Another awesome week of training behind me. 6 weeks to go until the San Diego Half Marathon.
Monday: Backyard workout with a Rock
Say what?!…Yes I did a workout using a rock literally. I was hanging out with my 2 year old in our backyard, doing a little bit of yard work when I started moving a few heavy rocks around to spruce up the landscape. Right then, I recalled hearing a podcast about exercises you can do with a rock. It was by Ben Greenfield of the Quick and Dirty tips Get Fit Guy podcast. He was in the mountains of Colorado elk hunting when he thought of using rocks around his campsite to do a strength workout so he came up with 10 Exercises You can do with a Rock. I know I wasn’t stuck in the woods and could have used the kettlebells or dumbbells I have sitting in my house but thought it would be more interesting to do a workout the non-conventional way. Plus my daughter was intrigued and entertained at the same time. She loves to mimic so she grabbed a much smaller rock and copied what I was doing.
Tuesday: San Diego Track Club workout – Ladders – 400m/800m/1000m/20minSteady/1000m/800m/400m
This was one tough, yet exhilarating workout. I decided to run with the FAST group since I needed the extra mileage. The marathon/half marathon training program is divided into 3 groups: A group are the fast runners, B group are the intermediate, mid-pack runners, and C group are the beginners. Scheduled for the B and C group was a 20min threshold run followed by a 10min fartlek run, which meant if I ran with the B group I would run the most 4 miles. I scheduled 7 miles total for the day, so I knew I had to join the A group if I wanted to get those miles in.
I was nervous as this was my first time running with them and didn’t want to be left in the dust. I know I should always run my own pace without concern as to what the others around me are doing but there’s always a certain amount of anxiety no matter what. Well, I managed to stay with the group but in the back of the pack. And as to my pace, I ran much faster than I had intended, yet still felt pretty good by the end of the workout.
Here are my splits: 400m (1:45), 800m (3:22), 1000m (4:11), 20minthreshold (7:33/mi), 1000m (4:20), 800m (3:27), 400m (1:36). My pacing strategy needs tweaking as I feel my splits are not very consistent. I did a cooldown afterwards and ended up running 6 mi, a mile short than planned. Not a big deal. I did a few quick stretches and hurried home to eat dinner and tuck the kids in to bed.
Wednesday: 5 mi (10:00/mi) treadmill recovery + core cable exercises
Listening to a podcast while watching HGTV’s Love It or List It show made my easy run go quickly. While I don’t mind running on a treadmill, I prefer an interval-type of run rather than shuffling along slowly. Afterwards, I spent about 10min with rotations, wood chops and standing lifts using the Kinesis cable machine.
I usually run on Thursdays but moved it to Friday to avoid running 3 days in a row. With a dental appointment and several errands, it worked out perfectly for me to take the day off.
Friday: 5 mi (9:48/mi) easy + Form Drills
My route covered miles 4 to 7 of the San Diego Half Marathon course from Harbor Island to Liberty Station in Point Loma. However, I started in Point Loma and ran on the dirt trail rather than on the road. It was another beautiful San Diego day, sunny blue skies and in the 60s – perfect running weather.
Saturday: 12 mi (warmup 2mi – 9:27/mi, 10mi – 8:33/mi) with SDTC Rockin n’ Runnin group
Our Saturday training starts at 7am but I wanted to finish earlier so I arrived 20min early and warmed up with a 2 mile run. Weather was cold, dreary and slightly drizzled towards the end of the run. That really didn’t matter as I was in the company of 3 strong female runners – 2 who had babies only 8 months ago and 1 who has 2 kids a year older than mine – and we all stuck together until the end of the run. Again, our pace was a tad quicker than planned but we were engaged in conversation and didn’t need to catch our breath. Coach did say to run at a conversational pace!
The after-run seminar was presented by Rehab United, a Physical Therapy and Sports Performance center with Strength Training for Runners as the topic. What great timing as we are kicking off our StrongBody Streak on Monday! Main take-away for those who are time-constrained and don’t think you can squeeze in a strength training session. A short 20min workout using your own bodyweight twice a week can make a big difference in preventing injury and building strength by choosing the right type of exercises for the sport, in our case Running, performing the exercises in different planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse) and doing as many reps as possible (AMRAP). Let’s take a lunge, for example. The most common exercise for a lunge is a front lunge which is in the sagittal plane. We can start with doing a front lunge for AMRAP, then proceed with clockwork lunges, performing lunges in various dimensions. They provided many more examples and was definitely an informative seminar.
Sunday: Power Yoga DVD for 40min
“Deep Breath and Calm Minds” I hear the yoga teacher says as I work through one of the yoga poses. That’s all I wanted from my practice today was to take deep breaths. Unfortunately, I found it difficult at times especially when my head was upside down since I’m currently battling a stuffed nose. Still a great workout.
Weekly Total: Mileage 28/Strength 1:20
Any strength-training advice for runners? If you live in the same area as the race you’re training for, how often do you run the race course?
February, the month of ❤️s. Give your body the ❤️ it deserves by making it stronger. Join me and fellow blogger Allison of inverted sneakers as we launch the ❤️StrongBody Streak Challenge. Starting on February 1, commit to 15 minutes of strength training, any workout of your choice, EVERYDAY until the end of the month.
As most of you know, I recently did a holiday Strength Streak Challenge and wrote a post on how to succeed at it. Allison commented on my post that she wanted to do something similar in February so after a brief suggestion, we decided to create this challenge and invite others to join in the fun. We are also starting a Facebook group for participants where you can post the workouts you did, provide or ask for ideas on types of workouts to do and give each other motivation.
At the end of February, you will receive the ultimate prize – a STRONGER YOU!
Plus many of the benefits strength training has to offer:
Slow the effects of aging. Research has shown a muscle loss avg of 5 lbs per decade starting in your 30’s for non-strength training adults.
Improve body composition – MORE Muscle, LESS Fat!
Increase your resting metabolic rate therefore burn more calories on a daily basis
Prevent the risk of overuse injuries associated with repetitive landing forces such as in running. Specific strength training improves muscle strength imbalances which protects your tendons and ligaments from injury.
Increased bone mineral density, important for older women who are more at risk to develop osteoporosis.
This week went by quickly and somewhat of a blur to me. Besides the nightly interrupted sleep therefore feeling exhausted, I achieved my pace and mileage goals for the week.
M: Day off for the kids and hubby so instead of my usual run on the treadmill, I ran 4 easy miles (9:29/mi) around the neighborhood. I was really dragging that day and delayed my run until late in the afternoon. Unexpected, I was sore from the yoga workout on Sunday.
T: My schedule didn’t allow for a track workout with the San Diego Track Club. Rather, I did a 4mi speed workout on the treadmill (3 x 800s avg 3:35) followed by a series of assisted pull-ups and push-ups. Another night of interrupted sleep and wondering when it’s going to end?!!!
W – At home Kettlebell/Medicine ball strength workout. I like the option of staying home to do a workout but I really have to work on maintaining focus.
R – 6.2mi easy (9:31/mi) around Balboa Park+ Form Drills. I really appreciate the limitless options of places to run around San Diego. Thursday, both kids were in school so this is when I schedule my medium-long runs and I try to vary the location each week.
F – Strength train (Deadlifts/Pushups, Squat and Press, Pull-ups/BOSU pushups, and a few exercises on the TRX). I had 45-min before my volunteer work at my 5yr old’s school as a teacher’s helper. Today, I listened to the kids individually read a picture book with 2 to 3 word sentences. Most were excellent readers but some struggled. Reading is a significant skill to learn and always best to start introducing books to kids at an early age. It was disheartening to discover that a couple of kids didn’t even recognize their sight words and these words were introduced to them at the beginning of the school year. However, I was grateful to have the opportunity to work with them even if only for a short time. The teacher appreciates any type of assistance. Plus I have the chance to spy on my girl and see how she interacts in school!😉
Sat-Rest. Truly a lazy day. I couldn’t make it to my usual morning long run since I had to take care of the kids and rescheduled it to Sunday. The only activity I did was walk to the park for Eyva’s soccer practice and a few chores around the house.
Sun – 10.6 mi Long (9:00/mi) around Balboa Park. Fortunately, a few people from the track club as well as my best friend meets for an easy Sunday run around the park and I decided to join them. Long runs with a group feel effortless (most of the time) so I always prefer to run with at least one person.
Weekly Total: Mileage 24.8mi/Strength 1:30
How many hours of sleep do you need to fully function the next day?
Recently I undertook a 37-day strength streak challenge during the busiest time of the year (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). As expected with challenges, I experienced a few hurdles but was able to overcome them. I want to share with you the five elements significant to successfully completing this challenge and hopefully may help you to prevail over your challenges too.
MOTIVATION. What was the driving force? For me, it was to develop the habit to include strength-training sessions into my fitness plan to build more muscle and lower my triglyceride levels. The results from my blood test last year was a true awakening for me to overhaul my fitness and dietary habits.
PROPER PLANNING. The week before or even the day before, write out a plan to answer the questions 1)What? i.e. A TRX full body workout or Bodyweight workout targeting core and hips 2) When? Morning for an hour or later in the afternoon for 15min during the kids’ screen hour. 3) Where? At the YMCA gym or at home. Having a plan ready ensures you get the job done especially when you’re short on time.
BALANCE. To avoid the risk of injury or burn-out, maintaining a balance is important. I alternated easy and hard days, varied the type of exercises and used different types of equipment (Barbells, dumbbells, TRX, medicine balls, bodyweight, cable machines), and shifted focus on another area of my body (upper body) to allow for recovery when my legs felt fatigued and sore.
DEFINED SPACE. For me, I needed a specific place to workout – either at the YMCA (where they provided childcare) or at home (fortunately I’ve collected enough fitness equipment to complete a workout). However, on occasion I did part of my workout at a playground with the kids (monkey bars are no joke!…) and came up with a plan as to what type of exercises I can do in that type of environment.
SUPPORT. My husband and my kids are my rock. Without their support, this entire challenge would not have even started.
Are you currently trying to overcome a challenge? What helped you in becoming successful at it?
I am starting a new page on my blog, myRUNweek, which will show all the training weeks leading up to a race. I’ve been reading various weekly recaps and I thought it would be a great idea to track my weekly training as if I’m recording it in a journal. I can also look back on it to find ways for improvement. Plus it holds me accountable!
So I am starting with week 2 of 10. Week 1 was while we were still on vacation where I managed to incorporate a few runs and workouts. Currently, my A goal for the half marathon is a PR (1:44:30). I hate to admit but my fitness is not up to this level. I will re-adjust my goal after the 10K tune-up race scheduled the first week in February.
Monday: 4 mi Treadmill + Core/Hip Mobility (10:00/mi avg)
Tuesday: 8 x 400m (1:45 avg) repeats with calisthenics (SDTC Track workout) + warmup/cooldown (3mi total). Form drills (high knees, butt kicks, grapevines, hamstring kicks) and dynamic stretches prior to repeats. The recovery portion of the workout I alternated doing pushups, squats, side squats, and lunges. It felt great to be back at the track and be surrounded by a bunch of motivated runners.
Wednesday: 2K row + Strength Train – Personal best of 10:07 on the rowing machine! Truly becoming stronger and feeling good about it. The circuit below is from an article I read on Ace Fit, Weight Training for Weight Loss. I like the combination of exercises and being able to do it in a short period of time (took me 30min). It was a tough workout especially after the rigorous session on the rower.
Thursday: 7 easy miles around Coronado followed by form drills on the grass. It was a therapeutic run as I had a void in my heart only time can heal (Not quite ready to divulge the details yet). Also, I felt sluggish and tired the entire run due to lack of sleep caused by a 2 year old who’s been having sleep issues the past few days (hope it ends soon!) and the rough afternoon we had as a family on Wednesday. Plus the hard workout on Wednesday left me feeling sore. I need to re-schedule my strength workouts so they do not affect my running (or make it less stressful).
Friday: YES rest and recovery. A quick core/hip mobility workout at the gym. Both girls are in school so it was a day to run errands.
Saturday: 11 miles Long with San Diego Track Club (8:45/mi avg). I ran with my best friend and was involved in an engaging conversation the entire run. The pace was a little faster than planned but it felt comfortable.
Sunday: 40 min Power Yoga at home. The last time I used this DVD was probably before I had my first child which was 5 years ago! I felt tight and sore from Saturday run so I thought why not give this yoga workout a try. I loved that my 2 yr old tried to do it with me – her downward dog looked awesome 🙂
Weekly Total: 25miles/2hrs strength
Do you use a program/calculator to determine your training paces? Has a strength workout affected your run the day after?
Each week my girls and I visit the library conveniently located less than a few minutes drive from our house. I always feel as if we were returning from a shopping spree, our huge bag heavy and filled with books. Two weeks ago before the start of our road trip, I lucked out when Meb’s book, Meb for Mortals I requested was available for pick-up. It was the perfect book to read during a long drive as it delivered candid details of a champion’s training program. I finished reading it, my mind brimmed with knowledge and ideas on how to apply Meb’s words of wisdom to my current training.
The best part of the book was at the end of every chapter featured a section of “Do’s and Dont’s” – concise and insightful advise to ponder. While there are many to consider, I chose five of the best to help improve my running potential.
1. DO regularly work to improve your running form. One of my fitness goals I previously mentioned is to incorporate form drills at least 1-2x/week in my training. Meb actually does them almost everyday as he stresses the significance of getting them done. He advises for those who are time-crunched to “Run 1 mile less and use the extra time to do drills. One or two miles less per week for significant improvement in your running form and a lowered injury risk is a great trade-off.” Runner’s World online featured an article in April 2015 regarding 5 Drills to Make You a Better Runnerwith video tutorials of Meb performing the drills adapted from this book.
2. DON’T run your hard workouts so hard that you’re exhausted afterward. Raise your hand if you’re guilty (Hand high up in the air!) I’ve had days when I felt like I could fly during interval sessions, yet had to take a few days to recover. Understand every workout requires a specific pace to meet its purpose. Running faster will not further improve performance but only induce more stress which usually leads to injury. “Save the racing for race day. You should always feel you could have done another interval or a longer tempo run or another mile or two on your long run” is Meb’s advice.
3. DON’T think that running a lot means you can eat whatever you want. This one hit a nail on my head. It’s definitely an excuse I’ve used many times before. Knowing my lipid panel stats nudged me in the right direction towards better nutrition. What surprised me however was that someone like Meb who runs more than 100 miles a week has to take measures to control his weight. I guess we all experience struggle with our ideal weight.
4. DO consider strength training to be that much more important as you age. I am a year younger than Meb and can relate to his approach towards strength training. Now that he’s older, he focuses more on functionality and deter the effects of aging. I completed my strength streak challenge over the holidays which helped me get into the habit of including strength workouts a couple of times each week. Physically, I feel stronger and more balanced. It was definitely worthwhile to add a strength training regimen to my program.
5. DO take measures throughout the day to speed recovery. Meb discussed several ways to help quicken recovery, from post-workout nutrition to ice baths, massages and sleep. After a long run, I usually wait until I get home before I eat/drink anything besides water missing the 30 – 90 minutes “recovery window” when glycogen synthesis is maximized where your muscles’s ability to store glycogen is at its peak. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is ideal as protein is the key to repairing damaged muscle fibers during rigorous session. After a hard workout, Meb has an electrolyte drink, a protein-enhanced Generation UCAN (one of his sponsors and a drink I would like to try in the future) before stretching then a banana or PowerBar afterwards.
If you haven’t read the book yet, see if you can borrow it from your local library or better even, get a copy for yourself – a great addition to your running library.
Holiday break is over and back to our old routine. My 5 year old returned to school today and husband is back at work. Surely, my toddler is happy to have Mama all to herself for part of the day. And it feels good to sleep in our own beds after 9 days of being away from home.
A couple of months ago, we received an invitation from our friends to visit them in Colorado. It’s been 3 years since my husband and I went snowboarding and our toddler has never played in snow so the perfect opportunity was for us to take a road trip during the holiday break. Our girls, a 12 yr old dog, my husband and I in our SUV with approximately 16 hrs of travel time (plus a couple of hours more to include potty/fuel/lunch stops) – not exactly a pretty picture but with all the luggage we have, it was easier more practical to drive than fly.
9 days without any type of exercise would probably drive me insane so I knew it had to be a part of my schedule during this trip. Fortunately, most of the hotels that were dog friendly also had a fitness center and reasonably priced. Our first overnight stay was at a Comfort Inn in Cedar City. We arrived late afternoon and after we were all settled in, I checked out the fitness center. To my dismay, the hotel was in the middle of an upgrade as they had boxes of new equipment unopened.
An elliptical and a 25 lb dumbbell was all I had to work with, but it was enough to complete a full-body workout – a HIIT on the elliptical followed by a few hybrid-type exercises with the dumbbell (squat to press, lunge and rotate, renegade rows) + bodyweight exercises (push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers).
The following day, the girls peeked out the window to be greeted by snowflakes. First sight of snowfall was their excitement for the day as we still had a long road ahead of us before our arrival in Colorado.
We spent 4.5 days in Colorado with a day of snowboarding at Winter Park Resort. Our friends had a condo in Fraser where we stayed for a few days. It had a spacious well-equipped fitness center. I braved the cold (30 deg at 5400ft altitude in Arvada) on New Year’s Day when I ran 5 miles. However, Fraser at 8500ft and much much colder with snow/ice on the ground, I settled for a treadmill run where it was warm and comfortable.
We all had a blast on the mountain. The girls spent an afternoon on the bunny slopes, skis on their feet for the first time. My 5 year old did a really good job, but we couldn’t convince her to take lessons the next day. Our toddler was a bit unsure but seemed to enjoy it nevertheless.
I was a little anxious to go snowboarding as it’s been a few years. I guess it’s like riding a bike – once you learn how to balance and pedal, it’s a skill that can be re-learned quickly with practice. The beauty of snowboarding is I can control the speed and I will admit I was slow and too careful. Guess I didn’t want to cause an injury that would prevent me from running. The only pain I experienced was soreness in my legs that felt better by the next day.
Our trip back, we decided to divide our trip into three days with a stop to Moab, UT to view the arches at Arches National Park. It was only a 5 hour drive from Fraser, a much more tolerant drive than the 8-10hrs we did. I loved the changes in landscape from the towering snow-covered mountains in Colorado to the magnificent red rock formations in Utah.
We stayed at a La Quinta in Moab. Out of all the hotels we stayed, this one had the best fitness center with plenty of equipment to choose from. 3 miles on the treadmill and a quick full-body workout before dinner. I’m certainly lucky to have a supportive husband and kids who gave me some free time to get it done.
After Moab was another 5 hour drive to St. George with a detour to Canyonlands National Park. Unfortunately the weather prevented us from continuing on with our drive as the visibility was only a few miles and we figured it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
Last night in a hotel room – the Days Inn. It had a very small fitness center with a treadmill, an elliptical and a recumbent bike, as well as a pulldown machine. It was late around 7:30pm before I had the chance to run. I expected to be alone but actually had to share the gym with two other people. I had to start on the elliptical first as the treadmill was occupied. The cool thing about the treadmill was it’s IFIT feature with workouts at specific places you can view on the screen. One was a 5 mile course along the Monterey Coastal trail. I lived in Monterey for a few years and ran the trail many times so it was awesome to see the familiar views.
On the 9th day, we were HOME SWEET HOME. The drive from St. George to San Diego was the longest but we treated ourselves by stopping at the Wicked Spoon brunch buffet in Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. Definitely worth the stop! The girls liked all the glitz and glamour. This entire trip was definitely a feast for their eyes – many interesting sights.
7 of the 9 days, I successfully managed to include some type of workout by making it a priority. Without the support of my family, it would have been a more difficult task. And I made sure I did my workouts within a reasonable timeframe that didn’t interfere with our overall schedule.
What’s the longest drive have you done? Do you specifically pick a hotel with a fitness center when you travel?
I wanted the first page of my book to be Awesome! Therefore Day 1 of 2016, in Colorado at 5400ft elevation and nearly freezing temps, I donned warm layers of rarely used running gear and joined my friend for a run, following a trail around a frozen lake with views of distant snow-capped mountains.
I can’t remember the last time I ran with snow on the ground. Living in San Diego with its near perfect weather has me spoiled. However despite the frigid thin air, my breath was steady and my body warmed up as I appreciated the glistening snow under sunny blue skies and the company of a friend whom I haven’t seen in 2 years.
To top it off, I finished my 37 day holiday strength streak (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) doing 2.5 pull-ups on this bar conveniently located on the trail in addition to the push-ups and squats I did to warm up prior to the run. A woman walking by said “Way to go” and I considered it as a congratulatory note for my effort in completing the challenge.
Since it’s the beginning of a new year, I want to introduce my fitness and health goals for 2016. Some of these goals are already work in progress. One of the books I started reading during our road trip to Colorado is “Meb for Mortals” by one of my favorite elite runners Meb Keflezighi. The first chapter addresses “Goals”. He believes it to be one of the most significant aspects in being a successful runner which is why it’s the first subject in his book. “With the right goals and the commitment to keep pursuing them, you can achieve more in running than you ever thought possible”.
1. Half marathon PR by training consistently and following a plan that includes lactate threshold workouts.
2. Improve my running form by incorporating form drills 1 to 2x/week. Chapter 2 of Meb for Mortals is all about running form. Mine needs plenty of work as I’ve noticed poor form on many of my race pics especially those taken when I’m really tired.
3. Continue to strength train at least once a week. My strength streak has taught me that even on very busy days I can still take 10-15mins to focus on a few multi-jointed strength movements. The big 4-0 is also on the horizon this year and the older we get, the rate of muscle loss (sarcopenia) increases. Conserving muscle and bone strength is a definite must for me.
4. Eat more whole foods and be aware of the glycemic load of what I eat to reduce my Hemoglobin A1C % and triglyceride levels (see related post). My plan is to have my blood tested in late spring.
5. Reduce stress through mindful breathing. This is a practice I would like to master as I need to teach my body to relax more and let go of useless tension.
I plan to review these goals every month to assess my progress in achieving all of them by the end of the year. Happy 2016!
What did you write on page 1 of your 365 page book?
The New Year is only a few days away and I finally came up with a race plan for 2016. I decided to focus on half marathons with the goal of achieving a PR (1:44 is the magic number). Due to schedule and budget constraints, I usually limit the number of races averaging 5 to 7 a year.
Since 2008, I’ve signed up to train with the San Diego Track Club (SDTC) Rockin n Runnin marathon training program. This program has so many awesome perks including 2 free races (Cardiff Kook 10K and Sue Krenn 15K), but what I love most about it is the motivation it provides to push yourself to achieve your best especially during tough workouts. The year I joined this program in 2008 was the year I qualified for Boston. And as Meb mentioned below, Coach Greer is the BEST 🙂
This program’s training plan is specifically for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon in early June, however due to the popularity of the half marathon portion of the race, it now also offers a half marathon training plan. However, with my first half marathon only 11 weeks away, I decided to write a personalized training plan based on what I learned studying for my Run-Fit Specialist certification, which I recently passed! (More about this certification on a later post). December has been the month for building a base as well as focusing on strength and YES, I am still on my strength training streak until New Year’s Day.
My training plan starts the second week of January with 25 miles/week to a maximum of 38 miles/week, with a 2 week taper. Each week will include 4 days of running: 1) Easy run Mondays 2) speedwork on Tuesdays with SDTC 3) acidosis threshold or lactate threshold runs on Thursdays after the 4th week 4) long runs on Saturdays with SDTC. As you can see, my maximum weekly mileage is only 38 miles. Will this be enough to reach my PR goal in March? My maximum mileage going into MCM was 48 and I finished in approx 3:51. The 10k results in February will determine my level of fitness and I can better assess my goal time for my first half marathon of the year. Fortunately, I still have 2 more half marathons in my schedule to reach for that magic number!
Feb: Cardiff Kook 10K (2/7)
Mar: Sue Krenn 15K (3/?), San Diego Half Marathon (3/13)
May: Mountains to Beaches Half Marathon (5/29)
Jul: Scripps Ranch 4th of July 10K (tentative)
Aug: Balboa 8miler (8/?)
Nov: USA Half Marathon (11/19)
What’s your maximum mileage training for a half marathon? Do you have plans to join a marathon/half marathon training program? How many races are you running in 2016?