Category Archives: Speed workouts

A Night on the Oval

There are a lot of things I’ve tried since we moved here; some have stuck (e.g. Yoga, clearly), some have been a one-time only experience – Crossfit, riding around the Boulder Reservoir with my clipless bike shoes and pilates, just to name a few.

I have handed my ego to the mountains, the altitude, the road-burned skin and the free weights. Last night,  I happily handed it to the track.

But I have reason to believe this wasn’t a one-night stand;
we had a good time together.

Running-TrackThis was the first time my legs have run the oval since last summer – June, to be exact. Yesterday, Ed told me the club’s plan – 16 x 400m – and I may or may not have thought “death by exhaustion!”.

Oof, this speed work stuff is hard.

I secretly hoped the recently-consistent afternoon thunderstorms would come for their daily dose, ending our track plans. I drove through clear, sunny skies all the way to the track.

Fine, Colorado. Play your little weather games, I see how it is.


To play it safe, our plan was for me to just do 12 of the repeats and see how I felt. The club splits up into pace groups, and my “goal pace” fell right in between 2-3.

I started with 3, and almost caught up to 2 (the groups ran in waves). So I ran with 2, and then two repeats later dropped back to 3.

If nothing else, I could confuse my mind and legs until all 12 had passed and suddenly we were done – right? RIGHT.


Twelve laps later, I got cocky (shocker). I wanted to finish all 16it’s okay if you can’t do them quickly, legs. I gotcha covered. I had no plans of leaving any muscles or tendons on the track.

1:32 – 1:33 – 1:33 – 1:34 – 1:31 – 1:33 – 1:34 (x 5) – 1:36 – 1:40 – 1:35 – 1:43

Yup, that’s only 15. I skipped one in need of a pit stop. It happens.

As for the group thing, I’ve never run repeats so consistently. I don’t know who in that four-pack was ‘pacing’ us, but hey, I’m impressed with you and your 1:34s.


7.12 tracknight 005

Oval laps, I’ll see you again next week.


If you’re a local runner (Denver), we’re having a LUCKY 13 Run Club tonight at lululemon (Cherry Creek North). Join us for the run & get $13 off the Denver Rock n’ Roll half-marathon registration!


Filed under new things!, running buddy, Speed workouts, things that make me Happy

Speeding with BBQ Basil Burgers

Yesterday I tried a new tactic to get my mind into the speed-work zone; we ran early! Rather than doing my usual Tuesday morning yoga class and saving the mile repeats for after work, I got up and didn’t give my mind enough time to process the idea.

I am not a fan of mile repeats, but my legs and mind tried to convince  me otherwise.

I reached the trail and told the muscles to G-O. Within a minute my iPod died (fun!) and for the rest of this day it would be my voice singing Lady Gaga in my head (also fun!). Between “Bad Romance” on repeat and the countdown system I use (count down from 10 very sloooowly), I got through 2 miles – 7:07, 6:57.

That #3 is always trouble; halfway through I stopped and immediately wondered if there was somewhere nearby for a bathroom stop (Not. Fun.). After realizing what I already knew (no bathrooms here!), I went for the second half –
6:58 (0.5), 6:59 (0.5).

Whew. DONE!

A breakfast shop saved the day on the way home. Thank you for being in the middle of a residential area, breakfast shop!


Now for the fuel! Apparently I’m on a burger kick, and my taste buds are not complaining. The Basil Black Bean Burgers were a household hit last time; this is one repeat I can get behind.

GraduationWeekend 154GraduationWeekend 155

1 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup Red pepper, chopped
2 leaves fresh basil
Seasonings: garlic powder, pepper

2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 c whole wheat flour

Pulse everything together in a Food processor (or you could mash the black beans and chop everything else very finely, then mix together). In a separate bowl, scrape the mixture out and add seeds & flour. Stir until all mixed together; form patties.

Bake at 400* for 10-12 minutes on one side; flip for 5 minutes on the other.

Prepare some crunchy lettuce & BBQ sauce to top!

GraduationWeekend 156GraduationWeekend 159

And with that, I’m off to Qi for the some strengthening. It is much needed this week!

What’s your I-needed-a-bathroom (on a run, hike, ride…) story?
Yup, let’s go there.


Filed under dinners, recipes, Speed workouts, training

Approaching Another 13.1

Today marked Day 1 of yet another training cycle; it seems never-ending, and I love it that way.

Today also marks a significant turn in American history, which was a good distraction as I logged miles that seemed very insignificant.


I finally found a race that worked, timing-wise, with my goals and schedule. I have a five week training plan, with a brand new approach. After ten half-marathons, a fresh strategy is long over-due.

Rather than relying in the trusted RW Smart Coach, I created this one all on my own. Every time I create one of those plans, I follow it, but always make my own adjustments and almost never pay attention to the recommended pace. I know my body better than an online calculator, right? I also know my schedule better!

Taking into account the way my weeks already play out, this made more sense. I factored in Yoga and Ryders’ classes that I refuse to miss, and that only add to the plan as a whole – stretching and strengthening on a consistent basis? Yes, I can finally get behind that notion.

All of that being said, here’s how my month will look:

Taste of Louisville Training

Wednesdays = Lululemon Group Run (typically a very easy pace, conversational and just enjoying the company of new runners).
Sundays = “Restorative Yoga”. D joined me for this last night; it’s half an hour of poses and stretching, and half an hour of 2-3 very relaxed, resting poses. In other words, it’s amazing.

Monday, Progression Run: 5 miles? Check!

This is one of my favorite workouts; don’t push as hard as a Tempo Run, but let the legs warm up and settle into a faster pace. The goal is to aim for Race Pace by the end, without feeling like death when you get there. Today, that looked like this: 8:58, 8:06,7:43, 7:35, 7:30.

Things are off to a good start!

Have you made your own training plan before? What was your strategy?

I’ve made two for my Sister now, but had yet to really create one (from scratch) for myself. I don’t know what took me so long, and my fingers are crossed that this brings me to the starting line ready to race!


Filed under about me, doin things My way, new things!, running, Speed workouts, strength train too!, training, Yoga

Stir-fry Sweet Potato Pasta

If you ever find yourself in a cooking “rut”, create a weekly dinner-date routine with a friend. It’s working wonders over here!

Before I cooked and created, I ran and tempo’d.


Starting the day with Yoga usually has my stretched and posed legs ready for a run by the end of the day. I satisfied this craving by heading to Wash Park and testing out a few faster miles.

I couldn’t decide between a Progression run or a Tempo run; after essentially skipping a warm-up phase, I went right into the latter. The first mile felt great (7:30), the second mile was probably a little too fast (7:13), and by the third (7:15) I was repeating those mantras over and over.

I stopped for quick walk to let my heart-rate calm down and forgive me, and then picked it back up for a not-so-slow cool-down. Looking back over the pace, my mind was telling me “go with a progression, it’s a little easier!” and my legs were like “psh, we’ll show you!”

Whew. Good thing we all survived.


Time to eat!

D & I only picked up the basics at Whole Foods Monday night (after being gone all weekend), with no meal-planning whatsoever. See above statement: friend coming over = creativity spiked!


Stir-Fry Sweet Potato {Quinoa} Pasta
Makes ~3 servings

1 sweet potato
~3-4 servings of Pasta (adjust to your own needs)
1/2 cup purple onion, sliced
1 tbsp EV Olive Oil
1/2 cup Plain Non-fat Greek Yogurt
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Agave

Scrub the ‘tater, poke with a fork a few times, and microwave for ~3 1/2 minutes.

Cook pasta as directed (I used Quinoa noodles, so this was a GF dish!). In a separate pan, heat the oil and carmelize the onions. When the potato is done, chop into cubes and add to the onions. Season with nutmeg & cinnamon.

Drain pasta; stir in Greek yogurt, potato and onion mix, and drizzle agave over the entire mixture. Done! And Delicious.


Filed under dinners, food, recipes, running, Speed workouts

How to Speed Up Your Speedwork

Tempo-runs are typically something I tackle alone; I have a Target pace and a go-get-it mentality. I tuck in my earbuds, choose my “fast” songs, warm-up easy and then pick it up for each consecutive mile.

This morning, I did things a little differently. The end result was a faster speed, and an enjoyable run! In other words, every little change added up to a Successful run.


My current training plan advised an “8:00 min/mile” pace for 3 miles; last week my Tempo (3 miles) pace averaged 7:30, so I set that as my base.  Kate was in for the challenge; she’s much faster when she wants to be, so the idea of having a “pacer” sounded interesting. And by “interesting”, I mean somewhat intimidating but okay let’s give this try!

Training is all about testing out what works, and what doesn’t. It’s your time to find out the best way to approach each run; it’s hard when those trials fail you, but when they prove successful, you’ve got legs that appreciate the variety.

Here’s what else I tried this morning, that ultimately sped up my Speedwork:

  • 1 small cup of Iced coffee, pre-run (brewed the night before, chilled in the fridge)
  • 1 handheld waterbottle, with me on the run
  • 1 quick stretch session (quads, calves, hamstrings) between “warm up ” and “tempo”
  • 3 Flat miles, with a turnaround
  • No Ipod! Just good company.

Here’s how those trials translated into a great run:

Warm-up – 9:22, 8:38 (0.5)
Mile 1 – 7:21
Mile 2 – 7:24*
Mile 3 – 7:19
Cool down – 8:35, 9:11 (0.5)

*includes the turn-around.

I couldn’t be happier with how this went, and knowing that I have a good “pre-Tempo run” routine.  It was immediately clear to me that having her pace was helpful; it was eventually clear that having that distraction made the miles pass quickly. Tempo-run: Successful!

What approach do you take to speedwork? We can always learn from do’s and don’ts!


Filed under early morning, new things!, running buddy, Speed workouts, training