Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Long Run Mistakes

In thinking about this weekend's upcoming 20-miler, I came across an article that I'd read before over on Active, "7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs," by Coach Jenny Hadfield. I believe that the article, overall, is targeted more toward beginner distance runners / marathoners. However, I actually found it helpful as I mentally prepare for the first of two 20-milers that I have coming up - especially the second mistake Coach Hadfield highlights:
2. Running too Fast
The difference between running for fitness and training for a long-distance running race is one stays consistent week to week (fitness) and the latter builds and progresses throughout the season. Because of this progression, it is important to vary your effort level as you train. In other words, run at a pace that is easy and conversational. If you can talk while you're running the long run, you're at the right effort. If you can't, you're running too fast. Avoid trying to run the long runs by a pace or target time. This sets you up for the race pace training disaster where you feel great for about four to six weeks, then things start to crumble when your energy levels decline, your body aches, and performance begins to suffer

In looking at my pace/HR data on @TrainingPeaks, I know what she's talking about. While I strive to maintain a conversational pace on my LSD runs (even alone and even if that means I look like I'm talking to myself - which I probably am), I sometimes get obsessed with my data. If my pace starts to tail off, I'll pick it up, starting a whole host of problems. My HR spikes, my breathing becomes more labored and I am apt to bonk out before getting in the complete distance targeted. 

Knowing that I am prone to make this mistake and the fact that I am re-reading this article, I know that am prepared to get into the mindset this weekend to take it slower and easier. With only 38 days and some hours left until I toe the start line at the ING NYC Marathon for the first time, I can't afford to get injured.

What do you do to slow yourself down when you need to?

Monday, September 26, 2011

American Tobacco Trail...and Snakes!

Per my ING NYC Marathon training guide that I wrote, this week was a back-down week for me. My long run was supposed to be an easy 13 miles. Unfortunately, I overslept (mistake 1) on Sunday morning. After a good breakfast, I decided to drive over to Durham, NC to try out the American Tobacco Trail, starting at 11:15 a.m. (mistake 2). Why was that a mistake? Because of the heat and humidity. I was not prepared for it and I let it DOMINATE me. My "easy 13" turned into a slog fest. I finished, rather quit, after 12 miles. While I averaged my targeted sub-9:00 pace, it hurt...bad.

I wrapped up my trifecta, hat trick, whatever you want to call them, of mistakes, when, around mile 8.5, I stopped to try my hand at snake charming. While I had already seen two other, smaller snakes on the trail, I wisely left them alone. This one, however, was a big guy and there were kids coming down the trail, so I made an attempt to encourage him off the path. He didn't like all. Instead of slithering faster, he coiled, raised up and was poised to strike.

Realizing that I made a situation that wasn't a problem much, much worse, I cut my losses, called out to those approaching that there was a snake in the path, and went on my way. The most interesting thing about this whole encounter came when I uploaded my GPS/HR data from my Timex Global Trainer. My HR spiked dramatically at mile 8.5 and stayed elevated beyond normal until around mile 10. That was interesting!

I'm back at it this week. Some strength and stretching work today, followed by 5 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, 5 @ MPP on Saturday and a lovely 20 on Sunday.

Questions for the day - 
What's on tap for you this week?
What's the most interesting thing you've seen on the run?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Blessed Weekend

This past weekend I was back home in Western Massachusetts. I couldn't have asked for a better homecoming. The weekend with Kerry was great. The highlight...going to church together! I had no idea that going to church alone could be so lonely after going together for so many years. So, sitting there together, listening, singing, praying, I felt at such peace. A truly blessed feeling.

While in town, we hit up our favorite restaurants, went out with friends, participated in a charity 5k that a friend puts on, Move 4 Behcets & Arthritis, and really just enjoyed our time together. It was very hard to leave on Sunday. Thankfully, I'm going back again soon!

Even though I was "vacationing," I didn't let it stop me from getting out for a run with Ted. Training for the ING NYC Marathon must go on. We did a fun 18 mile run on the roads and rail trails. When I say fun, I really do mean it. After training 11 weeks alone, having someone to run with is a treat.

Below is the map. Here are some stats:
18.07 miles
8:56 min/mile pace
131 bpm average HR
The kicker, miles 16 (8:16), 17 (8:18) and 18 (7:52) to close out the run.

Told you it was a good day and a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Newton MV2 - My First Thoughts

I tweeted yesterday about how I was excited to have received my new Newton MV2s from Road Runner Sports (my favorite place to get shoes and gear). It took some serious restraint to not blow off my scheduled rest day and lace 'em up for a test run as soon as I got home. I held back and waited until this morning. After my sweet wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. (thanks, babe), I grabbed a piece of toast with peanut butter, a big glass of water and a cup of coffee. By 5:51 a.m., I was out the door and on my run. I did 7.78 miles in 1:06:34 - an 8:33 avg. pace. Not bad for me for an early morning run.

While I only have those 7.78 miles on them, I thought I could provide my initial thoughts...

First things first, I think that they are beautiful. I know that I’ll get them nice and dirty soon, but I think the colors absolutely pop! Granted, I really liked the black version that was included in a slew of photos that Run Blogger posted with his review of the MV2.

As for the weight, you are aware of just how light they are before you even open the box. I’ll weigh them tonight to give an accurate representation, as no one really provides the weight of a size 13 running shoe in their descriptions. Yeah, that’s right, I wear a size 13.

My old Distance Racers are a 12.5. I followed the advice from the Newton website and sized up a half size – which makes them fit perfectly (in the house on the carpet)! I have a pretty wide foot, too, but the toe-box and forefoot has plenty of room, even given the race flat nature of the shoe.

As for initial, initial comfort – I was concerned at first. The way the tongue is attached to the upper seems different from any of my other Netwons. After slipping them on, I grabbed the tongue and pulled it up tight – as I typically do. However, with the way it is attached, the seam (?) felt like it was trying to fold under. So, right there on the top of my foot, it was folded under and ready to rub a big blister.

Not convinced that I would have to send them back, I took them off and unlaced them to see what the problem was exactly. Seeing how it was all connected and attached, helped me realize an easy fix – just don’t pull on the tongue so roughly/tight. It doesn’t need it. I relaced and set them up for them morning’s run.

Other pre-run observations – the insole is incredible thin. The lugs are pretty different from the other Newtons I’ve worn – Distance and Gravity – they have traction! The shoes also come with an optional 3mm heel lift that you can install if you aren’t fully ready for zero-drop. I have been running naturally for a while now, so I didn’t feel like I needed it.

Out on the run, they are whisper quiet. Not only do they feel slipper like, but the sound, rather the lack of sound coming from your footstrike, is slipper/sock like. It was like I was running lighter – super quiet.

As for the mechanics, I believe that the redesigned lug system is much more efficient in the MV2. Everything is on the lugs on the forefoot. This helps to keep you in great posture and running form. The only place that it felt different (and I think I just have to get used to it) is on the downhill. Staying on my forefoot, with a natural footstrike, on the downhill is pretty difficult for me, and the MV2 does nothing to help you out. I’m not sure my heel struck the ground once – throughout 1545 ft of elevation gain and 1565 ft of elevation loss.

Coming into the end of my run, I felt just as springy and responsive as I did at the beginning. I did not have leg fatigue really at all that I don't normally feel. And bonus, I did not get any hotspots at all, as I typically do when I wear my NB Minimus Roads.

I plan to continue to put the MV2 through its paces. Big test this weekend – how will they feel toward the end of Sunday’s 18-miler? Stayed tuned for an update.

Have you tried the MV2s? What say you? What about minimalist running? Is it for you or... for the birds?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two-Twelve: Adding the Extra Degree

"The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible." - Rich DeVos

Motivation. We all get it from somewhere...from someone. Often, we (and I mean endurance athletes) have the innate ability to find motivation within ourselves. I mean, seriously, out on the roads training or out on the race course, there are times when we are all alone. No one is there to encourage us, to push us forward. What keeps us from quitting right then and there?

I believe what sets us apart is the fact that we gather and save motivation and support from each other - from other athletes, from our tri-spouses, from our families/friends. Many people think that what we do is crazy - no matter what distance in which you compete. But we do it. We may not necessarily look great doing it, but we do. We have the will to try it, the will to train for it and the faith to believe that we're going to finish...and finish strong.

We are a special breed and I am happy to know that I belong. I am thankful for all of you out there that provide me with that inspiration and motivation that I need to continue to train and compete.

I had a great 18-mile training run on Saturday. I knew I could do it.  Not only because I was with a training group that wouldn't drop me, not only because I'd done this distance before, but because I was motivated and inspired by all of you...all of us.

Sometimes, though, we need more. I find motivation and inspiration from my personal relationship with Jesus. I also know that there organizations out there that put together "training" materials that motivate and inspire. Recently, I was told that I might want to check out 212° the extra degree. The premise here is built on the idea that only a small amount of extra effort can have a big impact on results. "At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. Just one extra degree can make all the difference."

There is a motivational introductory video on the site too. I checked it out and thought it was interesting...

I can't speak to the whole "training" of two-twelve, but I definitely believe and agree with the notion that the only secret to success is that there is no secret - hard work, commitment and perseverance is all that you need to achieve your goals.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Meeting New People

Moving to a new town, full of new faces and places to explore, is exciting. Moving away from your comfort zone, far from your training partners and favorite runs/rides, is sad.

To make it somewhat tolerable, okay, to make it fun and to find new folks to train with, I recently joined Meetup. If you haven't been on the site, you're in for a treat. There are meet ups for every imaginable interest. Crazy. To make sure I didn't get unsavory things sent my way, I set my "profile" to specifically find running, outdoor fitness, triathlon...and, well, just see this:

I am happy to say that the first Meetup I attended was awesome - thank goodness. Dedicated to Raleigh's "Fitness Buffs," the Live to Train...Train to Live group is full of athletes that are just looking for some no-nonsense motivation and camaraderie. The group is led and managed by Tim Kelly, a good Christian man and dedicated, highly-qualified trainer. Check him out at

I've already gone to two meetups, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tuesday class was "ADVANCED Fitness Bootcamp" and the Wednesday class was "Running Class" (we did interval hill repeats). Needless to say, I am super sore today. Both meetups beat me into submission. I am excited, though, that I will be adding some true cross training to my NYC Marathon training. Yeah, I'm doing New York - awesome!

Anyone have Meetup stories - good or bad - to share? Anyone out there doing NYC?