4 Half Marathon Specific Workouts to Incorporate into Your Training

Training has seasons of speed and endurance, building and resting.

One of the things that can help you improve in any race is to incorporate race specific workouts.  Training the same way year round (speed on Tuesday, tempo on Thursday) will help you progress to a point but then you hit a plateau.  I’ve been there!

After getting stuck at certain times for a few years, I made drastic changes to the way I trained and was finally able to see progress.

Here are four race specific workouts I like to work in to my plan and those of my athletes for the half marathon:

10-12 x 800m (or 1/2 mile) at goal HMP or 5-10 seconds faster with a 1 minute rest between each

I did this workout on Sunday- it’s a fun one because the pace is slower than the usual hard 800m intervals, but the fatigue begins to sit in by the 9th or 10th rep.  The rests allow for an easier recovery but give you 5-6 quality miles near half marathon pace or lactate threshold.

2 x 2 miles or 3 x 2 miles at goal HMP

Warm up with 2 miles easy and rest or walk for 2 minutes between each set.

5-7 x 1 mile at ten seconds faster than goal HMP with 1 minute rest

Warm up with 1-2 easy miles.  The rest can be a 1 minute standing rest or an easy jog for 2 minutes.

6-7 miles @ ten seconds slower than HMP

This is a harder tempo workout, and should be done in the last 2-3 weeks before the goal half marathon.  Aim for a pace as close as possible to your goal half marathon pace, but it can be ten seconds slower and still improve your running economy and preparation to hold this pace.

These four workouts are meant to go in succession.  Begin 7-8 weeks out with 3-4 miles at goal half marathon pace and build up to quality work at 5-8 miles near half marathon pace.

Here’s a bonus workout that is a fun one about 8 weeks out, as you start to build stamina at goal half marathon pace:

4 mile wave tempo alternating 1/2 mile at ten seconds faster than goal pace, 1/2 mile at 10-15 seconds slower than goal half marathon pace

Do you keep the same training cycle year round, or mix it up?

Do you like to incorporate race pace into your training?

 

I’m linking up with RachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

Half Marathon Training 5 Weeks to Go

Good news- my daughter is back from her sleep away camp, and other than being completely exhausted, had an amazing time! And I can finally sleep again.  Kidding.  Kind of.  That was a more difficult week than I had expected!

In running, things are picking up. My mileage is starting to climb and my first half marathon of the season is a short 5 weeks away!

It will be a good test of fitness and I’m hoping it will give me some clarity as to the next steps- a fall full or another half.

Here’s how training broke down last week:

Monday: 9 miles with 3 x 1 cruise intervals with 1 easy mile between each (6:47, 6:41, 6:49) and my mini me getting her own run in

Tuesday: 6 easy (9 minute range)

Wednesday:  7 easy with 6 x 25 second strides (9-9:15 range)

Thursday:  30 minute easy swim

Friday: 11 miles in 7:30 pace (middle 7 a bit faster near 7:18 ave)

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 10.5 miles (walk breaks up to 11) overall ave 7:18 with 12 x 1/2 mile @ 6:45, 2 miles in 6:38

This was supposed to be easy but I ended up doing an upcoming workout instead, because when you feel good- go with it! I was solo parenting yesterday but took it to the treadmill and really enjoyed this workout.  It’s 6 miles of work at tempo- broken up with 1/2 mile segments and one minute walk break between each so it feels much easier than 800s done at an interval pace.

By the end, I was on a roll and was going to tack on one more at 6:40 pace but kept going to make it a mile, and then cut it down to 6:35 and did another mile, so I ended with 2 extra miles at 6:37 ave.

I think my fitness has finally moved up a notch, as paces I didn’t used to hit are coming more easily.  I’m learning, again, that it takes time, but progress eventually happens!

We have three more weeks of summer to go- including a family camping trip and beach trip, so I may be a bit quieter here for the next week or so but I’ll pop in as I am able.

When does school start back for you?

What are you working toward or training for?

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

How to take an Integrative Approach to Running

I officially ‘graduated’ from All-Pro Health a few weeks ago and am starting to ramp up my training and look ahead to the half marathon pr that didn’t happen in the spring.

But there are so many things that I’m taking with me from my experience there.  All-Pro Health is unique because of the multi-faceted approach.  In the past, I’ve always worked with physical therapists but here I worked with the chiropractor (Dr. Todd), PT and yoga instructor to target my knee from all angles and perspectives.

Dr. Todd only did ‘traditional’ chiropractic adjustments a few times.  Mostly, we focused on relieving the symptoms through laser therapy, the graston technique and ART (active release therapy).  He would always begin by looking at how I was moving and make the adjustments necessary to get me back into alignment while we also worked out the tissue in my quads and reduced inflammation in the knee.

The PT was really helpful in helping me determine my weak spots and the exercises to target them (squats when the inflammation decreased, calf work, hip work and correlating stretches).

Since tightness was a reoccurring theme (as it is for most runners), we worked on a lot of hip openers through yoga and simple flows I can do before or after runs.

What surprised me early on about this experience was:

1) The emphasis on posture… my ears were not lined up over my shoulders, they were quite forward! Now everything is aligned as it should be, and Dr. Todd assured me I’ll feel the difference in my running too as it makes it easier to breathe when everything is opened up.  I continue to do the shoulder/posture work at home with resistance bands.

and

2) The emphasis on core and pelvic stabilization.  This is key for women runners but I have not worked on it so purposefully in the past.  Dr. Todd gave me a simple routine that I still do every day.

The whole body works together, and I really appreciate when practitioners recognize that and work toward healing with a holistic approach.

Whether or not you are injured, there are a few things you can do to stay balanced as a runner (and un-injured!)

1) Flexibility – I used to skip stretching a LOT.  But now I’m consistent with my calf stretches, hip stretches and glute stretches.  Just be careful to do them after your muscles are warm, ideally after a workout.

2) Tissue work– This is where foam rolling comes in.  I know we all hear a lot about the importance of foam rolling and I was rolling daily this past spring before Boston but it wasn’t enough to work out the mess of tissus in my quads! After a few weeks of graston, we were able to smooth it all out.  Rolling is key!

3) Good posture- Practice standing and sitting tall, pulling the core in.  Practice deep breathing and yoga.  Use your phone by holding it up to your eye level rather than always looking down (and don’t worry what the people around you think!)

4) Functional strength– This is an area that still needs a lot of work for me.  My squat form is still poor because of the tightness in my back, hamstrings and calves, but running makes it difficult.  If you are in the middle of serious training, get in the basics of strength training from functional body movements like squats, lunges, push ups, planks and pulls.  If you are in an off season and can devote time to it, working on good functional movements will pay off.

And of course nutrition plays a role too.  Nourishing your body often with as many real foods as possible gives it the fuel to recover well, run well and stay strong and uninjured.

All the little things matter in order to stay healthy as a runner!

What are the little things you are already doing?

What are the things you know you should be doing more of?

NJ Half Winner + Last Week’s Workouts

So last week wraps up my first 40 mile week since Boston training and I’m having so much fun with it again.  I love how training ebbs and flows- as I near a big race, I look forward to cutting back and (sometimes) promise those around me that I am done with marathons.

Then I have that month or two of rest and fall in love with building mileage again – I’m not quite ready to let go of distance running yet!

My focus has been on the half in September, hoping to finally break my 1:33 pr, assuming the heat and humidity eventually subsides.

Speaking of the Newport Liberty half, Wendy is the lucky winner of an entry! I emailed you to get all set up. Congrats!

Training Updates

Monday: 6.5 miles with 5 x 20 second strides (overall 8:23 ave)

Tuesday: 8 miles with 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 and 2 at fast threshold (6:39, 6:39, 6:30, 6:30)

Wednesday:  pool run/short swim

Thursday:  8 miles easy (8:09 ave) + spontaneous beach day

Friday: 4 miles easy (9:45 ave) + spontaneous beach day

Saturday: 15 miles with 3, 2 and 1 mile at hard efforts (overall 7:46 ave)

It was thunder storming so I ended up running this on the treadmill as the morning was my only option.  It broke down as a 2.5 warm up, 3 miles at 7:13, 1.5 miles easy, 2 miles at 6:59, 2 miles easy, 1 mile at 6:45 and 3 mile cool down.  Not as strong as I would have liked to feel but it was done and I was drenched and felt accomplished afterward.

Sunday: rest! And dropping off my big girl at camp for the week… eek!

This is her second year with one week of sleep away camp and she loves it, but I am always a little teary saying goodbye, especially as she was full of extra hugs and even reached up to give us each a kiss on the cheek. We weren’t able to come back to get her set up in the cabin this year but she assured me she was fine.  When did she become so grown up? The letting go side of parenting is not going to be an easy process for me!

What has been a challenging parent milestone for you?

How are you surviving the crazy humidity lately?

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

NJ Newport Liberty Half Marathon Giveaway + Training Updates

Hi friends,

As I have for the last few years, I’m running the Newport Liberty Half Marathon this September in Jersey City, and have an extra entry to share.

It’s a great course- flat and scenic, along the water of Jersey City with fantastic views of Manhattan.  I’d love for you to join me!

To win an entry, comment below with your favorite half marathon course.  I’ll choose randomly and announce the winner by Monday, August 6th, 2018.

Training Updates

Monday: 7 with 5 tempo (8:20, 7:19, 6:59, 6:55, 6:53, 6:50, 6:40)

This was a treadmill run but the fastest 5 mile tempo I’ve done in training- I don’t know what I’m training for, but I’m having fun pushing the pace again!

Tuesday: easy 45 minute pool run

Wednesday:  9 miles with (800m, 400m) x 4 with 2 minute walk/jog recoveries

Splits: 3:06, 1:27, 3:05, 1:27, 3:13, 1:30, 3:05, 1:27 and then 5 x 20 second strides and 10 minutes of strength: wall sit, sumo squat with row, goblet squats and kettle bell swings

Thursday:  4 recovery miles with Jared + 10 minutes of yoga while the girls were at “grandma camp” + lots of walking around NYC for our day date

We took advantage of restaurant week for an awesome lunch, and then visited St Patrick’s Cathedral, the NY Historical Society, got a casual dinner and caught a show in the evening (Jersey Boys).

Friday: 8 miles easy (10 minute pace down to 8 minute pace) + arm workout

Saturday: J’s 4th birthday! (rest)

Sunday: 7 miles with moderate aerobic effort (1/2 mile before Garmin kicked in, then 6.5 in 7:39 ave) + 10 minutes of legs similar to Wednesday

(For the Half Marathon entry): What has been your favorite half marathon course?

Do you have favorite things to do in NYC? Or on a day date?

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 + upcoming races

Hi friends,

Thanks for your input! I appreciated the reminder that it has to be something I’m passionate about training for.  So far I’m still enjoying the short stuff so I’m trying to choose a 5k or two and I just added a September half marathon to my calendar.  So we’ll start there!

Last week’s runs were fun, and ended with my longest training run since Boston:

Monday: 6 easy

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday:  6.25 with mile repeats on the treadmill- splits were some of my fastest ever… which always makes me wonder if I could hit this outdoors! 6:25, 6:22, 6:18, 6:10 with 1 minute walking recoveries between each + short leg circuit 

The girls wanted a turn when I was done.  🙂

Thursday:  6 easy miles

Friday: pool day: 20 minute pool run followed by a 25 minute easy swim + short arm circuit

Saturday: first 13 mile run since Boston! I met my friend Jane (we connected in Boston and ran within a minute of each other that day AND live just 1/2 mile apart!) We kept it easy with a few hills thrown in for good measure, 8:40ish average and 395 elevation gain

Sunday: 4 mile walk to test the knee after the long run.  I feel good! Not 100% which makes me think this is probably not the fall for a marathon.  But I’m really enjoying the speed work and it was fun to get in a longer weekend run.

Does the treadmill feel easier or harder than outdoors for you?

Do you prefer speed work or a long run?

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

To race: the mile or the marathon?

Hi friends!

I hope you had a great summer weekend.  We packed in play dates, a birthday party, the zoo and I had clients both afternoons so it was full but fun.

Now that I’m running regularly again, I’ve been stuck on my fall racing plans.  Typically I would have it all planned out months ago, but I was waiting for my knee to bounce back and couldn’t predict what my body would be ready for.

Since I didn’t get the marathon pr I trained for at Boston, I was hoping to squeeze one in this fall…but I would have my work cut out for me to get my mileage back up so quickly. I’ve done it before- it’s certainly possible.

In the meantime, there are two potential 1 mile races coming up in my area- one in August and one in September.

I have never run a one mile race– and let’s be real, it terrifies me! But it is also something I’d like to push myself to try and actually train for, but the training is very different from marathon training.  So…

I should make a decision soon.  Either I add some more speed to my training or I switch gears and start getting my miles up for marathon mode.  Maybe both somehow?

I’ve been looking at Harrisburg or Philly in November as a possible full.

I do have a half marathon in September, and potentially another half in November instead of the full (looking at the Seacoast half with the Rise Run Retreat!)  So the third option is to focus on the half distance for the fall.

So many options. What would you do?

And here’s my quick workout recap from last week:

Monday: rest after a busy girls weekend away

Tuesday: 6 with 6 x 800m progression from 6:39 –> 6:18 pace + short arms circuit

Wednesday:  5 easy (9:45 pace) – these hot days force me to slow it way down

Thursday:  easy swim- 25 laps

Friday: 10 with 3 @ 7:05 ave, which was supposed to be a 5k time trial but I just had zero energy for that so ran hard and that’s what my body gave me!

Saturday: 45 minute spin + strength circuit

Sunday: 6 easy that turned into 9 with 3 miles alternating 3 minutes at 6:59 pace, 3 minutes at 6:35 pace for 20 minutes

I finished at 6 but wanted to keep going to I decided to make it my harder run day since my body was up for it! I’ll switch the plan and keep Monday easy. It’s the first 30 mile week since Boston- woohoo!

Have you ever raced the mile?

Are you focusing on long or short distances, or are you wandering aimlessly right now like me?

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

Whew, somehow there is never enough time in the day to do all I want to do in the summer!

I didn’t intend to go ten days without posting but somehow it happened.  I think every summer I get to this point where I feel like I have way too many balls in the air and something has to give… and then by the fall, when the kids return to school and I have a quiet house, it all clicks again.

For now, the blog is the thing that has to give sometimes. I’m trying to soak up the extra time to hang out at the pool and have some lazier days.  So I’ll blog when I can but sticking to any kind of schedule has been tough.

The good news is that I am starting to feel like my old (running) self.  My paces are coming more easily, and although I’m still running about half the distance I was in the spring, it’s perfect for right now.

Here’s what last week looked like:

Monday: 5 miles easy + 15 minutes of yoga

Tuesday: 5 miles + strength

Miles 1-2 were a warm up progression (8:45, 7:45) and then I ran 1 mile hard (6:32), half mile hard (6:00) and 2 x 400m (5:55 pace)- all on the treadmill to (sort of) escape the heat, but whew, our gym is not especially cool.

The strength workout was a mix of dead lifts, wall sit, kettle bell work and planks.

Wednesday: 3 mile walk + family yoga in the park led by my good friend Tovah

Jared and I got a front row spot! The girls didn’t last long on the mats, but had fun running around.

Thursday:  6 miles with 3.5 tempo

I ran this one early and was feeling good so I switched things around and ran Friday’s workout: 2 mile warm up, 3 miles at 6:50 and a half mile at 6:37 pace… and felt stronger than I thought I would!

Friday: 5 miles easy

Slogging along at a 9:45-10 minute pace after yesterday’s hard effort… the humidity makes it easier to take these easy runs easy. My legs had nothing more than this!

After lunch, I hopped in the car to meet up with my two oldest girlfriends for a much needed weekend away.

Saturday: 15 minutes of yoga with Megan + lots of lounging by the pool

Sunday: 8 miles on the resort treadmill, 8:55 –> 7:19

This run was mostly easy with the last 3 at 7:47, 7:30, 7:29- however, I was melting! Why do gyms keep the thermostat at 70? Help a runner out and turn it down a few notches, please!

I tacked on a wall sit and a few upper body rows, presses and pulls on the weight machines and got my stretching and mobility work in before another pool day.

Meal Planning this week includes a few of the Fit and Fueled recipes from next week’s meal plan:

Overnight Mocha Oats

Lime Basil Grilled Tuna Steaks + grilled veggies

Salmon + Sweet potato and Kale Salad

 

Is your gym comfortable in the summer? Too cool? Too hot?

Does summer change how much time you have for yourself?

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

Last Day for Fit and Fueled Early Bird Registration + My Workouts This Week

Before we dive into this week’s workout, a quick reminder that today is the last day to get the earlybird discount for Fit and Fueled… we start next Monday!

We have an awesome group of ladies already (although men are welcome too and we’ve had several in the past!).  I’m really looking forward to trying new recipes together, discussing nutrition for runners and completing simple core workouts.

This was a fun week of workouts.  I typically spend more time on speed work in between marathon training cycles, and summer is one of those seasons.  I really enjoy the track.  Unfortunately summer weather is heating up so some runs have been shuffled around or moved to the treadmill but it all counts regardless.

Here’s what last week looked like:

Monday: 35-40 minute full body strength workout at home with 15 minutes spinning with resistance – I was tired from a weekend away and slept in, but managed to squeeze this in around noon.

Tuesday: 5-5.5 miles with 8 x 400m, 4 x 150m

The first mile was so hard and sluggish, I barely broke ten minutes.  But I woke up and as I hit the track my legs switched gears and I ran some of my fastest 400s, all between 5:40- 5:47 pace with 60-90 second walk recoveries.  Then 4 x 150s between 4:53 and 5:07 paces- some days it clicks and just feels good to push the pace!

Wednesday: easy 4 mile stroller run (probably ten minute pace) + 15 minute swim

Thursday: 20 minute strength + 20 minute bike + 20 minute strength

This was a mix of dumbbells, kettle bells, TRX push/pulls, calf raises and mat work. I like to finish with Pilates based leg raises, bridges, single leg stretches and planks.

Friday: track workout 5 miles easy

I was stuck in the 9-10 minute zone, wiped out after spending a long afternoon at the pool with the girls the day before.  Hopefully my body will adapt a bit to the heat, but I moved my hard run to Saturday.

Later that day, I got my sports chiro appointment in + a little yoga with the instructor there, always helpful for this super tight runner.

Saturday: 6.5 including walk breaks with a 3 mile progression and ladder progression

I took this to the treadmill to escape the heat and felt so much better than Friday! I started with a 3 mile progression (8:33, 7:21, 6:53) and after a walking recovery, jumped into 800m (5:56 pace, my fastest ever 800), 400m (5:45 pace), and 8 x 200m (starting at 5:40 and working down to 5:11 pace).  Walking breaks between all.  I loved the progression of this one!

Post run, I added 5-10 minutes of strength targeting my weak areas with a wall sit, calf raises, bridges, leg lifts and a short plank.

Sunday: Rest!

I still stretch my hamstrings/glutes, calves and hips daily and incorporate the pelvic work.  It’s definitely helping me feel more balanced all around.

Meal Planning this week includes a few Fit and Fueled recipes:

Grilled pineapple and Chicken Salad

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Spinach Tomato + Goat Cheese Pizza

…and then a girls weekend starting Friday with my two oldest dear friends!

How are you handling the summer heat? Indoor workouts? Slower paces?

Does anyone else find pool afternoons wipe you out?


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

6 Tips for a Stronger Core

This is a common theme that comes up among runners I coach and in my nutrition sessions: the belly! How do I target belly fat? How do I get a stronger core? How do I  tone up?

Contrary to common belief, the answer is not that you have to run more.

As I shared on Instagram last week, I used to think you just have to do more and more and more… nope! In fact, the opposite is typically true.  For many women, high mileage training creates stress in the body, which raises cortisol levels and prevents the body from shedding any belly fat.

It’s always when I pull back from running and focus a bit more on strength training that my core feels stronger and I can see a visible difference.

Here are 5 tips if you want to strengthen your core this summer:

1) Run less!

Yes, you can do cardio 4-5x per week but you do not need to be running more than 45 minutes… even 30 minutes is sufficient.  Frequent high mileage has the opposite effect for most women, causing the body to hold onto belly fat in a state of stress.

2) Strength train with a full body focus

Skip the crunches and incorporate full body compound moves like squats with a shoulder press, kettle bell swings or push ups. All of these moves work the whole body, core included and are more functional ways to move.  But start small and simple.  I included some of my favorite short strength workouts here.

3) Neutral spine moves

Speaking of skipping the crunches, avoid moves that crunch or twist the spine like sit ups and russian twists. Recent research shows those moves can be harmful to the spine in the long term.  Instead, you can do core specific moves with a neutral spine- including planks, leg raises while lying on your back, bridges, or bird dog (pictured below).

4) Balance your protein, carbs and fat

Eat a balanced intake of your macro nutrients (fat, protein and carbs) and every meal if possible, and spread out your protein all day long, instead of concentrating it at dinner.  Protein is the building block of muscle but your body can only absorb so much at a time.  By spreading it out, you absorb more.  Likewise, by balancing protein with carbs and fat, you prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, stabilize your appetite and allow the body to use carbs as they are designed to be used- for energy to help you feel good!

5) Engage the deep core muscles

Try lying on your back and exhaling all the air out of your belly.  Take a deep breath in, and let the belly rise as it fills up with air.  If your belly doesn’t move, you are breathing in your chest, not your belly.  Repeat this a few times until you are using your belly for breathing.

Then exhale all the air and engage the core, pulling the belly button down to the spine and setting the pelvic floor by holding it in place, your back pulling into the floor.  You should feel the core engaged all the way from the belly button to the rib cage.  Hold this for 15-30 seconds, breathing a bit more shallowly as you won’t be able to take deep breaths while contracting the core.

Exhale and repeat.  This is a great way to align the pelvic floor and work the deeper abdominal muscles.

6) Work the back

The core is not only the front belly- it includes the whole trunk, stabilizing the body for every day activities.  Abdominal work should be balanced with exercises that work the posterior chain.

Incorporate superman (from your belly), bridges, and donkey kicks to work the posterior chain as well as the planks and leg raises.

And finally, consistency! Your food doesn’t have to be perfect, your workouts don’t have to be perfect, you just need to consistency work in healthy foods with a good amount of protein, work the core 2-3 x per week in (short) full body strength workouts, and reduce the stress on your body.

A daily plank of 20-30 seconds is great as well.  You do not need to build to 3 or 5 minute planks- short planks are just as effective.

For more core tips and group accountability, registration is open for the Fit and Fueled 6 week program, with a focus on the core!

 

Have you fallen for the ‘more is better’ myth when it comes to exercise?

What are some of your favorite ways to work the core?

I’m linking up with RachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.