Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Summer Running Lessons

While I am loathe to admit it, summer is officially at a close and autumn is taking over.  With an end to the sunny season, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what can be learned from summer running.  For this Friday Five, I'm linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run.

1.  Run smart - As runners, we love to show our tenacity, our drive to push the limits of what was previously thought impossible.  While this amazing attribute has gotten many of us through those tough races, it can also result in ignoring common sense.  More than one run this summer, either due to heat or humidity (or both!), I should have called it quits early or cut way back.  If I had listened to my body in running by feel, fewer runs would have ended in pain and suffering.

2.  Hydrate - Dehydration is a sneaky little bugger.  It can happen quietly over time that, before we know it, we're panting like crazy for water.  Even if carrying a hydration pack or handheld seems unnecessary, it's better to be safe than sorry.  I found myself hurting for water more often than I should have.

3.  Early to bed, early to rise - Very rarely during the summer do the morning temps happen to be worse than the afternoon.  In stalling and ho-humming to the point the sun was high in the sky by the time I hit the road, crazy hot miles for the day were inevitable.  Setting the alarm a tad earlier and having everything laid out I need for the run makes all the difference in completing the workout before the day gets too toasty.

4.  Dress for success - Dark-colored clothing is the enemy of summer runners.  Choosing the wrong color turned me into a human Easy-Bake Oven on more than one occasion.  Instead, defaulting for "light and bright" from June to August both keeps me from sweltering as well as wakes up the driver who isn't use to looking for runners on the berm of the road.

5.  Enjoy it - Summer is an amazing time to just get out and enjoy the sport we love.  Focusing too much on all the factors that could (or did) sabotage my runs made me lose gratitude for what was around me during those miles.  Smelling the sweet scent of food on the grill, seeing all the vibrancy of the trees and flowers and hearing so many people out having fun allows me to take in so many things by just being.

How did your summer training go?  What have you learned from those many hot miles?

Happy running!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 18

Race week is finally here! When I signed up for the Akron Marathon back in February, it seemed so distant.  However, like so many things in life, time flew by as the Blue Line called to me.  Going into this last week of training, I wasn't exactly sure how things would turn out.  I still wasn't at 100% but I wasn't going to back down.

Monday-Wednesday: Rest Days - As I continued to let my body rest up, yoga was a part of each day's routine.

Thursday: 3 Miles - With only a few days to go, I knew I had to at least see how my body would react to hitting the pavement.  After a decent bit of walking and stretching, I set off to the aches and pains of tight muscles.  This tenseness, while uncomfortable, was not nearly as bad as I expected nor did it last the whole workout.  While the run was not long, it did give me some confidence in my ability to go 26.2, which had been lacking as of late.

Friday: Rest Day - In being an out-of-state race, I spent most of the afternoon traveling to a friend's house near the course.  After packet pick-up and an amazing dinner (the hamburger and quinoa were so good!), I hit the hay relatively early.  I slept surprisingly well considering I could feel my nerves starting to build!

Saturday: 26.2 Miles - Wow, to see that number typed out and in my running log still feels surreal.  The race did not go exactly as planned, but I made it to the finish line in one piece with a time of 3:46:59.  I'll be posting a recap of the race in full shortly, so stay tuned!

With that, the journey to my first marathon is complete!  Some runs went better than others, but that is all a part of the experience.  I'm planning on taking the next two weeks to recover - my body has made it very clear that it needs it!  After that time, I'll be gearing up for the EQT 10 Miler in November and the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.

Thank you for following my adventure to Akron and happy running!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 17

While this post is an update on my training, I sadly don't have a whole lot to document from this week of workouts.  As I had commented last week, my right glute and left knee hadn't responded well to the 12 miler.  And the truth is, things only got worse.

Monday & Tuesday - Rest Days: Getting out of bed Monday morning neither leg felt back to normal.  The swelling in my knee had decreased but it was still warm to the touch.  My glute had shown even less progress as each time I lifted my right leg I could still feel the tightness and pain.  I decided at this point that even if I couldn't be out on the roads, I still needed to keep my legs in shape.  Yoga became my alternative to the miles - while not a perfect exchange, I wasn't going to just let myself sit idly on the couch.

Wednesday - 4 Miles - I decided to go for a trial run after having taken the previous few days off.  By all accounts, I found out pretty early on that my injuries had not yet healed.  My pace felt sluggish as I couldn't use the full range of motion of either leg.  The one advantage was that I could determine where specifically the pain was radiating from and focus on stretching/foam rolling the trouble areas.

Thursday - Sunday - Rest Days: After Wednesday's run, I figured it was in my best interest to take additional time off.  I continued to get out the foam roller daily and spent time in some much-needed yoga poses.  Each day things have gotten a little better.

With the Blue Line only a week away, I'm still not entirely sure how I'll feel on race day.  I've already made the choice to show up to the starting line and do my best.  If I earn my first DNF that day, oh well!  At this point I'm either ready for 26.2 or not - I'll know soon enough!

Happy running!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 16

Each day ticks away and each day takes me closer to the Blue Line!  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and its got me really excited.  Now just to survive these next two weeks of easy training and marathon #1 will be under my belt!

Monday: 3.1 Miles - I decided to begin the week with speed work due to both time constrains and how the rest of the week was looking.  Alteration 200s between 5K and Tempo pace was a tad of a challenge with no access to a track, but improvising worked just a well!

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 4 Miles - To say this run was "not ideal" would be an understatement.  The humidity lately has been a beast to deal with and this day was no exception.  I had planned on going for 8 miles, but knew in the back of my mind that the weather was not exactly agreeable to it.  This was affirmed by about the first half mile when I found myself having difficulty breathing and muscles tiring already.  My pace was also not up to par with what is generally my norm.

Thursday: 2.2 Miles - The weather was a little more forgiving during this hill repeat workout.  I was able to finish the run pretty quickly, but did notice that my right glute was a little more sore than normal.  I didn't give much thought to it, which was probably a mistake.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 12 Miles - Today marked the two-week point until race day.  I started my run nice and early figuring that it was going to be a toasty day later on.  What I didn't consider was the ugliness of the dew point and humidity that was already present in the air.  I found that no matter how hard I pushed I just couldn't hit my normal paces.  If anything, I seemed to be making my body break down faster by not slowing down like I should have.  When I finished my run, both my right glute and left knee didn't feel right.  By the time I went to bed, my knee had swollen and I could barely lift my right leg enough to get into bed.  This didn't bode well...

Sunday: Rest Day

I survived speed workouts, the crazy long runs, and a hot training season, and it's during the taper that I now find myself injured.  Go figure!  I've pulled back big-time from what my training plan said in the hopes that everything will heal in time.  Maybe my body just needs a few days to recoup so all well be better!

Happy running!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 15

It's taper time!  Going forward, my mileage will be slowly decreasing so I'm raring to go on race day.  Until then, though, a few more speed workouts and long runs await me.

Monday: 9 Miles - Speed work for me usually entails fast paces and short distances.  This workout threw me for a little bit of a tizzy then since the first 5 miles were to be run progressively with the last 4 being at tempo pace.  Unexpectedly, this type of run played to my favor since by the time I reached the second half of the workout, I felt warmed up and ready to take on the faster pace.

Tuesday: 8 Miles - For being a recovery day, I once again took this run too hard.  Once I finished, I made a mental note to not repeat this mistake on my next easy workout.  For having a watch that can track my pace, you'd think I would have better control over my speed!

Wednesday: 9.17 Miles - Looking at the workout for this day made me cringe slightly.  The run was to consist of alternating miles between tempo pace and marathon pace with 2 minutes of recovery in between.  In not having any flat routes that can last this distance, I knew I'd have to push it up the hills to keep the pace.  Like Monday, I was surprised in the end to have actually done well with the workout - I guess these past weeks of training have started paying off!

Thursday: 4 Miles - As I had decided on Tuesday, I kept this recovery run a little closer to the prescribed pace.  Especially as race day approaches, I keep reminding myself that recovery is just as important as the hard runs.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 16 Miles - Wow did this run take more out of me than it should have!  I'll be honest - out of laziness, I decided not to take my water bottles with me for these miles since I figured I'd be running near water fountains and could just hydrate there.  What I didn't consider was how quickly the temperature was going to skyrocket nor the stickiness of using Swedish Fish for fuel.  While I wouldn't say I suffered major dehydration, it was definitely have been a better workout with a little more water.

Sunday: Rest Day

In looking back at this week, I'd say training went pretty well.  The weather was mostly cooperative (a light reprieve from the heat has been amazing!) allowing me to run at pace and get all my workouts in.  I've been resisting the urge to look up the long-range forecast for race day figuring that, unless its dangerous, I'll be taking on all 26.2 regardless of what Mother Nature may send!

Happy running!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 14

With this week of training, I hit the official one month mark until the Akron Marathon.  I've also reached the quintessential workout of any marathon training  - the 22 mile long run.  Because this week held a run I had never done before, I knew things would be interesting.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 8 Miles - I've gotten into the habit doing my long recovery run at the beginning of the week.  It allows me to know that the remainder of the week I will be spending a little less time on the roads.  I was pretty happy with my pace and felt decent for the duration of the workout.

Wednesday: 4 Miles - In being slightly nervous about the long run at the end of the week and always seeming to pull something when I do speed work, I decided to still do the total distance for the workout but run it at a comfortable pace.  I was also in the process of breaking in a new pair of Brooks Ravenna 7's.

Thursday: 4 Miles - I slowed this recovery run slightly so it was more in line with what my training plan suggested.  One of my big tendencies is not treating workouts for what they are intended to be.  By dialing the pace back a bit, I knew I would benefit from the easy miles.

Friday: 4 Miles - As I began this run, a thought occurred to me - my rest days were probably not the best planned for the week.  Especially in leading up to my long run, I probably should not have run for four straight days before it.  On the other hand, the lack of a break meant that I'd be running 26 miles within a 24 hour period, which may work to my benefit.  I'll know soon enough if it was!

Saturday: 22 Miles - The workout that I had heard the most about from marathon veterans had finally arrived - the longest run of the training cycle.  I had spent the week thinking about where I would run knowing that I needed both access to water fountains and a good bit of shade.  After tossing around a few ideas, I ended up just staying local since I knew where I could get water as well as was close to home in case the workout turned south.  Overall, the miles went really well!  By the time I finished, my legs were a bit worse for wear but I felt great.  This run gave me the confidence that I can go 26.2 and maybe even clock a decent time.

Sunday: Rest Day

Starting next week the taper takes over.  I'm sure I'll be feeling the "taper crazies" but I will also be able to get a little extra sleep (which has been in a bit of short supply since the little one came).  As these last weeks tick away, I'll also be trying out some new nutrition routines to see what will work best for race day.  I'm thinking that even if the weather is great, GI issues can sabotage all the hard work.  No plans to let that happen!

Happy running!