Friday, January 31, 2014

I haven't gone anywhere!

I haven't posted anything in a while. Mostly since we started the process of moving to the new house- this started a week before we closed. I got busy transferring utilities, changing our phone, cable and internet, packing boxes, etc. 

The new house is pretty awesome. Our next door neighbor to the south is a nice older couple. Our neighbor to the north happens to be a trailhead. Not bad. To the west, open space and partial mountain views. 

While I felt like I've been busy and haven't had the time to write on the blog, I've definitely had time to train... That is until Monday when I think I got hurt. If you know me, you know that my most serious injuries didn't come from being an athlete. I hurt myself doing random things that everyday life requires me to do (if you're any of my friends in college, I know you're rolling your eyes now and thinking: "what did you do now??"). 

On Monday we woke up to a significant amount of snow. And we were getting our bedroom and dining room furniture delivered. I made sure to continue to shovel the driveway so these furniture guys wouldn't bring too much snow into the house- that would just be catastrophic!! 

The morning of Tuesday, I woke up with a nasty back pain. I could not bend forward or turn sideways... I went to the doctor  to get some moles removed and she mentioned it would probably be best if I didn't run that day cause it could make the incisions bleed too much. I figured it was a good idea since my back hurt, too. Instead, I got a massage that evening. 

Wednesday came around and while I could sorta turn to the sides, I couldn't really bend forward. And walking hurt a lot. Sitting, too. Regardless I went for a long walk with my boys. 

Thursday and the pain was still there. I still did what I had to do. Clean the condo we moved out of to get it ready for the renter... Exchange some stuff at target, run some errands. Only to come home at 5 in excruciating pain and dig for an old prescription of Vicodin. Despite the painkiller (which I hate taking, btw), I didn't sleep well. And my man said I should do zero physical activity today. 

I have an appointment scheduled for 3:30 and I hope they can tell me what's wrong with me. Cause it sucks. It hurts a lot and I have races to train for... I'm hoping it's a simple back strain and will be fixed in 2-3 days. 

Have you had any non-running related injuries that have kept you away from running? How do you deal with the urge to run and the frustration of not being able to? 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stage Race training

Sometimes, when I sit back and relax, I get a minute to think about the one and only: TransRockies (TRR). Holy Cow! Will I really be able to do this? I mean, it is 120 miles in 6 days. That's a lot of miles. Yikes. I mean, during the good months I'd log 120 miles PER MONTH. Now, logging 120 miles in a week... I'm sure that'll hurt.

Thankfully, the TRR website provides a lot of information on how to start getting ready. They posted a great article today with lots of tips and good advice. I figured I'd share since a lot of it is useful even if you are not running a long stage race. Some of it is just good training measure. It's long,  but worth a read if you're into long distance running! Enjoy. 

Training and running TRR will most likely be like nothing you’ve experienced before—ditch the GPS and forget what you read in Ultramarathon Man, this one is a different kind of beast!  Following a few tips and guidelines will assure you the greatest opportunity to arrive on the starting line fit and healthy and also to finish the experience maybe a little bruised, but with incredible memories that will last a lifetime. 
Running 120 miles in only 6 days will require a commitment to healthy and consistent training.  Every person is different and the ideal number weekly miles will vary tremendously from one to the next.  Strive to find the balance between respecting the nature of the race without attempting more than the body and mind are ready for.  Increase miles slowly but steadily as your fitness progresses and always be conscious of signs or symptoms of injury and overtraining.
Start early—the winter months are perfect for establishing a consistent routine and building a solid aerobic foundation that will prepare you for the more demanding months of training approaching TRR.
Begin decreasing weekly mileage and effort in the weeks approaching the run.  A few extra days of rest will likely be more beneficial than squeezing in that one last hard effort.
Adapting the body to the unique nature of stage racing can be achieved by incorporating back-to-back longs runs as part of your training plan. Completing these every 2-3 weeks will prove invaluable to your fitness and confidence heading into TRR. 
Prepare for the Descents
The long sustained descents of stage two and four present a unique challenge within the TRR.  A common aftermath of these stages is to have “blown out” quadriceps making for difficult days following these days.
Try and run a number of long descents in training if you have sufficient mountains close to you.  If not, harder efforts on the descent of hill repeats can suffice.
Specific quadriceps exercises can provide extra insurance that your muscles will stand up to the pounding of the descents during TRR.   Squats and lunges are excellent exercises to complete after a couple runs each week.
With all but a few miles above 8000’ and topping out at 12,600’ the effects of altitude will likely be felt during TRR.  These effects will vary greatly from one to the other.  Training at altitude can help acclimatize the body to these effects but unfortunately not all of us have mountains in our backyard. Regardless, all runners should it’s natural to find yourself running a slower pace with a higher effort at the higher elevations.  Forget any pace goals and focus on effort instead.  Stay hydrated over the high passes, take your time and soak in the incredible views.
Proper race fueling starts long before you get to the starting line in Buena Vista. The most important nutrition component of your training will be consistent dietary habits that nourish and fuel your body throughout the demanding training build up. Many runners think that when they are putting in a lot of miles they can take liberties to eat whatever and however much they want. Conversely, the opposite is true and it is imperative to supplement training with a nutrient rich diet that aids in recovery, helps you reach your ideal body weigh, decreases risk of injury, illness or fatigue and provides your body with an abundance of nutrients.
More specifically, an optimal nutrition plan would be a plant-based diet consisting of an abundance of vegetables and fruit, moderate amounts of whole grain carbohydrates and a modest amount of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.) and lean protein.
Race Fueling
Just like other components of your TRR training plan, race fueling is something that needs to be practiced for weeks in advance. Long runs and workouts should be dress rehearsals for the big show in August. Everyone’s race fueling and hydration needs are slightly different so it is important to nail down what works best for your body.
For stage racing, proper fueling becomes even more imperative so that your body can recover from each stage. That process starts with:
- Eating a breakfast rich in carbohydrates and adequate fluids.
- Constant hydration and fueling while racing (around 200-300 calories of carbohydrates per hour). 
- Eating a snack within 30 minutes after finishing (around 30-40 grams of carbohydrate and 10-20 grams of protein) and begin replacing fluid losses.
- Small and nutrient rich meals throughout the rest of the day (vegetables and fruit, whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fat and lean protein).
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Don’t leave this component of TRR up to chance! Figure out what will be best for your needs so that you can just focus on the challenge at hand. 
Injury Prehab
You can’t race if you can't run.  Prehab is always most efficient and cost effective than rehab. Make effort to stay ahead of injuries so that you can train consistently and maximize your TRR buildup. Don’t wait to feel pain before taking action. Plan ahead so that you don’t have to do damage control to put your body back together.
  Consistently hit up the weight room or incorporate an at home strength routine.  It doesn’t need to be too involved but some basics exercises can help ward off injuries, correct any imbalances, and increase muscle strength, efficiency and power.  If possible, get frequent care from a Physical Therapist, Chiropractor or massage therapist that is familiar with working with athletes.  Also, incorporate Active Isolated Stretching and Trigger Point Therapy (foam rolling). If an injury does pop up, do not run through pain. Find a knowledgeable doctor or therapist to assess the injury and help you formulate a plan to get back to training.
Form a Plan
Forming a training plan will improve the quality consistency of your training and allow you to progress at a healthy and appropriate rate.  Whether it’s private coaching or one your own design, do your best to follow the plan while maintaining a certain degree of flexibility for illness, injury or fatigue.  Progress slowly but steadily over the winter, spring and summer months.  Training too hard too early can be detrimental to your health and fitness for TRR.   Start modestly, build conservatively and stay consistent.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Running partners

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's easier to get your workout in if you have someone to keep you accountable. And I'm not only talking about running.

We all have days when we struggle. If you are just one more normal human being, you probably know that sometimes just thinking about your workout makes you want to glue yourself to the couch and continue to watch a marathon of whatever TV series you're into.

All my running partners seem to be in between seasons, or out of state or just kick starting their training. So I'm hoping I can have some company soon. While I've gotten some good runs in this year so far, I'm definitely struggling to put my shoes on and get out at a decent time.

Regardless, I thought this would be a good time to formally introduce all my running partners:

1. T-Money - Not sure how this nickname came to be, but since the day I met her, people called her T$. She ran my first marathon with me. And by that I mean she stuck next to me every single step of the way. We ran the same marathon for my second... we each ran at our own pace but it was wonderful to have her there.  I cheated and became a Marathon Maniac before her by a week with the San Antonio Marathon. She did Seattle. She then moved away, so I lost my training partner and then without asking for permission, she decided to have a mini-T$. It's ok. Now my training partner comes with a sweet face (her baby's). She now lives in Oregon so we don't run together often. But we will run A LOT together this summer as she is my TransRockies partner.

My first marathon ever with T$
And the new training partner that now comes with her... Isn't she ADORABLE?
2. Courtney - She comes in #2 although the numbers don't mean much. We don't train together often either since she lives in Denver and works like crazy. She though, makes me believe in myself. She makes me sign up for all these crazy races and I LOVE LOVE LOVE having her around on race day. She sees NOTHING negative in any run and constantly reassures you how awesome you are, even when you're the average runner. She usually places Top 10 overall in all races she runs, but she won't care placing dead last if you ask her to keep you company.

Start of Mt. Hood 50
3. Lindsay - Linds is my swimmer runner friend. She ran her first race last year and somehow (I wonder how) got hooked. She's awesome. She strives to be a better runner every day and while she thinks she isn't the most awesome runner out there, I believe she is. She is the most disciplined athlete I know so it's good for me to hang out with her. Up until now, her longest event has been the half marathon so her training runs are sometimes not as long as mine; but it's refreshing. I tend to underestimate the power of my shorter workouts, and Linds helps stay on top of my training by making me go on those 45-60 minute runs on weekdays. She's about to start training for a full marathon and I'm happy to do the same for her with the long runs.

Linds the day she PR'ed her 5k. It was a day she didn't want to run cause they had cancelled the swim. I made her, she was happy!  :) 
4. Laurie - Surprisingly we haven't run much together, but we've gotten some runs in. What I like about Laurie is that she will text me out of the blue and ask if we can go run. Especially on days that neither she or I would want to get out. We keep each other on our feet, literally.

Laurie and I on the summit of Sanitas. Cold day and non-motivated runners getting it done. It was a great day! 
5. Sam - Sam's crazy like me. She signs up for plenty of races, like me. And some days, when I have no one to come up to crazy trails with me, she is game. Our runs are sometimes recreational as in we hike a bunch when it gets tough or sometimes we just jump in alpine lakes. But mainly, we get out and log many hours on our feet.

Sam and I on Missouri Lakes hike/run. Amazing place. 
I, of course, couldn't do ANY of it without the support of my family: my husband and pup. They are my most important partners... while most long runs I take care of with friends. These two always come along to celebrate at the races or just pick to go on a random trail adventure with me.

Trail running with my family. 
Who are your favorite running partners? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Training

Winter may be a rough time to get out and take care of those miles. I, on the other hand, have a harder time getting out on a hot hot day. If you know me a little, you'd know I can't seem to perform real well in the heat. I tend to dehydrate fast and I just can't seem to get enough calories in. I personally love getting out when it's snowing. Actually, to make me sound even crazier, if there's snow on the forecast, I will WAIT to see those first few flakes to fall for me to get out for a "fun run".

My one advice to you is: pick your events wisely. If you know you struggle in the heat, like me, try and get an early-season event and get your training done, mostly in the winter and fall. I personally LOVE this structure. Then I get to play all summer and not worry about the training plan. What others call "winter maintenance", I call "summer maintenance". And I start all over again around Thanksgiving. Which happens to be great, too. I manage to keep the weight off over the holidays.

Today is nice and sunny, and everything is covered in snow (pretty!!!). I keep checking the weather and it just barely warmed up to 14 degrees (and it's past noon). I'm not scared of the cold. Actually, I think I want to head up to Sanitas (the snowier, the better). But seriously? 14 degrees? Darn! Usually my limit is low-20's. But mark my words, I'll get it done.

What are your ideal weather conditions to run in? 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Image, New Goals

This is it. The day we all get a chance to make changes and start fresh. Shattered dreams, failures, lack of motivation and lack of inspiration are all in the past. If you want an excuse to do things right and rise above, today is the day you get your second chance (or 30th, like me).

We all have too many reasons to lose  that motivation "to get things done". But today, I sit here finding ways to help you (and myself) to stay motivated through the next 365 days. Here are 10 different options to pick from:

1. SIGN UP NOW! It's never too soon to sign up for that big race that will keep your eyes on the prize. I have planned a "mellow" schedule for this year. But today, I am registered for all 6 races I have on my calendar. Having something to train for will get you out the door.

2. PRESS PLAY AND GO. I have a specific "running" playlist depending on how long I'm running. I have a 60min playlist, a 90min one and so on. I just press play and I know I'll have the right music to keep me motivated. Make sure you at least have one playlist on your ipod that will keep you going.

3. EXPLORE THE WORLD. Try and map out your runs beforehand and explore new trails, paths or cities. Running the same loop over and over again will just make your training boring. Getting lost while on a long run may not be the worst thing that happens to you.

4. FIND A BUDDY. While I personally enjoy some alone time doing what I love most. I have all sorts of different running partners. The ones I run easy 30 minutes with. The ones that'll run an hour on a trail, but then there's also the ones that are willing to go out for multiple hours on a great adventure. They make me push harder.

5. MAKE YOUR DOG HAPPY. If you don't do it for you, do it for your furry friend. If you don't have one, get one. Dogs LOVE going out for some good runs. Click here to see which breeds are good for running.

6. QUICK AND PAINLESS. Ok, maybe painFUL. If you feel like you don't have time, try to get out for a quick 10 minute warm up and then do six to eight 200-meter repeats at your mile pace. Cool down 5 minutes and you're done. Make your short workouts worth it.

7. SEXUAL PERFORMANCE. I am not kidding. I keep reading over and over again on running magazines that "research shows" that exercise improves sexual performance. Research from all sorts of different universities. If you don't believe it, then give it a shot. It can't hurt, right?

8. GET IT DONE. If you continue to wait for the perfect time to run or the perfect day, you'll never get it done. Three years ago, a friend of mine said the training plan he downloaded from the internet started on a Tuesday, but 3 Tuesdays in a row it rained. He would just say: "he'd start next Tuesday". He never did. True story!

9. ATHLINKS IS YOUR FRIEND. There's such a thing as a website that compiles ALL your results and makes them available to anyone who searches. Your results will be there forever. Forever and ever. Get out now, you wouldn't want people looking at crappy results of yours, huh? (And yes, I AM GUILTY of stalking other people's results).

10. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER. There was NEVER a time when I finished a run and said: "I shouldn't have done that. That was really bad for me." Not all runs are great, but when you get it done you're always happy that you got out and tried: "Ugh, that sucked, but I'm glad I did it!".

Today I signed up for the last of my 6 races for this year and finalized the "new look" on my blog. I like sharing my running stories, struggles and successes with people which somehow keeps me accountable. And now, I should get going. I woke up to an email from Training Peaks saying I should go run Mt. Sanitas, I better get it done sooner that later.

What keeps you motivated?