7 Things I Do Before Every Race

Hello from Mexico! I’m popping in with some race day thoughts… I’ll share my 5k experience on Thursday!

I remember how clueless I was at my first half marathon.  I think I ate a bagel before hand, but that was about the extent of my nutrition knowledge.  I had no fuel with me for the run, no watch, no idea what pace I was running or should be running… and you know what? It actually worked out okay.

But these days I have a plan, and frankly, I need that system because without it I’d be a mess of stress.  What do you do before a race? These are 7 things I do every time:

 

  1. Lay out my clothes the night before PLUS throw away clothes and layers to stay warm… I hate being cold! I will gladly over dress up front if it means I’m comfortable before and after running.
  2. Carb up: I love the saying, “train low, race high” – I don’t usually overdo the carbs during training or on training runs but I am careful to increase them the last few days before a run and always have my bagel or toast with pb and banana race morning
  3. Eat two hours + before a race even if it means setting my alarm to do so: I know my body needs at least two hours to digest breakfast before a race, so even if it’s a local race that I could roll out of bed for, I’m careful to get up early enough to eat in advance for a more comfortable race experience!
  4. Have a race plan: This can be as simple as knowing the appropriate range of paces I should be able to hit, or as complex as factoring in hills, terrain and mile splits.  I like to look at the course map, elevation and also check my recent race times in a calculator like McMillian’s to make sure I know about where my race equivalent pace should be… the big piece here is to avoid starting too fast, and it’s helpful to know what “too fast” would look like
  5. Do a warm up: I remember mocking people who were running before races at the first few halfs I did… don’t they know we’re about to run 13 miles? Why are they wasting their energy? Little did I know how much my body needs that warm up time too when I have a goal pace in mind! The general rule of thumb is the shorter the race, the longer the warm up.  So for the 5k, I do two miles, the half is often only a mile warm up, and I try to jog around a tiny bit before the full.
  6. Have a mantra or two in mind: I often have a few go to statements, like “you’re strong, you’ve got this” but recently I think I’ve overdone them and my brain knows I’m trying to trick myself and isn’t listening or responding as well to the positive messages.  Instead, lately I’ve been switching to mental tricks like rubberbanding myself (invisibly) to someone ahead of me and reeling them in.
  7. Don’t stress the sleep! Since learning that it’s actually two nights before a race that matters more, I stress less.  I try to sleep well throughout the week and then if I toss and turn before a race, I know I’ll be fine.  Of course, since taking the pressure off to sleep well I now typically have no issues sleeping before a race.

What about you? What do you ALWAYS do before a race?

Do you have a set pre-race meal that you don’t stray away from?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

Back to training + off to Mexico!

Happy Sunday!

After a mostly dreary rainy week, I’m beyond ready to hop on a plane this morning to sunny Mexico!  The natural health company I partner with in my health coaching business does two all expense paid trips every year, and I’ve been lucky enough to go to Los Cabos last year and now Playa del Carmen this week.  My husband isn’t able to join, but I turned it into a girls week and invited my two oldest friends… I cannot wait to see them and hang out all week!

This was week two post half, and I finally started adding some intensity back in with a speed workout Tuesday and 5k yesterday.  More details on that soon!  Here’s how the rest of the week looked:

Sunday:  6.7 easy with the MRTT group

Monday:  30 minute easy spin + Barre class

Tuesday: 8 miles with intervals (2 w/u, 200m x 4, 400m x 4, 200m x 4 all at 6:00 pace and with equal jog recoveries, 2 cool down)

I had no option but to head to the treadmill at the gym for this one, and it was so hot in there!! Other than being overheated and the shock of speed after running 9-10 minute pace, I felt good.  The aches of last week seem to have worked themselves out.

Wednesday: 6.25 on trails, 9:12 ave plus push ups/ core

Thursday: 5.5 easy

Friday: off

Saturday:  5k! plus warm up and cool down for 8 total

No meal planning this week as it’s all covered, other than stocking up our house while I’m gone and making a lasagna for the freezer.

Is anyone else beyond ready for sunshine?

Would you rather race a 5k or a marathon?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Coaches need coaches too!

Last week I finally did something I’ve considered doing for over a year now… I hired a running coach!

Hand timing a womans run on the running track

I love researching training and putting plans together, but it’s becoming exhausting mentally to coach myself.  I am ready to have an extra set of eyes on my training and be smart about when to push and when to pull back and recover.

So this week I began working with Tia, who blogs at Arkansas Running Mom.  We connected on social media over 4 or 5 years ago, when I lived in Houston and she came to Houston to run the marathon.

At the time, she was my current age and had just finished having her children and was getting back into training.  I’ve always been able to relate to her on a personal level as a busy mom and admire her dedication and running talent! I was nervous that my Type A personality wouldn’t be able to let go of having the control, but honestly, it’s been amazing.

I love not worrying about what my runs will look like and having the prescribed paces.  It’s really fun to get the coaching experience from the other side, too!

It’s an unusual start, as I have a 5k this weekend, 10k next weekend and then the NJ half at the end of the month, but I love the way she organized my training.  So here’s to new beginnings!

Do you work with a running coach, or have you considered hiring one?

Do you find you push yourself too hard on your own, or you hold yourself back?

What’s next + How to Train for a 10k pr

I have one more half marathon this spring and a number of shorter distances mixed in, including two 10ks.  Both will likely be more of a “workout” than a “goal race” but I hope to train specifically for a 10k at some point.

As a blog partner for the Newport Liberty 10k, I wanted to share tips for training for a 10k pr.

We’re still 5 weeks out from the 10k, which is an ideal time to switch from solid base building mileage to 10k specific workouts for several weeks before tapering.

What do 10k specific workouts look like?

For the 10k, you want to incorporate a mix of VO2 max workouts (improving your ability to use oxygen) and tempo efforts at race pace (pushing back your lactate threshold).

Examples of VO2 max workouts include:

  • 6 x 800m at 5k pace with 400m recovery jogs
  • 12 x 400m at 10-15 seconds faster than 5k pace with 200m jogs between each
  • 10 x 800m at goal 10k pace with 60 second rests
  • 16 x 400m at goal 10k pace with 30 second rests

However, speed workouts alone will not prepare you for the demands of a 10k, or even a 5k.  You need to focus on improving speed endurance- your ability to hold faster paces over longer periods of time.  Tempo workouts and 10k specific race paces can help you do this, especially when in combination with the VO2 workouts.

Tempo runs and tempo interval workouts for the 10k include:

  • 5 minutes at 10k race pace x 5 with 45 second rests
  • 3 x 1 mile at 10k race with 60 second rests
  • 2 x 2 miles at 10k race pace with 3 minute rest
  • 3 miles at 10k race pace
  • 4 miles at 10k race pace + 10-15 seconds

Beginners should focus on getting the miles in and building up to 6 miles for a long run once per week.  Intermediate runners can add one hard workout per week, and should focus on the tempo interval runs.  More advanced runners can do one of each, and build their long run up to 12 miles.

For the spring 10k, I’m largely running off my half marathon training but hope to add a few shorter intervals in again before race day.

Have you run a 10k? Have you ever done 10k specific workouts?

What’s next for you?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Recovery week + Meal Planning

I’m one week out from the half marathon and feeling good.  My quads were a bit sore for a day or two, and then my shins were grumpy after a run, but I think all the kinks are worked out and I’m getting ready to jump back in soon!

The recovery week recap:

Sunday:  Race!! 1:33:31, plus a 1/2 mile or so warm up

Monday:  30 minute easy spin + 30 minute easy walk, all recovery based to get the blood flowing

Tuesday: 3 easy miles (9:45 ave) + boot camp (probably not my smartest move as my quads were still a bit sore!)

Wednesday: 3.5 easy with a running client, slightly sore shins afterward –> icing, rolling and a bit of yoga in the evening

Thursday: boot camp + 4 mile walk

Friday: off and celebrating husband’s birthday with friends!

Saturday:  squeezed in 6 miles easy early before a nutrition conference all day

I’m learning to listen to my body and take extra days off when needed.  Of all possible times I could take time off, post race is key!! I’m not sure why I always struggle with this.  I look forward to a whole week off, and then after the race I’m itching to get back out there again! But I think this was a good balance of backing off and keeping it low intensity while still getting a few runs in.

Next up is a 5k on Saturday!!

Meal planning:

Sunday: Meeting my parent’s half way for the Crayola Factory and dinner

Monday: Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl

Tuesday:  Girls night- probably scrambled eggs and pancakes (I love the sprouted grain mix right now)

Wednesday: Split Pea Soup + cheese quesadillas

Thursday: Leftovers and/or pizza for the girl who wanted it on the meal plan all week…

Friday: Pulled Chicken BBQ + mashed potatoes (for L) and kale salad

Saturday: Out?

 

How do you recovery after a half? Do you take a whole week off, or do some easy runs + cross training?

Any one else switching over to 5ks soon?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Post Race Surprises

I’m still riding the high of Sunday’s race… it makes all that hard work worth it!

I’ve been surprised with the way my body and mind responded post race.  Every race is different, and every recovery period is different, although prioritizing recovery is always key!  These are some of the surprises for me so far in the 3 days post race:

1. I can’t sleep

This is never a problem for me.  I love to sleep! I am typically out like a rock from 10 pm- 6:15 am but my body stayed on an adrenaline high for two days.  Despite the early wake up Sunday, I could not fall asleep until almost midnight and was up at 5 am… what?! I cannot tell you the last time I got out of bed at 5 am other than to catch an early flight or get to a race, ha! Mornings are not my thing.  But I was wide awake, so I rolled with it and came downstairs and got a jump start on my work day for two hours before anyone else stirred.  That was pretty amazing… if only my body was up for it more often!

I realized my body doesn’t know the difference between a bear chasing it for 13 miles or me choosing to race, and may have been worried that there was still danger nearby, ha! I slept like a rock last night, finally.

2. I’m itching to get back to training

This is also not typical for me.  Usually post race, I soak up that week of nothing.  But I’m excited to hit the track and continue to prepare for my upcoming 5k, 10k, half and then summer 5ks.  I’m keeping it easy, of course, because I’ve learned the hard way from jumping back in too soon.  My quads were sore for a day or two (probably from picking up the pace downhill) and so far I kept it easy with a walk on Monday and 3 slow miles yesterday.

But I’m encouraged that mentally I’m still motivated… this is a good sign that I’m not over trained or burnt out from the training plan.  And I have my next training journal waiting for me.

3. I still have no desire to add a spring full marathon

I thought having a strong race would tempt me to add on a few 18 and 20 milers and tack on a May/June marathon but I’m not ready for that.  I’m getting excited about building for a fall marathon again, but I’m very happy with my decision to stick with the shorter distances this spring.

What’s next?

I have a 5k in ten days, and a 10k the week after that, and the NJ half two weeks later. So there isn’t time to train specifically for the 5k or 10k, but I’ll use them as good workouts as I prepare for another half, and then I’m looking forward to more 5ks this summer.  I may even try my first one miler, which scares me more than probably any other distance! But why not push myself in new ways?

How do you typically feel physically and mentally post race?

Do you enjoy the rest or do you find yourself impatient to resume training?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

New Half Marathon PR- Finally!

Those of you who have followed me for awhile know that I’ve been stuck at the 1:35 half for a few years now! It was my best time before baby J came along, and although my fitness was there to break it last year, the two half marathons I did fell apart (one from heat, and one from starting too fast and crashing!)

So breaking through that 1:35 barrier was extra sweet this weekend! Here’s the story:

I shared an Uber into NYC with my neighbor and got in a little later than I had planned- just as my bag check was closing.  I quickly threw my extra sweatshirt in the bag and my bus ticket home and totally forgot to pull out my Garmin! I realized it and went back but it was too late.

So I would be running the race naked, a first for me, but I was up for the challenge.  I found my wave and got in but realized I was with the 1:45 pacer.  I couldn’t even see the 1:40 pacer, let alone the 1:35 group! I tried to weave ahead as much as I could before we started, although I hate doing that.  I think I was in this corral because they have my time from the NYC marathon (3:43) which I ran for fun, and listed me as an 8:00/mile half average.  There was not much I could do at this point.

When the race started, those first 2-3 miles flew by as I tried to pass slower runners and find the groups running my pace.  I did a lot of weaving and in retrospect, probably too many surges trying to squeeze past people, but it kept me distracted.

Before I knew it, we were on the loop through Harlem before climbing up the Harlem hill. The extra little loop was super crowded, so again I felt stuck behind people and tried to keep my pace, but was doing a lot of surging and slowing, surging and slowing.

We came out of the loop and headed up Harlem hill, which is the toughest hill in the course.  I was feeling it at the top but overall, I have to say the hills were not as bad as I expected.  I was really happy to head down the other side of that one knowing that there were only a few more rolling hills to go.  My 5k split was 22:07.

From the mile one clock at 14ish to the mile two clock at 21ish, I knew I was running somewhere in the low 7s and that it had been an extra 6-7 minutes before my chip time began.  That was helpful as I continued on to have a general idea of how I was doing by the clocks.

After a few more small rolling hills through miles four and five, we soon began heading out of Central park.  The 10k split was 44:16, so approximately 7:08 pace again, although I’d love to know how what distance my watch would have had with all the weaving in that first half!

I struggled a bit to find my rhythm as we headed down through Manhattan.  It was flat and the perfect opportunity to pick up the pace but I hit some self doubt. Was I already going too fast or could I pick up the pace and hold it for another 6 miles? 15k: 1:06:40

Right after the 15k split, I decided I was feeling good.  I started to pick it up and knew I could handle 4 more miles.  I wish I had my splits because I know the last 4 were my fastest miles of the day! I felt really strong.

In the final two miles, I picket it up a little more.  I focused on a visualization trick I remember reading… choose someone ahead of you and pretend to throw a giant rubberband around them and pretend that rubberband is pulling you in to catch them. I probably did this 6 or 7 times in a row, passing people in that final stretch.  It was a great distraction and helped me keep pushing!

I still had no idea what my time would be as we came through the final tunnel and down the last 400m.  I was hoping for sub- 1:35 but that’s what I thought at my last half, too! As I got close and saw 1:40, I knew I would pr (with the extra 6-7 minute start time!)

Final: 1:33:31, a two minute pr!

I am so happy with this race!! I was doubting that it would be a pr race during some sections in Central Park, and again as we started down through Manhattan.  But everything came together!

I’m excited to continue to chip away at the half… I know I have more to give, especially if I can avoid all the weaving I did in the beginning.  Looking forward to what else 2017 has in store!

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!! There were so many new prs and great races!

 

Taper week!

It’s race day!

We got some snow and rain last night but it’s supposed to be clear this morning.  The only downside is the 14 mph winds… I’m hoping with so many bodies, we won’t notice it too much?!

The taper recap:

Sunday: 5 easy miles

Monday:  Barre + a short walk

Tuesday: 6.5 miles with 2 at goal race pace (6:59)

Wednesday: 4.75 easy (9:10 ave)

Thursday: 3 mile walk + running the school Scholastic Book Fair

Friday: 4 easy miles (8:45 ave) +8 – 4:30 running the book fair- my legs were so tired Friday night!!

Saturday:  off + more book fair

I am now the Book fair chair for our school and while it’s my favorite PTA event by far, it’s a lot to combine it with race week! I’m hoping my legs will feel fresh this morning.

I’m a little nervous about the roads being icy and the wind knocking me back … but no matter what happens with the crazy wind and cold, I’m determined to have fun and try my best!

What are the worst race conditions you’ve run in?

Are you watching the NYC Half broadcast this morning?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

 

How does the taper affect you?

It’s Wednesday.  Four days before the race, with the aftermath of the Stella stow storm still out the window.  And the taper crazies are just starting to settle in.

I find that some people look forward to the taper and backing off the workouts while others get antsy and go a little crazy.

I typically fall in the first category- especially when training for a marathon.  I welcome those last two to three weeks of less running and intensity.

This time I’m feeling a little antsy.

But regardless, there are a few taper signs I almost always experience:

1. One really rough run during my taper

I haven’t had this run yet, but I’m anticipating it will either be today or Friday.  I always seem to have a run where hitting a normal easy pace feels way too hard and I feel like I’ve lost all fitness!  When our body notices the cut back, it works hard at repair and recovery which can make some runs feel more like a slog through mud.

2. Questioning if I did enough

That mental component is tough! I want to determine a conservative starting pace and an accurate finishing goal time but it’s hard to say what exactly I’m trained for. I’m wondering if I should have had more race pace tempos and mile repeats to teach my body the pace. But the work is done- worrying does nothing, so it’s time to turn that negative energy into excitement!

3. Phantom niggles 

Again, with the lower mileage, our bodies sometimes begin working to repair muscles or tendons that were on the verge of injury and it’s common to feel some of those aches during the taper.  Typically these are “phantom aches and pains” meaning that they don’t signal an injury.  Overall, I’ve felt good so far this week with just a little something in my shin after Sunday’s run.

 

For how to taper, check out this post I wrote before my first BQ at the Houston marathon a few years ago!

What do you experience when you taper? Love it or hate it?

What surprised you about the taper experience?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Half Training Recap (1 week to go) + Meal planning

I’m stalking the forecast and reviewing my training log and trying to visualize the race course and finally figuring out traveling logistics… all of the things that can only mean it’s race week!

I had another solid, confidence boosting week of training.  It’s true that everything clicks in those final 4-6 weeks as you finally see the training gains paying off and get in those sharpening workouts before race day.

The recap:

Monday:  8.5 miles mostly easy (8:25 ave) with 6 x 200m @ 5:43 pace + Barre

Tuesday: 4 miles easy (9:15 ave)

Wednesday: 9.2 with 5 x 1 mile with 60 second recoveries (2 mile warm up, repeats were 6:40, 6:20, 6:39, 6:34, 6:42 and 2 mile cool down)

These splits were faster than I expected as the goal paces were 6:45-6:50, but I didn’t look at my watch until I finished each split.  The 6:20 was way too fast so I slowed it down after that.  Overall I feel strong and ready for this race!

Thursday: skipped Boot camp but did 30 minute strength at home + 3 mile walk

Friday: off – supposed to be an easy run, but we were all feeling a bit run down and I spent the day in my pj’s fighting off something but thankfully I never officially got sick.  I’d rather feel off now than next week!

Saturday:  9 miles on the treadmill (7:58 ave)- so cold out there! I felt better when I woke up but still not 100%.  The rest of the day was low key and I got a short nap in.

For this week, I have one workout with a few race pace intervals and then easy peasy until race day.

I agreed to host another Scholastic book fair at our school which unfortunately turns out to be this week, so I’ll be on my feet Thursday, Friday and Saturday but am trying not to worry about that.  There’s always something out of our control!

Meal planning:

Sunday: Homemade Sushi

Monday: Turkey Cabbage Stew

Tuesday:  Tofu and veggie stir fry

Wednesday: Soba noodles with roasted red pepper peanut sauce

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Avocado Tomato Gouda Socca Pizza

Saturday: Pre-race pasta and chicken

Finally, for those of you who have always wanted to run the NYC marathon or who missed the lottery another shot at getting a bib.

PowerBar believes everyone deserves a Clean Start, so to help launch the new Clean Whey product line, they are offering 17 deserving athletes the chance to approach the starting line at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon. 26.2 miles. 17 Clean Starts.

From March 1, 2017 through April 12, 2017, you can visit PowerBarCleanStart.com and share why you deserve a Clean Start at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon. Winners will receive a race bib (entry to the race), along with training tips from PowerBar athletes, PowerBar product and gear leading up to the race.

What are you planning to make this week?

Have you tried using visualization for a goal race?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!