Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Week 8 Recap. A good week!

This week I tried running at 180 strides per minute.  There seems to be an obsession with this number in the running community, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  It's supposed to be more efficient, and the ideal pace to run.

On Wednesday I took Oxford and we ran 180 strides per minute (I used a new playlist of 180 bpm tunes that I made on Spotify).  Oxford did not have a good time.  We were running faster than normal.  I cut my min/mile by around 1:30 to 2 minutes.  It felt okay to run at that pace for the distance, but it was hard.  I won't lie.  It always feels good to finish, and I can totally do it, but running at 180 bpm didn't feel easier or more efficient.

One of the arguments for 180 spm is that your body doesn't have time to be inefficient in your stride.  Your stride length, foot fall, and pronation just correct themselves magically.  It's also fast enough that you don't have a lot of time to bounce up and down.

I didn't really notice if I was more efficient.  When I ran slightly faster I did notice my footfall was landing a little bit more toward midfoot than normal.  If it will prevent injury, I'm going to strive for it.  I think from now on, I'll do two days per week of easy pace (for distance), and at least one run per week at the 180 strides per minute rate.  It can't hurt.

Here are my workouts.  You can see pace, distance, time.  Day one and Day two were run at 180 bpm, and day three was run at my "run easy" pace.  You can see the difference in time and pace, but the thing this doesn't show you is that on the "run easy" pace I felt like I could keep going forever.  So did Oxford.

Week Eight - Day One

Week Eight - Day Two

Week Eight - Day Three

So, my first race of the season is on Sunday (!).  I'll let you all know how it goes in next week's entry.  Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Chicago has a Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle race on April 7th, right between my 1st 5k and my 10k.  Maybe I should do this one!?

Chicago Women's Half Marathon

I found this race (sponsored by my favorite running store, Fleet Feet Sports!)  It's the Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5k.  The event is on Sunday June 23.  I would have run the 10k one month earlier, so it kind of feels like it would be a step backward since I would do the 5k, not the half marathon...

I'm just not sure. Running more races seems like a good idea...I don't have any races in June... I'll think about it


Week Seven! RECAP!


Week SEVEN...


Week 7 day 1 was my fastest running day.  I had an 11 minute mile.  I was absolutely exhausted at the end of it.  My goal is consistent 13 minute miles for the half marathon.  This is the ABSOLUTE minimum to qualify as a finisher for the Chicago Half Marathon.  If you go any slower, you are diverted to the lake side running trail.  This wouldn't be the end of the world, but I would like to run the whole thing on Lakeshore Drive.  No matter what, as long as I make it, I'll be happy!  That's just my goal.  I keep thinking that if I want to run at the 13 minute mile time, I should train at a faster time.  These 11 minute miles were EXHAUSTING!  I don't know that I could actually finish at that pace.  I got through my 2.25 miles at this pace, but was wrecked.

Heres's a summary of the run:

The other thing to consider is that September is 7 training months from now.  There's a lot of room to improve my time.

Week 7 day 2 was one of the best runs I've had so far.  Not for route or for speed or distance... It was easy and fun.  Oxford went with me and he ran right along side me the whole time.  We had an amazing run.  He was totally focused on running, which was the cutest thing I've ever seen.  I looked down at him at one point as we were running down Sheridan, and he looked proud.  It was awesome.  My times were SLOW (like barely meeting the goal slow), but I could maintain that pace forever.  I ran a 13 minute mile, and then 3/4 of a mile at 13:42.  I attribute that 42 seconds to stopping for a "Don't Walk" signal.  When the run was over I felt like, "Oh!  We could keep going!"

Here's a summary of the run:

You might also have noticed that I got a new toy!  I'm running with the Garmin Forerunner 110.  It keeps track of weather, pace, elevation, allows me to make notes, and notates my exact route.  The mileage and pace are so accurate that I really have a handle on how I'm doing.  It's great!  Love it!  Thanks Grandma B!

The last run of the week is tonight, and we'll see how it goes.  I'm not sure if Oxford can handle it tonight since it's cold.  We'll see.

In general training is great.  I haven't missed a training run yet, and I run at different times of day all the time.  I'm training on similar surfaces to my race courses.  I haven't been injured, and I'm doing everything I can to prevent injuries (compression socks, not ignoring aches, heating pads, etc, etc, etc...)  The thing that surprises me most is that it's hardly ever easy.  I think I'm stretching myself just enough to make it tough, but even though the running is tough, it's never so bad that the next day I can't walk.  In fact, I haven't had any significant muscle soreness or pain.  This is the first time ever that a new workout routine hasn't made me have terrible muscle aches.

In years previous I trained for a 5k by running a mile, pushing myself to run two miles, and then running two miles for 6 days a week until I was exhausted.  I always ran for distance, and not time.  I would increase by increments, and then push it too hard on race day.  I've never broken that 5k barrier.  Training is easier this time and I feel like I'm doing it right.  Can't wait for my first 5k race of the season on March 3rd!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Week Five and Six RECAP! :)


For those of you who don't know, Spotify is an app for your phone or computer that lets you listen to any song in their library.  The computer version is free, the smartphone app costs $10/mo.  I gave it a try.  I found all the songs from my old running playlists, and then some... then I looked up other songs in my perfect pace range... then I looked up songs I like that are high energy... Well, you see where this is going.  I have 2 hours of running music on my spotify running mix, and it's awesome! 

In week five I got my COMPRESSION SOCKS!  I got a pair of Zoot compression socks from Fleet Feet Sports in Lincoln Square.  This running store is great.  Friendly, helpful, and accepting of your level!  I will definitely be returning!

Also, my subzero running skirt arrived from!  It is so comfortable and the coolest part of it is that I don't notice being "hot" or "cold" when I'm out in the elements.  It's just perfect.  And it's cute! 

As far as the running goes:

I'm not going to lie.  It's hard.  Each run is a little bit touher than the last one.  I know that I'm getting better, but I am pushing myself on almost every run.  Week five was by far the best and funnest running I have done so far.  I found myself SMILING while I was on the run.  I hope to get back to this again when it gets a little bit easier in the training... I'm certain that this was the week where I caught up with myself.  Where I was running the optimal amount, not pushing the limits. 

Week Six was a limit pushing week.  For two of my training runs I was in Chapel Valley in Rapid City, SD.  HILLS!!  Argh!  I'm usually running on the Chicago lakefront, and it is flat as a pancake!  These small inclines made these two training runs the toughest running I have ever done.  I tried to keep my pace steady, so even on the downhills I was working.

This is a beautiful  (but challenging)  place to run: Canyon Lake Park in Rapid City, SD.

(Another development:  I run in the city.  Chicago is a big city, and I am aware that not everyone has stellar intentions.  Sometimes I have to run after work, and it gets dark early.  I decided to start running with Mace.  I cannot tell you how much safer I feel.  It's not a replacement for being aware of your surroundings, but I know that I have a strategy if I get attached by a dog, or harrassed by a person.  It's on a hand strap so it can't be knocked out of my hand, and I don't have to fumble for it.  It's right there.  This might seem extreme, but it feels better to have a plan for if something happens.)

Summary:  It's still tough, and I think I've realized that running isn't going to get "easy".  I'll get more fit, but what I'm training for is not an easy thing to do.  There are plenty of distance athletes who could run 13.1 every day of the week, but for most people it's a challenge.  It's certainly challenging for me, and I have realized that though I'll be prepared, it probably won't be a breeze to run the half marathon.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week Four Recap.

Wow.  One month in.  As I enter February, I am thinking about how much I've learned in the last four weeks, and how much progress I've actually made.

Week four started out tough (like all Wednesdays on this program).  Somehow, I was covering less distance while running more than I had been walking more and running less.  How is this possible?  Fatigue?  Am I getting slower?  ARGH!

It was a tough week for that reason.  I kept on going, but I felt like I was making no progress... not getting any faster, in fact getting slower.  And the weather was crazy.  Warm, raining, freezing, sheets of ice on the road...  I wonder what the weather will be like on Race Day for the Wacky 5k...

I finished my book "Half Marathon:  You Can do It".   It's a book by Galloway, and it advocates the Run/Walk method.  On the flip side I read a lot of criticism of slow runners.  Some elite runners don't think that slow runners should be allowed to run marathons.

Here's one of the articles:
NY Times - "Plodders Have a Place, but is it in a Marathon?"

I have to say, beginners run slower, and every runner was once a beginner.  There are marathons for fast runners, and there are marathons that recreational runners can participate in.  I would never even QUALIFY for the Boston Marathon, and I am just working toward my half marathon goal.  It's something I've always wanted to do, and I feel like it takes strength to put it out there.  It takes courage to try, and denying beginners entry is wrong.  Let the elite runners run in the tougher more prestigious races, but if the race officials decided that you don't need to qualify to run a race, then the elite runners should just be prepared for there to be slower runners behind them (or in my case FAAAAAR behind them).  Why would they even look behind them anyway?

On the quilting front:  I have sewed my strips from Jelly Roll #1 into one long strip of four.  I'm cutting these into squares to make a rail fence quilt.  Pictures to come!! :)