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?

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?

Bikram and 5 Miles

I love yoga.  Absolutely and completely love it.  I believe it restores me mentally, physically, emotionally.  It strengthens and stretches both my muscles and my confidence.  If I could figure out how to fit it in, I would practice yoga each and every day of my life.  Some day I believe I will be able to master that, but for now it is just something I manage to do every now and then maybe a couple of times a week at most.

Last night I tried my first Bikram yoga class.  I went to a wonderful studio close to home and met a good friend there.  The class was at 6pm so I rushed there as soon as Robert walked in the door. When I got to the studio the teacher explained that my goal for the class would be to stay in the room for all 90 minutes of the class.  Not to worry too much if I got light-headed or dizzy or if a posture was too much for me to handle – I could take a break and rest on my mat or leave the room if need be.  I went into it with an open mind and did my best to keep up.  The room was hot like a sauna (about 110 degrees).  The flow was intense.  The postures were challenging, some way more than others.  I lasted all 90 minutes and loved each and every minute of it.  The amount of sweat that soaked my skin was insanely wonderful and cleansing.  At the end of the class I felt completely relaxed yet also energized.  I felt totally spent yet somehow restored.  Cleansed from the inside out.  My super-tight post marathon muscles felt stretchy and loose.  It was purely excellent and I will be going back there again.

This morning I went for an easy paced 5 mile run on the track.  I met my training buddies there at 5:30AM.  They had speed work to do but I am not ready for that just yet so I warmed up with them and then while they did their workout I ran slow easy miles.  My, have I missed running around in circles before sunrise!  It was such a great way to start my day.  My legs felt heavy and tight but there was no pain.  When I got home I spent a few minutes on the foam roller and then had to begin the morning routine (breakfast for everyone, pack lunches, get ready for school, make beds…). 

I feel good about how things went today on the track and am looking forward to this weekend’s long run.  My hope is that things will start to loosen and lighten up in my legs.  I’m so happy there is no pain (a huge relief!) but am looking forward to feeling like myself out on the track and trails again.  I just keep reminding myself that recovery takes time and as long as I am doing the right things and listening to my body I will be where I want to be soon.  Patience, patience, patience. 

weekend recap

saturday morning i went to my first prenatal yoga class at my very favorite studio, beloved yoga.  it was amazing to be in a room full of other pregnant women, all of us there to connect with ourselves and our growing babies.  the yoga itself was very gentle and relaxing and also quite challenging at times.  moving from downward dog into plank was both soothing and difficult with the extra weight i’m carrying in my tum.  the lunges were awesome and i’m still feeling them in my quads this morning.  one posture we did was called “baby dancer” which inevitably brought a smile to my face.  it was tough to do with the weight of my belly being pulled by gravity but i was amazed at how centered and peaceful i felt balancing in this position.  i am definitely heading back to this class as much as possible and highly recommend yoga to every runner, pregnant or not!

“baby dancer”
i’m not sure i looked this graceful, however!

yesterday was also a great day.  i woke up early to meet my client paul for his first 20 mile run.  this was the farthest he had ever run and i wanted to do the first and the last 5 miles with him.  we hit the trail at about 6AM when the weather was pretty much perfect.  cool and cloudy.  we ran at a steady pace for about an hour and caught up with one another along the way.  after the first 5 miles i said goodbye as he headed out for another 10 on his own.  i went home to greet my family, feed everyone breakfast, rest my legs and get some work done.  at around 9AM i went back to meet paul for his last 5 miles.  he was doing great!  at this point the sun was shining brightly and the heat and humidity had increased.  we hit the trail for our last 5 miles together.  it really was wonderful.  i’m not sure how to explain how rewarding this experience of being his coach is for me.  i am really proud of him and all that he is accomplishing and to know that i’m helping to guide him along the way is just incredible.  i loved being able to run with him for some of his run yesterday and it was neat to be there at both the start and the finish.  if i’m able to, i would love to do something like this with him on marathon day.  i’ll be over 27 weeks pregnant at that point but if i can run even a mile or two with him that will make me happy and i think be motivating to him as well.

me and Paul after our first run together (12 miles)
July 2010
today i’m taking the kids to the national zoo, so i’m not sure i can really call it a “rest” day but i am taking the day off from running!!  here’s to a good week ahead!

putting it out there

life amazes me.  i am trying really hard these days to let go, to be positive and to trust that things will find their way of working out and that all will be good.  this is definitely not always so easy for me, BUT i have been putting myself out there, going to my edge and finding that it is opening my heart to a slew of wonderful possibilities.

we have to get a new car in the next few months.  we simply cannot fit another person (not matter how small they are!) in either of the cars that we currently own.  we haven’t had a car payment since i stopped working a few years ago and having to add this to our budget was seriously stressing me out.  i just did not know how it was going to be possible to swing it with our current income and expenses.  well, i decided a few weeks ago that i was just NOT going to worry anymore.  i couldn’t…it wouldn’t help things to be a stress-freak over them.  then last week i had a lightbulb shine bright in my head and i thought why don’t we look into a refinancing and see if that might help?  well, we explored this and now it looks like it is going to save the day and we are going to be able to afford a new car without feeling incredibly stressed!  hooray!  thank you for prayers answered waaaay beyond my biggest hopes.  we are actually going to get a new car AND reduce our monthly expenses by $20!  wow.

there is a space that i can go to when life is feeling out of control…it is a peaceful spot in my being that settles me down and opens me up.  i get there most easily when i am running, when i am practicing yoga, and when i am just out in nature.  sort of “stilling” myself through movement.  i’ve been finding it more and more difficult to really run to get there, but something wonderful is happening during my pregnancy…i am getting there walking, run/walking, running slower, and doing yoga…and i know it is all going to be ok, probably more than ok, and i am grateful.

on a different note, i’m really looking forward to this weekend.  tomorrow morning i’m going to my first prenatal yoga class and then having a fun day with my family.  sunday morning is long run day for my client!  he is doing his first 20 miler in preparation for MCM.  since i’m not able to run all 20 miles with him, i’m planning to run the first 5 miles with him and the last 5 miles with him.  it’s my hope that my company on both ends of his run will help make this run a positive experience for him.  this will be the farthest he has ever run.  i’m so excited to be on this journey with him as his coach and comrade.  it is a true gift!

i hope everyone has a great weekend.  for those of you that are running, i will be thinking of you and sending you happy-run vibes!