Hilly Rewards

standard August 5, 2014 Leave a response

Last week was a little quiet thanks to lots of evening test drives and research, but we finally bought a car! It’s been nice to no longer be stuck in my house all day every day.


1. It’s August! Which means one month into Marine Corps Marathon training, and things are looking up. Getting out of bed before the sun is hard. Walking up and down stairs all day is even harder (thanks to endless hills). But each morning’s run is getting stronger. And dare I say, easier. I completely blame my diet. And the hills. It is shocking how much energy I can find during a run when the hour before and the hours after are so draining. The heat takes everything out of me.


2. In addition to the benefits of the Thrive diet, I’ve been pretty routine in my use of Vega Sport products to get me going, keep me hydrated, and replenish my body afterward. Not to be a walking advertisement, but this stuff seriously works. I generally do not buy anything packaged or processed (even if it’s full of natural ingredients), and this is my one exception. It’s just that effective. And a lifesaver in this Texas humidity.


3. T minus three weeks to SeaWheeze! I haven’t been doing a lot of speedwork lately, since the first month of MCM training was mostly easy runs and hills. Still hoping to push out a sub-2:00 half, assuming the weather will cooperate. I know I’ve got it in me if all the uncontrollable variables fall into place. Fingers crossed…


June: Strengthen Your Brain

standard July 10, 2014 Leave a response

Last month was definitely a tough one for me. Thankfully, June was all about the mental game. Remembering to focus on the mental aspects of running was really helpful in sticking to my training, especially through another move and a huge work trip.


1. Follow the training plan. I am pretty good at this, except when I travel. Most of the month, I was able to fit in missed early runs later in the day and although I had to make some  modifications based on where I was, I still got a workout in when I needed to.

2. Find the race in the workout. I pushed myself to hit my goal paces for speed runs, and I was actually able to do it without dying! I can barely do all 5 Yasso 800s at goal pace, but I can do them! Now that the Texas heat is slowing me down, it will take me a little time to manage any more, but I’ve got a few months before race day.

3. Take small bites. Breaking a workout into pieces is always helpful for me. Easy runs are the worst because there is nothing to break them up like during speed workouts. My out-and-back course in Chicago was perfect because I just had to focus on getting to mile 4, and then I got to turn around. Most of my Texas runs have been the same, just by virtue of not wanting to get lost, but with a few more loops as I try to find routes that are the right distance so easy runs definitely seem much longer!

4. Relax. This is way harder than it sounds, but loosening up really helps me feel stronger and faster. Yoga has dramatically helped my breathing, which is what I focus on when I get tired or tense.

5. Repeat a mantra. This was the critical tip this month for me. This works, people. Use it. My mantras were “Grace. Strength. Power.” and “You can do hard things.”

May: Sneak in Speed

standard May 30, 2014 Leave a response

This spring has definitely been a surprisingly speedy one for me. Just by following my regular training plan (and focusing on speed this month), I’ve been able to shave about a minute per mile off my comfortable pace.  I normally do a mix of tempo runs, Yasso 800s, and mile repeats. A few other ways to get faster that I am adding in to my summer training are hill repeats, strides, and fast friends. I have really high goals for both my next half and full, so mastering these speed workouts has been key to building a good training base.


Tempo runs: Warm up for 10-15 minutes (or 1-2 miles), then increase your pace for a designated period of time. I usually end up doing a more progression-style run depending on how I feel, where I incrementally increase my pace over a course of 30-50 minutes. Finish with a 10-15 minute cool-down at an easy pace.

Yasso 800s: Made famous by Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World, these are 800 meter repeats done at goal pace. Start with a 10-15 minute warm up, then do 4-8 repeats with a 400 meter easy recovery jog in between each. Finish with a 10-15 minute cool-down at an easy pace. Yasso 800s came about when Bart realized he could predict his marathon finish time on how fast he could finish 10 repeats, converting hours to minutes. So if you’re trying to run a 4:30 marathon, you should be able to finish 10 800 meter repeats at a pace of 4 minutes, 30 seconds for each one. Here is a good video that explains them.

Mile repeats: They sound easy, but they are rough. After a warm-up, run 3-5 miles at goal pace, with a half mile (800 meter) recovery jog in between each.

Hill repeats: Similar to 800s or mile repeats, but uphill. Not looking forward to these, but I know they will make me a stronger runner.

Strides: After a warm-up, increase speed to almost max effort for 100 meters, then slow back down for a short recovery. Do 6-8 times before cool-down.

Fast friends: Running with other people not only gets you more committed, but friends that are faster help push you though a workout and do more than you thought. The only reason I even stuck with running and got to where I am today was by running with friends, and most days I miss it.

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Coming up next month: June is all about the mental game, which I am going to need with marathon training starting up again!