Tag Archives: fitness

{Marathon} Training Tales: Joy is…

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”        Marianne Williamson

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Marathon week has swiftly arrived!

This cycle went quickly since it started in late January and left me with about 10 weeks to figure out this whole HR-based, MAF, aerobic training stuff. I’ve dissected more runs and heart-rates and science-y things than all four previous training cycles combined! At one point there was a LOT of information swirling around in my brain.

Now, it’s just time to let it work. To let it go and see what happens. It’s time to remember that I trained for the process, not the medal (not even sure if we get one of those?). I trained this way to try a new approach with a fresh perspective, for the lifestyle that accompanies the choice to attempt a(nother) marathon. To ask some questions, and move in a different direction (or at different speeds, with different HRs n’ such!).

To grab that joy of running…

simple rules

Joy is…going to the track and doing those very specific workouts.

On the track, I feel more dedicated than anywhere else. You have to seek out this exact location and get here to do this exact, specific, run. I’ve never been much of a “track” runner before – for those exact reasons, having to do something so specific and prescribed and boring  – so it stands out to me.

This cycle involved a  few trips to the track for MAF tests, and one final visit yesterday for some pace testing. I got one last lap (400m) to “unload”! And with that, I ran to toe the line of all-out and you-still-have-a-race-to-run and to turn corners with a stupid-silly grin because whoa, this cycle was a good one.

Joy is…the little rush of looking up your schedule for the week.

I put this entirely in someone else’s hands. The only specific requests I had were: “I’d prefer not to train by HR only” and “I like to do long runs on Saturday”.  So, I got half of what I wanted! But some prayers are best left unanswered; if you want different results and experiences, you have to DO something different.

There were no two weeks alike; every time I logged onto Training Peaks with anticipation – what’s next? What do I get to do this week??? The first time I saw “the big mama” I spent the rest of the week excited for Saturday’s adventure.

( If first-marathon-me (circa 2010) read that paragraph
there would be eye-rolling for days. )

Joy is…asking questions, learning about a sport you love.

Joy is…visualizing that Finish Line clock & banner.

Joy is…realizing you’ve stepped so far forward you’re suddenly in Race Week.

With this week comes the good kind of nervous, slowly seeping into the muscle fibers. I wrote to my coach that it’ll come on strong tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday; the anxious-excited that starts to slowly drip adrenaline into my system every single time I think about the starting line, mile 15, or 21 or 25 or 26.1 and THE finish line sight. The running, all over.

It’s the type of nervous that gets you to that mental place you need to be – just enough fear, because it will hurt – without totally derailing the physical+mental readiness. That feeds your legs all of the juice they’ll need to push past their perceived limits. And that flashes your goal time across that mental clock over and over AND OVER, until you just know you’ll chase it no matter what.

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Joy is chasing a goal.

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Filed under Goals, learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Training Tales: Recovery Running

Today checked the third run-box in as many days, defying any logic my previous training approach would have justified. In another life, I would have been behind the steering wheel with directions reading “Caution: Detour! Turn right, rest after the Long Run (LR)!”

A recovery run? Wellll, that’s the short-cut to injury! So much running!
Take it easy!

Flash forward: barring the 24-hr flu/food-poisoning mongrel that wreaked havoc last weekend, I’ve run for 30-60+ minutes after every LR for the past 6 weeks. Lo and behold, all systems are still functioning.

Not only does my schedule include a weekly recovery run, it tacks onto the fatigue with “1 hour, easy” every Monday. I’ve come to appreciate, and actually look forward to, these routine runs so much so that there was no skipping it today. Snow day? Forecast of 5-10”? Better get out there early, before it piles up!

snow run.3.3.14

Mission accomplished.

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FIRST order of business: I had to run the LR differently.
Because the coach (and oh so many running experts) says so!. 

The LR should be done at an easy effort and ‘conversational pace’; slowing the ‘normal’ run pace by 30-60 seconds  doesn’t always add up. We have some intuition assessing how a run may ‘feel’, but that’s (more often than not) clouded by expectations and ego. It’s easily ignored when X + Y doesn’t equal Z  in our mental math.

Enter: the HRM. That thing doesn’t lie! It tells you exactly how your body perceives effort, in real time. On some days it’s your friend, while others it is your ego-smashing foe. Either way, you have the harsh truth right there on the screen.

Every LR has come with very very specific instructions. Pace and mileage don’t make appearances; I look only at “HR” and “Time”.

just goSource: Greatist.com

SECOND, I had to be inquisitive.
Because I’m a questioner and I need logic behind these things!

While the LR should be taxing and working to increase endurance, it should not slam on your brakes. It should not leave your legs so completely trashed that you can’t fathom the idea of running the next day. (That’s what a race-effort is saved for!)

Consider my former self’s mind blown.

When you take the LR easy (as defined by your perceived effort and/or HR zones – pick your flavor), your aerobic system gets a good looong workout. And when you’re training for a marathon, the aerobic system is your very best friend. Work it, work it!

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Some perspective: a 400m sprint is run 99% anaerobically. GO GO GO – breathe if you find time!  A marathon is run 99% aerobically. Oxygen is along for the ride

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If you can save just a little bit of energy and effort for the day-after a LR, you can go at it again. You can run on tired, but not trashed, legs and increase your resistance to fatigue (e.g. the Hanson Method). You can have a little chat with those muscles and be like “Hey, remember what it feels like to reach mile 23 and convince yourself to keep going despite every single part of you screaming to PLEASE STOP?”… “We’re training for that moment, right now.”

And this may be a game-changer. I still have 5 weeks to train, check boxes, refuel and recover. But I can tell you that in many ways my mentality has shifted; a recovery run may be your Ace if you play the cards right*.

*This assumes a runner who has no previous injury that prevents running consecutive days in a row. Above all, do what works for you.

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Do you include recovery runs in your training? Why / why not?

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Filed under learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Learning to Love…

The past month has been a lesson in practicing discipline, being patient and embracing an entirely new approach. I’ve gone through a tough breakup*, one we can all relate to. You’re stuck obsessing over the little things, knowing full well when you’re making deposits in the ego-bank (that acquire little-to-no interest) instead of investing in your own long-term success.

You’re ready to move on, but sometimes need a little outside push.

Things only get “better” by change. Embrace change; invite it over for appetizers and get to know it as slowly as you feel comfortable with, and then you’ll find you have a lot in common and could probably chat for hours and you might even ask change to stick around for dessert. After all, you never know what could be…so, why not?

just goIn the spirit of this lover’s holiday, I’m not here to drone on about the lows and the tough days and the little tantrums that our minds sometimes slip through the crack. Nope – those won’t do any good! Today, we’re chatting about the growth that comes when you declare victory over all of the above.

Since we last spoke, I decided against fighting the HR and thus I win. It’s a pretty sweet deal. We’re very happy together.

run walk

Or at least up the hills, and if I’m chatting your ear off, and if the paper-man throws a newspaper right near me during a dark early-morning jaunt in the neighborhood. I’m learning a lot of lessons about what makes the heart skip a beat!

The back-story: when I started this HR-based training cycle, it was recommended I remove pace (and perhaps distance) from my watch. Yes I could still do the nerdy run thing and calculate them myself, but focusing on one number (HR) while running is enough. Trying to match that up with expectations and associations won’t be any good – comparing your current beau with all of the exes is never advantageous, right? Right.

too far

I’d prefer to only go 26.2 miles, but you get the gist.

*So, I broke up with pace. And that is NO easy feat for a runner. But, in the early stages, while I’m base-building and courting my own cardiovascular system (so romantic), it doesn’t serve me. It’s a mind-game gone sour, and when it’s not in the mix, you’re suddenly very relaxed.

This time, running is about effort and efficiency – working to strengthen your cardio and aerobic system. Once you have the basics down, you work on pace and mindset and race-day plans.

The greenest thing on this side of the fence is how you can gauge improvement. With mileage/pace-focused training, I can add 2 miles to every long run every Saturday and survive that, feeling as though I’m moving forward. But, there’s no way to know for sure – some long runs are great, and despite every effort, some feel really freaking awful. While that may still be the case here, I can look back at the trend. And when things are going well? It’s very obvious! When you  can say “I ran for one hour (again) and covered more distance at a faster pace and lower average heart-rate than last week!”, you can also say “Whoop! It’s working!!!”. The latter is less of a mouthful, but if you’ve ever trained by HR, you know the former is really what we’re going for.

I’m learning to love the math, data, HRM and pace-free watch screen. I’m learning to trust a new process. I’m learning how great it can feel to “run easy”, with plenty of oxygen. I’m learning that there is always more to learn.

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What have you learned to love lately?

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Filed under learning, marathon, running, training

Puma Fitness: Kicks, Gear & the 4 x 4 HIIT Workout

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of PUMA.

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Puma_Clever bag

A few weeks ago this clever little package arrived on my doorstep, delivering a pair of shoes to be tested and sparing me the task of recycling yet another shoe box!

Clever, indeed, Puma.

This bag contained a very lightweight pair of shoes to-be-tested on the walk, standing-desk and during new-to-my-routine strength training workouts. Puma’s Formlite XL Ultra Women’s shoe, to be exact. These gals barely feel like footwear – light, flexible, airy and sleek! According to Puma, the outsole design of the shoe was inspired by a feather.

For our first trick, we took a trail-walk together in Rock Creek Park:

Puma shoes_trails

You can literally twist, fold and move these shoes in any direction (i.e. they are built for 360* flexibility). The midsole of the shoe is built for comfort and stability with rubber pods, so you’re not compromising a thing (i.e. the callus status on the balls of your feet). This makes them great for cardio workouts, traversing trail obstacles and/or squatting, lunging, jump-jacking or planking. Pick your poison!

These are a great shoe option for on-the-go days in DC, standing-desk days at work, and the random bootcamp-in-the-park days during the week.

Speaking of which, our next trick involved a HIIT workout:

Puma_mats_#pumafitness

As part of the campaign, Puma also provided crops & a tank for a full-on workout. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve donned anything but lululemon threads, but when you get striped crops & a light silky tank in the mail? Nothing to complain about here:

Puma shirt_backPuma_shoes & crops

I’m so used to luon and the Swiftly tech-tee fabric that I forget how anything else can/does feel. (Similar pair can be seen here.)

This tank is lighter than light – perfect for these late summer days – and just flows along with me. Both pieces are made with lycra (that I know!) and “ACTV technology” (using athletic tape in the garments) and powerCELL Level 3 compression – keeping everything in place while you move!

The moves? Those were up to me! I convinced Kate and Megan to join me for testing out what I dubbed the 4×4+ workout, with a few twists on the Tabata concept and a few things we’ve been working on over here:

#pumafitness 4x4workout

This took us about 25 minutes to complete, with ~ 1 minute of rest in between sets. A few notes:

  • Having the Tabata-timer app helps with the squats, but isn’t necessary! Tabata is 20-seconds ON, 10-seconds “rest” (but in this case, a squat hold) x 8 (4 minutes total).
  • 40-20 arm exercises = 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest.
    • Ex: 40 seconds of push-ups, 20 seconds rest before starting the Tricep dips.
  • Head/handstand holds (up to you!):
    • Use a wall if needed! Safety first.
    • 30-second hold, 30-second rest;. 40-second hold, 20-second rest…
  • Remember to stretch after all of this!

Puma gear_lungePuma gear_tricep dip
Puma gear_handstand #pumafitness

Let’s just say it was a little ambitious to do this the day before running + working out with Tony Horton! My muscles had a big week, in a hurts-so-good way.

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If you test out the workout, let me know what ya think!

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Filed under cross training, gear, new things!, review, strength train too!, things that make me Happy

“Do I look like the type of person who has a heart attack?”

February is national Heart Health month, dedicated to spreading awareness and educating both men and women on the risk factors for heart disease.

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It’s in my genes, and the routine cholesterol checks have begun – so far, my numbers are “amazing”. Whew. At a recent routine physical, the NP called me a “poster-child for exercise” and realized her 2-minute nutrition talk probably wasn’t necessary to give to a dietitian. For now, I breathe easy and happily keep on doin’ what I’m doin’.

But I know full well what notes could eventually fill up my medical chart if I weren’t active, didn’t passionately eat healthy foods and ignored the importance of stress relief. When I provide a family medical history, there is one recurring theme – heart disease.

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I will never ever forget an April evening in 2011 when I realized I had missed calls from my mom and sister, voicemails and texts. Something’s wrong…

I still vividly remember the words, the shock and the (horribly anxious) waiting on the couch for hours for more news; the reel of thoughts, what-ifs, memories and pure panic that ensued before I finally got another call. He’ll be okay. Tomorrow will just be another day.  Our family is still complete.

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It can happen to anyone, at any age on any day of the week. I was recently introduced to this video by Elizabeth Banks & the American Heart Association, “Just a Little Heart Attack”.

It perfectly represents the situation that none of us deem possible…until it is, and it’s real and it happens to someone you love:

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Do you know your numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure)?

If you could ask one question related to heart-health and how to improve any one thing, what would it be? (Follow-up post to come.)

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Filed under Dietitians, family, health