Let’s Not Call it An Injury

I’ve been dealing with a glute problem recently that has been affecting various parts my right leg, hip and lower back. It’s something I’ve dealt with during every marathon cycle, but never to this extent. I’ve always been able to control this and run through with minimal discomfort. This time, it stopped me in my tracks. It’s the worst it’s ever been and completely shuts off all power in my stride. It’s hard for me to call it an “injury” because it’s just weak + imbalanced + angry muscles. I’m just going to call it FRUSTRATING!

It started bothering me during the last few days of September, but I thought it was the normal discomfort creeping back. I scaled back my workouts. I took it pretty easy for a few weeks straight before the Columbus half marathon because my training was pointing to a half marathon PR. I could taste it and wanted to be cautious before the race. By race week it was getting worse, but I was staying positive.

When I did strides the day before the race it was feeling pretty awful. I thought about not starting the race. Inside I knew this was something I wouldn’t be able to run through, but I didn’t want to listen to that voice. I wanted my PR. I wanted my reward for all my hard work postpartum. 

But… I didn’t get that. Instead, I started the race and felt my right leg starting to drag a bit and not stride through at mile 2. By mile 3 my leg was completely shutting down. I had to stop the race right around the 4 mile point. I got a police escort back a few miles then tried to jog. I couldn’t do it. I had to walk to the finish. There really wasn’t a choice on whether to finish the race. My leg was JUST DONE and I was strangely proud of my DNF. At the time, I only wished I had listened to that voice in my head the day before that told me I shouldn’t even start.

Post Columbus Half attempt

Post Columbus Half attempt

Before the Columbus Half attempt, everything was fine when I was running easy, but fast running really bothered my leg. Part of me wished I had run an easy 20 miler that day instead of starting the race since easy running was tolerable. But the more I thought about it, I realized this was a problem that wasn’t going to go away without some medical attention. I needed to test it and get it to the point where I couldn’t even run to take the steps I needed to get better. I wish I didn’t need that drastic of a message to get it healed the right way, but I did. I got a massage that same day (something I should have done weeks earlier!)

Since then, I’ve received Active Release treatments, and deep, painful, massage and both seem to be helping. My practitioners seem to think this is a postpartum issue – all the muscles in my core and hips are moving back together, and little imbalances mixed with hard training can cause big problems. When this issue was at it’s worst, I had major inflammation near my SI joint, high hamstring and outer hip. (Now, when I get one of my deep massages and ART I’m told my muscles feel healthy, so things are definitely improving. And, I can feel that!)

After the big flare up, I took 4 days completely off, no cross training or running, just doing a few glute activation exercises I was given by the doctor. I started back up running 1 mile, then 2 miles, then 4 miles, then 6 miles. I’m now back up to running approximately an hour at a time and feeling good. I attempted a stride, just one 20 second pickup, and my leg locked up again so I know I need to stick to everything I’ve been doing and forget about speed work for now. Today’s run was the first day where my legs felt fast and normal. Still, I didn’t try anything fast or crazy. I just did a nice easy 50 minute run.

So many people have reached out to me with advice, comforting messages, and their own glute issues and all of this support has been awesome! Thank you! Many of you have asked me to write a blog post about the issue and what I’m doing to try to heal it. I’m going to compile a list of exercises I’ve been given from my medical practitioners plus advice and exercises I’ve been given from running buds. I hope this can help some of you and I hope you take the steps you need to get better before things get out of control! And I recommend seeing someone for help, despite the time, money, and any other resources. I wish I would have taken this advice sooner…

Sometimes I have a cute rehab partner

Sometimes I have a cute rehab partner

The Rehab Plan:

  1. Active Release technique 2x/week
  2. Deep Tissue Massage 1x/week
  3. Daily foam rolling
  4. Jasyoga videos daily
  5. Hot/Cold Contrast Bath daily, studies are mixed on this technique but I’ve found a lot of relief since starting this. I have a peculiar house set up with 2 bathrooms side by side and always thought this was the most ridiculous thing. But now I found a use for them! I fill a bath with ice water. I fill another bath with hot epsom salt water. I alternate every 5 mins for 25 mins, starting and ending with cold. Sometimes you can do this technique in a bucket, but this area is hard to fit into a bucket, unlike a foot/ankle/achilles problem. If nothing else, ice packs are your friend, multiple times a day.
  6. Exercises from medical professional, 10 reps multiple times/day, both sides: 
  • Bridges: just to activate the glutes, (not til muscle fatigue)
  • Knee to shoulder: From a seated position on the floor, legs out in front, cross one leg into a “four shape” then pull that knee toward the opposite shoulder
  • Clamshells
  • Hamstring dynamic stretch: Prop foot on something of varying heights, from weight bench to higher and bend at waist toward propped foot, pointing toe as you bend+reach and flexing foot as you come back to start position
  • Bird/dog.
  • Cat/cow.
  • Unweighted dead lift, activating glutes/hamstrings on way up
  • Assisted hamstring stretch/lengthen: start on back knees bent, feet flat on floor. Have a partner lift one straight leg into a hamstring stretch while you push down (against their stretch) lightly, like 10-20% effort.
  • IT Band stretch expanded- Standing position, cross right leg over left and bend slightly toward left. Then bend down toward toes, reaching for the left foot (though I’m only flexible enough to get just past knee!)
  • Added exercises from runners going through similar problems:
  • One legged bridge
  • Back lunges concentrating on pushing through hamstring and glutes
  • Hip capsule stretch (google this for youtube videos-lots of options!)
  • Theraband exercises, front/back/side motion
  • Lacrosse or tennis ball on the glute, against the wall


Advice other runners have given me:

  • Don’t cross train too much
  • Think about simply activating the muscles before strengthening them
  • Peppermint or Deep Blue essential oils

Let me conclude by saying, I don’t have all the answers. I’m definitely not healed. I feel sad about this every day, when I’m getting ready to run and just want to bust out a fast workout and cant. When I’m doing endless rehab/rolling/icing. When I think about how just one month ago I was killing my races and workouts. But I also feel optimistic every time I see some improvement. I don’t know what will happen with my goal race (CIM). I’ve scrapped all racing until that day to avoid another flare up. I’m still planning to race CIM right now, and I’m just taking things day by day.

Anything you want to add? Please share in the comments so we can all help each other!

Keeping it Cozy & Cute

I’d like to start by saying thank you for the kind words on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and text regarding my last post. I learned a lot from your comments and stories and I know others did too. Thank you!

I’m running again and feeling good! My first few runs were as expected – delighted to be back at it, but felt a little rusty. Saturday was my first run where I felt good – light, fast and free! It made me excited to start workouts again – just not yet. I’ll probably try something fast again later this week.

In other news, it’s summer (like you didn’t know)! I usually spend my summers in cheap flip flops, but not this year! My main problem and injury-prone-ish area is my feet. I haven’t had any “real” injury for years *KNOCK SO HARD ON WOOD* but I get weird tightness problems that start in my feet or calves that eventually mess up my hips/back/hamstring area. I decided to put an end to that this summer. Cue “the summer of keeping it cozy and cute”.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I can usually be found running around doing fun stuff with my 4 year old all day, and now I have a mobile and energetic 9 month old too. I find myself constantly on my feet and on the go. I think of it as good cross training (HA), but I feel the effects on my feet and legs by the end of the day. I started a quest for the perfect summer footwear routine, where I could mix practical style and comfort and I think I have it figured out!! I’m sharing my choices below!

Birkenstocks – Lucky for me, they are apparently back in style. You can wear them with anything, from shorts to jeans to dresses! They mold to your feet after some wear, are comfortable and supportive! Cozy – check! Cute – check!

Look at those beauties!

Look at those beauties (the shoes, not the feet!!)

Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 – These sandals are fairly light and super comfortable. The footbed is made from a yoga mat (for real!) and the sling is made of stretch knit.  For me, new shoes usually take a few days of wearing before they feel comfortable, especially shoes that have a piece between the toes, but these felt great right away! The people involved with the company seem really fun and laid back. I think we’d be friends IRL. Cozy – check! Cute- check!

Imagine I'm sitting cross-legged on the beach instead of my kitchen floor.

Imagine I’m sitting cross-legged on the beach instead of my kitchen floor. Or at least pretend my kitchen floor is clean :)

Sketchers GOwalk 2 – I decided to try some Sketchers shoes (for daily wear, not running) after Meb won Boston. I decided even if I hated the shoes, I love Sketchers for believing in Meb. I found these shoes and thought they were pretty cute as far as slip on athletic shoes are concerned. When they arrived, I decided they were even cuter in person and they were so comfortable I didn’t want to take them off. I have a hard time wearing any other shoe – they are that awesome. They do run a half to a full size big so order down, especially if you aren’t going to wear socks. Cozy – check! Cute – check!

Fog on the plane!

Ok, I know this is a strange picture, but I wanted to use this to show the fog on the airplane on my way to Grandma’s Marathon. The flight attendant said “it’s just condensation!” then walked away angrily.

Asics Gel Cumulus – My good old standby running shoe! My body feels happiest when I’m running in them, so I stick with this shoe. Cozy – check! Cute – well, I LOVE the current colors (blue/orange combo) so check!

Cool running shoes plus my little darlings on the 4th of July!

Cool running shoes plus my little darlings on the 4th of July!

currexSole RUNPRO – I’m not one to add anything new to my running routine unless I feel it will benefit me. I mostly live by “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. But, when I hear about something that could potentially help a problem I’ve been facing (sore feet), I’m glad to try something new! Insert the currexSole insoles. I had to opportunity to start wearing these early this spring and they have been really good to my feet. I started out wearing them when walking and transitioned them into my running shoes when I could trust they wouldn’t mess up my running!

I was pleasantly surprised immediately with how comfortable they felt. They weren’t stiff, heavy or bulky like every other insole I’ve tried! They have a zero mm drop so they won’t interfere with shoe construction and they are designed to move with your feet instead of restricting movement. They were easy to insert into my running shoes – just slip out the insoles that come in the shoes and slip in the currexSole (the instructions on the box show you might have to trim the tip to fit properly, but mine fit great without altering them at all).

The insoles are made based on foot type, body weight and leg/knee angles to ensure that you get a proper fit for your body. My fitting showed I should wear the RUNPRO HIGH – hello high arches – but the best way to know what will work for you is to go through the fitting system yourself. I wouldn’t say my feet are 100% ache & pain free, but they have definitely improved since using the currexSole! Cozy – check! Cute – well, no one sees them, but they have moisture/odor management built in and don’t smell so we’ll give them some cute points!

currexSole RUNPRO HIGH

currexSole RUNPRO HIGH

So tell me – do you keep your feet cozy in the summer? Do you go strictly on style and forget about comfort? (I used to wear fashionable high heels constantly except when running, but those days are long gone!) Do you hang out in cheap flip-flops all day? Any cozy & cute shoes you’ve found this summer that you can share with me?

*I was given the currexSole to review on my blog but all opinions are my own.

Breastfeeding and Pumping While Racing (and Training!)

I’d say one of the most frequent questions I’m asked when talking about my training and racing during the first year postpartum is: “are you breastfeeding?” And then, “how do you do it?”

The answer is yes, I exclusively breastfeed (haven’t used formula) and started my little guy on some “solids” starting at 6 months. He’s currently eating a few ounces of food (mostly purees) at mealtimes and the rest of the time he’s breastfeeding or taking bottles of breast milk.

Like training at a high level, breastfeeding is hard work. It takes a lot out of you, physically, mentally, emotionally! But it’s something that I am able to do and I’ve always wanted to, so I don’t see it as a burden or a hassle. I just make it work in my life. I understand it’s not for everyone, but for anyone who is interested, here is how I make it work for me. I’m going to start with a few tips, then go to what I did at my recent marathon which was 8 months postpartum, then go back to how I handled breastfeeding/pumping and training in the early months.

First of all, if you plan to train and race plus breastfeed you HAVE TO EAT. You will feel like a glutton, but if you don’t eat enough you won’t produce enough milk and you will end up injured. The baby weight will come off. This is not a time to diet!

Just a snack for a breastfeeding runner mom... only half joking here.

Just a snack for a breastfeeding runner mom… only half joking here.

Next, (if you have enough of a supply) I’d recommend starting to pump an extra bag/bottle of milk every day starting sometime in the first month or two postpartum. I used 6oz bags and froze them. If you store the bags flat in the freezer, you can stack them and fit quite a few, even in a small space. With both kids I had around 300 six ounce bags full of milk by the time they were 5 months old. This gave, and still gives, me freedom to leave the house to run and travel to races. While I hate pumping with every ounce of my being, I enjoy the freedom it gives me so I do it when necessary.

I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced in the backpack version. It’s my only pump. I also bought a battery adapter so I don’t need to plug it into an outlet when I’m in an unfamiliar place. I bring it with me everywhere I go, but these days I only pump before races or if I’m going to be gone for many hours. I’m no longer storing any breastmilk as my little guy just turned 9 months and he can transition off my milk within 3 months if we decide. (I breastfed my daughter 17 months and plan to let my little guy self-wean as well). Feeding him straight from me is much more pleasant and rewarding for me, so my pump hasn’t gotten much use lately. However, let’s talk race day… the last time I used my pump.

For Grandma’s Marathon, I left my kids at home and Wells got my supply of frozen milk. Although it’s so hard for me to “pump and dump”, watching all my body’s hard work go down the drain, I don’t save my milk when I travel. You can, and I applaud anyone who does, I just don’t. The few days leading up to the race, I tried to pump a lot in the morning, then not pump again until 2pm, then pump one more time before bed. (Wells usually eats 5 times a day, then 1-3 times at night, so I try to slow my milk production slightly and alter it so I don’t produce as much during the race. Who knows if 2-3 days of doing this really makes a difference, but I feel it sort of does.

At Grandma’s Marathon, I pumped in my hotel room at 5am for a 7:45am start. I had to be ready to catch the bus at 5:45am and just wanted to get the pumping done. By the end of the race, around 10:35am, I was feeling pretty full of milk. Sometimes when I have a hard effort, I don’t produce much milk at all, other times it seems like my body produces like normal. This race had me at normal production and I went back to the room and pumped 12 oz before I was comfortable! I would have brought my pump with me, but race security and the clear plastic gear check bags, I’m wasn’t sure what kind of extra screening I’d have to go through and I didn’t want anything to worry about on race morning. That being said, I’m sure it would have been fine and I could have easily pumped before the race. It was just something I didn’t want to deal with on race morning.

Speaking of screening, you CAN bring a pump as a carry-on in an airplane, or tucked into a carry-on suitcase. It will have to go through extra screening most likely (I think I’ve made it through one time without extra screening.) I always declare, “IT’S JUST A BREAST PUMP!” but TSA still wants to check it out.

I did bring my pump to gear check at Gate River Run when I was just 5 months postpartum. I pumped just 30 minutes or so before the race and I think I went behind a curtain or faced a wall, but I don’t make too big of an effort to hide my pumping. You gotta do what you gotta do! I know people will go to great lengths to hide their breastfeeding or pumping, but I’m just not going to do that. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a porta potty or similar space and I figure if someone is uncomfortable they can turn their head away. (If you feel uncomfortable but would like to get more comfortable with breastfeeding and pumping in public, let me tell you it’s just like anything else. Practice makes it easier! If you would have told me even 4 years ago that I’d be breastfeeding while walking down the aisle at Target, while hiking, while sitting or standing at a baseball stadium, or while waiting to start a race, I wouldn’t have believed you. Each time I nurse or pump in public, I realize how normal and natural it is. I’m completely comfortable with it now. Be proud Mama!) If you aren’t comfortable you can always bring a nursing cover or find a quiet, somewhat secluded place. There’s always somewhere to go where you can get some privacy.

Breastfeeding my little guy at the Pirates baseball game this past weekend, waiting in line for the kids to run the bases.

Breastfeeding my little guy at the Pirates baseball game this past weekend, waiting in line for the kids to run the bases.

A few thoughts of starting to run and breastfeeding:

I started running about 4 weeks after giving birth. At that time, my breasts were a good 2 sizes larger than usual, leaking all the time, and very painful. I found it easiest to feed the baby and pump any remaining milk right before my run. That way, I was storing milk for future use AND making my chest as light and comfortable as possible! I definitely wore (and still have to wear) 2 sport bras to be comfortable running. Dark colors (think black) are best in case of leaking. You can also slip breast pads or wear a sport bra with built in padding or liners for this stage.

Your body (and most likely your baby) will love a schedule, eventually anyway! It can still be hard to meet up with others as a feeding might take longer than expected, you aren’t able to pump enough milk, the baby is crying and you can’t pull yourself away, etc. I definitely miss running with people. In my situation, I’m also in a new city and didn’t know many runners when the baby was small. Now that I’ve been in Pittsburgh for 9 months and my baby can go 4-5 hours between feedings I have more freedom and know a lot more local runners!

Breastfeeding might make you very emotional! For some reason, pumping is even worse for me. Sometimes, I’ll pump a bottle before a hard workout (and before hard workouts I make sure to pump out every last drop of milk!) and I will feel so sad about leaving the baby that I get teary eyed. Sometimes, I’ll agonize over leaving my baby to run for the whole warmup, maybe even longer! I know it’s crazy while the thoughts are in my head, yet I can’t stop the feeling. This feeling is always worse after I’ve pumped myself dry. Just a warning in case that happens to you. You will be happy you ran long before you get home from your workout!

For the local races, I fed the baby and pumped right before leaving, then headed home as soon as possible after the race to feed him again. Yes, breastfeeding takes a bit of the social aspect of your running life away, but it can definitely fit into an intense training plan!

I hope this is helpful and please ask away in the comments or by email if you have any specific questions. I’m not an expert, but I know what has worked for me!

Good Days, Bad Days

I’m 26 weeks and I’ll be honest… exercise is getting hard!

25 weeks pregnant

I’m actually 25 weeks here, even bigger now!

My belly is getting larger, my blood volume is increasing and there are days where I just feel SLOW. I’m at the point where I briefly considered hanging up the running shoes last pregnancy. But, just like last time, I know I won’t. I’m just going through a rough patch and I’m not one to give up when things get rough.

Here’s a little nugget of advice about pregnant running. You aren’t always going to feel great. Some days will most likely feel horrible, and it’s ok to throw in the towel, just walk, call someone to come get you, whatever works. During my first pregnancy, I almost stopped running around 6 months. I was having bad runs every day for more than a week, the baby was always in a bad position, and I just wasn’t comfortable. BUT… I gave it some time, did plenty of walk-jogging, and before long I started feeling great again.

Then, around 7 months, I fell hard onto the asphalt on a run with my dad. I hurt my knee and hand pretty badly (lots of pain and blood) but belly seemed fine. Still, because I fell on my belly too, I went to the hospital. After 4 hours there, the doctor decided no harm was done and I was released. I questioned whether it was all worth it, but that was short lived. I ended up running until the day I went to the hospital to deliver.

The bottom line is, if you really want to run throughout your whole pregnancy and you hit a rough patch, don’t give up! Good days are probably just around the corner! For example- a few weeks ago, I woke at 5am to run before the heat set in. The baby was having none of this and sat in a really strange position for the first mile, to where I was feeling really uncomfortable and just decided to walk home. That meant I logged a mile of running and a mile of walking. The next day, I went 4 miles, and felt amazing. It was truly the best solo run I’ve had during pregnancy. I would have gone longer, but Jeff had to get to work, so I did a few pick-ups instead. Running “fast” felt awesome. The rest of that week I had great runs. Since then, things have been rough again. It’s a roller coaster, but I understand that and am ok with it!

I have a few new developments in baby land at 26 weeks. A few quick general things:

  • Fatigue is actually getting better. I’m finally able to make it through the day without feeling like I need a nap.
  • Belly/boobs getting bigger, rounder, heavier.
  • I’m starting to feel really hot all the time.
  • Belly button, what belly button? Seriously, it changes from completely flat to protruding. (sexy)
  • As far as running goes, I’m getting slower, both because I’m getting bigger and I’m not tolerating heat as well. Some women never notice feeling extra hot during pregnancy, but I become a furnace and have a really hard time dealing with heat.
  • I’ve been doing shorter runs, and taking walk breaks. I run every day, but some days are more walk/jogs and others are pure running. I just do whatever I feel like when I get out there.

For those of you who have been pregnant, when did you hit your rough patches? Were you able to stay active?

ShowerPill to the Rescue!

Many of my days involve a morning workout with no shower until the evening. Here are two common scenarios:

  • I get started on my run later than expected. I get home the second Jeff has to leave for work.
  • I have a morning and evening run on the schedule, and I don’t want to take a shower until my exercise is completed for the day.

I always have something planned within 30 minutes of finishing my run. Because of that, I’m usually rushing around, spilling coffee everywhere, trying to get Currie and myself presentable enough to face the world and our day. I must admit that many days, I change clothes, throw on some deodorant, and hope the little lady naps so I can shower before 9pm. I go through the day feeling grungy, grimy, just plain dirty.

I recently found dry shampoo which has been a wonderful solution for my hair. As far as my body goes, I’ve been known to use baby wipes (flimsy, sticky, tiny) or a wet washcloth (not exactly doing much) to clean up a bit. Just a few days ago, a little thing called ShowerPill came into my life and I’m in love!


Cue heavenly music

What is a ShowerPill? Well, it isn’t a shower and it isn’t a pill. It’s an Athletic Body Wipe that  comes in a convenient little package that you can take with you anytime, anywhere. Each ShowerPill is:

  • An individually wrapped Athletic Body Wipe, conveniently packaged for on-the-go use.
  • Thick, durable, 9×8 inches of body-freshening goodness
  • Germ killing, but safe on sensitive skin (like mine) infused with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.
  • Dries quickly on it’s own, no extra drying, no residue, no lingering scent.
  • Very light scent that reminds me of something from my childhood. I can’t think of what it reminds me of, but it’s very pleasant.

I was ready to put the ShowerPill to the test on my double run day. Here’s how it went down, in picture form:


Sitting in my own version of Pigeon Pose post-run, ready to rip into the ShowerPill


Open up!


Where should I start?


The face, definitely the face first!


Getting a little race (ha), we’ll end with this shot.

Of course a real shower is always best, but for times when I really need to freshen up and don’t have time (or not near a shower) I have to say I’m 100% satisfied with the ShowerPill! It was the perfect size, cleaned my whole body, left no residue, left no scent, was extremely durable, and made me feel clean until my second run 11 hours later.

ShowerPill is having a Black Friday Sale on Amazon from 11/23-11/25 for Buy two (2), get one (1) FREE! You just place 3 boxes in your cart and enter the code SPFRIDAY to receive the 3rd box free. I will definitely take advantage of that deal from the comfort of my couch, pajamas (or running clothes) on, coffee in hand!

All opinions on this blog are ALWAYS my own. I was given the ShowerPill samples through my relationship with FitFluential and truly love the product! I hope you do too!




There is No Magic Workout

It’s marathon season and many of my running buddies are getting ready plunge into their 1st, 2nd, even 30th marathon. I’m not running a marathon this year, but I’m daydreaming about them a lot. I’m going over workouts in my head and thinking about training cycles and personal goals. One point that sticks in my head is: There is no magic workout.

runners leaping in air

But there are magic moves for runners, like this perfectly timed leap from my sister and me post run. (p.s. Nothing about running is magic, but I wanted to show you a funny picture.)

I don’t believe runners can look at a single workout, complete it, and think they can run a great marathon (or any race for that matter). Success in racing takes weeks, months, even years! This is why I’m not a big fan of posting my workouts on my blog. People see my workouts, think “Oh, I can’t do that and we have the same marathon goal” or “I run my workouts much faster than that, maybe I need to adjust my plan” and the next thing you know, they are doubting their own training. Remember my post about believing in yourself and trusting your training?

I love to talk training just as much as any other runnerd, and if you ask me specific details, I’m happy to tell you. I just don’t spell it all out online. There are lots of people who do though, and do it in a way that’s fun to read. I’m currently liking blogs from Katie and Kristy for that sort of thing and other random musings.

Back to the magic workouts. One of my running buddies, Josh of Roadkill Racing, got into a debate a few days ago on the Runner’s World forums regarding Yasso 800s.

Josh Perks Racing

Recent racing pic of Josh, running cross country for Roadkill Racing

(I think Bart Yasso is awesome and I would be giddy to the core to meet him or anyone on Runner’s World staff.)

bart yasso on twitter

In fact, Bart and I follow each other on Twitter. See, we’re basically BFFs!

But… I don’t believe Yasso 800s are going to save the world – or predict your marathon time. You should read Josh’s post and then his follow up workout post, but to give you a shortened version:

Josh replied to someone on the RW message board who was asking about Yasso 800s and marathon training. Josh said he didn’t think Yasso 800s were a good predictor of marathon performance then stated his reasoning. He got a reply from Mark Remy, Editor at Large of RW, saying if you are training for a marathon, doing all the expected marathon training and Yasso 800s, they are a good predictor. He also challenged Josh to do the Yasso workout and report back. Josh did the workout, much faster than his fastest marathon time and is now joking about having a new marathon PR. (Once again, I recommend reading Josh’s posts to get more details.)

I think the best predictor of your marathon time is to look at your workouts as a whole. How do your longer tempo runs feel? Or mile repeats at race pace? Another predictor I trust is to put my race times, preferably longer distance races, into a running calculator like the McMillan Running Calculator.

How do you predict your marathon goal time? Anyone racing this weekend? Getting excited for your fall marathon or half?


Secrets to Success

I’m taking a year off from the marathon, but I’m busy every week making my “next marathon goals”. I’ve been thinking about my secrets to success, hoping to uncover something that might take me to the next level. I’ll continue to update you as I think of more, but here are a few “secrets to success” that I came up with so far.

  • Believe in yourself. I wrote about this in my recent ME Monday, and I can’t emphasize it enough. You HAVE to believe in yourself to get anywhere near your goals. It seems like the most simple concept, but it can be the hardest for most runners (people).
johnny's running of the green

This is my confident/determined racing face.

  • Trust and commit to your training. Find a coach or training plan you can trust and commit to that training. Don’t worry about other people’s training. There are so many blogs, twitter updates, training logs to check out, but too much obsessing over others’ training can make you lose focus on your own training. Everyone is different. What works for me isn’t going to work for you. Sure, we can learn from each other, but you need to find a training plan you believe in and totally commit to it.
  • Do your training. Yes, are definitely times you need to skip a run, or rearrange your training schedule (I rearrange ALL THE TIME to fit my life and the way my body is feeling) but to be successful you have to do the training. It seems a little silly to mention this but it’s important. I remember arriving at college and my coach asked how much of the summer training plan I followed. When I looked at him puzzled and answered “all of it, what do you mean?” he was in shock. This is when I first realized that many people don’t follow their training plans. If you stick to a consistent schedule, you will be much closer to your goal.
family run shoes

Family run time. Getting the training done and having fun!

  • Have a support system. A support system can be family members, friends, or babysitters who watch your kids while you run. It can be buddies who meet you early every Sunday morning to make sure you get your long run done. It can be online friends who support your training and help you through the rough weeks. They can help you physically by running with you or cheering on the race course, or they can help you emotionally. Whatever the support system is, find one and it will make your running improve.

Those are my 4 top secrets to success! Do you have any to share?

You Never Regret a Run?

How true is the common saying, “You never regret a run, but you do regret skipping one”?

I’ve used that mantra many times to get me out the door on less than motivated days, but there are actually quite a few days where I HAVE regretted running. The most recent was this week when I came down with a horrible cold. I had problems with everything from my chest up – chest congestion, sore throat, sinus headache, stuffy nose, runny nose, ear aches – you name it, I had it. The first day, I could barely pull myself out of bed – no run. The second day, I was able to put on a happy face and move around, but wasn’t feeling much better. I was exhausted so I thought “what do I always do to give myself energy and feel better? RUN! Yes, I’m going to run!”

I got dressed and headed out the door. I felt a pounding headache the first step I took. When I wasn’t feeling any better a little over a mile in, I shut it down and went home. The rest of the night I felt horrible. The next day I felt sick again. I think a rest day would have been better than attempting that run.

finishing brighton 5k

Pic of me laying down a speedy 5k last summer, where it was ok to be filled with pain. Also shows how I looked on my entire "sick run" a few days ago.

Or what about the countless times where I’ve run through an injury and had to take weeks and months off when a few days off at the beginning might have cured the problem before it became huge?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a run-every-day-no-matter-what (almost) type of girl, but I really feel there are some days where you just need to stay home and be okay with it. Train smart, friends!

What do you think? Have you ever regretted a run? Run through a bad cold/flu/injury? 

Running Highs and Lows

Running is such an interesting sport. Most people hate it when they start. If they stick with it, they usually get addicted. In the first few months, or at least the first year, new runners will see improvements fairly quickly. Seasoned runners can go without a PR for what seems like ages and then have a breakthrough that invigorates them. And there’s almost always the burnout phase, where it’s hard to get motivated and it just isn’t fun.

I have a lot of friends who are in the burnout phase right now. In fact, I was in this phase for about 6 months and am just coming out of it. The burnout can come for many reasons such as:

  • The completion of a big race where you did great but have no new goals
  • The completion of a big race where you didn’t do well
  • A period of time where you don’t see improvements where everyone else seems to be tearing up the racing scene
  • Boredom with running partners/groups/solo running
  • Too much training
  • Too little training
  • Buildup of injuries

When you are in the middle of a burnout phase, it might seem like you will never get out. But you will. If you stick with it, you will climb out victorious!  I went through a good 6-7 year burnout in my 20s and the thing that pulled me out was my own change in attitude. Everyone’s solution to getting back on track is different, but here are a few ideas:

  • find someone who believes in you. I find that when someone else believes in me, it can help me believe in myself
  • find another way to believe in yourself
  • try something new-work out at gym, weight lifting, take a class, try a dvd, trail, workout with partner/friend
  • find a group or start to workout solo
  • dial back intensity – just do it for fun without goals for awhile. I find running local races and concentrating more on the social aspect can get my mind back to where it needs to be.
freezeroo race series

Having fun with the Roadkill Racing crew before a winter racing series called Freezeroo during my "low phase" this past winter.

  • dial up intensity- a track workout might be just what you need!

I think burnouts are normal and show that we are training hard and setting goals. What do you think?

Quick, Effective Post-Run Stretches

It seems runners are divided on whether stretching is good or bad. Those against stretching have told me things like “studies have proven that stretching does nothing to improve running or reduce injuries and it can even make your muscles weaker.” In fact, for the first 15 years of my running career, I was very much against stretching. I was so sure it was a waste of time, I convinced my husband to stop his daily stretching routine!

These days, I’m a huge believer in stretching post-run. Though my life is busier than ever, I always make sure I do a few stretches every day within a few minutes of finishing my workout. My change in attitude started by listening to elite runners, and watching what they do. I don’t know any great runners that don’t do some sort of stretching routine. I’m sure they are out there, but I don’t know any. Second, I’ve had every running injury imaginable and since I started doing just a few stretches a day, I’ve been injury free (knock on wood!)

Stretching doesn’t have to take up much time at all! I see a huge benefit with just 4 stretches a day. On the rare occasion that I skip my stretching all together, I definitely notice a difference.

If I’m really pressed for time, I do just two dynamic stretches that work wonders for my hips and hamstrings:

Linear and Lateral Leg Swings – this link will take you to the Running Times website and the stretches I do are #14 and #15. I first started doing leg swings while training for the steeplechase for one season during college but stopped doing them after that season. I revisited this stretch after watching a video on the Coach Jay Johnson website. I usually do 15 linear and 15 lateral on each leg.

If I have a little more time, I also do my own version of the pigeon pose. I’m not an expert on yoga, but I like this one. The final stretch I do is downward dog. Again, I’m no expert, but I feel like downward dog is great for realigning and stretching every part of my body. I hold these stretches for approximately 30 seconds.

pigeon pose

My version of pigeon pose

Hope you find a stretching program that works for you!