Boston Training 2014

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
– Anthony Robbins

At the end of each training cycle I think it’s important to take a step back to look at what worked well for you and to think about and learn what was possibly missing from your approach so that you can do things differently and find ways to improve and to enhance your experience as well as your performance. Looking at your choices and execution is really helpful, and in my opinion essential for growth on a lot of levels.  Don’t just look for what went wrong or what was missing – try to see what was good as well as what could have been better or different.  This will help you get stronger, it will challenge you and it will change you and aid you in becoming more focused and determined.

My last marathon training cycle was awesome.  Last spring while training for Boston and my first 50 miler, I learned that my body, mind and spirit really LOVED high mileage running.  I was not only able to handle it remaining injury-free but I was also feeling very balanced and happy while doing it and was improving my race times in all the distances I attempted and was running faster paces with equal or less effort on my training runs.  This led me to experiment with some higher mileage in the fall when training for Richmond.  I maintained my foam rolling, strength and core routines and stuck to running 6 days a week but increased my mileage and peaked at over 100 miles that cycle.  This approach worked well for me and I felt very strong on race day, running a 7+ minute PR over my Boston time.
nearing the finish of Richmond 2013
When I started thinking closely about what I wanted to change this cycle as I crafted my training plan for Boston 2014, there were a few key themes I wanted to focus on:
1. QUALITY over quantity
2. Mental toughness and stamina
3. Take the running shoes off more
I am halfway through my 6th week of Boston training and so far, I can tell you without a silver of doubt that this is working for me and I am having one of my favorite training cycles ever even though it is freezing cold and icy outside all the time!
Here’s a closer look at what I am talking about:
Quality over quantity.  I am not running a single double day this entire cycle, which is a big change for me over the last year.  My mileage will peak at right around 75-80 miles, which is 25% less than what I peaked at last cycle.  As a result of running LESS, I am finding that I have MORE to give on the days when the purpose of my run is to push hard or practice my goal paces.  My weeks are designed with either a hill workout or tempo run on Monday, a track workout or intervals on Wednesday and a long run on Saturday that sometimes includes pace work.  With easy runs, recovery runs or rest in between those hard days, my legs are fresh and my spirit is determined.  When I was running 80, 90 or 100 mile weeks last cycle I was only able to get one quality workout in the week in addition to my long run. Reducing my quantity is giving me the opportunity to get another key workout safely into my week.  I am really, really loving this and I feel confident at this point that it will help me have a strong race in Boston.
taking the hard work indoors with Maddie – do what you gotta do!
Mental toughness and stamina.  Also known as building courage and grit.  I realized something kind of major about myself when I raced Richmond and that is that I have a tendency to settle for “good enough” at a certain point in the marathon, usually right around mile 20/22ish.  When I start getting really uncomfortable I either put my gears in neutral and hang on, or I downshift to cruise into the finish because I want to cross the line feeling GOOD.  Well, this is something I’ve decided I want to change.  I want to know what it feels like to completely put it all out on the line. To risk falling flat on my face.  To risk losing the good because I am going for the GREAT.  To see what I am truly made of.  This basically boils down to the need to FACE MY FEARS and see them for what they really are – “false evidence appearing real.”  To trust in the process and grow from the discomfort.  
so true!
This cycle I am practicing acknowledging my fears and insecurities and getting stronger than them.  I do this on my runs – especially on the tough runs – and when I am swimming or in yoga class.  Which brings me to my next point…
Take the running shoes off more!  This one was eating at me towards the end of my Richmond training.  My training partner and good friend Maddie is a triathlete and last year she was injured for many months with a torn hip labrum.  This meant no running for her for a while, but because of her swimming and biking she was able to stay fit and happy while she was not able to run (she is running again now and we are training for Boston together – she didn’t miss a beat!).  I thought about what I would do if I had been in her shoes and it worried me because I knew I would be in a bad spot.  I do Pilates and am disciplined with my strength workouts, but they don’t give me the endorphin release, the fitness or the meditative stillness that running does.  If for any reason I had to stop running, I am sure I would become more sedentary and as a result of that, depressed.  So after Richmond, I got myself in the swimming pool with the goal of swimming once a week.  I found it to be really difficult but also a great workout and lots of fun.  I haven’t missed a weekly swim since then, and am now joining a Masters swim class at my gym every Tuesday morning.  I signed up for my first triathlons in the second half of 2014 (both in my home town, one is a sprint and one is an Olympic distance) and this is motivating me to stick to my swim workouts, too.
a new gear
I am going to a spin class every now and then also and love it, but spinning fatigues my legs and the classes are harder to fit into my schedule while Boston is my priority.  Another goal for me was to take at least one yoga class a week.  I have stuck to this goal as well and can really feel a difference in my body.  Yoga is building strength and flexibility and is also a great place for me to turn inward, to reflect, let things go and to grow.  I am so thankful to have it back in my life on a regular basis.
These small changes and areas of new focus seem to be bringing big changes into my life and into my running.  I’m taking it one day at a time and am enjoying it so much.  Do you take a look at your training after each cycle and make changes?  What kinds of things have you found work for you?


Earlier this week, someone posted this on Facebook and it has been on my mind ever since…

Lately I have especially been thinking about responsibility.  Not just responsibility to motivate ourselves to lace up those shoes and get out the door or to push ourselves to our limits in a workout.  But the responsibility to listen to our bodies, to honor the necessary recovery, to make the time for cross training and strength training and stretching and nourishing our bodies, our minds and our spirits.  To dedicate ourselves to the BIG PICTURE – to a BALANCED life – and to make sure that we do not develop tunnel vision as we pursue our goals.

To remember to have a PURPOSE to every run.

Because I think when we get tunnel vision, we can really lose sight of so much that is going on around us and even inside of us.  We can become very off balanced, possibly losing the connection to the meaning behind the goal we are working so hard to achieve.

Driving so hard towards something sometimes causes us to forget why we are heading on that path in the first place.

It does for me, anyway.

Today is the last day of February and goodness knows that I have spent the first two months of 2013 working hard.  I have gotten up early, run in the rain and the wind and the COLD and the dark.  I have run hard on the treadmill, run long on the treadmill.  I have pushed myself at the track.  I have shown up and gotten the job DONE time and time again.  I have done my strength training workouts and my foam rolling sessions.  Never making excuses.  Already in 2013 I have logged over 570 miles for the year – in just two months – which is a ton of miles for me.

The thing is though, I am very well aware that something has been missing for me lately … and for the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and balance-seeking to figure it out and to reconnect myself to my PURPOSE.  To press that internal reset button and truly listen to and honor what my heart is telling me.  I am not going to just go through the motions to get things done – that is not the responsible way.  My heart needs to be in it, my passion needs to be igniting all that I do.

March is going to be a good month.  I am dedicating myself to balance and to openness.  I am pouring the passion on thick.  I am awake and I am listening.

I am responsible.

coming back to yoga



Step out of doubt.

Be open.

We grow where we are uncomfortable.
Go there, to those uncomfortable places.
Amazing things can – and will – happen there.


Trust your path.
Trust your choices.
Trust your strength.

DRENCH yourself in possibility.

Let go of judgement.  Judgement of yourself.  Judgement of others.

Last night I went to a yoga class.  It was the first real yoga class I have been to since before Gus was born (he just turned two years old!).  Yoga is something I used to do regularly.  To be honest, I feel about yoga the same way I feel about running – it takes me to my edges, connects me with myself, helps me find balance, cleanses me from the inside out, brings me face to face with my fears and encourages me to let go of them and to grow through them.

I have really missed it.

I am bringing it back into my life.  Making time for it.  Time to stretch and breathe and grow and sweat.  To let things out and let things in.

Whether it’s just five minutes a day on my living room floor while my kids swirl and jump and play around me or a 90-minute class in a heated room guided by a teacher (this will be a huge treat whenever it happens) — I am making time to do yoga every single day from here on out.  I’m recommitting myself to the practice.  It is something I owe myself.  My body.  My mind.  My spirit.

After my fall on the trails, Dr. Wong suggested that I spend more time stretching out my back by going into child’s pose once a day for at least a few minutes to open it up and get the tight muscles to relax.  I took his advice and was quickly made aware of how much I missed practicing yoga.  Then I started doing other familiar-but-abandoned yoga postures like pigeon (oh hellloooo hips) and cat-cow (more yumminess for my back), and I realized how much I missed it and how restorative it is for me on so many levels.  Even if it’s just a few minutes a day.

Restoring balance is a huge priority for me right now.  And I really believe that yoga will help me do that.

What about you – do you practice yoga?  Do you have a favorite posture?  What are your favorite ways to sweat it out other than to run?

rest day thoughts

Today is a rest day!  I ran 16 miles over the weekend and haven’t taken a break from running since last Friday, so rest I will.  My legs feel good and honestly I would love a run, but I know the importance of rest days and am going to commit to at least one day of no running each and every week during this training cycle.

My running this week has been extra fun because I’ve been mixing it up with my shoes.  Here is my week so far, in review…

Monday I wore my new Kinvaras on the treadmill at the gym for a bit of speedwork.  I ran a 1 mile warm up and then hung onto a 7:03 pace for 20 minutes, followed by a little less than a mile to cool down.  I loved wearing my Kinvaras on the treadmill.  Total miles Monday: 4.5.

Tuesday I did a 50 minute run on the treadmill at home.  I started with 20 minutes at a comfortable pace (around an 8:40 mile), wearing my Asics Cumulus.  Then I paused the treadmill and hopped off to switch shoes so I could run for 10 minutes in the New Balance 1400 and see how they felt.

i love the way they look, i love the way they feel

It was FUN to wear these shoes!  I had to increase the speed on the treadmill while wearing them, you just can’t put these shoes on without running faster.  I feel like I can fly when they’re on my feet.  I am definitely in love with these shoes.  Though they felt great and I wanted to continue to wear them for the rest of my run, I stopped the treadmill after 10 minutes and took them off to switch back to my Cumulus for the remainder of my run (another 20 minutes).  These shoes have NO heel drop and very little cushioning.  My feet are used to being in shoes with a lot more padding and a heel drop, so if I want to wear the 1400 I need to ease my way into wearing them.  Otherwise there is no question that I will wind up with an injury and a whole bunch of regret.  I totally understand why people do too much too soon in more minimal shoes — they feel great on your feet, you feel so fast running in them – you feel invincible.  But guess what?  We are human.  And we will get injured if we are not smart.  It is science.  So, I am being careful and will be patient, gradually progressing to wearing them for more than a mile or two.  Total miles on Tuesday: 5.8.

Wednesday is track day!  During this training cycle I will be meeting the =PR= Distance Training group at the track every Wednesday night at 6:30PM.  Coach Brian Cunningham knows his stuff and provides wonderful advice, information and encouragement in a very professional yet laid back way.  I totally dig his coaching style.

Coach Brian giving us the rules of the track and the details of our workout

We had a much larger group this week because many people were {sane} last week and did last week’s track workout on the treadmill instead of meeting us in the freezing temperatures and pouring rain.  My good buddies were there though, and it was very exciting to all be together last night.

Paul, Megan and me ready to run around in circles

I decided to wear my Kinvaras on the track again last night.  Very good decision.  I am so happy in these shoes and the track is a great place to wear them!  These shoes have a heel drop, but it is much less than my Cumulus.  And they are way lighter and have less cushioning than the Cumulus.  I am going to work into wearing these more and more as each week progresses.

i love you

Last night’s prescribed workout was “8-10 x 400 at “T” pace, with a 2:00-3:00 “PE shuffle” in between each repeat.  Then cool down for with a few laps at an easy pace.”  Did you catch that?  No?  Me neither at first.  So I will translate for you:

8-10 x 400 = A 400 is 1 lap around the track, also known as 1/4 mile.  Do this 8-10 times.
“T” pace = lactic acid threshold pace … this should be a pace you can manage for about an hour.  About 85-90% effort.  You do not want to go “all out” and give it everything you’ve got, or your pace will inevitably slow and you will also be working the wrong system for the purposes of this workout.  Generally a good rule of thumb here would be about 10-15 seconds slower than your 10k pace.  The reason for this?  This workout is designed to train our muscles to become efficient at running at that lactic acid threshold, so we will be able to maintain our marathon pace for the long haul come race day. 
2:00-3:00 “PE Shuffle” = after every 400 at T pace, we jog ever so slowly (almost a shuffle) for a few minutes before doing another lap hard.

I am not really sure what my 10k pace is, and am still trying to figure out what my T pace should be.  I ran by feel for the first several repeats and each time I looked at my watch I was coming in consistently at a 5:45-5:50 pace per mile average.  This was too fast for this workout and even though I was feeling awesome and strong, I tried to slow it down to closer to a 6:40 pace for the last two repeats, which honestly was still probably too fast for this workout.  I talked with our other coach, Adam Lesser (who I think is completely awesome by the way), about it during my cool down and he had lots of advice for me.  I am going to work on hitting the right paces for all of my workouts.  I will race a 10k or half marathon in the next month or so and that will give me a better idea of where I should be targeting.  All in all including my warm up and cool down, last night I ran a total of 5 miles.

all of us smooshed into one photo

This afternoon I am heading over to lululemon to meet the other ambassadors and hang out with the lovely team of awesome people who work there!  Baby Gus is coming too and we are both very excited.  It seems like a great way to spend my rest day.  And this afternoon I have my daughter’s Daisy Troop meeting and then Robert is going out with friends after work so I will be holding down the fort on my own tonight.

It’s all about balance and rest is a major part of that!  I’m looking forward to the day and to recharging my batteries for more running in the next few days.

When do you take your rest days?  Do you greet them with a smile, or do you sort of dread them?

i’ve reached my limit

After a long, late night of road tripping to my in-laws’ house in VA Beach and an early morning start today (4:30AM, courtesy of Sweet Baby Gus), I am really really tired as I write this. 

I’ve been feeling seriously off these past few days, and it is time to press the RESET button.  I need to clear my head, open my heart and go for a run.  I need to get out of this funk.

Here’s the thing: over the last 3 weeks I have run 3 times.  A strong 8 miler, a fun 17.5 miles in Richmond and then a new 5K PR on Saturday.  That’s it.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t exactly been idle – I’ve been keeping up with my strength training routine at the gym twice a week, doing Pilates and chasing after my baby who is getting very difficult to keep up with … hardly sitting around.  But I haven’t been running.

see this guy? he is a monkey. allllways getting into stuff!

After MCM, I realized it was time to take my recovery very seriously.  My new marathon training cycle starts up on December 4th and I want to enter into it feeling strong, fresh and ready to tackle the task at hand.  I have big goals for my spring marathon and I don’t want to hinder my ability to accomplish them by doing too much in between.  So I told myself that these weeks between training cycles would be laid back…

Three weeks of “laid back” is enough for me.  It’s my limit.  I’m done with the whole “no planned runs” thing.  I can’t take it anymore.

With that said, it doesn’t mean I’m going to start my training plan a couple weeks early.  Or that I will stop my other cross training activities (nope, those will remain. Always). It just means that this Type A person is actually much more laid back and relaxed about life when she has structure.  I have been feeling on edge, grumpy, moody, “off” – whatever you want to call it – for too many days now.  It is time to give some structure to my running routine or else surely I will go insane.  Self doubt is trying to creep in and I just don’t have room for that.

And as luck would have it, I am now spending the next 4 days in one of my very favorite places to run during my very favorite time of year to run.  And when I’m not running I will be surrounded by the people I love the most in this world.  I think this is the perfect time to press RESET.

What do you do in between marathon training cycles?  Do you structure your recovery time with runs, cross training and other activities?  While giving your body the necessary break from training, how do you keep from going crazy and doubting your fitness?  Or…is it just me?