Friday, January 29, 2010

Marathon training commences

It's official!! As of last week, I started training for the St. Louis marathon. So far, I don't feel like the mileage is much different than what I was doing over the winter, other than my long runs. Last Saturday, I ran 15. It was supposed to be 14, but we took a couple little detours and then missed a turn which added another mile. It wouldn't have been so bad, but it was kinda hilly at the end and that's the longest I have run since last spring. I felt it at the end. My legs were starting to feel heavy, my energy was low (I didn't take any gels), and my right hip was tightening up. Later that day, I started feeling some soreness in my hip, similar to the start of my injury last year. Nervous that my hip pain would worsen and fearful that it will eventually affect my training, I did some light stretching and foam rolling. That helped some.

I also bought new shoes last Saturday and have run in them a few times this week. I moved away from the heavy cushion and light support of the Asics Nimbus and have opted for a more minimal shoe, the Nike Lunar Trainer. I really like the lightness of the shoe and surprising cushion-ey feel without such a high heel as the Asics. If you've read my previous posts, you know I have been working on changing my stride and doing some strengthening exercises to prevent my hip problems from becoming chronic and debilitating. These shoes are part of the plan to keep me injury free. So far, I like the Nikes, I'm just a little unsure of how they will hold up on a long, long run. I did 6 miles today and I felt fine. I have a bit of a leg length discrepency and my left foot is slightly bigger than my right. This causes my left foot to overpronate more than my right. I always feel like I need to buy two different sizes and types of shoes. The only problem I have had with the Nikes so far is some rubbing on my right ankle. I'm going to put in some thin Spencos and see if that helps for my 10 mile run on Sunday.

Another part of my injury-free marathon training plan needs to include running smarter. I have several great running buds who run in the 9:30 pace group so I tend to run with them, even though my body would prefer a slower pace. As much as I will miss running with them, I have to listen to my body and slow it down if I really want to prevent injuries. It's difficult to know my pace as it always seems to be changing. Right now, my warm up pace is around 10:30-11 minute miles. After a couple of miles, I tend to get down to the low 10's/upper 9's. Eventually, if it's not too hilly, I can maintain around a 9:30 pace. I just can't be strict about it.

My plan for St. Louis does not involve a specific finish time. I simply want to run a smart race and finish feeling strong. I'd love to do a big negative split. I'm tempted to run without a watch. I'll just need to be careful not to start too fast, so I'll need to hook up with the official marathon pace groups and figure out their strategy.

Sometime in February, I'll do a two mile time trial to assess my current speed. That will help me know where to set my goal pace and tempo pace runs. It will also give me an idea of what pace group I should consider lining up with at the marathon.

I think it will be most difficult this training to not run with my faster training buddies and stick to my "A" goal for the marathon. This blog is to help keep me honest and stick to the long-term plan. The hard training for Boston qualifying will be here soon enough. Now is the time to hold back, build a good base, and have a positive marathon experience. More to come...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Surviving the treadmill

I did it!! I finally ran past 4 miles on the treadmill! You've heard all my complaining about treadmill running and how I miss running outside. There was just no way I was going to pump myself up enough to do another long run in bitter cold temps. After that 10 mile run with the group, I just couldn't face the single digits and sub zero temperatures last week. All of my runs were inside on the treadmill, including 12 on Saturday.

As much as I really don't like running on the treadmill, with a little more "practice" last week, I've learned to not hate it as much. There are ways of making it interesting. Here's my Top Six list of surviving the treadmill. Some of them need a little 'splaining...

6. Headphones!!! - This may seem obvious, but it's always bothered me to run with headphones. They never stay in my ears and I can never seem to get the volume right. I spend most of my time and energy playing around with them rather than focusing on my workout. But, I have found that if I can get them in place even just for a few minutes and I find just the right song, I can crank away on the treadmill. FYI - "Single Ladies" by Beyonce has the perfect cadence for a good tempo run. For me, that's a 7:30 minute mile.

5. Watch all the muscle heads on the weight machines

4. Stare off into space. (This is only good for a minute or so and you have to be careful not to accidentally stare directly at someone. They might get the wrong message!)

3. Watch T.V. with closed captions. Again, there's my issue with headphones, so CC is really my best option when it comes to watching T.V.

2. Run with a friend and talk loudly over the machines and music. You may annoy everyone else around you, but hopefully they're tuned into their headphones and will hadly notice you practically screaming to be heard.

1. Play with the buttons and numbers on the display. I think I'm kinda freaky about this. Here's a little example. If I'm running 3 miles on the treadmill, I like to be done by 30 minutes. You think that would be easy, just run a 10 minute mile pace the whole time. But no, I can't make it that easy. I can't warm up that fast. I usually start off around an 11 or 12 minute pace for the first few minutes. Somewhere in that first mile, I'll get down to mid 10's. Because of my slow start, I usually don't hit a mile until 11 minutes or more. Now I've got to make up some lost time. During the second mile, I usually stay somewhere in the 10's. I'll hit mile 2 around 21 minutes. The last mile, I go all out. I keep increasing the speed a little at a time. I'll eventually try to get it so that I'll be at 2.5 by 25 minutes. The last half mile, I may also start playing around with the incline. Normally I stay at zero, but if I'm feeling good, I'll increase it to 4 or 5 incline for a minute or two. Then I come back down one number at a time until I'm back to zero with a couple minutes left. The end is all out. I try to go as fast as I can for those last couple of minutes. Ideally, I'll finish my 3 miles before I get to 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be exact, but it can't be under 3 miles (except if I'm going longer). Anyway, it's something like that. I just like playing around with it and changing the pace often. It mimicks outdoor running, without the downhills of course.

Even with all these survival techniques, the only way I made it through 12 on Saturday was running with Ann by my side the whole way and breaking it down into smaller segments. After every 4 miles we either switched 'mills or took a short break and restarted our displays. We talked most of the way, but by the end we needed to just hunker down and get it done. We got our iPods going and cranked out the last 4-5 miles. I'm so happy I got through it and that Ann was with me. It's probably the longest I'll ever want to go on the "dreadmill," but at least now I know it's not impossible!

With the warm up this week, I expect to enjoy running outside again. St. Louis marathon training will officially commence in 12 days. I'm going to enjoy my last couple of weeks of non-structured workouts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!!

There's no better way to start off the new year than by doing a long run with friends. Yesterday, I got to run with Runner's Edge. It's been since November that I've joined the group. I've forgotten how it feels to wake up early to run on Saturday mornings. It was difficult leaving my warm, cozy bed at 6:30 to get ready to run in sub zero temperatures, but the alternative of having to run ten miles on a treadmill got me going. (I detest treadmill running and will only run on it for up to four miles). As I got dressed in several layers, the Weather Channel was reporting the current temp at four degrees with a wind chill of one below zero. Even still, I was undeterrred from going outside. Our group run started at 68's Inside Sports which left me with the option of turning around early and finishing my last 3-4 miles on a treadmill if it really got unbearable outside. I figured I would just take it a mile at a time and turn around if necessary.

I started out with the 11 minute group. The pace was just right for an easy warm up and navigating some of the slick roads. The group wasn't very big, but everyone who came was also thankful to finally be running outside and seemed determined to get in their miles together. With 6-7 of us staying together the whole way, I was able to get in all of my ten miles outside. At times, I couldn't feel my fingers or my legs, but nevertheless, it was worth risking frostbite just to get in my long run and get back on track with my training. The last time I ran that long was early December!

With the new year underway, I'm ready to start committing to running long every weekend and getting ready for my marathon training in a couple of weeks. In order to do that, I have to have a decent base of at least a 12 or 14 mile long run. I'm going to have to start getting tough with myself and sticking to my long term plan if this is going to happen. No more late nights, poor planning, or even arctic weather to take me off my schedule.

I'm nervous because this will require some big changes in my life. I'm worried about how much dedication this goal will require and still being able to find some balance with my life. The last time I qualified for Boston, I didn't have kids and my schedule was pretty light. Now, I'm juggling so many things, I'm concerned that something important will be sacrificed. My constant prayer is that by God's grace I can accomplish this goal and still be a good wife, mother, teacher, and friend. I pray that this goal will inspire me to make some changes that will have long lasting positive effects beyong my marathon goals. I always want to remember and be thankful for God's gift of being able to run, for keeping me healthy, and the enjoyment running brings to my life. If I forget to glorify God for these things, then these goals mean very little and have no eternal impact. I don't expect the road to be completely smooth. I just hope I can be smart about my training and do my best to find a good balance. This is going to be an interesting journey and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.

Here's to a great 2010! Hope it's a healthy and happy one!