Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 5k Season: Training Cycle

For my 5k training, I will be basing my training plan on the article "Solving the 5k Puzzle." I formulated a plan based on the advice of this article in 2015 and it helped me take my 5k PR from 22:13 to 21:02.7. Here's hoping it will bring me another new PR in 2016.

I am dividing my spring season into two portions: a training cycle and a racing cycle. Training officially starts on February 1st. I will train for 11 weeks before I begin the race cycle of my spring season. I am hoping to race four or five 5ks during the following 10 week race cycle. My weekly plan is as follows:

Downhill from Here Run Club: the run features a long hill climb (about 1 mile long) halfway through the run . The pace should be in my easy range, but sometimes I end up running faster than anticipated. I used to run with this group all the time in 2014, but hardly went at all in 2015. I just found out my favorite running partner/neighbor is moving, so I really want to make an effort to get to this group more often. 

OrangeTheory Fitness: I was hoping to try OTF sometime in January but have run out of time. I don't particularly like treadmill running, but I am hoping that combining running with the dreaded strength training will make strength training not quite the chore. If I don't enjoy the class, I will sub in a medium distance run and forget all about strength training. I am also imagining floating this day around if the weather is not conducive to running outside.

Looking at my plan I feel like there is too much easy running and not enough speed/strength work, but last year I tried to run both speed work and hill work every week and it proved to be too hard on my body. I ended up cutting the hill repeats after just a couple weeks. This year I want to see the benefits of running both both intervals and hill repeats. I will also added the opportunity to run faster during OrangeTheory and with fast finish long runs.

Two new things that I am trying this season are running 6 days per week and having back-to-back medium effort days. Both of these things make me a bit nervous, but it seems like I am at a level where this change should be manageable. Although I will be running more days/week, I will be running fewer miles/week than I was during marathon training so it shouldn't be an issue. Since my long run will only be 10-12 miles, it really isn't the hard effort of a marathon training long run. Last fall a 10-12 mile run was just another Wednesday for me. So hopefully going into the long run slightly fatigued will not be an issue.

I won't be hammering out the details of my weekly runs during the race cycle until I see how I adapt to this training load. Once I am able to compare the results of my first 2016 race with the results of last year's 5k times I will have a better idea of what I need to focus on (unless I manage to PR that first race!).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vacation highlights and the return of running!

After a week filled with mouse ears and churros I am happy to be back home! I was super sad to say good-bye to my sister and my niece, but I was missing my husband and kitty very much by the end of the trip. I actually got home on Thursday, but spent the weekend getting back on EST and catching up on my sleep. I don't want to bore you with the day to day details of our vacation (we ate a lot and rode rides!) so here are just some of the highlights.
Cutest little runner ever!
Saturday was the kid's 200m dash. Stella wanted to run with both Mommy and Auntie Heather, so this turned into a mini racecation for me too! The race was so much fun and so much adorable. I love being an aunt so much!

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Griffith Observatory. This was almost as much fun as the race. Gorgeous views of LA and the surrounding area (even the Hollywood sign) and a planetarium/science museum type thing. Stella is really into space right now so it was a good fit. There was also a large area for running around, which Stella definitely needed. We rounded out the day with a trip to Porto's Bakery and finally headed back to the hotel.

On her way to a 3 minute PR! Congratulations Colleen!
On Sunday I woke up extra early to wish my sister well before she headed to her corral and then grabbed a few more hours of sleep before heading towards the finish line with Stella to cheer for her. This was my first time just spectating a race as opposed to running it. I loved cheering on the runner's and seeing my sister set a new PR was amazing.

My favorite picture from the trip
Also on Sunday we rode the carousel in Disneyland. Specifically Stella rode on Jingles which was Walt Disney's favorite horse on the carousel.

Hugging after they compared their Sheriff badges.
The day we went to California Adventure a cast member gave Stella a sheriff's badge and "The Deed to the Toy Box." As sheriff, Stella was able to get front of the line access to Toy Story Midway Mania all day and have get front of the line access to the Toy Story character meet and greets. We ended up riding Midway Mania 3 times that day, and Colleen beat me every.single.time (but I finally beat her on our fourth and final ride of trip!).

I think the overall highlight of the trip was meeting Peter Pan. For whatever reason, there were literally no other kids around when Peter Pan was out. Which meant instead of standing in line, taking our photo, and moving on with our day, Stella ended up running around and playing with Pan for about 10-15 minutes. It was adorable.

Now that vacation is over and I am finally over the never-ending cold from Christmas, it is time to start training! After almost three weeks without running (excluding a 200m dash and one wild game of tag) I headed out for an easy 5 mile run on Friday. On the plus side, it felt easy while I was running, but the next day I was really feeling it. I took Saturday off and ran another 5 on Sunday. My plan is to keep all of my miles easy for the next week and start introducing some harder workouts in February.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Grad School & I love my sister

My graduate school application has been submitted; all that I can do now is cross my fingers and hope that I am accepted. I wish I was feeling confident, but the truth is I am really quite nervous. For years I have been considering graduate school. I can't become a librarian without first earning my Master's in Library & Information Science. This is something that I really want. Knowing there is a chance that it won't happen is terrifying. I think it stems from being a perfectionist and compulsive worrier, but I really don't handle failure well. I think my fear of failing is one of the reasons I hadn't applied sooner.

#tbt Bachelorette party in NYC. My friends love me so we went to the library.
Taking a deep breath and trying to move this out of my mind. I don't expect to hear back for another 6-8 weeks. Fortunately I leave tomorrow for a week in California which should at least keep me distracted for a bit.

I am most looking forward to just being with my sister and my niece. My sister is my best friend and it really sucks that we only get to see each other a couple times a year. Even though we have different goals with running, it has brought us so much closer together. Running a half marathon together last year was so much fun. I'm bummed that we won't be running together this weekend, but I am excited to cheer her on while she runs her 3rd half marathon! Also not running means I get to sleep in and hang out with my favorite 4 year old all morning, so I'm definitely not complaining.

Oh and a week without snow won't be too bad either!

I won't be blogging while on vacation, but feel free to follow me on Instagram if we aren't already Instafriends. If not, I'll see you again on January 25th.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Training recap: NOPE

Truth be told, my new year is not shaping up the way I had expected it to. I already knew that I would be taking a week off in the middle of the month for my trip to California, but I didn't expect to take the first week off too.

On Monday I went for an easy 5 mile run. Before my run I felt that I was almost completely done with the cold I picked up over the holidays. The next morning I felt miserable. I felt like I was still right in the thick of cold symptoms for the next two days. Bleh.

I won't lie, I was tempted to just keep pushing through and hope that my week off later in the month would give me proper time to recover. But then I realized that was crazy. I didn't want to still be sick when I left for vacation. Hello, I want to actually enjoy my vacation! Instead I will be abstaining from running until I feel 100%. I really miss running.

I am a bit worried about losing motivation. I typically have no problem finding the motivation to run, but the extra bonus things like eating healthy and strength training? I'm okay with skipping those. However with Do the Work as my mantra for the year, I can't start skipping those things this early in the year. I downloaded this really cute wallpaper for my phone in an attempt to remind myself to stay focused on the extra things.

From Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth

In other news, my graduate school application is due on Friday AKA the day I leave for California! I am 99% done with the two required essays. I just need to give them one final read through to make sure no grammar mistakes have slipped through. Other than that I just need to finalize a few parts of the online application and make sure I remember to hit submit before I head to the airport. Oh and find time to pack before then too!

How is your new year shaping up? Anyone else having a less than stellar start to the new year?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016: Do the work!

Last year I decided to stop setting yearly/short term running goals and instead try to focus on what I hope to accomplish in the next 3-5 years. Mostly. I still had some business with a 1:45 half marathon to take care of in 2015. I gave myself the goal of running more and not getting injured and assumed that this would bring me a step closer to my long term goals. With new PRs in all of the distances I raced, it was certainly a successful year.

This year I want to continue to make progress towards my long term running goals, which are big and kind of scary. I don't expect to actually reach any of these goals this year, but hopefully I will make some progress towards achieving them.

Sub 20:00 5k (2-4 year goal)

My current PR is 21:02. My progress over the past few years would suggest that I could come very close this year (2013 - 22:59, 2014 - 22:12, 2015 - 21:02). I am going to keep reminding myself that progress is not linear and there is no guarantee that this rate of improvement will continue.

1:37-1:38 Half Marathon (3-5 year goal)

My current PR is 1:42:20. I'd like to take another 5 minutes or so off of this time. Entering my current 5k PR into McMillan suggests a 1:37:23 half marathon. I am taking this not as a prediction of what I might hope to run in the next year, but as an indication of what might be possible if I continue to train smart and build endurance.

BQ (eventually)

After running my first marathon last year I reached the conclusion that marathons are not quite for me...yet. When looking at race predictions, the longer the race, the further away I am from the predicted time. It is clear to me that I struggle more with endurance than I do with speed. I'm okay with that; I like shorter races. I'm also hoping to start graduate school very soon which could make training for a marathon very difficult. For now it makes sense to focus on shorter races.

With all of that said, I do see more marathons at some point in my future. Instead of continuing to beat my head against my lack of endurance, I want to take some time to build endurance with my lifetime running miles. So long as I keep running and keep training, my endurance should continue improving. Hopefully, the next time I start training for a marathon, I will have reduced the gap in my speed/endurance discrepancy. I am not planning to go after another marathon until I reach my half marathon goal.

But what about this year?

My goal for 2016 can be summed up as do the work. Train hard, but smart. Rest when needed. Eat healthy, drink more water, get plenty of sleep. Put in the miles. Put in the cross training. Get to the starting line healthy and prepared. Hopefully run some PRs, but if not evaluate what went wrong and learn from it.

I will also be running in a new age group this year, because today I turned 30. So here's hoping for some nice age group awards and minimal freaking out about being old.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016!

My plan to end the year with lots of miles and cross training during didn't quite play out as expected. Instead I was sick for half of my holiday break. I still managed to squeeze in a few workouts at the beginning and end of the break. I also did yoga one day, so cross training was not a complete bust either.

Wednesday 12/23: 3.31 miles
Thursday 12/24: 5.0 miles
Saturday 12/26: 6.77 miles
***a few days of sickness***
Wednesday 12/30: 5.0 miles
Friday 1/1: 10.01 miles
Sunday 1/3: 3.61 miles

I was super happy to get out on New Year's Day for a 10 mile run with a few running friends. It was the first time that I have done a double digit run since my marathon and the first time I have run with a group in what felt like forever. During marathon training it was really hard to make it to group runs. It is too tempting to run faster than planned when I am running with my speedy friends and during my high mileage weeks that would have been disastrous. Since I am focusing on shorter races this year (and will have much more flexibility in my training schedule!) I am going to make a serious effort to run with friends more often.

In other running related news, I took last minute advantage of some early bird race pricing on New Year's Eve and am now registered for three races this year! Woohoo! April 24th will be my first race of the year: Glass City 5k. I am especially excited about this race because Ariana [everythingswaiting] is running the half marathon and Lisa [TechChick Adventures] is running the marathon.

I ran the Glass City Half Marathon in 2014.
In July I'll be killing myself at the Ann Arbor Mile. I know you are thinking, how hard can a mile race be? But I ran this race a couple years ago and it was the hardest and fastest I have ever run. My lungs still burned the day after the race. This race will be after a few months of racing 5ks, so maybe it will feel easy in comparison?

And finally in September I am registered for the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon. I'll be aiming for a PR and maybe even be ready to break 1:40. Bonus: Brittany [Run Fast or Faster] has added this race to her 2016 calendar too. I'm really excited that I might have the chance to meet up with 3 awesome runners/bloggers this year.

There will definitely be some other races along the way (more 5ks!), but these are the only three races that I have actually registered for so far. I have a few more weeks before I will officially start my 5k training, but the start of the new year has me feeling particularly excited to resume training. Bring it on, 2016!