Saturday, September 28, 2013

If you rest you rust.

In first grade I started gymnastics and from 3rd grade through middle school, I spent 5 days a week, 3 hours a day at the gym.  At the back of the gym hung a banner that said “IF YOU REST YOU RUST.”  I often think of this banner.  What a great saying for athletes to live by and what an awful saying for athletes to live by.  It is so true and so false.  We need rest for so many reasons, but if you rest too much and don't push yourself you will not improve and make the gains that you might want to. Runners and triathletes tend to have no problem pushing themselves and working hard, it's the whole RESTING thing that we have problems with - working out is always on our mind.

We NEED rest.  We need rest in order to replenish glycogen stores and repair damaged tissue.  Lack of rest leads to over-training; over-training leads to decreased performance and injuries.  No rest = no good.  But rest & recovery comes in many forms.  Recovery doesn't always mean taking the day off and sitting on the couch.  Active recovery days are equally important.  An easy run, a walk, an easy bike ride, an easy swim, foam rolling, any low intensity exercise that still allows your body to recover.  There are mixed reviews on the benefits active recovery, but I am definitely on board with it! 

There are also just REST days.  These are so important.  I have found that even more important than respecting the dedicated rest days in my training schedule is the ability to know my body and recognize when it is telling me it needs an extra day off.  This doesn’t mean taking a day off because I’m not in the mood or had a bad day or I’m feeling lazy, but knowing when my body has just been too stressed and needs an extra day to recover a bit. 

I firmly believe, especially in triathlon training, that taking an extra rest day is OK and often necessary if my body is asking for it.  Some weeks our training schedules only have active recovery scheduled, no true rest days… the body can only handle so many days/weeks of constant activity.   I will not "rust" if I have 8 or 10 workouts one week instead of 10 or 12, especially if it is active recovery workouts that get skipped.  No, this does not happen every week or even every two weeks, but if my body is stressed to an extreme, I know it and I have learned to be smart about it.  Respect your body!  If you don’t listen to and respect your body you will likely end up with an injury that will keep you totally out of the game, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a couple of extra rest days during training than be injured!

I used to tell myself “If you rest, you rust” on the days when I was feeling lazy to get my butt on the road or in the pool, but then I  also had to remind myself that I will not rust if I need an extra day of true rest and recovery.  The quote contradicts itself.   It is important for me to know the difference between a lazy day and a truly over-fatigued and stressed body and not to question myself when I NEED that extra rest day.   So I have found a better quote to get myself moving on those lazy days:  “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”  No excuses.  And a quote to remind myself that rest days are GOOD:  "The most important day in any running program is rest.  Rest days give your muscles time to recover so you can run again.  Your muscles build in strength as you rest."

No rusting here. 

What are your thoughts on active recovery?
What gets you off your butt on lazy days?
How often do you need to throw in an extra rest day?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

That moment when a 10 miler on the treadmill doesn't seem so bad...

I used to DREAD the treadmill.  I was in good company – it seemed like most people I talked to did not enjoy putting miles in on the treadmill and many would rather not run.  I felt extremely accomplished if I managed to squeeze out 5 miles on the treadmill.  In the past few months, I’ve slowly started putting more miles on the treadmill. If it’s crappy out or early and too dark to run outside and I have to get a run in, I make it happen on the treadmill.  On top of that, I’ve started doing some “mini” brick workouts that consist of 8-10 miles on the bike trainer followed by 1-2 miles on the treadmill and repeat 3-4 times.  Needless to say, I have become MUCH more familiar with the treadmill than I ever thought I would be.  

About a month ago, I had to get an easy 10 mile run in and it was CRAPPY out, so without thinking I hit the treadmill…. If you asked me a year ago if I thought I would ever run more than 5 or 6 miles on the treadmill I would have answered “NO.” Well, I ran 10 and came upstairs to the apartment like it was nothing.  I told Anthony “you know, that wasn’t bad at all.” His response: “I knew you were going to say that.”  

I think it all comes back to my post “Mind over muscle!”  Somewhere along the way my mental will got strong enough to endure a long run on the treadmill.  In fact, I have since done multiple 8+ mile runs on the treadmill and if you told me I couldn’t go outside for some reason and I had a 16 miler planned, I’d hit the mill.  By no means do I enjoy the treadmill as much as being outside, but it’s not a dreadful experience anymore.  So, tomorrow morning I will head downstairs to the treadmill to complete 8.5 miles which will include 2x 3 miles @ 10k pace.  Give the mill a chance – it actually makes pacing pretty darn easy! 

 Ok, so maybe I don't LOVE the treadmill, but it's not SO bad afterall..give it a chance!

On an unrelated note – I have been given this AMAZING opportunity to fundraise for Girls on the Run and run the Ragnar Relay with 11 incredible women.  We will be running a total of 200 miles from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC from October 4-5.  PLEASE help Girls on the Run – it is an amazing organization teaching young girls to be healthy and confident.  The money donated will be used as scholarship money for girls who could not otherwise afford to be a part of GOTR.  Every dollar helps! You can donate at the following link: 

Do you dread the treadmill?
If you couldn’t get outside for your long run would you reschedule? Skip it? Hit the treadmill?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hello Fall, how I have missed you so…

So this post has little/nothing to do with training, but the weather this weekend got me REALLY excited about fall... so in case you are some reminders as to why fall is the best season!

Top 6 reasons I love the fall:

1.      Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin beer, pumpkin doughnuts…
There is no denying that fall has some of the best food.  Beyond all of the pumpkin goodness there is apple pie, apple crumble, apple cider.. the list goes on.  Fall food is the best!!

2.        Weather. 
This weekend was the first one that felt like fall was almost here (one week!).  It was still a bit warm, but significantly cooler than it has been.  I am so looking forward to low 50s in the morning & mid-low 60s in the afternoon… Perfection.  It doesn't get much better than going for a walk, pumpkin latte in hand, of course, in the perfectly comfortable fall temperatures with the changing leaves - GORGEOUS.  And did I mention that running in the fall is THE BEST.. there are crunchy leaves on the ground, the temperature is ideal for running, and it’s not necessary to run before the sun rises or after it sets – running at noon or at 3pm is just fine in the fall.  Thanks to this wonderful weather, Brutus can run in the fall, and he’s my (second) favorite running buddy!  

3.        Football
I may not be the biggest football fan out there, but I do enjoy having a beer and watching some college football on Saturday afternoon.  More than that, I love how happy watching football makes Anthony.  Plus the college football smack talk that happens in the elevator of our apartment building on Saturday afternoon and evening is pretty entertaining.  I also enjoy not having to think about what to wear on Saturdays in the fall - jeans and my jersey, done.  And did I mention that nothing beats Script Ohio? Go Bucks!

4.        Holidays
As soon as fall is here, it’s almost holiday season and the time between the first day of fall and Christmas FLIES.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I love the holidays.  Holidays mean family and that excites me so much! I love the feeling of being home with our entire family in December.  Nothing beats that time at home with everyone we love.  The last 3 months of this year might be the most exciting yet:
                     - We will complete our first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon) on October 26!
-This year I plan on wearing a Halloween costume to practice for Girls on The Run.  This may seem silly, but we don’t usually go out for Halloween, so I am pretty excited to have a reason to dress up! (Any costume ideas?)
- My best friend is getting married (to an awesome guy!) November 23! <3  
          - We will be spending Thanksgiving in Costa Rica for our delayed Honey Moon!
- I get to meet my newest nephew, Jack, and hang out with my oldest  nephew Aiden!! Can’t wait!

5.       Buffalo Chicken Dip
Fall means football season (as mentioned earlier) which means there is an excuse to make/eat/drink buffalo chicken dip.  Yes, this is its own reason to love fall.  Anything that gives me a valid excuse to make and devour buffalo chicken dip, I love. 

6.       Riding Boots & Sweaters
Need I say more?  Fall clothes are comfy, cute, and functional.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mind over muscle!

So many people ask:  “How can you possibly run that far…it’s SO boring” followed by: “You do it without listening to music? Are you nuts?” No, I am not nuts, but I did have the same questions for runners and endurance athletes just a few years ago.  Even when I was training for my first half marathon, running without music seemed crazy.  And looking forward to a ten mile run on Saturday morning, yeah…right (I looked forward to having an excuse to eat potato chips guilt free afterwards).  I hadn’t truly fallen in love with running yet. I loved working towards a goal and I wasn’t about to quit, but I didn’t love running long distance, in fact if I didn’t have music on those “long” runs that I struggled to finish (I’m not sure I finished one without walking), I would have HATED them.  

Despite the fact that I had not yet fallen in love with long distance, I continued to run and train for more half marathons.  Why? Because even though I had so many negative thoughts, I “couldn’t” run 10 miles straight, and I hated so much of those runs, there was such a sense of achievement knowing that I was out there running so many miles through all of the elements.  I did have moments when I forgot about all the stresses in my life and some miles I felt good enough that I could visualize myself running a FAST half marathon.  So, I stuck with it, even though I didn’t love it.

Somewhere along the way I fell in love with distance running and endurance sports.  I’m not sure when it won me over, but it did.  I can definitely say I LOVE running. I love that it lets me get to know myself better and I love that it brings me closer to my husband and my friends that run.  No more music, no more walking, no more complaining, no more negative thoughts, just happiness and peace of mind, and when I'm lucky - a really great conversation.

  PERFECT way to catch up visiting my best friend - Central Park Loop (April 2013)

I won’t act like I don’t occasionally have a run full of pain and negative thoughts.  I definitely go out there some days and just want to quit.  The difference is that now I don’t quit.  Now, if I’m having a bad run, instead of focusing on how uncomfortable I am and how “slow” I’m running, I can ignore my watch, get lost in my thoughts and the sounds around me, and finish my run.  I “couldn’t” finish those runs before… I “had” to walk.  I think this quote sums it up pretty well:  

“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.” -Lynn Jennings.  

 When it hurts, I focus on my surroundings..can't help but smile through the pain when this is the view

I think that my mental will needed more training that my legs and I am so glad I stuck it out long enough to change my feelings towards distance running.  It may have taken some time, but now I would be lost without running (& now triathlon!).  I have embraced enduring the suffering that comes with endurance sports.  The feeling that goes along with finishing a 16 mile run or a triathlon is incredible (I can't wait to finish our first marathon in October!).  To know that you were mentally strong enough to keep moving as fast as you could through that suffering is a satisfaction that is beyond compare.  For some of us, it takes time to build that mental will, but once you’ve got it, it is amazing!  Keep pushing.  Mind over muscle!

What makes you love running?
Does your mental will need more training than your legs? 
Do you embrace the suffering?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Nation’s Tri Recap (brace yourself – it’s a long one!)

Race start: 7:00am – I was in wave 30 of 34.  I figured the latest I would be in the water was 7:45.  Boy was I WRONG!!! I was not in the water until just after 9:00am.  We ate breakfast at ~4:30am.  Oh well.  I reminded myself that I need to make sure I eat my gel and my shot blocks on the bike and I need to finish my bottle of Hammer.  I got in the water and I loved every second of that swim.  No, I am not kidding – I LOVED IT! I didn’t swim particularly fast, but I swam faster than I anticipated.  2:07/100yds (actually slightly faster as I swam a mile according to my Garmin).  My goal was to take it easy and save my energy for the bike and the run.  Mission accomplished.  I came out of the water feeling like I could have taken another lap and maintained my speed! Love that. And to top it all off based on my Garmin map – I did a pretty good job sighting!

 Map of my swim - supposed to look like the Washington Monument

On to the bike.  Transition was fine - threw my swim gear in my bag, dried my feet enough to slip my socks and shoes on, gel and shot blocks in my shorts, helmet on, bike off rack, and I was off to the bike start.  It was a bit of a cluster at the bike mount line, but nothing to complain about.  Off I went and my legs felt FRESH!  My watch beeped at mile five – 19.6mph average for the first five.  I’ll take it.  I kept my pace and tried to save some energy to hopefully have some of my last miles be closer to 20mph.  Mile 10 my watch beeped again – I maintained an average of 19.6mph.  I was happy!  I thought I can definitely maintain this for another ten and then try to get 20mph for the last 5.  Mile 12.5, I approached the start of lap two and the bike finish line - kept left for my second lap.  About a minute later I realized I had a flat.  I had a moment where I thought I MUST be imagining things.  This couldn’t be happening to me – I was having such a great ride!  

Anthony and me race morning

I pulled off the course and grabbed my spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridge and inflator head out of my saddle bag.  I proceeded to flip my bike over and take my front tire off, I was thankful it was my front tire.   I struggled for far too long getting the tire off but I eventually succeeded (after a photographer came and made small talk while he photographed my struggle…Anthony is anxious to see those photos…) Tube out, new tube in, and tire back on.  Ok.  Now for this CO2 cartridge…well I’ve never done this before, GREAT!  I failed.  It got some air in, but mostly it just didn’t work.  That was my only CO2 cartridge.  LESSON: ALWAYS HAVE AT LEAST 2 CO2 CARTRIDGES!!! I was at a loss.  I needed to find a way to finish!  

I saw a man and his kids standing at a corner – next to him was a bike and it had a hand pump… I walked my bike down to the corner and asked if that was their bike – nope.  CRAP.  Then a magical volunteer asked if she could help – I told her I needed a pump or a CO2 cartridge.  Her bike was right across the street and she had some cartridges – she jogged across the street.  She came back with two CO2 cartridges and a pump.  If someone recorded me and her struggling, they probably could have won some money on AFV.  Ok so one of those CO2 cartridges may have gotten wasted and exploded everywhere… One more chance – we made it happen!  HOORAY!  I had a bike with two fully inflated tires.  SCORE!  So, yeah the race day volunteers get some major props from me… you were AMAZING!! I literally couldn’t have finished without her!  THANK YOU! 

And I was off again, but mentally I wasn’t in the game like I was 15 minutes earlier.  Miles 10-15 average speed was 17.6mph and my last ten miles averaged 18mph.  Overall average moving speed was 18.6mph.  Oh, did I mention I only drank about half of my Hammer bottle, half of my H2O bottle and I did not eat a gel or any shot blocks.  Well, that was stupid.  I got to transition and Anthony was there – that was a surprise!  I complained about my flat while I hung my bike, swapped my helmet for my visor and changed my shoes.  He had a water and a Gatorade for me – I chugged a bit of each and jogged out to the run start… Anthony jogged for minute with me and reminded me I was doing great - he’s the best!

 I had no idea Anthony was in the transition waiting for me and snapping pics!

Uh Oh.  WHY DIDN’T I EAT ON THE BIKE?!  I was really angry at myself.  I tried to think positive.  I was passing everyone in front of me, but I was running SLOW (for me).  I made a point to get some Gatorade at the first aid station and threw a cup of water down the front of me.  It was HOT!  I was so uncomfortable on the run.  I was trying to stop all of the negative thoughts, but then all I could think was I had to go to the bathroom…why are there no porta pottys? “Just keep moving your legs – get through the first 3 miles and then try to start trucking,” I thought.  Mile 2 another aid station.. threw a cup of water on myself to cool down.  At about mile 3 there was a porta potty – yes! I ran to it – it was like a nasty sauna, but so worth it!  I was happy again! 

I walked through the aid station at mile 4 and had some water.  Time to pick it up – well kind of… I was really paying for my terrible lack of nutrition earlier.  So I managed to just break 9:00/mile on mile 6 and pulled a 7:30 pace out for the last quarter of a mile… Average pace for the run was 9:18/mile.  Everyone was struggling on that run – it was so hot, I did my best to motivate those around me and remind them they were doing awesome, especially for how hot it was!  Between the mental toll from a flat and the lack of nutrition, my run was just not strong.  But I learned a lot.  NUTRTION IS NO JOKE!! I ate breakfast at 4:30 am and consumed maybe about 150calories of Hammer on the bike.  That puts me pretty far in the negative by the time I started the run at about 11:20am.  Finish time: 03:16.  Goal time was 2:50-2:55. Epic fail.  When I saw Anthony at the finish and told him I had a bad run and that my average pace was 9:18/mile his response was something like “Oh, yeah you didn’t have a good run.” Well at least he knows what I’m capable of!  Either way, he was proud – like I said earlier – he’s the best!  

Post race pic of the swim course

Overall it was a great race.  I had a blast, learned a lot, and gained a TON of confidence with my swimming!  Nation’s tri,  I think we will be back next year, and I hope you are kind enough to let me get through without a flat!