Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Winter Running Game!

In November and December winter is kind of awesome. The snow seems kind of magical, serenely blanketing everything in a layer of bright white. The cold air feels crisp and invigorating. The first few snowfalls put my holiday spirit into overdrive. Running through fresh powder makes you feel like a bad ass.

And then January comes. And suddenly living on the ice planet Hoth sounds less than ideal (nerd alert). Runs are missed because the windchill is -15 and there is 8 inches of fresh snow. Or there is an ice storm and the sidewalks are now an ice rink. It's okay though, because spring is right around the corner. Right?

Yes. Feels like -24. That is frost on my hat.
No. February sucks too. I think February was actually colder than January this past year. And by this point I am so exhausted from the constant piling on of layers and rearranging my training plans that it is just easier to say, "Nope! I'm staying inside." Motivation is at an all time low. Winter sucks. I hate it. And we still have to get through March.

Two years ago I tried to combat this by doing the Holiday Running Streak from Thanksgiving to New Years. I thought, that will get me through the holiday parties and then New Years resolutions will keep me on track while I get my half marathon training started. Nope. Didn't happen. I hated the running streak. HATED. I will not do one again. It turned running into a chore and when January hit I had zero interest in running.

Last year I discovered the Winter Running Game. I love, love, LOVE it! Basically you get points for every run that you log. The longer the run and the worse the weather conditions are the more points you get. The site explains how the points are rewarded, but the built in calculator does all the work for you. Just enter the time spent running, the feels-like temperature, and precipitation (if any).

Earning those points!
The game started on Monday, but you can join anytime before 12/13/2015. If you want more information you should check out this thread on Runner's World. It really helped keep me motivated last year and I am hopeful that it will do the same this year. If you struggle with the motivation to get outside during the winter you should definitely check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

P90X - 21/90

Time to play catch up!

08: Monday November 9th
rest day

Arms and Shoulders: Probably the most boring workout ever. Curls and tricep dips just don't do it for me.
Run: 3 miles @ 9:24
Ab ripper X

YogaX: Not as terrible as the first time. I kind of had an idea of what I was doing and that made it easier. I also set a timer on my phone for 45 minutes. I stopped the video when it went off. It definitely helped knowing I wouldn't have to go for a full 90 minutes.

Legs and Back: Probably my favorite workout so far! I've already learned that my right leg is stronger than my left, so that is something to work on. And in general, I can see how improving leg strength can benefit running.
Run: 3.18 miles @ 9:16. If I recall correctly this was the day it was rainy and windy.
Ab ripper X: skipped (so I could get out of my wet running clothes)


Run: 3.13 miles @ 9:07
Core Synergy: skipped

Run: 3.42 miles @ 9:09

15: Monday November 16
rest day/GRE day

Arms and Shoulders
Run: 3.07 @ 9:15
Ab Ripper X

I had to work late on Wednesday and it was a miracle that I made it through the day. By the time I got home any doubts as to whether or not I was really get sick had been answered. Yes. Definitely sick.
skipped: yogaX

skipped: Legs and Back, Run, Abs
I spent the entire day on the couch. 

rest day and still quite sick. Another exciting day on the couch.

Run: 4.0 @ 9:28 
I decided I was no longer sick and that a snowy run would be no problem. And since I was finally able to get off the couch I blitzed around the house doing 4 loads of laundry, a bunch of dishes, and some other cleaning. And I made cookies. And by about 4:00 I was right back to feeling miserable.
skipped: core synergy

Yet another exciting day on the couch.
skipped: run

Which brings me up to today: day 22, a rest day. I'm feeling better and can actually breathe through my nose for the first time in 4 days (gotta celebrate the small things!). I'm keeping today as a rest day because I learned my lesson on Saturday (and I do not want to be relapse sick on Thanksgiving!). I'm about to start my fourth week of P90X, which is a cut back week. However, I think since I have missed so many workouts in the past week, that I am just going to repeat week 3, then move on to week 4.

I don't feel guilty AT ALL about missing workouts, which is a nice change of pace for me. However, I'm really, really glad that I am following a plan since I can see myself just giving up for the next week: Oh it's Thanksgiving week, I'll just get back into it on Friday. Which would be followed by: I'll just wait until December and make it a fresh start.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Some other goings-ons in my life

For the most part I have kept this blog strictly about running. I thought I would diverge from that routine today to talk about something else that I have been working on for the past few weeks. After years of indecision and numerous talks with my husband regarding financing/time commitments/etc, I've decided to go back to school. Specifically I am planning to start working towards a Masters degree in library science.

Although I'm still not sure how I will balance working full time, classes/homework, running, and normal life stuff, I'm really quite excited! I actually made the decision to apply back in September, but I told myself that I didn't need to get started on the application process until after the marathon. Obviously that time has come!

I didn't have time this weekend to write my usual Monday training check-in because I was busy hitting the books. Monday morning I was taking the GRE. If you are not familiar with grad school applications, it is a delightful 4 hour standardized test that some schools require for admittance. It is required for the school to which I am applying.

I finished my undergraduate degree almost seven years ago. I have not studied for almost seven years. I was really out of practice, but I found after a week of feeling really, really stupid, things started to come together. I think with another week or two of studying, I could have done even better on the test. But with that said, my preliminary scores are high enough that I shouldn't need to take it a second time! Which is awesome because the test costs $200.

I still have quite a lot of work to do to finish my application, including writing two essays, and, of course, I still need to actually be accepted in the school, but I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my life. Hopefully you won't mind a few more school related updates mixed in with the running posts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Ten days ago my husband and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary. Which means that two years ago today I was busy falling in love with Hawaii. I wasn't blogging back then, but I was running. In fact, running a race in Hawaii was the inspiration for starting a blog.

Tunnels Beach.

I was feeling nostalgic the other day and decided to read the race recap that I posted a few months later, when I finally got the blog started. I realized that I mentioned our honeymoon both started and ended with a run. If you have read the recap, then you know how it started (we literally drove from the airport straight to packet pickup!). So this post will be about how I managed to end our honeymoon a day early.

Nā Pali Coast.
I'd have to look back at my training journal, but I think we ended up running about 5-6 times over the two weeks that we were on Kauai. Ugh. I hope that doesn't sound like I spend most of my honeymoon worrying about training. I actually wasn't training for anything at the time and only ran when it tied in with sightseeing.

Our flight home left on a Saturday evening. On Friday morning, our last full day of vacation, I got a running map from the concierge and planned a 3 mile morning run with my husband. Our plan for the day was to run a few miles and then hike down to Queen's Bath (again).

Queen's Bath. Easier to get to if you don't wear flip flops.

The route that we chose was a paved path that ran along the road in some sections, then looped through a subdivision, and back on to the paved path. Please note that this was not a sidewalk. It was this black lumpy thing with huge cracks running across it.

As you might have realized, I have a tendency to be just a bit competitive. So when I realized if we ran just a tiny bit faster we would probably end up passing this other runner before we finished our run, well, I decided we should run a bit faster. And that is when I stopped paying attention to the lumpy broken black top and started focusing on reeling in my target.

Polihale Beach (7 miles of sandy beach ends in these cliffs)

And that is when I felt my left toe catch a piece of uneven pavement. There was no stopping it. I was going down. I tried to aim for the grass on my left, but that just resulted in me coming down HARD on my left elbow. and both knees. and sliding in a way that took off a lot of skin. I had never fallen while running before so I was kind of in a state of shock (don't worry, I've fallen twice since then so I'm really getting the hang of it).

After much swearing and making sure nothing was broken and more swearing I was able to hobble back to our hotel room. Kendall tasked me with washing the dirt/gravel/lava rock out of my wounds while he went out to find bandages. After he convinced the hotel employee that a band-aid was really not going to cut it, he returned with some gauze and tape.

There was a lot more crying and rock picking before I was all bandaged up. And in a lot of pain. It was still very early in the day, but our honeymoon was basically over. There would be no hiking to Queen's Bath (can't bend knees), no last bit of snorkeling (salt water in wounds), not even a quick dip in the pool (chlorine in wounds). I'm so grateful that this happened at the end of our honeymoon.

See you in a few years, Kauai!
We are hoping to head back to Hawaii for our 5th anniversary. I'm hoping to do a bit of running while we are there but I think I will need to leave the competitive edge at home. Three souvenir scars are enough for me.

Monday, November 9, 2015

P90X - 7/90 competed

One week of strength training and crossing training completed. And it wasn't the worst thing ever.

01: Monday
Monday would have been a rest day (Yep, I started my plan with a rest day), but I knew I would not have time to work out on Tuesday so I moved up Tuesday's workout. The video for today was Arms & Shoulders and Ab Ripper X. Since I have not done any strength training in such a long time I cut back on the reps and made sure to use light weights. I wanted to actually be able to use my arms the next day.

I normally would have followed up with a short, easy run, but I decided to skip it. I've been having a bit of pain on the top of my right foot (probably extensor tendonitis). I read that extensor tendonitis can be caused by tight calves, so it seems likely that it got inflamed during the marathon.

02: Tuesday
Date night. Hockey. Go Wings.

03: Wednesday
Getting home late from the hockey game combined with working a ten hour day was exhausting. On my way home from work I realized that if I had a run scheduled I could probably push through it. Yoga, however, was not going to happen. Cue the pizza and ice cream.

04: Thursday
The first day that went as planned! I started with Legs & Back which might end up being my favorite video. I kind of hate doing lunges (and there were plenty of lunges!) but I could really feel my legs working hard. It felt like the work I was doing would really benefit my running.

I followed that up with a quick 2 mile run before finishing with Ab Ripper X. It was a long day of working out. 

05: Friday
My would have been rest day turned into Yoga X. Yoga is really not my thing and this video served as a 1.5 hour reminder of that fact. I think I am going to skip some sections of the video and try to keep this workout to about 45 minutes.

06: Saturday
Eh. Neither my two mile run nor my experience with Core Synergistics was noteworthy. I kept the pace easy on the run. The DOMS from leg day made everything difficult. I worked my way through the assortment of pushups, squats, and ab work in the video but wasn't really into it and didn't feel like it was a great workout. I'm hoping I come around on this video.

07: Sunday
Long run day, you know, if my foot wasn't bothering me. I kept it short; just another 2 miles.

This week will be repeated twice and then the fourth week will be a cutback week. I'm looking forward to being a bit more familiar with the videos and hopefully starting to run a bit more.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

3 reasons I'm choosing strength training

As I mentioned in my last post, for the next 90 days I'm going to be prioritizing strength training instead of focusing on running. I'll still be running, but if I have to choose between fitting in a strength training session and going for a run, I'll be choosing strength. Or at least that is the plan.

I think I've actually lost muscle mass since Disney
Strength training is really not my thing. I don't love it. I don't miss it if I don't hit the gym a few times a week. That is my relationship with running, not weights. In the next year I'm hoping to knock out some pretty sweet PRs and get a little bit more serious about running. So even though it feels a little counter intuitive, I'm going to be focusing on strength training instead of running for the next 90 days.

Improve Resiliency
Last year I realized that I don't seem to bounce back from races as quickly as other runners. I'm pretty much okay with that. I know not to schedule races too close together. And it mostly works. However, I can't help but wonder if I had better overall fitness if I would be a bit more resilient after races.

I'm hoping in 2016 I won't be quite so worn down after racing, which is especially important since I'm planning on tackling a lot of 5ks in the spring. After most of these races I will need to recover quickly and get right back into hard training if I want to continue to see improvements over the course of the season.

Reduce Body Fat
It is no secret that elite runners are very lean. While I am definitely not quite that speedy, I do want to get faster. A sub 20 5k is not an easy goal. If leaning out a bit can help me get to that goal, then that is what I am going to do. I'm hoping that changing up my usual work out routine (running with a side of running) I will pick up a bit of muscle and drop a bit of body fat.

I will be cleaning up my diet as well. P90X has a diet plan to accompany the program, but it looks like it would difficult for me to follow (I'm a very picky, lactose intolerant, vegetarian). I will be adding a bit more protein to help build muscle, cutting back on carbs because I'll be running less, and cutting back on alcohol/splurges (my wedding anniversary, Thankgiving, Christmas, New Years and my birthday are all within this 90 day period).

Maintain Fitness
I don't have a single race on my calendar until April 2016. This is a good thing because I absolutely need to take a break from hard training. I've been following one training plan or another since March and it is time for a break.

Well, sort of. I want to maintain my running base so that I am ready to start training hard in February and I KNOW that without an actual plan I will end up hardly running at all. Especially when the weather starts to suck and I just want to stay inside. I'm hoping that by keeping the focus on strength training while supplementing with running, I will be able to maintain my current level of fitness and still feel mentally/physically prepared to resume training in the spring.

I've already skipped one workout this week in favor of pizza, ice cream, and Netflix. So there is definitely a strong possibility that this plan will not work out at all. But I'm hoping if I keep reminding myself that it is only 90 days (87 left!) I can power through. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

2 Weeks of Lazy (and a bit of what's next)

For the past two weeks I have pretty much been focused on recovery being lazy. And by that I mean hardly running at all and eating all sorts of tasty, but completely unhealthy food. Ice cream is my favorite food and I might have had some everyday the week after the marathon (#dontjudge).

The first few days after the race I was incredibly sore. I'd like to think I wouldn't have been quite so sore had I been running regularly leading up to the race, because wow. Literally every part of me hurt. Even weird things, like my arms. I did my first post race run on Friday. It was just 2 miles and when I finished I felt like I had just finished a long run. I was tempted to run again on Sunday, but in the end I decided to take full advantage of my recovery time.

The second week of recovery was slightly more structured. I was starting to miss running and was getting anxious to get the next phase of my training underway.

Monday 10/26: 4 miles
Tuesday 10/27: strength training (core)
Wednesday 10/28: 2 miles
Thursday 10/29: rest
Friday 10/30: 3 miles
Saturday 10/31: rest
Sunday 11/1: 3 miles

Most noteworthy in this week was Tuesday's strength training session since it ties in to my next training phase, which will basically be running + P90X. It is a 90 day plan that will take me from the beginning of November to the end of January.

The running component is fairly straight forward: rebuild my running base to 40 miles per week. I will be aiming for one long(ish) run and 3-5 shorter runs per week. There will be no intervals/tempos/hill repeats, just easy mileage with a few strides thrown in each week. Maybe some form drills. The focus is volume, not speed.

The P90X component is the part I will struggle with. I have been extremely lax with strength training in 2015. I'm blaming buying a house and losing access to my apartment complex's gym. I chose P90X because I already own it (Yay! Free!) and when the weather is terrible, I won't have excuses such as "The roads are bad, I can't drive to the gym." I'm adapting the lean schedule by replacing the cardio videos with running and doubling up workouts on some days.

As I am building my mileage during this program I will slowly be cutting back on strength training. My hope is that when February hits I will be ready to start an actual training program (5ks!) but still be able to maintain 1-2 videos per week (core and yoga, most likely).