{MCM} Run Playlist: {I’m} Ready!

It’s never a given that I’ll run with or without tunes, but I looove me some music. Some days they join me and make a big difference, but on others the silence is more than welcomed. What is a given?  A few go-to playlists that create a party in my head on a daily basis, and provide a  much-needed boost during many miles.

Spotify nearly tops the list of “best things technology has created”, IMO.

I usually start with one song that catches my attention and seems to have a “new” beat/feel/jam, and place it at the top of its own playlist. It inspires the title and all songs that proceed it on the list.

In this case, “I’m Ready” got the party started. Starting a new training plan, in a new city, with a new approach? This fit the bill. I’m ready. (This is an improvement from Chartlottesville’s playlist, “Hurtbox”. In hindsight, very appropriately titled.) Try to listen without moving just-a-little-bit to that catchy beat – not a chance! The list that followed has been in my ears for every long run since. It’ll dance and jam with me right through 26 miles of DC*….

 Spotify_Ready Playlist

Sptofiy playlist Ready_1 

Spotify playlist Ready_2

Spotify Playlist Ready_3 

Spotify Playlist Ready_4

*For those with high attention-to-detail: no I don’t plan on running a 2 hr 55 min marathon, but I do plan on jammin’ until Kate hops in to join me!

The lists are never final – pretty good chance I’ll toss some GirlTalk in there for another boost – but this one is close. I’m feeling pretty pumped about pressing “Play” on the starting line.

Any suggested adds? Favorite hits as of late?


Filed under marathon, music, training

{MCM} Running: The Gear

There are a lot of pieces that go into any endurance training regimen, and the right gear (for you), collectively, is a BIG piece. Huge. I’ve trained for marathons with and without a watch, changed shoes multiple times, run with and without tunes and experimented with all kinds of foods (or non-foods, depending on your opinion). I don’t think there’s only one way for each person to put the puzzle together. It doesn’t matter how you make the pieces fit, they just have to come together by race day!

For marathon #6, Marine Corps #3 (swoon), this is what works for me:

Marine Corps Marathon Gear_DOTR

SHOES: Mizuno Wave Rider – 17

I was first introduced to these kicks last fall, courtesy of Fitfluential, and haven’t veered far from them since. I’ll occasionally give my toes some breathing room with my Altras, but for comfort and distance, the Mizunos are my go-to. They also happen to have some purple, and that happens to be lovely. These shoes are light, neutral, flexible and ready for game-day.

EYEWEAR: Guideline Sunglasses – Spray (Polarized)

These are new to the MCM-training-gear family, having just popped in my mailbox a few weeks ago courtesy of the Guideline crew. I was in need of some run-friendly eyewear* with a lot of time now spent on the trails and staring into the sunrise, and these fit right in! You can barely feel them resting lightly on your nose, they don’t move a bit and are flexible (i.e. don’t dig into your head/ears). Assuming we’re not in for another hurricane warning on race-day (ah, let’s not forget Miss Sandy 2012), these are essential!

*This look is always appropriate, too.


What’s that? Yes, yes I do wear a heart-rate monitor, and watch the numbers closely. Yes, that watch/heart-rate sensor decides a LOT about each run. When I race it’s a guidance, but not a deciding factor. It’s something my coach gets to dissect later and use for future computing and math-crunching. But in the months and miles leading up to this starting line, it has been an essential tool. I’m all for some tech-free running every now ‘n then, but when you want to objectively measure your progress, this is how you do it.

There are some things I love about the Polar vs. Garmin watch: ability to press lap around sections of your choice (time or distance) without affecting the auto-lap, 8 training screens providing different information/instant feedback (half of which I don’t use, but they’re there!) and a better (still not great) website for logging workouts. That said, I think each high-end GPS watch has its perks and strengths. I happen to like this one, and we get along quite well.


Other things I carry with me on-the-run:

- Small handheld water bottle, filled with Skratch Hydration Mix (lemon)
- Larabar pieces (broken up for easy eating!)
- Shot Bloks (Margarita flavor – for easy digesting late in the run)
-  Spotify tunes, sometimes
- lululemon speed shorts (the. best.)


What are some of your essentials?

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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.

2014-09-06 10.58.05 2014-09-14 14.11.45

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: Maintaining the Machine

This past Saturday was my “Last Long-a** Run”, as defined by the Coach and our current standard for “long”. For the fourth week in a row, I had over 3-hours to kill on the run with a lot of specifics in between. My legs know the GMP well, have courted it successfully and are moving quickly to the next phase of their relationship.

I’m in that place where I think about the race and instantly feel my heart-rate increase (enhanced by the fact that I am now very well aware of when and how quickly my heart is pumping blood). I feel anxiety, excitement, nausea and impatience to just GO all in one very fleeting moment.  It’s marathon month. Before I know, it’ll be marathon week – DC, I can’t wait to see you! – and then, just like that, it’s marathon DAY and, for the third time, I’m staring at the familiar red arch.


Photo source: csnwashington.com

Last Saturday’s run wasn’t my strongest, but I finished all three hours + thirty minutes and 22 miles. Press Stop; complete the run; instantly remember that this is possible and I am capable.

But in the middle? Oh, yep there were familiar moments of sheer panic with a few mind tricks I know all too well; remember how fatigued you feel at miles 20, 21, 22….remember how you question your sanity every time you get close to the end but couldn’t feel farther from the finish…remember how much it hurts to run for 26 miles?! I don’t, really. At least not well enough to throw in the towel. Because if memory truly served us well we’d never do any of this again. Instead, memory puts up a good fight but loses to adrenaline 10 times out of 10.


For the next 20 days the key is to remember I’m not looking at that starting line just yet, but I’ve taken all of the BIG steps. For 20 days, I maintain, recover, build, eat and sleep. I listen acutely to every message sent from every system. I do my part in Coach K’s plan to “not accidentally kill” any part of the machine we’ve carefully put together!

And when the anxiety predictably loses its battle to my insane excitement and adoration for this race, I remember this:

mcm 2014_I Will

Doing what these legs do best – run DC.

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The Anti-Stress Diet

Stress is like hot sauce; a little bit goes a long way. It can be great –  mixing things up a bit and providing just enough spice to push you through {insert challenge / perceived life-threatening event / random situation}. But dump it all over the place, all the time? Your system will be quick to say “THIS IS NOT GOOD!”, more is not better, and eventually it starts to shut down because dang that ish is spicy and it is up to no good.

Stress comes in many forms, flavors and costumes. It could be travel, low-sleep, high intensity training, work, family, friends, traffic, the line at the grocery store – each day, trigger and response is different for all of us!

But the internal response and havoc? It’s always the same.

no bad vibes source: kushandwizdom.tumblr.com

My job as a health coach first introduced me to the importance of stress management, as we had to become experts of sorts in how to help people connect the stress – health dots.

Then I started heart-rate training (have I mentioned this?), and stress took on an entirely new meaning to me. Training is basically a continual dose-response stress test. Too little? You won’t see much progress. Just enough? Boom! You’re loving this training thing and sleeping like a baby! Too much? No bueno. You’ll barely sleep, curse your HRM and feel the tank empty. Sometimes it’s training stress, but more often than not it’s the extra stress you add from your lifestyle that affects your training. The heart will try telling you to calm the heck down, lay off the sauce and don’t you dare try making things even crazier!

But there are a few ways you can fight back! I use these tactics regularly – daily, for most – and finally feel like I’m winning the balancing act, with a LOT of help from this gal. Collectively, you could consider these habits an Anti-Stress Diet, or just a smart way to start telling your body Hey, dude, I GOT YOU.

1. SLEEP. Enough. Often. On a schedule.
With your eyes closed and your mind off.

no sleep

I’ve never skimped too much on sleep, but until we moved to California I had no idea what a difference it would make to actually get enough. I now get 7-8 hours on the reg and have no shame in my 9:30pm bedtime.

2. Treat your gut nicely. Eat real foods!

There’s no secret to this one – we all know the difference between real and highly-processed foods. I’m sure it comes as no shock to your brain that our bodies much prefer fresh food to manufactured ones. Your intestines are great friends with fruits, vegetables, proteins, oils, nuts and seeds – they’re all like “Oh it’s so nice to see you again!” and happily move them along their way. Throw a 20+ ingredient “Protein Bar” in there? It’s all like “Dude, I don’t even know where to start.” And it stays in there until your intestine can break away all the crap and search for anything worth salvaging. It becomes inflamed and suddenly you’ve created more stress.

3. While you’re at #2, throw in some anti-inflammatory Omega-3s.

Omega-3 fats are considered essential because our body can’t generate them, we must get them from our diets. They’re also essential because an adequate intake may help reduce risk of heart disease and, important to today’s topic, reduce inflammation. Food sources of these healthy fats include nuts (almonds, walnuts), seeds (flax, chia), oils (canola, flaxseed, olive) and…for the best bang-for-your-fat-buck, fish (sardines, salmon, tuna and trout – go for wild-caught if you can). Some grass-fed meats/poultry and Omega-3 enriched eggs are options, as well.

4. Keep inflammation-inducing food/drink low.
Really low.

This may not be a total surprise, but alcohol, sugar and excess caffeine can stress your system out. If you know you’re stressed, ease back or eliminate these things entirely. It’ll help your system stay focused on the task-at-hand without having to deal with more incoming stress.

Intake of these things doesn’t have to perfectly at “zero” all the time, but be mindful of your indulgences when you know your body is working hard to fight whatever it is you’re fighting (it all looks the same on the inside: STRESS).

5. Fill up the water bottle!

No skimping, reading labels or trickery here! Hydration is easy, your body just wants some plain ol’ H2O all day, every day. It’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst, and hard to function optimally when your fluids are low. Avoid all of the confusion, fatigue and, of course, stress, by filling up your water bottle and drinking it down.

What You Do Every Day

source: happiness-project.com

This short list certainly doesn’t encompass everything we can do to manage stress, but they’re some of the easiest ways to do so every day. These things add up, they work and they keep your systems happy. You don’t have to do things perfectly 100% of the time, but it sure helps if you avoid digging your own holes to climb out of. 

What are some of your go-to stress reducing techniques?


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