When to run, and when to rest

Last week, I felt great.
Monday night, Dan and I did a typical run. I tend to go a little faster with him (don’t want to hold him back). Tuesday was ‘sprints’ but it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity, even at 630pm. So I decided to just go sprint intensity/ exertion. This meant my ‘sprint pace’ was about 8:00-8:30. My 400s were 1:55, 2:21 (uphill), 2:05, 1:59. The last time I did 400s, it was 1:30-1:45, but I’ll take it.
Tuesday, my throat was also sore. But it was just a sore throat, so I thought easy 400s wouldn’t bother it.
Then, Wednesday, I woke up barely able to swallow. I figured the pollen in the air on my run aggravated my throat. I went to work, later came home, and took a 2-hr nap.
I probably could run through this. Or even cross-train. But, I don’t have any upcoming races. I’m still in the building weeks. So, it brings the question of when do you lay off your training? And here’s my thoughts (not a professional):
Don’t workout if
1. If you have to stay home from work
2. If you are having trouble breathing
3. If you have stomach or digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, etc)
4. If you are having coughing attacks
5. If you don’t want to workout
(Even I wanted to, little Archerman wouldn’t let me leave)

The last one is the most important. If you are sick, and no longer feel like working out, then don’t. Take it easy. I’ve done both- ran when sick and laid around all day when sick. Trust me, you will not regret this run.
It is okay to do easy stretching, slow yoga, walking, maybe light Pilates/ strength training. Think about it like recovery after a race; you can do what you feel capable of doing. One or two or even three missed runs will not ruin your entire training. It takes two weeks to lose your fitness level. And, if you don’t allow your body to recover, you may just extend the recovery process to a full two weeks.
I plan to get out for a walk around the neighborhood. But that’s it. I skipped yesterday’s planned cross-training, and am skipping tonight’s run. And may go slower and shorter Saturday (long run day). There will be a lot of these today–


how to train for a relay

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is what works (or worked) for me:

So, I had done a few “tempo” 5-9 milers, then met with the group for a 6-11 miler in the morning (mentoring a half-marathon program). This seemed to work fairly well, but wouldn’t test my legs with a longer distance in 24 hours.

So, today. I chose to do three runs mainly because I have a week off, and it is 2-weeks out from our relay. (OMG! Two weeks!)

If you are thinking What the heck is a relay?! Here is a brief overview of the Tuna200, which I did in the fall…

love seeing these!

love seeing these!

Now that you’re all caught up…

I am captaining this relay team van, from Columbia to Charleston, SC. My first leg is the hardest of the relay according to the race directors, and those 8 hilly miles will earn me a car magnet (Woo!). My next leg will be 10 miles at around midnight. My third and final leg will be 4 miles in the morning, after the sun has come up. I get to “rest” in between, and eat plenty of doughnuts and Nuun, so I should recover just fine. But, in my head, that’s 22 freaking miles!


So, I wanted to get in at least one day, where I did a “mock” relay, and ran three times.

Last night, I purposely chose a hilly 8 mile loop. I took it easy on the straight-aways, and charged the hills. My average pace was about a 9:00, but that included the 9:42 warm-up and 10:11 cool-down. I stayed around a 8:40 the rest of the time. It was hard, but brought a sense of clarity. I envisioned my van-mates cheering my name on, or picking up roadkill (when you pass someone), and pushed through the pain.

This morning I met another half marathon mentor, who runs around a 8:30 pace, sometimes a 9:00 on long run days. We had agreed to run 10 miles. And I figured she’d want to go a little faster, and push my speed.

We met at 9am (yay for State holidays! Good Friday indeed!). When we started our loop around the lake, we saw a “dog” scoot into the woods. I said “that dog didn’t have a tail… Omigod, I think it was a deer”… Sure enough, it was. There were two doe just standing at the edge of the running pavement, staring out toward the lake. It was so quiet and serene. It was really beautiful! I didn’t pay attention to my speed any. But my running partner kept checking to make sure I felt comfortable, because she didn’t want to go any faster (haha).

The last few miles, I felt like I had something left in me, so I started pushing the speed, as we came back to the lake. We pushed our pace from a 9-9:30 down to a solid 8:30. Then the last 0.5 miles we were running a steady 7:30 pace. She smoked it in a little faster than me at the end, but I still felt like I finished strong with a 9:08 and 8:06 for my last two miles of a 10-mile run. That rounded it out to a 9:12 pace (which is right on target for my predicted time).

So, now, I have a 4-miler tonight. I intend to smoke it as fast as I can.

My advice for running a relay, in general, I’ll post separately.


how to sleep during a relay…

But as far as the running part goes-

It helps to run often. You don’t have to run fast or hard, but don’t let your body recover. It sounds strange at first. You want to teach your legs quicker recovery time. If you currently run 3-4 times per week, this may mean running Monday and Tuesday, then Thursday and Saturday, and eventually throwing in another run. Or running twice one day, then leaving your body time to recover.

Treat each leg as a separate race. If you don’t hit your pace on one leg, don’t worry; you may have more kick on the next one. You may be side-by-side with someone to encourage you to push your pace. You may just be sick of running, and want to run faster, so you can get to the beer and post-party faster. Or you may be freezing cold, and want to run as fast as possible to get back to the warm van and eventual coffee (my third leg from Tuna).

Enjoy your night runs. Some research has suggested you run faster at night because you run closer to your true pace. Seeing the trees blur as you run past them tells your brain you are going fast and many of us slow down. In the dark, that is not an issue. You get a chance for clarity. You can see your roadkill flashing along ahead of you as you come up on them, greet them, and pass on by. There’s also an extreme bonding with the people on the road. Teams tend to line up and cheer for you, even if you aren’t their runner.

And stretch. And foam roller (or stick massage). And eat right. Oh my god, eat right. Test out which foods work for your stomach. Which gels or chews work for you. Not just during the run, but in between. What is your time window before you run? Do you need an hour, three hours? For instance, I can almost always eat a banana. During a run, before a run, after a run; it doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit- after living on bananas, apples, Nuun, Honey Stinger chews, and donuts, my stomach wasn’t feeling too great before my final run, in those 1-4am hours. And judging by the porta-potties, everyone else must have felt worse than me.

If you’ve never run a relay before, the biggest thing is to enjoy it! Laugh. A. Lot. Cheer on others. Honk. A. Lot. Just have fun with it!

Prep week for a sub-25 5K

Like a Boss.

In preparing for this weekend’s 5K, I can’t help but think back to my first 5K, my very first race. It was in November (’08), in San Diego, so it was warm and sunny. My ex-boyfriend (we broke up a few weeks before the race) signed up with me to encourage me to finish the race.

I didn’t know anything about running. I went to the Road Runner Sports in San Diego because a friend completed a training program with them and it came highly recommended. I don’t remember a lot, but if you’ve been to that store, you can understand- its huge and overwhelming. I do remember the sales associate asked how many miles per week I ran, and I laughed out loud. ‘Ummmm 5? Maybe. If its a good week

So there I am, at my first race. I didn’t have any race day rituals. Basically just parked and walked over to start. I even wore all cotton (gasp!)

I just wanted to finish in a better than 10-minute pace. I stopped to walk at the turn around. I finished in 30:30, and was so upset because I was slower than a 10-minute pace (it was actually slightly faster than a 10:00). That actually makes me laugh, your time on your first race doesn’t matter. I didn’t realize there was an extra 0.1 mile (I probably walked it, thinking I had passed the finish line when I saw the 3-mile marker). But at the time, I thought 30+ minutes was horrible (maybe the ex being an easy sub-18-minute 5Ker had something to do with it…).

So how do you train for a sub-25 5K?

The way I’ve been “training” (let’s admit I’m using that term loosely) is as follows-

I run about 20-35 miles/week (across 3-5 runs). One long/slow run (usually Sat AM), 1-2 fast pace (track workout/ tempo/ hilly/ intervals/ whatever; “fast” pace is a 8:30 or better for me), 1-2 super easy shorter run.

Rather than training for a certain distance, I have been keeping a steady base, and I noticed I was getting stronger again, and faster. Holding a 8:15 seems hard, but do-able (a year ago, that would have been an all-out mile for me). But something made me think- I need a legitimate 5-K speed (and 10-K for that matter… maybe in May). And I thought about it- and I feel holding 8’s would be hard, but do-able. And in all honesty, I could probably run faster than a 25-minute pace… but I’ll get back to you about that on Monday (after my 5K).

So my game plan for Sunday is to: Warm-up by jogging to the start line from Dan’s (about a mile). By the way, this will be my first time ever warming up before a race. I generally just scrap the first mile or so of the race as a warm-up. Other new things-

I plan to line up near the front.

Say what?!

I know. I know. Crazy! But I don’t want to spend the first mile elbowing past the first-timers (me, circa 2008). I glanced at the finishing times for last year, and 24:45 was the #25 female, of about 600 racers, #120 overall. So, don’t get me wrong… I don’t plan to be front row, ready to trip Paul (Dan’s friend who freaking wins 5K’s all the time- with 15-16 minute times), but I do plan to be near the front, so it is easier for me. Dan is planning to run even faster. He might be second-row.

And it looks like weather is going to be gross- 40 degrees and raining. Wish me luck! I will definitely need it! Sunday at 2pm.

now, shameless NCAA tournament plug- Go NC State!… And San Diego State! (my grad school-alma mater)

[Yes, I will be carb-loading with cupcakes today and tomorrow… What? Who says it has to be a long race to stuff your face 😉 ]

Thoughts on Richmond Marathon (before)

I would like to set my goals out, so I can look back and reflect. When I first signed up for Richmond, I put in my pace as 4:45. Honestly, I’d like to be below that. We finished our 22 miler in 3:50, meaning if we slowed our pace to a 12-minute pace (which is pretty slow for Allison and I), we’d still finish our marathon in 4:36. I know I am capable of a 4:30s finishing time, so that’s been my goal in recent months.

When I first signed up, I didn’t think my body would hold up. In 2011, I tried training for a marathon, not knowing everything that goes into it (no training program, no buddies, no schedule), and ran my hip out of line. As in, my left side of my pelvis was tilted forward. (See below. Thanks creepy girl who also posted these images while wearing a thong…. Or creepy doctor. Either way- from http://orthoticsforyou.com.au/scoliosis). It was excruciating. I have scoliosis, so I guess that has something to do with this? My physical therapist told me to do keigels (no shitting!), which the guy I was dating at the time was like, uhhh yeah, good plan! Anyway! And took about 3-4 months before I was doing long runs again (though I could run on a treadmill for 30 minutes a few times per week).

Not me. But you can see the yellow line is straight, the red line is hip to hip, that’s how mine looked.

Then I trained for Nashville (spring 2012) without a hitch. I felt strong. Speedy. And Nashville- well the course was HARD. And I hurt my IT band. Like I was run/walking long runs for a few weeks. And went straight into training for the full. As I am tapering, I wonder how well I trained, and if I’ll be really ready for it. Will I be crying happy tears or painful tears during those last 4 miles. I’ve done 18 miles a few times, I’ve done 20 three times, and 22 once. So I’m worried about the last four.

Then, I remembered why I signed up for Richmond. Allison sent me a you tube video Tue night (Runner’s World Tour of Richmond Marathon, from 2009), and I got all teary eyed and emotional. It’s America’s Friendliest Marathon. I’m ready. I trained my butt off. And I’m not injured. And yes, I’m sick, but I’ll be better in a week. All the training, all the work I’ve put in since July; it’s all going to be put to the test soon. And really, it’s not even since July. Because before July, there was the ground work that got me ready for it all. I’m a bit of a sap. And I will probably cry after I finish. So, Sarah, Allison, if I disappear for 5 minutes, it might be because I found free beer… or it could be because I wanted to take it all in.

Confession- I cried after PR-ing in Nashville (I PR’ed by about 9-10 minutes). It wasn’t even the PR aspect. It was the whole training and feeling like I reached my goal, and ran the best race I could. I was on the verge of tears when I saw a friend of a friend. And then I just sat down, and it hit me. I did it! … I think it will be the same with Richmond. But, I might have to find Allison and cry with her. After all, I couldn’t have done it without her 🙂

There’s a quote I love, and I have it on my refrigerator:

Nothing teaches us to surpass our perceived limitations like running

And that’s the truth. After a great race, I just remember all that I am capable of, and feel it’s all out there- waiting for me to grab it. I never would have dreamed I’d be running a marathon. I’ve always been athletic, but running just isn’t my thing. I still say ‘I’m not a runner’ but I guess I am…

So- goals?

1. Enjoy it. I’m doing my first full marathon! (Who knows if I will ever do another one?) I want to just enjoy it. Not worry about the time or anything; just enjoy it.

2. On the other hand, mid-4:00 would be nice. Under 4:40? That’s my goal. Not my expectation, but my goal.

3. Be able to continue running afterward. Meaning, I don’t want to be one of those people who runs a marathon, and then can’t move for a week, and never runs again. Side note- I registered for our Turkey Trot 8K (12 days post-marathon… I didn’t do the math until after I registered…. It may not be a PR haha).