Posts Tagged marathon

Running in the Dark

One of my favorite times of the day to run is first thing in the morning – before the sun rises. It’s been awhile since I’ve been willing to brave the freezing temperatures and run before dawn, but this morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am, put on our reflective gear and hit the road with the dog. It was a bit chilly and windy to start, but once I warmed up, I was comfortable.

The best thing about running first thing in the morning is that once it’s done, there’s no temptation to skip that day’s workout. I get to have my entire afternoon free for studying or whatever else and don’t need to worry about trying to fit in my run. Some days, I get to see the sun rise, and you can’t beat that! Though this morning was a little too early, and I was only out till dawn.

When it is dark, it is very dark.

When it is dark, it is very dark.

Running in the dark does have a bit of a learning curve, and I know it’s not for everyone, but it works pretty well for me. The number one most important thing for me to run in the dark is safety. I do have to run on roads in several places around my neighborhood where there aren’t sidewalks and it’s really important that I’m visible to drivers. I wear bright colored running gear (I’m on a real neon kick right now!) and always wear reflective straps – at least around my waist and usually on my wrist or ankle as well. And just in case something were to happen, I always have my RoadID.

Also, I always take the dog with me when I’m running in the dark and she wears a light so I have a little visibility of the path, as well as a reflective vest, leash and collar so she is visible to drivers and other runners. We both stay alert to our surroundings; Tara is a German Shepherd Dog and is quite good about letting me know if there is something “off” by subtle cues in her behavior – pricked ears or sudden watchfulness.  Fortunately, the most dangerous thing we’ve run into is a skunk that thankfully didn’t spray us! Even though we get a lot of strange looks with all our gear, it’s worth it to know that the cars that speed through the neighborhood will be able to see us.  Many of the runners and early morning walkers that I see wear all black or dark colors and I can barely see them till I’m about 3 feet away, so I don’t know how groggy drivers could possibly see them.

I do usually stick to areas I know well and have smooth terrain or sidewalks as much as possible so I don’t trip and fall in the dark, but for the most part, as long as I keep my feet picked up it’s not too difficult to avoid falls. I haven’t done much trail running in the dark, but I imagine it would be quite a bit more technical. Sticking to well-kept trails and sidewalks, I haven’t used a headlamp yet, but on a trail run I know it would be necessary. Tara’s little light is not nearly strong enough to provide enough light to avoid the obstacles on the nearby trails. I think I’d like to try a night trail race sometime, they sound like a lot of fun.

I’d like to get back into the habit of running regularly in the mornings before school instead of leaving my runs till the afternoon. It’ll make it easier to fit my shorter weekday runs into my schedule. Also, with the hot temperatures fast approaching with this summer, I expect I’ll be doing a lot more running in the dark or at least early in the morning as I try to avoid the daytime heat and ramp up mileage for the marathon.

Have you ever run in the dark? What time of day do you prefer to run?

 

Today’s Training

4.39 mile tempo run

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A Marathon and Goals for April

Yesterday, I had one of the best double-digit runs, ever.  The weather started a little humid and mid-50s, but cleared up and the sun came out. I ran with the dog, Tara, as well as three other friends and two more dogs. We started on our usually long run route, but instead of doing an out-and-back as we usually do, we mixed it up and turned off at 5 miles to create a loop through town. It’s amazing how a few miles of new scenery can invigorate a long run. On my shorter runs I routinely switch directions and mix things up with new side streets, but on the longer runs I’ve been doing the same route for quite awhile so it made a huge difference to change the route so much.

I think I’ll try to come up with another couple of courses for double-digit runs over the next few months to keep things interesting. It is going to be even more important as I ramp up the mileage for…wait for it…marathon training!  I finally committed and registered for the Richmond Marathon on November 16 in Richmond, Virginia. I am so excited at the prospect of finally tackling 26.2 miles!  My friend, Caitlin, and my hubby are going to run it too, so I’ll have plenty of support in my training here in Kansas and my family in Virginia is already on board with being our support crew while we’re on the East coast.

With such a big race on the horizon, I would like to get back into the habit of setting regular goals throughout the year.  I only set one goal for running for the year and that was to run 1000 miles, which I am a little behind on reaching with my current monthly totals (197.95/1000).  Tomorrow is April 1st, so today seems apropos to start setting some  monthly goals.

Goals for April

1. Run 100 miles in the month. I’ve run just under 200 miles for the year so far, so 100 this month will put me back on track for an even effort in the rest of the year for reaching my 1000 miles goal.

2. Do at least 1 day of weight lifting per week. I would like to start one of the New Rules of Lifting programs again. I’m leaning toward New Rules of Lifting for Women because I’m already familiar with all the moves, don’t need any new equipment, and they’re fairly short routines for the first few months while I’m still in school. My plan is to start by going to the gym this Tuesday during my long lunch break.

3. Prepare 1 new recipe per week. I really enjoyed finding new foods to try and meal-planning during my paleo experiment, and would like to continue adding some fresh new ideas to the repertoire.

4. Do at least 30 minutes of yoga per week. My flexibility is abysmal and running keeps me too tight, so I need to invest more time into stretching and flexibility. I think incorporating yoga into my routine will be a great way to accomplish this.

5. Research the possibility of an early summer triathlon. I’d like to find something to fill the gap between my half marathon training and the beginning of my marathon training. If I find a race that is within an easy morning drive, register and organize my training plan.

Do you have any tips for a first time marathoner? Do you set goals for yourself throughout the year?

Yesterday’s Training:

10.01 mile run

Today’s Training:

Rest day

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Have I Ever Mentioned that I’m a Planner?

In my updated training plan, Mondays are for strength training and stretching, so I did a super-short strength routine and a 30 minute yoga routine at home before school this morning. To continue my experimentation with breathing patterns, I chose a DVD yoga routine that focused on breath work. It wasn’t my favorite routine. While the stretches were decent, they weren’t as extensive as I would have liked and the pace was much slower than I prefer. Also, it was primarily sitting and reclining poses, with no standing poses that I can recall, so there wasn’t much variety. I did think it was good to revisit my breathing and work on deep belly breathing without the added complexity of timing it with running, but I don’t think I’ll use this routine again.

For my newly added strength training component, I would really like to get back into weight-lifting. I used to lift fairly regularly, but got out of the habit and let running take over, including only the tiniest body weight strength training. Now that I’ve decided to only run 5 days a week, I think I can fit in at least one day of weights if I can go before school in the morning or during a lunch break in the afternoons. I hope to figure out a good way to work weights into my schedule to start next week. I think this will be a really important part of injury prevention moving forward.

In other news, I am about 99% sure I am going to register for a marathon in the fall, just not sure which one yet. I think it will likely be in October, which means I’ll have to start seriously training in June! That will be about 6 weeks after my half marathon this spring, so I’m also thinking that will be just enough time to squeeze in training for a sprint triathlon. The Topeka Tinman Triathlon is June 15 and has both Sprint and Olympic distance options that might work perfectly into that 6 weeks.

If you’re new to reading, you’re probably learning (especially after this post!) that I am extremely Type A about planning my training. Spontaneous workouts have never worked for me. I used to go to the gym without a plan and I would just wander around doing various exercises with no rhyme or reason. I was constantly discouraged because I never felt like I had any tangible results. I wasn’t improving in my lifting, in my running ability, or in my general fitness; but when I switched to creating a detailed plan for each day and tracking my progress, I was able to achieve my goals in training and see what I needed to work on when the goals were a little more elusive.

Now, I have a spreadsheet to track all of my workouts, which are already planned for the next 7 months (!) and entered in my Google Calendar. After each run or workout, I enter the details into the spreadsheet, which tracks my mileage for the week, month, and year. It even automatically calculates how many miles I’ve put on each pair of running shoes! I get immense satisfaction from inputting all my data, and it makes me really motivated to follow the schedule. I know I’m obsessive, please don’t judge! 🙂

Sometimes, I wish I were a person who could be more spontaneous – who could go out and just run as far and as fast as they can each time and improve, but I know I am not. I’m neither motivated enough to keep myself working without the accountability of my schedule, nor am I mentally tough enough to push myself enough to make progress. So for now, I’ll cling to my detailed training plans and love every second of preparing them and recording my progress.

Are you a planner or are you more spontaneous in your workout regimen?

Today’s Training:

  • Strength (once through)
    • 15 push-ups
    • 30 crunches
    • 60 second wall sit
    • 15 triceps dips
    • 60 second plank
    • 30 lunges (each leg)
    • 20 squats
  • 30 minutes of yoga (breath work)

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I’ve Got the Bug…

…the marathon bug.

Running a marathon is something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time. Training for a marathon during vet school is not something that’s been on my radar, but after a little push from an email today, I’m seriously considering the possibility for the fall. My schedule looks like it will allow the extra time for training and long runs. The race that I’m considering is an easy direct flight for a weekend trip. My training partner even said she might be interested in joining me. All the factors seem to be lining up for me to do this race. I just have a few more items to resolve before I make the decision.

Fingers crossed that everything works out and I’ll be training for a marathon starting this summer. 🙂

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Pondering Goals

For the past couple of years, I have had very specific goals for my race season.  Last year it was to finish my first Olympic distance race, which I did at Nation’s Triathlon.  This year it was to finish my first half-Ironman distance race, which I did at Timberman 70.3.  I have no idea what my goal for next season should be.

I’ve tossed around the idea of doing a marathon, but I’m not sure that’s really what I want to do.  I feel that it is the next logical step in my fitness journey, but do I really want to commit to the training for it?  By the end of this training season, I was so burnt out from the volume of training for Timberman that I couldn’t even think about doing another HIM any time soon.  I think the time commitment to marathon training would be comparable and I’m not sure I can commit to that.

My other thought is to continue racing tris at the Sprint and Olympic distance next year, aiming for PRs at all the races I’ve done in the past and add a couple of new races.  This is the “easier” route.  Training for these requires no more than 1-2 hours per day and I know I would aim for that with any workouts anyhow.

The one thing that I know I will not be doing is a full Ironman.  I am definitely not ready to devote my time to training for an event of that distance.  I will complete a full Ironman at some point in my life, but it is not going to be next year.  The funny thing is, I no longer question whether I can do an Ironman distance event.  I KNOW that I can with the proper training.  I think it was during the Timberman run that my perspective of what I can do completely changed and I realized that my body was capable of anything I could throw at it as long as I put in the time and effort to train for it.  My self-motivation is my only limiter.

I will be thinking about my goals for next year a lot over the next few weeks/months.  I’m going to try and come up with a plan that is still challenging, despite not increasing my distances across the board.  Maybe I’ll do a bunch of Sprint/Oly tris AND a marathon.  Maybe I’ll do just tris.  Maybe I’ll do nothing and go a different route entirely.  Sorry for the ramblings…just trying to sort through my thoughts.  What are your plans for next year?

In other news, I was terrible about running last week.  In fact, the only time I ran was when I last posted, for shame!  I had big plans to do a local 5K on Saturday, but after a busy week including tons of studying for two midterms, I just didn’t have it in me.  And when we found out that the entry fee was $40, Curtis and I decided we’d rather take that $80 and do something else another time.  I did manage to convince myself to run yesterday, and took the dog for about 6 miles.  Considering the overall lack of running lately, I felt pretty good for the whole run.  Neither my lungs nor my legs were a limiter even if I was going very slowly.  I did have a bit of a fight with myself about whether to keep going at several points along the route.  Somehow I managed to convince myself to just keep moving my legs, one step at a time.  This week I am supposed to taper for the 8K on Sunday.  I’m not sure how much of a taper it will be if I actually put in more days than I have been.  Here’s the schedule:

Monday – Off

Tuesday – 3 mile run

Wednesday – 3 mile run

Thursday – 4x400m with 400m walk/jog recovery

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 1-3 mile run easy

Sunday – Race Day!

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Boring blogs

My posts have been pretty boring of late.  I’ve been writing nothing but a blow by blow account of each training exercise I do, and I know it can’t be terribly exciting reading.  I’m going to try and start blogging about the experience more than the facts and stats, although I must admit, it is a whole lot easier to do the usual.  I’ll still record my workouts, but it will be a much shorter and quicker review and any tech-y info I’ve got for the session.  For today, I did a 4 mile run mapped out on Gmaps pedometer.  It was pretty hot, but cloudy so no blaring sun the whole time, which was a nice treat.

Stats…

Duration: 42.54 (10:43 pace)

Average heart rate: 174

Maximum heart rate: 188

Calories: 492

Today was supposed to be a biking day, but I have dinner plans tonight and I just didn’t want to bike.  I don’t know why lately, but I’ve not been wanting to do anything other than run.  There was a time when I absolutely loathed running, and now I can’t get enough!  I’ve been looking into some possible running races after the tri and in the spring.  There’s a 5K the weekend after the tri at my high school that I’d like to do.  I was reading up about it today, and apparently it draws a pretty interesting crowd of elite runners from Kenya.  This year will be the 10th anniversary of the first race…I don’t think I even knew about it when I was in high school, but apparently it’s a pretty big deal.  I might just sign up even if I don’t feel up to running it a week after the Oly.  It benefits the program in place there for mentally challenged students to help them through a mainstream high school.  The other race I’m considering is the Charlottesville half marathon in April.  It’s supposed to be a beautiful and really challenging course.  And I try to take every opportunity I can to get down to my alma mater!

I love multi-sport, but I really feel the need to mix it up a little bit and try some new things.  I’ve gotten a little bored with my training schedule lately, particularly the long bike rides as I mentioned before.  I think a big problem is that I just don’t like to ride by myself because with the higher mileage, I end up so far from home and alone.  I love riding with Curtis on the weekends, but he doesn’t usually get home early enough on weekdays to ride with me before it gets dark.  Especially now that the days are getting shorter again.  (Side note- I am SO excited for fall and cooler weather to come!!).  I’m beginning to wonder if I have the mental determination to stick with training long enough to do an Ironman, which is my eventual goal.  I guess I’ll just take it one stepping stone at a time and see how things go.  Speaking of goals and stepping stones, I don’t think I’ve ever shared my long-term racing goals, so here they are:

1. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon in Fall 2009

2. Complete a half marathon in Spring 2010

3. Complete a half Ironman in Fall 2010

4. Complete a marathon in Fall 2011

5. Complete an Ironman in 2012

I’m not trying to rush things on distance progressions, clearly!  I do eventually want to complete an Ironman, and I think three years gives me plenty of time to attain that goal.

What are your long term fitness goals?

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