About Laura

Holistic Health coach, RRCA certified running coach, RPM spin instructor, MSW and mom

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

Wednesday: 

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.

Boston Training week 6 + Meal Planning

Happy Monday!

Our weekend included a long run (for me) with new running ladies (yay!), a trampoline afternoon (for everyone else- I cheered them on) Saturday afternoon and a mini trip to PA on Sunday for a nutrition event I led.  And now back to a new week!

I’m happy to have another 50 mile week behind me… I’m pushing my mileage a little higher this cycle as an experiment.  In the past, I’ve always been a relatively low mileage runner (especially for marathons) and it’s worked for me, but as I’ve built my tolerance over the years, I think I can push a little more and see what happens.  Fingers crossed that I don’t cross that invisible line into injury, but so far my body is handling it pretty well.

Monday :  9.5 miles easy with rolling hills (9:30s pace)

Tuesday: unplanned rest day

Wednesday: 12 miles – on the treadmill due to a snow storm… I’m a little nervous that I’m doing too many treadmill miles, but the effort was there:

2 mile warm up

5 mile progressive tempo (5 minutes each at 7:30, 7:25, 7:18, 7:13, 7:08, 7:03, 6:57)

3 miles with 1 minute rest between each (6:44, 6:39, 6:35)

2 mile cool down

Despite being on a treadmill, this run felt good! I just feel like I’m cheating a bit without the elevation and elements of the outdoors.  (Plus ten minutes of hips/core strengthening).

Thursday: Another treadmill day as the snow turned to rain and then froze overnight into ice.  The kids had a delay, so I squeezed in 3 very slow miles on our treadmill at home (the one that is stuck on an incline!!) and then finished with 2 more at the gym after drop off, plus 20 minutes in the pool.

Friday: 8 easy that did not feel easy! My legs were tired from Thursday’s incline and Wednesday’s workout- 9:15 ave

Saturday: 17 miles with new running friends! I finally connected with some speedy ladies and we all did the first 9 together and then one other woman and I finished our long run as we are the only two training for a marathon.  In all, 667 feet of elevation and 8:17 overall pace.

Sunday:  rest!!

What I’m making this week…

  • Butternut squash chili
  • Mediterranean turkey burgers
  • Soba noodles with pb sauce and roasted broccoli
  • Stuffed shells with ground turkey

 

Do you have a mileage limit where you cross into injury?

How often are you on the treadmill lately?

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

Run Fuel: the importance of periodization

Periodization is kind of a fancy word, but it basically just means this:

Doing different things at different times in your training cycle for optimal results.

So to apply that to nutrition, it is very simply eating in different ways at different times in your training cycle.

Marcia’s Tuesday topic is Run Fuel so I’m linking up to share a few things I’ve been tweaking lately.

Over the last few years, I tried a lot of fasted runs and more metabolic efficient ways of eating, as I shared quite a bit about in previous posts.

 

I still do the occasional run fasted but for the most part I’ve shifted back to high carb and fueled workouts and it seems to be benefiting my running.

However, the more balanced carb/protein approach had a number of benefits too as it taught my body to be a more efficient burner, using less fuel in distance races than I used to, even on race day.

I’ve come full circle in the last six months to find both equally important.  There are phases when teaching your body to burn fat, not sugar, is very helpful in the build toward endurance efficiency.

There are phases when you need to be fueled with high quality carbs to perform at a high level.

It isn’t necessarily either/or– it is both/and.

On a weekly basis, it can be helpful to have higher carb days and lower carb days based on the training and energy demands.

On a month to month basis, it can be helpful to vary the nutrient phases to achieve certain outcomes.

For example, in base building nutrition should be more balanced.  For someone who does not feel great on grains or higher carbohydrate intake, this is a great time to incorporate higher fat and protein.  As race specific training and longer runs pick up, higher carbohydates are necessary to stay energized and meet training needs.

And while we can certainly make nutrition very complicated and I can tell you the specific macro nutrients you want to aim for on certain days of the week, it can also be very simple:

Listen to your body.  Eat more when you are hungry.  Eat less when you are easily satisfied.  Eat extra carbs when you crave them.  Eat less when you don’t.

Our bodies are brilliant and are generally steering us in the right direction.

For those of you who do love all the numbers and data, we’ll dive in to all of this and more in the second round of the runner’s nutrition course.

Do you use periodization in your training and your nutrition?

Does your nutrition naturally change day to day based on your workouts and hunger?

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

 

Boston training week 5 + Meal planning

I am exhausted from the weekend, but in a good way! We spent Saturday hanging out with my husband’s cousins (also good friends) and their kids.  Sunday we squeezed in church, I had a client meeting and then we hosted friends for the Super Bowl.

As an introvert, I am in need of a down day to recharge but here we go Monday! It was worth it.

Training is chugging along. This week started with sore quads from the trail race last weekend but it was also a planned cut back week so it worked well to take it easy for a few days before picking it up again.

Monday :  2 easy miles but my knee was bothering me from the trail fall so I went to the pool and finished with 40 minutes of easy pool running

Tuesday: 1 hour elliptical with 8 minutes x 1 minute sprints and 4 x 2 minute sprints + upper body

Wednesday: 10 miles (TM) with 5 at 1.5 incline and 4 x 4 minutes at 6:30 pace with 2 minute jog recoveries

Thursday: 8 easy (9:30s down to 8:30s) + a few minutes of core/push ups

Friday: 5.5 easy (9:10s) + 15 minute swim

Saturday: 15 miles early and it was freezing (again) so I hit up the treadmill for a 3 x 3 workout… 2 warm up miles (8:35, 8:10) then 3 at 7:08 with 1 mile recovery, 3 at 7:03 with 1 mile recovery and 3 at 6:53 with a two mile cool down.  I felt strong and controlled, and that is the fastest 3×3 I’ve ever done, so that’s always a confidence booster!

Sunday:  rest!!

What I’m making this week…

  • Chicken cordon bleu (made this for friend’s with a new baby so we made extra for ourselves)
  • Sweet potato and black bean hash
  • Pesto chicken + Quinoa salad with leftovers
  • Homemade pizza Friday

Training wise, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to dive into next week! I just need to carve out a little more time for strength training… it’s become 5-10 minutes here and there instead of focused sessions, which can also be okay but I need a better plan for when to make it happen.

How was your week of training?

What’s one workout you were proud of this week?

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

Trail race recap

Saturday’s trail race was a really fun experience and also a reminder of why I should probably stick to the roads.  🙂

It was a 3.1 mile loop and the goal was to see how many loops you could do in 3 or 6 hours.  I chose 3 hours as a way to get my long run in with company and more hills than usual.

I ran most of the race with my friend Nerissa.  We kept a pretty easy pace, as most people did.  We stopped at the end of each loop to check off our loop on the poster, grab some water and a snack and chat a bit.  It was casual but the hills and rocks definitely made it more challenging than a typical long run.

I had to really focus on my steps during that first lap- paying close attention to the rocks and where I was placing my feet.  I think of trail running as a great way to lose yourself out in nature, but I found it required so much more focus than my usual runs! I guess that focus prevents your mind from stressing or wandering – it’s a kind of mindfulness with the dirt and rocks and trail.

By the second lap, I learned I’m not great at picking up my feet as I tripped.  I got a little too confident in lap 3 and wiped out a bit harder, nailing my knee on a rock! It took a few minutes to walk it off and then I was able to finish the run, but I ended up with a nasty bruise.

We hit our goal of 5 laps for about 16 total miles in under 3 hours.  It was only 100 people or so and I learned I was first woman for the 3 hour group and got this fun prize:

I felt like I could have done another lap or two, but later in the day I was hobbling around with a lot of pain where I hit my knee.  I iced it Sunday and thankfully it’s feeling better.  I also had some delayed muscle soreness in my quads Sunday from the hills! So it’s a good thing it’s a cut back week.

I did some pool running Monday and the elliptical yesterday as I let my knee heal. A trail race when I am in the middle of marathon training (and a bit clutsy) was probably not the smartest move!

But it was a great way to get in some good hills (about 1400 total elevation) and a long run with lots of company.

Do you find you have to really focus when trail running?

Have you ever wiped out running?

Boston training week 4 + Meal Planning

This was a fun week! The weather improved, my parents came to give us a night out this weekend, and I wrapped it up with a trail race on Saturday.

Week 4 already of Boston training!

Monday :  10 easy will rolling hills- a great Boston imitator with the first half downhill and the second half uphill (8:21 ave)

Tuesday: 4 easy miles (9:20s) + 20 minute pool run

Wednesday: 10 miles with some speed mixed in (2 warm up, 3 x 1 mile with 200m jog 6:45, 6:36, 6:44; 2 x 800m (3:13, 3:15); 2 x 400m (1:28, 1:32) and cool down)

This run felt hard from the start and I really wasn’t feeling it but I pushed through anyway.  Hopefully that means a better track workout next time!

Thursday: am strength workout + 4 mile walk/jog with a friend (2 miles of jogging total)

Friday: 8 easy (8:10 ave)

A beautiful, sunny day! My legs just wanted to go.

Saturday: Trail race!

This was fun! Other than wiping out and bruising my knee, I had a blast.  I did the 3 hour option for about 16 miles total.  I’ll share more details on the race later this week.

 

Sunday:  rest

What I’m making this week…

First 50 mile week done for this cycle.  This is a cut back week so I’m hoping my knee heals quickly so I don’t miss too much time!

Have you ever done a trail race?

 

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

My shoe switch

It’s been over six months since I took time off last summer for tendon issues.  Any time an injury crops up, it’s good to ask why.

What was I doing differently that contributed to the injury?

What can I change going forward to try to prevent further injury?

As I discussed these questions with my sports dr and running friends and read and researched, I decided to switch up my shoes.  I had a pair of unused Altras sitting in the back of my closet from the last Runner’s World Festival I had participated in.

I knew their founder’s story and why he created these shoes to address many injury issues, and with the okay from my PT, I decided to give them a try.  Because I’ve been running for so long, my feet also needed an additional lift and so the combo we attempted was Altras (zero drop) with an insole insert.

It worked! I ramped back up and ran the Richmond marathon in November, and have continued to train in Altras and remain injury free.  Of course, I also made sure to be cautious in my build up, adding in more pool running and calf stretching and bits of yoga, but I do think the shoes have made a huge difference for me.

I used the Torrin to train for Richmond…

and am currently running in the Escalantes.

(Plus a few runs in Hokas this fall, which are similar.)

What do you wear? Have you worn the same shoes for years, or do you alternate shoes?

Have you ever switched shoes after an injury?

I’m linking up with Marcia, who is talking shoes today.

Boston training week 3 + Meal Planning

Happy Monday!

It also happens to be my daughter’s 8th birthday, so it’s a special day over here! We celebrated this weekend with a Descendants themed party (that she planned, for the most part) and 9 (!) 7 and 8 year old girls in our house !!

Thankfully, they did great.  We planned probably a dozen games and activities that they did in teams which they loved.  It’s a great age for teamwork! We wrapped it up with a pinata and ice cream cake (and the holistic health coach sent them home all sugared up but happy.)

Training is moving along.  Here’s week 3 for Boston:

Monday :  9 miles with 2 mile w/u, 8 x .5 mile @ fast tempo (6:47) and 1 minute rests between each, then 5 x 30 seconds @ 5:52 pace

This was too cold for anything but the treadmill, but the time flew by with all the varying paces and it was a really fun workout!

Tuesday: 4 easy miles + 20 minute pool run

Wednesday: 10 easy, outside! (9:01 ave) – a few inches of snow on the ground, so I ran this one in my Yaktrax and felt like a kid playing in the snow

Thursday: 45 easy spin

Friday: 15 miles with 3 x 3 @ just faster than MP

I moved this to Friday because of a crazy packed weekend, and the ice sent me to the treadmill.  I broke it out like this:

3 mile warm up, 3 x 3 @ 7:18 pace with 1 mile easy between each, 1 mile c/d

Saturday: 6 miles easy (8:29 pace)

It was worth it to get the long run done early.  I went from this run to teaching a nutrition workshop all morning, and then rushing home to finish prep for the party.  The girls were here for the afternoon and we all crashed hard Saturday night!

Sunday:  rest   strength workout + 30 minute pool run

The weather was so nice, I was itching to run outside! But I played it smart and did a short gym session instead.  I am increasing slowly and don’t want to risk injury, even on the random 50 degree day, but it was hard!

What I’m making this week…

It’s a 7 day cleanse week and I have 20 women joining me.  I’ll be increasing the recommended carbs and protein to fuel my workouts but will lay off the ice cream cake.  🙂

  • ground turkey butternut squash one pot dish
  • roasted chicken thighs with roasted beets, parsnip, carrots and onions
  • pesto spaghetti squash + fish
  • veggie frittata

And that’s a wrap!

Did you get to run in the 50 degree temps?

Do you enjoy planning and hosting kid birthday parties? I can’t say I look forward to them, but they generally flow better than I think.  L had a blast so it’s always worth it!

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