My First Guest Post!

Hey friends! I’m guest posting for Heather at Run Like A G today. Go check it out (and stick around to read more of Heather’s stuff; she’s pretty awesome).

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10k Training Week 4 (or: How A Chick Who Hates to Rest Does Recovery Weeks)

Well, here we are again at Sunday night. That was quick. Anybody do anything fun over the weekend? I did not. Yesterday, we had our annual meeting with our financial planner, where we discussed retirement and life insurance.

Because nothing says “fun Saturday morning” like talking about preparing for the untimely demise of your dearly beloved. We had lunch with J’s family afterward; Mexican food perked me right back up.

I think I may have mentioned a few (thousand) times that training for a fast 10k instead of a long-distance race has been quite a mental switch for me. This week was especially… odd, I guess. It was a recovery week, and it seemed really strange to me to take a recovery week when I hadn’t been increasing mileage. But, as I have many times over the past four weeks, I told myself to trust the plan and trust that Heather knows better than I do…you know, with her coaching certification and all. Trust is important.
This meme-maker earns bonus points for correctly using the apostrophe. 

Anyway, here’s how this recovery week looked:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: The same wicked-hard interval workout as last week: 2 x 400m, then 2 x 800m, all with 800m rest. 6.5 miles total. Oh, and I solved the treadmill-tripping-the-powerstrip issue. By plugging it into the WALL instead of the powerstrip. I am so smart.

Tuesdays are usually double days, with intervals in the mornings and strength at night. I knew I was going to have to move the strength workout, because I’d planned on going to the basketball game that night. But did you know that if you don’t actually turn on your alarm, it won’t go off in the morning? I didn’t make it out of bed to run, so that night I didn’t make it to the basketball game and ran instead. Not winning.

Wednesday: The best thing about this recovery week was Wednesday’s 4-miler. Since it was so short,  I didn’t have to run in the morning in order to lift at night. I just ran the four (outside! In daylight! Spring is coming!), then lifted for 45 minutes.

Thursday: I cheated on my plan a little. But just a little. The schedule said 6 easy, but since the Run to the Shrine is in just three months, I’ve got to start hitting hills. So I did hill pyramids. Then I did some core. And I stretched, so I wasn’t a complete rebel.

Friday: I so desperately wanted to repeat Wednesday’s workout, but I was a good girl (for two weeks in a row!) and just lifted. And did the spin bike for 20 minutes.

Saturday: 8-mile progression run. I love progression runs, but they are one of the hardest workouts for me to do right. I always start out too fast. (Just like I do in races…maybe there is a pattern here). But yesterday’s overindulgence in tortilla chips at lunch turned out to be a (miserable) blessing in disguise: I had to start slow in order to keep those chips in line. And then when they had settled, I was able to kill the last three miles in 7:04, 6:45, and 6:36. Boom. And then I stretched, just like I was supposed to.

Sunday: 4-mile recovery run, then some core.

Totals: 28.5 miles, 1.5 hours strength, 30 minutes stretching. That’s like…two weeks post-marathon type of mileage, and it’s messing with my head. Someone please tell me that this will make me super fast.

I was pretty stoked to get in three outdoor runs last week. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in some more this week. The weather looks like it should be pretty decent, so it’s just dependent on if I can get out of work in time or not.

Do you love, hate, or love/hate recovery weeks? 

Favorite type of indulgence food? Tortilla chips are not even my favorite, but I sure ate them Saturday.

 

Book Review: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet

Last week, I finished a book and needed a new one. I wasn’t in the mood to read anything on my shelf, either at home or at school (which is kind of sad, because I have a LOT of books). I was in the mood for a running book. You know the kind … one that, while you’re reading, you can’t decide whether to keep reading because it’s so riveting or go outside and run because it’s so inspiring.

I already own several books that fit that description, but I wanted something new. So I grabbed my trusty nook, did a quick search, and landed on Kilian Jornet’s Run or Die. I only knew two things about this book: 1. Kilian Jornet is an incredible trail runner, and 2. Reading about incredible runners tends to give that inspiring feeling I was after.

So I bought it, and I read it. And although it was okay, I was disappointed overall.

Let’s start with the good:

  • Quick read — it was only 145 nook pages, which made for speedy reading.
  • Vivid descriptions of some of the amazingly beautiful places Jornet has run and of his thoughts and emotions throughout some runs and races. For a translated book, especially, I was impressed with some of the imagery.
  •  Some nice little thought-nuggets to ponder, like this one (the name of Chapter 8): “We celebrate a peak when we’re back down.”

And these are the things that made it a “meh” book for me:

  • Disjointed. That was my main issue with the book — it’s just a collection of tales of Jornet’s races, runs, and feats, without a unifying element. My next two points are really more sub-points of this one.
  • Shallow. The term “thought-nuggets” was the best descriptor I could use above, because Jornet never really gets into the meat of some of those thoughts and lessons. The book would have been much better with some more depth.
  • Impersonal. That probably sounds weird to say about a memoir-type book, but at the end of it, I didn’t feel like I knew Jornet. He touches on his childhood, his family and friends, and a failed relationship… but merely touches. For me to love a book like this, I need to feel a connection to the author, and I didn’t.

This book is worth a read if you want a short running book that you can read in a couple of days, but there are definitely more inspiring and well-written running books out there (see this post for some of my favorites).

And just for the record, Kilian Jornet is still a badass runner, regardless of his book.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately (running-related or not)?

 

Health Rules I Break

I’m a rebel.

Okay, that’s not true. But the more I read about what to do and what not to do in order to be as healthy as possible, the more rebellious I feel. Sometimes, the “rules” just don’t work for me. And sometimes, I really should be following the rules, but I just don’t. For example…

“Your sports bra should never have a birthday.”

I wear a sports bra at least six times a week. Sports bras are expensive. I am a teacher (i.e. not rich). These three things mean that I have some old bras. But for the most part, they’re still doing the job. Except this one.
photo 2 (2)Don’t worry. My tetanus shots are up to date. Also, I threw that one away and ordered a replacement this weekend.

“Don’t eat white foods.”

Okay, I get the point of this one. A lot of white foods are over-processed and under-nourishing. But some white foods are good for you. See?
photo 1 (3)That’s a pan of potatoes and turnips… a.k.a. a pan of low-calorie potassium and Vitamin A goodness.  I ate it for dinner last night (not the whole thing, calm down). Which brings me to…

“Don’t eat carbs at night.”

Maybe if you are a bodybuilder, or your primary goal is to look saucy in a bikini, this is an okay rule to follow. If, like me, you’re  a runner who trains at night, this is a terrible rule to follow. Your body needs carbs to replenish its stores. (Hence the aforementioned potato/turnip goodness). Eat them.

“Consume a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein within 30 minutes of a workout.”

This is one that I’m really working on, especially after long runs. My usual post-LR routine goes something like this: come home, go to the bathroom, make fun of whatever show J is watching while I pretend to stretch, take a loooong shower, slowly get dressed, screw around on my phone… and suddenly realize that I’m STARVING and eat everything in sight. This is not a good nutrition strategy.

“Stretch.”

I do not. Which is why I am the most inflexible human on the planet.

But my 10k training plan has two days of stretching each week– once after speedwork and once after long runs — and I’m keeping up with that. So, I’ve stretched six times in the last three weeks. Go me.

The moral of the story here is that rules don’t always apply in every situation. Do what works for you! But don’t discount advice just because you don’t like it, either. Some rules do matter.

What “rules” do you break?

Weekly Workouts and Museum Fun

Hello, friends! Happy Sunday!

I hope you had a good weekend…I did! More on that in a second; first, let me tell you about Week 3 of “run a fast 10k” training. Here’s how it looked:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: AM:  Intervals: 2 x 400m with 800m rest, then 2 x 800m with 800m rest. My stupid treadmill kept tripping the surge protector again. I’m not sure why it does that… if it says it goes 12 mph, then shouldn’t it go 12 mph without kicking me off?! Not cool. I’m pretty sure I ended up with 6.5 miles total, if I did all my math right after having to start over several times.
PM: 45 minutes strength. I get a new strength routine this coming week, and I’m not too sad to see this one go. I didn’t love it.

Wednesday:  6 miles easy plus core

Thursday: Intervals at 10k pace: 2 miles at goal pace with 0.4 miles recovery, the 4 x 1-mile with 0.4 recovery. 9 miles total, then stretching.

Friday: 45 minutes strength. I SO BADLY wanted to run, but I was good and followed the plan (for once).

Saturday: 9 miles. The weatherman had been saying all week that the weekend temps would be in the upper 50s, so imagine my disappointment when we topped out at 40 with 15-20 mph winds. Actually, I wasn’t that disappointed, since it was finally above freezing and most of the ice had melted.
photo (34)

Sunday: 4 recovery miles plus core.

Totals: 34.5 miles, 1:30 strength training

Pretend there is a smooth transition here. It was a good weekend, and I want to show you some pictures. 

I heard something about Friday’s being a holiday? 🙂 J and I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day, so we made breakfast-for-dinner and watched the Olympics while I looked at fall marathons online. It was pretty ideal.

photo (33)We went out for dinner for a friend’s birthday Saturday night. I actually fixed my hair and figured I’d better document it to prove that it does, in fact, happen.

Today, we went to Denver for brunch and an afternoon at the History Colorado Center with my brother and his girlfriend. We decided to do this instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, and this weekend our schedules finally aligned.

This museum is fairly new, and I’d never been. It was a lot of fun — lots of interactive exhibits and interesting info.  I definitely recommend it if you’re in the area!

image (7)I’m milking a plastic cow. The bucket lights up as you “fill” it.

image (6)This is outside the museum, but those mountains are over by where I grew up. I miss them!
20140216_133533Jordan is terrified of my driving in this Model T.

And that was the weekend in a nutshell! We have tomorrow off, which is awesome.  Of course, I have to spend most of it grading, but at least I can grade on my couch, in my sweatpants, with my coffee, instead of squeezing in grading before and after school, huddled by my space heater.

Do you like museums? What’s the best one you’ve been to?

Anybody else off tomorrow?

Thinking Out Loud. Because I’m Trendy.

I’m not trendy. Even kind-of. But I didn’t have the mental energy to write a Throwback Thursday post, and this list o’ random thoughts bit seemed much more my speed tonight. So I’m linking up with Running With Spoons (I hope… this is my first link-up and I may screw it up) and doing some Thinking Out Loud.

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Maybe I’m just grouchy, but the Olympic commentators seem unusually annoying this year. Shhh, commentators. Let’s just watch.

2. My classroom is an icebox. Normally I walk around the room all day like a good teacher would. Today I hovered by my space heater the vast majority of the time, trying to thaw out my feet. Go away, winter.

3. Speaking of space heaters, a couple of years ago, I had a different little heater behind my desk. On a clerical day, I had it running pretty much constantly all day… until I smelled something funny and looked down to see it smoking up a storm. Whoops.

4.  I have an addiction to peanut butter. I know (wo)man can’t live on PB alone… but I wouldn’t mind trying.

5. I went to a conference last Thursday and Friday. When I told my students I’d be gone, one of them said, “Oh, what race are you doing?” I’ve only missed work once for a race,  and that was Boston, but apparently in his mind, that’s the only reason I would be gone. Maybe I talk about running too much.

6. I like memes. But the run-on sentence in that one is really annoying me.

7. I kind of miss marathon training. I know this faster/shorter spring  race training will help me improve my fall marathon time (at least I hope it will), but it feels weird. I miss 50+ mile weeks.

8. I keep reading all these blog posts about skiing/snowboarding, and I feel like an impostor Coloradoan. I’ve lived here my entire life and have never skied. I tried snowboarding once, when I was 15, and decided that if I was going to spend a day sliding down a hill on my butt, I’d go sledding. At least that way I’d start  on my bum and not painfully fall on it. But now I kinda want to try again.

9. I thought I’d at least be able to come up with 10 random thoughts. No, not so much. Maybe I should go to bed and hope to wake up with a better-functioning brain.

Tell me a random thought. 

Any other peanut butter addicts out there?

Who wants to teach me to ski?

Awkward Splits for Second Place: Loveland Sweetheart Classic Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Mile Race. Going in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve just recently started doing speedwork again, and I didn’t know how the course conditions would be, either. All of last week was frigid — as in, barely above zero — so when I saw that the temperature at start time was 20 degrees and  it was sunny, I got pretty excited.

The race started at 10, and we got there around 9. The start and finish were at a high school, which was nice because we got to stay inside and keep warm until start time. At about 9:30, I did a two-mile warm-up and hit the bathroom, and then it was go time. We lined up, shivered through the National Anthem, and took off.

At the starting line. Brrrrr.
At the starting line. Brrrrr.

I had only a vague plan and goal, as I knew my performance would be largely dependent on how much ice was on the course. I planned to start with a 6:30 mile and pick it up if possible — ideally, each mile faster than the last.

Mile 1 ticked by, right on pace: 6:29. Mile 2 was a smidge downhill, with a tailwind, and not much ice: 6:20. And then, mile 3 came along, with a lot of ice. Mile 3 was along the lake, and the wind over the water (ice) was chilly and in my face. Though my effort stayed pretty even, I ticked off mile 3 in 6:41. Mile 4 was even worse. The course is pretty flat, but most of mile 4 was a slight uphill with a number of icy patches. 6:45 was my pace there.

Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That's pretty cool.
Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That’s pretty cool.

So those are some silly splits, but I don’t feel too bad about them, as their unevenness was due more to conditions than poor pacing on my part (though I probably should have eased up on mile 2). I crossed the line in 26:49 — good enough for second female and first in my age group.

Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.
Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.

The first woman and I compared notes after the race. Both our Garmins registered 4.1 miles, but we agreed that it was probably more that we were dodging ice than that the race was long. Overall, I was happy with my performance — it was right where I expected to be, given the shape I’m in and the course conditions.

I really enjoyed this race and definitely recommend it. I’ve done it before, at its old location, and I liked this location (through neighborhoods and around the lake) much more. The race had some minor organizational snafus, but nothing major. It’s not a huge race (519 runners this year), and all the profits go to local high school cross country teams, so I’m willing to overlook those minor issues.

Right after the race, still trying to breathe.
Right after the race, still trying to breathe.

Also, the age group award medals were adorable, and they came with a $25 gift certificate to Runner’s Roost. Sweet.

photo (32)

I’m excited now to see what my time will be for my goal 10k in a few weeks. Hopefully a few solid weeks of speedwork (and less snow and ice, fingers crossed) will make for a great race!

What’s your favorite race distance?

Training For A Quick 10k: Week 2

Hi friends! It’s Sunday night again somehow. Not sure how that happens so quickly every week.

Last week was crazy-busy, but this upcoming week is considerably slower. J and I were comparing calendars today and discovered that neither of us has any evening commitments this week. That’s unheard of during the school year, so we’re excited. (It’s the little things, right?)

Anywho, this was Week 2 of Fast 10k training. Here’s how it went down:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: AM: 6 miles with 4 ridiculously fast (for me) 400m repeats. It was the same workout as last week, but my treadmill cooperated this time.
PM: 50 minutes strength. Tuesday was cold and snowy, and after spending way too long shivering in a bus on icy roads (we took some kids to see Hamlet  in Denver) and then sliding around in my car, too, I was NOT leaving again to go to the gym. So I did this workout instead of the strength workout in my training plan. I do not regret it.

Wednesday: 8 miles easy; core work

Thursday: Half-mile repeats at slightly faster than 10k pace. 7 miles total with warm-up, cool-down, and recoveries. 15 minutes stretching.

Friday: My plan said to rest, and I really was going to (because rest days are not a waste of life). But I spent Thursday and Friday at a conference in Denver. I learned a lot, but I did more sitting those two days than I normally do in a month (that may be an exaggeration. But only a slight one). By the time I got home Friday evening, my legs felt like tubes of lead. I knew that if I didn’t move, I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and my race Saturday would suck, too. So I did a slow 4-miler and felt 87 times better.

Saturday: I ran a four-mile race in Loveland. I’ll have a recap up on Tuesday (hold me to that), so for now I’ll just say I enjoyed it. Here’s a picture.

This is my "seriously, honey, just take the picture" face.
This is my “seriously, honey, just take the picture” face.

With my warm-up run, Saturday’s total was 6 miles. I was also supposed to stretch and did not. Bad Cassie.

Sunday: 4-mile recovery run and 45 minutes of the strength workout I was actually supposed to do.

Totals: 35 miles, 1.5ish hours strength, 15 minutes stretching

And that, my friends, is that. I’m looking forward next week. My sleep and my eating were not the greatest last week because of all the being gone, so this slower week should be a good one for getting back on track. Starting with posting this and going to bed like the 90-year-old woman I secretly am.

What was your favorite workout last week?

Anybody else race this weekend? How’d it go?

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Eventually, I Married Him

I always like hearing stories about how people got together with their spouses — how they met, what the first date was like, etc. So I thought that maybe you’d like to hear the beginnings of my and J’s love story, too. If you don’t…welp, see ya later.

Jordan and I met in an education class at Colorado State. He wasn’t really on my radar at first… in fact, I thought he was a little annoying. You know that one guy in class who always has something to say? Yeah, that was Jordan. The first words he ever said to me didn’t help the situation, either. As in all education classes, we had to do get-to-know-you crap at the start of the semester. Jordan mentioned that he worked at a place that made area rugs. Our instructor asked him to bring one in, so the next day, he did.

That morning started out rough for me… it was a 7:40 class, which was bad enough, and right before class, I’d managed to drop the key to my bike lock down the sink in the bathroom. So I was now transportationless for the rest of the day and not happy about the situation. As I walked into class, the first thing I heard was some guy shout from across the room, “HEY! Wipe your feet! I brought a rug.” My feet were not muddy. I was not impressed. This is pretty much the look I gave my future husband:

This poor girl will be famous for that face forever.

A few weeks later, though, Jordan’s practicum placement classroom was right next door to mine. We started chatting. Soon, I found myself intentionally arriving a few minutes early just to talk to him. (I found out later that he was doing the same thing, and getting anywhere early is not Jordan’s strong suit. Yeah. He liked me.)

After practicum, I always went to work for a couple of hours. I checked my e-mail there, and I had a note from Jordan. It said that he hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to me after class, but he and some friends were going to a corn maze the next night and I was invited. Hmmm. I had planned to stay in all weekend, as I had several massive papers due the next week. But…Jordan was cute. I was 20. I had priorities.

So I called the number he left in the e-mail, made fun of his voicemail greeting (I’m a jerk. Why did he want to hang out with me?), and said I was up for it. The next night, he picked me up, and we met a few of his friends and headed out to the corn maze. (He ran a red light on the way. Somebody was nervous about a certain redhead sitting in the passenger seat.) At this point, neither of us thought this was a date, as there were other people with us, but we were doing a bit of flirting.  The maze was incredibly muddy, which made me slip several times. I had to hold his arm to keep from falling. He claims I did this on purpose. He is correct.

After we made our way through the corn maze, Jordan invited me and the friends we were with to come over to watch a movie. They said they would come, so he dropped them off at their cars and we went back to his place to wait for them. But then they called a few minutes later and said they weren’t coming. Suspicious? Maybe. Convenient? Definitely. 

We put in The Italian Job but didn’t really watch it. Not because of that, you pervs. We were talking. And laughing. Lots of laughing. By the end of the night, I had decided that I actually really liked this formerly annoying boy from my ed class. I’m pretty sure he felt the same way. 

At 3 a.m. or so, I finally decided that I should probably go home, so he dropped me off and I collapsed into bed. A few hours later, I woke up to stumble into the bathroom, where my roommate was getting ready for work.

“Dude,” I mumbled, still mostly sleeping. “I think I went on a date last night.”

“Wait, what? You think you went on a date?”

“Yeah. We held hands.”

“Well,” she said, straight-faced, “I hope you used a glove!”

And then I went back to sleep. I didn’t get her pun until I woke up for real a few hours later.

Fast-forward eight years, and now I’m married to that cute boy from ED350. All because of a rug and a corn maze.

 

How did you and your significant other meet?

What was your best first date?

Rest Days: Not a Waste of Life

Truth: I’m writing this post mostly for myself. I’ve been having a heck of a time taking rest days lately. I’ve declared 2014 my “year of speed,” and I want to get fast faster. Even though I know better, some little part of my brain tells me to stop being “lazy” and get in a workout to speed up the speeding up. So in order to remind myself (and you, of course) why it’s so important to rest and recover, I compiled quotes from people who know a lot more about running than I do.

Why rest days are necessary

  • “Optimal Stress + Optimal Rest = Optimal Progress.” (Guy Avery, quoted by Greg McMillan in You, Only Faster, p. 233)
  • “Too many runners ‘under-rest’ after hard training and racing and thus stunt their fitness progress. . . . We get excited about training and train too hard, too soon, and too often, resulting in escalating fatigue and injuries.” (Greg McMillan in You, Only Faster, p. 233)
  • “A day off every seven to 14 days restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue. Without recovery, adaptation may occur short-term, but ultimately it will fail.” (Ed Eyestone, in this Runner’s World article)

  • “All runners need rest, of course. Even the fittest and most experienced runners can get into trouble if they try to go more than four weeks or so without a solid rest day.” (Matt Fitzgerald, in this Competitor article).
  • “Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.” (Hal Higdon, here)
  • “If you train too hard on a scheduled recovery day, then you’ll be a bit too tired for your next hard day, and that workout won’t go as well as planned. If you’re like most runners, you’ll be ticked off, and you’ll run your next scheduled recovery day a bit harder. So begins a vicious cycle . . . . The result is mediocre performances in training and racing.” (Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, in  Advanced Marathoning, 2nd edition, p. 61-62, italics mine).

Oh. Mediocrity is just what I wanted to avoid, isn’t it? So, have we all learned something here today? Yes. When the plan says rest, REST!

Do you struggle with rest days, or do you like them? 

What’s your favorite way to spend a rest day?