Friday, September 25, 2009


I ran a strong 13.5 miles today. Unfortunately, my run was 16 miles. :0)

I had forgotten how the last couple of miles feel in a long run. Now it's all coming back to me..... Everything is fine up to a point, then the last few miles are all mental. Everything aches. Stopping to walk makes it ache more. You keep moving, but it's really about survival.

I'm pretty sure my muscles ran out of glycogen today. I only took one GU at about the 6 or 7 mile mark. (I had brought two, but my friend didn't have one, so I gave one to her. That's how I roll.) I would have probably felt a little better at the end if I'd ingested two GU. But my knees and hips still would have ached.

But the first 13 felt great! I still feel like I've turned a corner in this training. I felt energetic, even speedy-ish. The higher protein, higher carbs, higher calorie diet is really working for me!

I'm also experimenting with a new SUPPLEMENT called glutamine. I started taking it on Monday. It is an amino acid that helps prevent overtraining syndrome by helping your muscles recover after a long, exhaustive run and it also can improve immune system function after such a run. In the midst of this marathon training and the H1N1 pandemic, it seemed like a no-brainer!

What other supplements do you marathoners take? Creatine scares me a little. I associate it with professional baseball players and bodybuilders. Makes me think I might start sprouting chest hair. Or testicles.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Turnaround

I love running an out-and-back course. It's always tough until you get to the turnaround, but then you know you are half-way done. My spirits immediately lift on the return trip.

I feel like I've passed the turnaround with marathon training. I have 10 more training weeks before the week of the BIG RACE. After some changes in my diet and training regimen last week, I had a GREAT 12-mile run on Saturday. I felt like my old self for the first time in months. I ran a good pace and felt strong. What I did differently this week:

1. I really focused on hydrating and protein intake last week, in addition to getting plenty of carbs.
2. I cross trained lightly, which was as much a mental break as anything. I rode a stationary bike 4 miles (I did say lightly!) on Friday, the day before my long run.
3. I took a day off in the middle of the week (Wednesday), instead of the two-mile run on my schedule.
4. I ran a new route.
5. I ran with a new running buddy.
6. I got in bed by 10:00 p.m. every night except two. (Still an improvement!)

I hope I've reached a milestone in this training. The fatigue that had been dogging me has lifted, and I'm feeling more positive about the marathon.

This last half of training is the FUN PART. There is something very challenging, but invigorating about every run over 14 miles. Everything over 14 feels like an ADVENTURE. A painful adventure, but an adventure nonetheless! The best over-14 mile runs are done with a friend and involve lots of laughter (and for me last time, lots of mishaps).

The last half also is when the BUILD UP RACES start. In a month, I'm running the Music City Half-Marathon in Nashville as a part of a 20-miler. My friend and I are getting up early and driving an hour to Nashville, running 3 miles, running the HALF-MARATHON, then running 4 more miles. How fun is that?

Then, a few weeks later, my training AND my coaching will be put to the test with the Clarksville Half-Marathon. I know my group is going to do wonderfully, I'm just wondering how many of them will beat me! (I'll be a little broken down from my two 20-milers in the 3 weeks before!)
I'll also be so happy for the Couch to 5Kers finish their first race.

So, really, I guess the FUN IS JUST BEGINNING!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Got Energy?

I think that I'm at the busiest stage so far in my life as a mother and a runner (or as The Happy Runner calls it, a "Muthah Runnah.") Driving the kids 40 minutes round trip to and from the magnet school, transporting the three-year-old to her preschool, working part-time training (now 40) runners, two kids in soccer (we have 3 practices and 2 games in the next 5 days), laundry, shopping, and cooking for five, and running 30+ miles per week for my own December marathon are WEARING ME OUT.

I admit it, I've had it easy these last couple of years. The kids weren't into many sports, they rode the bus 7 minutes to and from our neighborhood school, and I just ran for fun. Life just wasn't that complicated, and I could pretty easily get everything done without too much stress. But, I know it's my turn. I never could figure out how the full-time working mommies pulled it all off (I have the utmost respect for them!), but they must have fantastic time-management skills. I'm working on mine as they have gotten a little rusty!

What suffers when you are in the car all day long, stressed out, have very little down time, and are exhausted? Well, your BLOG for one! Second is your running. Running is very fickle. If things aren't going just right (i.e., not getting enough sleep, too much stress, eating poorly), running lets you know. You start every run with heavy legs. You finish every run with aches and pains. You are tired before, during, and after running.

I took a step back on Friday and Saturday of last week to look at my life and my running. I was getting discouraged because I have been feeling constant fatigue in daily life AND in my runs. I've had no stamina for the past 3 or 4 long runs. I've been struggling. The most important runs when you are training for a marathon are the long ones, yet those were the ones where I was faltering. I took some advice from some good friends and made three discoveries:

1. I have not been taking very good care of myself. Sure, I've been exercising to exhaustion, but I haven't been bothering to take a mulitvitamin with iron or Vitamin C--both critical for runners. I can't say for sure I'm getting enough with diet alone, so I probably need a supplement. I've also been staying up too late and short-changing myself on sleep. That makes both running and daily living more stressful! Our bodies recover from physical and mental stressors while we sleep. Sleep is so essential.

2. I haven't been eating enough. I have increased my mileage to 31 miles per week, but I haven't been taking in any extra calories. Last time, I was starving while training for the marathon. This time, I guess I'm just distracted. I've lost 3 lbs. in the last 3 weeks when I should be building muscle. I probably need to eat every 2 or 3 hours with the kind of miles I'm running.

3. I've haven't been eating the appropriate amount of protein. I have not made any effort to get extra protein into my diet. I read just yesterday that people training for a marathon need as much protein as bodybuilders. A minimum for me would be 65 to 70 grams, and I haven't been getting nearly that much. I'm actually counting my protein for today (I'm at 27 grams right now!). I made protein shakes a regular part of training for the last marathon, but I guess with all the busyness, I forgot about them.

4. I may need to drop one of my 5 days of running and exchange it for crosstraining. My love for running is waning under the weight of this training program. This is not a good time for that to happen--especially since I'm trying to instill that love in 20 Couch to 5K beginners.

I'm going to get my life UNDER CONTROL. I made myself a master calendar with all the practices and games and doctor's appointments and meetings and long runs penciled in. I bought some pre-natal vitamins because they had extra iron and Vitamin C (my husband worriedly asked, "Is there something you need to tell me?" when he saw them in the cart. Definitely NOT! Just need that extra iron and C.) I'm going to be in bed by 10 every night and engage in INTENTIONAL eating---making sure I get in all the protein and carbohydrates and calories I need. I'm not going to be "married" to the training plan. I'm going to listen to my body and crosstrain if I just don't feel like running (not on long-run days--those are critical). My friend Casey reminded me that I control the training plan, the training plan doesn't control me!

I feel better already.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

13.1 --- Halfway There!

I just finished the last of my 30 miles for the week. I tried something new..... I had my long run on Friday of 13.1, THEN ran 4.5 today instead of taking the day off. I have ALWAYS taken the day after a long run off, but this week, it didn't work out since I had to "work" by running with my half-marathon group (I ran 3.5 miles of their 4 miles) and then the Couch to 5K group (2 miles) this morning. And you know what, it wasn't bad! I felt some fatigue in my legs and had to work harder than usual to maintain my pace in the beginning, but it wasn't terribly painful or anything, especially after I was warmed up. (In the first half-mile, my right hip ached, but then it stopped.) The miles with the Couch to 5K included a 5 minute warm up, jog 90 seconds, walk 60 seconds for about 25 minutes, then a 5 minute cool down. I actually felt really good when I finished. I read somewhere about a training program that has you do a 5-mile tempo run the day after your long runs to teach you to run on tired legs. I can see how that might be beneficial (or on the other hand.... overtraining!).

The 13.1 yesterday was a bit of a different story. We didn't get started yesterday until we had dropped the kids off at school, so it was 8:30 a.m. Our cool weather has left us, so it was already hot and humid. I felt ok for about the first 7 or 8 miles, then it became a bit of a struggle and we found ourselves taking more and more walk breaks. I had company for most of the miles--- one friend was with me for the first 4 and another through the first 11. I did the last couple on my own and they were tough! I was really fatigued and feeling the heat. (It was about 81 degrees by then.) Time and miles both seemed to be going by very slowly.

I also had something unusual---a cramp. It seemed at to be at the bottom of my rib cage on the right and then later kind of extended around my ribcage to include the front. I guess it was my diaphragm? It wasn't intestinal, it seemed to be related to my breathing. It hung around for about four miles and only stopped at mile 11 when I had to stop by my car and refill my water bottles. I guess taking that little break helped.

I've got 31 miles to run in the coming week, including a 14-miler next Saturday. Then it's a slightly lower mileage recover week (with 27 which still sounds like a lot!). But, mileage-wise, at least I'm half-way to 26.2 with 13 weeks to go!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Running is Running My Life!

Lately, my life seems to revolve around all things running. Between training 39 people (nineteen for a 5K and 20 for a half-marathon) and training myself five days a week for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon (I'm in week 7 of a 20-week program), running is RUNNING MY LIFE. It controls what I eat, when I sleep, what I wear, where I go, what I read..... And for now, I'm ok with it. Ask me again in about 9 weeks!

Even though my life is perhaps a bit too running-focused right now, I'm still finding pleasure in it. Burnout has yet to rear its ugly head. It is still my escape. It is still when I feel the most free, alive, and strong.

Some runs are more fun than others, though. Here's my week in running so far:

On Monday evening, I ran about a mile with my Couch to 5K group. They are in week 2, and I'm just starting to get to know them. It was fun to chat with several of them as we ran. It's always nice to run with new folks! Then afterwards, the half-marathon group met and we ran two miles and they FLEW by. We did a few hill-repeats and I actually enjoyed them, just like last week. Could I be starting to LIKE HILLS???

My Tuesday morning run was going to be a slow, lonely 6-miler because my running buddy is sick, but I was able to recruit another friend to run with me at the last second. Unfortunately, she was planning a 5-mile tempo run at an 8:49 pace. (Yes, that's faster than my 5K pace.) I was supposed to be running 6 miles at a 10:45-11:00 minute pace. What's really interesting is that she had taken several months off from running and just picked it back up about 6 weeks ago and is STILL faster than me. Anywho, we figured we could make it work and took off. Our warm up was a 10-minute mile, which is reasonable I suppose. We decided to run to a local park with a quarter-mile track. When we got there, I'd run 2 laps with her at her pace, and then walk/gasp for breath/jog while she ran the last 2 laps. Then we'd do it again. So, unintentionally, I was doing speed intervals, 800's to be exact. I think I did 3 speedy 800's even though they weren't in my plan.

Running hills on Monday night, then speed work on Tuesday morning only 13 hours later left me really, really drained. The "not so fun" miles I mentioned above were the ones I ran today. To get the weekly mileage my plan calls for in, I had to drag my tired body through another four miles today. I told myself it was just going to be an easy recovery run--"active recovery" and would be good for me. I kept telling myself that as my legs and lower back ached..... But I got them done (with LOTS of walk breaks). This was one of those times when running shows you what you're made of. You are tired, it hurts (generally, not in an injured-sort-of-way. You shouldn't run through that kind of pain), but you keep going. "You plan your run and you run your plan." Tomorrow is a rest day (Thank God!) before my 13-miler on Friday.

I'll be hitting 29 miles for the week when I meet the C25K and half-marathon groups for a short run on Saturday morning.

Last month, by the way, was my MOST MILEAGE EVER in one month. August total: 105 miles, beating the previous record in March of this year by one mile!

Year to date: 651 miles* No wonder I'm tired.

(*I only had 606 for the entire year in 2008.)

10 Years of Running: Confessions of a Declining Runner

Two months ago, I hit a pretty significant milestone:  ten years of running.  I began in June of 2007 at the age of 36 .   On day one, I tho...