Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Tempo Run w/New GPS Watch

Yesterday was sunny and 45 degrees, which is warmer than it has been lately. Perfect day for a tempo run.
Garmin Forerunner 405

I took advantage of my new Garmin watch (see above) to track the time splits per mile. They were as follows:

(1/2 mile warm up walk)
Mile 1--10:39
Mile 2--10:29
Mile 3--10:13
Mile 4--9:45
Mile 5--9:19  (several hundred yards of sub 8 min/miles in here)
Mile 6--10:27 (wiped out, recovery)
(1/2 mile cool-down walk)

I know my times aren't the fastest, but I'm OK with that because for me it's progress. My 10k pace is 9:15 and I got close to that in mile 5.

11 weeks until the half marathon--wow!  Happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get S.M.A.R.T. !

I am a fan of so-called "New Year's Resolutions". I try to frame them as 'S.M.A.R.T.' goals. I'm usually not a fan of superficial jargon, but in the case of S.M.A.R.T. I think it is a very useful mnemonic.

  • S-Specific.  Goals can't be vague (i.e. I will be healthier this year). How will you be healthier? What specific steps will you take to achieve that? I think that breaking down large goals into smaller, tangible ones greatly increases the likelihood of success.
  • M-Measurable. You need to be able to gauge whether or not you achieved the goal. "Losing weight" is a good example. Is losing 0.4 lbs meeting the goal, or is -15 lbs what you really want to achieve?  One of my goals this year will be to run a faster 10k--specifically, a sub-55 minute 10k. I am OK with a 54:59 time--that will be successful to me. I want to be able to answer the question, "Did I achieve this goal" with a confident "Yes" or "No".
  • A-Attainable.  As much as I would like to run a sub-1:30 half marathon, given that I've only run 1 so far at 2:15 and I'm not naturally a fast runner, I would likely fail if I set this as one of my goals. During my lifetime, who knows--it might be achievable. But it is not likely I will be able to accomplish that this year. A sub-2 hour half marathon is still a stretch goal, but it is much more realistic and within my grasp (I think!)
  • R-Realistic. I'm a firm believe in the concept of "the sky's the limit", but I also believe we each have a set of gifts as well as subsequent things we aren't as good at. And we all have constraints due to our everyday responsibilities. It is important to take these into account when setting goals.
  • T-Timely. Fortunately, for New Year's resolutions, the time frame is built-in as a year. It's critical to have and end date of when you expect to achieve your goals, or else it is too easy to put it off or lose sight of the end. If one of your New Year's goals depends on you achieving another one (i.e you might want to run your first 5k before your first 10k), then it might be helpful to establish intermediate goals, such as running the 5k by June. 
I'm still working on coming up with and planning my goals, and I'll share them when I'm done. This is one of my favorite times of the year--it gets me really excited for what the next year has in store.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Pseudo Half Marathon

For Christmas, I received a Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch from my (generous) in-laws. I've been using an older Garmin model that wraps around my upper arm. I have really liked it, but it is somewhat uncomfortable and bulky, and so I'm really excited to have a GPS watch.

We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas day, I headed out for a run with my new toy. My goal was to run a half-marathon distance--mostly to remind myself that I could still do it, as my last run greater than 10 miles was a month ago (15 miler day after Thanksgiving).

I started out excited to go for a long run and try out the new GPS, but it ended up not being a great run. Here's the breakdown:

Pre-run--Half a chocolate bar, a banana, and green tea.
During run--green tea and a chocolate pudding and several Now & Later candies
Post-run--Apple, yogurt, strawberries, grapes, pretzels

The good:

  • New Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch 
  • Right hip was not hurting in the way it usually does after a few miles.
  • Sunny and 52 degrees! Broke out the shorts!
  • Plenty of new business podcasts to listen to.

The not-so-good:

  • Took a couple of miles to figure out the new watch.
  • Both hips were tight and slightly sore during most of the run.
  • Felt weak from miles 2-10
  • Had a little too much in my stomach before the run
  • A lot of the path was concrete, which is much harder on the knees than asphalt or dirt
  • Had to take a few short walking breaks due to hips and just being tired.

I think part of the issue might have been that green tea was not a great choice of beverage. I thought a little caffeine would give me a kick, but water may have been the better choice for during the run.

This has also been my highest mileage week yet at 31 miles after this run. Most of my weekly mileage has been in the 20-25 mile range, so the extra distance may have something to do with why I felt so weak and sluggish during this 13 miler. Hopefully my body will eventually adapt to higher mileage weeks.

All in all, not a good run in terms of performance or how it felt, but I a glad that I got a workout in and got to enjoy the Christmas sun (one of the perks of winters in the south!).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Travel and Running

It can be especially challenging during the holidays to find time to run. Even during the rest of the year, carving out an hour or two (or more!) for running isn't always easy. Add in shopping, parties, traveling, and extra time with family, and it sometimes seems nearly impossible to keep up with training or even just maintaining base mileage.

However, planning and a little creativity go a long way in helping squeeze in workouts. We usually visit my husband's parents in Arkansas for the holidays, which is a 11+ hour drive from our home. We left right after I finished work on Thursday and drove for a few hours before stopping overnight at a motel in Illinois.  Not surprisingly, it did not have a gym (or sweetener for the coffee that was fewer than 5 years old, by the way). We continued on our journey with about 6 hours of driving ahead of us.

Gateway Arch in passing

Not to be foiled, I pulled out my handy iPhone and searched for potential running spots along the way. Springfield, MO seemed like the nearest city that might have a spot. I found a website for Ozark Greenways, which is a trail system in the county. I found a paved 6 mile trail located near a bookstore that my husband could hang out at while I ran (he is used to my somewhat odd behavior!).

The run was cold (37 F) and I managed to wade through a creek during the middle of it. I thought I could cross it on partially submerged rocks, but my plan was foiled by a particularly slippery rock. Aargh! I ended up walking some of the route due to some stomach issues, but completed the 6 miles and then promptly changed into dry clothes and shoes.

The last leg of the drive was a lot easier after getting a workout in. It was a little inconvenient, but going for a run during the trip was definitely worth it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Need for Speed?

Speed does not seem to come naturally for me. I'm not genetically predisposed for lightning fast paces. Although at one time, I could not even run half a mile without feeling my lungs or heart or possibly both would explode, and here I am now doing long runs in the teen miles.  I know I haven't fully explored what my body can do in terms of speed. How fast am I capable of going, with proper training? I highly doubt it is a pace that would break any records (or even win the local 5k), but I hope to find out.

My first 10k, a 1:02:55 effort. A year later, I ran the same race and beat my time by 7 minutes.  Hooray!
I definitely am a fan of PR's (personal records) as a measure of improvement. Even if I am not on the fast end of the running spectrum, there's always a previous race time to beat. And if no old people or children pass me during a race, well, then, that's just icing on the cake!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Running Inspiration!

My husband took this photo in October as he and my mom were waiting for me to complete my first half marathon (Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY). This little guy saw his dad run by and decided to follow him to the finish line. Love it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday Running Special

I figured that Thanksgiving dinner was as good a time as any to carb load for a long run, and so I planned my first fifteen miler for Friday. We were in South Carolina for the holiday, and it would be almost a sure bet that the weather would be perfect for running.  My folks live in a planned community situated on a peninsula with plenty of wide residential roads and a few paved trails.

                                                              View from the peninsula

After feasting on the usual Thanksgiving fare the night before, I hit the hay early that night. It took a while to fall asleep, as I was somewhat excited about my run the next day. I don't normally get 'excited' for runs, but this would be the first time I had run 15 miles in one shot. My last long run was 14.07 miles.

The morning came with the expected Carolina sunshine. After a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and a bread roll, I perused the internet for about an hour. The new sites were already buzzing about shoppers heading out at midnight to score some deals. "Crazy!" I thought, as I grabbed a granola bar, a bottle of water, Gatorade, my mp3 player, Garmin GPS, sunglasses, and sunscreen and headed out the door.

It had the makings of a perfect run. The morning was young, the sun was shining, and it was almost 50 degrees, and expected to warm up to 60 by the projected end of the run. The first 5 miles went by quickly. I had only a little concern that I ran them about as fast as I had a couple of days ago during a tempo type workout. I felt good.

I underestimated the hills. They were constant. As soon as I shuffled up and down one, there was another. Most of the short side roads that I had planned on running the full lengths of started out flat, then quickly took a nosedive downhill. I quickly gave up the idea of running to the end of them, and turned around when the slope started changing too dramatically.

By mile 8, I wanted to be done. My legs were throbbing, and I didn't think I could take on another downhill/uphill combo. I went another mile back to my stash of Gatorade and water. I stopped my Garmin and walked for about 15 minutes (looking for another place to put my stash). It was very difficult to start running again.

I knew the hills were part of it, but I was surprised at how much more difficult this run was compared to my previous 14 miler. Part of it I think was due to me starting out faster than I should have.

The rest of the run was tough. It was important to me to hit the goal I had set for the day, though. Albeit very slowly at times, I finished the 15 miles. Despite the discomfort and exhaustion, I have to admit--it felt pretty darn good. Although I didn't have a flatscreen TV for $299 to show for it, I think it was a few hours well spent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"I've got my new shoes on..."

My new running shoes arrived from Amazon yesterday, and I started the breaking-in process this morning with a 5 mile run, during which they were christened with a fresh coat of good old Kentucky mud. Good thing I didn't get white shoes.

These are my second pair of Saucony running shoes. I've had my first pair since March of this year, and they are fantastic--probably the best shoe I have had. Plenty of cushioning which is important for me. They also hold up well near the Achilles tendon area which is where I typically wear my shoes out quickly. We'll see how this new pair holds up, but I might have found the brand of shoe for me. 

I like to break new shoes in by wearing them around the house and out-and-about for a while, and then swapping them in for my old shoes at a rate of increasing frequency for regular runs. I have a 15 miler planned for Friday that I will be using my old shoes for.