Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One More Mile - Mental Marathon Training

This weekend I set out for my longest run to date - 18 miles ... on the 18th no less. That part wasn't planned, but I thought it was fitting once I realized the date.

I won't sugar coat the run, it wasn't great. It was definitely not the confidence-boosting run I wanted. I have had far worse though, so there's that I suppose. And, regardless, I finished the run. All 18 miles of it.

The truth of the matter is, I pretty much set myself up for failure on this one. I did not want to run the full length of the river trail, so in my head I was already unhappy about running. My aversion to running the full loop was honestly making me dread the run days beforehand. I could picture the route and didn't want to do it. Period.

Because we had plans Saturday, I had to get up earlier than I really wanted to get the run done in time. Another peg on my snit level. When I got up I decided that I was going to do a different route, what it was, I wasn't sure, but I was NOT running the giant loop.

I meandered around my neighborhood getting in 6 miles by the time I got down to the river, where it appeared a 5K walk/run was about to start. Nothing was blocked, however, so I continued on across the river and along the river trail, the one I was NOT running the full length of by the way.

My legs were heavy from the first step and never really wanted to cooperate. I tried to distract myself by taking in the scenery, saying "hi" to the other runners, trying to enjoy the moment. When it came to making the choice of continuing or circling back, which would mean more meandering randomly, I circled back and ended up running into, literally, the 5K race. Of course I started trying to race people, because that makes perfect sense to do when you're at mile 11 of an 18-mile run right?

I had to force myself to stop, step aside, let the bulk of runners go by so that I would stop trying to race a race I wasn't racing! I decided to try out a Honey Stinger Waffle and managed to get half of it down. Let's just say that won't be race day fuel.


I forced myself to start running again and made it back to the house at 14.5 miles in, at which point Jason was going to join me for the last bit. I re-filled my water bottle, took a Clif Gel, immediately got side cramps, but pushed on. I was getting to the point of just being angry. Angry at myself for not preparing better, for letting myself get mental about the run, angry that I was STILL running and it just wouldn't seem to end.

I was thankful to have Jason with me for the last few miles. He didn't say much, but it was nice not being alone finally. He congratulated me when I hit mile 17; I almost started crying. One more mile, one more mile, I can do one more mile was the chant in my head. And I did ... one more mile.

The second I stopped running, I knew I had not fueled well or had enough water. I was shaky and not feeling well at all. I got down more water, NUUN and a massive protein shake before heading upstairs to stand in the HOT shower. I was frozen, the protein shake didn't help that by the way. After showering and piling on warm sweats, I snuggled into my bed and napped.

I only had time to nap for an hour, but that was better than nothing. I was pleased that the only thing that was sore was my heel - not that I'm happy that it's still hurting, but happy that my muscles all felt good.

We ended up heading to the big tailgate party for the Razorbacks, not ideal recovery trust me. But it was a gorgeous day and fun visiting with friends and being up and moving was actually working in my favor. We didn't stay terribly long, I was fading fast.



When we got back home around 5 it was immediately back into PJs for me, then I became one with the couch with my feet propped up. I was sound asleep by 8:45 and slept until 8:45 the next day - only waking twice.

Sunday was spent still in recovery mode. I got on my bike for an easy spin, but honestly the only thing hurting was my heel, my legs felt perfectly fine - as in, I could easily have gone out for another run. At least my body is getting more adjusted to the higher miles. Now to adjust my brain.

I will say that I have sufficiently beat myself up over the run, but also got in great advice that I've taken to heart. I'm done beating myself up and am moving on. I know that running is more than just a physical challenge. It also requires mental conditioning. So, I'll chalk that run up to mental training.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fun For Friday - 5 Things to Smile About

Well Thursday totally got away from me. I had meant to do a post about dark-thirty safety, but I'll do that next week. It's Friday and I like to keep Friday light when possible. I mean, most of us are brain-drained am I right?

Friday can also be a good time to look back on the week, especially on the things that made you smile. Here are 5 things (for Friday of course) that made me smile this week:

1. Unplanned 10-Mile Run

On Sunday, I set out on a run with very low expectations. However, I finally got out of my head and 10-miles later I was in a much better place (and I don't mean sitting at home with my rear on the couch).

2. Quiet Cool Evening

I guess this is technically last week, but it's been nice having cooler temps in the evenings finally. Saturday evening I was home alone, well, except for the crazy maniacs (AKA Maddie and Heath). I loved being able to pull on my fuzzy socks and prop my feet up.


5. Email from Friend

You ever have those days when someone emails you at just the right time? Or maybe it's a call or a text, either way, it kind of makes your day. It's nice feeling like someone is thinking about you, cares about you, misses your company. Thanks Jess!

4. Healthy Bites

I recently won Lindsay's contest for some Healthy Bites and they arrived Thursday. Seriously, the girl is a genius with flavor combinations. I received Pumpkin White Chocolate Coconut Butter and Strawberry Vanilla. One word: YUM


5. Midday Run with Jason

Jason and I don't run together very often any longer. He has dealt with his own running injuries and just sort of got into a running funk. He also doesn't like getting up and running in the early hours. So, it's a rare treat to run together. AND it's been way too hot to run midday anyway. But Wednesday the temps finally felt more like fall, so we headed out for a lunchtime run. Even though the wind was gusting, it was a nice run together.

What's something from this week that's made you smile?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chipotle Chickpea Tempeh Burgers

I tend to make a lot of veggie burgers. For one thing, homemade veggie burgers are a lot cheaper. Also, you know exactly what's going into them. Plus, you can flavor them however you prefer. I think once you have a general technique down, you can really play around with so many different flavor combinations.

One flavor that I've been enjoying is a smokiness from chipotle peppers combined with chickpeas. For this recipe, I use tempeh to boost the protein, but it could easily be omitted, just use a second can of chickpeas.


Chipotle Chickpea Tempeh Burgers
Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 package tempeh
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (depending on heat preference)
2 tbsp tomato paste
Liquid smoke, to taste
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (may need more if too thick)
1 roasted red bell pepper
To taste: salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, ground red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder (note: it's ok to be heavy handed with spices other than salt and maybe red pepper)
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2/3 cup oats, grind into oat flour
1/3 cup oats, left whole
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with olive oil spray or you can use a silpat sheet.

Grind your oat flour and start your flax egg.

In your food processor, blend together all ingredients up to the seasonings. Once blended, transfer into a large bowl with the remaining ingredients (spices through the flax egg).

Mix well then form into patties and place on your prepared baking sheet. I prefer larger patties and usually am able to get 6 out of a batch.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes then flip and continue to back another 20-25 minutes, or until golden and firm.

I freeze these to keep on hand for a quick, easy dinner.

Do you like to make your own veggie burgers? What's your favorite flavor combo?

Monday, October 13, 2014

2 A Day Running

Last week I tested out 2-a-Day runs. I have done plenty of 2-a-Day workouts, but never run twice on the same day before. If I do 2 workouts in a day, they tend to be a run in the morning then weights in the afternoon or perhaps weights and a bike ride. Being injury prone, I never thought running twice in a day would be ideal for me, and it was something I never considered until recently.

Last Tuesday I decided to test the waters with a 5 mile run in the morning then 3 miles at lunch with Jason. Running a shorter distance in the morning meant that I could head out a bit later when it felt a little less dark/scary then run an easy run later. And honestly, it went really well. I enjoyed running the shorter distances.

Friday I decided to try it again in order to get in my long run for the week. The forecast was calling for severe storms starting in the early hours of Saturday and pretty much throughout the day. I knew I couldn't get in 14-16 before work without starting much earlier than I cared to start. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to divide up the run when I started out that morning. But, I knew it was going to be close to 90 degrees by the afternoon. This meant it would be smarter to get in the bulk of the miles in the morning.

Morning Run - I ended up getting in 9 fairly good miles. It was crazy humid and warm. I feel like I'll never not say that at this point. Though the storms we did have over the weekend are supposed to be cooling us down to more fall-like temperatures.


Afternoon Run - My afternoon run was around 2:15 after a hair appointment. It was hot, humid, windy. But I knew I didn't have "that many" miles to go. I could take it slow and steady, which I did. The first half a mile my heel was super tight and I was thinking that I'd made a huge mistake. But, my heel loosened up and the miles clicked by. I ended up hitting 5 miles for a total of 14 for the day.


So, how did it feel running 14 miles broken up? It didn't feel like I had run 14 miles period. My legs were never tired, definitely not sore. The only thing that was bothering me was my heel. I wasn't fatigued. I didn't feel like I needed to nap. I felt almost too good!

That left me thinking, how effective was that for a long run for marathon training? Shouldn't I be teaching my body to run totally fatigued? Maybe, maybe not. Elites use 2-a-day training in their plans. Yes, I know, I am not an elite.

There are definitely some advantages to running twice per day like more efficient recovery, easier to fit in a long run when broken up, and running in a glycogen depleted state, which is said to help your training adaptations. You can also use double runs to get in two different workouts such as a speed workout then later an easier recovery run (or swapped of course).

For me:
The upside is that I got in the miles and there was time for some partial recovery between so my body didn't feel quite as beat up, but I was still running in a depleted state for the most part. It was great not feeling completely fatigued, having an easy recovery run to loosen up my legs again, and not feeling like I had to cram the run in all at once. I also like the option for allowing me to run later in the mornings then enjoying a rare run with Jason midday or even in the afternoon.

The downside for me is my injury prone body. While the run loosened up my heel for the time, it certainly didn't allow for any recovery and rest for it.

I guess I'm still a bit on the fence about double runs. I think that, for me specifically, they are more ideal for breaking up an 8-10 mile run during the week. However, I do think that when you workout twice a day, with any type of workouts, you can easily burn out physically and mentally. I can see that they could lead to overtraining as well if not done carefully and being certain to vary both duration and intensity levels of the workouts.

Do you do 2-a-day workouts? Have you tried running twice in a day? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Say Never Especially as a Runner

Once upon a time, I was a dancer. 

I didn't start ballet at a super young age like many girls. I never touched a ballet barre until I was in the 5th grade actually. From the moment I walked into that ballet studio, I knew that's where I belonged. I never thought of myself as an athlete. Though now looking back, I realize just how athletic dance really is.

I started running merely for exercise and on a treadmill. I never wanted to run outside. That'd just be crazy talk. And running more than 5 miles? Oh that's just flat out insane. I did some 5Ks (hated them). I started to run a bit farther, then a bit more. I was always proud and impressed with myself, that I could do more than I imagined. Then ... Half marathon? Sure, I'll get wild and crazy and shoot for the moon.

I'll never run a full marathon. Never say never right? Oh, nope, not me, never really means never I said, over and over again. Six years after beginning my journey as a runner, I did what I swore I'd never do. I did that and more.

Last year, I actually decided to become a running coach when RRCA was having a course here in Little Rock. Me, the dancer, never the runner. I'm actually a certified Running Coach. Who'd have ever thunk that one? Running Coach AND signed up for my first full marathon? Yeah, never say that word, "never." It'll always come back to bite you in the butt I'm convinced.

As I've embarked on my own journey into marathon training, I know it'll help me as a coach as well. I'm determined to enjoy this process. I want to learn from it, grow from it. It's not easy. But is anything ever easy in life? Anything really and truly worthwhile?

I know I'm still just at the beginning. I've laid out my plan more loosely than I might for a client. But that also gives me so much insight as to how to tailor plans for clients as well. Some people really like the strict structure. I've learned that as much as I do like routing, when it comes to running, I want to love it always. Strict plans start to suck that love out of it for me. But everyone is different of course.


This last week was supposed to have been a back off week for me. And it was for the most part. I cut out one day of running and speed work. My long run was going to be 12-14 miles. But, we might be out of town next weekend. So, I decided to play my long run by feel.

I was feeling good. The temperatures were so much more manageable (hello 45 degrees). I started to re-think my plans and decided to go for 16-18, with 18 being the ultimate goal. I did 16 last weekend. You'd think that somehow adding "just" 2 more miles would be no big deal right? Lesson: after about 14 miles, 2 miles really feel like 5.

The run was really good until mile 14, then it started to be a struggle. I was going up hill and into the wind and had not paced myself very well. My body was tapping out. Or, maybe it was my mind tapping out. I got back to the house and then had that inner dialog/fight about finishing out 2 more miles.
You can do 2 freaking miles.
No I can't.
Yes you can.
I'm done.
Wimp.
Done.
There's the old Heather that would have been a) pissed that I didn't finish 18 or b) slogged it out and finished the 18 "just because." There's now the new and improved Heather that knows I did the smart thing  by stopping. I've set out a plan that has allowed for several back off weeks AND for any bad runs that I knew would happen.

I'm certain that any type of training ensures that you start to learn more about yourself. What has your training taught you?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fun for Friday - Lessons from Marathon Training

Happy Friday! This is one of those weeks when I woke up thinking it was a completely different day, thus  my whole concept of time was skewed. It feels like it's been Friday for three days now.

Today I wanted to do a Lessons from Marathon Training post, but not in a completely serious tone mind you. It is Fun for Friday after all. I'm sure I'll have plenty of serious life lessons to share at some point, but I'm trying to not take this training so seriously that I lose sight of why I love to run. I'm not really sure if these are true lesses per se, but definitely some take-aways.

Lessons from Marathon Training

My friends think I'm even crazier than previously believed.

I'm learning to embrace the concept of naps.

You appreciate the scenery, which may or may not be a fantastic excuse to take a break.


I have no concept of how to pace myself appropriately.

Out and backs can kind of suck, but they seem like a good idea at the start.

I still hate speed work.

Numbers and miles are very different: 20 is only 4 more more than 16 in terms of numbers, but 20 is way more than 16 when it comes down to miles.

Sometimes you feel like this after a run


Sometimes you can feel like this after a run


What are some lessons you've learned from any sort of training - serious or not so serious.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Personal Distance Record of Marathon Training

I know that Monday's are typically the blogging recap day, but maybe I'm just not ready to reminisce about the weekend that went by way too quickly just yet. Since a lot of my weekend was spent training, I suppose I could just squeak by with a Training Tuesday post though right? I mean, if I'm going of a theme.


Saturday I set out for my longest run today date, 16 miles. With marathon training, I know it's a PDR that won't stand for too long. That kind of frightens me, I won't lie. I was a little nervous about the run. My previous PDR was 14.5 miles. I just wasn't certain how my body would hold up. And, while it was a bit cooler, upper 60s, the humidity was certainly making the air feel heavier and the sun was out. In other words, a lot warmer than I would have preferred.

I knew that huge portions of the River Trail would be blocked off for the Big Dam Bridge 100 Cycling Tour. What I hadn't counted on was another walk/run that was happening and blocking another stretch that I thought I'd be able to run. I was hoping for some sort of out and back, or close to it, to get the miles done. No such luck as I was left back tracking, crossing different bridges and meandering around running into blocked street after blocked street. I guess that kept things from being dull though.

I made it back to my house at with 11.3 miles under the belt. The plan was to meet up with Jason and finish out the rest of the miles. Plus the stop at the house allowed for me to refill my water bottle and take a GU. I still haven't figured out what my fueling preference will be. Then it was off again with Jason to help pace me down so I could finish out the rest of the miles upright.

He decided we should cross over one street, but he had forgotten that particular route means some pretty mean hills. As we trudged up and over, I realized this was actually a good training move for me, even if I was cursing with each step.

Jason ended up dropping off with a mile left for me to go, but I was feeling good and finished out strong. After the run I stretched, chugged NUUN, stretched some more and kept moving around as I made a protein shake. By the way, banana, peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, chia seeds, coffee and almond milk make for an amazing recovery shake (or 2).

I continued my recovery by stretching out on my yoga mat, then showering to feel human again. Jason was heading out for a bike ride so I decided to get in a nap. I am not a napper, not at all, never have been. But after these longer runs, I'm discovering that I need to learn to nap as they really help with recovery. I dozed in and out, not a full deep sleep, but it was enough to help re-energize me.

I did notice, however, when I stood up after the nap, the area around the back of my right heel was horribly tight, tender, painful. I tried to just keep moving my foot, very gently stretching it. We went out for pizza (perfect recovery food right?) and then headed to a friends' house to watch the Razorbacks play. As a caveat, I was never hungry the rest of the day after the shake. I had to force myself to eat. That's definitely not typical for me. By about 4 my feet were starting swell and my heel was really hurting. I iced it at our friends' then when I got home dunked my feet in an ice bath.

Sunday I was hobbling about as my heel was still quite tender and super stiff. The more I moved around, however, the better it started to feel. Surprisingly, nothing else was sore. I felt absolutely fine with the exception of the heel pain. Instead of the easy recovery run that I had planned, I played it smart (ok, there was no way I was going to be able to run) and rode my bike on the trainer as a way to just keep my legs loosened up. It was a super easy spin, low intensity and exactly what my legs needed.

The rest of the day I tried to make up for my laziness from Saturday by getting some food prep done as well as all the chores I had previously ditched. Of course, I did manage to sit outside and read for a good chunk of the day while things were simmering and baking. I mean, what else was I to do?

How was your weekend? Anyone else manage to be both productive and lazy?