Back to 5am running, an empty pool, and storm damage

Hey there friends!

Happy Monday and top of the morning to ya! I am officially back in the routine of running at 5am every morning. For a couple days there I experimented with running later in the day, but once again, it’s just not for me. Turns out, what I’ve always known remains true: I love being getting my miles in before the sun comes up. There’s something about getting it done early that makes me feel super productive — like I’ve already accomplished something before the rest of the world wakes up.

Last night I randomly woke up at 3:30am. It was one of those times where I was weirdly wide awake at an hour when I shouldn’t be. I have no idea why I woke up. I tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, but after a while of that, I finally ended up getting up. I got dressed, had a banana, and headed out the door for my run!

Normally 6 miles is my jam, but today I clocked a 5 milers. For some reason I just felt “done” by the time I got to 5, so I called it. Normally I would try to push myself to get that extra mile under my belt, but I don’t feel pressured to do that right now. I’m not training for anything in particular and it’s not like one less mile per day is going to break the running bank.

Remember when I talked about my love for my gym? It will probably come as no surprise that the love is still going strong! This morning at the gym, I was walking past the pool when I saw that it had been completely drained. They must be doing some kind of maintenance on it. Pools look so weird when there is no water in them!

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This is the pool I used for pool running back when I had a foot injury after the Hartford Marathon. I would get in and do my hour of pool running at the deepest section. It was a decent workout, and didn’t put any extra pressure on my foot. I did this every day instead of regular running, for about 3 weeks. My foot still wasn’t 100% at the end of that time (it took several months for that) but I was able to run easy in supportive shoes, and kept paces slow until my foot was healed. I hope I will never have another foot injury, but if I ever do, I will be back in this pool!

Speaking of pools, back when we were looking at houses to buy, we looked at a couple homes with backyard pools. For me, pools are not a huge selling point to a house.

In Houston, our townhouse was right in front of the pool. We thought we’d use it all the time! After all, the hot climate lends itself to bigtime pool usage. But despite the sweltering summers and living LITERALLY 15 feet from the pool, I hardly ever got in it. I might have gone once or twice in the 7 years that we lived there. Joel used the pool maybe a handful of times each year.

Since it turned out that neither of us were super frequent users of it, we agreed that a pool wouldn’t be a huge attraction to a house. The maintenance doesn’t seem worth it since it wouldn’t get much use.

Last week I was driving to work one morning, and I saw multiple big branches lying near or across the road. For some reason I thought that our town must have gone around cutting branches to maintain the trees (hah!). Turns out it was actually storm damage from a storm that came through our area. Actually, I’m pretty sure the storm hit most of the northeast. It rained for a couple days and was VERY windy. Many flights got cancelled, and a lot of people lost power.

Thankfully, we did not have any damage to our property (our solar powered lamp got blown off its hook, but it was simple to re-hang on the deck). All of the trees on our street survived the storm just fine. We lost power at some point, but it must have happened while we were sleeping or at work, because we had zero idea. The only clue we had that we lost power was the clock on the oven which reset itself. I’m glad we didn’t have any bigger issues. I drove past a couple huge trees that got blown over and I’m glad this didn’t happen to any of the ones near us.

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On a random note, there was a chipmunk in our garage today. I think I scared it when I came home from my run. It gave me quite a fright! I heard some scuffling, but since it was dark I couldn’t see what was causing it until I flipped on the light. It must have been stuck in there all night. The chipmunk scampered around in a panic as I tried to usher it towards the open doorway. I don’t know how sheepdog corral entire droves of sheep — I had a hard time getting that darn chipmunk to go in the direction of the door! It kept running from corner to corner, even though the open doorway was mere feet away. I finally managed to shoo it out the door, and it ran off into the grass.

It made me think of times in life when we do the very same thing as that poor chipmunk. How often do we get ourselves in a fix, and then run away… or detach… from the very person who is trying to offer help? Hah! I suppose that little chipmunk is all of us at one point or another.

Have you seen my other posts? Here’s one on things to do in Connecticut, and another one on how we moved house in the middle of winter!

What is your favorite time of day to workout? What are your thoughts on backyard pools? Were you affected by the storm last week?

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That time I ran a marathon while injured…

 

Hi friends!

Remember how I’ve run a couple marathons? In today’s “Monday Runday” Let’s talk about my first marathon experience!

The Hartford marathon!

Let’s start with the night before the race. I remember waking up randomly that night due to nerves, going to pee, hydrating/snacking on carbs, then going back to sleep. By the time my alarm went off in the morning, I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep.

But I was ready to rumble! Buzzing with adrenaline, I barely noticed the lack of sleep.

For pre-race fuel, I had 2 honey stinger gels and a few bites of a plain bagel. I was too nervous to get any more of it down (in hindsight, I should have eaten the entire bagel).

My weather app said it was in the 40’s so I wore throwaway arm sleeves ($2 tube socks with a hole cut in the toe). I got too warm quickly due to my very toasty “adrenaline jacket,” and tossed them in the first mile.

I originally had a goal time for the race, but scrapped it due to injury. You see, just a couple weeks before the race I was diagnosed with “mild plantar fasciitis.” Looking back, I can say it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I made mistakes overtraining and did not listen to my body during the training cycle. I was too naive to realize what the ache in my foot was signaling. I ended up getting a cortisone shot in my heel 10 days before the race. I would not do this again (the overtraining OR the cortisone shot!).

Anyway, back to the race.

There was fantastic spectator support at the start. I heard Joel yell my name and turned just in time to catch sight of him before I was swept away by the sea of runners.

The course winds through Hartford then out onto residential streets before looping back downtown again. There were a few musicians and DJ’s at various points, but not many spectators. The course is mostly flat, with just a couple rolling hills as it transitions from highways to paths along the water, and vice versa.

I had to remind myself a few times that I was running a marathon… because it didn’t feel hard or even REAL. I kept reminding myself that my dream was becoming a reality, and I wanted to soak in every second.

The temperature rose to mid-50’s, and eventually peaked in the 60’s. There was no shade, so it felt HOT when the sun came out.

My foot didn’t feel great. I remember stopping to stretch my calves several times. I had read that this can help to loosen the plantar, but it honestly didn’t seem to help me much.

Joel met me at mile 13 – he was easy to spot due to the scarcity of spectators. He held a big green sign that said “Go Dawn!” He gave me a hug and said I looked good. I remember feeling great and was so happy. He took my photo, said “see you at mile 21!” and sent me on my way.

My foot started to bother me at mile 15. I switched up my foot strike, which helped a lot. Note: I wouldn’t exactly advise changing your footstrike in the middle of a marathon… my calves were crazy sore afterwards!

I still remember when the lead man flew past me, moving effortlessly in the opposite direction towards the finish line. I kept a lookout for the lead woman. The look on her face was one of complete focus. Her form was smooth. I gave her cheers of encouragement and felt totally inspired.

My foot started to REALLY hurt at mile 16. As well as other parts of my body…my I.T. band…my shin…my ass.

Desperate for a distraction from my crumbling body, I got the earbuds out of my running belt and started listening to some music.

Getting to the turnaround point at mile 17 was a huge mental boost. My legs rallied. The pain evaporated.

I reached mile 20 feeling oddly good, but unable to pick up the pace. I knew that Joel was waiting at mile 21, and that motivated me to keep going.

It was so GOOD to see Joel. He snapped a few more photos and offered to run the final miles together. I told him I felt fine to finish on my own. He sent me off with an encouraging “see you at the finish line!”

Mile 22… the road pummeled my feet. Surely I would emerge from the race with stumps instead of legs.

At mile 25, I managed to pick up the pace. Many were walking by this point, so I passed a lot of people.

When I rounded the corner to the finish line, I was exhilarated!

FINISHED!!!

A woman put a medal around my neck and a man wrapped a foil blanket around my shoulders. I couldn’t resist a couple selfies with my shiny new bling. :)

In the days following, my legs and feet were toast. I mostly penguin-hobbled around my 2nd floor apartment until I felt confident enough to attempt the stairs.

I took a lot of time off running afterwards to let my plantar fasciitis heal. This is when I started cross-training in the pool (pool-running!).

A few lessons I learned from this experience…

Lesson #1

It’s better to be undertrained than overtrained. Don’t be a hero. Listen to your body. Take rest days. Run EASY. You don’t want to toe the line injured (or worse, not at all).

Lesson #2

Don’t start your watch until you are physically crossing the start line. I made the rookie mistake of starting my watch when the gun went off — I was so far back in the crowd that I had already traveled .22 miles and lost 2 minutes by the time I reached the actual start line. My splits were off for the ENTIRE race.

Lesson #3

Eat a WHOLE bagel (or the equivalent) before the race. I only ate a few bites due to nerves. As a result I felt a bit bonk-y towards the end of the race.

That’s it for now! Catch up on other running posts here!

What’s your longest run ever? Aside from running, what is your favorite workout?  

How to track running mileage to maximize marathon training

 

If you geek out over numbers, you’re gonna LURV this.

Let’s talk about tracking workouts. Do you do it…or nah?

For most of my running life, I did not keep a log of any kind. Mainly because I didn’t know it was even a thing. However, when I realized the benefits of a running log, and how much fun it is, I started tracking every single mile. I haven’t stopped.

A log doesn’t have to be fancy or technical; many major runners from past decades used a simple notebook. The point is just to keep a record of your running so that you have a way of understanding trends or patterns, as well as a way to see progress!

There is a ton of helpful information out there from more accomplished and knowledgeable runners than myself. Here’s a great resource for keeping a running log, and another one discussing the power of a running log.

For me, the tools that I have found most useful for tracking my miles are my Garmin watch and my Google Doc spreadsheet.

After I’m done running, my watch sends the workout data via wifi to the online Garmin platform where I can easily view it from my phone or computer. My watch is a couple years old, so it doesn’t do everything the fancier models do, like heart-rate monitoring, but it gives me all the data I need and more.

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The above is what my 12×400 intervals looked like (more on that workout here). Look, it looks like waves in the ocean :) Each bump is “speed” — there are only 11 bumps, but I ran 12. There’s something really satisfying about the visual evidence of hard work.

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That time I ran a marathon in the rain

The above is what my GPS tracker looked like after my second marathon. It was one of the more miserable days of my life haha. Firstly, see that cute little cloud in the top right corner?… yep, it rained the entire time. Secondly, I was freezing for the second half of the race due to intense wind coming in from the water. Thirdly, everything on me was completely soaked, including my shoes, leading to the weirdest running mishap ever. My shoe insert came loose and folded itself in half, inside my shoe! I had to stop multiple times in the last 6 miles to remove my whole shoe and unfold the insert. And fourthly, being soaked meant I had the worst chafing I have ever experienced in my life. Sure, I applied body glide to the usual hotspots (lookin at you inner thigh), but a thousand warriors could not have saved me from the ring of chafing around my NECK from my shirt! Just thinking about that day makes me cringe.

But I digress…

In addition to Garmin data, I like to also record some key data in my Google Doc spreadsheet. I have columns for each of the following:

  • Date. I like this format: 011217 instead of Jan 12th 2017. I have data going back years.
  • Workout type. Tempo, intervals, long, or easy, I always record what I did. For example, “6m easy” means I ran 6 miles at easy pace. And “7m (12×400)” means that I ran twelve 400 meter sprints, each followed by a recovery jog, covering a total distance of 7 miles – with warmup and cooldown included.
  • Splits. The Garmin data comes in handy for keeping track of paces and splits. I just copy these from the Garmin site to the spreadsheet. I put any fast miles or speed intervals in bold so that they stand out from the easy/recovery miles. This way, it’s easy to quickly get a visual of how much speed I’m doing each week, and also easy to see progress over time with a quick scroll.
  • Duration. How long the workout took. I like this notation for anything over an hour “1:05:34”, and this notation for workouts less than an hour long “0:53:20”. This way, all the times look “uniform” in the column.
  • Shoe miles. I track the number of miles I run in any given pair of shoes. I have noticed that I am more injury prone if I don’t switch out my shoes after 400 miles or so.
  • Comments. This is a column I use to note anything of relevance. For example, I record whether I skipped a planned workout due to fatigue, travel, or injury.
  • Weekly mileage. It’s helpful to see how many miles I run in any given week. When building mileage, I’ve seen reputable running sites recommend increasing mileage by no more than 10% per week. Additionally, if I have too many weeks of high mileage in a row, I try to take a “cutback” week of lower mileage. This helps to prevent injury by letting my body recover from #allthemiles.
  • Monthly and Yearly mileage. I have columns for these, but I rarely look at them unless I have a specific goal. For example, my goal last year was to run 2,016 miles in 2016. I was on track until about August when the wheels came off. Spoiler alert, I didn’t meet my goal. -_-

It’s really not too difficult to get a spreadsheet set up like this. Once you have your formulas in place to populate things like weekly/monthly/yearly mileage, you are set.

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exhibit A (not real numbers)

Above is an example of what one week in the log might look like (minus the monthly/yearly mileage column). The paces/splits aren’t real as this is just for illustration purposes.

I should also note that I originally started my log in Microsoft Excel, but switched to Google Docs because it was more convenient to view from my phone or any device connected to the internet.

One of my favorite things about keeping a running log is being able to look back and seeing progress. Knowing you just crushed a workout that you couldn’t have done last month is a pretty great feeling.

It’s also pretty cool when all these memories come flooding back when you look at data from a particular workout… although I suppose some memories aren’t as pretty, case in point, my marathon situation above!

Do you keep track of your workouts? Have you ever run in the rain? 

Half Marathon Training – Week Recap

 

In keeping with my plan to write daily on a specific topic, in today’s “Sunday Runday,” I am recapping my week of training!

I have mentioned that I run most mornings. Usually, this means running Mon-Fri. I’m usually pretty good about that, but this week was just “meh”, training-wise. As you’ll see, I started off strong, but couldn’t keep up the momentum.

Summary:

  • Monday. 12×400. 7 miles total.
  • Tuesday. 7 miles easy.
  • Wednesday. 4×1600. 7 miles total.
  • Thursday. 0 miles.
  • Friday. 0 miles.
  • Saturday. Planned rest day.
  • Sunday. Planned rest day.
  • Total mileage: 21 miles

Details:

  • Monday.
    • Workout: 1 mile warmup, 12×400 with 400m recovery, 1 mile cooldown. 7 miles total.
    • What is a 400m workout? Here is a nice description of 400m workouts. …Essentially, you’re running fast for 400 meters (.25 mile), then allowing yourself to recover by jogging slowly. And repeat! 10×400 means you ran 10 sprints.
    • The original workout was actually 10×400, but I felt so good by the time I completed, that I did an extra 2 repeats.
    • I did this workout on a treadmill.
    • 400’s are my absolute favorite running workout. I love feeling strong and fast.
    • My last 3 repeats were the speediest I have EVER consecutively run 400 meters.
  • Tuesday. 
    • Workout: 7 miles easy.
    • Easy running can sometimes feel boring, but this time I was struggling. My legs were tired from Monday’s speed workout. I kept wanting to quit.
    • I finally loosened up around mile 3 or 4, then the rest of the run was fine.
  • Wednesday.
    • Workout: 1 mile warmup, 4×1600 with 400m recovery, 1 mile cooldown. 7 miles total.
    • I find mile repeats intimidating. I doubted myself from the very first repeat, and wondered if I should just call it off and run easy. It was clearly all in my head because I managed to stick with it and complete all 4 repeats.
  • Thursday.
    • No workout.
    • I always have a harder time sleeping when Joel travels, and this was no exception. I tossed and turned all night.
    • When I woke up on Thursday morning, I did not feel rested in the slightest. I opted to skip my run and catch up on some needed sleep.
  • Friday. 
    • No workout.
    • I had planned on 10 miles, but had another sleepless night, so chose to skip it.
  • Saturday. 
    • Planned rest day (no workout).
    • I used to do my long runs on Saturdays. The hours of running, rolling, and stretching didn’t leave much flexibility for other daytime activities. Recently, I have been focusing on family and friend time on weekends.
    • I love having my Saturdays back.
  • Sunday. Planned rest day.
    • Planned rest day (no workout).
    • Another day of no running around here. :)

Overall, I’d say this week was mediocre. I ran a total of 21 miles, comprising 2 decent workouts and an easy run. I should be in the mid-30’s mileage-wise, so I can’t say I’m thrilled with how the week went.

That said, I’ve learned the hard way that running without proper rest can lead to injury and burnout. So I am comfortable with the decision to skip my runs on Thursday and Friday.

Do you run? What is your favorite workout?