Monday, August 31, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

Last night, I made a ridiculous number of bad decisions regarding my long run. Here is what I already knew, but learned again:

1. Keep to your schedule. I always, always run in the morning, but yesterday I postponed my run until past 8 p.m. to skip the heat. It really threw my bodyoff that I was pushing myself that late.

2. Think about the course. Have common sense, for example don't run along the Tidal Basin in April. Look for local events that could hinder your course (especially on the National Mall). Basically, think about where you're running. If I did this last night I would have realized that the VA trails would be dark, empty and scary. I turned around last night, and decided to do laps around the Mall since at least its decently lit. I don't have a GPS watch (yet! it'll be here in two days) and so I tried to determine what would make up 16 miles. I was wrong and ended up running 18.

3. Don't drink and run. I had a visitor this weekend, and so had to go out. I had a bad experience Saturday afternoon that I would rather not talk about, and decided to get drunk in order to forget about it. My logic was to get drunk before dinner, and then I'll have the evening to sober up. Not a great decision, and I had the most excruciating hangover Sunday morning.

4. Prepare for the long run. If you have a long run planned, preparing for it should be your priority from about 12 hours beforehand. If you have a morning long run, get plenty of sleep the night before. Have a balanced dinner with a few extra carbs. Go to bed super-hydrated. If its an evening run, spend the day eating balanced meals, the last one about 2 hours before, with a small snack one hour prior to running. Drink water all day.

Yesterday, I was out of my apartment and barely ate or drank anything. I wasn't hydrated, and I only had a big, pre-run snack as opposed to any form of lunch or dinner. I had a cup of lentils, and tried to drink as much water as I could, but it was still too much and I felt like crap most of the run.

5. Don't postpone until the last possible moment. I need to get my long run in on the weekend. If I hadn't postponed until the last opportunity: Sunday night at 8pm. Then if I wasn't up for it I could have rescheduled for the next day. If anything else had gone wrong, I would have ended up skipping my long run completely, which would have been a horrible idea.

Things I did right:
  • I stayed hydrated. I wore my water belt, and had water fountain opportunities to refill them.
  • I brought along a snack. I had a granola bar in my belt, so that when I was starving at 12 miles, I had least had a few bites of pure carbohydrates to keep me going.
  • Recover. I'm taking today off, what with my long run being so late and my body hating me. When I got home, I shoveled in dinner with lots of carbs, stretched, and iced my knees and ankles.
  • I prioritized safety. Sticking to the Mall as opposed to staying on the dark trails was a good call. Its really a rape scene waiting to happen. Of course, the attacker would have to catch me first!
  • I waited until it was cool out to go running, as opposed to going during the hottest part of an August day in DC. It was much easier on my body and last night, there was an actual breeze, which was amazing.
I can't wait until my Garmin Forerunner 305 gets in on Wednesday, I wish I had it last night! Since my long run was tough, I'm taking today off. To make up for it, I plan:

(Ok, I might do a quick 3-miler after work)
Tues: 6 mile tempo run and cross-training
Wed: 4-miles speedwork and a spinning class after work!
Thurs: 10- mile run
Fri: 5- mile speedwork and cross-training
Sat: 0ff
Sun: 18-mile run. And this time, I'll take my own advice.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weird running dream

FYI, I dreamed about my upcoming marathon last night. That, and I'm still not sleeping through the night.

In my dream, I got to the finish line but it was so crowded that everyone had to walk. I couldn't push my way through the crowd and so asked someone if I could get through since I was counting on this for my BQ (Boston qualifier). She turned and told me that I had plenty of time, and I looked to see that the time was 3:21. Still, I wanted to do my best. I didn't just run my hardest so I could walk across the finish line. I don't remember how exactly it worked out, but I never got to jump ahead of the line.

I always pull apart my dreams. Maybe its not about qualifying, or meeting a certain time. Maybe its about doing the best that you can in every circumstance, and every run during training. People ask what motivates you on race day. I think back on the last 4 months. I think about every morning run, every sore muscle, everything I passed up (from ice cream, to going out with friends) because I was training. If you don't give it 100% on race day, then it wasn't all worth it. I try to apply that to my morning run as well. If I got up yesterday to do a speed workout, it won't be as important if I don't push myself during my 8-miler as well (or worse, not get out of bed). Its all about gaining something each workout and applying what you've worked on.

Instead of dinner last night I had a bottle of wine (I know, super healthy, right?) since I was still full from my lunch at Smith and Wollensky's (I love, love, love restaurant week). I woke up this morning not really up for an intense speed workout and so opted for a 6-mile tempo run instead. I didn't push my pace enough, but it was still a pretty good run. This adds up to 40 miles this week instead of 38 and next week I'll break 40, with about 6 weeks of training left.

Today's run is my last before my second 16-mile run, and I hope that on Sunday I can give it all I've got and run it harder than last week. If I don't, then what was the point in doing that distance again? What was the point in the 24 miles of training to work toward it?

P.S.: Happy Friday!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What about the cost of being lazy?

Economist Justin Wolfers weighed the opportunity costs of running and came to the conclusion that training for the MCM was costing him thousands of dollars (text found here, via Runner's World). This summer, I was set on getting a part-time job. I figured I have all weekend and my evenings off. Then I started remembering that I need time for a long run during the weekend and I like to get to bed by 9pm. I sighed, decided to just stick to a better budget and joined a local volunteer group to contribute extra time to.

So yes, there was an "opportunity cost" to my deciding to train this summer. Other spending included: new shoes, I gave into a sale at City Sports, I want a Garmin watch, I needed a belt to hold water for long runs, I need Gatorade for said long runs. Then my appetite spikes when I train and I spend more money on food...

But running is absolutely priceless. Its part of who I am. It gives me a goal to work toward now that I'm out of school and have no idea what I want to do with my life. Sure, I didn't get an extra part-time job this summer because I needed time to train, but I need to run. When I hurt my ankle after a race and stopped running in 2007, it began a year of dipping in and out of depression for me. And to top that off, running saved me thousands of dollars on therapy and medication, if I hadn't figured out that being active would help (but that's a whole other post waiting to happen).

Finally, what about the cost of being lazy? What about higher health-care costs, the cost of junk food and soda, the cost of better television deals so that you have things to watch as you sit in front of the TV for hours on end? The cost of my riding the bus to the metro as opposed the 20 minute walk I take instead?

I also don't go out since I'm training and I have no time, which saves money. I don't need a gym membership-- saves money. I look better in my clothes meaning I get more for my money (ok, that's pushing it).
A healthy lifestyle doesn't have to include Whole Foods and organic, cage-free meat everyday, and I guess I don't need a GPS-enabled watch. All that said, there are higher long-term costs to being lazy than being a healthy runner.

From overtraining to undertraining?

I did it. I don't know how, or when, but I became a morning person.

The secret is getting to bed early. When training, I should be getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night, so that I recover from my workouts and don't overtrain. I usually get up between 5 and 5:30, meaning I try to get to bed before 9pm.

Seriously, I'm getting old and boring. However, I do give myself a weekday and Friday off to go out and have fun, except my routine is making me tired by 10pm and I still tend to wake up before 6am. At the same time, I love it. I get up and have a pre-run snack and then I have time to get things done (dishes, laundry... God I sound like my mom). After my run, I have a small post-run snack and I usually do a bit of a workout and then I get ready, make a decent breakfast and coffee, watch the morning news, check my email, and walk a mile to work (that actually adds up to another 10 miles a week). That extra 4 hours in the morning seems to make work less painful and I'm much more awake. The weather is nearly perfect that early, and there is hardly any traffic so I can run on the streets. This morning, I did an 8-mile run and a stair workout. The stair workout was extra tough, and I kept a really good pace throughout the run.

My problem is, I think I might still be overtraining. I wake up a lot throughout the night, which never used to happen, and that is one symptom. However, my workouts are pretty strong, I have a good energy level, I get enough sleep, and I always have a recovery meal. Since I'm not sore, I won't jump to the conclusion that I'm overdoing it. The reason I worry is I had a bit of a slump in July, and I don't think I properly increased my mileage, I sort of jumped right back into training. I'm going to keep my mileage the same next week, and see if it helps my body catch up to where I should be. I'm only at 38 miles a week, and I worry that I should be doing more than that. This and next week consists of:

Sun- 16 miles
Mon- 6 miles easy tempo
Tues- 4 miles speed workout
Wed- recovery
Thurs- 8 miles and stair workout
Fri- 4 miles speed workout
Sat- recovery
Sun- 18 miles

Maybe next week I'll make that 8-miler a 10-miler? Thing is, I'm good in terms of endurance and distance, its my pace that worries me, which is why I have two speedworkouts a week. I try to run the .42 laps sub- 3 minutes and my 6 and 8 mile runs at race pace (8-8:30 minute mile pace) unless I make the 6-miler a tempo run. If thats my focus, I think the low mileage is acceptable. Once I'm at a 20 mile long run and a 10 mile mid-week run, my mileage will get high enough for peak training.

Yes I just went from dicussing how I was overtraining to not training hard enough. See how confusing it all is?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lincoln Park Joggers

There are two things I can't stand to encounter during a run: joggers and tourists.

Don't get me wrong, I would encourage everyone to get outside and get their heart rate up, but Lincoln Park has one thin dirt path I loop around doing speed work, and when there is someone barely moving and in my way, its annoying. I have the urge to run past screaming: "This is what running looks like!" Especially since I have to hop over to the grass and risk twisting my ankle so that they can barely break a sweat. They frustrate me as much as the girls who put make-up on to go walk on the treadmill at the gym. Sometimes I go down to the cobblestone around the park to get away from them, but I can't imagine what will do to my poor knees.

When I'm not doing speedwork around Lincoln Park, my run usually includes the National Mall. If I get out too late for my long run, which I always do, my final stretch includes the 2-mile strip of monuments when the tourists have begun flooding in. Hell hath no fury like a runner who encounters 100 8th graders on Mile 12.

When its tourist season, I no longer go out running, but play a sport I like to call Tourist Dodging. The most challenging course is the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Yes, I've done it.

That said, I discovered the loop around Lincoln Park is actually .419 miles and not .45 like I thought. Oops. Meaning 8 laps and to and from the park is only about 3.5 miles and not 4. Now I need to add an extra lap to my speed workouts. I'm not too happy about that. Today, I ran without music, and was much more focused on speed. Really great run! I decided to take tomorrow off after my cupcake and chocolate day, and only do an 8-mile run on Thursday instead of a 10. I don't want to overdo it yet, and I need to do something for extra mileage next week! I'll add a decent stair workout so that its extra tough.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Only 10.2 to go

Yesterday was my 16-mile long run. Long runs are my absolute favorite. There is nothing like spending an entire morning jogging. I wasn't worn out, I didn't make it in the best time though, and I'm not sore today at all. Now, let me rant about the weather. At 8pm, I checked the hourly forecast to see if there were impending rainstorms Sunday. It was supposed to rain until 9am-ish and then stay pretty cool, so I decided to sleep in. Woke up at 6:30am and it was dry as can be. Seriously!? You would think they could get the forecast for the next 10 hours down. I ended up not getting out until almost 8 and hitting the hot sun within the first half of my run.

Usually I give myself the day after a long run off, and still run the day before. I switched this week and did a steady 6-mile run this morning, and it felt really great. It was a nice, cool morning with low humidity and it was the one I finally decided to go out in just a sports bra. I used to judge people who did this, thinking it wasn't a big deal to put a shirt on. Then, the humidity got worse, and when I removed my shirt upon getting home it was heavy and soaked. I decided to try going without one and I really loved not having a shirt on to soak up and hold me down with moisture. So, I might start doing it more often, please don't judge!

I usually give myself the day after off after a long run so I didn't have to wake up early on Monday. I'm so proud of myself for actually getting up. Especially now that its still dark out at 5:45am, I need to coach myself out of bed. It usually goes something like this.

5:45... too early... must go back to sleep

No no no no! I need to get in at least 40 miles this week.

'M tired.

Do NOT press that snooze button.

Its just 5 minutes!

Exactly, if you press it, you aren't up till 5:50, then you need to eat, get dressed, and I forgot to take out the trash... What did you just do?!

In case I fall back asleep. Better 5 minutes than 30. So warm in bed... sigh

5 minutes! Guess when everyone else who's out running this morning got up?

5 minutes ago?

Exactly! Did you want to qualify for Boston or not.

Right. Ok. Where are my bananas?

Yes, I talk to myself, no judging! This morning, I was reminded of the scene in Cool Runnings where they hold the alarm clock above the coach and tell him to get up because its "butt whipping time" and I totally need to get that audio as my phone alarm. Anyway, the best motivation is 6 miles=600 calories, and I have dinner at Coco Sala later this week (I planned a 10-miler for the day after).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Get married while running a marathon!

The Las Vegas marathon (December 6, 2009) offers couple the chance to get married while running it. No lie. You can also run while dressed up as Elvis, but I wouldn't recommend 26.2 miles in pants, jacket and a wig. Apparently, the race is highly recommended and comes with hotel and entertainment discounts. I just need to go find a man to run it with now...

Tempo Run: all about the music

This morning I did an 8-mile tempo run. My favorite way to do these is to just listen to a well selected playlist of songs that have really strong choruses, a plus if they also have subdued verses to help recovery. Most are inspired from spinning classes, since they use music to encourage pace and resistance. I do a hard run during the choruses and take it back to comfortable during the verses. I also added the memorial bridge stairs, which I usually do to one or two songs. Today, I got out a bit late (damn snooze button) and only did one song, Black Eyed Peas' I Got a Feeling. This is a great song to start a run out with, since it has a great beat and its intensity grows throughout the song.

I posted a question on a Runner's World forum about stairs. Can they make up for a lack of hills in training? I have one hill in my run (Capitol Hill) and today I sprinted up it to work on speed. Apparently, stairs do help a lot. The only drawbacks are: (1) your feet aren't at an incline and so your body won't be used to it during the race, and (2) most people (at least not me and the responder) don't run hard down stairs. I'm always afraid I'll miss a step and fall, if you know me this is pretty likely, but its crucial that a runner is used to the downhill. I'm going to look to add more hills to my running, especially so I can tackle the Marine Corps Marathon's biggest drawback: a steep hill as the last .2 miles of the race.

The first time I ran it, it was actually Britney Spears' Gimmie More that helped me through it (don't judge me for using a song as coaching! Or for cheating and sneaking my iPod onto the course!). I remember putting it as loud as possible and thinking "more... more... this is the end..." as I worked my way to the finish line.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Running Shoes

I want to preface this post by saying that I love shoes... to a point where I'm sort of pathetic about it. I can shop online for hours just looking at them, when I pick one up at a store I usually hold it as though its an ancient masterpiece, when I buy a new pair of shoes I'm giddy for over a week and sometimes wear them to bed. Like I said, sort of pathetic.

The really pathetic thing, is how sentimental I am about my running shoes. I brought my training shoes to my first marathon because I felt like even though they were shot and unwearable, that they should be there for me at the finish line (I have yet to get rid of them). I can list off all my old running shoes as if they are old friends and could probably tell you when I wore them and what races I ran with them. Like other runners, I often get mine at specialty stores, or race expos, and I talk it over with one of the workers and research the top rated shoes online.

This is important because I actually have extremely flat feet and have gotten tendinitis multiple times and should wear my orthotics everyday. I only really ever wear them running and when I know I'll be walking a lot. I cringe remembering all the blisters I got from my custom-made orthotics while training for my first marathon. I need to bring the orthotics to the store and I run around with them to get a good feel for how they fit in the shoe. Right now I'm wearing Saucony ProGrid Triumph 6, I bought these because they didn't have much of a heel, plus they were light, flexible and with light cushioning.

I also thought they were pretty (especially in the green and silver).

These shoes costs $125 and if I remember correctly I had a 20% off coupon, but still shelled out some big bucks on them. I've always strayed away from brands like Nike, having been warned that you're only paying for the name. In my limited 6 years of running experience, I've gotten different advice from everyone. Some say distance runners need stability shoes, while others say that density just adds weight to your feet. One person says you need light, flexible shoes, while someone else recommends one with what looks like a 2-inch heel. I know I can't have much of a heel to mine, since my orthotics add even more of one, and its taken a few trials to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Today's Time Magazine article on their wellness blog Do fancy running shoes do more harm than good? reminded me of the $30 pair of running sneakers that I bought at a running expo. They were an obscure brand that I can't remember, but I wore them from Nov 2007 until April this year. They stuck around so long since I didn't do any long distance training during that time. Not only did they last, but I ran a quick half-marathon with them, logged quite a few miles and, get this, I survived! I didn't get tendonitis, extra hip or knee pain, and really couldn't tell the difference between them and my old Ascics or Sauconys. I'm not planning on taking up barefoot running anytime soon (that's a bit extreme), but its not like I've ever heard a theory that the reason Phidippides didn't survive his marathon was because he wasn't in state of the art running shoes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The mid-week long run

... went fantastic! I only ran about 14 miles but the air was cool (still really humid) and the city was beautiful. I had a ton of energy and a great run and that day I had a crazy endorphin high. Haven't run since because of teeth and I'm really restless.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A running blog

I spent the better part of the morning on the Runner's World website reading forums and articles to learn more about training and to get motivated. Then I ran into running blogs and they were fantastic. I keep a running calendar, but I find myself more and more posting running quotes and training tidbits on twitter and facebook and so decided this is something I could love doing. Also, running research takes up a good amount of my time and now I have somewhere to post links.

People never understand when I say I'm going out for a run to relax. I admit, the idea is a little silly, but running is when I concentrate only on myself, and my mind is nearly completely free to wander. Its when I come up with ideas, from my and Chelsea's speech at our sister's wedding to what shoes I'm going to wear that day (which is a pretty monumental decision).

This morning,
I was up at 5am and out on the road by 5:40. I ran my 7.5 mile loop from my place to the Memorial Bridge, and I run up and down the Memorial stairs for about 2 songs. This is such a great addition to a run. I was so tired this morning that I couldn't think straight. Not sleepy, but tired. No idea why I have such a hard slump after mid-length and log runs. I usually have a quick recovery snack like you're supposed to, and then eat breakfast right before leaving for work. I've never done a mid-week long run, but I'm getting my wisdom teeth out Friday and I'll be off the road until Monday at the very least! Next time, I'm going to try to get some B-vitamins into my recovery and give myself more time to stretch.