Chicago Marathon Training

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Today begins the 2nd week of my training for the Chicago Marathon. What happened to the 1st week? Well… due to traveling back from Europe, insane jetlag, and tiredness… I took the entire 1st week off. That may sound like a weird thing to do when training for a marathon, but for me, it was necessary. Injury risk is always at a high when I am exhausted. I also wanted to make sure that I had at least 2 full weeks off from running to be fresh from Colfax and the Liverpool Half Marathon.

For the next 17 weeks, I will be following the Hanson’s Advanced Marathon Plan. This means I will be doing a lot of running, but shorter long runs. I chose this plan after realizing that the 20-miler runs I did for Colfax were probably doing more harm than good. They would leave me tired and burnt out and after having run a marathon less than a month ago, I feel that running super long long runs will only leave me battered and broken.

The other thing I like about the Hanson’s plan is the goal aspect of it. Coming off of a fantastic first marathon experience, I feel more ready than ever to go for a big PR. I ran the Colfax Marathon in 3:57 and my goal is to run Chicago in 3:45, a 7% time decrease. According to the Hanson’s book, this is possible… but I am going to have to work for it. These will be my paces while I train:

Goal Marathon Pace: 8:35/mi
Strength Workouts: 8:25/mi
Speed Workouts: 7:33-7:52/mi
Easy Days: 9:35-10:35/mi
Long Runs: 9:05-10:35/mi

With the Hanson’s Plan, these paces are written in stone. Straying from my easy paces will lead to fatigue, overtraining, and potentially, injury. Seeing that I want to get to Chicago healthy and ready, I will keep to this plan. As of now, that goal marathon pace seems pretty steep, but I hope that over the next 17 weeks, it will seem more realistic and less daunting.

In addition to Chicago, I will be running a few races within the training period. I do have another goal race, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, where I am hoping to nab a PR of less than 1:47, the half marathon pace that is equivalent to a 3:45 marathon. Although this race is far from flat, and is at 7,000 feet, it was my PR race until recently and I PRed by over 5 minutes when I ran the race last.

Each week, I will do a loose overview of my training to let you know the ups and downs as I make my way to the starting line. I’m not sure how formal they will be, but I will at least include something, even if they are mostly complaints.

Well, here it goes… Marathon #2. I’m ready to chase down some goals!

Have you tried the Hanson’s Training Plan? How did you like it? What is your next goal race?

I’m Back!!!!

I’m back!!! After two epic weeks in Europe, and a whole lot of flights, I am finally back in Manhattan, KS and slowing returning to my normal life. I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs and training, but I am still exhausted and it may take me some time to get back to the grind.

In Europe, my mom and I went to London, Liverpool, Krakow (Poland), and Paris. It was a ton of fun AND I even nabbed a tiny new half marathon PR in Liverpool (post about that to come). Here is a few photos of all of our fun:

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Thai food in London
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Post half marathon nap
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The streets of Krakow
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In front of the Arc de Triumph
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Big Ben

What’s next? I start training for Chicago… like now! I took a few weeks to run slow and infrequently as I recovered from my several weeks of wild running. However, the break is over and it’s time to get back into marathon training. I’ll be posting soon about my training plan and goals.

Hope you all had a great few weeks! How is your training going? Are you traveling this summer?

Colfax Marathon Training Week 10: Things are going great!

Woohoo! Another week in the books for marathon training and it was another great one. Surprisingly, higher mileage is feeling really good on my legs. I’m rarely sore (only after speed workouts or hard tempo runs). I’m starting to get better at varying my pace AND I am getting faster. Like a lot faster. It’s amazing what more running does for your speed.

Although I still feel like running a marathon is like a ridiculous joke, it’s starting to feel more possible. My goal has been to go for a sub-4:00 time, but to be totally cool with abandoning that goal on race day if I am just not feeling it. I think that if things keep going the way they have been… a sub-4:00 is well within my reach. Of course, I will reassess as we get closer, but lately I am feeling strong and fast, which are two good things.

This is what Elly was up to this week:

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I woke her up… she was not amused.

Monday: 6 miles easy pace + yoga

I took it easy and just went out for a little loop around town. It was a nice day out, I got to wear shorts AND I was breaking in my new shoes. I love the first few runs in a new pair of running shoes. Everything always feels so wonderful and bouncy.

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Working on some inversions.

Tuesday: 7 miles – Tempo Run at “goal MP”

I’ve been trying to get a better feel for my paces so I really wanted to practice without look at my watch this week. This was the first run that I really commited to it. I wanted to stick to a pace where I felt I could hold it for a super long time, but was still faster than my long run pace (usually between 9:30-9:40/mi). I looked down at my watch only when I finished a mile and I was shocked! The miles were ticking by in the mid-8:00’s and faster. I just kept moving, not pushing hard. My last mile was a sub-8 (7:31)… which has never been an easy pace for me. I figured this was a fluke and figured that the higher mileage is making me more comfortable with my tempo runs.

Wednesday: 5 mile Recovery Run + Yoga

Very chill recovery. I hovered around a 10:00/mi pace. I felt good, but certainly tired, so it was nice to have a slow day.

Thursday: Yoga, no running

 Friday: 18 miles LSD

18 miles is a hard distance for me. I feel like it’s unfathomably far and honestly, farther than I generally like to drive, no less run. I tried to compartmentalize it in my head as a 10 mile run and a separate 8 mile run. I did a long loop around town and made it to my house at mile 13 for a fast drink of water before setting out for the last 5 miles. Normally, I would just drink at the water fountains around town, but they are still off (I decided to harass Manhattan Parks and Rec on twitter to get the fountains turned back on. It worked!!). I kept the last 4 miles at race pace without too much effort, which gave me a ton of confidence!

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Harassing my city on twitter.

Saturday: No Running, just yoga!

Sunday: 9 miles – Tempo Run

No idea what happened here… I went out at a very chill warm up pace and then just kicked it up a few notches at a nice comfortable pace. I figured I was hitting close to goal MP pace (so… 9/mi), but the miles kept getting faster. By mile 5 I was hitting sub-8:00/mi and felt like I could hold this pace forever. I briefly considered running a half marathon to PR, but decided to stick to my original plan and save the PR for a race. Including the warm up, this was at 8:12/mi. I guess it’s runs like these that give you the confidence and mental strength to finish a marathon.

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Crazy splits!!

Total: 45 Miles

 

I ended the week on a huge high point. However, I am very much looking forward to this week’s recovery. I will be hitting between 32-36 miles, which is going to feel amazing after two tough weeks. This weekend I am participating in an adventure race called Questival in Dallas, TX. I think it’s a scavenger hunt or something like that, but all I do know is that it is 24 hours and it’s supposed to be crazy fun. I’ll write a recap after.

Well, there it is. I had a great week. Here’s to hoping this momentum keeps up!!

I recently got a twitter account. Follow me @thisyogiruns or just check out the tweets on the side bar!

How was your weekend? Did anyone race?

A1A Half Marathon Race Recap!!

Wow… it has been a long time since I raced. I was hurt in September last year, which put an early end to my fall season. Luckily I am back, healthy, and back racing! On Sunday, I ran the A1A Half Marathon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had intended to PR and was even shooting for my first sub-1:50. Unfortunately, it was not my day, and that is not how the race went. It was a grueling 13.1, but I learned a lot and I feel more confident heading into the 6th week of my full-marathon training.

Saturday

I went to the expo in the morning to pick up my bib. A1A always has a large expo with a lot of freebies and deals. I walked around, picked up some free food, and then went out to lunch with Kristina and Ali. It was great to meet them, and it kind of felt like I was meeting a celebrity or something! My mom had come with me to the expo and hung out with us at lunch as we discussed the pros and cons of Ali running the full marathon (and she did! She even PRed!).

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Kristina, Ali, me, and my mom all enjoyed some good pizza (and snacks) at Pizza Fusion!

After lunch, my mom and I made it home and we watched the Marathon Olympic Qualifiers. I gotta say… I need a friend like Amy Cragg. It was incredible how she pulled Shalane Flanagan through the end of the race and even caught her at the finish line. Seriously, Amy needs to be my training buddy!

For dinner, my parents and I went to a local Italian restaurant. This is probably where I screwed up my race. I typically eat a plant based diet and mostly keep to a vegan diet. I occasionally eat eggs, and very occasionally will eat something milk based. I decided to order pasta with a crème-based sauce, since it sounded really good. I can’t think of a worse thing to eat for someone who rarely (if ever) eats crème-based foods. And so it was not to my surprise when I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible stomach cramps. I told myself that they would subside, went back to sleep, and woke up at 3:30 am to get ready to race.

Race Day!!

I knew that my stomach did not feel right, but I figured it would probably go away after a few miles. I took a few trips to the port-a-john (which helped, for sure), and then got to my starting spot. I saw Ali as she was heading over to the corrals and tried to calm my nerves while talking to my parents.

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Ali and I hanging out at the start line. I was pretty nervous here!

Miles 1-5

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At promptly 6:00 am, the race began and I walked my way up to the starting line and took off. I wanted to hold just over an 8:30 pace for the first 5 miles, and then my plan was to take a few seconds per mile off for the rest of the race in order to PR. The only problem was, over an 8:30 pace felt labored and hard. I tried to hold it for the first three miles, but my stomach cramps kept getting worse. I pulled the pace back a bit for miles 4 and 5 in hopes to work out whatever was going on.

Miles 6-10

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By the 10K mark, I knew that I was not going to PR, so then I just told myself that I wanted a course PR. Despite the cramps, I held it together, but couldn’t stop thinking about how hard this pace seemed for me. Mile 10 was just over a 9-minute pace, which is normally a pretty chill pace for me. It did not feel chill at all. I had gotten to the out and back portion and kept telling myself that if I saw Ali or Kristina on the other side, I would take a 10-second walk break. I never saw them, but instead stopped at each water break. I usually run through the water stops, but I couldn’t keep myself from walking. By mile 10, I was starting to get worried that the 2-hour pacer would catch up to me.

Miles 11-13.1

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The last 5k of the race is along the beach with some beautiful views. I kept at it, pushing myself to get my course PR. I turned up my headphones, hoping that I could drown out my own thoughts (which were seriously telling me to just walk to last three miles).

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Even though I wasn’t feeling like I could run really fast, I did enjoy the scenery!

I looked at my watch and figured I could maybe eek out a very small PR if I busted my butt for the last three miles. I’m not actually sure if that is true. On a good day, maybe I could squeeze out a few 7:30 miles… I did at Rocky Mountain, but I was not going to manage that here. I told myself to just keep it comfortable-ish and finish. During the final mile, I saw my PR come and go. I didn’t care too much, and I was focused on just finishing. I saw my parents, Frank, and his parents by the end, and I barely had the energy to wave. I just gritted through and finished. After crossing the finish line, I doubled over hoping that would give my stomach some relief. It was definitely my most labored race finish ever.

My official finish time was 1:54:24, less than 3 minutes off my PR.

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Happy to be done!

 Post Race

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My whole family was there at the finish line. Even though I was tired, we managed to get this cute shot!

I got my medal, grabbed some Gatorade and found my family. I’ve gotta say, there is nothing like a whole lot of suffering to appreciate a race medal. I ate a little bit, hung around the finish line and even got to see Kristina finish!!

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I was glad to see Kristina cross the finish line!

Overall, I had a fun race, even though things did not go as planned. I’ll have other chances at PRing in the half marathon. For now, I am focusing on Colfax. I have a few tune-up races in between, but none of those will be PR attempts. I am concentrating on slower longer mileage and making sure that I do as well as I can out at Colfax. I think this race was a good lesson and if nothing else, was an opportunity to run a little faster and hang out with my family!

Colfax Marathon Training Week 4: Upping the speed!

Well… I didn’t see Sage Canaday this week, but that’s to be expected since I don’t think he visits Kansas much. I did have some solid training and put up 34 miles in my last week before the A1A half. Some miles were good, some were ok, some were pretty miserable. I guess that’s to be expected though.

Monday: 4.1 miles at easy pace + yoga

It was pretty nice out, so this was a rather enjoyable run. Since I had run 12 miles the day before, I treated this like a recovery run and took things really slow. It felt good and easy, and I really think I was good about keeping it at an easy pace.

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Downtown looks so pretty with the sunset!

Tuesday: 6 miles tempo run at (hopefully) half marathon pace + yoga

This was a pretty tough run. I went out with one of my friends that is a bit faster than me. There were a few miles where I was thinking I’d have to slow down, but I pushed through and I am glad that I did. We even kept our last two miles under 8 minutes (which is more like 10k pace for me). This was an incredibly confidence building run. I felt that in a race and on tapered legs, I might be able to hold that pace for A1A… which would result in a pretty substantial PR.

Wednesday: Rest – I taught 7 yoga classes, so I think that should count for something!

Thursday: 4 miles easy + yoga

I went out in the afternoon for an easy paced run. I kept it chill and felt totally comfortable the whole time. I think I’m getting better at pacing these easy runs!

Friday: 6 miles – Fartlek run 1:2:3:2:1 (5k:10k:half:10k:5k)

This was a HARD fartlek. I went out for a mile warm up on a gravel path that loops around town. I then did 1:2:3:2:1 minutes at (5k:10k:half:10k:5k) with a slow jog in between each pace. I did this pattern twice… and the second time around, pretty much everything felt hard. However, my 5k pace got faster on the second time, so go figure. I definitely suffered a bit, but it felt good to go out there and push the paces a little.

Saturday: Hiked 6 miles, no running

Frank and I went out with some friends to a trail south of town. It was a slow hike and it felt good to walk off some of the soreness from the fartlek run the day before.

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Hiking out on the prairie.

Sunday: 14 miles LSD

Holy cow… this run was a beast. Frank and I hiked in the morning, so I didn’t get out until the afternoon. This was a huge mistake. There were 40 mph winds that brought me to a halt several times. Even when the wind was to my back, it was still hard to run. I felt like I was thinking about keeping my form together the whole time and I often times felt like I was terribly slow. By the end, I was really tired and stiff. Basically this was a sufferfest. Hitting 14 miles before a half marathon is a big milestone for me. I don’t like to go into a half without overshooting the mileage by at least a little. I actually usually prefer to do 16, but I didn’t quite make it. Despite that, this run was still hugely helpful for my confidence heading into next week.

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Frank and I on our morning hike. He thinks my hat looks dumb, but I think it makes me look like a rugged explorer!

Total: 34 Miles!

This is my biggest mileage week in a long time. It felt great to be back to heavy training. I think the workouts I did this week will really help me at A1A. Hitting some quick paces on my tempo run made me feel like I actually have a chance at a big PR. I, honestly, don’t think this week could have gone better.

Well next week is race week, this is what is up for me:

M: 5 miles easy pace

T: 6 miles with 4 at MP

W: Fly to Florida

T: 3 miles easy pace

F: Chill + some yoga

S: Rest

S: A1A Half Marathon!!

Total: 27 miles

How did your week go? Anyone have any races coming up?

Practice Running Fast Through Yoga

I have taught a lot runners and triathletes yoga. So, when I ask those students why they do yoga, I get a list of reasons including stretching, strengthening, relaxation, etc. Rarely, do I hear people say that they practice yoga to run faster or push harder. It seems counter intuitive. I know that in order to run faster, you need to train for it… you have to be strong and you have to be running at that speed in training. However, I think yoga has another benefit that makes us faster.

It teaches us about suffering.

Hard postures can teach us about suffering through hard races.
Hard postures can teach us a thing or two about suffering through hard races.

I don’t mean the suffering that you get from an injury. This suffering is the slight discomfort you get from holding a pose for a little longer than is comfortable. If you want to feel it, go into plank for about 30 seconds, and I promise you will suffer… just a little. Poses like extended side angle, boat, half moon, and many others, can teach us a lot about our minds and how we react to suffering. There are days when you will find that quiet place within yourself, but there are other days when you just can’t shut the mind off. When you start a yoga practice, more often than not, you can’t turn your mind off.

So… what does this have to do with running fast?

When I was running in the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon last weekend, I allowed myself to push a little harder than normal, to a place where I was just beginning to feel that same suffering that I get in more difficult yoga postures. Holding that level of suffering for 13.1 miles is not easy. It takes practice. But most of my running, lately, has been very slow. I didn’t push to that level of suffering in my running… I did it in my yoga practice. And trust me… no yogi ever enjoys holding hard postures. More than any other part of yoga, holding postures takes a lot of practice.

So, we don’t always have to push our minds only in our running. We can do it by practicing simple, but challenging, yoga postures. Sometimes we can practice by remaining seated and quiet. Create PR’s for how long you can hold a chair pose and you’ll see how quickly your mind is able to adapt to running just a little harder. I am certainly not the first person to think of this. Scott Jurek uses matras from his yoga classes when running long distance. It creates a quiet place in his mind when the going gets tough. He just repeats the mantra over and over and reminds himself why he is doing what he is doing. He uses his mind as his super power.

Many of us have the physical capabilities to run faster, but what stops us is that little voice in our heads that says that we have had enough! It takes a lot of practice to push past that voice and continue moving, even though moving isn’t exactly comfortable… even when moving makes us suffer. The simple act of sitting still and quiet can teach us that discipline. We all have this untapped mental power that only requires a little bit of practice.