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.


4 weeks until Richmond (training recap)

How was your weekend? We went to a farm to pick pumpkins and apples on Saturday, which is one of my favorite fall activities.  We made applesauce over the weekend and carved our pumpkins. I’m considering either an apple pie or crisp this week.


Another week of training down!

It was a cut back week, which was much needed after increasing mileage for 3 weeks in a row.

Training recap:

Monday : 8 easy with a few 20 second strides (8:18 ave)

Tuesday: 50 minutes spin + core

Wednesday: 11 total with 3 x 2 + 1 miles at HMP

3 warm up (9:10, 8:10, 8:39, LT (7:05, 6:52), (6:59, 6:52), (7:10, 7:00) and 6:52, cool down 9:18)

It was another humid morning so I was happy to have this done!

Thursday: 5 easy stroller run (probably around 10:00 ave)

Friday: 40 pool run with a few intervals

Saturday: 10 easy, half with one of my athletes training for NYC getting in her last 20 miler

Sunday: 4 recovery miles

This will be a peak week with one more 20 miler next weekend, and then taper begins!


On the meal plan…

I’m focusing on 3 recipes to make, and filling in the gaps with leftovers and quick meals like eggs, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches.

This week’s recipes include:

North Indian Chicken Curry

Sushi or Inside Out Sushi Salad

Vegetarian Black Beans


What are your favorite things to make with apples?

How often do you incorporate a cut back week?

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

The magic workout is…

…the one you’ve been ignoring or never tried.

Did you read the Seven Pillars of Running Wisdom?  So much goodness in this post, but this quote is my favorite.

The magic workout, shoe, or superfood is whichever one you’ve been ignoring lately or have never tried.

The bottom line is that we need to challenge our bodies in new ways to continue to improve.  That does not mean randomly throwing in a different workout each week, but instead adding a new stimulus that you build on week after week for a training cycle and then mixing it up for another training cycle.

This paid off for me in last year’s marathon pr at Steamtown.  I finally embraced the tempo workouts that I hated.  I would much rather spend each Wednesday hammering out repeats at the track! But I knew that would have limited pay off on race day, and I finally stuck out an entire cycle of tempo runs.  On race morning, my race pace felt comfortable and I shaved nearly ten minutes off, from my 3:32 to a 3:23.

I think this worked for two reasons.  1) Tempo runs are a much better stimulus for marathon training than short repeats, and 2) my lactate threshold was under developed from often neglecting to include these workouts.

Begin with your goal.  What are you training for?

What workouts are going to best prepare you for that goal?

What types of workouts have you neglected in the past that might help you take it to a new level?

This is such a simple “secret” but can have a huge payoff.

Have you had success when you attempted training in a new way?

What workouts do you gravitate toward and which do you tend to avoid?

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.

5 weeks until the Richmond marathon (training recap)

Happy Monday!

We had some late nights and busy days this weekend.  We went out with several other couples Saturday night (parents of my daughter’s 2nd grade friends) and hung out in Jersey City for the evening.

Let’s just say getting to bed after midnight the day of my 20 miler was not the smartest idea.  I basically ignored every recovery technique in the book, but my body is hanging in there!

And today, we have my parents here to help with the kiddos while we take the day to paint my office.  We had our screened in porch converted to a ‘den’ last month and the office is the last room of the downstairs that needs our attention.  I’m actually looking forward to the day project! But thankfully it is also a cutback training week after my biggest week so far last week(for this cycle).

Training recap:

Sunday: rest, other than 30 minutes very easy “pool running” to flush out my legs after the 18 miler

Monday : 10 hilly miles with 4 x 20 second surges (6:00 ave) overall 8:39 ave (am); short kettle bell workout (pm)

Tuesday: 55 minute pool ‘run’

Wednesday: 11.8 with the guys… workout was 2 easy, 5 at MP, 3 at HMP with 1 minute rest between each.  Actual splits for MP (7:40, 7:22, 7:34, 7:20, 7:14) and HMP (6:55, 6:55, 6:45)

This was one of those runs where I realized the benefit of training partners! I wouldn’t have run so far on my own but loved having company and the run flew by.

Thursday: 1 hour walk + upper body strength, lunges + core

Friday: 6 easy miles (8:55 ave)

Saturday: My first 20 miler! (9:11 ave)

I was intimidated to hit 20 as I haven’t run that far since last fall’s training for Steamtown, so it was nice to have zero pace goals and just cover the miles.

I ran one hour at 8:35 ave, met a client for 1 hour at 10:00 ave, and finished with an hour at 8:40 ave.  The last hill was brutal (as was the humidity) but I know I need to work more hills into my long runs to prepare for Richmond. So happy to have that done!

On the meal plan…

I have gotten out of the habit of posting our meal plan, but I’m still making it each week. I’m focusing on 3 recipes to make, and filling in the gaps with leftovers and quick meals like eggs, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches.

This week’s recipes include:

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Sloppy Joe’s

Butternut squash and chickpea curry


Do you find running buddies push you to run harder or go further?

Is there a distance that intimidates you?
It’s funny how the 18.5 was fine, but to add 1.5 miles was suddenly so much farther!

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

Recovery is more than post workout and a good night’s sleep

As mileage increases and training intensifies, recovery becomes crucial.  We can stress the body with training to trigger the adaptations we want, but it does no good if we aren’t including the recovery to ensure those adaptations actually take place.

I used to think of recovery as two-fold: what I did after the run and getting enough sleep.

From trial and error (and my share of injuries) I’ve learned that recovery means so much more.

Recovery days between hard workouts:   

It’s so important to allow 1-2 days after a hard workout for the body to improve and adapt.  This allows the body to repair muscle fibers and tissue and reboots the nervous system (which you want to prevent from becoming fatigued).

Depending on your age and fitness level, you may need 2-5 easy days between a hard workout.  These can be a mix of easy running days, cross training and complete rest.

In my late 30’s, I’m learning that 3 days between hard efforts is ideal.  Although I used to train with a speed, tempo and long run day, I’ve been shifting to 2 hard workouts a week (tempo and long or speed and long) and used this method to hit my half pr in the spring.  More workouts is not always better!

Remember that hard strength days stress the body too! So often a schedule of run, strength, run, strength also accumulates stress rather than allowing for adaptations for improvement.

Recovery between reps: 

We can manipulate recovery time between intervals to work different energy systems, but regardless the rest between interval reps is necessary to control fatigue and allow you to perform a greater volume of pace training.

Like the recovery between hard days, less is not necessarily better!

Recovery from life stress: 

Work, sleep, family responsibilities, evening meetings- these all take a toll on our body and raise our stress hormone (cortisol) and can even lead to injury.  As stress rises, it can also affect our motivation to train.

Practice stress reducing activities: deep breathing, mediation/prayer, a few minutes of yoga, reading, writing or whatever else helps you rebound from life stress.

Recovery seasons of training:

Not only do we need days to recover, we need the occasional chunk of a whole week or two or three to step back from running and let our bodies recover.  An ideal time is after a goal marathon or half marathon, or at the end of a season (the coldest part of winter or hottest part of summer is also ideal).

I’ve gotten better at taking those post-race seasons seriously and embracing two weeks of rest or relative rest after a marathon and a week after a half at the end of a season.

Of course, good recovery is also all the little things you do post-run (nutrition, stretching, rolling, elevation or compression) and solid sleep.

What about you? When do you build in seasons of rest?

How many days to you place between hard workouts?

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

Last week’s workouts – 6 weeks to go!

As I was finishing my long run on Saturday, I was seriously considering adding a December marathon so I can actually run it well! But that’s not going to happen.  I’ll give it what I can and then plan to take most of December nice and easy.

Six weeks is just not a lot of time to pull this together.  But I’m gaining more confidence (and fitness) with each week, so we’ll see!

Sunday: 4 very slow recovery (10ish pace)

Monday : 45 minute spin with intervals + kettle bell workout

Tuesday: 6.5 easy + 10 minutes core/yoga

Wednesday: 10 miles with cruise intervals

It was so humid this morning! I eased in with 9:30 and 9:18 paced miles and then did three cruise intervals with 1/2 mile easy between (7:06, 6:50, 6:43) and finished with a few miles at 7:55 pace.

Thursday: 55 minute pool run + taught an evening HIIT strength class (mostly demos, not working out)

Friday: 5 easy miles, 8:55 ave and the start of lovely cool mornings

Saturday: 18.5 miles (ave 7:59) with 10 at 7:30 pace

I recently ran into an old running partner training for Philly with similar pace goals, so we met up to do this workout together.  It’s not exactly a comfortable conversational pace for either of us, so I’m looking forward to more time to catch up on an easy run next time!

I skipped the 5k on Saturday as our day became crazy as of 9am, and I knew the long run was more important for my training so I got it done early and then took the girls for the day as my husband ripped out old carpet in the basement.  Our afternoon included Costco and Ikea.  Whew! House projects are no joke.

Do you have running buddies with the same goals/ paces as you?

Love or love to hate house projects?

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


Checking in on 2017 goals

My big goal for 2017 was to focus on one race distance at a time.

Since we’re in the final quarter of 2017, I want to revisit those goals and see where things stand:

My focus for the winter is to maintain a good base and throw some short intervals back in, with a focus on the 5k.  I have one 5k on New Year’s Day and will likely need to throw in 1-2 more but I’d love to improve raw speed and get that sub-20 5k. Goal: 19:45Verona final push

October follow up: I did run a post baby pr of 20:21, so while it wasn’t my sub-20, I’m happy to be making progress!

January- March

I’ll quickly transition into half marathon specific training, with an emphasis on longer tempo runs to prepare myself to finally break that half barrier I’ve been stuck at for the last 3-4 races. Half marathon goal: Beat 1:35!  From other races, I know 1:33-1:34 should be within my reach.  By the end of 2017, goal is sub 1:32.


October follow up: I ran a half pr of 1:33 in March and again in April! 




Early summer is usually about speed again.  I’ll add a few more 5ks to my schedule to keep practicing this painful distance. Goal: 19:30

October follow up: Because of the 6 weeks off this summer, I never had a chance to run more 5ks.

By late summer, there is a chance I will be ramping up mileage for a fall marathon.



Likely a tune up half marathon and possibly a full marathon.  If I go for it, goal: Beat 3:23.  I think 3:15 is doable with the right training and if all things come together on race day.

October follow up: If I go for the full in Richmond, my goal would be to break 3:20! 

Beyond racing, I want to keep running because it’s fun and I really love it!

My non race goals are actually the same as last year:

  • stay strong and injury free (NO injuries this year!! Woohoo!!)
  • do more trail running (with friends)
  • incorporate 1-2 running weekends with friends (hope this works out!)
  • find a few kids races and/or family fun race events

I also want to experiment with an overall higher mileage year round to help build the aerobic engine and make these goals a bit easier to reach.

October follow up: We have two kid races on the calendar for the fall.  I did have one injury this summer as I ramped up my mileage- so I’m still learning to find that balance.

Overall, I’m realizing 2017 is going better than expected! Here’s to a strong final quarter!

What was one of your goals for 2017? Have you hit any of them?

Do you focus on one goal or specific distance at a time?

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.

Last week’s workouts

Happy Monday!

With the Newport Half behind me (and my first 17.5 miler) and no sign of the tendonitis returning, I am cautiously optimistic about slowly increasing mileage over these next 8 weeks.

This week was all about recovery and easy paced runs.  By Saturday, I added in some marathon pace miles and, other than the extra warm September weekend, I felt great.

Sunday: Newport Half marathon (17.8 miles)

Monday : 30 minute pool run + 20 minute swim

Tuesday: nice and easy 4 miles (probably 10ish ave)

Wednesday: 8 miles easy (8:31 ave)

Thursday: 40 minute spin + upper body/core strength

Friday: 6 easy miles, no watch

Saturday: 15 miles with 3, 3, 2 and 1 at marathon pace (7:30)

Splits were 9:54, 8:53, 8:20, (7:34, 7:28, 7:24) easy 1/2 mile 9:02 (7:19, 7:17, 7:16) easy 1/2 mile 8:18, (7:15, 7:18) easy cool down 8:48, 8:33 and final .75 at 7:34

15 miles at 8:01 ave

After a quick shower, we met friends for a 3 mile hike, which with 4 kids under 7, took us 3 hours with our lunch break! It was low impact and a fun way to spend the day, but I was so ready to crash that night!

This week, I am signed up for a 5k on Saturday but I’m realizing it’s going to be part of a training run instead of a race.  There’s also a kid’s run that morning, so I’m looking forward to a fun family day outside.  Hopefully the weather cools off a bit by then!

I feel a little crazy that I’m so indecisive about the half vs full marathon… I guess I’ve decided to pick up the training as if I were going to run the full and see how these next few long runs go.

Have you ever trained for a marathon without knowing for sure if you were doing it?

Do you take family hikes?

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

Racing progress takes time (lots of it)

Isn’t it crazy how we can take big chunks of time off our races in the beginning? It’s common to see jumps of 30 minutes off a half marathon or five minutes off a 5k as we settle into consistent running.  Results come quickly and are exciting and addicting.

And then we hit a plateau, and suddenly we see little to no progress.  It’s possible to continue to chip away at the time goals for new personal bests, but it takes time and lots of work.

I’m guilty of looking ahead, wanting to beat a certain time and see how much more I have in me.  I forget to stop and look back.  While I don’t have the most dramatic differences, it’s fun to remember how far I’ve come:

Half marathon (2001) 2:04:35 —> 1:33:33 (2017)

It took me a few years to break the 1:40 mark, and then another 4 years to break the 1:35 mark! There were babies breaking those years up, but it is definitely a process.

Marathon 3:44 (2011) —> 3:23 (2016)

I didn’t run the marathon until I had been a runner for ten years, so I had a solid base of fitness to draw from.

Ten Mile 1:31 (2009) —> 1:20 (2010) —> 1:10 (2016)

Big jump in just one year, from 2009-2010, and then six years chipping it down to 1:10.

10k  50:38 (2009) —> 42: 48 (2013)

5k  21:47 (2011) –>  20:01 (2013)

I don’t run many 5ks and 10ks, but when I trained specifically for them in 2013, I saw results. And then I haven’t been able to break that 20 minute mark since!

So here I am, coming on my 17th year of running!! And I hit personal bests in the ten mile, half marathon and full marathon over the last year.  It’s pretty amazing that you can continue to improve even into the late 30’s, isn’t it?

If you feel like your progress has slowed and you’ve hit that plateau, here are a few tweaks to try:

1) Look at your current training plan and make changes

What can you change? Generally, most runners improve with more overall volume (aerobic base or your ‘engine’), more race pace miles (specificity of training to your goals) or easier recovery days to better absorb the impact of your training.

2) Set small goals and train accordingly

Once you begin to plateau, it is no longer helpful to try to shave chunks like 10 or 20 minutes off.  You need to focus on 2-3 minutes off the marathon or 15 seconds off the 5k and build in your training runs to reflect those goals.

When you train for a 7:00 pace half marathon and run your tempo runs at 7:00 when your lactate threshold pace is actually 7:20, you start to train the wrong system – instead of improving LT, you begin to dip into the VO2 max training.  Likewise, if you train at marathon pace but you’re running LT, you are training the wrong energy system.  Train where you are currently at, and the progress will happen.

3) Do the little things

The foam rolling, runner specific strength training, a bit of yoga or flexibility training, naps and good fuel… all of those add up and can impact your training!

Personally, I know I would likely see improvements if I increased my volume but I have to walk a careful line to avoid injury so I may not see as much improvement as I would if I were running 60-70 mile weeks.

But it’s also about finding balance and doing what makes you happy.  I know I need a balance with my family life and I NEED my sleep so there is only so much I can do and I’m okay with that.

The key is to chip away slowly, trust the process, be patient and keep dreaming!

How far have you come in your training?

What small changes do you think would make a difference for you?

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

Newport Liberty Half Marathon Recap

Happy Monday!

It was a busy racing weekend- my Instagram was buzzing with race recaps and long runs.  The fall racing season has begun in the northeast!

Unfortunately, after a string of cool mornings in the 50s and 60s, we had a really warm, humid day for racing.  It was low 70’s at the start with 90% humidity- ugh!

Some people seem to handle humidity well but I’ve learned the hard way (MANY times) that humidity is not my friend.  At this race last year, I tried to hold my goal pace and fell apart around mile 6.  I actually had to walk off and on until I finally recovered and finished stronger, but came in almost ten minutes behind my goal, at 1:42.  Ouch.

This year, as I woke up to the same humid conditions, I knew it was going to be rough and decided to hold marathon race pace instead.

The race: Newport Liberty is held in Jersey City, and has about 3,000 runners which I think is really the perfect size.  All of the logistics of parking and packet pick up are simple, and the race itself quickly spreads out so you aren’t trapped behind packs of runners as in larger races.

I began with a 2.25 warm up and was just barely breaking ten minute pace, which was my first sign that it was going to be tough to run well!

In the first mile, I got caught up in the adrenaline and ran the pace everyone around me was running… it felt good, but when I saw 6:57 (half marathon pace) I knew it was not the day for that kind of running.  I pulled back a bit, but my mile 4 that fast start was backfiring and I was questioning if I even wanted to finish the race.

Thankfully, the rough patch ended as I reminded myself running marathon pace would still make an excellent workout and there was no need to kill myself trying to run any faster!

So I settled into a much more comfortable pace and the second half was actually really enjoyable.

The course is really pretty, with many views of the NYC skyline.

Much of the second half is run through Liberty State park and along the boardwalk, and the final stretch is also along the water.  It’s also mostly flat, so one of these years when we get a nice cool day, it will make an amazing pr race!

I caught up to a friend of mine who was also running marathon pace (although her goal was 7:03!!) and we finished the last few miles together, picking it up a little for miles 12 and 13.

I followed it up with another 2 miles (9:30 ave) for 17.8 for the day.  With Richmond just 8 weeks away, I’m realizing it might still be possible to run the full.  I’d love to run it for a pr but that is all up in the air at this stage in training.  We’ll see how these next several weeks go!

Post run, this race always has giant bagels, bananas, Nutrigrain bars, and other small snack bags.  I ate most of the bagel as well as a protein bar I had brought with me and chatted with several other running friends that I ran into at the race, including Instagram friends Jess Runs Happy and Meretherunner14.

My husband and girls met me and we got lunch at a fun cafe, and then spent the afternoon playing, lounging and eating ice cream at Liberty State park. Such a great way to spend the day!


Was it humid where you are this weekend?

Next up:

Runner’s World Half Festival (Grand Slam!!)

Richmond Marathon – full or half

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