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Half Marathon Training Recap-Week One

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

Well, it is here…time to start training!!  I have two big races (well, big for a newbie like me) coming up.

First up is the Tower of Terror 10 miler in the beginning of October.  SUPER excited for this one as this is my first RunDisney race!  I am a big Disney fan so the idea of running through the parks is just so exciting to me.  We even have the munchkin all signed up for the kids races too!  (Note: I spoke to her about racing and that she was going to be in her first race and her first question to me was “can I eat Gu?”.  Seriously.)

The middle is mine, the one on the right is what the munchkin will earn!

The middle is mine, the one on the right is what the munchkin will earn!

Hot on the heels of the Tower of Terror (or TOT as I’ve been calling it), is my very first half marathon!!  Eeek!  I will be doing the Space Coast Half Marathon in Coco Beach, FL at the end of November.  Whether it is the full marathon or the half, heard nothing but fantastic reviews about this race and the medal…oh my gosh…for a bling girl like me, this is all the motivation I need!

You will be mine!!

Space Coast half medal.  You will be mine!!

 

First a little history on me and races:

In February I completed the 15K (9.3 miles) at the annual Gasparilla Distance Classic in downtown Tampa.  It was a very humid day and even though I had run 10 miles multiple times before, I found myself struggling to get through that race.  I was very disappointed in myself and really want Space Coast and the TOT to go much better.  I decided I need to implement and follow a training calendar.

I was confused as to how to train for Tower of Terror, then continue training for Space Coast, especially where they are two different distances.  Luckily I belong to a fantastic running group, the Suncoast Striders, and was able to ask for advice.  It was simple they said, use the half marathon training calendar I want for the Tower of Terror.  When that race is done, count the number of weeks until Space Coast and resume the training for the according week.  That way, hopefully, I’ll be super prepared for both races!

I have elected to use the Train Like a Mother “Finish It Plan” training calendar.  I read the book and absolutely loved it.  The training plan is varied enough to keep me interested for a full 15 weeks.  It is easy enough to incorporate into my everyday life, yet challenging enough so I feel as though I am prepared for the races.   Last Monday started week 15…I was off and running!

Monday: Three miles plus four “strides” (go all out for 30 seconds).  I decided it would be a great idea to run at 9am.  The heat wasn’t too bad until I got to the strides.  Sweet Jesus.

Tuesday: Four mile run.  Did this in the evening and did have to walk some (hey, its still in the 80’s here in the evenings!), it was an enjoyable run and actually ran farther than I needed because I felt so good at the end of the run.

Wednesday: Rest (ahhhhh…..)

Thursday: 3 miles, one of which was all intervals. The intervals seemed easier this week, but I struggled that last mile home.  My legs felt like lead, which I think is a good thing?

Friday: Cross Train (I did the bike for 30 minutes then weights and abs)

Saturday: Long run of 6 miles.  Swear to God….this seemed easier than last week.

Sunday: rest

The great news?  Even though I ran more last week, my knees, which had been giving me trouble for the past few weeks, seemed to respond well to the running and this week don’t hurt!  Yippeee!!  So far the training plan is working well with my particular schedule and isn’t too much above my abilities.  For a first timer, this seems like the perfect plan!

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Questions: Are you training for a special race?

THE “W” WORD (PART 1)

After beating myself up for walking just a bit during a particularly hot long run, I saw this post. Completely redefined my relationship with walking during my runs. I still strive to not walk, but I will no longer get frustrated when I do. Heck I may even end up with a better pace time in the long run!

Tripping The Kenyans

Walk or don't walk? Walk or don’t walk?

When did walking become such a bad thing?

I recently read a post from an acquaintance boasting about how they finally completed an entire half marathon without walking a single step.

I was about to send them a congratulatory note on their race… then I continued reading their post.

They went on to say that they ran the entire race much slower than they’d wanted and even had difficulty finishing. Their time was one of their worst ever (and this person is all about their finisher’s time), yet they acted like the race was an unmitigated success… simply because they didn’t walk.

If their driving force is to get as fast a time as possible, why is that point ignored in the wake of “successfully” not walking?

Ummm, congrats? I guess.

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But when you’re born to run…

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

Whew, it has been far too long since a post, wouldn’t you agree?  My apologies, I have been going through a few medical issues which slowed me down and brought my running to a minimum.

I have been running sporadically; a few weeks ago I completed my first ever virtual race!  It was a 10K through the website Will Run For Bling (which is one of the reasons why I love to race.  I’m not a jewelry girl, but race medals…I love those puppies!)  This race was “We Stand With Boston,” a virtual run to get as many runners out and running strong with those amazing athletes who ran the Boston Marathon.  I will go into the run more on a later post (complete with pictures of my all important medal!)

However, that 10K was really the most I’ve run in a few weeks.  I was tired, I was sad, I frustrated.  All the reasons why I should run, but I couldn’t.  So today, I got up, got my daughter ready (getting a 2 year old out the door is a blog post in and of itself) and said “I don’t care how far or how fast I go, I am just GOING.”

At first I just walked.  It was a gorgeous morning and my daughter was in a fantastic mood.  After about a half mile, I decided I had to at least try to run.  Soon, the familiar repetition of my steps and the melodic sound of my breathing brought a huge smile to my face.  It felt so good to be back.  I knew the run wouldn’t be far (only a mile) and I would be slower than usual (I was also pushing the stroller) but it was a start.

This run reminded me of one of my favorite songs of all time,  “Back in the High Life” by Steve Winwood.  I am clearly dating myself with this one, but for all those too young to know this song, if ever you need a feel good, pick me up song, this is it.  It is a song that reminds us that bad times don’t last forever and you will once again be “back in the high life.”  The first verse has a line that all runners can relate to “when you are born to run, it’s so hard to just slow down.”

Boy isn’t that the truth for us runners?  Whether it is a 14 minute mile or a seven minute mile, it is hard for any of us to not run if we can.  Simply walking wasn’t enough for me, I had to run, to remember how great it feels and how lucky I am that I get to run.  That is what running did for me today.  For one mile my problems were gone.  I was one of the lucky ones who got to run, who had a smile on my face while feeling those endorphins course through my blood.  I hope you were all one of the lucky ones today who got to run, even if it was just for a little bit.

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

It’s expensive to feel this good!

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

As I answer yet another question in the fitness blog challenge, I am reminded of how much my life is about fitness and general wellness.  I was into “working out” well before I became a runner and even on those days where a run just seems too daunting, I will hit the gym or just go out for a walk.  I love being alone with my thoughts, thinking of new goals, how to solve current problems or simply not thinking at all.  That happens a lot…frequently on a walk I will suddenly look up and think “how did I get here?”.  Luckily, it is usually not “where the heck am I?”, although that has happened on occasion.

Not sure I've ever been this distracted...but close!

Not sure I’ve ever been this distracted…but close!

Today’s question is how much do I spend on fitness related items each month.  Well, I am quite cheap…ummm..I mean frugal with my spending, no more so than on fitness items.  My thought was always why spend loads of money on something I’m just going to get all sweaty in?  I was never one of those girls who got all dolled up to go to the gym (honestly there were girls at my university who put make up on before going to work out) and even now if my shirt clashes with my shorts I truly don’t care.

This was my Christmas

This was my Christmas

That being said the more I got into running, a supposedly “inexpensive sport” (you just need a pair of shoes and a good sports bra!), the more I understood the importance of purchasing the right equipment for your run.  It happened slowly…first it was the shoes…then it was the shirts…next the socks….the shorts…the Gu….the hydration system…the Garmin.  The more I would frequent the running store, the more I would think “oh I totally need this” or “wouldn’t I look cute in this?”.  It really does become a sickness.

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Then there are the races.  Even if you don’t do the big marathons, Disney or other high profile runs, the amount of money spent on entry fees alone can be enormous for the family budget.  The proliferation of 5K’s in recent years can easily drain any bank account.  I mean, “it’s only a $30 entry fee and I get a free t-shirt!”, and they are almost always for a cause.  Usually a heart tugging, amazing cause that everyone and anyone would want to help: Help fund childhood cancer research!  Abandoned puppies!  Breast cancer research!  Fight homelessness!  If I did every single 5K that supported a worthy cause I would be bankrupt within a year.

I won’t even go into the bigger races and their entry fees.  All I will say is when I told my husband the entry fees for the two Disney races I wanted to run (Tower of Terror and Princess) he darn near spit out his coffee.  None of these cover the costs and expense of travel, time and money spent on gear while training for these longer distance runs.

In short I don’t spend a lot on fitness each month.  The gym I use is included in my quarterly maintenance fees for my home.  I replace my running sneakers twice a year and I tend not to buy lots of new clothes.  I also have reined in my race schedule; I select only a few races during the year, reserving my money and time for the bigger ones I really want to do (Disney).  I still do the 5K’s, just not every single race.

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Question: How much do you spend on fitness related activities every month?

 

 

Why I Focus on Wellness, Not Just Fitness

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

Today’s question in the fitness blog challenge was to describe my most embarrassing fitness story.  I am happy to say I don’t have one.  Honestly!  Believe me, it is just as shocking to me as I am quite the klutz so the fact that I don’t have an embarrassing trip or a story of me running into a post or a tree is pretty surprising.

Instead I am going to skip to the next question which was why did I get into fitness?  This is a great question, mainly because there wasn’t any one reason.  When I was very young I was a swimmer, swimming competitively in both individual and team events.  I really loved the group atmosphere and I loved swimming.  I didn’t do any sports from about 5th grade until high school. This little break gave me the opportunity to miss sports, miss the camaraderie and miss those wonderful endorphins following through my body.  It is because of this break that I continue to make fitness a part of my daily routine.

In high school, I became a cheerleader and as part of cheering I found that stretching and weight training was something I needed in addition to cardio.  Luckily for me, my parents had a family membership at our local YMCA and I would go there almost every day.  I tried everything, weights, cardio equipment, aerobics classes.  Funny enough I tried everything except running.  I would talk to other patrons and the instructors and learned a lot about fitness and nutrition.  I continued this in college when I worked at our campus wellness center.  My job was focused on students wellness, overall health.  I like this approach so much better as it looks at nutrition and fitness as part of a overall healthy lifestyle, rather than the only two focus points.

As an adult, I find it is harder to incorporate any type of wellness into my daily life.  There are so many other needs: work, home, family, kids, friends.   You have to make taking care of YOU a priority, this is the crux of the wellness philosophy.  This means setting aside the time to go for that run, ensuring that you buy healthy fruits and vegetables for your meals or finding the time for that overdue massage (yep, that is wellness!).

Obviously, this is so much easier said than done.  The drive thru at McDonalds is way easier to do than preparing a full meal for the family.  It is much more tempting to sleep in than to get up and work out.  That Fettuccine Alfredo dish smells much more delicious than this grilled chicken with vegetables.  This is where wellness comes in.  We can all have cheat days.  Heck, we can all have a cheat week if we want, so long as we eat properly the rest of the time.  Sleep in if you need, but make sure you go for that run the other 4 days of the week.  Treat yourself to fast food, but for the next two weeks, it is healthy, nutritious meals only.

wellness

I am so happy that I have made fitness and wellness part of my daily routine.  Yes, I do stray from time to time, but I try to eat as healthily as I can so I CAN stray and not feel guilty.

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Measuring Fitness Levels

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

Boy oh boy I have been a bad blogger as of late!  My apologies for not posting on any discernible schedule, I will improve next week, I promise!

Today’s question in the fitness blog challenge is “How do you measure your fitness level”?  I can tell you, I used to measure by how many days I worked out.  If out of a seven day week, I did anything fitness related more than four days, I was doing pretty darn good!  Everything counted, walking, yoga, hitting the gym, heck there were even days were grocery shopping counted in my book.  (In my defense, it is a lot of walking, pushing a heavy cart, lifting the bags…it is a workout!)

Then, I discovered running and well, the problem with running is no matter how well you did the day before, you want to do even BETTER the next run.  You want to go a bit farther, run a bit faster, pant a little less.  (OK, maybe the last one is just me).  It wasn’t just enough that I ran three miles.  Oh no.  I had to run those three miles just a little faster than I did the run before.  If I still felt good after four miles..why not run five, just to see if I could.  I don’t know what it is about running that does that to us.  I can tell you, I never thought “I have to bend farther the next yoga class” or “I’m going to pedal faster on the bike at the gym next time!.  For some reason, running brings out the inner competitor in all of us.  I researched this topic to see if there were any articles as to why this might be, but surprisingly found nothing.  Is this just me?  Does anyone else find that running seems to be the one sport that spurs their inner-competitor?

However, as many of you may recall, I am a 30 something blogger.  No longer in my teens and twenties, I am someone who needs to realize my limits.  Some of my runs lately have been a struggle just to keep running.  Humidity and heat get to me more now.  Gone are the days were I can come home, completely drained from a long workout and just lounge on the couch to a Law and Order marathon.  Now, when I get home, no matter how dehydrated, how exhausted I may be I have a little one who needs my attention.  I have a husband who needs to talk to me.  I have a house that won’t clean itself (can we please work on this invention?)  There are some days were I cut my workout short because I know my energy will be needed later in the day.  Days where I walk more than run because my body is reminding me I am, in fact, not 26 any more.  So I do just that and listen.  Some days I run far and fast, other days I run slow and short.  But at the end of the day…I run, and even if my inner competitor beats me up for my time or my distance I know…

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Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Fitness Blog Challenge & a GREAT Run!

Good Morning Fellow New Runners!

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There is a good possibility I looked exactly like this on my run this morning

My husband has a new schedule at work, which makes my solo early morning runs almost an impossibility.  So this morning after my daughter woke up around 7:30am, I decided to take her with me on a run.  I loaded up the munchkin and the 6 different toys she just had to bring, along with her cheerios and water into the trusty BOB stroller.  We started out like most of my recent runs, me huffing and puffing and struggling to take another step.  However, I started getting into a groove and low and behold I found my running mojo!  She and I had a blast chatting and looking at the flowers, puddles and birds along the running route.

Around mile 2 she actually ditched me to hang out with my parents, (we run by their house) and I continued on, sans stroller.  I was not prepared for a solo run and was happy to see my running mojo didn’t leave me like my daughter did.   It was about 57 degrees, bright sunny skies and let me tell you it was an absolutely glorious run.  I knew my pace was slower than I had hoped and I did walk a few steps every few miles, but none of that mattered.  I ran with a smile on my face, simply happy to be taking in the beautiful day.  I even ran a mile more than I had planned.  It was awesome.

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Now on to the the fitness blog challenge question of the day.  The task today is to list my five favorite fruits and veggies.  Ummm..just five?  While I admit, I have a wicked sweet tooth, I also love fruits and vegetables!  In the summer in Florida there is nothing better than a delicious salad on a hot day.  To pick a only five is hard!!  Let me give it a try:

Bananas

Pears

Carrots

Grapes

Cucumbers

I also love a salad that combines both fruit and veggies together, some of my favorites are from Publix Grocery stores (their Strawberry Fields Salad is simply delicious) and Panera Bread (Fuji Apple Chicken Salad…yummy!!).  The best part of both of these places?  They both have absolutely delicious cookies and desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth!  Everything in moderation, right?

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Fitness Blog Challenge-Nutrition and Diet

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

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Today’s question as part of the fitness blog challenge is “do I diet” and if I follow a specific diet.  Easy answer..no!  I watch what I eat and I am very aware as to what I am eating, but I do not follow a specific diet.

In the past I have tried diets, Herbalife, Weight Watchers and they all work.  They take work, diligence and consistency, all of which are hard to do day after day in the real world.  But, for those motivated enough they DO work.

I had to stop all dieting when I was pregnant (naturally) which was an interesting time for me, diet-wise.  I was super diligent of everything I put in my body when I was pregnant.  I wanted to make sure anything I ate was also in the best thing for my child.  Being responsible for the entire well-being of another person really helps your dietary choices!  I was also much more diligent about my workouts.  I made sure I was at the gym almost everyday; walking, using the elliptical and even light weights.  I did prenatal yoga at least once a week.

After I had my daughter, I was still very cautious of everything I ate and drank as I was nursing her.  I took her for lots of walks, knowing that fresh air and the movement of the stroller would be something she enjoyed.

All of this had me thinking.  I was so careful as to what I put in my body when I was pregnant, why wouldn’t I be like this all the time?  As the primary caregiver for my child and one half of an amazing team with my husband, shouldn’t I take care of myself at all times, not just when I am carrying a baby?  The answer is yes!!

Given that, I started using the MyFitnessPal app and documenting my food intake.  I’ve been trying to snack healthier (fruits and veggies vs. cookies) and I’ve even partnered with a wonderful company, Advocare, which specializes in healthy food and supplements.  I find that when I fuel my body with vitamins and nutrients I not only feel better, but my body operates on a higher level.  My runs are easier, my energy is higher and my mood is lifted.

To this, I say find a diet plan that works for you and stick with it!  The first few weeks will be hard, but you will see results soon!  And for those of you who want to jump start your road to health, energy and wellness I highly recommend the 24 Day Challenge.  You can find information about it here and you can order it here.

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

When did this get so hard?

Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!

I have a confession.  I am not a natural runner.  I think those of us who discover running in adulthood are, for the most part, not natural runners.  If we were, we would have picked up the running bug in childhood, high school or even our twenties.  I realized this during my long run on Saturday.  As I kept going toward my final goal of six miles each step kept getting harder, each mile more laborious.

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Discovering running is a lot of fun.  You discover you can run half a mile, suddenly a full mile then on to a 5k and beyond.  When you are new, almost every run is a new milestone and a new discovery.  It’s not just length of the runs, your speed picks up too.  What seemed impossible, becomes the new norm.  Being a new runner is a time of unlimited possibilities.  I can run a half marathon!  I can finish first!  Boston here I come!

At some point, the frequency of those milestone runs slow.  The speed plateaus and no matter how hard you work, you can’t go much faster.  What was a long run becomes a “normal” distance.  Your Longest Ever (or LE) seems like the longest you will ever go.

You (like me) have reached a plateau.

And let me tell you…this stinks.

Every run I hope to come back with a familiar huge smile on my face.  The “I did something I didn’t think I could do” smile and sense of accomplishment.  One of those runs hasn’t happened in a long time.  Trust me, my Garmin history will back me up.  I want one of those runs where every step is a joy and I feel like I am running on clouds.  Where I am not wheezing and wondering if I’m at the next mile, even though I just started the last one.

How do I get over this?  How do I break through this plateau and conquer new milestones?  I’ve read articles.  I’ve tried to take a break.  Nothing has worked.  Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to do it.  I don’t know if I should just “run through it” or if I should take a longer break.  Or if neither of those ideas will help me and maybe I really have reached the longest and fastest I will ever go.  Maybe this is where my running journey ends…..

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Pfffftttt…I don’t think so!!

 Us runners are a positive thinking, “you can do it” sort.  You have to be to run, often hours alone, motivating yourself to get to a finish line.  No accomplishment is too small, no obstacle is too big.  Runners have to have the mindset that they can do anything.  I may not be a natural runner, but I have always been a positive person.  I know that I will reach a new milestone.  I will, once again, have that run that seems effortless.  I have to.  I have a half marathon in November, so no matter what my LE of 11 miles will be broken.  I am starting to do weekly speed work, so I know that even if it increases by only seconds, my speed will increase.  I will not only cross that finish line, I will do it with a huge smile.  You know.  That “I did something I didn’t think I could do” smile.

Enjoy the Run!

Yvonne

Question: Have you ever reached at plateau?  How did you overcome it?