5 Ways to Track Your Training Progress

I’m starting week four of marathon training for the Steamtown marathon.

Even though it’s early in training, it’s nice to have ways to measure progress every 4 weeks or so.  Training runs can feel harder as training progresses, due to the accumulated fatigue of training, which can make it difficult to assess how you’re responding to training.

There are many ways you can evaluate your training mid-cycle:

Tune up Races: This is probably my favorite way to test out my training.  For a marathon, ideally you want to test your fitness with a half marathon.  For a 10k, a 5k tune up race is perfect.  The downside of tune up races is allowing sufficient recovery before and after cuts into your training plan, but if you skip the extra rest you won’t race to your full potential

 

Lactate Threshold: Testing your lactate threshold measures the running speed at which lactate starts to rapidly accumulate in your muscles and blood.  Lactate threshold typically correlates to your half marathon pace or a little faster.  You can re-test in 4-6 weeks to track improvements.  I was able to do this test several years ago in Houston and it’s interesting information to have, but probably unnecessary unless you have a really big goal or are an elite athlete.

 

Time Trials: Time trials are an easy way to test fitness any time that works for you, and ideally can be done for the same distance on the same route.  The downside is that changes may not always point to improved fitness. Pay attention to other factors like weather- cooler temperatures can lead to improved times, just as warmer temperatures or fatigued legs from training may lead to slower times even if your fitness has improved.

Track

Steady state race pace runs: A good marathon training plan includes tempo runs, with increasing distances at goal marathon pace.  It’s typical for the first few marathon paced runs to feel challenging but they should begin to feel easier as training progresses and as your legs get more comfortable holding those paces.

 

Heart rate: I rarely use heart rate training, but it’s a fantastic way to evaluate fitness.  As you get stronger, you can track a particular pace for a particular distance, such as a 2 or 3 mile run at marathon + 30 second pace.  As fitness improves, your heart rate at the same pace should decrease by a few beats (again, assuming temperatures and conditions are equal.)

So far, I’ve seen a slight improvement in my 6 x 800m workout from a few months ago, and will repeat a tempo run next week to compare time as well.

I also see my easy pace dropping on my long runs, little by little.  Any little sign of progress is great motivation for me to keep pushing ahead!

And I always throw a tune up race in.  I’m running a half in September, about 5 weeks before race day.

 

Do you track progress mid-cycle?

Have you used any of the above forms – time trials, lactate threshold or heart rate tracking?

Steamtown training + meal planning (link up)

I hope you’re having a great weekend! The weather is perfect, and the pool is now open full time so we’re settling into a new summer routine and getting outside as much as possible.

Another week of marathon training for the books:

Sunday: off

Monday: 6.2 mile easy run (8:15 ave) with 5 x 20 second strides (5:44, 5:16, 5:35, 5:39, 6:11)

Tuesday: Boot camp class (included sprints, which I didn’t realize beforehand)

Wednesday: 8 mile interval run (2 mile warm up, 6 x 800m- 3:07, 3:09, 3:09, 3:09, 3:11, 3:09 with 400m recovery jogs; 1.5 mile cool down)

Thursday: Iron Strength workout + 2 mile walk/jog with the stroller

Friday: 6.25 easy run with 3 near marathon goal pace (final 3 miles- 7:43, 7:32, 7:28)

Saturday: 16 miles (8:57 ave) with the running group

Track workout

My legs were tired toward the end of the week, but that was the point of the pace run backed up against the long run.  I’m curious to see how my legs respond to this kind of training.

Meal Plan

Sunday: Greek Black Bean Burgers

Monday: Whole Roasted Chicken in the crock pot

Tuesday: Quesadillas with leftover chicken, jalapeno and cilantro

Wednesday: Lemon Garlic Shrimp Kebabs

Thursday: Omelets

Friday: Pizza night

Saturday:  July 4th weekend BBQ with friends

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What are you doing for the July 4th weekend?

Have you tried a whole chicken in the crock pot?

 

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6 Snacks we’re making for friends this week

Did I ever mention that I have a little party planner?

A lot of it is due to the Fancy Nancy books, but there is definitely some genetic list-making, planning piece that she gets from me.

Even when she was 3 years old, she would worry about details like how to get to someone’s house for a play date when we’d never been there before or what snacks to have at our house.

Since discovering Fancy Nancy, we’ve had an Adventurer’s part, a Tea party and now she is planning a Doll Gala.

On top of her party planning, I’m hosting a women’s running nutrition night with healthy snack ideas tomorrow and teaching a workshop on Sunday.

So here are a few of the finger foods we’re making:

Lindsay’s Sweet Potato Banana Chocolate Chip Bites

 

Almond Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

life shake energy bites

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

 

Apple Raisin Oatmeal Muffins

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with PB Icing (madeover)

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

(Obviously ours will never be this pretty!!)

Plus veggies trays with black bean dip or hummus, and giant fruit salads.

We finished the sweet potato muffins, almond chocolate chip bites and cupcakes for her party, and I have my remaining 3-4 to go for mine.

I wouldn’t agree to this if I didn’t also enjoy the process.  And with school now officially out, what better to do with our time but play in the kitchen?

Do you enjoy hosting parties?

What is one of your family’s favorite finger foods?

(There is definitely a pb/chocolate theme in ours!!)

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Are your cycles regular?

There’s a heavy question to start out the week, huh?

My friend and fellow runner sent me the book No Period. Now what? and I dove into it the past few evenings while solo parenting this weekend.

No period now what

It took me back to my years of trying to get pregnant.  I didn’t realize that my cycles were off until I went off birth control in 2008.  (Tip #1- A regular period on birth control does not mean that your cycles are normal).

After several months went by and my cycle still didn’t show up, I talked with an OB/GYN who assured me that it can take time after coming off birth control.  (Tip #2- It should not take months to get your cycle back after going off birth control.)

I resisted the idea that running could be the cause.  After all, I knew so many women who were running two or three times the amount that I was and had no trouble conceiving the minute they decided to.  (Tip #3- Each of our bodies has it’s own set point for exercise and stress that triggers the reproductive system to hit pause.)

I was lucky that with a little extra fat in my diet, adding meat back in and cutting back mileage slightly I conceived naturally in 2009.

36 weeks

After my older daughter was born, I trained for my first marathon.  And then ran a second in Houston.

When we were ready to get pregnant again, I learned that although my cycles were now regular, my hormones were a bit suppressed.  I got pregnant naturally while training for the Philly marathon with a higher fat diet.  My diet has stayed much higher in fats and proteins and my cycles are normal now, even with the marathon cycle kicking off again.

This book was a powerful reminder that Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) or a lack of period is not safe.  It does not prove that you are an intense, serious athlete.  It puts you at risk for all sorts of health complications.

Besides infertility, HA is linked to:

  • significantly lower bone density, due to lack of estrogen
  • increased risk of heart disease in the future
  • higher risk of dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

This was interesting because over the time that my cycles were so irregular, I dealt with a stress fracture.  Since tweaking my diet, training and incorporating whole food based supplements I’ve had no issues since and have been able to reverse the bone loss.

Another powerful chapter covered the frequent misdiagnosis as polysystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  PCOS was mentioned to me, despite having no other symptoms.

I wish this book had been around when I was scouring the internet for answers! There is so much more information in it than what any of my doctors knew at the time.

I’m thankful to be on the other side of this.  I am a solid 10-12 pounds heavier than when I first tried to get pregnant with my now 6 year old, but it is a weight that my body can sustain happily with all the popcorn, dark chocolate and healthy fats that I want.

If you or anyone you know is an athlete and struggling with normal cycles or wanting to get pregnant, I highly recommend checking this out.  It’s about so much more than infertility- it’s about fueling your body for a long life of balance and good health.

Did you ever have phases of training when your cycle disappeared?

Were you aware of the health risks for poor bone density and disease?

 

 

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Steamtown training + meal prep link up

This was a fun week.  On Friday, we celebrated kindergarten graduation! We just have a few days left and then we transition into a lazier, summer schedule. I always look forward to that in theory, but I know we will need to stay busy to keep us all happy.  We got to the pool for the first time yesterday and I’m sure we’ll be spending many afternoons there for the next two months.

Training is going well.  Intensity is picking up a little bit.  Here’s the recap from the week:

Sunday: off

Monday: 6 mile easy run (8:49 ave)

Tuesday: 2 mile walk am + this 20 minute workout + 2 mile walk (pm)

Wednesday: 7.25 mile run with 3 x 2 miles  (actual paces were 8:45 warm up, (7:16, 7:16); (7:15, 7:12); (7:10, 7:12)

Thursday: taught spin class

Friday: 6 easy run (8:35 ave) + Barre class

Saturday: 13 miles (8:32 ave) with 5 x 60 second surges at 6:50 pace

Steamtown 13 miles

The surges in the long run were new to me, but were kind of fun to break it up like that.  It made the second half a little tougher, especially with more uphill on the way back.  I have one more build week and then a cut back week.

On Friday, I had a few hours to get some meal prep done to make the weekend a little easier.   Here’s what I did:

  • roasted sweet potato chunks and whole white potatoes
  • baked chicken breast and legs
  • roasted a head of cauliflower
  • sauteed broccoli slaw in a little olive oil
  • cooked a big batch of quinoa
  • chopped and prepped raw veggies and fruit

Meal prep

I put together combo meals of quinoa, broccoli slaw and salmon in a few containers and another of cauliflower, sweet potato and chicken in others.  I need to make this a more regular part of my routine. I had a weekend of solo parenting so it made meals super easy to be able to grab a container.

Meal Plan

Sunday: More of my prepped containers!

Monday: Grill night- chicken pepper kebabs over quinoa

Tuesday: Mexican night- bean and steak fajitas with guacamole

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Omelets and/or egg sandwiches with green smoothies

Friday:  Jalepeno Shrimp Veggie Bake

Saturday:  Out and trying these No Bake Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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How does your schedule change for the summer?

Have you ever thrown surges into a long run?

 

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A day in life + Prana dress winner

Yesterday was not a typical day, but I thought I’d try to document it and share as I always enjoy reading day in life posts.

My day started with an early run.  It was a bit harder getting up after a fun night out in the city the night before, but it was my only chance to make it happen so I went.

My plan called for a tempo run, so I drove to my favorite tempo path where it’s relatively flat.  The plan: warm up, 3 x 2 miles at 7:08- 7:15.

The actual: warm up mile (8:46), 3 x 2 miles (7:16, 7:16); (7:12, 7:11); (7:10, 7:12) and a half mile cool down

Life tempo run

I got home in time to throw together breakfast and kiss my big girl goodbye.  Eggs, turkey bacon and sweet potato or banana have been my go to breakfast lately as it keeps me so full! Plus a pb bite with cacao nibs.  Because why not?

Life breakfast

My husband took both girls to school so I could shower before a meeting but the little one fell and had to come back and hang out with me while I showered.

Life scrapes

When he got back, I was out the door for a monthly networking meeting with other women entreprenuers. We do a lot of childcare swapping and mornings are typically my time ‘on’ but he helped me out a LOT yesterday.  Teamwork.

Life networking event

Our guest speaker talked about the secret sauce of “charm” in your business- it was actually more interesting than I was anticipating and I connected with another nutritionist who wants to start a blog, so we’re meeting for coffee next week.  I’ve enjoyed the relationships that come out of these meeting.

Life lunch

I was back home for a not-so-pretty but delicious lunch and a little time with baby J before nap time.  (Tempeh sauteed in coconut oil with a splash of soy sauce, sweet potato and red peppers).

And then I used naptime to quickly catch up on emails, have a little chocolate coconut bar and a few cacao nibs before heading out to another meeting.

Life work

My head was feeling about as chaotic as that looks!

The naptime meeting was at Starbucks with a chiropractor who wanted to brainstorm ways to work together.

Life chiropractor

Post meeting and post nap, I made it back for school pick up.  A friend had invited us to a nearby circus, something L has yet to experience, so we met there by 4:30pm.

I grabbed a green smoothie for the road to hold me over.

Life green smoothie

(Half a banana, spinach, chocolate Life protein, water and lots of ice)

The girls had a blast! I gave in to the cotton candy and popcorn request, and the pony ride too…

Life pony ride

By the time it was over, it was past dinner time so we popped into the joint Dunkin Donuts/ Baskin Robbins across the street for egg sandwiches, smoothies and donut holes.

Life dessert I’m not even going to think about how much sugar she consumed in one day… we’re just moving on to our normal routine!

We got home in time for the bedtime routine, and then a little more email catch up, a bedtime snack and a few minutes to blog before crashing with a book that is giving me lots of hope in this emotional week of bad news.

Life faith

It is written by a dear friend of ours and I highly recommend it as a voice of hope.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how the way I live can help to bridge the gap between the world as it is and the world as it’s meant to be.  How love wins, even when all we hear about is the darkness.  How reconciliation means love for everyone.  Everyone.  Everyone!  How different would our world be if we all lived that?

When is the last time you’ve been to a circus and/or let your kids overload on sugar?

Do you struggle with runs after a late night?

Oh, and I almost forgot… the PrAna dress winner is Katie Miller! Email me so we can get the dress out to you!

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20 Minute Upper Body and Core Workout

For the last year or two, I’ve been consistently including strength training sessions in my week to balance my running. Typically my strength days included some high intensity moves like mountain climbers or burpees or squat jumps.

However, now that marathon is beginning, I want two things:

  • shorter, more efficient strength workouts
  • less HIIT moves in order to minimize risk of injury with all the running

With less time, I don’t want to drop the strength training piece. I’m finding that rather than full body circuits, I’m feeling the burn on focused circuits:  arms and core on one day, legs on another, and occasionally a full body circuit thrown in on a third.

Working just the upper body for 20 minutes is paying off.  It’s short enough that I’m making time for it, yet I’m feeling more sore than usual the day after because of the focus on one muscle group.

Here’s one upper body workout I’ve been loving:

20 minute upper body and core workout

Rest for 30 seconds between rounds. For a challenge, you can complete 4-5 rounds and repeat the planks.  Use 5-8 pound dumbbells for the squat and press, or a medicine ball.

I often get my strength routine done first thing in the morning in the living room as the girls are starting to wake up.  In 3 rounds, you get in 75 push ups.  Maybe that’s why I’m feeling it the next day?

I like to vary this with straight leg sit ups, tricep dips, and plank up-and-down variations as well.  If I’m not recovering from a hard running workout, I’ll sometimes throw in mountain climbers or burpees as well.

Do you aim for efficient, effective workouts?

What’s your favorite upper body exercise?

 

 

Steamtown training week 2 + Meal Plan Link Up

Hello from the beach!

We’re enjoying a few days with extended family – cousins and cousins kids.  We’re not sleeping as much as we could be, but it’s worth it!

I wrapped up another successful week of training for Steamtown.  This is one of my favorite times of year to run.  I love NOT being cold! I know it will soon be too warm but we had several cool mornings this week which were perfect for running.

Recap:

Sunday: off

Monday: 6 mile easy run (8:49 ave)

Tuesday: 3 mile walk + 20 minute strength circuit (mountain climbers, push ups, leg raises, squat and press, incline push ups, tricep dips x 4)

Wednesday: 7 mile run with 5 alternating tempo 7:19 and 7:01 (actual paces were 8:45 warm up, alternating tempo 7:23, 7:01, 7:22, 6:52, 7:18, cool down 7:55)

Thursday: 2.5 walk + Ignite Burn 20 minute strength

Friday: 13 hilly run (8:18 ave)

Saturday: 6 easy at the beach

 

So far so good with marathon training! The paces are coming easily and I feel like I’m working without overdoing it.  I still have plenty of energy for the rest of my day.

I’m also seeking hills for my long runs instead of looking for the flat routes.  I know it will pay off on race day.

 Country running

Meal Plan

Sunday: Beach food (probably out to eat)

Monday: Shrimp peanut stir fry over udon noodles

Tuesday: Dinner out with friends in NYC

Wednesday: Smoked salmon and strawberry zucchini noodle salad

Thursday: Bacon Frittata with carmelized onion and goat cheese

Friday:  Homemade pizza

Saturday: Out to our favorite Mexican spot

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What’s your favorite season for running?

Do you look for hills or avoid them like the plague?

Summer cravings + summer Prana dress giveaway!

This post is written in partnership with PrAna and Stonyfield.  I received products because of my role as a Stonyfield ambassador.

I’m a little jealous of those of you who are already out of school.  We have two weeks left, but it definitely feels like summer with the long days, BBQ’s and parties at friend’s houses, and sweaty runs at 6am.

I would much rather be hot than cold so I basically look forward to summer all year! I especially crave long days of light, leaving the coats and layers at home, SUNSHINE…

homemade ice cream, slow mornings without rushing out the door to school, lazy afternoons by the pool, cooling snacks like watermelon and Stonyfield yogurt parfaits,

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skirts, flip flops, reading outside and comfy flowing dresses.

Prana summer dress

Date nights…

Prana dress

and creating smoothies and popsicles with frozen fruit and Stonyfield grassfed yogurt for  my girls.

Stonyfield Oh My Yog

Speaking of flowing dresses, Prana sent me a dress from their summer line and it is amazing.  Remember the Prana red jeans I raved about last year? The material is always incredibly comfortable and beautiful, but best of all everything they make is sustainably made.

Two of my favorite details on this dress are the back straps and the built in bra.

Prana back of dress

It’s ideal for a casual day around town or for dressing up a bit for a summer night out.

And PrAna is offering one of you a summer dress as well!

Or if you want to try something else from PrAna, use the code SCS16LAPE  for 15% off anything from June- July 7, 2016.

Enter the Rafflecopter to win a Prana summer dress:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

What are your favorite summer things?

 

Spring Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Spring in the northeast produces many delicious garden goodies but I think strawberries might be my favorite.  The season is so short- it makes a fresh strawberry all the more amazing.

I offered to bring a salad to a friend’s house over the weekend and knew I wanted to incorporate them somehow.  Before kids, there was a berry salad dressing that I made and I wanted to re-create it.  It’s so good and super fast! I whipped it up in the immersion blender in a large cup, then transferred it to a jar and we were out the door.

 

Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

by Laura

Ingredients

  • baby greens
  • 1-2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small red beets, cooked, cooled and sliced
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • toasted walnuts if desired
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of ground pepper

Instructions

Arrange salad over greens as desired.

In blender or immersion blender, combine dressing ingredients (oil through salt/pepper) and blend until well mixed. Dressing will be thick and can be thinned out with a Tbsp or so of water if desired.

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Spring salad with strawberry vinaigrette

Next I want to master a good avocado based dressing.  The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca made an amazing one!

And for those of you in the northeast, I shared on my health coaching blog the foods currently in season and an additional reason to eat seasonally!

Do you make your own salad dressings? Have you experimented with fruit in the dressing?