Tag Archives: strength training

2017 Chicago Marathon Recap

Author’s Note: This marathon recap was started in Oct. 2017 and finished in Jan. 2018 which is amazing because the experience of the race still feels like yesterday.

The 2017 Chicago Marathon was marathon #12 for me. I’ve not trained for any marathon the same way twice but I have combined the best parts of my past experiences and having just achieved my best personal record yet, I may be a tad closer to a formula for marathon success. From my first marathon eight years ago with a 4:11 finish to my Chicago finish in 3:29, there are a lot of little things that add up to successful marathons. But there are two constants – one is all mental, the other is putting in the work.

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Taper Time Equals Restless Mind

There are three weeks left until the Chicago Marathon which means it’s almost taper time and my mind is starting to get restless. With 4 weeks to go, I did my last 20-miler and in the week leading up to it was feeling ready to be “done,” ready to taper, let’s get to the race already! I was physically tired but that last 20-miler hit the spot. After that run, I felt physically and mentally ready. And then a funny thing happened. I looked at the remaining three weeks of training — it’s really only one more solid week of hard runs and two weeks of taper — and all of a sudden my mind goes wild. One 16-miler, one 10-miler, and then it’s race day! It’s a feeling of not quite panic, excitement, and an immediate unsettled feeling of what will come next.  Continue reading

Kegels: For Real This Time

This winter I have taken up the most balanced mix of running, cross-training, strength training and stretching as I ever have before. Probably because it’s just been too damn cold to run outside as often as I normally might. Nonetheless, I have found myself trying to nail some of the basics of building a strong core and pelvic floor.The root of this seems to be grounded in mastering the kegel, something I’ve tried before. After reading, and re-reading certain sections, of The Whole Body Fix in the current issue of RW I am feeling even more motivated to figure out this basic move and also kicking myself for not having been doing certain things all along (which will be the topic of a whole separate post). Continue reading

The Early Weeks

I’m somewhere around 5 weeks as I write this post and am having many mixed emotions. Excited about baby number two, fearful of losing my fitness, all that I’ve trained for and the work I’ll have to do to get it back but also ready for the challenge of making it all work. I said in the very first post in this series to keep it honest. So that’s what I’m doing here, for better or for worse.

One common piece of advice to pregnant women with regard to staying fit is that you should be able to continue doing the same things you did pre-pregnancy during pregnancy. So if you were always a runner, keep running. If you bike, keep biking. If you did pilates or yoga, keep at it.

In my particular case, running is my “go to.” I was always running pre-pregnancy so I will continue to run throughout pregnancy. What is holding me up this time, is that I didn’t go into this one in marathon shape; half marathon shape at best. My longest run in December was 7 miles. I had high hopes of taking on a pregnant half marathon in March, just to do it, but with each run I am trying to rationalize with myself that 10ks are a smarter choice if I have to race. I am hopeful to maintain my 3 days a week of running and use one of those as a weekend long run, preferably staying in the 7-10 mile range for as long as possible. The frustration I have is that even in these early weeks I can already feel a little more challenge in the runs. Maybe not so much a challenge as an innate understanding that I need to go slower. I mentally want to push myself for my sub-8 minute pace but the last few runs it’s just not been the right thing to do. I want to warn runners that if you had been used to pushing yourself, to doing speedwork, tempos, hill work, training for a pace–it all changes. There is a major shift in what your body will allow (and want) you to do comfortably. And it is ALL mental. If you think hard enough about while you’re running, you can stop focusing on pace and just enjoy running. I know I sound like I’m complaining. And I also realize this makes it sound like “running just to run” isn’t worth it but for me it is a readjustment. For the next 8 months I cannot consider running a competitive outlet. It simply as to be my outlet. It will keep me grounded, keep my mind clear, give me fresh perspective, and hopefully help keep me in shape to bounce back fast.

I also went into this pregnancy with a tiny bit of cross-training under my belt and I knew full well that if I was in shape to do certain things pre-pregnancy that I could continue doing them throughout pregnancy. These last few weeks I have been pushing it a bit to “get in” more cross-training in the early weeks so that I can tell myself I can continue to do these things for the next 8 months. I took back up rowing 1-2 times per week with my mini circuit training of squats, lunges, push-ups and core work. I added in a spin class once a week at a new spin studio in Baltimore (which is awesome by the way, check it out: Revuup). I also took on yoga for runners with three different videos on RW.com hosted by Rebecca Pacheco.

The early weeks are hard. They’re hard because they’re so early that you’re not supposed to tell anyone you’re pregnant so you feel like you’re keeping a secret and yet all you want to do is shout it out. They’re hard because you want to keep doing everything you would normally do but you’re not sure of any new limitations. They’re hard because depending on the woman and pregnancy, you may be zapped of energy to even think about staying fit. They’re just hard. But perhaps they’re also the ideal challenge to see what you’re capable of powering through.

If you’re in your early weeks of pregnancy and feel like it’s just hard, I understand. If you wish you could run faster again, I hear you loud and clear. But keep running. And stay honest!

P.s. This post was written January 15 and held for a post-date publication until we were in the “safe zone.”

From Painful to Pain-Free

I am very pleased to report that I’ve been running pain-free for about four weeks. I give enormous credit to Doyle & Taylor Physical Therapy in Annapolis and also have to admit that a reduced weekly running schedule (3 days) combined with diligent strength exercises and stretching have allowed me to resolve the sources of my hip pain. I’m not entirely convinced the pain is gone for good but I am most definitely back to my normal running pace, comfort level and optimism. Continue reading

Hip Pain: It Came Out of Nowhere

I was on my second to last long run before the Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon, 13 miles. It was early on an August Saturday morning so not too hot and I was doing well with my LSD pace. All of a sudden, on the flat stretch of my local trail with about 2 miles left to go, my left hip seemed to twerk out from under me. I felt a stabbing pain in my hip that seemed to shoot around my glute and hamstring area. I slowed down a little. The pain kept on. I limped and hopped and kicked my legs up behind me to try and shake it out but the pain persisted. I did something I never do and stopped and stretched. Stopping seemed to make it worse and after a brief stretch I powered through the painful final stretch home. Continue reading

Downhill Training: Dealing with Quad Work

I love to run. I’m pretty good at running. I really, really enjoy cycling. With consistent riding I am a decent biker. I like to swim. If I could work in swimming with regularity I could be an ok swimmer again. But I hate quad work. I dread the idea of having to do squats, lunges and wall sits. And yet, those are the exact things I should be doing if I were going to be preparing as best I can to run two marathons this fall, both of which have significant downhill components. Continue reading

First Triathlon, First Impressions

We arrived early to get set-up and fortunately the dark sy didn't open up on us with any rain during the race.

We arrived early to get set-up and fortunately the dark sky didn't open up on us with any rain during the race.

In late April I set my mind on doing my first triathlon. My sister and her husband had moved to upstate New York last fall and her husband signed up for the Cazenovia Sprint Triathlon which was August 9th. I thought signing up as well would be a great way to tie in a visit to their new home and I was eager to mix up my running with cross-training for a tri. After months of swimming, biking, running, searching for the best thing to wear, practicing transitions, and mentally preparing to do a triathlon it was finally time to put all that work to the test.

The days leading up to the tri I tapered my training and kept my meals consistent with what I’d been used to eating. The day before the race I had three square meals with slightly more carbs in each than I would normally have, a race routine I’m used to. We all (myself, my husband, and my brother-in-law) went to bed at a reasonable hour with a 5:45 a.m. alarm set. As happens before any race, I woke up several times to make sure I didn’t miss the alarm and at 5:30 I was ready to get going. Continue reading

Day by Day

Sitting on a notepad next to me is a list of topics I plan to write about on this blog. In the drafts section of the blog editor are a handful of posts I’ve started but that aren’t quite ready to be published. And on the “notes” area of my Outlook program is another long list of things I’d like to research and write about here. Rather than complain about how there never seem to be enough hours in the day, as I’ve done before, I’m going to attempt the “day by day” strategy and just fit in what I can. On my run this morning I was thinking about all the things I haven’t done and all the things I have yet to start, blog posts being one of them.

I thought it might be helpful for both me and you to think through what has happened so far, reflect on how some things have been going, and figure out what’s next on life’s list. Ideally at the end, you’ll have something to look forward to reading and I will be accountable for getting it written.

Since the March 1st marathon and a month of recovery from ITBS, I am grateful to be back running again on a consistent schedule. I got very focused on strength training for a while, but there is some vortex that running pulls me into and it’s all I want to do. Since running had made its way back into my life, the weights have taken a back seat which goes very much against my original goal of having a better balanced work-out plan the second time around. Knowing that I will be in training mode soon, I need to work in the balance of cardio and strength training. So I am sorry to report that with the exception of core work-outs I have let the arm and leg exercises slide, but this will change starting today.

I also reported that I was going to be doing my first adventure race. Due to my own poor planning and schedule conflicts, I did not make it out to Rocky Gap for what would surely have been one of the more gratifying and challenging races on my calendar. Doing an adventure race is definitely still on my radar, however I think I’ll start with trail running first and build up an actual understanding of “off road” training before heading into the wilderness.

Cross-training is the one thing that has managed to remain a part of my new routine. Spin class continues to be at least a one time per week work-out for me and while I have yet to say that I love spinning, I can say I love the work-out that spinning provides. It makes me sweat like no other exercise makes me sweat and I am acutely aware of my beginner level skill at spinning so I welcome the challenge each time I go to the class, including the challenge of waking up at 5 a.m. to get to class on time. These are some of the things that have been going on over the last few months.

What’s Next?

With regard to races, I think I finally have my summer schedule figured out which is a huge relief because now I can start training and get some order back in my life. I plan to do the Ben Moore Memorial Half Marathon August 1st, followed by my first sprint triathlon in upstate New York with my brother-in-law on August 9th. I realize that back to back races might not be ideal but I feel as though with a solid three months to train for both that the tri training will keep me even better conditioned for a summer half marathon. The Annapolis 10-Miler is one of my favorite races and is August 30th, so that will be on the schedule as well. In June we’ll find out if I get into the NYC Marathon, so we’ll cross that marathon bridge when we come to it.

In addition to training for the above mentioned races, there will be a host of things I have to learn about triathlons and I plan to write about them as I discover the answers to my new questions. I am training again with my Polar heart rate watch and this is a subject I will cover here once I get it all figured out. I have some definite “user error” issues with the watch as well as a mental block in regard to how to train by heart rate; but I will learn and share.

I will continue to do reviews of training logs and have a couple more weeks using the Runner’s World log before I write the review, but I am eager to move on to the next log; we’ll just leave it at that for now.

One category that stands out on my multiple lists of blog topics are things in the “health” category. This blog is “Health and Running” and while running is by default a healthy thing to do, it is by no means the end all be all of health. Food and nutrition is a whole category of posts but as I am not a food or nutrition expert, I’m just a normal eater, I will explore some of my own food and nutrition questions and bring you the answers I find. A friend of mine just started a site aimed at helping others make informed eating decisions and with his knowledge and that of many other helpful resources and healthful eating experts, I imagine we will start to cover more of the “health” in Health and Running.

So that’s what’s next on my plate; feel free to add to it if you want. What’s next on yours?

Thinking While Doing

PARISThe past couple weeks I have gotten into spinning and strength training in lieu of my regular morning runs while my IT band gets back to normal. I am definitely enjoying the change in routine and appreciate the challenges of these new work-outs. I’m testing out the Runner’s World training log this month and one of the fields you can complete allows you to rate your effort as well as the quality of your work-out on a scale of 1 to 10 and I’m finding that with these new work-outs I have to put in a lot of effort but am not getting the quality I’d want because everything is so new.

Running for me still remains the ultimate work-out not just because of the calories it sheds or the lean frame it allows me to build, but also because of the mental balance I can achieve when running. Despite the enjoyment of these new work-outs, I miss running terribly for it’s mental stimulation, quiet focus, and creative freedom. On any given run my thoughts would move between concentrating on my form to planning my “to do” list to thinking through poems to simply taking in my surroundings. Every day I could start with a run was inevitably a better day for it because the run would give me time to wake-up my body and my mind and prepare for the day ahead. Continue reading