Lincoln Marathon Training: Week 9 and a Change of Plans

I made a decision this week. I didn’t even waffle much, so I’m pretty sure it was the right decision. That decision was to switch training plans, even though I’m at exactly the halfway point of training.

Here’s why: I love to run, and I love to train hard. But running is my hobby. I’m an okay age-grouper, sure. But I’ll never be an elite or even a sub-elite. This will never be my job. And the time commitment required by the plan I was following was simply too much for me right now. I have a career, and a husband, and commitments outside of running, and they were starting to be neglected in favor of my hobby. Something is wrong with that picture.

Starting tomorrow (well, really, starting yesterday, but we’ll get to that soon), I’m switching back to the McMillan plan that I’ve followed for my last couple of marathons. My peak mileage will still be around 70, but it’ll be more spread out over the course of the week. Rather than having a 15-miler Tuesday and a 5-miler Wednesday, for example, I’ll have an 11-miler Tuesday and a 9-miler Wednesday. That difference may not sound like much, but trust me, it’s MUCH more manageable.

That’s the new plan. Here’s how last week on the old plan looked:

Monday:
AM: 6-mile recovery run. I had the day off for President’s day, but woke up early (of course) and decided to just crank it out on the treadmill.

PM: 4-mile recovery plus 45 minutes strength training. I ran 3 miles, lifted, then ran the mile home. It was a bit on the chilly side, but not bad.
photo 1

Tuesday: 

14-mile run.

Wednesday:

5-mile recovery run, finishing with the sunset.
photo 3

Followed by some core work, stretching, and foam rolling.

Thursday: 

AM: 45 minutes strength training

PM: 11 miles with 6 at tempo. I warmed up outside, then did the tempo portion and the cooldown on the treadmill. I can’t wait for the time change!

Friday:

6-mile recovery run, core, and stretching. i’d hoped to get home in time to run outside, but ended up chatting with some colleagues for too long. Whoops.

Saturday: 

Earlier Saturday morning, I’d reworked my training plan and switched to the new one, which said 16-20 miles. Since the old one said 20,I figured I’d just finish out the week on schedule and switch Monday. Nope. I felt pretty crummy the entire run. The RD said my stomach stuff might get worse before it gets better. Well, she was right about the “worse” part, at least. That, added with the head cold I’m fighting and the snowstorm moving in, made the run pretty darn miserable. I decided 16 was just freaking fine. I regret nothing. photo 2

At least the pond was pretty.

Sunday: 

An hour of yoga. I followed this video, and I really enjoyed it. Holy hip openers.

Total: 62 miles.

I’m definitely looking forward to this week and the not-so-life-consuming training schedule. Especially since I need to rest up and shake this wanna-be sickness before next Saturday, when I get to stay up late chaperoning a high school dance. SO FUN. (SO SARCASTIC.)

Have you ever changed training plans mid-cycle?

What’s your trick for preventing the sniffles from becoming full-blown colds/flu? Normally, I drink green tea and Airborne like it’s my job, but Airborne is off-limits for now.

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Catching Up and Thinking Out Loud

I haven’t done a general, life-type post in a while… mostly because my life right now consists mainly of running, working, and sleeping. Here are things I’ve been up to in the little smidges of time that I’m not doing one of those things. I’m linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud to catch you up on the little bits of life lately…

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1. Feeling old. My big brother is engaged. Two of my best friends are pregnant (on purpose). I told a student he couldn’t use 9/11 for the “current events” portion of a project because it was too long ago for him to remember.  And an assignment for kids in the college-level intro-to-research class I teach was to research what happened on the day they were born. Their findings included such gems as the OJ Simpson trial,  The Spice Girls releasing an album, and people wearing baggy pants and listening to portable CD players. Or, you know, my early adolescence.

    And Titanic came out, and we all mooned over Leo…
  2. New diet. I finally decided to stop whining about feeling crummy all the time and do something about it, so I went to a dietitian last Friday. She put me on a low-FODMAP diet. If you’re not familiar with the acronym, it stands for a bunch of different types of naturally-occurring sugars that some people can’t tolerate. We’re eliminating those sugars from my diet to see if that helps. Among things I can’t eat right now: beans, wheat, dried fruit, apples, broccoli, onions, garlic, legumes, almonds, pears, stone fruit, soy, beets, cabbage, mushrooms…. She looked at my food log and said, “So… basically everything you ate yesterday.” But the strict elimination phase only lasts a few weeks, and then we’ll start reintroducing different things to see what I can tolerate. And if it helps, I don’t care if I can’t eat any of those things again. I just want to feel better.
  3. Making vacation plans. J and I have booked a week-long Caribbean cruise for this summer! Sure, it’s still several months away, but I’m still excited.

    Toot Toot! That’ll be us soon! (image source)
  4. And not making running plans. I’m halfway through this training cycle, and honestly, I’m already a little burned out. I want to try to kill it in Lincoln, and then spend the summer running whatever I want, doing whatever other workouts I want, and getting outside as much as possible — without a training plan.
  5. But kind of toying with the idea of an ultra. Yes, this contradicts what I just said. But trails are fun (and I like fun) and people like Logan and Heidi tempt me every time I read their blogs. AND I just found out that Chase the Moon (which we did last year) and the Wild West Relay (which I’ve heard is a kick) are BOTH the weekend that I turn 30. Those are both relays, too, so  I wouldn’t actually have to run an ultra…

That’s about it in my world right now. What’s new in yours?

Lincoln Marathon Training: Week 8

Three-day weekends are amazing, but sometimes they throw me off… hence my weekly training recap being posted on Monday night instead of Sunday. Today felt like Sunday, and yesterday, we went to the Denver Home and Garden Show and had dinner with my brother and his fiance, so by the time we got home, I chose bed over blogging. I regret nothing. To make up for not posting on schedule, here’s a picture of a firetruck dog made out of flowers at the Home and Garden Show. He’s the cutest.

Woof.
Woof.

So anyway, training. This week, Colorado decided that it didn’t want to be February anymore, and the weather skipped right over to April. I don’t blame it, because February kinda sucks. This week was full of 60-degree, sunshiny days, and I was able to get off work early enough to run at least a bit outside every day.

Monday:
AM: 45 minutes strength training

PM: 10 with 5 at tempo. I ran a three-mile warm-up and two tempo miles outside before dark, then hopped on the treadmill and finished the last three at tempo and a two-mile cooldown. It’s not ideal to break up the tempo part like that (it took a few minutes to use the bathroom and cue up a show for the treadmill), but I was NOT going to pass up that weather.
photo 1 (22)

Tuesday:
14 miles — 6 outside, 8 in. These weekday longer runs are a staple of Pfitz plans, and I do think they’ll help me bust that dumb 3:13, but man, they are tough. No grading happens on Tuesday nights right now.

Wednesday:
5 recovery miles, and then core work and some yoga for Sweat Pink and Prana’s #tbringingyogaback Instagram challenge.

photo 2 (1)
Confession: After Wednesday, I gave up on the challenge. The poses got harder, and I got awkwarder (it’s a word; shut up), and I did not wish to show that awkwardness to all the Internet people… especially since those pictures would probably make their way onto my students’ propaganda posters next fall.

Thursday:
I fully intended to get up and go lift, but I slept miserably. As I was lying wide awake at 3:30, I thought, “You know, if I do manage to fall asleep in the next hour, I do not want to get right back up.” So I turned off the 4:30 alarm and did, in fact, manage to go back to sleep. So there was no strength training, but there was an after-work 11-miler, again split between outside and inside, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

Friday:
My longest workday outside run yet this year: 7 miles with strides, followed by some core and stretching.
photo 4 (13)

Saturday:

21 miles, wearing shorts and T-shirt. It was glorious, and I apologize for my bragging to all you East Coasters wading through snow right now. This was my longest run since last September,  so I kept it on the slower end of long run pace, and even stopped to say hi to some cattle.
photo 5 (4)

Sunday: 
Rest day. I was glad of it, since the weather decided to be all Februaryish again and snow and blow. I really should have done some yoga before we left for Denver, though, because my hips were whining all day. I told them to shut up and quit being baby hips, but they didn’t listen.

Totals: 68 miles, 1.5ish hours strength training/stretching — slacked a bit there; I’ll pick it back up this week.

Did you get a long weekend, too? How’d you spend it?

What’s your favorite yoga pose? Do you also feel like an inflexible doofus when you do yoga? No, just me? Shoot.

And there you have it.

Lincoln Marathon Training: Week 7

Hi friends! First off, thanks a ton for all the encouragement on my last recap. You all inspired me not to give up on my 3:10 goal and give it one more shot. This week was a cutback, so hopefully next week will feel better again.

Monday: 

AM: 45 minutes strength training. The gym is still crowded.

PM: 8 miles. We had an inservice day, so I was able to get out a little earlier than usual. Combined with the longer days, that meant I was able to do the whole thing outside. That makes me happy.
photo 3 (14)

Tuesday:

This was a weird day. I took a group of kids on a field trip, and we had lunch at Tokyo Joe’s. When I started running several hours later, my stomach felt like I had just eaten. It was miserable, and I made all of 5 of my planned 12 miles. I felt pretty crummy; in fact, I didn’t even eat dinner, and you know something’s wrong if I’m missing a meal. Apparently digesting is hard. But the good news is I have an appointment with an RD on Friday, so maybe she can figure out what’s wrong with me.

Wednesday: 

I got up bright and early feeling much better, so I cranked out a 10-miler (originally scheduled for Thursday). So that was good.

Thursday: 

AM: I got up at no-o’clock in the morning to make up Tuesday’s 12-miler. Why in the morning? Well, because I promised my freshmen I’d stay as late as they needed for help on their research project. Yeah… two came in and they were gone by 4. And it was 60 degrees. Boo.

PM: 45 minutes strength at the gym

Friday: 

5-mile recovery run. Another beautiful day ended with a beautiful sunset. Followed by core work and stretching. photo 2 (21)

Saturday:

15-mile long run. In shorts and T-shirt. It was amazing.

photo 1 (21)

Later, my friend Sarah came over, and we went for a walk. Because when it’s 70 degrees in February, you don’t stay inside.

Sunday: 

Rest day. J and I took a walk because it’d be a crime to stay inside on a 60-some degree day, and then I did some hip opener yoga.

Totals: 55 miles, 2.5ish hours strength and stretch

This week, mileage ramps back up. Here we go.

How’s the weather where you are? Sorry to rub it in to you East-Coasters.

Dear Americans: Stop Being Ignorant About Your Food

As I scrolled through Facebook the other day, I saw a link to an article headlined “Over 80 percent of Americans support mandatory labels on foods containing DNA.” I chuckled and clicked the link, thinking I’d be heading to The Onion. Imagine my surprise when The Washington Post loaded in my browser instead. The article’s lead made my stomach sink: “A recent survey by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics finds that over 80 percent of Americans support ‘mandatory labels on foods containing DNA,’ about the same number as support mandatory labeling of GMO foods ‘produced with genetic engineering.'”

As I read on, I thought that surely this study was flawed — they must have surveyed a non-representative sample, or the question must have been written poorly. I clicked over the survey’s results (linked above), where I learned that the survey was given to a pool of 1000 people. The pool was designed to reflect the demographics of the U.S. The method was sound, so I thought the problem must have been the wording of the question. Wrong again. “Do you support or oppose mandatory labels on foods containing DNA?” is a pretty straightforward question.

DNA: It’s already inside you! (image source)

The study wasn’t flawed. The results weren’t shady. Apparently, 80 percent of Americans simply do not know what DNA is. Almost the same percentage of people said they also support mandatory labeling of GMOs. The study also asked respondents if they had “read any books about food and agriculture in the past year.” Eighty-one percent of people said “no.” Three percent said, “I don’t know.” And yet, these same people are anti-GMO and anti-DNA. People: acronyms do not automatically make a food dangerous. Please, please educate yourself before you decide that something is evil.

I’m a huge advocate for knowing what is in your food, for not consuming the weird, potentially dangerous substances that frequently make their way into processed foods. But you must actually know what it is that you’re consuming. You can’t assume that some substance on the ingredient list is healthy for you just because the manufacturers claim it is, and you also can’t assume that something is dangerous just because you’ve never heard of it (and maybe you didn’t pay attention in seventh-grade science class). You cannot assume that because it has an acronym or a scientific-sounding name, or because the Food Babe says it’s icky, that something should be banned.


(Image source)

This type of ignorance is harming American agriculture, an industry taken for granted by far too many Americans. You may not want to admit it, but the notion of the small, local, organic farm, with the farmer who raises a little bit of everything and sells his wares at a cute little booth at the farmer’s market, is just not realistic to feed the entire country. The population of the world is continuously growing, and the population of farmers is slowly but steadily decreasing (see 2014’s Census of Agriculture). What worked in 1820 is not going to work forever.

If we want to keep eating (all of us, not just those of us who can afford the cute farmer’s market booths), we must be open to innovation. Should we view innovation with a healthy dose of skepticism? Of course. But it must be educated skepticism. As consumers, we must be informed, jumping neither to acceptance nor rejection without first doing our research. Our health and the health of our country depend on it.

Lincoln Marathon Training, Week 6: Is It Time to Give Up on my 3:10 Dream?

Am I the only person in the U.S. who doesn’t care about the Super Bowl? I have it on right now, but mostly just so I’ll have an idea of when J will be home. I don’t even care about the commercials anymore, since a bunch were released early and the rest will be on the interwebs, so I can watch them anytime if I want to. Instead, I’ll blog about my training week and the mental gymnastics I’ve been doing regarding this race. Aren’t you excited?

Monday: 

AM: 9 miles with 5 at tempo. I like doing tempo runs on the treadmill, because then I have to hold that pace, and I don’t go out too fast like I do in every outdoor tempo run. And race.

PM: 45 minutes of strength training at the gym. Apparently my strategy of avoiding the gym for the first couple of weeks of January worked; I heard some of the “regulars” talking about how all the resolutioners were gone.

Tuesday: 

14 miles. I left work a smidge earlier than usual and managed to get in 5 outside miles in the beautiful weather before the sun went down and forced me onto the treadmill. I’ve missed running into the sunset, and I’m SO GLAD the days are finally getting longer.

Stopping to wait for a train makes for a good sunset photo op.
Stopping to wait for a train makes for a good sunset photo op.

I hopped off the treadmill and did a 90-second wall sit for the #NoExcuses Sweat Pink challenge. Know what’s painful? Doing a 90-second wall sit after running 14 miles.
photo 1 (20)

Wednesday:

I’ve found myself looking forward to Wednesdays during this training cycle, as they’re recovery days. Five slow, easy miles followed by core work and stretching. I took a picture to prove that I was stretching, since I hardly ever do it. But I’m really trying to make it a priority this cycle.
photo 2 (20)

Thursday: 

AM: 45 minutes strength training. Getting to the gym in the mornings is tough, but it’s so much quieter. Plus, I didn’t think I’d have time to get in my whole run before work.

PM: 12 miles. I had planned a run like Tuesday’s — outside until it got dark, then inside — but some students borrowed my classroom Chromebooks and then weren’t where they said they’d be, so I lost a chunk of time searching for them and it was dark by the time i got home and changed. Darn kids.

Friday: 

Wednesday’s twin: 5 recovery miles, core, stretching

Saturday: 

18 miles. I hated almost every step of this run. If I’m being perfectly honest, I should admit that I went into it with a bad attitude. The weather was cold and gloomy, and I was tired, and my throat was scratchy, and I was overall being a big baby. Things did not improve when I finished the first eight miles and was supposed to run the final 10 at goal pace. I could not hold my goal pace to save my life. Goal pace is 7:15; I was struggling to keep it sub-8. This went on for the entire run. My legs were tired, but that’s the point of these runs after several days of higher mileage: the fast part is supposed to feel like the last 10 miles of a marathon, not the first. But that almost makes it more frustrating that I couldn’t hold the pace.

Recycled picture from the Fall Classic, where I ran yet another 3:13.
Recycled picture from the Fall Classic, where I ran yet another 3:13.

If you’ve followed me for long, you know that goal pace runs are always hard for me. I almost always struggle to hold goal pace.  My goal for my last two marathons has been to run a 3:10 or better. Both times, I’ve run 3:13s, making a total of three 3:13 marathons. I’m wondering if it’s time to give up on the 3:10 dream. I don’t want to be a quitter, but at what point is it not quitting so much as admitting your goal is too lofty? I’m training as hard as I can — I can’t fit in anymore mileage and still, you know, have a job and friends and a happy husband.

So what do I do? Part of me thinks I have a 3:10 in me –I would’ve had it at the Fall Classic had my digestive system not rebelled. But Saturday’s run was hugely discouraging. If I can’t even hold 7:15 pace for 10 miles, how can I expect to hold it for 26.2?

Okay, rant over. But I’d appreciate any advice and your honest opinions on whether or not 3:10 is unrealistic.

Sunday

45 minutes of yoga. I tried a new-to-me video on YouTube, which was a little more challenging than my go-to routines via the Yoga Studio app. It was tough but good for me, I think.

Totals: 63 miles, about 2:45 strength/stretch.

This coming week is a cutback week (all the way back to 55 miles…). I’m looking forward to it.

Do you think I can run a 3:10?

What seemingly impossible goals have you reached? Tell me some inspiring stories, please!