Cutting back to get stronger (last week’s workouts)

I just wrapped up three weeks of cutting back.  It was much needed- I like following a training plan and then after a few months I like having a week or two to what I want to.  Easy runs, cross training or strength training or more rest days.

I didn’t get up early for any of my workouts this week- and it was a bitter cold week which made it even more satisfying to stay in my warm bed.  But I started to build back in some running with a bit of pace again, and am finding my motivation returning, as it always does!

Monday: 1 hour walk, after dinner

Tuesday:  45 minute spin with some intervals, upper body weights session

Wednesday:  6 mile run with 10 x 1 minute at 6:00- 6:10, 1 minute easy plus ten minutes of yoga

Thursday: spin class

Friday:  7 miles with 3 at 7:10 pace

Saturday: 1 hour spin

Sunday: 10 easy, 8:25 ave

It feels good not to officially be in training mode over the holidays, and I’m starting to think about what I want to work toward in 2019.

What does your running look like over the holidays?

Have you started putting together your 2019 races?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run

Run for your life

What’s one of the best books you’ve read recently?

I just finished Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s Run for Your Life and if you’re looking for a good running-related book, this one is comprehensive from the perspective of a distance runner, doctor, professor, race director and minimalist running store owner… yes, he wears many hats!

I think what drew me in was the overlap with the theories I’ve been learning recently: from my sports chiropractor this summer, from Altra running creator Harper Golden, from lower carb researcher Tim Noakes, and from my own experience running over the years.

In some ways, the book is very basic for the beginner runner.  In others, it is very cutting edge- questioning the nutrition and running myths that are assumed to be true in the running culture.

Here are a few of them:

1) There is no evidence that modern shoe designs protect your feet- elevated heels can ‘disable’ your foot

He emphasizes the need for a shoe to be flexible with a lower drop and thinner than many traditional running shoes. This is something I heard repeatedly from the Altra injury prevention crew.  I shared some of the benefits of a lower drop shoe here and it’s been working for me.

2) The fascia play a larger role than we thought

I don’t think I ever thought about fascia before getting regular treatment from my chiro this summer! He used the Graston technique (ouch) to work out the knots in my fascia, all the tissue that we need to work with us as runners.

We need our fascia for movement and bounce to keep the spring in our step.  Sitting can cause the fascia to grow sluggish and stiff- Dr. Cucuzzella says the properties of the body’s myofascial tissues can actually change over a few months.

Foam rolling helps keep this fascia even and smooth.  Fascia also responds to slow stretches like the mountain climber hold, hip openers and the dynamic burpee.  Yoga is great, too.

3) To prevent injury, HOW you run is key

Low impact running is important- a slight lean forward, standing tall with good posture and landing quietly.  If you are not landing softly and quietly, focusing on a softer landing will improve the impact the entire way up the chain.

4) Build the engine with an aerobic base over high intensity, and fat over sugar

These, again, are themes I’ve found in the work of Dr. Noakes and Dr. Maffettone and others, and are ones that are not always put into place in the running community.

Building the base with heart rate training or all aerobic miles gives your body a strong foundation before attempting speed work or higher intensity workouts.

Most runners have heard of the 80/20 concept (keeping 80% of your running easy and pushing higher intensity for the remaining 20%) but he encourages runners to watch their heart rate and consider the MAF heart rate training.

Burning fat over sugar is another huge topic which I’ve covered in the past and have experimented with in fasted runs and glycemic depleted long runs.

I had mixed results- initially it helped my body need less fuel for long runs, but I also think this type of training can create more stress and cortisol than fueled runs and I’ve switched back to fueling for my runs.  It’s an area I’m intrigued by but am not sure that all of us (men and women) respond equally.

As you can tell, there is so much packed in here! If these topics interest you, dive in deeper and check it out.  Each chapter also ends with recommended drills which I found really helpful- both for more flexibility and injury prevention as well as general good health and mobility.

Tell me what running book you’ve read most recently?


Embracing the Off Season

An off season is important, but why is it so hard?

I find it easy to take a few weeks off (or very, very easy) after a marathon or hard half marathon, but it’s much harder to build in that break when I haven’t had any particularly hard race to end the season.

But either way, a few extra easy weeks and some time away from official ‘training’ is so beneficial- both mentally and physically.

It always feels like you’re going to lose fitness.  That by taking a few weeks off or backing off, you’ll have to build back all that hard-earned fitness.

There is a little bit of truth to that- you do lose a small amount of fitness when you cut back for several weeks.

However, the payoff is huge.  You go into the next training cycle fresh and rested, and can take your fitness to a new level.

Without it, you risk over training or injury- your body will force that break at some point.  I’ve been there!

The off season doesn’t mean zero running, although it can.  It can mean full rest for a week or two- or it can be cross training… mixing it up with biking, swimming, weights or yoga.

I like to focus on lower impact activities like swimming or biking with some strength, but nothing too intense.

My friend Amanda Loudin wrote an excellent article on how to handle the off season that I recommend checking out.

What does your ‘off season’ typically look like?

What time of year do you pull back?

Week in Training and What’s Next

Reading back over my training log the last 8-12 weeks, there is a consistent theme of tired legs.  My easy runs got slower and slower, which is normal when in training, but it was rare that I felt good or had that ‘pop’ in my legs.

After falling apart in Richmond and on several training runs, I’m realizing that my body is asking for a little break! I felt this way during one other training cycle and wrote about identifying signs of over training.

It can be tricky, since some general fatigue is normal, but when I gave myself permission to say ‘season over’ rather than finding that follow up half marathon, I felt relief.  That is a sign that I need a break! Normally I have the motivation to race but it just isn’t there right now.

So what’s next? Rest!

Of course, that could change, but for the next week or two I’m going to run if and when I feel like it but keep it easy and take extra rest days.  I may still jump into a December race for fun, but no big goals.

This last week after Saturday’s half marathon (12 miles of it):

Monday: rest

Tuesday:  9 miles with 2 easy, 4 x 800, 2 miles at 6:45, 2 x 800

I would normally rest after a half for a week, but since I didn’t actually “race” it, my legs were ready for a little workout.

Wednesday:  8 easy miles (8:55 ave)

Thursday:  6 easy miles (9:05 ave)

Friday:  short spin/strength

Saturday: 9 miles easy + Girls on the Run 5k with L!

Sunday: 5 easy with the MRTT crew

The highlight, by far, was running L’s first ever 5k with her! She had a great experience with the Girls on the Run program this fall, and despite it feeling pretty long in that last mile, she already said she wants to do it again.

I loved watching how proud she was of herself! And I’ve never run a race with so many girls- over 400 little girls running together with spectators and fans cheering them on was pretty special!

Have you ever felt over trained or in need of a running break?

Tell me about a time you saw your kid really proud of him/herself.

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run

Richmond Race Recap

Despite not having the race experience I hoped for, I loved being back in Richmond for race weekend!

I love that it’s smaller than some of the large marathons so the logistics are pretty simple, yet there is still a good amount of crowd support and energy.  The course is so pretty this time of year with the fall colors too.

It was my first time on the half course, which was mostly flat with a fun little loop through Bryant park.

Unfortunately, I only felt good in mile one.  By mile two, everyone was passing me although I felt like I was running the same effort.  When the mile beeped, I had slowed 20 seconds which I thought was odd.  I started trying to get back on pace and that’s when the stomach issues began.

My time dropped more as I began looking for port-o-pots to stop at and then my legs decided they had nothing else to give either.  I settled into an 8:30 pace until mile 8, which clocked a 10:00 pace and I realized my body was beyond done! I convinced myself to hang on to 10, then 12 and finally walked off when I was close enough to the downtown spot where I was meeting my sister afterward.  It’s so strange when your body just shuts down on you. What can you do?

It’s my first ever dnf and hopefully the last!

I’m still trying to determine if it was a stomach bug or something I ate as I traveled down to VA.  I don’t know if my body is telling me it’s done with training and needs a break or if I should try again for one more fall race.  I’m going to give it a week or two and see how I feel.

Yesterday, I hopped on the treadmill for a few easy miles which turned into 9 miles with 4 x 800 (around 3:06 ave), 2 mile tempo (6:44) and 2 x 800.  Thankfully, it felt good. So at least I know I am over whatever was messing with me this weekend.

But Richmond was still a highlight of my fall. I  was tracking many friends and got to see my Insta friend Monica nab a half pr and an old friend from high school almost break 3 hours and get his Boston Qualifying time!

I definitely recommend working this race in to one of your fall race plans… just leave amble time for travel on Friday if you have to get around DC.  I spent a lot of time in the car this weekend. 🙂

AND, for the first time ever, I forgot my running shoes! Jared was in Spain for a conference so I was packing up the girls and dropping them off at grandparents … so in the chaos, the shoes were left right by the door.  Sigh.  Luckily, the EXPO had some good deals and I got a pair of Sauconys to try.  (Of course, it turned out that the shoes were the least of my worries).

Have you run Richmond?

Did you ever have a DNF? How did you move on?

Tapering for Richmond

How inspiring was the NYC marathon? Even though the American women (and men) couldn’t nab the win, they ran strong and Mary Keitany deserved that win, flying 3 minutes ahead of everyone else!

I was definitely reliving my own NYC experience- such a fun race!

It would have pushed me to get out the door for a solid long run, but it’s taper time for me as I look forward to Richmond this weekend.

Last week started out rough with tired legs from the previous weekend, but by the end of the week I could feel that ‘pop’ coming back.

Monday: 8 easy (8:55) with rolling hills + wall sit, single leg deadlift, upper row, push ups and planks- legs still felt heavy from last week’s workouts

Tuesday:  rest

Wednesday:  10 miles with 6 x 1 mile around or just faster than half marathon pace

2 mile warm up then the miles with 1 minute standing recoveries (7:03, 6:55, 6:53, 6:53, 6:47, 6:39) and cool down – still feeling a big tired and this run felt hard

Thursday:  5 easy miles (8:25 ave) – finally the pop in my legs was back!

Friday:  evening long run- 9.5 as we were getting up early to surprise my FIL and drive to PA the next morning (8:01 ave)

Saturday: rest- celebrating my FIL’s 70th birthday!

Sunday: 5 easy on the beautiful country roads (9:07 ave)

For the meal plan this week…

  • roast chicken + roast potatoes + arugula salad
  • burritos with leftover chicken
  • chicken, kale and butternut squash soup
  • leftovers and then heading to Richmond!


Did you watch NYC live?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run

Two weeks to the Richmond Half

The last big week of training is done, and I’m going to get in a harder mid-week workout and then taper down for Richmond.

It’s a great course! Anyone else want to join me?

Training last week went okay… I was running around getting ready for the Scholastic book fair at school and on my feet all day Friday and Saturday running it, which left me feeling pretty wiped out on some of my runs.

I still felt tired on yesterday’s easy run so I hope my legs bounce back this week!

Monday: 9 easy (9:15) with rolling hills + wall sit, single leg deadlift, upper row, push ups and planks

Tuesday: 45 minute pool run

Wednesday:  11 miles with 3 x 2 mile repeats + 1 mile with the repeats on the treadmill

2 mile warm up (9:14, 8:22),  2 miles (6:55, 6:55), (6:53, 6:53), (6:51, 6:51), (6:25) + cool down

Thursday:  7 easy miles (8:55 ave)

Friday:  post book fair, 15 miles in the evening (8:03 ave)

Saturday: rest day that didn’t feel restful! (on my feet again all day for the book fair and clean up)

Sunday: 5 easy with a local athlete I coach

For the meal plan this week…

  • chicken and shrimp jambalaya
  • sushi (the girls like it with egg, cucumber and avocado)
  • chicken fajitas and guac
  • leftovers and something easy… eggs in a nest?

Also! in our 90/10 clean eating group, we’re doing a sugar detox next week for 7 days… enjoy some candy this week and jump in and join us for a free reset if you need it!

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run

How to handle motivation highs and lows

It’s normal to have highs and lows in training motivation.  Sometimes those lows are legit- our bodies let us know they need a break.  Sometimes, we need to power through and get the work done.

When’s the last time you experienced a lack of desire for training?

Over the summer, my training motivation definitely took a hit.  I didn’t have a goal race on the calendar, and after running both a fall and spring marathon last year, my body was ready for a cut back phase.

Now that it’s been six months since Boston, I’ve noticed my motivation to train is back.  I’m looking forward to harder workouts and am excited to now have Richmond as a goal race.

Here are a few signs that your lack of motivation is truly your body’s need for a break:

  • you lack desire to push hard in workouts and begin to dread longer runs or hard efforts for more than one week
  • you don’t feel rested, even after several night’s of good sleep
  • your appetite changes
  • you experience aches or pains, (phantom or not)

Your lack of motivation can sometimes be caused from missing nutrients (low Vitamin D or iron are the most common for runners) or from imbalanced hormones (chronically high cortisol from too much accumulative stress).

On the other hand, if you are simply in peak weeks of training or tired from working hard, sometimes you just need to power through that last big push and then you have the taper to rest up for race day.

It’s also important to know what keeps you motivated.  Do you like to be able to fill out your running journal? To have the social time of running with friends?

For me, having a race I’m working for keeps me focused and excited.

When’s the last time you were lacking motivation?

What keeps you motivated?

I picked a fall half marathon + training this week

As most of you know, my first fall race fell through and with my knee acting up off and on I didn’t know if I would get to race this fall or not.

But I’ve had a few solid weeks again and I’m super excited to have made a decision: I’m heading back to Richmond!

The Richmond marathon is where I got my pr last fall, and I really enjoyed the course, town, spectators and the whole experience.

This time, I get to check out the half.  My training has not been ideal- I had a strong August and then pulled way back in September.  In October, I’ve been picking up the paces and mileage again so we’ll see how this all comes together!

There’s still time to join me… 🙂

Training last week:

Monday: 7.25 easy (9:15)

Tuesday: 25 minute pool run, short swim

Wednesday:  9.5 miles with alternating 1/2 mile and 1 mile repeats with 2-3 minutes of easy running between each

2 mile warm up (8:18, 7:33), 1/2 (3:13), 1 mile (6:53), 1/2 (3:11), 1 mile (6:39), 1/2 (3:09), 1/2 (3:09) and cool down plus 15 minutes of squats, calf raises, push ups, rows and planks

Thursday:  8 chilly, easy miles (8:44 ave)

Friday:  4 mile stroller walk

Saturday: 15.5 (7:48 ave) with 3 easy, 4 near MP, 3 easy, 3 near MP, 2.5 easy

Sunday: 6 easy with a friend (9:15 ave)


For the meal plan this week…

  • spaghetti squash and meatballs
  • tomato soup + grilled cheese (gouda + tomato + arugula)
  • turkey pineapple quinoa bowl
  • veggie frittata + puffy German pancake

Anyone else running Richmond this year? Or have you run the half in the past?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run

Last week’s workouts

Fall has finally arrived!

It was a choppy week here in terms of training.  Last weekend, we were all fighting off some sort of sickness and Monday’s run wasn’t great.  I rested on Tuesday and eased back in on Wednesday. By the end of the week, I felt more like myself.

I still need to decide what exactly it is that I’m working toward! I’m considering the Richmond half or a local Brooklyn half.

Training last week:

Monday: 6 easy (9:25) still not feeling 100%

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday:  5 easy (9:22 ave)

Thursday:  6 miles with 10 x 400m near goal 5k pace (6:18) with 1 minute walk recoveries + wall sit, shoulder press, upright rows and kettle bell swings

Friday:  4 mile stroller walk with a stop at a park

Saturday: 13.1 with 2 easy, 10 progressing from 7:15 to 6:50, 1 cool down

Sunday: 5 very easy miles (10:15 ave) with the Moms Run This Town crew

For the meal plan this week…

  • roast chicken + chicken noodle soup
  • homemade sushi
  • chicken fajitas with guacamole
  • homemade pizza

Did you get cool fall weather this weekend?

What soups or stews do you look forward to in the fall?

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run