Category Archives: balance

Marine Corps Marathon Training: The Things We Did Differently

Let’s say the training for this fall marathon actually started in January, with an e-mail to a friend-turned-coach that included some stubbornness on my end and a LOT of patience on hers. Let’s look back at life one year ago and question whether/not I’d ever choose to be tied to my HRM and the numbers and science of running? That’s a definite “No, thanks!” 

Let’s just call it like it is – things are a bit different around here these days.

- I frequent the (once-boycotted) gym, and know how to properly do a dead-lift so that I can walk normal the next day.
- I haven’t looked at, or thought about, my total weekly mileage in months.
- I have an entirely different running vocab in my brain now. (MAF!)
- I know a lot of math and science go into a sport that I once considered pretty simple. (At least I’m not the one doing it, though.)
- I ignore my pace on most runs, and usually couldn’t care less about it.


What does that mean? All of the following made up 16+ weeks of training in a way I’ve never fully trained for a full(-marathon) before:

imageBuilding the base, and dedicating an appropriate amount of time to the 26.2 mile distance.

image Strength-training workouts, twice each week. Exercises that focused on building the running muscles we need when fatigue really sets in.

image Running mostly by time, and allowing my heart to become more efficient so that within that time frame, more and more miles were covered.

imageKeeping stress really low, as much and as often as possible. Life stress affects training stress, which means you either progress or regress – your choice.

imagePaying very close attention to nutritional detail. See above: stress.

imageTrusting the whole process. All the time.

BONUS image: Reading through this book to do a little self-education on the training method that was running my life. Pun-totes-intended. That was a game-changer.

One thing has stayed the same: I have a lofty goal, and I’m pretty damn excited to chase it down.

Marine Corps Marathon Goal 2014


It’s worth mentioning that this central California lifestyle we’ve adopted is also quite different than that of DC living. Our little Monterey community is slow and quiet, sunny and peaceful. Not better or worse than DC (you know I love me some District days!), but nowhere close to as busy or bustling.

Then we went and dumped California trail races on the calendar, because oh-my-god they happen all the time and we gotta run on all the dirt! Big thanks to the Coach for letting all of these sneak in there.

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2014-08-02 07.27.05 2014-08-18 06.45.31-2


And now…

My brain is absolutely in taper-mode-overdrive, dripping little doses of anxiety here and there every time I think about running for 26.2 miles yet again. It’s a funny thing our memory does – to mostly forget the worst, but remember just enough of it to invoke panic in a moment of weakness. Taper becomes a focus of pushing those moments into the dump, and being like “Brain, CHILL OUT. We know what we’re doing!”

There were so many things done differently with this training cycle, and therein lies just enough mystery for wonder. But either way, I wanted to be more dedicated, run stronger, run faster and run MAF into the ground. Check! 

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Filed under balance, cross training, learning, marathon, running, training

MCM Training: Mindset & Long Run List

After having training plans that seemed to change by the week, I realized that maybe the day-by-day schedule doesn’t agree with my mindset. That’s fine; it doesn’t have to. Approaching marathon #4 means that I have a pretty good idea of what I’m in for  – all 26.2 miles of fun! –  how I deal with it and what I want the end results to be.

Goals: finish in 3:30, pace the legs consistently, don’t injure anything.

Since last year’s MCM approach was far from consistent and didn’t follow a routine until about 6 weeks out, I know what my mind and muscles can function off of. I know what they deal with, and what they resist. I know how to make them happy, and I know how to train them to be stronger, faster and smarter.

Since the above-mentioned routine-less approach worked, I gave this year’s “plan” some wiggle room and know that we’ll breathe easy (i.e. we have no plans to move cross-country any time in the coming weeks. Whoop!).

Meet, the mindset & the Long Run List:

decisions and values Disney  MCM long run list

They seem to have really hit it off.

Yep, it’s pen-and-paper. It’s hanging on my fridge, and I see it every day.

It’s not hard to go out and run, because my mind is on the prize and what it takes to get there! I value the self-challenge and having the ability (for now) to tackle it.

I check off each week (clearly), and see what’s coming up. I build for three weeks, and then back off. I have one half-marathon in the mix, approximately half-way through, to race with friends and test the legs’ speed.

It’s just a personal preference: I don’t like having set mileage for the days of the week. I run anywhere from 4-7 miles on weekdays, depending on whether it should be an easy day or a moderately “hard” one. I aim for 30-40 mile weeks, and build gradually. I put speedwork into the run, as if Kate were running with me and pushing the pace without knowing it. Mixed into that recipe you’ll find doses of yoga, walking, tabata-workouts, cycling & rest.

I prefer not to have a plan dictating the schedule 24/7 because life gets in the way and sometimes I want to let it. As long as each of those weeks gets a check mark and doesn’t come with an asterisk, I deem things successful!


Who else is training for a Fall race? Which plan are you using, and why? I love a good discussion around running, and the variety of plans out there always opens up a few weekday workout options!


Filed under balance, marathon, MCM, running, things that make me Happy, training

When to Look in the Mirror: Stress Management

I consider myself someone who could be filed under “easy-going”, “laid back” or whatever description you would choose to suggest that it takes a lot to stress me out. More often than not I’m a positive-thinker, and I log some miles to make sure my brain has time to return to normal levels of sanity throughout the week.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t get stressed – oh man, I do. The blood rushes to my face when somebody cuts me off in traffic, or I miss a turn and instantly feel SO LOST (D would argue that I’m directionally challenged; I like to think I can get myself around), or I sleep in past my alarm and I’m rushing around in the morning (…well, I kind of rush around either way) and feel like I need just five more minutes. I also get stressed when I don’t have at least one night per week to relax at home, or I can’t get that stupid column to fill up in the Sudoku puzzle.

But, my stressors are short lived. They come, give the fight-or-flight energy, and then leave. I don’t dwell on anything, and my inner-yogi has developed a strong “breathe, relax, breathe” system.

That means that I experience “acute” stress; adrenaline is released and I deal with the issue and my brain moves on. Done! What’s next?

This morning I woke up {ahem, after pressing snooze twice}, and went out for an easy 5 mile run around 7 a.m. Then, I got ready to give a seminar for work. It was based around Stress management - something I’ve got under control, right?

Well, as of 9 a.m.: I haven’t finished packing for our weekend get-away (typical), I have two things left to check-off the Christmas-shopping list (so close!), my car needs an oil change (what? Doesn’t that stuff last forever?), I’m desperate for a yoga class (that I’ve only been to once this week – what happened?!), I’m still bookmarking things for the holiday menu that I’m suddenly thinking might actually be a challenge (Me? No, I’ve never been responsible for a holiday meal…), and I’m realizing the drive to said seminar is much longer than I had originally anticipated (which is okay, because it’s 9 a.m. and I have time. Whew.).

Cue: stress-ball. How ironic.

I tend to do well with presentations {yup, it’s okay – we can pat ourselves on the back sometimes!}, and I felt ready for this one. But I still get nervous; I still assume that I’ll talk too fast, sweat, feel my heart beating quickly, and maybe get a question or two that I might not anticipate.

As I drove, I thought of the to-do list, the traveling, the holiday coming SO quickly and the fact that I forgot my wallet at home. Add to all the above and I think you’re getting where this is going…

Stress unpacked and set up camp.

Stress Management Tips? Those are sitting on my jump-drive and in my mental notes and in the words that are about to ebb and flow out of my mouth for the next hour.

The presentation went really well (love that feeling), my car greeted me with Christmas music and a smooth drive home, and my bags are now packed.

Look in the mirror, Heather – calm down. None of these problems are unsolvable; nothing about this day is bad – in fact, so many things about it are good! – and all of the items will get a checked box by the end of the day, week, or month. You’re fine.


I hope you’re all getting through these typically-busy weeks, and actually taking moments to breathe, relax, and take it all in. We love the holidays, right? It’s fun to stare at a flashy tree in my living room, think about family visitors that are coming, and listen to the Tchaikovsky Pandora station nonstop.

Remember, and do, the things you love - think positively, schedule time for yourself, exercise, keep the healthy eats in there with the holiday treats, and check those boxes when you can .

Enjoy the weekend! And feel free leave some tips to add to that list if you have them!


Filed under about me, advice, balance, doin things My way, learning, running

Challenge, Posture & Run Long!

Three Things Thursday, a la Morgan 

Who wants another daily e-mail to grace their inbox every morning?? I know you answered that with an overly enthusiastic YES, PLEASE!, so I’ll go ahead and share my newest thumbs-up website approval. This e-mail will present you with a Daily Challenge:


The day I signed up, I was challenged to “try a new healthy food!” – go to the store, farmer’s market, etc and pick out something totally new to you. I love that challenge, and do it pretty often, actually. But a good reminder never hurts!

I like this – well done, MeYou-Health people. I’m hooked!


Speaking of a challenge, my back & neck muscles unexpectedly took one on this week. One of the offices I spend my days at is crowded with these lovely creations:

Gaiam Chair

“Unusually effective and, well, unique looking, the BalanceBall Chair acts as a shock absorber and promotes ergonomic sitting — relieving spinal stress and preventing back discomfort.”

-Gaiam’s Balance Ball Chair

Yes, this is comfy, but it is far from your average desk chair. I like to think my posture doesn’t suffer too badly on a daily basis, but I also stand up a lot, run around a lot, and do yoga every now and then. My back muscles are just fine, right?

One would think. And that one would be wrong. My muscles were sore on Monday night, from sitting in this chair for a 9-5 day.

Sore from sitting? Who knew that could happen?

I see this as a great substitute for a standing desk; if you get tired of standing, sit in a chair that “relieves spinal stress” and when you’re spinal stress is relieved, stand up!

Have you tried one of these before?


Last, but not least, I have a 22-miler brain this week. It’s my last long run before the Marine Corps Marathon, and I want things to go smoothly. Actually, I need them to go well – my ego thrives off of that boost of confidence, my muscles thrive off of that endurance training. It’s a win, win situation!

It’s all I’m letting myself think about for the next 48 hours, until I hit “stop” on the Garmin. Saturday morning, I’m ready for you!


Filed under balance, MCM, new things!, random, training

Fuel With Love

I learned a long time ago that the way we choose to fuel will affect all aspects of our lives. Specifically, fueling mindfully before and after a workout will get you results – farther, faster, stronger, healthier. It was a slow process, but I realized what does/doesn’t work for me. I also realized it is definitely not worth it to skimp on the things you love – balance is always there to be had.

One food I love, but rarely “indulged” in at one point: Granola!

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What better way to get back in the groove, than with LOVE GROWN Granola, right?

Typically, you can look the Nutrition Facts of Granola up and down only to see high amounts of sugar, fat, and scientifically named ingredients that couldn’t be found in a kitchen. But, that’s not how Maddy & Alex do things.

Read their story; it’s not only fascinating that such young people have already created such a successful (and tasty) business, but it’s also fun amazing that their site is already full of their products, the LOVE GROWN lifestyle & Upcoming events!

{Sidenote: Clearly I couldn’t even wait for the Granola’s photoshoot to dig in. Nope, those bags up there have already been ripped open and enjoyed}

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Every bag is FREE of all of the above, and FULL of Love; FULL of ingredients you could just as likely have in your kitchen.

But, trust me, it’s worth it to let them do the cooking.

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The Cocoa Goodness? That one is going quickly. It is definitely my favorite. I had no idea dark chocolate could go so well with toasted oats. It makes for a “healthier” dessert choice: combine with plain Greek Yogurt and enjoy.

The Sweet Cranberry Pecan is a very close second! It fueled me through yesterday afternoon, as I worked and waited for RUN CLUB time!

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Our initial group was small, due to some extenuating circumstances that kept a few of my fellow lulus from joining. But, I LOVE this picture and I love that it shoes where we started! A great 3 mile loop, keeping the pace where we could all run together.

RunClub1 *******

What’s your favorite way to fuel before an early evening run?

What’s one thing you’ve done lately That “scared” you?

I can definitely say that one year ago I never would’ve assumed I would lead a running group. Last night, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.


Filed under about me, balance, food, Lululemon, new things!, running buddy