Category Archives: Speed workouts

Run: The Track! (Starter Workout)

We took our usual Tuesday night lululemon Georgetown crew on a different adventure this week; they obliged. Conveniently one mile away from our starting point rests an under-the-radar track, just waiting for us! It may not be lit up at night, but soon enough our friend DST will jump in and fix that.

I haven’t run ovals around a track in…um…a really long time. The last I remember actually being there was during my 2011 MCM training. Oops. Luckily Coach Melani had this workout in mind, which is perfect for track-workout newbies and those of us who have gotten unreasonably lazy with speed-work. It’s not too much or too difficult, but if you pace yourself to have a little bit of juice left, that last 200m interval is perfect for a real all-out sprint.

georgetown track workout

Original photo credit: Athletic Minded Traveler.

The Starter’s Workout:

Plyometric warm-ups & stretching (knee-highs, butt-kicks, etc.)
200m | 400m | 800m | 400m | 200m
Run 200m rests in-between (no total rest or walking).

Her suggestion was to run this at level 3 – 3.5, on a scale of 1 – 5.
(“1” being conversational and easy, “5” being Don’t say a word to me I can barely breathe!)

The result:

Nicely jello’d legs that are learning how to move quickly again! It’s a good burn.


What’s your track workout of choice? I liked this one because it kept my mind entertained, vs. the usual 800, 800, 800, 800, etc. It also seemed much more manageable – thanks to the variety – against some that I’ve done in the past. Win, win!


Filed under DC, Lululemon, running, Speed workouts

Navy-Air Force Half-Marathon: Testing 1,2,3

After three full training cycles, this will be the first time I’ve put a half-marathon (well, any race distance) test right in the middle.  After four months away from the starting line, my legs are like uh, finally!  Sunday’s test of choice? The inaugural  Navy-Air Force Half Marathon (added on to the Navy 5-miler).

The actual tests themselves…

1. Race PaceWhen I registered for MCM, the 3:30 number came to mind and set up camp. I knew it would require some extra work, but all would come together. A spring racing season would check all the systems, and make sure we were set up for success.

My brain can remember a solid goal (3:30 – 3:30 – 3:30) but not always how we’ll get there. I’ve checked pace charts at least once a month since clicking “register”, yet never seem to remember that magic number.  To prep for this weekend, I checked in again yesterday.

8:00 min/mile pace – flat = 3:29:45

….no 7’s? Really? Oh. We’re good! (And the head-math will be so easy!)

Yes, I can run an 8:00 min/mile average for Sunday’s half. That’s not the goal. I want to race and see what it takes to make things hurt, and at what point that happens. Sunday’s goal – 1:38:xx .

2. Timing / Negative SplitsThis is normally not my issue – if anything, I start out too cautiously and end quickly – but last year’s MCM handed my negative-splitting legs an ego check. We’re working on that.

3. No Garmin, No tunes – The rules say no music, and my ears are used to the silence anyway (exception: long runs). But Mr. G has been on the fritz for a few months now, and I’m lazy. I don’t like to mail things or call “Customer Support”, and he’s just been sitting around the apartment with a blank screen.

I’m almost liking the Garmin-free (no pace-beeping) runs, and just using the old-fashioned MapMyRun + stop-watch method to keep things in check. Almost. On most days.

Then, I realized (this week) that I’ll have no Virtual Race Partner. No way to check what kind of cushion I have or time I need to make up. I’m shaking my fist in the air at the fact that a small piece of technology wrapped around my wrist could be so useful!

But, there was the Garmin-Fail of 2012 at the National Half. (Good times, G) So, it may take some more distracting head-math and clock-watching, but I think we’ll survive.


Navy-Air Force Half, 1:38:xx, tech-free and goin’ strong.

What’s on your goals/test list this weekend?


Filed under DC, Goals, Races, running, running gear, Speed workouts, training

Tempos & Ten Minute Tacos

As Kate put it, we seem to have entered a hibernation-mode of sorts – February means it should be (but isn’t, really) cold outside, yes? This means we should be staying warm in bed, not freezing our feet on the sidewalks, right?

Without realizing it, we’ve swapped in frequent evening run meet-ups in place of our usual 6 a.m. roll call. We’ve put the miles in after a day at work, choosing an extra hour of sleep instead. My motivation was quickly reminded why we love starting the day with a run – nothing else gets in the way, nothing stops you from going or wanes on your motivation (aside from sleep, of course…), nothing feels better than kicking the day off with a good sweat.

Today, that came in the from of tempo miles. Another brutal reminder – those are tough, and made even tougher by an uphill climb to get home. Geeze.

In other news, we had an easy-meal breakthrough in the kitchen last night! Both of us had that wiped-after-work energy level, and both of us could’ve easily gone for those getcha-when-you’re-down neighborhood take-out options. But really, what tastes and feels better is a homemade meal – so, think fast! These tacos took a whopping ten minutes.

ten minute tacos before cheese

Bean & Corn Ten-Minute Tacos

1 (15 oz) can, Black beans (rinsed)
1 (15 oz) can, Whole Kernel Corn (rinsed)
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes*
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 – 1 Avocado sliced**
Taco Shells **
1/4 cup salsa (your choice!)
Seasonings: cayenne, black pepper
1 tsp Olive oil

*Could also use – chopped tomatoes, or fire-roasted diced canned tomatoes

**Depends on how many you’re serving, and/or how much you love these tacos.

Heat oil over medium in a deep sauté pan. Add bean, corn, tomatoes and seasonings. Stir until combined, cook for 5-7 minutes until heated through. Add salsa and mix well.

Line your taco shell with avocado slices, and pile the bean-corn mixture in there! If you’re up for an extra flavor, top with shredded cheese. This step comes highly recommended, but we’ll leave it up to you…

Ten minute tacos


What’s your favorite ten-minute meal?


Filed under dinners, early morning, Meatless Monday, recipes, Speed workouts

TTT: ‘Now I Get It’ Edition

Three Things Thursday, a la Morgan

1) Hard taco shells, well done

I made black bean & sweet potato tacos last night, inspired by Alyssa’s recipe on Inspired Rd. Tacos never disappoint, and they are among many of my favorite dishes that allow for personal taste additions. For instance, want green without the lettuce? Add avocado! (Not exactly a nutrient/calorie substitution, but that’s not something to concern yourself with when you have fresh avocados to use up) One taco thing I have not yet mastered? The corn tortillas.

I’ve baked them, which warms up the round corn-made disc enough for bending without breaking. But I’ve overbaked them, underbaked them, and I’ve opened a fresh package only to find mold.

Corn tortillas: 3, Heather: 0.

Alyssa had a great tip for creating that taco “shell”, one I had never considered. Simplicity always works!


Use your already heated pan (low heat); plop the tortilla on there, and flip it like a pancake. Give it a minute or two on each side, remove from heat when it’s floppy and slightly cooked (see picture). Set it on your plate and fold in half.

No, it does not fold in on itself! I know, I thought it would, too.

Instead, it forms the perfect taco! Fold gently, and fill it up, and you have that inside space to work with, without the cracking, tearing or general “I’m too soft for this”-rolling.

I’m still amazed by how easy this is, and by the fact that I am just discovering it. Hard taco perfection? Now I get it.

tacos 002

The fillings: sliced onions & diced (peeled) sweet potatoes, saute in 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 c vegetable broth, until soft & cooked through. Stir in black beans until mixture is heated through. Slice fresh avocado, layer with bean & potato mixture.


2) Running Fast, without thinking

Remember when Kate ran a 68 minute 10-mile race, and we all agreed she is magic (along with a skilled runner, a machine, a tough gal – all of the above!)? Muscles do know better than mind; see below.

Last night we had a Tempo Run date scheduled. I got off work later than expected; it was raining, and I’d put motivation around level 3, of 10.

We rescheduled for this morning, and I knew it may not be the run I had anticipated. Tempo paces at 5:45? Eh, we’ll see. Instead I mapped a route*, without speed plans.

Taper? Hi, it’s nice to see you. Carefree & just getting through these runs!

I took my warm-up to our meeting spot easy, as usual. Once we started, we got to talking and the miles flew by, literally. I looked down at the second split and was surprised to see “7:33” – well okay then. Let’s do this.

5.4 miles later, we have clocked our first sub-8-average run, and if it weren’t for a stopwatch, I would have never guessed we were going any faster than usual.

Pushing the pace, and realizing you can go faster than you expect?
Now I get it. I’m remembering how this works.

Edited to add: I also met up with Anne P this morning – we were spoiled by the C&O canal, and I got in a few more miles with her on the trail. Pictures don’t do it justice; if you’re in the area, GO to this trail. Right now.

3) *Massachusetts Avenue always wins

The route I mapped out included a one mile Massachusetts Avenue adventure. We were running further north than usual, and I thought we were safe. I drive on this road to get to work sometimes, and yet I still screwed this up.

Note to self: never trust Mass Ave – yes, I get that now.
It will always win. Case in point:


No matter where you go, that street will slap you in the face with a hill. But it will also give you a good run.


Any recent epiphanies you’d like to share? We want to get it, too!


Filed under DC, dinners, early morning, food, good days, learning, recipes, running hills, Speed workouts, training

Tracking, Without Numbers {VO2 Max}

As I attempt to make this “speed-work” thing a habit, I headed back to the track last night for a little group action. Honestly, if you’re up for at least one new running thing, find a track GROUP.

Obviously, with the all-caps shout, the ‘group’ part of this is key. Running in ovals ‘fast’ isn’t easy to do relying on self-motivation alone.Chasing people around an oval? Well that is more fun, and challenging.


Last night’s workout was different than most – I forgot the Garmin.



This shouldn’t be a big deal; some people call it ‘free’ running, I call it ‘something I should do more often!’. It really shouldn’t matter at a track, where you have the distance measured out for you…unless the track you run on is short.

Problem: I can never remember exactly how short it is (50 meters per lap? 61? I don’t know.). Solution: stop caring so much; run by effort.


Our workout was a “VO2 Max Ladder”, and looked like this:

Warm-up: Plyometrics.

3 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery
4 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery
4 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery

5 min @ VO2 max
3 min active recovery

4 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery
4 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery
3 min @ VO2 max
2 min active recovery

Cool-down: keep running slowly until Kate-with-the-watch says stop.

As mentioned above, the best motivator here is the group. When I’m running without numbers staring at me, the only thing to push me is deciding who to chase. I run with Kate all the time, but that girl has got some speed in her legs. I chased her for every lap; I have no idea what our pace was, but I know that last 3 minutes felt much longer than 180 seconds. Hard effort: check. Tracking, without the numbers: successful!


Track Lingo of the week – “VO2 Max” effort

VO2 Max =  the maximal amount of oxygen that a person can extract from the atmosphere and then send to the body’s tissues.
Source: Runner’s World}

You won’t actually know if you are running at VO2 “max”, unless you’re hooked up to a machine. Running at this effort basically means attempting to hit ~98% of your max HR during each interval – going ‘all out’.


How often do you run ‘freely’?
Rarely. Yet every time I leave the watch behind, I have no regrets. My legs still know how to keep going, they run either way.
What does your stopwatch, timer, or Garmin do for you?


Filed under motivation, running, running gear, Speed workouts, training