get faster

I love when folks post their speed training workouts. Makes it easy on me the next time I hit the track (or the treadmill). Here’s a terrific HIIT workout from Shut Up + Run, and it includes all sorts of helpful tips, too. I can’t wait to try it.

so fast

That’s all for now. LET’S. GET. FAST.

quick recap

Marathon training is officially underway! That is, I’m onto week 2 and haven’t thrown in the towel yet. Here’s a quick look at the past five days…

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 9.4 miles in the mixed rain/sun … The first 5 miles felt terrific; the last 4.4 were, shall we say, craptastic. I did the ol’ I’m-not-looking-at-my-Garmin-anymore-because-it’s-too-demoralizing-when-I-do routine.

Sunday: another rest day, in which I thought about doing a tempo run, then instead opted for sleeping in, drinking afternoon cocktails and going to the movies

Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill, slow

Tuesday: 5:00 am track workout! Yep, I actually hauled myself out of bed bright and early (or dark and early) and met a friend at the track. We did Yasso 800s and some 400s, for a total of 5.25 miles.

How do you get yourself to obey the alarm? Don’t give yourself any opportunities for a second wakeup call:

alarm

I’ll be back soon with a post about running hills. Namely, what counts as a hill workout? Just how tough should it be? What sort of elevation gain should you shoot for?

Do you have the answers? (Spoiler alert: I don’t.)

on setting goals & staying motivated

Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill

Tuesday: 4 miles – a hill workout

Wednesday: rest day (kickball)

Thursday: 4 miles on the treadmill

As you know if you’re one of my 12 readers (thank you, by the way!), I was super pumped after the Helvetia Half Marathon. It was a fun race, exceeded my expectations, and I was overjoyed that my friends woke up early to cheer me on. I took it easy the week after, knowing it was a good idea to rest my legs and take some of the running pressure off.

But, then, eight days later, my body wanted to get back on the running train, but my mind didn’t. I found myself dawdling, wondering … What’s going to make me pumped to run again?

The idea of “staying in shape?”

What does that mean, anyway?

I’ve always cared about being in shape, but never had a super clear idea of what that meant to me. A particular number on the scale? (Not really. I don’t own a scale.) Fitting into my favorite jeans? (No. Most of my jeans are kind of loose.) Being able to hoof up flights of stairs without getting winded? (Maybe.) Looking like an athlete in a bathing suit? (I’ll never be in good enough shape for that.)

So, while the notion of being healthy and in shape motivates me in small part, it’s not enough to get me running consistently — or running more than 20 miles per week.

And, thus, I need a new goal. That brings us to this: I signed up for my first full marathon.

Cue the rapid heart rate and butterflies in the stomach.

I’m nervous. Even though the race is in October.

Can I stick to my training over the summer, while the happy hours and lazy park days call my name? Am I mentally tough enough for 26.2 miles? Are my knees and hips gonna hate me?

For now, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m following a training schedule that allows me to start small, so I’m back to 4-mile runs during the week instead of 8-mile runs (though that won’t last for long), and I’m mixing in track days and hill runs, to keep my legs guessing.

I’m also thinking about shooting for 4 runs per week plus a weights/yoga day, rather than 5 runs per week. I’m not sure; is that foolish? I don’t really know much about marathon training, and most of the programs suggest 5-6 runs per week. But I do believe my weight lifting days help my running base in a way that just hitting the pavement doesn’t.

Tell me: Have you run a marathon? What are your tips/tricks/suggestions/warnings?

I leave you with this picture of me, an accurate representation of how I’ve been spending my post-run evenings:

icing

Ice packs on each thigh. I know how to party.

on making comparisons & feeling uber-inferior

Tuesday: 5 mile tempo run

Wednesday: 30 min on the elliptical, plus weights

Thursday: 40 min run on the treadmill

I’m taking a little detour from the form focus posts, but I promise to finish off that series soon.

In the meantime, I want to talk about a running issue that’s plaguing me lately — and plagues those of us who are used to performing well in most areas of our lives and sort of just, you know, expect perfection. (Expectations. Needly buggers.)

Or maybe I should say running issues. Plural. There are a few of them rattling around in my head, and they all make me sound like a whiny bitch.

Don’t believe me? (Actually, if you know me, you probably do believe me when I say I sound like a whiny bitch …) Allow me to enumerate my thoughts lately:

  1. I’m too slow. Nevermind that I’ve only started running regularly in the last two months. Nevermind that I’ve just started setting pace goals and timing myself. Nevermind that I’ve always been slow, nor that I’ve never really done sprint training. I don’t care! I’m too slow regardless! I hate being slow! I don’t want to be slow! I don’t want to look down and see a 9:xx or a 10:xx on my Garmin, no matter the distance I’m running.
  2. Those other girls are so much faster. Why?! Comparison is rarely a good thing. But, to be sure, it’s partially motivating. I follow a lot of really great running blogs (I need to do a post on my faves or make a blog roll), and I learn a lot from these women who are tough, fast and smart about their training. I like trying out speed workouts they’ve done and following the races they’re training for. It’s cool to know that so many others care about their running times and progress, since most of my real-life friends don’t tend to be crazy runners. BUT. I’ve started feeling like a bag of bones compared to their paces and weekly mileages. I’m just not that good. Not yet, maybe not ever. And it’s not even like I want to run as fast as them because I want to beat them. No. It’s more like, if normal-looking, recreational runners can run those paces, I feel like I should be capable of running those paces, too. I don’t want to be limited by my ability or my mindset. And I just really, really want to *feel* fast.
  3. I don’t run far enough. I’ve been training for a half marathon and running 15-25 miles per week. This is 20 miles more per week than a couple months ago, when I largely did the elliptical and ran just one day per week. But, then, I read the running blogs (those damn running blogs!) and see how these women think a 35-mile week is in the slacker zone. Ugh. Really? To be sure, I know there are plenty of folks who think my 20-mile weeks are intense, and also, I know, who really cares?! If you’re running, you’re running. It’s good for you, no matter the distance. And I know that I’m being smart about my progress — protecting my knees and hips — and building my stamina. Yet, I feel myself getting attached to the numbers. (Note to self: Just like expectations, attachments are bullshit. Down with getting attached!) (I’m really throwing around a lot of exclamation points in this post, aren’t I? I am heated.)
  4. I don’t want to run today. F*ck those people who like to workout every day. Well, shit. I guess this one is about making comparisons, too. I find myself wanting to b*tch-slap (sorry) those people who say they LOVE to workout every day and they hardly take rest days (because they just don’t feel like it!) and they even do double days (because they have so much energy!) and they just love, love, LOVE the gym. There are days I hate the gym. All those sweaty people, all that stank. And there are days when running sounds, um, stupid. On those days, I just want to curl up on the couch and eat a grilled cheese and not feel guilty about being lazy. (But I do feel guilty. Sometimes. Other times, I feel wildly indulgent — and I like that.) (Secondly, you know I just want to b*tch-slap those people because I’m actually jealous of them, right?)
  5. I should stop running. This one is rolled in with all of the others. As soon as I start the self-defeating talk, I begin to think, Well, maybe I’m not a runner. Maybe I should give this up. Maybe I shouldn’t sign up for anymore races. The ol’ fear of failure. If I’m not going to be any good at this, I’ll just quit. I’ll show running who’s boss. And then I remind myself how much more fun I’ve been having since I’ve been running regularly. And how strong it’s made me feel. And how it’s been the only thing to get me through a few really, terribly shitty days. So I should thank running.
  6. My stomach doesn’t look like a runner’s stomach. (This is another variation of I should stop running. See, also, I’m acting vain and ridiculous.) When I first increased my workouts from 3 per week (1 Zumba day, 1 elliptical day and 1 run or weights day) to 5-6 per week (3 run days, 1-2 weights days, 1 boot camp day), I noticed an immediate change in my body. I was stronger, leaner and more toned. I had little muscles popping out in exciting places. I felt gloriously fit. I also felt extraordinarily hungry. Burning a lot of calories will do that to you, I guess. So I started eating a lot more. And I don’t always make the wisest choices (French fries and an IPA, anyone?). And my body just kind of tipped back to where it was. Which is not to say it tipped back to anything I shouldn’t be grateful of. It’s just … well … I guess I think if I’m running three times more, I should miraculously have the stomach I’ve always dreamed of. I should be able to, like, parade around in my sports bra and look like hot shit. I should get to eat cake and still have a six-pack. Well, darn. I’m realizing that it doesn’t really work like that.

Huh, this is turning into a much longer rant than I expected.

Here’s the thing. I know that these issues aren’t unique to me. It’s normal to feel frustrated, disappointed, even envious, when we don’t see the results that we expect.

But it ain’t a good thing to get wrapped up in these thoughts. It’s a lonely, self-absorbed spot to sit in.

So, when I’ve been feeling the above (and it’s been more frequently than I’d like to admit as of late), I repeat to myself one or more (or all) of the following:

  1. Shut up. You’re healthy. 
  2. Shut up. You’re alive.
  3. Shut up. Your body is awesome. 
  4. Shut up. You’re lucky to live in a beautiful town where you can safely run outside all year long.
  5. Shut up. Get moving.

I should probably drop the “shut ups” and be gentler with myself. But it works better this way. If I’m going to come at myself with asshole complaints, I should fight those complaints with equal fervor.

I also like to tell myself to shut up because I’ve really taken to the blog, Shut Up and Run. If it works for her, it works for me. If you need to get motivated and back in your running shoes, read this and then this.

I’m going to stop here because this is enough crap talk (and enough exclamation points) for one day.

But, tell me: How do you stay motivated? How do you counter your negative thoughts about running? What’s your go-to pick-me-up?

First PR (sort of) of the year!

Saturday: 10K (6.2 mile) trail race at Ft. Steilacoom, near Tacoma, WA

Sunday: 3.5 mile recovery run (and kickball)

What a fun weekend. I’ve officially caught the racing bug! And I officially LOVE small races. People are super friendly and chatty, there’s lots of room on the course and, best of all, NO LINES. No lines at the porta-potties, no lines at registration, no lines at the post-race snack area. Fabulous.

I’m going to do a separate race recap in another post, but here’s a sneak peek: I PR’d (sort of — more on that later), got 11th overall, 6th woman and 2nd in my age category! (Another bonus of a small race: feeling like you’ve actually placed.) You will never see rankings like that from me again, so don’t get used to it. :)

Most importantly, I felt strong, kept a solid pace throughout and had a lot of fun.

Oh, and Jill and I ate and drank afterward (in Seattle) as if we’d run a marathon. We started with sangria and lunch at Kanape (salad, savory crepe, prosciutto baguette) then cocktails at Liberty Bar, then a short break and, later, a Cinco de Mayo feast at Poquitos (it was packed, but we got lucky and didn’t have to wait too long … then promptly ordered margaritas, queso fundido, an enormous tostada topped with grasshoppers and huge bowls of bean soup and tortilla soup).

Cinco de Mayo

Can our stomachs fit all of this food? We found a way.

Somehow we didn’t have to roll ourselves home, but I did have to undo the top button (that’s what about 6,000 calories in one day will do to you).

I stayed at Jill and Matt’s for the night, then drove back to Portland early this morning.

Seattle to PDX

How gorgeous is the drive from Seattle to Portland?

I had an early afternoon kickball game — we won, but it was *really* intense and I was super keyed up afterward. (Yes, I know it’s odd to be super keyed up from kickball, but it happens to me.) I was happy to go on a recovery run after the game; it calmed my nerves.

I did a nice and easy 3.5 miles, enjoyed the sunshine and wore my favorite socks:

best socks ever

BEST. SOCKS. EVER.

And even though I ate for three yesterday, I still had a huge appetite today. The cure? A visit to Trader Joe’s:

TJ feast

Can you guess which item I’m most excited about? It’s the cookie butter.

How was your weekend?

run, repeat

Saturday’s workout: Figure 8 loop, starting and ending at Grand Central Bakery on Fremont (see route on MapMyRun)

  • Distance: 5.87 miles (the route is 5.6, but I did a little extra near the end)
  • Time: 53:27
  • Pace: 9:06

Sunday’s workout: Same run, for comparison (and, also, because I dropped my driver’s license on Saturday and wondered if I’d find it today … no luck)

  • Distance: 5.67
  • Time: 51:06
  • Pace: 9:00

Here’s a look at the loop and elevation:

Fremont Loop

It’s an easy route with a gradual hill going north on 7th Ave — enough to keep you on your toes, not enough to totally kick your butt.

And you know what? I LOVE THE SUN. On Saturday, I ran in 72° weather, around noon. Total perfection. I was really excited to pull out the shorts and running belt:

goober

I’m pretty modest in my real life, but not so much in my running life. If the sun is out in Portland, you bet I want to expose as much skin as possible to those rays. Soaking up the vitamin D one mile at a time.

Yesterday was perfect; today verged on a bit too hot: 78°. But, how can you complain with views like this?

flowers

Flowers in bloom! It's finally spring in Portland.

Was feeling some hip pain near the end of the run, so now I look something like this:

legs

Icing the hips, foam rolling and stretching. Trying to train smart, people.

new spring, new goals

I’ve purged some old posts, and now I’m using this blog to track my running (and other fitness) goals. If that interests you, follow along — and let’s encourage each other. If this seems snoozeriffic, please feel free to unfollow.

Let’s smash some PRs! (Um, that shouldn’t be hard. I am pretty slow.)

Saturday’s workout:

  • speed drills* in the park
  • 12 miles bike ride (leisurely)

*Don’t get too excited (or intimidated) here. I’ve basically done zero point zero research when it comes to speed drills. I’ve promised myself I’m going to figure out a plan for getting faster, and it starts with doing things much differently than my normal, slow jog. Saturday’s drills involved broad jumps, sprints and squats (moving sideways) with a resistance band.

We saw a llama (or an alpaca?) on the bike ride!

alpaca

Sunday’s workout:

  • kickball (it counts, kind of — and I caught 3 fly balls!)
  • track workout

My track workout was a mashup of ideas from various running bloggers. I did a mile warmup, then 800 meters x 5 times (these are supposed to be fast), then a mile cool down. I wanted to do a sixth 800, but was pretty gassed out. I used my phone to get split times:

  • 1st 800: 3:32
  • 2nd 800: 3:43
  • 3rd 800: 3:47
  • 4th 800: 3:36
  • 6th 800: 3:32

Clearly, I had some trouble knowing how to pace myself. But I expected that. I haven’t done these sorts of running workouts since high school. (My typical thing is to just go out and jog for 40 minutes, not paying attention to pace or distance.)

I liked the challenge of running the 800s fast (or, er, not super slow). I’ve no idea what to consider a good pace, but now I’ve got a benchmark to measure against.

And it was such a beautiful day. In the space of a week, we have flowers on the trees again!

I felt good afterward, and I liked running on a track — a nice change. Not that I’d want to do distance runs on it.

And you know what’s even better than finishing a workout? When you finish and stop by a friend’s place and he’s baking cookies. Sure, I’ll take a warm, fresh-outta-the-oven cookie (or three).

A sweet weekend for me, friends.

How was yours? Did you run/work out/play?