Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Just the Tip" Tuesday

I just realized that it's been a while since I shared some tips with you. So in honor of Tuesday, I present you with "'Just the Tip' Tuesday."

-The crock pot is an amazing gadget. I can throw food inside, turn it on low, and then head out for a long run while it cooks. I've tested this out twice already with jerk chicken. The chicken was delicious, and my house has yet to burn down.

-If you want a gluten-free gel that contains more than 50 mg of caffeine, look no further than the Cold Brew Energy Shots from Pocket Fuel! I just tried the mocha this morning. The gel pack is a little big, but it tastes great. (They also have java and vanilla flavors, but I've yet to try them.) I might've found my 18th-mile caffeine booster.

-When packing a gym bag to go workout in the morning, use a checklist to make sure that you've included everything. I seem to be very absentminded, and so far, I've forgotten a shower towel, belt, deodorant, tie, and even underwear (yes, this did happen). The day that I remember everything will be a huge victory.


Okay, now that that's done, it's time for training talk. Since switching up my routine to not run during the hottest part of the day, I think my running has improved. And by improved, I mean "cool enough so I don't feel like I'm gagging on 80-something degree heat."

Also, I finally started one of my long runs at 6am (the Santa Rosa start time). Lessons learned: This requires waking up at 3am to give myself ample time to eat. But wake-up call at 3am, start running at 6am, and start working by 9am. And it was comfortable outside too! (Minus the rain, but "You can't control the elements; only how you respond to them.") I felt like I crammed a lot into today, but like the saying goes, "Runners Rowers cram more in before 8am than most people do all day." Perhaps I should try that again.

Do you tend to be absentminded? 

Do you prefer morning or evening workouts (or midday)?

PS I entered the Runner's World Cover Photo Contest! Vote for me (and keep voting daily until 8/26)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Celebrating Training Victories

When we last spoke (or rather, I spoke and you potentially listened), I had just moved and hadn't trained as much as planned over the prior two weeks. Unless daily stair climbing counts. Because I moved to a 3-story townhouse, and the only bathroom is on the top floor. And let me tell you, climbing these stairs about 58 times a day is no joke. I think after two weeks though, I'm finally used to it.

For this week, my main goal was to make sure I ran more miles than the previous week. The forecast called for more super-hot days, so my secondary goal was to beat the heat.

Of my seven runs last week (Monday was my only rest day, and I doubled up on Saturday), two were early morning (before 8am, during the week), one was mid-morning (9:45am), one was lunchtime, two were mid-afternoon (1:30-3:30pm), and one was early evening (7pm). Operation stay reasonably cool was accomplished. And I was able to see on my early morning runs that the heat had definitely been slowing me down.

I managed to log 51 miles this week, which was more than the 44 that I logged last week. Therefore, I accomplished my mileage goal too!

Another huge milestone was that I raced my first 5K in nearly two years! On Friday, one of my coworkers asked me if I wanted to run this superhero 5K with her on Saturday (the next day) along the waterfront (one loop from Hawthorne to Steel Bridge). I was all over this, even if it meant having to go to Target to buy a superhero T-shirt.

Assuming the course was mapped properly, my goal was to break 20 minutes (6:26/mi). We started, and I just booked it. Maybe I started out too quickly, but like I said, I hadn't raced a 5K in a while. I hit the first mile in 6:16, which was way faster than goal pace. (I did pass Batman though.) The second mile was along the east side of the Esplanade. I passed some more people, but felt like I was significantly slower than the first mile. My mile split was 6:28 though, so I guess I wasn't as far off as I thought. The last portion involved going up and over the Hawthorne Bridge, and then back to the finish. I stopped my watch and hit Save before I could even process that the course was 0.5 miles short. Had I been thinking, I might've just kept running along the waterfront until my watch hit 3.1 miles. Coulda, shoulda, woulda though, right? Anyway, my final time was 16:38, which amounted to a 6:23 pace.  I was a bit disappointed that the course was short, but I was stoked to run all of that faster than my goal pace (and run my first race in a sub-6:30/mi pace). After the last few weeks of running, I needed that confidence booster.

The next day, I had "15M with 12M at goal marathon pace" on the plan. However, as a result of the 5K (and the 4 recovery miles) the day before, I decided to change this to a 2M warm-up, followed by 6 x 1M repeats (with 1M of rest in between), and then a 2M cooldown. My legs felt good until speed interval #5, and then they just felt like lead. But I found some kick for the last interval.

Both of those stories reminded me of a very valuable lesson. In any training plan, you have to celebrate the small wins, because it helps you remember that something's going right in your training. And the sum of all of those small wins is a huge victory.

Do you celebrate your small wins? And if not, will you start doing that?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Moving, Forward and Up

Before you start harping on me about my hiatus from blogging, know two things:

1. You can always keep track of my workouts on dailymile.

2. I moved. Yes, I'm still living in Portland. No, that doesn't make the process any less stressful.

Unpacking at the new place. Clothes EVERYWHERE.

To sum up, week 4 of SR training was spent packing up my old place, and week 5 was spent getting settled into my new place. As a result, I scaled back on my mileage for those two weeks (ran 34 miles out of the scheduled 51 for week 4, and 41 of the scheduled 60 for week 2). I also scaled back because it was HOT out here. No joke, it hit 99 degrees one day last week. (I think the last time I was anywhere that hot was when I lived in NYC.) And running in it was HORRENDOUS.

With that being said, my runs just didn't feel good over these last two weeks. Paces that typically feel easy suddenly felt sluggish, and I felt as sluggish as I did when I was struggling with iron deficiency a few months ago.

That could be for several reasons. One obvious explanation would be the heat. According to an article in Runner's World, "Every 5°F rise in temperature above 60°F can slow your pace by as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile." It could be related to sleep, as I haven't done much of that since before I moved. Another potential explanation would be the iron. I just learned the other day that both regular and decaf coffee contain phenols, which inhibit iron absorption, and I have had more of that in recent days (though it hasn't been much). I would also try to blame the 4th of July party where I got glutened, but that would only explain Saturday and Sunday's runs. So who knows. My guess goes toward explanations #1 and 2.

Speaking of hydration/fueling, let me tell you a great lesson I learned Sunday! You ready for this??

Not all sports gels are gluten-free.

I was about to head out for my long run Sunday (18 miles, which ended up being in the 80-something degree heat) when I looked at the label for the chocolate flavored Clif shot, and saw that it contains maltodextrin. Now I remembered from my recent research on soaps and cosmetics that maltodextrin is a gluten-containing ingredient that is sometimes found in soap, shampoos, etc., so I went to Clif's website, and confirmed that both the shots and the shot blocks are not gluten-free. Fortunately, Gu Energy GelsHammer Gels, and Honey Stinger Gels are all gluten-free, so I'm not particularly worried about my long-run fueling. But does anyone know of a flavor that's super-caffeinated and gluten-free? I need to find a fix for my beloved Clif chocolate cherry gel that contains two shots worth of espresso!

Do you have any theories on my sluggish training? And/or any recommendations of caffeinated sports gels?