4 weeks to Boston: Training and Meal prep

Hi friends,

Did you do anything for St Patrick’s day? Everyone thinks I’m Irish with the red hair, but I’m not and we really don’t have any St Patrick’s day traditions. However, the town has a parade this afternoon that we might try to attend.

I just hit the point this week where I’m looking forward to wrapping up this marathon cycle.  It’s good timing! It means I’m working hard enough to be ready to pull back, yet I don’t feel as wiped out as I have in some previous training cycles.

I cut my long run back a bit this week in preparation for a half next weekend, but overall am keeping the intensity high.

Unfortunately, winter keeps rearing it’s windy, snowy head so a few more treadmill miles this week:

Sunday: rest!

Monday :  6 miles easy (9:45ish pace) + 5 x 15 second hill strides

Tuesday: 11 miles with threshold work and mile repeats (on the treadmill, unfortunately)

2 miles warm up

3 miles (ave 6:50) with 400m recovery

2 miles (ave 6:41) with 400m recovery

1 mile each at 6:18, 6:15 with 2 minute recovery

Plus cool down.  I felt really strong on this run! Of course then I worry if I could repeat these paces outdoors – I almost jumped into a 5k this weekend to get some practice running hard in a short race but opted not to.  Either way, it was a solid workout and included the two fastest mile splits I’ve ever run. #progress

Wednesday: 9 easy (8:40 ave)

Thursday: 45 minute pool run + squats, lunges + core

Friday: 6 easy run (9:20) with 4 x 30 second pick ups (5:45–> 5:30) + short upper body ST session

Saturday: 12 miles (8:05 ave) with 613 elevation

I broke this run into hills for 2-3 miles, then eased into 5 at MP and finished with 3 miles of hills at the end and one flat cool down mile.  It was tough! But in a good way.  I can feel myself getting much stronger on the hills than I was a year ago.  I haven’t run up this first monster hill in 6+ months and it’s always a 10+ minute mile, so I was happy to hit 9:15.  #moreprogress

What I’m making this week:

  • Roast acorn squash + salmon
  • Chicken fajitas with grilled onions/peppers and homemade guacamole
  • Quinoa minestrone
  • Ground turkey meatballs with rice spaghetti noodles
  • Plus Apple Oatmeal Raisin muffins (using almond meal in place of the ww pastry flour)

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks until the Boston marathon!!

Are you counting down for a particular race this spring?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap.

Taming Tummy Issues on the Run

I mentioned in my training recap that my stomach has been giving me problems mid run for the last 6 weeks or so and now that Boston is getting closer I’m working a little harder to figure this out.

It’s the first time I’ve ever dealt with this – I’ve always had an iron stomach, so I wanted to share some of what I’m learning and also hear from you about any tips or tricks you might have!

Interestingly, it’s estimated that at least half of runners experience the mid run stomach issues or “runners trots” at some point.  Y’all, runners go there and share TMI so we’re just going to roll with this because it’s a thing.

If you’ve been there, these are the potential causes:

  • high fat
  • too much fiber
  • dairy
  • wheat
  • sugar
  • high FODMAP foods (high fructose foods, fermentables and sugar alcohols)
  • stress
  • not enough time between eating and running
  • other gut irritants or food intolerances

It’s a lot to narrow down! I started this past week by cutting out dairy and gluten which definitely helped, but wasn’t fool proof.  I semi followed the FODMAP guidelines but wasn’t perfect.

It’s a struggle to be strict while training because I’m eating every few hours and consuming a lot of calories right now, so I’m running out of ideas and getting bored with the foods I CAN have- and then break into other foods, especially snacks, that are often healthy but not necessarily FODMAP approved.

I need to reign it in a bit more this week and focus on less fiber and fat and really try to let the inflammation in my gut heal.

That seems to be the bottom line: an inflamed gut.

So I’m treating it like I would any client who comes to me with digestive issues and starting the elimination diet of all the culprits, but wow, it’s so tough to be on the other side!

Some of the best ‘gut-healing’ foods include homemade chicken broth (or other bone broths), grass fed meats and fish, steamed or cooked veggies, and coconut oil.  Taking a probiotic and including some prebiotic foods like sauerkraut can help boost the good bacteria content as well.


Sugar, grains and dairy are the worst for raising the bad bacteria – and I’m struggling a bit with the grains and sugar, as my body is craving those for quick energy! Hopefully I can get it on track a bit better this week, even if it becomes a very bland diet for a few weeks.

Have you ever dealt with stomach issues on a run?

Any additional tricks to share?



5 weeks to Boston Training + Meal plan

Hey friends,

It was a crazy storm week here… over a foot of snow arrived Wednesday and the kids had off school Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday!! I can’t remember ever having 3 days in a row like that before, but there were countless trees down, wires down, branches falling… it was not safe.

The storm meant both Wednesday and Thursday’s runs were on the treadmill but I was able to get out Saturday with friends (and run around the snow banks and over black ice!) to get our 20 miles in.

It was a big week for me- the first time I’ve ever hit 60 miles! I feel really good… other than some stomach issues while running that have hit me off and on over the last 6-7 weeks, which I’m trying to figure out.

Sunday: 11.6 miles, mostly easy with 6 x 800m pick ups at 6:49 pace

Monday :  6 easy + 5 short hill sprints + short ST (squats, TRX push/pull, kettle bell swings, bridges, core)

Tuesday: 55 minute pool run which felt awesome- one of my favorite active recovery options

Wednesday: 12.25 with threshold work (treadmill at 1% – the snow was starting)

2 warm up, 9 mile tempo (6 @ 7:10, then 7:05, 7:00, 6:55), 1.25 cool down

I felt so strong on this tempo! It was a nice confidence boosting run to feel like I was holding back in the first half and could bump it up for the last 3 miles.

Thursday: 1 hour shoveling! + 8 very easy treadmill miles (9ish pace)

Friday: 2 mile slow jog + 25 minute pool run

Saturday: 20.25 miles! Second 20 done.  This one did not feel as strong as the last one- overall pace averaged around 8:45 with 701 elevation gain. I felt good until the last few miles when my stomach revolted. Then it was a slog home, as I hadn’t eaten much hoping for a calm belly so I was really running on fumes by the end.

But it’s done! I always have one hard long run per cycle so hopefully this was it.

I cut dairy out this week and loosely followed the FODMAP recommendations, which one of my clients is also doing this week to help heal his gut so I jumped in and joined him.  I felt better on short runs but haven’t solved it yet when I’m working hard. This is all new to me as I typically have an iron stomach!


What I’m making this week… (cutting dairy, gluten and some high FODMAP foods like onion/garlic)

  • Roast chicken + sweet potatoes
  • Chicken (rice) noodle soup with the leftovers (homemade broth is one of the BEST ways to settle an inflamed gut!)
  • Ham + roasted pesto green beans and rice
  • Ground turkey tacos (mine over spaghetti squash)
  • Homemade pizza for the girls, leftovers for me

Did you have any snow days this week?

Do you find you usually have one long run that feels especially rough?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap.

Why You Should Be Doing Strides

I ran with a new friend a few weeks ago who is a much faster short distance runner and was complaining about how my short distance speed disappears when I train for marathons. She asked if I do strides which, ironically, were on my schedule for that day but it helps to be reminded of the benefits from someone else!

Strides are on my schedule every week but I tend to forget to do them or skip them for the sake of time. She joined me for about 5 strides back and forth in front of my house while her son watched and cheered from his stroller.


And thanks to her, I’ve been consistent since then and hope I can keep this up.  Wanna join me?

What are strides?

Strides are short, 20-30 second intervals at near mile race pace with about a minute jogging or standing rest between each.  They are often used at the end of an easy run to add a bit of speed and turnover without needing the recovery time of a full speed workout.

What are the benefits of strides?


  • help improve form and running efficiency
  • improve leg turnover and speed
  • get some work in at mile race pace without adding a lot of stress on the body
  • before a workout or race, they prepare your body for harder work
  • can help teach your body to run hard at the end of a run or race

When should I be doing them?

You can do strides once or twice a week at the end of an easy run, either in the last mile or after you finish.  Strides can also be used as part of the warm up before a race to get the legs turning over and ready to move quickly.

Do you incorporate strides on a regular basis?

What things do you know you should be doing but tend to skip?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

6 weeks to Boston: Training recap

Hey friends,

How was your weekend? I had fun helping my mom throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law on Saturday.  We’ll have a new nephew in about 6 weeks!

The only downside was the crazy storm that went through on Friday. It was mostly just windy here and only raining in PA but in between we got caught in a crazy blizzard with lots of accidents on the route, so our trip was pretty stressful and took twice as long as usual.

We made it safely until we were just minutes from my parent’s house and got rear ended! Everyone is fine and the damage was minimal but it made for an interesting trip.

So… training.

How is it already March? With just 3 weeks to my half and then Boston 3 weeks after that, I feel like I’m in the home stretch.  I had a cut back week with about ten less miles than usual this week:

Monday :  7 easy with a friend (no watch) + 5 x 20 second strides + ST (squat and press, lunges, kettle bell swings, push ups, single deadlifts, bridges + core)

Tuesday: 4 very easy stroller miles in the afternoon

Wednesday: 11.5 with threshold work

2 warm up, 4 mile tempo (6:53, 6:49, 6:57, 5:68), 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard (6:28), 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard (6:34), 1 mile easy, 5 x 30 second pick ups

pm: 10 minutes of squats, push ups and core

Thursday: 3 mile walk

Friday: 15 mile long run before our trip (5 at 8:30s, 5 in the 7:50s, 5 in the 7:30s)

Saturday: easy 5.5, although windy! + 5 x 20 second strides

What I’m making this week…

I spent some time yesterday roasting butternut squash and broccoli slaw, making the quinoa salad and prepping veggies for the week.

Did you have the blizzard or rain or wind this weekend?

What’s your favorite way to cook shrimp?
I’m looking for ideas.

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap.

How do you know what paces you are trained to run?

I received a great question yesterday:

So, I was looking at my training from last year.  It looks like I was running much faster on my tempos, mile repeats, etc.  However, the overall pace was slower…  This time, I am really trying to stick to the assigned paces and notice that I comfortably running warmups and cool downs at a much faster pace than last year.  I ran my 18 mile run easy and when I finished noticed that it was still an 8:22 pace overall.
  I know Boston is super hard to PR, but I feel like I will be able to hold a more consistent pace.  I just don’t know what time to sort of keep in my head.  Any suggestion?
How do you know what you are trained to run?

It’s an important question, especially for the half or full marathon because we know that starting too fast even by just 10-15 seconds can throw off the whole race and cause a positive split (getting slower rather than faster at the end, sometimes by a lot.)

In this particular case, if your easy paces and long runs are getting faster but you aren’t necessarily hitting your speed work as fast as you have in the past, you can still be fairly confident that you are ready for a good marathon.  Marathon training is all about training on tired legs day after day. Often those paces that would come more easily on weeks with less weekly mileage can be a struggle in marathon training.  It’s more important to develop the endurance to be able to maintain paces over the distance.

However, if she were training for 5ks, this would be a sign to cut back some of the longer distances or mileage and incorporate a bit more recovery so she can nail her speed and tempo paces.

A few other ways to determine what paces you are trained for:

1) One of the best ways is to use a tune up race of a shorter distance to determine where your fitness level is.  Then you can enter your results in a calculator like the Daniel’s Calculator to see equivalent race times.

The distances closest to your goal race are best predictors.  For example, a half marathon is a much better marathon predictor than a 5k time.  A 10k can help predict a half marathon time.

2) Certain workouts are good predictors.  Tempo runs of 30-50 minutes are an excellent predictor of half marathon pace, and 2 mile repeats are generally a good predictor of 10k pace-half marathon pace.

3) Notice which paces are getting easier.  Some athletes will run workouts faster or slower than goal paces so you also have to know your body and how hard you are working relative to a particular pace.  With time, you learn what “feels like” marathon pace vs half marathon pace vs 5k pace.

4) Have a general goal range of 10-15 seconds and always start on the conservative end of that pace.  After you have a few miles to see how you are feeling, you can gauge how much wiggle room you have to increase pace and finish strong.

Marathon readiness: You want to see an improvement in overall endurance for the marathon- long runs requiring less recovery and with less soreness, and even incorporating some fast finishes or marathon paced miles to teach your legs to find those paces on tired legs.  Overall weekly mileage should be high enough to build a solid aerobic ‘engine’- this is different for everyone, but many coaches believe you should get as close as you can to 40 miles in a peak week for the marathon in a build up (higher for experienced runners).

For shorter distances, you should feel confident nailing tempo workouts and fartleks or intervals. Your overall weekly mileage becomes a bit less important but should be consistent week to week with several easy runs around the harder days.

I also like looking back at previous cycles and comparing where I was at in training to what happened on race day.  Some athletes race better with longer tapers, others with short tapers.  Sometimes tempo paces are a great predictor of race fitness, and for others tempo runs tend to be significantly slower (or faster) than what they run on race day. Some people blaze through workouts, others save a lot for race day and bust out paces they hardly see during training.  Learn what kind of runner you are.

How do you determine what paces or pace range you are ready to run on race day?

PS- Final call for the next round of the Fit and Fueled program – we start on Monday!!

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

7 weeks to Boston: training recap + amazing drizzled dark chocolate chip cookies

Hi friends,

Another Monday, another training recap! We’re now 7 weeks out from Boston and a month out from my half marathon.  I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about it, but I’m a little more focused on a good half race than my results in Boston.

I have rarely raced a half well in the middle of marathon training due to the fatigued legs I guess, but I’m hoping with a bit of a taper this one might work out! We’ll see… it’s a small race called Two Rivers Half (and full) marathon.

Here’s the wrap on another big week… cut back week up next!

Monday :  10 miles with rolling hills (490 elevation) 8:54 ave + a few strides + ST (kb row and swings, TRX pull ups and push ups, single deadlifts + core)

I’m trying to add in more hills than I usually do this cycle but my legs were definitely feeling this for a day or two.

Tuesday: 5 very easy recovery miles (9:50 ave)


8 with 6 x 800m at the track – 2 warm up, then (3:04, 3:07, 3:11, 3:14, 3:16, 3:12), 2 c/d … ugh, this was so rough! I was breathing hard in the warm up and never felt good.  My legs were still tired from Monday and the only reason I finished is because I met a friend (faster than me) who I could chase for all 6 and she didn’t give me the option to quit! On my own, I would have thrown in the towel after the first two.

4 very easy miles in the afternoon (no watch) to finish the morning miles

Thursday: 20 minute pool run and 10 minutes of swimming- I woke up at 5:30 to squeeze this in before my husband left for a long day and that was all I had time for.  I am so not a morning person! I was happy to fit something in as the rest of the day was packed.

Friday: 7 with 3 near MP (8:25, 7:50, 7:22, 7:18, 7:15, 8:20, 8:02) + wts at the gym (lat pull down, assisted pull ups, chest fly and rear delt, then back lunges + core)

Saturday: First 20 miler done! 8:08 pace (753 elevation)

I put in a lot of rolling hills… mostly downhill in the beginning with some tougher uphill climbs at the end to mimic Boston.  On a flat section for miles 12-16, I got in 4 MP paced miles (7:33, 7:32, 7:22, 7:18).


I’m really happy with this run.  I’m challenging myself with more hills and the uphill felt tough but my overall pace was flowing well.  And that caps my first 54 mile week in a long time.  (I peaked at 50 for Richmond.)

Sunday:  rest!!

What I’m making this week…

I also have to share these amazing almond flour chocolate chip cookies! (gluten free, refined sugar free but definitely a treat)


  • 1 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients and stir well.  Bake at 350 degrees on a greased baking pan for 9-10 minutes.  Let them set a few minutes to cool.  Optional: Melt an additional 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips with a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and drizzle over the top.


Do you race well in your build up to another race?

What’s one meal you plan to make this week?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap.

Know when to walk away, know when to run

It’s inevitable that we have rough workouts in our training.  Some days we nail it and feel on top of the world.  Some days the goal paces feel impossible.

At what point do you need to back off and listen to your body?

Yesterday I was excited to hit the track for the first time in weeks- no ice, no snow, no crazy single digit temps.  I reached out to a new (faster) friend who agreed to meet me bright and early for 800 repeats.

And then I started my warm up and was huffing and puffing through my 9 minute miles.  It wasn’t looking good! We ran the first one right on pace but it felt way too hard.  Somehow I managed to chase her through five more before calling it a day.  What was supposed to be 8 x 800 turned into 6 x 800 with a serious positive split.

It’s tough to handle those flopped workouts!

The good news is that it’s completely normal.  We cannot expect to crush every workout.  So the best thing to do is to move on and not over analyze it.

However, if workouts consistently feel harder than usual and even easy runs begin to feel difficult, you want to take a careful look at your training plan.  Was there an increase in mileage or intensity? Did life become more stressful with work, less sleep, sick kids or a busier than usual schedule?

These can be signs that point to over training. 

If that sounds like you, you definitely want to back off and get some extra rest, naps, easy days and rest days to help your body bounce back.

If it’s an isolated event, try not to let it mess with your confidence… keep moving forward. I had a tough hilly run on Monday and a strength workout that left my legs sore.  It makes sense that my legs were not up for the challenge.  I’ll take a few easy days and prioritize recovery more than usual.  Running on tired legs is part of the challenge of marathon training!

How often do you have a rough run?

Have you ever experienced signs of over training?

8 weeks to Boston + Meal Planning

We woke up to snow yesterday and have the day off school today as well, so we’re getting lots of time indoors together… and so far hanging in there.  I got my long run in before the snowstorm and took Sunday as a rest day.  It’s so nice to have really poor running weather and not have to stress at all about when or how to get the run in!

I’m still pushing the mileage this week for close to 50 miles.  Among the runners I follow, this is on the lower end for marathon training but it’s a big deal for me that my body is holding up and feeling good! So I’m starting to get excited about where this cycle will take me.

Monday :  6.5 easy miles (8:50 ave)

Tuesday: 3 x 2 workout on the treadmill: 2 warm up (8:30, 8:04), 3 x 2 with 2 minute standing rest (6:53, 6:53); (6:53, 6:49); (6:47, 6:43) and 2 cool down (7:59, 7:29) for 10 total plus a short strength circuit


We took the morning off to celebrate Valentine’s day with a 4 mile trail run together, brunch and a little shopping.  It was so much more fun for me than the usual dinner out! I got in my remaining 4 miles later in the afternoon- no watch, but all easy and likely in the 9- 9:30 paces.

Thursday: 45 minute pool run + 15 minute swim

Friday: 15 long run with 2 x 5 mile at race pace

It was raining off and on all day. I pushed my run back to the afternoon but of course it started raining again, and I just wasn’t feeling it.  So I did the first warm up and 5 miles at race pace on the treadmill (7:14 ave) and went outdoors for the second half to cool off! It was way too warm in the gym.  The second 5 miles were closer to 7:30 ave with a lot of wind, but I felt good!


Saturday: 10 easy – 8:48 pace

I met a friend for her long run, aiming for between 8-9.  We lost track of the distance a bit and I ended with 10.3 as we chatted the miles away.  It was a gorgeous sunny winter day and that sunshine combined with catching up with a friend was the best boost of endorphins!

Sunday:  rest!!

What I’m making this week…

  • Stir fry with brown rice
  • Fried rice and tofu with the leftover rice
  • Chicken sausages and sauerkraut + roasted broccoli
  • Tomato poached eggs

Did you get the snowstorm this weekend?

Do you find your body needs those endorphins from the run?
Saturday’s run definitely turned my day around and I came home happy and energized and ready to be a hands on mom!

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap.

Speed tricks from Master women runners

About a week ago, I took the girls to the library on our usual trip and briefly grabbed a few books for me.  In the running section, I picked up Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb.

Have you read it? It’s a fun book, weaving together her own journey to get fitter at 50 while also interviewing experts, meeting 60-90 year old women running records for their age groups, and sharing research on older women runners.  I definitely recommend it!

The research is always fascinating-  a few of my favorite highlights from the research she shared around women runners and some of the advantages women have:

  • Women ultra-runners continue to get faster
  • Women have fat burning advantages over men in long distances- we spare more glycogen in the muscles and finish less depleted
  • Women produce more glutathione when exercising, an antioxidant that helps resist the oxidative stress that can damage muscle
  • Women may be able to endure greater stress and pain, preparing us well for childbirth (or distance running)
  • Masters women can increase running economy with strength training for the legs, when working with heavier weights
  • Sprinting will help build muscle mass, growth hormone increases and better fat metabolism (even with just 30 seconds!)
  • Sprinters have greater bone density and leg muscle than mid or long distance runners

And so many more great tidbits.  But the one part I found really fun were the “speed tricks” she implemented and learned from some of the strong older women she was meeting.  These are tips we can all incorporate more of, including:

Working in plyometrics and drills before a run: High knees, butt kicks, bounding, hopping on one foot or skipping all help develop power and strength, while also preparing the muscles to activate fully in the workout

Developing good running posture: The better the posture, the more efficient and relaxed and natural the running form, which translates to faster running, less risk of injury and better running economy.  She talks with Helly Visser, who set the world records in the indoor 1,500 and 800 at age 80 and wrote the book, The Guide to Nature Posture Running.

Vary speed repeat paces within a workout: Diane Palmason, who holds the 400 and 800 meter records for women over 65 recommends mixing 300m and 75m repeats in one workout, saying “You strengthen different muscle fibers, so when one type gets tired in a race, you’ve got another type beside it to recruit.” She also emphasizes the importance of form and a soft landing.

Combining track and strength workouts on the same day: As we age, it’s even more important to keep the easy days really easy. Karla del Grande, nailed the 60, 200 and 400m records over 60 and does three track workouts with strength on the same day, and keeps the easy days really easy with gentle yoga or cycling.

How many of these speed tricks are you currently incorporating?

Have you read a fun running book recently?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.