About Laura

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

Recovery week + Structuring Training Post Marathon

Happy Thanksgiving week!

We will leave Thursday morning to miss all the traffic and will spend Thanksgiving day with my family and Friday with Jared’s family.  We luck out that our parents still like to do all the hosting and cooking plus the kids don’t require much of us while their cousins and grandparents are around. It should be a nice few days off of parenting and normal life!

So I’m one week out from the marathon.  I didn’t feel as sore as previous marathons but I’ve read that soreness or lack or soreness does not really mean anything in terms of how recovered your body is.  It’s important to take it easy for 2-3 weeks after racing 26 miles.

I did a few very easy pool sessions last week and one upper body strength workout on Friday.  I’m starting to get excited to run again but will probably wait one more week to give my body that extra rest and reduce the chance of injury in future training.

So what’s next?

I am signed up for the Boston marathon, although my goal for the spring is a strong half marathon.  I decided on a new-to-me one in PA called the Two Rivers Half Marathon in March. It should be less hilly than NYC and cooler than the NJ half, the two races I did last spring.

Training-wise, I know it’s good to mix it up and train a different energy system before settling back into marathon training, so my plan is to use 4 weeks from mid-December through mid-January to get in some short speed bursts and maybe a 5k or two.

Mid January through March will be half marathon training with some long runs to keep me ready for Boston.

I’m excited!!

But for now, a few more weeks of sleeping in, easing back into easy running at the end of this week, and getting some strength workouts in here and there.  As much as I love training, I love the recovery period too!

Do you struggle with the recovery phase? Or embrace it?

Have you started to think about spring race goals? Have you ever run the Two Rivers race?

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


What I did right this marathon training cycle

I don’t know if you ever stop learning about yourself when training for a marathon.  I’ve experimented with many different training theories over the years and some of the most popular programs leave me feeling over trained or injured. Different things work for different people, and at different times in your training journey.

I couldn’t have trained the way I trained this time and had good results for my first marathon! This cycle was relatively short, but more intense than previous cycles. (Race recap here if you missed it!)

Training changes I made

Running your first marathon is very different from running your sixth, and I knew I could push myself a little harder this time. I started with a similar plan from last year’s pr but then linked up with some local runners doing Daniel’s plan and did those workouts for the last 6 weeks or so.

The big differences from my previous training logs:

  1. Long runs with race pace miles- Many coaches (McMillian, Daniels) recommend these workouts and caution not to do too many in a cycle as they are really tough and can require a longer recovery.  You can build to 8-12 miles at race pace. Last year, I think the longest I did was 4.  This year I ran a lot of workouts in my long runs with up to 10 at marathon pace. It’s tough after a week of training and an hour or two into a long run but it paid off!
  2. More focused strength training- I like strength training and am pretty good at keeping it in the mix.  In the past it would fall on my non-running days.  This cycle, I made it a second workout on a hard running day to keep hard days hard and easy days truly easy.
  3. More easy days-   Keeping those easy days really easy makes it possible to run higher overall mileage and hit the paces when you need to.  I only worked hard on Wednesdays and Saturdays and that worked well for me.
  4. Pool running! I kept 1-2 days in the pool and only 4 days running (sometimes 5).  This lower impact “run” really seemed to help me avoid injury!
  5. Shorter cycle: Marathon cycles are often up to 20 weeks.  For a first time marathoner, you need that much time to safely build to 20 milers.  But I think the shorter cycle benefited me as I never hit the point of fatigue and (near) burn out that I do most training cycles.

For beginner marathoners, the most important thing is to build a strong aerobic engine (easy runs and building distance). Long run workouts can be added in after completing at least one marathon.

I shared more about pool running here.

Recovery/Prevention Improvements

Although not directly training related, there were several factors that I know improved my overall fitness and prevented injury this training cycle.

  1. Power and core work- I incorporated a lot of strength training early on that I believe contributed to overall power (strength plus speed) on race day.  This included upper body, lower body and core with heavier weights or kettle bells (and very little in the final 3 weeks).  This article shows strength matters!
  2. Smart supplementing- You all know I’m picky about supplements.  I use a pharmeceutical grade multi to ensure all the core nutrition is covered- no risk of anemia or other nutrient deficiencies. I added in a grass fed whey with leucine and beta-alanine…both crucial amino acids for endurance athletes.  These will be options to try in the next runner’s nutrition program coming in January.  Both kept me healthy and strong!
  3. Recovery supplement- This was also key! Tart cherry juice to bounce back after a hard workout + natural sleep booster which I need when I have a thousand things on my mind.
  4. Foam rolling, the Stick and compression socks

Have you found the training that works best for you, or are you often trying new things?

Has your training approach changed from your first race to now?


I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday



Richmond marathon recap + new pr!!

As I’m sure you already saw on Instagram or Facebook, I hit my goal to break 3:20!!

Richmond is a great course!


Let’s back up… we got to my sister’s house Friday morning and the cousins played for the afternoon. My sister made an awesome lasagna for dinner + bread and I added half a pumpkin muffin.  Afterwards, I went to the expo and got to meet an Instagram friend, Becca (who, spoiler alert, also nailed her pr!)

I was asleep early and actually slept okay.  By 5:15am, I was up eating my bagel with pb and banana.  I wasn’t all that hungry but ate the whole thing, as that is the breakfast that has never failed me!

I had all.the.layers.  The forecast said mid- 20s at the start, warming up into the 30s about an hour into our run.  I wore capris and a tank with a thin long sleeved top, and then added a throwaway vest for the first few miles, plus throwaway pants and a sweatshirt for the start.  And a hat and gloves.  I actually felt pretty warm at the start!

I got dropped off right downtown and appreciate that the logistics of this course are so much easier than huge races.  You just show up! I waited in a long bathroom line which meant I had a rushed start.  I jumped into the race at the front with just enough time to peel off the outer layers, and we were off!

The race

I was up with the 3:05 and 3:15 pace groups because of my last minute jump into the course so I tried to hold back and run my own pace.  The 3:15 group was right in front of me for the first 4 miles or so and I felt better when they moved on and I could run my own race, instead of worrying that I was going out too fast. The pace did not feel as easy as I wanted it to.

This was a pretty section through downtown Richmond and pretty flat.

Miles 1-5: 7:24, 7:29, 7:23, 7:31, 7:24

There was a bit of an uphill at mile 6 and downhill in mile 7, both reflected in my splits: 7:37, 7:05.

We had a few more flat miles (7:36, 7:29, 7:35) and then headed across a flat bridge to a really pretty stretch along the water.  I knew miles 11-15 had some rolling hills and that the biggest hills were coming up in mile 16 so I was focused on a steady effort through the hills, knowing my pace might drop a bit.

I was working harder but the effort felt easier than the first 5 as I was in a good groove. Somewhere in here I heard, “Go Mommy run fast!” which made me smile! (Thanks, Sara!)

Miles 11-15: 7:31, 7:36, 7:28, 7:26, 7:27

The bridge at mile 15 really wasn’t bad- the wind was calmer than previous years.  But after the bridge, mile 16 had a good amount of climbing. 7:40

Mentally I was trying to get to mile 18 and thought I would be able to pick up the pace then.  I knew from the map that 17 was a slow, very gradual incline.  Those are tricky because it looks flat as you are running but isn’t. I held onto pace but was getting tired.  7:36

At 18 I saw my family and husband’s cousin and kids who also live in Richmond! That gave me a nice boost for a mile or two: 7:34, 7:25

At 20, I was starting to fall apart.  My legs felt beat up from the climbing, and even though this part of the course was mostly flat with just a few rolling hills, I couldn’t get back into a good groove.  I really thought my goal was going out the window for a few miles: 7:50, 7:41, 7:42, 7:48

Thanks to my long time blogging friend Amanda for the awesome cheering squad at mile 22!!

In mile 23, I was giving myself a talk about how much discomfort is mental- our mind wants our bodies to stop long before our bodies need to.  I was determined to find a final push!

Mile 24-26: 7:31, 7:34, 7:12 ! and the final .3 downhill sprint at 6:25 pace!

I still need to work on that mental game but I’m proud that I was able to turn the race back around.

Final chip: 3:17:59 !! (This dropped a second from the time I saw initially on the tracking app… and I was working hard to break the 3:18 that I saw coming on the clock, so yay!!)  A five minute pr and I felt so much stronger than my pr marathon last fall.

Thanks to my husband and his cousin Jill for cheering me in at the finish!

The Richmond marathon is really scenic the whole way- I tried to soak up the views and remind myself to be in the moment! The crowd support is awesome too, with several “party zones” with music and larger crowds.  This was one of my favorite races so far!

Thank you so much for the encouragement and support through training! Now to enjoy a week of sleeping in, eating and resting.  🙂

Do you have a favorite race you’ve run?

How to you handle the mental piece at the end of a race?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap, with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits and PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.





Marathon Training by the Numbers + Goals

How inspiring was the NYC marathon on Sunday? My older daughter watched it with me and as Shalane pull ahead it was the first time she got really into a race- cheering and stressed out that she might lose first place!

I, like many of you, was crying along with her… especially after her injury just 9 months ago.  Wow!

It was the motivation I needed going into race week.  Normally I’m incredibly nervous but I’m oddly calm.  I feel like I did my best with the time I had, so let’s see what happens!

Of course, I’m wondering if I did enough to hit my goals after taking 6 weeks off this summer.  But it’s all good- I’m grateful to be running injury free and I’ll show up and focus on being in the moment and enjoying it.

On an ideal course, I’d like to go sub-3:20 and I feel like my training points to this, but as we know so well, anything can happen on race day.  And I’m not sure how the hilly profile will work out for my pacing plan.


The best way for me to boost my confidence is to reflect back on the training I did, so here we go…

Number of races done: 3 (half marathon, and the 5k and 10k at the RW festival)

Nothing especially confidence boosting about any of these, but I got race pace miles in the half and used the 5k/10k to run pace miles in my 20 miler.

Number of long runs done over 15 miles: 6, with race pace miles in 4 of them

This is fewer long runs than I’ve run in the past, but they were higher quality so let’s hope that helps.

Number of 20 milers: 2

Again, fewer than I would normally do.  One at a nice easy pace (9:11) and the other with race pace miles at 7:37 average with the RW 5k/10k in the middle.

Number of tempo runs: 11

These were a variety of race pace and faster than race pace miles.  This boosts my confidence a bit!

Number of miles run at or near race pace (7:30s): 86

I feel like that pace is drilled into my head and legs pretty well by now.

Number of track workouts (400m-800m range): 5

Most of these were in the beginning of training before the long runs picked up.  I did one 8 x 800m workout just a few weeks ago that felt strong.  I look forward to more short track workouts at some point soon when I’m not in marathon training.

Favorite confidence building workout: 18 long run with 10 at marathon pace

I’ve never done as many high quality long runs as I did this cycle.  In the past, I ran long runs easy and a few of them with a fast finish.  Fingers crossed that my legs liked this style of training!

Average mileage: skip

I’m scared to tally this up because it was so much lower than I wish it had been.  Mid September, I picked it up and kept it between 37-51 for the last 7 weeks before taper.

There was also a pool run once a week, sometimes twice to help boost the overall volume while preventing injury.

So what’s done is done… now all that is left is to show up ready to run my heart out and have a blast!

One last concern: weather!! The low Friday night is 26, getting up to the low 40s on race day… if most of the race is low 30s, how would you dress?

How do you boost your confidence before a race?

Do you visualize the course?

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






Training recap and one more week to go!

Happy Sunday!

It’s NYC marathon day- and the excitement is high around here. Most of the local running stores offer buses into the city for the race, and my tracker is full of runners I’ll be following, including 4 of my own athletes running today!

It’s also a rest day for me, so I’ll be cheering and resting up my legs as I count down 6 more days to Richmond.

Training recap last week:

Monday : 8.3 run with 5 x 20 second strides

Tuesday: 45 minute pool run + upper body strength

Wednesday: 10 miles with 2×2 at hmp and 3×1 at fast tempo (warm up 2 miles, then (6:55, 6:53) 2 minute rest (6:55, 6:42) 2 minute rest (6:36, 6:41, 6:36 each with 1 minute rest) and a cool down mile.

This was one of those confidence boosting runs. It was a nice cool morning and I felt stronger at the end than the beginning! Fingers crossed that we have similar weather on race day.  Somewhere in the 40’s would be perfect.

Thursday: 45 minute hilly walk + some leg work (lunges, squats + core)

Friday: 5 easy (10:00, 9:05, 8:55, 8:30, 8:20)

Saturday: 8 aerobic (7:48 ave)

Sunday: (today) rest

Its hard to believe race week is here.  I’m equally excited and a bit terrified that my training cycle was too short, but I’m excited to give it what I have and soak up the day! I’ll share more goals mid week before we leave.

On the meal plan…

A few recipes we plan to make this week:

My sister lives near Richmond so we’re excited to spend the weekend with cousins, hit the Expo Friday, race Saturday and then get lunch and hang out in Richmond a bit.  I’m excited!!

 Are you watching the NYC marathon today and tracking runners?

Any advice for confidence boosters this final week after such a short training cycle?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.



4 Steps for Injury Free Running

One of my favorite workshops at the Runner’s World Festival weekend was the running workshop led by Altra founder Golden Harper on how to improve your running form to prevent injury.

He shared four simple steps:

1) Run proud, run tall

Think about what it would look like to run tall and proud.  Try it on your next run.  Your chest is up, shoulders are relaxed and back, and your head and neck are looking straight ahead.

We are so often in the curled up position at our desks or driving in the car, so it takes some intention to open everything up.

2) Chicken wings

Keep your arms nice and compact, and close to the body.  Golden likes to think of it as little chicken wings, with your elbows staying at your sides or even behind you.  It’s much more efficient to have small motions with your arms as opposed to big, wide swings.

3) Use your spring

Our legs are a 3 foot spring.  Make sure you are landing with a bent knee and using that spring.  The foot strike should land right where it is supposed to when your posture is correct.  By running proud and tall, you don’t have to stress so much about whether you are heel striking or not.

4) Run a little quieter

Run without music or distractions so you can listen to your steps.  Can you hear yourself run? Are you clomping along loudly, or is it hard to hear each step land? Aim to find that stride where you are running quietly and you will be running much more efficiently and with better form.

Four additional myths about what causes running injuries that don’t hold up in the science:

  1. Over pronators are injured the most (false!)
  2. Concrete is the worst (false! Track and treadmill are actually the two worst- you need some uneven terrain.  Run on anything that makes your body tilt, slant, or go up and down to help prevent injury)
  3. It’s normal to have some foot pain (no!)
  4. Cushioning protects from injury (myth! cushioning prevents the body’s natural shock mechanisms and actually causes more impact)

As you can tell, it was a jam packed morning and there is so much more I could share but these were some of the highlights.

And I’ve been working on the chicken wings in my running.  It feels a bit awkward but I can tell a difference with how it conserves energy!

What running injury myth have you been taught?

Do you run loudly or quietly?

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


Richmond marathon training 2 weeks to go

It’s taper time! My last long-ish run is done and now it’s time to switch to recovery mode for the last two weeks. I do best when I taper with less mileage but a bit of intensity, so I plan to do some lactate threshold miles ten days out and a few short workouts the last week to keep my legs remembering how to turn over.

Training recap:

Monday : 55 minute pool run + 20 minutes strength training (lunges, pull up practice, push ups, kettle bell swings)

Tuesday: 6 easy (8:45’s)

Wednesday: 11 miles with 8 at marathon pace (8:36, 7:59, 7:34, 7:29, 7:22, 7:26, 7:30, 7:21, 7:28, 7:21 and c/d 8:59)

Thursday: 40 minutes easy spinning + all day Wild West Book fair!

Friday: 6 easy miles (no watch, 9ish?) with sprint finish + all day Book fair!

Saturday: 15.75 miles easy (8:31 ave) + Wild West Book fair!

Sunday: rest

I kept the book fair in there because I was on my feet all day and my legs were wiped out the last few days this week.  I definitely felt it in my running!

I’m looking forward to a quieter week next week (after packing everything up on Monday). My girls vote that I go as a cowgirl for Halloween.

On the meal plan…

A few recipes we plan to make this week:

  • Shrimp Jambalaya (adding shrimp at the end in place of sausage)
  • Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (from RW cookbook)
  • Split pea soup
  • Ground turkey and spaghetti squash and/or baked ziti


 What do you do with the extra time when tapering? I’m not sure that I’m going to notice much extra time as I mostly plan to sleep when I would otherwise be running!

Do you dress up for Halloween?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.




My Runner’s World Festival Experience + Races

Take me back!

It was really the perfect weekend in Bethlehem, PA- beautiful fall colors, perfect running weather and awesome company.

It kicked off Thursday evening with a Runner’s World HQ tour with Bart Yasso and dinner with the staff and editors.  The food was awesome- make your own grain bowls with an amazing green goddess dressing that I would happily eat every day!

Friday was a packed day.  We got up bright and early for a shake out run with Ryan Hall followed by seminars with Golden Harper, founder of Altra.

After sharing the “why and how” behind the company, he led us in a runner’s technique workshop (and had to show off climbing up this crazy arch!)

Interestingly, I’ve just made the switch to Altra this summer after the tendonitis issue and have really come to love Altra.  My legs are so much happier!

He described un-glueing and re-making shoes in his dad’s running shop to get rid of extra height to help runners have a more natural stride and, consequently, fewer injuries.

There are also two performance benefits: when the toes have more room, the big toe can help with the push off and with zero drop, the leg can use the full “spring” instead of being cut short a bit.  Both made a lot of sense to me.

We had lunch and a book signing with Bart and it’s easy to see why runners of all abilities love him – he’s such a genuine guy.  And then the trail race began at 3:30pm.  I ran the grand slam last time and skipped the trail this time as my goal was to get in a solid 20 miler Saturday morning.

I loved getting to know Rylie, Theodora and Zoe over dinner that night.  It was also fun to room with Lauren who I will see at Boston in April! It was my first time meeting Sarah, who did the dog race with her adorable dog, and I always love seeing speedy Hollie.

5k start

Saturday was the 5k, 10, dog races and kids races- whew! A packed day! That afternoon, I picked out a new Stick and Mojo compression socks, plus checked out some of the Janji gear.

I also caught an awesome panel that Sara Hall was part of and loved hearing from her and her experience as a new mom with the four Ethiopian girls they adopted!

We closed the day with a pasta dinner with RW staff and editor in chief Betty Ortiz.  And then the half marathon was Sunday morning, which I skipped this year.

My 20 miler with the 5k/10k was so much fun! I did a 3 mile warm up, then ran the 5k, ran easy, ran the 10k and wrapped up with 2 cool down miles.  I ran both races around a 7:15 pace and even grabbed 3rd in age group at the 10k!

I really love everything about this weekend and was so grateful to be invited to be a part of it!

Anyone else at the RW festival this weekend? Or any plans to join next year?

Have you met Bart at a race? He travels most weekends of the year but will be retiring in just a few months.

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


Peak week of training- 3 weeks to Richmond!

Hello from Runner’s World Headquarters!

It’s been a gorgeous weekend. I love spending time here – but I’ll save the details for another post.

For now, I’m thrilled to have wrapped up my last big week of training with everything feeling good plus some really confidence boosting runs.

Training recap:

Monday : 10 miles in 8:02 ave (276 elevation) – I tried to work in a few rolling hills and probably ran it faster than I should have, but I was feeling strong!


Wednesday: 10 total with 8 x 800m (3:07- 3:11, or 6:15-6:20 paces) and 400m jogs between … still feeling strong!

Thursday: 30 minute pool run

Friday: 6.5 easy around Bethlehem, PA

Saturday: 21! Broken down like this: 3 easy miles (8:15), Runner’s World 5k (22 something or about 7:15 pace), 6 easy (7:50s), Runner’s World 10k (45:00 or 7:15 ave) and 2 cool down (7:45)

That’s the fastest 20 miles I’ve ever run… even on the easy segments, my legs just wanted to go! I think it’s the lower humidity, finally.  I’m thrilled to have such a confidence boosting run but nervous too.  I rarely have more than1- 2 strong runs in a week where my legs feel this good, so I hope it continues all the way through to race day!

Sunday: 4 recovery miles

On the meal plan…

I’ve not had any time to think about it yet! It’s another mild weather week so maybe we will do some grilling.

I’m also overseeing the book fair this week so it’s going to be a busy week, but it’s always fun.  I kind of like being known at school as the ‘book fair lady’ !

Have you ever run the Runner’s World Festival races or been to Bethlehem PA?

Are you still using your grill for dinners?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.



My goals for the Runner’s World races this weekend

Next weekend is the Runner’s World Festival already! That snuck up on me fast.

I got to participate in this awesome weekend two years ago, along with many of my running blogger friends.  That year, I did the Grand Slam- all four races in three days, which was a blast.

This year, my focus in on prep for the Richmond marathon, so I signed up for the Grand Slam but have changed my mind.  Here’s the plan:

  • Friday afternoon trail run (plus we do an early morning easy run with Ryan Hall, Suzanne Allair and Altra staff on our way to breakfast with Ryan and Sara Hall!)
  • Saturday will be my 20-21 miler, using the 5k and 10k as marathon pace portions

To be more realistic, the 5k will likely be closer to LT or half marathon pace and the 10k at marathon pace.  So I’ll warm up with 2-3 miles, run the 5k at threshold, run 5-6 easy, the 10k at marathon pace and 5 or so remaining miles to hit my 20 miler.

I’m heading home Saturday night after dinner with the Runner’s World editors.  I would love to do the half marathon but it’s a busy weekend for us and I need to take over kid duty on Sunday.  I think the mixed pace 20 miler will be fun! And a nice distraction from my normal routes.

Our blogger group will meet in Bethlehem Thursday night for dinner with the Runner’s World staff, and then have seminars both Friday and Saturday plus other fun meetings in between- I’m getting excited!!

Have you done any of the RW Festival races, or will you be there this weekend?

Have you ever used a race as part of a long run?

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