Running and Exercise Lately

With no races in the next couple of months, my schedule is wide open for whatever I want to do. One thing I’ve really been missing over the past few years when I’ve been working towards qualifying for Boston, is strength training. Unless I was going to workout twice a day, I just didn’t have time to do both with all the running. Now I can.

Three weeks ago, a week after Boston, I started a strength training program. It’s 12 weeks long, but I’m not necessarily making sure I fit all the sessions into a single Monday-Sunday week. I’m loving it so far. I lift 3-4 times/week in addition to my weekly Orangetheory class.

While the program doesn’t always call for cardio, I still throw in a run here and there. Some days I run three miles, some days 5-6. I’ve been trying to keep one weekly long run of 9-10 miles to keep my base pretty strong. I feel heavy and slooooow. I think that my body is hungover for years of training cycles in rapid succession. It’s also getting use to being challenge by weights again. Hopefully the strength training will help me become a stronger runner and it wouldn’t hurt if I looked a bit more toned.

As I mentioned, I signed up for a half in late September. Josh and I are also going to do a half the last weekend in October. That means I don’t need to start training until July or so. A break from prescribed running workouts is so nice. No paces to hit, to distance I have to run. I’ve forgotten what that’s like. This little breather may be just what I needed to not slog through my half marathon training cycle.

Training in Review {Boston Marathon Edition}

Not to beat a dead horse with Boston, Boston, Boston, but this is all a bit therapeutic for me. Honestly, though I’m physically recovered, I don’t know that I’m mentally or emotionally recovered. I worked so hard for that moment, that day, that race, that now that it is over, I feel a sense of loss. Strange?

I won’t lie to you, my running ego took a bit of a hit in Boston. While I never went into the race with a PR as a goal, it was a total blow to run nearly 21 minutes slower than my qualifier. I did not expect that at all. Yes, the course is much more difficult than Lake Wobegon, yes it was 40 degrees warmer without any shade and during the warmest hours of the day, yes those all impact performance.

I keep telling myself that it was a hard day for a lot of runners, but I find myself being jealous of my friends who are running marathons soon and are sure to PR and likely to qualify for Boston. I want those things for them. I’m so excited for them! I’m not a jealous person and find these feelings really unsettling. Running is an individual sport and I certainly don’t compete with anyone but myself. I think it’s just knowing that I don’t have an opportunity to qualify again before September to join them in Boston next year. I thought I’d do it once and not want to do it again, but I really want to. I want to run the race I know I can on that course.

Let’s look back at what worked well leading up to the race.

  1. My body handled the increase in mileage well. I was healthy, other than my silly shoulder, when I got to the starting line.
  2. My eating/carb loading was on point. I had zero stomach issues on race day and plenty of energy.
  3. Fueling also worked well. Honey Stinger gels have worked well for me, without causing GI issues. I ended up taking four gels during the race because I started to get hungry. I was also out there longer than expected. Luckily, I never hit ‘the wall.’
  4. I was well hydrated going into the race which was good because I dehydrated quickly.

Here are some things I want to work on or do differently next time.

  1. Heat conditioning. When I’m doing a race with the potential to be warm, I need to prepare myself. Sure this is easier when I train over the summer, training during winter in Minnesota, is a whole different animal. I’ve been reading on how to acclimate your body to heat even when you live in cool places. Definitely going to work on that next time.
  2. Try out salt tablets or some other sodium replacement. I was sweating profusely for a long time before it suddenly stopped. I think if I had replaced some of the salt I had lost, it may have helped my body regulate itself a bit more.
  3. I think I was trying to out run myself during some of my speed intervals. I don’t know if it was adding more miles to warm-up and cool-down or trying too hard to run at the high end of my paces, but some of those workouts were so hard. When I went back and compared my training paces from Wobegon, I sped them up quite a bit. I’d probably step back to my previous paces until they feel super easy.
  4. Add another easy run. Even if it means just a slow mile or two.
  5. I say this every time, but strength train more. I usually have the opportunity to run or strength train. I choose running obviously. I just started a strength training program which I hope will get me going again. I won’t be able to continue at this level during a training cycle, but will definitely have some moves that I can incorporate to a training plan.
  6. Get my weight in check. I very rarely weigh myself these days. Mostly because I’m afraid of what I’m going to see. It’s not even the number on the scale necessarily, I just feel flabby. My clothes are tight and my old jeans have collected dust because there is no way I can fit into them.

Boston is not the final chapter. I will run another marathon. I actually entered the lottery for London. Knowing that my chances of getting in are slim to none, I’ve started making lists of marathons I’d like to do. Hopefully I will be able to qualify again and have the opportunity to run a better, for me, race performance-wise.

Prepping for Boston Training

After years of hard work, this past year in particular, I’m on my way to Boston. I’m excited, nervous and every emotion in between. With about five weeks to go before training starts, it’s time to get my head and body back in the game. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do to make this training cycle really work for me.

  1. Step back from weekly mileage just enough not to be fatigued when training officially starts. I’m going to basically reverse taper from the half, slowly building so that my first week of training isn’t more than a 10% jump in weekly mileage.
  2. Finalize my training plan. There is always flexibility with my plans, but I want to at least have a good grasp on my what my training will look like and take into account any travel we might have planned.
  3. Get my diet in check. With no specific goals since my marathon back in May, my diet has been bad. Atrocious really. Burgers, yes. Desserts…you better believe it. Booze..why not? To run well, I need to fuel well.
  4. Kick up strength. I say this all the time but now I will have a breather with time to do it. Even if I only manage do to the 30 Day Shred, it’s something.
  5. Drop a few pounds. Refer to #2. While I’m still well within the healthy range for my height and age, I’m about 8-10 lbs heavier than my average adult weight. I’d like to get back down there and just see how it affects my running. I’d also be nice to fit back into some of my older clothes that are a big snug and not cringe when I see full body shots of myself.
  6. Hydrate. I’ve been so so bad about drinking enough fluids. I feel it.
  7. Get some sleep. My internal clock has been totally off. I’m not only staying up late, but waking up early, like 4 am early, for no reason. That, and the germs the kids bring home from school, may be why my immune system isn’t quite up to snuff.
  8. Enjoy the downtime. I’m planning on Boston being my last marathon for a little while. How long is a little while? I don’t know. These five weeks will be a nice time to breathe a little before training takes priority again.

 

A New ‘Theory

I want to share my latest fitness activity – Orangetheory Fitness.

I first heard about Orangetheory when I was pregnant with Anderson. One had just opened up near my parents’ house and I was offered a free class. I planned on taking them up on the offer after Anderson was born, but you know, I had a new baby. Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2014, where we visited an Orangetheory booth at the Bolt for the Heart 5k we were running. I was interested and my mom was sold immediately. Again, I kept putting it off.

Every few months I got a flyer in the mail offering three free classes. I filed it away as something I’ll do eventually but wasn’t convinced to do it considering we already belong to Lifetime Fitness. I finally decided to give it a go when we were in Indy for Thanksgiving.

My mom and I did a 3G class (three groups) at her location. It was unlike anything I’ve done. It took me a while to not mess with the heart rate monitor that was kind of annoying me. We started on rowing machines, moved to the floor, then treadmills. We completed this twice before the end of class. Throughout the class I was able to see what zone I was in. The goal is to be in the orange zone for 10-20 minutes/class. I was sweaty but felt good, until the next day when I was incredibly sore. A good kind, but really damn sore.

Once home, I started going to my local franchise once a week. Every class is different and I have no idea what to expect. Here’s the basics of how it works:

  1. Either call, use their app or website to reserve your spot in the class. There are classes offered almost hourly. You can also reserves classes months at a time. Not a bad idea if you have a limited schedule. Just be sure to cancel your booking 12 hours before the class if you’re unable to attend (there is a late cancellation fee).
  2. When you arrive you can either borrow one of their straps with the heart rate monitor or wear you’re OT Beats monitor. Your name and heart rate will show up on the monitors in the studio. A few minutes before class, you’ll be greeted by your trainer who give a brief overview of what you’ll be focusing on in class.
  3. Typically you start at one of three locations: treadmill, rowers or floor. I typically go straight to the treadmill as it’s my strength and my legs can be rather tried after floor work.
  1. From here the trainer guides you every step of the way. They give instruction as to incline and pace on the treadmills. The three paces are: base (you can maintain this for 20-30 minutes), push (at least 0.5-1 mph faster than base where you start to become uncomfortable, sprint (all-out, go as fast as you can for no more than one minute typically. This should be at least 1-2 mph faster than your base pace.). There is also an option for power walkers with higher inclines, an elliptical and stationary bike for anyone that may have limitations. Rowing is either done by distance or effort. The floor consists of free weights, kettle bells, TRX bands, Bosu, step and body weight exercises.
  2. Your heart rate is continuously monitored. On the screen you’ll see a percentage of total heart rate, your current heart rate, calories burned and splat points (minutes in the orange and red zones). It is also color coded so you know which zone you’re in. The orange zone starts when you hit 84% of your max heart rate.
  3. At the conclusion of the workout, you will see a chart of your zones throughout the workout. You also will get a post-workout email with your stats.

I have to say my favorite part of Orangetheory is the variety. I never quite know what to expect when I arrive. My body is pushed harder than it is if I were to try to duplicate a class. I’ve surprised myself by getting up to 10.5 mph during my sprints now. Having people seeing how hard I’m working, is also motivation not to give up even when I feel like I want to stop. I also really like the trainers at my location. It feels like they are almost there just for you. They are really good about pushing you a little further while making sure you’re maintaining proper form.

The drawbacks, it’s a bit pricey, there is no childcare and you can’t just drop in. At my location a membership for four visits per month is $59/month. The prices go up from there. I believe the unlimited visits membership is about $150/month. While it’s an awesome addition to my routine, it’s not going to be my only gym. I need the childcare at Lifetime, plus the ability to do long runs when the weather is crappy and swim.

I think all locations let you try at least one class free. It’s definitely worth it to see what you think.

Note: This post was not sponsored by Orangetheory Fitness.

 

 

 

Giving it a Tri

A new year means something different to everyone. For me it means time to reassess goals, priorities and maybe just do something that intimidates me. While I have a list of goals/aspirations for 2015, my first opportunity to do something that I’ve never done was presented just a few days into the year.

Lifetime Fitness held a weekend full of events to get people off on the right foot. One such event was an indoor triathlon. Josh and some of my other friends have been encouraging me to do a triathlon. I swam in high school and having running down. While I know how to ride a bike, it’s not my strong suit. I figured an indoor event would be perfect, especially because I don’t even own a bike.

The very beginner friendly event was arranged by time rather than distance. 10 minute swim (10 minute transition time), 30 minute bicycle (five minute transition) and 20 minute run. I did a few brick workouts and tried to swim once a week in order to prepare myself for the ‘race.’

Come race day I was ready. I checked in and prepared for my swim.

I was none too excited that I had a nasty head cold. With the heat in front of us complete, I hopped in for a quick warm-up. I was so glad I did because the water was freezing! When the whistle blew, I swam as fast as my breathe would allow me. I had to switch from freestyle to breaststroke a few times because I needed the break to catch my breathe. I swam 450 yards.

As I changed into my biking/running gear I chatted up another woman who was a seasoned triathlete. She recommended a local women-only tri that is great for first timers. Noted, we headed to the spin studio.

One of the Lifetime employees helped me adjust my bike and off I went. They had a DJ playing music which was really nice. I was just in my own zone but could see out of the corner of my eye the woman next to me continuously checking my computer to see how far I’d ridden. My legs were starting to fatigue towards the end and I adjusted the resistance down a bit. Total distance: 9.6 miles

One more event to go and I was feeling good. I was enjoying the change of pace to hours of running. I went up the stairs, picked a treadmill and waited to get the green light to start. I wasn’t really sure what speed to go for. I started at about a 8 min/mile pace and tried to pick it up every quarter mile. The 20 minutes flew by and before I knew it, I was done. Total distance: 2.55 miles

When I was done, I went over to stretch a bit and finish my Nuuns which tasted so good. The ending was pretty unceremonious. They just said, you’re done, have a good day. Not that I was expecting much, but something more like a refreshment table or something would have been nice.

Not that they really mattered, but I was curious as to how I stacked up against the other participants. I was 46th overall of 86 and 13th in women’s open of 36.

There is another indoor tri sometime in March or April. I think I’ll participate again and hopefully see improvements. I’m stilling thinking about an outdoor triathlon this summer, but with fall marathon plans, we’ll see how training shapes up.