myRUNweek (3) SD Half Training

1/18 – 1/24 Week 3:

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?

 

Five Ingredients to a Successful (Strength) Streak

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?

As in the previous week, I am happy to link up with the DC Trifecta ladies, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?! for Friday Five, choose your own topic.

myRUNweek (2) SD Half Training

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.

My training paces are based on my last marathon finish time as calculated by Mcmillan running calculator.

 1/11 to 1/17 Week 2:

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.

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Photo credit: Amazon.com

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?

Greetings 2016!

An Instagram New Year’s Eve post by IdeaFit:

 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?

Strength Streak Challenge Update

Today is day 5 of my holiday fitness streak.  Motivation is still high and if it ever does reach a low point, I will think of my disappointing lipid profile results (discussed in this post, Am I Skinny Fat) to bring me back to the major reason why I wanted to establish the habit of maintaining a strength workout.  Fortunately, it’s been easy to keep a consistent schedule because 1) I have the support of my family and 2) our neighborhood YMCA has an excellent childwatch program that my kids enjoy.  They play while I workout, a WIN-WIN situation. Continue reading “Strength Streak Challenge Update”

Time for the Holiday Fitness Streak

Thanksgiving is around the corner and talks of the Runners World Run Streak is in the airwaves.

 #RWRunStreak

I did it in 2013, two months after I gave birth to my second child.  It was a motivation for me to return to running so I can develop the habit and build a base to run a half marathon the following year.

As tempted as I am to do another running streak, it would be an unwise decision.  Although my right ankle feels okay (I haven’t ran since MCM marathon in late October), I’m afraid the discomfort would creep back if I were to run everyday even if the minimum is only a mile a day.  Still, I want to participate.  Fortunately, in the latest issue of Runner’s World, it provided alternative ways such as the “Strength-Move” streak where every day you perform a movement that strengthens your body i.e. pushups, squats, planks.  I like this idea because of my recent ‘high triglyceride’ discovery (read about it in my previous post), I wanted to spend more time strength-training to build more muscle and lose fat.

Here’s my STRENGTH STREAK plan.  Every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, I will spend the minimum of 15 minutes strength-training.  I can already foresee tough days ahead with regards to schedule (especially when we travel), but I will figure it out along the way.  I will post daily updates on my twitter page – 

Anyone else participating in the RWRunStreak or their own version of a fitness streak over the holidays?

Marine Corps Marathon Goals

Final long run of the season accomplished this past weekend – 22 miles!  I feel great and ready for the race in three weeks. Last year I finished the NYC marathon at 4:07.  It was a tough course and the harsh weather (30+mph winds) made it even more difficult.  Even though I didn’t achieve my goal to break 4 hours, I was completely satisfied crossing the finish line 7 minutes later.

Goal #1:   Again, I aim to finish in 4 hours or less (3:55 – 4:00 range).

To determine my goal time, I used two race equivalent predictor calculators: Mcmillan Running and Jack Daniels VDOT Running Calculator, with finish time from the La Jolla Half I ran in April as the basis for calculation.

McMillan prediction:  ~ 4hrs

Jack Daniels prediction: ~3:56

Each calculator has its own set of algorithms hence the variance in the predictions.  Running Times has an excellent article explaining the background and differences between the calculators.  Of course this is only an estimation as several other factors can affect performance on race day.  All I can do is trust my training and do my best.

My usual race mistake was again apparent after reviewing my NYC marathon recap – faster pace than planned during the first half of the race.  I’ve told myself many times before to stay at a conservative pace but I’ve always allowed the excitement of the race take control increasing my pace to 15-20 seconds faster than planned.

Goal #2: Start SLOW!  I plan to start with the 4 hour pace group and reassess how I feel after the halfway point. A negative split would be the most ideal.

This is the first time I’m running MCM and it’s been 20+ years since I’ve been to DC.  The beauty of running a marathon in a major city is the opportunity to run through varying landscapes and view interesting sites along the way in the span of a few hours.  Unfortunately, when I am caught up with hitting a certain pace, I zone out to the point where I don’t even notice what’s happening around me.

Goal #3: Revel in the experience and embrace the moment.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Spring Break

Intention: Run 3-4x while on vacation

Reality: 1 and 1/2… the half was due to a run cut short (more about that later)

Last week, we soaked in the sun and enjoyed time with family during the kids’ spring break.  Our family of 4 joined my brother’s family of 5 as well as my youngest brother and Mom for a reunion in St. Petersburg, FL.  Being able to rent a house to accommodate all of us was a big plus since my oldest daughter has looked forward to this week of spending time with her cousin the same age as her.  At night, they would close the door in our bedroom so they could be alone in their own world of pretend play.  Such priceless moments.

6 days – I had it planned in my head that I can probably manage 3, even 4 days of running but even with the best intentions, I found reasons, ok excuses to abandon my plan.

Monday was a long travel day, up at 4:15am and by the time we got settled in to our hotel room, it was time for bed.

Tuesday, I woke up exhausted!  Without a pack and play for my toddler at the hotel we stayed in the first night, she was up until who knows what time playing in bed.  No way I was going to push myself to run.

Wednesday, finally up at 7am while the rest of the family still in deep slumber, I quietly made my way out the door towards a neighborhood overlooking the Bayou Grande, a body of water by the Weedon Island State Preserve.  Viewing the map, it didn’t seem very far but the time I got there, I was already 2.5mi out.  Briefly, I enjoyed the view and caught a sight of several large fish swimming around – none I can identify and no they were not sharks.

Bayou Grande with Weedon Island across the water

Thursday, I woke early again but a little fatigued.  3 miles was the goal and close to the halfway point, I unexpectedly tripped and fell 😦 In my mind, it happened in slow motion where I saw my body trying to maintain its balance but it was too late.  I extended my arms to save my face and head from hitting the ground.  The worst of my injury was bloody torn skin on my right hand and a sore wrist.  Luckily, my legs still functioned and didn’t need a ride home.

Who said running is not a dangerous sport?

Friday, another day off.  We had a busy day ahead of us and our plan was to leave as soon as everyone was ready to go.  I didn’t plan to wake up any earlier since I was not going to run before sunrise – not in an unfamiliar area.

Saturday, last day of our trip with a late flight home.  I wanted to run in the morning but we had to pack and ensure the house was in an acceptable condition prior to our checkout.

I’ve never been good with keeping up my mileage during vacation.  I know it has to be done first thing in the morning.  And when we are elsewhere besides our home, a decent night sleep is nonexistent especially with our kiddos in the same room. So when the choice of sleeping in or being awake to go for a run, SLEEP usually conquers. Yet, I continue to pack my running gear because I know I can find time if I truly want to go for a run (No excuses, right!?)

Good Habits

At least 2 out of 4 running days, I run on the treadmill as it is easier for me to drop off my kid at the YMCA childcare where she can run freely and enjoy the company of other children.  I have taken my youngest one on long stroller runs before but she is reaching an age when she just wants to be continuously on the move, so I don’t want to take the risk of having to cut my run short. This past week I was listening to an old episode (posted in Sept 2014) by one of my favorite running podcasts, the Marathon Training Academy about “Harnessing the Power of Habit” based on the book “The Power of Habit – Why we do what do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, which is on my reading list for this year.  I thought this is what I could try to break my bad habit of selecting the wrong type of food when I snack at night.  At first, I considered to banish nighttime snacking altogether but that was not really the issue.  In fact, I read a recent article on www.stack.com, regarding this topic that what matters is the selection of food rather than when the food is eaten.

The podcast episode talked about the habit loop which consists of a cue, a routine and a reward.  To change the bad habit into a good habit, I need to change the routine, figure out the cue and determine the reward.  As for my case, my bad habit is picking a carb-loaded snack i.e. pita chips (something crunchy) with hummus as the routine.  The cue is still the same – it’s right after my children are tucked in bed when I feel I need something to eat.  My reward is still satisfying my hunger but without the guilt since I know I ate something that was good for my body.  It sounds quite simple to just pick a healthier snack such as fruit with cottage cheese or a handful of nuts, but it does require willpower.  So I will be taking baby steps to change my habit starting tonight!  It’s 10pm and I might have a snack – something crunchy….

BELIEVE

New Year. New Goals. New Experiences. New Milestones (from my girls who are 1 and 4).  Each new year brings forth a sense of renewal and sheer determination to achieve our goals and aspirations.  This year I decided to keep a training journal.  It’s been 7 years since I had one – back in 2008, I wrote in a blank notebook the details of every meal, my running workouts and the amount of sleep I got daily.  It helped me tremendously which I think contributed to my marathon PR.  So, for Christmas I requested from my parents Lauren Fleshman’s bright red training journal called “Believe”.  It’s filled with running advice excerpts, a section for goal-setting and plenty of blank spaces to log my thoughts.

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And speaking of goal-setting, I finally wrote down a few items I would love to achieve for the year:

1). This is definitely my “Dare to Dream” goal as I plan to chase after new PRs in every race distance I intend to run this year.

2). Build dynamic strength – “Make muscles smarter, Make muscles stronger and Spring”.  This is based off the book “Anatomy for Runners” I am currently reading and another subject for a future blog entry.

3). Pave the road towards eating clean!  My worst enemy is night-time snacking when my body screams for more calories.  I think it’s because this is really the only time I can eat peacefully without having to tend to my kids.

These are my 3 significant ones with regards to training, so I have plenty of work to do before this year ends.  Every month, I will revisit my goals to check how I’m doing.

On a different note, yesterday was my first Saturday run with the San Diego Track Club.  This is my fifth year with the training program and it always feels awesome to be part of a wonderful organization.  This year’s theme is an inspiration for all of us to “DREAM, BELIEVE, AND ACHIEVE” (coincidentally jibes with my training journal, BELIEVE) which is imprinted on the back of the t-shirts each member received for being part of the training program.  A great reminder for all runners to see!

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