Less than one year ago, I ran my first marathon. At this time, I said I’d only run one. It was painful. Difficult. Rough. Long.
Yet, I wanted more. Boston. Why not?
Over 700 miles run…over 80 days of 4 a.m. wake up calls.
Dark, cloudy mornings…
Rain, wind, and thunder…
Oppressive heat and humidity…
Hills (oh the hills!), speed work, tempo runs…
Finding the time…
Blood, sweat and tears…
Hitting the pavement as the world sleeps
Sound of footsteps beside me
SVR track workouts
Stupid, “punny” jokes
RIT group runs
Feelings of success after nailing a workout Confidence Focused.
You all have given me a plethora of positive memories to carry with me over 26.2 miles. When I begin to hurt, when the defeating voice pops into my head, I will think of the fun I’ve had over this training cycle.
remember running around Handley as you ran your first track workout.
remember running and listening about the infamous fowl attack.
think of running from Winchester to Woodstock with you.
think of sharing a glass of wine and pizza with you after a tough run.
remember running 14 miles through the streets while kicking a ball with you.
think “the floor is lava!” and want to jump onto the nearest ledge.
remember sharing in your successes and in your failures.
I do believe things happen and people are brought into your life for a reason. Being surrounded by those who challenge and push me to my limits (and beyond) has changed what I once thought possible.
Do I have what it takes?
One shot, one opportunity to seize everything I’ve ever wanted in one moment. Will I capture it, or just let it slip?
I’m not foolish; this will not be easy. No matter how well the training goes, the race itself is a blank slate. Anything can happen.
The mental battle will rage, my muscles will fatigue, I will have to push through.
Even if I do not BQ, how could I fail? Overall, I’ve won.
To all who comment on my workouts, my social media posts, and cheer me on from the sidelines, thank you.
To those who have taken one step with me along the way, thank you. Getting to run with you at group runs – whether you are in the front or the back of the pack – you’ve inspired me to keep going.
To my teammates, who have seen me at the crack of dawn, no makeup on, sweating, dirty and on the verge of puking (or passing out), thank you for never leaving my side.
To my coach, thank you for the guidance, having the ability to know when to pull me back, push me ahead, speak the truth (“it’ll hurt in the marathon too”) or say nothing at all. It’s been a training cycle full of highs and lows, but we made it to the end.
To my family and husband who have supported my crazy goals, thank you. Thank you for the breakfasts, dinners, and whatever else has been needed so I can train.
Although I will be 300 miles away, you all will be with me every step of the way.
Am I ready? Yes, more than ever. My time is now.
This week has been tough. Allergies, poison ivy, heavy workload; obstacles. The marathon is a monster. Anything can happen Sunday. Besides qualifying, having fun is one of my big goals – I want this to be a memorable experience.
I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line!
Runners, and many other athletes, can benefit from adding this short routine into their workout routine. Most runners suffer from weak, tight and under-developed hip muscles and believe me, your hips will not lie – they will let you know when they are struggling. Weak hips can attribute to a myriad of injuries including sciatica, IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, piriformis issues and more.
Think of the hips as the fulcrums of leg levers driving our bodies forward. If your hips are tight, your legs are not going to be able to provide optimal power and speed. Concentrate on your form as you perform each exercise; not only strengthening but being mindful of the movement pattern.
“It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the hips.” – Chubbs, Happy Gilmore
Hip strengthening and mobility exercises should be a part of your weekly plan, whether you are injured or not. You can easily perform these exercises before your next run (or during your next Netflix binge watching sesh). Make the time, so you won’t lose time due to injury.
All exercises will be performed 10 times on each leg.
Side Hurdles (front & back)
Bent Leg Swings
Leg Swings (front/back)
Leg Swings (side/side)
You will see we need to work on Jeremy’s hip mobility a little (I’m not immune either, need to do this routine more often!).
Better. Faster. Stronger. No, not lyrics by Kanye, but the benefits you can gain through plyometrics.
Bouncing off Jeremy’s post last week about a jump rope workout (see what I did there?), I thought I would delve more into the world of why distance runners should add jump training into their routine.
When we put one foot in front of the other, our leg muscles engage in what is referred to as a Stretch-Shortening Cycle – an eccentric contraction (lengthening of the muscle) immediately followed by a concentric contraction (shortening of the same muscle). A muscle which is stretched right before an explosive movement will contract more forcefully and more rapidly.
Think about a rubber band. If I wanted to shoot the rubber band at someone, what do I do first?
For maximum performance, I’d pull back (stretch) on the band to build up energy. When I release, the stored energy will take action and (hopefully) hit the target. Our muscles are the same. During the stretch phase, our muscles store energy and then release – hopefully quickly and forcefully – to propel us forward.
Simply put, running is a form of jumping – a series of single leg hops, over and over again. In a marathon, men average about 57,640 strides whereas women average about 63,000 strides – those hops sure add up! Isolating the jumping element through plyometrics is a great way to boost running performance without needing to increase your mileage as well as make each of those strides count.
Proper form is key – not only for injury prevention but for maximum benefit. You should have a solid base foundation of cardio and strength before adding plyos to your routine. If you are working through one of the Runner In Training Enhanced Run+Strength plans, explosive training is added to your program after we’ve built up your overall endurance and strength and can be strategically prescribed leading up to prepare you for your big race.
Plyometric Exercises for Runners:
Bounding: this exercise is also great for stretching the hamstrings. Bounding is performed by exaggerating your running form and jumping with each step for about 25 meters. Repeat 2-3 times.
Squat Jumps: Powerhouse. Explosive and effective exercise to power up those glutes!
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointed straight ahead. Bend down into squat position and explode upward with your arms stretched above your head. When you land, land softly with your knees bent as you lower back into the squat position. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Switch Lunge Jump: You can’t get much more running-specific than a jump lunge. Switch jumps target all those running muscles in an explosive fashion.
Begin in a lunge position, weight equally distributed on both legs. Jump and reverse the position of your legs, lowering back down into a lunge position. Drive your arms just as you would while running. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg).
Single Leg Lateral Jumps: C’mon coach – running is forward! Why do I need to jump side to side? Moving laterally, we are engaging different muscles which can help us not only with our athleticism but with injury prevention. Strength, stability, balance, control – simple and effective.
Find a line or use tape to create a line on the floor. Jump over the line back and forth. Minimize ground contact time – land softly and take off quickly. Do 2 sets of 12-15 hops (each side).
Burpees: Brilliant move – full body exercise and also boosts your cardio.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, jump feet back into a plank position. Do a push-up. Jump feet back to hands, stand up and jump as high as you can. Repeat. 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Bench Taps: Quick turnover!
Stand in front of a step with both feet on the ground. Rapidly alternate tapping the top of the step with each foot, springing off the ground each time. Drive your arms in your running motion. Do 2 sets of 20 taps (each foot).
Plyometric training can be a powerful tool for improving your running economy. So, if you are ready, go on now – jump up, jump up and get down!
Although my marathon training plan includes a mixed bag of runs – long, easy, speed training, hills – there is one that generates maximum force. Hills!
When you think of a hill workout, I’m sure you think of a workout like this one.
Run up hill, jog down, repeat.
And, I’ve done those….but….
Coach’s prescribed workout for me yesterday consisted of 10 x 1 minute downhillrepeats. Jog up and barrel back down.
Sounds easy – just let gravity do its job right? Not.
My upcoming marathon is pancake flat. So, why do I even bother with hills?
Currently, I am in the strength period of my training plan which includes a variety of hill-based runs. Running hills help build strength, increase VO2Max and of course, tackle hills more easily.
What happens when you run downhill? The muscles in your legs elongate and actually generate more force than when running uphill or on level ground. Running hard downhill also produces more impact on our bodies – joints, bones and muscles. Training on hills helps the body to adapt to the force, repair itself and in turn, become stronger.
Strengthening the muscles used on downhills easily translates into faster paces on anytype of terrain.
As you descend down the hill, it is important to work on quickening your cadence and shortening your stride to have better control over form. Stay off your heels and don’t brake!
Planning on running Boston 2018? Add this workout into your regimen to ready your legs to tackle the 4-mile downhill in the beginning of the race.
Add in the downhill workout early in your training plan.
Choose a hill that’s less than a 10% grade.
If you can get on a softer surface, do it. Otherwise, it’s okay to hit the pavement.
Start with 5 downhill repeats and work your way up to 10.
Use rocks or chalk to help you count your reps!
Result? A great workout, fun stats and killer quads!
It seems like just yesterday I was creating and posting my goals for 2017.
Here we are, already about halfway through the year and honestly, I haven’t looked back at my goals post since I published. So today, I decided to take a glance to see how I am doing.
Mile – I wanted to break 6 minutes and clock a 5:45. Last week, 5:21. CHECK!
5K – Breaking 20 was my goal for this year. Added in speed work as I had planned and ran sub 19 in May. CHECK!
Half Marathon – 2017 goal was to break 1:40. Shamrock Half was very kind to me in March – 1:29. CHECK!
Marathon – I mentioned I wanted to simply beat my 2016 time of 3:46 and possibly BQ. In progress… Training well underway for Erie at Presque Isle Marathon on September 10 and I am definitely chasing that unicorn.
Ultra? The thought was a maybe. However, all signed up for JFK 50 with Sara! In progress…
Train my husband for his first half: CHECK!
Find more opportunities in the fitness/running industry – started working full-time in fitness once again. CHECK! Also in progress, PT certification.
As I stumble upon exciting new experiences offered to me, I now hesitate for only a second before jumping in with both feet. Why not?
Unsure if I purposely found more opportunities or the opportunities found me! Since late last year, I’ve continued to grow in several areas – who knew I would willingly tell my story in front of a group (and like it!)?
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project (I obviously do not have enough on my plate). On one early morning run, a business idea appeared in my mind. (Side note: anyone else find clarity while running? I find my best ideas and thoughts occur on runs).
Next thought – can this idea work? This little spark soon turned into a raging fire to determine how to put this plan into action. Like any unchartered path, there have been obstacles, excitement about the unknown, and a little self-doubt. However, I’ve been lucky to not have to blaze this trail alone.
The time is coming to let you all in on the secret.
With some collaborative sweat equity, a simple idea developed into more than I anticipated. I am so excited to share the plans which have been in the making for months and I hope you all will be excited as well.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss the big announcement!
Bouncing off last week’s post about adding strides into your running regimen by RunningDad.com, today I want you to strengthen your feet by going barefoot.
For thousands of years, our ancestors walked and ran sans shoes all the time without injury. Somewhere along the way, shoes became an extension of our body. As years went by, soles became thicker and our feet became weaker.
There are twenty-six bones in each foot on average, plus the tibia and fibula of the lower leg. There are around a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the foot and ankle. When your feet are in shoes for the majority of your waking day, there is a compression of these bones and muscles that limits blood flow and weakens the supportive nature of your feet.
At the very least, I encourage you to kick off your shoes once you get home from work. Even better, go au naturel, free your feet and add in barefoot strides at the end of your next run. Running barefoot not only feels good on the tootsies, but can help strengthen the muscles in the foot.
Spring is finally here – the grass is green, so go out on your yard (or scope out the best lawn in your neighborhood) or if all else fails, head to a turf field. Be sure your surface is free from small rocks, sticks, glass and….poop (from animals, not people…hopefully).
Try doing 4-6 100-yd strides with rest in between after your next slow run!
And…a double feature for your Workout Wednesday – A Partner Core Workout
1st: Find a spouse, significant other, running partner, friend or random victim to help challenge your core. Do each exercise for 30-45 seconds; take 15 seconds to rest and transition. Do circuit two times.
Double Leg Circles: Lie on mats feet-to-feet. Each of you will extend your legs out and rotate your legs/feet in a circular motion around your partner’s legs. Don’t forget to go both directions!
Plank Shoulder Pushes: Go into a plank position face-to-face. Take turns firmly pushing on each other’s shoulders. Stay strong and don’t let you partner push you back!
Crunch w/Dumbbell (or Medicine Ball) Pass: Lie on mats feet-to-feet – knee bent. Both people come up to a crunch/sit up position at the same time – one passes a dumbbell or medicine ball to the other. Both return to starting position; come up into crunch/situp and pass weight again. Repeat.
Oblique Sit-Ups:Lay next to your partner on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hands should be placed on either side of your head. Your back should be flat against the floor. Engage your core and lift your shoulders off the floor to an upright position, rotating your torso towards your partner as you reach the top. Take the outside arm (the one that is farthest from your partner) and reach across your body, firing your oblique muscles, to give your partner a high five. Carefully lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat, then switch sides.
Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday exercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!
Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RunningDad.com and I are challenging you during the month of May.
Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!
(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.
Spring racing has been quite fun and May was no different. This past month featured two local races – the Apple Blossom 10K and the Loudoun Street Mile.
Race #1 – 10K: Sometimes it’s just not your day…
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is HUGE in Winchester – there are many events that span over the course of two weeks and the Apple Blossom 10K falls on the last Saturday of the festival. Since money is awarded the top finishers, the race usually brings in a few elite competitors from the region.
After solid races at Shamrock Half and Cherry Blossom 10, I set a new 10K goal of 38:00 which would be pushing the pace. Last year was my first time racing AB10 and I ran 47:40, so dropping a sub 40 would be great.
Race morning was cool and rainy. Team Running Dad planned to meet up for a warm up – and for once, all of us were racing! We gathered together and ran a warm up mile through the brisk, misty morning. Soon, it was race time and we tossed our warm up clothes to reveal our shockingly bright neon pink and green racing gear. It was time to go!
Last year, the first mile was tough – lots of weaving in and out through the crowd. This year, I started near the front and the start was much easier. First split was a 6:23 – and about this time, I realized today was just not my day. My legs felt fatigued and tight; but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. My finish was 40:19 (drats!) which was off my goal, but hey, still a PR!
Highlights of the race:
Racing local is great – I loved the crowd support and hearing so many people cheering!
Family race – 4 out of 5 family members (husband, daughter and son) ran the 10k, including my 10 year old son (his first 10K) who surprised me. I was at one of the turnaround points and hear “Let’s go MOM!” and could not believe how close he was to me! He ended up running a 42:18. Husband and daughter also did well in their first 10ks!
Racing with Team Running Dad – the energy in this group is electric. We are competitive, supportive and, at times, immature, but we have a lot of fun. Very lucky to run with this crew.
My mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew were at the race! Since they live in PA, they aren’t able to see many races. Loved hearing them in the crowd.
Running near Josh and Duane in the beginning of the race and witnessing Josh grab a donut from someone cheering and proceed to eat while running.
Race #2: The BEAST – mile race…
Historically a half-miler and miler, this should be my race – but it was WAY easier 20 years ago. Last year, I ran a 6:03 and was hoping to at least hit a 5:45 this year. My son has been hitting 5:45-5:50s in the past few months and he set a new goal of 5:30. We may or may not have made a little side bet on who was going to win this year…
Last week, I checked out what quarter mile splits I’d need to hit for a 5:20. I thought it was a bit of a reach, but I’m always up for a challenge. 1:22s… ok, why not try?
Race morning was perfect. I put on my new bumblebee shorts, Topo ST2s, Injinji socks, Goodr shades and grabbed my RaceDots. Picked up my race packet and ran to the start to meet my 32 running club kiddos who were also racing.
Wheeew, the butterflies were really in my stomach before the race. When you are used to running 5ks and halfs…the mile is a whole new ballgame. After I warmed up the kids, stretched a bit – it was time for my race..or so I thought. 15 minute delay. Bummer. I continued to keep on moving, chat with local running friends and my running club kids. Then, it was time to get on the line.
Best part of the race start was having a little cheering section – my running club kids were right there cheering for me and throwing me the thumbs up sign. All the feels – I was smiling inside and out; seeing their little faces calmed my nerves. Unfortunately, the starting gun malfunctioned (I think we had 3 tries) which made my nerves return a little each time. However, on the 4th attempt, the ladies were off.
First split: 1:19. Ok, a slight rise and then you’ll hit the downhill. 1:23.2 was next – a little off but we’ll take it. Starting the descent – didn’t check out my 3rd quarter but was 1:21. Time to fly. I was feeling strong and could see the finish line ahead. I picked up the pace and was able to catch another runner. Again, another great local crowd to cheer on the runners and they pulled me through the homestretch. Overall time, 5:21.8. I’ll take it!
Next up were the kids, girls first. I waited in anticipation for our orange shirts to come down the hill. So excited to see two of our girls in the top – and equally as excited to see two of our girls in the back of the pack…holding hands while running, helping each other finish. Love. My older niece who lives in PA entered the race and also ran a personal best!
Boys race next, including my son and my running partner/coach’s son. These two…wow – they’ve been running pretty equal times for years. As I saw the leaders come down the hill, I saw Connor in 2nd and Dylan in 3rd. Dylan started to sprint and the race literally came down to the wire. Dylan by a nose. Wow – watching them battle through the finish was amazing. I think this rivalry will continue for awhile and I’m very excited to watch them continue to improve. Also in the top 10 for the boys race were 2 other boys from our running club. Solid finishes.
Overall, about 17 out of my kids had personal records at the race. If they didn’t PR, they still ran a great race.
Last race of the day included Team Running Dad teammates Jeremy and Mario. Neither of them were very excited to race a mile, but I knew they’d still rock. The men’s race was pretty stacked – the lead group was pretty stacked but the TRD guys weren’t far behind. Both looked strong. Jeremy clocked a 4:58 and Mario – 5:18 (DARN! I was soooo close!).
So many other local runners kicked butt at this mile race – you all know who you are. Shoutout to the Thursday morning striders group!
May was a great month and now on to June. Next up, Virginia Wine Country Half. I ran this last year and said I’d never do it again. Never say never….