a quick beat and use it as the same way as a metronome.

Either way, progress is being made. I was feeling pretty discouraged, because my pace wasn’t naturally improving, but I’m feeling more confident about it now. Onward!