10-K Training: Making It Count

I don’t race as often as many runners I know, so I feel a lot of pressure to make it count when I do.  If I’m not going to race a certain distance again for another year, I need that PR.  Last year I won a 4-year battle with the Monument Avenue 10-K to break 50 minutes, finishing in 49 minutes flat.  (You can read that race recap here.)  The race is set for March 29 this year, and while I will be content to shave even seconds off my time, I’ve set a goal to run it in 48 minutes.

Ambitious?  Maybe.  Possible?  Yes.

With just over five weeks until race day, I am getting serious about training.  To avoid injury, I only ever run three days a week, usually M/W/F.  Typically when training for a longer distance (or no race in particular), my weekly routine includes one speed workout (either a tempo run or intervals), one long run (with “long” being relative to what I am training for), and one mid-distance, mid-speed run.  However, after looking at various training plans, and considering that I am aiming for speed, I decided that I really need to make my running days count.  Here’s my weekly training schedule for the next five weeks:

Monday: Tempo Run (30-50 minutes)
Tuesday: Weights + Cardio Cross Training
Wednesday: Intervals (mile, 800, or 400 repeats) + yoga
Thursday: Weights + Cardio Cross Training
Friday: Long Run
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Weights

I’m including both a tempo run and an interval workout each week to get my body accustomed to running faster.  Here’s my tempo run from Monday:

treadmill tempIs it still a tempo run if you don’t run one pace the entire time?  I like adding in a couple of half-mile faster spurts to avoid getting bored–plus, 7.7 mph feels easy when you’re coming down from 8.0 mph. 😉  It was a great workout, regardless.

I am pumped about the race and training and all that it entails!  After work today I am heading to a local high school track to do some 400 m repeats…wish me luck!

-What are you training for right now?
How may speed workouts do you do each week?

 

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Running Playlist–Need Suggestions!

When I trained for my first marathon in college, I made a kick-butt playlist that I listened to on all my long runs.  To this day, those songs (plus the taste of strawberry-lime Gatorade) remind me of the early morning in Harrisonburg, VA.  I don’t typically listen to music while I run, but there’s no question that it helps me stay motivated and keep pace during a run.  

As we move toward cooler weather, I am tentatively planning to run another marathon in December (“tentatively” because I haven’t signed up yet, but I am putting in the runs.)  The time has come for another kick-butt playlist to get me through those 18 and 20-milers.  I want a fresh batch of songs that will pump me up and years later remind of this time in my life.  

I need your suggestions:  What are some great songs for my running playlist that are:

     a. clean
     b. relatively current
     c. make no mention of “bein’ in da club”?  

I’m open to any genre.

Thanks!!

Race Week Workouts + Thoughts on Yoga

Tomorrow is race day–time to see if all my training has been enough.  To be honest, I am not feeling entirely confident I can achieve my goal of breaking 50 minutes for the 10k.  I know I put in some great training runs, but I started a little late, and my legs have felt achy in the last week.  I’m going to do my best to push the doubts out of mind and just go for it tomorrow!  I can break 50 minutes.  I can break 50 minutes…

The week leading up to a race is tricky in terms of workouts.  I try to strike a balance between working out enough that I don’t lose any physical fitness, and resting enough that I don’t wear myself out before the race.  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run- 30 minutes, easy

Tuesday: Weeding the yard (Don’t even try to tell me that’s not a workout.  It’s like doing squats for two hours [we had a lot of weeds ;-)] )

Wednesday AM: Run-30 minutes, easy

Wednesday PM: Yoga- 60 minutes (more on this later)

Thursday: Walk-30 minutes

Friday: Rest

In the few days leading up to a race, I’m pretty sure resting is more beneficial than any workout!

About that yoga.  Andrew and I have started taking a class at our gym on Wednesday nights (we’ve been about five times so far.)  Prior to this, I’d taken a few yoga classes here and there but always preferred a good 30-minute run to an hour of thinking about breathing and trying not to laugh.  A few years ago, in an attempt to be proactive about relaxing and controlling stress, I bought a yoga DVD.  I did it a few times in my living room, but I’d always fast forward through the 5-minute “warm-up,” which consisted of lying on my back, breathing, and thinking, “I don’t have time for this…”  In retrospect, I think I may have been missing the point. 😉

Recently we decided to give it another shot (Andrew had never been to a class or fast forwarded through a DVD.)  After a few weeks of consistent yoga, it turns out we really enjoy it!  That doesn’t mean we are good at it (we are not,) but we do find it rewarding, and it actually is a very good workout.

While we are becoming more comfortable with yoga, we still have a long way to go–I know; it’s not really a destination, but we’re definitely newbies.  Inevitably during each class there is at least one situation that makes us giggle.  It usually happens when the teacher gives an instruction that, whatever she meant to say, arrives at my ear sounding like this:  “Lifting your right leg to the side, wrap your left arm around your ankle twice, right arm on blue, left foot green, and lean back.  Breathe.”  😉

Without fail there is also always some instruction given for which I think, “I must have missed something;  it’s impossible to look at the ceiling from my current position.”  I come out of the position to look at the instructor and discover that, yes, yes it is possible to look at the ceiling from that position.

Additionally, Andrew and I are potentially the two least flexible people on the planet.  This week in class we did a lot more stretching/flexibility positions than usual, and it was painful–not so much physically, but painful how bad I was! (I know, that’s not really what yoga is about.)  At one point she instructed us to sit with our legs in a wide straddle and lean to the right.  I thought, “Lean to the right?  Or lean over my right leg?  For you it’s the same thing, but for me the two are very different.  I have like a 90-degree angle going on…”  I was thankful that most people in the class could bend over and touch their faces to the floor so they couldn’t see me essentially sitting up straight. 😀

The verdict:  We are sticking with it.  At the very least, it is a great means to improve our poor flexibility!

With that I am off to rest…well, not workout, anyway.  I am going to the race expo this afternoon with my friend Gabe to pick up our numbers and race packets (and get free samples!  Gotta love race expos :-D)

Anyone else racing this weekend?

New Shoes and Muddy Trail Runs

I purchased a new pair of running shoes over the weekend, and yesterday was the day for their debut run.  The weather was so beautiful that I decided not to waste my run on a treadmill, or even the neighborhood roads–I drove to a local park to enjoy the trails.

new shoes

The weather was so beautiful, in fact (70 degrees and sunny,) that I blocked out the memory of all the rain we’d received the day before.  A few hours of sunshine aren’t enough to dry a day’s worth of mud, as I soon discovered.

trails

The trail started out nice enough–shade, soft surface, roots and logs to hurdle–but soon  those logs became bridges over mud puddles.

new shoes1

Thankfully, I had a fair amount of success keeping the shoes clean, with the exception of a few mud splatters.

I love being in the woods, mud and all.  It reminds me of my childhood, when our house backed up to some fantastic woods.  Every chance we had we’d play there with all the kids on our street, building forts, jumping over creeks, attempting to catch tadpoles with “fishing rods” made from sticks and long grass.  Every section of our woods was named too:  Skull Fort, the Lagoon, Nazi Crossing (there was a swastika spray-painted on a tree and what we swore was a grave nearby.  It was unwise to visit that area alone. )  When the neighborhood on the other side of the woods began to expand, we would rip the neon orange ribbons off the trees, certain this would sufficiently confuse the builders, and we could keep our woods.  <Sigh>

All that to say, I love being in the woods.  Sitting, running, hiking…it’s all very therapeutic, I think.

new shoes4

My less-new, now broken-in shoes agree. 🙂

DSCN7630

Are you a fan of trail runs, or do you prefer to stay on the roads? 

DSF Rebel Run 5k

On Saturday the high school I attended held a 5k to raise money for their athletics program.  I don’t run many 5k’s, but with the Monument Avenue 10k a mere three weeks away, I figured I could use it as a practice race as well as a chance to do some speed work.  Plus, the school’s athletics program is definitely a cause that I support!  (I ran cross country and track in high school.)  I talked my brother into running with me, as he is training for the same 10k and also benefited from this school’s athletics program.

Rebel Run

It was quite chilly standing around before the race started, but once we started running we warmed up pretty quickly.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of how fast I could finish the race–the last 5k I ran was almost a year ago–but I decided to aim for an 8-minute mile pace.  Unfortunately, my Garmin watch broke that morning as I was putting it on, so rather than knowing my minute-by-minute pace, I had to rely on a regular stopwatch and how I felt (I know… horrible.)

Garmin

Has anyone had a Garmin break like this before?  The rubber holding the metal piece just tore, so there was no way I could wear it!  Does anyone know if Garmin can/will replace that segment of the watch?  I was pretty bummed.

The course itself was a nice trip down memory lane–we ran through the neighborhoods by the school where we used to do our cross country practice runs.  Ross and I maintained a steady, but quick pace, and judging by the mile-markers, we determined we were running just faster than goal pace.

As we emerged from the neighborhood and approached the school grounds (probably a quarter mile from the finish), we gradually passed two high school girls.  Moments later they passed us, having clearly picked up speed and decided we were their “don’t let them beat us” people (Runners, you know what I’m talking about.)  Ross, sensing a challenge and being competitive to his core, asked if he could take off toward the finish.  He passed the girls quickly, and I was not far behind.  I heard them mumble something as Ross passed, and then again as I did.  Sorry, girls. 😀

My official time was 23:47–a personal best for me!  (Hey, I said I ran cross country in high school… I didn’t say I ran it well.)  My average mile pace was 7:40, and of that I am pretty dang proud.

The race provided some good quality time with the bro, boosted my confidence for the upcoming 10k, and made for a generally pleasant morning.  I just may incorporate more 5k’s into my life from here on out. 🙂

Do you run 5ks regularly?  What is your favorite race distance?  

Breakfast for Dinner (BFD) + Long Run

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am officially in 10k training mode.  My runs must be more intentional now, including fewer 30-minute-just-for-fitness-run-walks.  On Wednesday evening, I set out on a long run.  Now, I suppose long runs are relative to the distance one is training for, but I feel a little silly calling 5.5 miles “long.”  Still, having been in a 3-4 mile routine for quite a while, 5.5 miles was tougher than I’d anticipated!

As I neared the end of the run–around mile 4 or so–I began thinking about dinner.  I’d planned to make a curried pork stir-fry, but with tired legs and sweat dripping off my face, all I could think about was pancakes.  And eggs.  And bacon.  Mmm… must. run. faster…

Because I typically say no to BFD (breakfast for dinner,) Andrew was thrilled when I suggested it.

On the menu:

Eggs (hard-boiled for me, fried for Andrew)

Turkey Bacon (all natural)

Pancakes (gluten-free, dairy-free; we like Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix)

Bananas 

BFD BFD2

It totally hit the spot.

Sometimes bananas and eggs upset my stomach separately, so I took a big risk eating both with this meal.  Thankfully, I felt fine!

Are you a fan of BFD, or do you prefer to keep your breakfast foods in the morning?

Treadmill Tempo Run

Yesterday I finally registered for the Monument Avenue 10k–one of the largest 10k’s in the country with over 40,000 participants, and an especially great race in a city known for doing races very well.  On April 13, a large majority of Richmonders will be running, walking, or spectating.

While I only registered yesterday, I have officially been training for a couple of weeks, and have assumed I’d run the race since last year…and the year before.  For someone who loves running, this is not a race to miss.

Four years ago, I surprised myself by finishing this 10k in 50:03.  I had no idea I could run that fast and gained a new running confidence as a result.  The next year I did not run the race.  In fact, I only ran at all three times in the period of about six months, but that’s another story–one that involves a scarring 20-mile run with 25 mph wind and bad directions.  I digress.  The following year (two years ago,) I made a comeback and finished the race in 50:28.

Last year, having been so close to running sub-50 minutes in the previous years, I trained hard.  When race day arrived, I was ready.  My legs felt good, and I was completely confident that I’d see  49:__ when I crossed the finish line.  I ran my the first four miles at approximately a 7:55 mile pace, which  would put me well under 50 minutes at the finish.  Then, just after passing the marker for mile 4, I felt a sharp pain in my side.  I slowed down to allow the cramp to work itself out, but it only worsened.  I walked.  I stretched and took deep breaths.  When the pain subsided a bit, I began running again, knowing I’d banked enough time to still achieve my goal.  Unfortunately, the pain kept returning (and it was not a pain I could push through.)  Severely disappointed (and a little embarrassed), I walked/jogged/hobbled the last 2.2 miles of the race, finishing in 55:03.  

This year I want so badly to break the 50-minute mark, and I am kicking myself for only beginning training a month before the race.  (I do run regularly, so I am not starting from scratch, but still…) Believe it or not, the purpose of this post was not to give a four year race recap, but talk about a specific training run 😉

The Tempo Run

The short: running at a tough, but manageable pace for 2+ miles, to train your body to maintain speed at longer distances.

The long: Eh, just read this article.

Tempo runs are a great tool for getting faster, which is exactly what I want to do, so I have been incorporating them into my 10k training.  Here’s what I did last week:

Treadmill Tempo

Hopefully I will be able to run the tempo miles faster in time, but this is where I am at the moment!

Anyone else running the Monument Ave 10k?  Do you have a goal time?

Happy running!