One of my favorite 5k workouts

I’m on week 5 of my 6 week 5k training plan post-marathon and before half training begins.

I shared last week what I’ve been learning about running smarter, not faster, for a stronger 5k.  My 5k workouts are specific to race day demands this cycle.  Instead of running as fast as I can to build speed, I’m training my body to hold race pace with shorter recoveries.

We’ll see if it all comes together on race day!

Here’s another one of my favorite 5k workouts.  I used this one week 3 and repeated it again yesterday.  Normally, I would have wanted to see my pace improved slightly the second time around but that is not the point.  The goal is to stick to race pace and help that pace feel easier, while also improving VO2 max.

Here’s the workout!


For beginners: Start with 4 x 800m at race pace (this should be around goal race pace but not too much faster than current race pace so that you train the correct energy system).

Try to keep the recoveries to less than 400m, but you can walk half of that and jog the other half very slowly.

For advanced runners: This workout can be increased to 8x 800m with 200m recovery jogs.  One or two 400m repeats at all out pace can be tacked on the end to teach your body to find the final kick on tired legs.

Interval workouts are the hardest on the body and take the longest to recovery from (compared to long runs or tempo runs).  Because each work different energy systems, you can incorporate a tempo run 2-3 days later and a long run if your body is used to more than one workout.  Otherwise, fill the other days with easy running, cross training and recovery days.

Do you love or hate speed workouts, or a little of both?

Do you incorporate race specific training in your training plans?

I am linking up with Suzlyfe, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday





5k training + meal planning

Just a week to go until Christmas- how is that possible?!

Thankfully, I’m not stressing about it… gifts are done and wrapped, and we don’t have to host so I’m bringing a few types of cookies and that’s about it.  On Christmas Eve, we’ll have our own family Christmas at home, and then travel to see both sets of grandparents over the long weekend.


This was a solid week of training.  With 4 recovery miles this morning, I hit 40 for the first time since marathon training.  Yet I don’t have the fatigue of marathon training, so that’s nice!

I also had two workouts this week plus some paced miles in my long run which is more than I would typically do in one week, but the next two weeks will be easier.  I’m putting in many treadmill miles which feels like cheating but is definitely easier on my body.  I’ll get outside more soon for half training, but for now I’m enjoying hopping on there in the early morning hours with my music.

Sunday: 3.5 recovery miles + 15 minute full body strength (20 each: upright row with squat, push ups, TRX pull from chest, and kettle bell swings) x 3

Monday: 8 miles with 12 x 400m at 5k pace (6:21) with 150m recovery; 200m x 3 with 100m recovery (5:43, 5:43, and 5:30 paces)

Tuesday: 45 minute spin class + 20 minutes strength (100 push ups divided, squats and core work)

Wednesday: 8 miles with 3 x 1.2 miles at short tempo (about 10 mile race pace) with 1/2 mile recoveries; splits were 6:50, 6:45 and 6:55 pace … one spot was a little icy which slowed me down but overall this was on a flat loop and pretty easy in terms of terrain


Thursday: 6 recovery miles (between 8:45-9:00 pace) and boot camp class

Friday: OFF – my body enjoyed a day with nothing, I didn’t even walk my daughter to school!

Saturday: 12 with some pace miles (3 easy, 2 @ marathon pace 7:30, 1 mile @ half marathon pace 7:00, 2 @ marathon pace, 1 @ half marathon pace with 1/2 mile recoveries between each, cool down)

We woke up to snow yesterday! This run was supposed to be outside but I moved it to the treadmill as I never would have finished in time.  I got up early so I could be done before my daughter and husband left to meet friends at 8:30 am for a showing of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Today my parents and brother are coming for the day to watch my 6 year old in the Christmas play at church and staying for the afternoon.  She has 8 lines this year and is so excited! I have the play memorized from listening to it on CD in the car more times than I can count, so I’m excited to have this play behind us too!

Meal planning

Sunday:  Burgers and sweet potato chili

Monday: Tofu coconut curry (my favorite simple and delicious recipe is to follow the directions on the Thai red curry paste jar!)

Tuesday: Soba peanut noodles and veggies from the RW cookbook, similar to this one plus broccoli and snow peas

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Our immediate family holiday ham and roast potatoes and veggies

Friday: Egg, ham and veggie scramble

Saturday: Traveling


Do you like to run long runs nice and easy or sometimes throw race pace in?

Treadmill- love or hate it?

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

Run smarter, not faster, for a stronger 5k

I don’t think I’ve ever trained specifically for a 5k before.  When I started running more seriously, it was to train for a half marathon with friends and it wasn’t until years later that I actually ran my first 5k!

As I’ve been reading and researching about 5k training, I learned something interesting.  We think of the 5k as all about speed, but the reality is that the 5k, like the marathon, pulls mostly from the aerobic system!

What does that mean?

Although some speed work is important, it’s more important to have a big overall “engine” – which comes from aerobic based runs at a conversational pace.  Cross training like spin or long walks contribute to your overall aerobic fitness too.

This is why simple going to the track and running sprints at an all out pace and recovering for a few minutes to do it all over again is not as beneficial as you might think.  Yes, it trains your body to develop raw speed but it isn’t specific to the demands of the 5k.  To race a 5k well, you need to be able to string together many speed workouts at 5k pace – not run as fast as you can for 1 minute.

With that theory, I’ve been pulling from a lot of Jeff Gaudette’s training advice.  For more effective 5k training, he recommends running at 5k pace on your speed repeats (easier than all out pace) BUT the tricky piece is to shorten the recovery.

This creates a workout closer to a threshold workout that teaches your body how to keep going so that ultimately, on race day, you can string those repeats into one 3.1 mile speedy run.

Here’s one of my favorite workouts from the past 3-4 weeks:


Remember, the point is NOT to run these at all out 400m pace, other than repeat #10.  For example, I normally run 1:25-1:30 400m repeats (5:50-6:00 pace).  For this workout, I ran 1:35-1:36 repeats (6:20 pace) which felt significantly easier, but it’s the short recovery time that makes this an awesome workout and better prepares you for the demands of the race.

I ran #10 hard, which leaves your legs more fatigued for the final two repeats, preparing them to finish the 5k on tired legs.

For beginners, start with a 15 minute warm up and 4-6 x 400m at current 5k pace with 400m walks between each.  Cool down for 1 mile.

For advanced runners, you can also add 2-4 fast 200m efforts with 200m recoveries at the end of this workout to help prepare your body for a fast finish.

Do you have a favorite track workout?

Have you ever experimented with shortening the recovery time instead of running all out in each repeat?

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.








A few of my favorite (sweet) things

Tis the season for baking!

We made our gingerbread cookies last week, my favorite holiday tradition! The girls love rolling the dough, choosing cookie cutters and then, of course, decorating and eating them.

Gingerbread People

In one of my coaching sessions yesterday, a client was asking what kind of cookies I bake around the holidays that may be a bit healthier, so I thought it was time to round up a few old favorite recipes.

I love to make a few “real deal” cookies too – peanut butter blossoms and mint chip chocolate cookie dough are in the freezer this year (waiting for our new oven to be installed!)

But here are a few ideas for made-over treats with less sugar and butter and white flour…

Toasted Coconut Brownie Bites


Dark Chocolate Sunflower Cookies

(I’ve also made these with almond flour and coconut oil for a dairy and gluten free option- yum!)

Cranberry Dark Chocolate Granola


No Bake Peanut Butter Oat Balls


Simple Date Nut Balls


Or if you’re looking for a new breakfast with a healthy twist, check out these:

Healthy Muffin Round up


Healthy Pancake Round up


And yes, if you sense a dark chocolate and nut butter theme, you’re right.  That’s always what I’m drawn to!

Do you enjoy baking this time of year?

Do you stick to classic recipes, or do you like to experiment with healthier alternatives?




5k training + meal planning

Happy chilly December weekend to you!

Is it cold where you are? I don’t know if it’s just me, but this week has felt much colder than normal December temperatures.  I’m hoping that doesn’t mean we’re in for a rough winter!


I’m still plugging away at 5k training.  My body asked for a cut back week, so I did less running and more cross training this week.  I got one 5k workout in finally on Friday.  I’m feeling rejuvenated now, so I think the flexible routine was good for me.

I also learned this…


NYC Half!  I’m more motivated having a goal to work toward for March, after this New Year’s Day 5k is over.

Sunday: off

Monday: 1 hour spin class + Ignite Burn

Tuesday: 45 minute spin class + push ups, kb swings, upright row, tricep kickbacks

Wednesday: 5 easy run

Thursday: short strength circuit + 2 mile walk

Friday: 7 miles with 6 x 800m at 6:27 pace, 200m recoveries, plus 400m at 5:50 pace

Saturday: 10 easy

Saturday was in the low 20s so I wore all.the.layers and it was a good reminder that if I dress properly, winter running is manageable.  Some of my friends were running a local donut 5k, so I ran the 4+ miles there, looped around a bit and ran home.  Having a destination for a long run helps the miles fly by!


Meal planning

Week two with no oven.  We picked out the one we want, and it will be installed this week, thankfully.  I want to bake Christmas cookies!

Sunday:  Thai coconut tofu veggie stir fry and rice

Monday: Strawberry Balsamic Veggie Sliders

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Kale and feta frittata

Thursday: Our new favorite roast chicken recipe + roasted veggies

Friday: Out

Saturday: Fajita bowls with leftover chicken


How are you handling the cold this week?

How often do you take a cut back week?

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



3 Question Year in Review

Are you familiar with Marie Forleo? She’s a fantastic business coach and I enjoy following her blog and videos.

This week, she asked us to summarize our year with three simple questions.  I did this exercise for my business, but realized it can work well for running too.

It’s simple, yet allows you to reflect on the highs and lows and how to move forward.

1) What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of?

This is easy.  I’m really proud of my Steamtown marathon training and race and new pr!



2) What’s one mistake you made and lesson learned?

This one was a little harder.  In past years, there were injuries and obvious mistakes or over training.  Although it wasn’t exactly a “mistake” I’d say I did learn not to run two marathons within a month of each other.  It was a lot for my body to bounce back from and I don’t think I’ll do that again. But it was totally worth it!


NYC marathon

3) What’s one story you’re willing to let go of before the New Year?

I guess I’m going to have to let go of the idea that my half and 5k prs are going to be in 2016! I started the year so hopeful that I would pr in every distance, but I had several half marathons that didn’t go my way, and didn’t end up racing many 5ks at all, other than a few on fatigued legs.

So I’m okay with switching gears to more strength, spin and cross training for the winter months and chasing those goals in 2017.

How would you answer these questions? What are you proud of? What mistake and lesson did you learn? And what story do you want to leave behind?

Also, I need to give a quick plug for an awesome 8 week program I’m co-leading beginning in January! If one of your goals for 2017 is to make your health a priority, join us! We’ll spend each week on a different topic, including cravings, carb cycling, meal planning and food prep, fitness tips plus an optional 7 day cleanse.  Message me for more details!



I’m linking up with Marcia, Patty, and Erika forTuesdays on the Run.




Eat anything you want (with one condition)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I began watching Michael Pollen’s Netflix documentary series, Cooked.

Have you seen it? I highly recommend it!

It’s a four part series, focusing on each of the natural elements (fire, water, air and earth) and how they contributed to our advances in cooking throughout history.

The series encourages us to think about our history and traditions as it relates to food and how far removed we are from many of the basics of human survival today.

Isn’t it interesting that we have a fascination with cooking shows, even though most Americans spend less time than ever in the kitchen?

One of my favorite quotes from the series can be paraphrased something like this:

“You can choose whatever you want to eat for dinner.  If you want to go home tonight and have apple pie, cookies and ice cream for dinner, go ahead.


My only stipulation is that you make it all from scratch.  And my guess is that’s not what you would be having for dinner tonight.”

Can you imagine having to make absolutely everything we eat from scratch? And how different our diets might look?

I am a big fan of limiting processed foods in our diet but I admit that we rely on more than I’d like… even “healthy” things like spaghetti sauce, refried beans, and soups are highly processed.

If I had to make everything I ate, I’d eat a lot less chocolate!

The other piece I really enjoyed was “air” as it focused largely on bread, and emphasized the importance of fermented grains to digest them properly, which is why sourdough is an excellent bread choice.

My husband started making sourdough bread on a regular basis over the past year so his ears perked up too.

We sometimes think all bread is bad, when it can actually have a lot of nutritional value when made properly.  White flour, and processed wheat breads and bread products are not going to be easy on our guts and are a far cry from the natural breads people were eating for thousands of years from local grain freshly ground at the mill.

Food for thought.

What would you eat less of if you had to make everything you ate?

Is bread a staple in your diet, or do you steer clear?



Weekly workout recap + Meal Planning

Hi friends,

How’s your weekend going? Yesterday I had some much needed girlfriend shopping time while the kids and dads had a play date.  We try to plan these every quarter or so as neither of us are great at shopping for ourselves so we push each other to try on clothes and update our (non-running) wardrobes a bit.  We wrapped up the night with dinner together at their house which was awesome, despite two loud 2 year olds and two even louder 6 year olds.


I was loving running this week and ran 4 days in a row which I never do.  But my week was a little top heavy (I was sore from boot camp until Saturday!!) so the weekend has been a little easier than planned.

Sunday: Ignite Burn + 2 mile walk

Monday: 7 miles INT (2 warm up, 6 x 800m: 3:14, 3:13, 3:12, 3:13, 3:13, 3:09, all with 200m recoveries cool down)

This run was TOUGH! I was expecting faster paces but the 200m recoveries were killer.  I did my best and am happy with the effort.


Tuesday: 7 miles (5 with a local group around 8:00 pace- faster than I should have been going on a recovery day!) plus 1 hour boot camp at the gym

A few of my friends have been going to a 5:30am group run Tuesdays and invited me along.  I do not get up in the 5’s, let alone run in them! I set my alarm for 4:45 (ugh) to drive over there in time.  Of course, I was happy I did! It felt amazing to get home and have my run done before the kids even woke up.

I had planned on boot camp so I went, hoping it wouldn’t be too crazy.  Well.  I think I am still feeling it! After an intense warm up of walking lunges, push ups and squats, this was our first set:

  • jump squats, followed by single leg squats (all the way down to a chair and back up)
  • plyometric push ups, followed by push ups with alternating arms on the Bosu

10 sets of each, switch, and then 15 of each.  So brutal, and we were only fifteen minutes into class! But it was an awesome workout.

Wednesday: 6 early morning treadmill recovery miles

Thursday: 7 mile run with bursts of progression, finishing with 5 x 30 second strides at 5:45 pace

Friday: Rest!

Saturday: 5k   30 minutes bike + 8 mile easy run,

My legs did not feel like moving Saturday morning and the 5k I signed up for had one giant hill going up for 1.5 miles and a giant hill coming down the final 1.5… I knew I would have pushed my body hard and it was asking for a low impact day.  So I skipped it.  I could tell on my run that I had made the right decision.

Meal planning

So, our oven decided to stop working this week! And the price of fixing it is not that much less than buying a new one so we are stove shopping.  My husband is excited, as he’s been wanting to switch from electric to gas.  I’m indifferent… I liked our old stove and would rather be spending that money on something else, but what can you do? No oven meals for us this week…

Sunday:  Crockpot turkey ham for salads/sandwiches

Monday: Crockpot split pea soup (with leftover ham)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Taco night

Thursday: Minestrone + grilled cheese

Friday: Pizza night (hopefully the oven is in!)

Saturday: Out

Do you have a shopping buddy?

Boot camp- love it or hate it? Or love to hate it?

Do you prefer gas or electric for cooking?

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


Mizuno running gear that has me optimistic about winter running!

Hi friends!

I confess, I have never been a fan of winter running.  Ironically, I had to train through an upstate NY winter to run my very first marathon in 2011, and it was pretty brutal.

I didn’t train for a spring marathon again until 2015 for Boston, which was possibly even more brutal (with broken sleep and breast-feeding in the mix). I vowed to stick with fall marathons!

I’m not running a marathon this spring but I do run consistently year round, usually with 1 or 2 half marathons in the spring.  And honestly, those cold, dark mornings never get easier for me!

So I was really intrigued at the invitation to try Mizuno’s new Breath Thermo technology in the form of a long sleeved shirt and thermal gloves.

I tried the gloves first.  The fit is perfect (I have the small, but I’ve heard some say the gloves may run a little big) and I love the pockets and reflective stripes.  They’re thin, but very warm.  Plus, they have a touch screen on the tip of each forefinger so I could continue to operate my phone… huge!


Baby J thought she needed some gloves on her hands and feet too.


The shirt? Honestly, I treated it like a normal base layer twice without really thinking about it and overheated both times! It is seriously warm, despite being so thin.


It is made with Breath Thermo, a “revolutionary fabric that captures escaping body vapour to generate heat, returning warmth to the body.”  It doesn’t list a temperature range but I wore it in temps in the mid 40s this week and it was perfect by itself.  (For reference, I always wear two layers in the 40s).

This gives me hope that on those bitter cold days, I will be well armed!

I am putting another one on my holiday wish list.  The only downside is that the fit is a bit more snug than I usually wear- I got a small and wish I had chosen a medium.  Maybe the tight fit is connected to the heat generating ability?

Do you run through the winter?

Cold weather running: love it? hate it? tolerate it? head to the treadmill? any cold weather pieces you swear by?

Disclosure: I was given these pieces from Mizuno as a Fitfluential Ambassador.  As always, opinions are mine.



Where were you 5 years ago?

So much of the time, we are looking forward to the next goal, the next challenge, or what we hope the next year will hold.

This is especially true in running.  At least, it is for me.

We forget to look back and celebrate how far we’ve come! So let’s look back 5 or 10 years and celebrate the progress.


Five years ago, I ran my first marathon in 3:44……  this year I ran it in 3:23.

Five years ago, I ran a half marathon pr of 1:45…. this year I ran it in 1:35.

Five years ago, my 10k pr was 45: 43 (7:30 pace)…. this year 7:39 was my average pace for 26.2 miles!

Five years ago, my 5k pr was 21:47… this year I ran 20:25.

Five years ago, I averaged 25-30 miles per week of running… this year I hit 50 miles per week in marathon training.


Five years ago, I did zero cross training and dealt with knee pain and a shin injury… this year I incorporated regular strength training and spin classes and stayed injury free.

Five years ago, I ran to stay fit… now I run because I need and love the energy and endorphin boost.

Five years ago, I was a vegetarian careful not to overeat… now I eat for nutrition, eat more protein and fat, am ten pounds heavier and am stronger and healthier than ever.

Five years ago, I was my biggest critique… now I am proud of my strong body and am proud of what it has accomplished.

How about you? What has changed in 5 years in your fitness?

How do you view your body today, compared to 5 years ago?

I’m linking up with Tuesdays on the run.