Fess up

well, it’s the last day of January and it’s time for everyone to FESS UP!! how are those resolutions and / or goals going?

i’m excelling in some of mine and sucking in others. oh well. it is what it is. i am, however, going to work hard in February to do better. this is when a lot of people just give up. they think, “i messed up. i can’t do this. i’ll just stop trying.” this is not me though. every day is a new day and a i’ll keep trying until i get it.

some of the things i said i was going to do and how it’s going:

* read 1 book per month that is not fitness related- well, i’ve certainly picked a book that is not fitness related- Chelsea Handler’s latest book- but i’m not done with it. i have started reading it but i’m having a hard time finding the time since i’m focused on new training plans right now. excuses, excuses, excuses! i know the point of reading the book is supposed to be to tear me away from work and just veg out.

* eat 3 fruits per day. ok, i suck at this! really, this shouldn’t be so hard for me. i can easily get 2 in, usually in 1 sitting but then i rarely eat any more throughout the day. i go through phases. some days i eat 4 or 5 and some days i eat 1. i could take the easy way out and drink fruit juice but i’m really trying to focus on whole fruits. easy way, here i come!

* try a new recipe at least every other week- i have blown this one away. i’ve made a new recipe every week since new years day. they haven’t been completely new things but they have been completely new variations so this counts. for instance, i didn’t just invent pot roast last week but i tried a recipe i’ve never tried. success!

* blog at least 2 x per week- hmmm, i think i’ve done just ok with this one. i tend to either have a lot to say or nothing to say. i’m still working on this one.

* do yoga at least 1 x per week- i’m doing great with this one. i have either gone to bikram or done yoga at home once to twice per week since new years. i’m shocked at how much flexibility i’ve lost since i quit doing yoga regularly about 3 years ago. we lose a lot of flexibility as we age so it’s much harder on me now than it once was but it has also taught me not to take so much time off!

i believe my other goals had to do with a half marathon and a full marathon so i’ve still got time on those but as far as the monthly goals go, i’m not a total failure 🙂

i’m going to make a point to focus on these goals again in february and i’ll check in at the end of the month to let you know how i did.

ok, fess up!

Slow is the word

you thought Grease was the word but it’s not. SLOW is the word!

i’ve been working on training plans for the Nashville Half Marathon and i’m sensing some panic. the nicely written emails i get explaining why that pace just seems too slow are rapidly filling my inbox. i knew when i sent these emails that i was going to get some backlash. that’s ok. now it’s just time to really try to explain the why behind these paces.

i’m not sure who remembers this but last year i really stressed the importance of running the long runs about 2 minutes slower than you felt like you should be. the only difference this time is that we’re going to do this for all runs during our base building period, not just the long runs. this is not a new concept guys! i’m just extending it into our weekly runs too. remember our theme from the last blog, “honor the purpose of the workout.”

why run slow? to increase your VO2 max, to increase glycogen storage, to increase endurance, to improve recovery and to simulate race duration….just to name a few reasons. ok, more specifically, on a slow run you are keeping your body in the aerobic zone which will increase the amount of oxygen you take in, transport, and utilize (VO2 max). you are literally increasing the size of your heart as you would any other muscle, therefore, it’s going to work better for you. muscle glycogen is your body’s primary source of fuel during exercise. with low muscle glycogen stores your body will quickly need to turn to fat, which is a less efficient fuel, and will therefore slow down. (because fat is 15% less efficient than carbohydrate as an energy source, when you have to burn more fat you slow down). this is especially true for marathoners who wish to avoid hitting the wall. Long runs teach your muscles to store more glycogen. you’re increasing endurance and simulating race duration by spending more time on your feet. you’re quicker to recover when running at a slower pace because your body is not suffering so much trauma and you’re allowing your bones and connective tissues time to adapt. once you’ve done all of this it’s time to move on to some speed work and increased paces. blah, blah, blah, right?

we haven’t always trained this way in the past (we typically add speed and tempo runs in quicker) so why are we doing it this way? the nashville half marathon is not the st. jude half marathon. they are on different courses and have different issues. nashville is a hilly race and is a course we won’t get to practice on so we’re going to do our best to be strong before we go. in a hilly half marathon, would you rather be fast or strong? well, if you’re not strong, you certainly won’t be fast. we’ll work hard to build a good, solid base and then we’ll go from there. we will do some work at some different paces but not for the first several weeks. we are going to rapidly increase our distance (long run distance, not overall weekly distance) and these longs run will be hard. if they’re not done slow enough, you won’t be able to do them. if you’re worn out from going too fast all week, you won’t be able to do them. so, see, slow is the word. you may get bored and anxious but, i promise you, you’ll also be getting stronger.

now, with that being said, it’s hard for me to really pick training paces for my groups because rarely are we going out and putting an all-out effort into a race or a run. maybe we’re running with a friend or dealing with an injury that has completely thrown us off track. these paces chosen are your absolute slowest paces based on a specific race. more than likely, had you gone out and really raced that run, your finish time would be different and, therefore, your training paces would be different. although, probably not as different as you’re wanting.

as a general rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation while running “slow.” if you start feeling like you’re tired and needing to walk, you’re going too fast. simply take a second to roll your shoulders down your back, take a deep breath, shake out your arms and slow down.

i knooooow i’m making it sound like it’s easy to do and you’re thinking it’s not. i agree with both of us (me and you). it really is a matter of using less force on your push-off and just slowing down but, yes, it’s going to take some practice to get used to this without feeling like you may as well just be walking. i really stressed the importance of this with my marathon group and tried to follow it myself. i slowed down a good bit and i know i still went too fast. i’m a work in progress. i know it’s frustrating going slower than you feel like you should but try to take advantage of it- look around, enjoy the scenery, get to know someone else in the running group.

i’ve told a few people this story already, but, just so you know, i’ve got your backs. in my RRCA class, our teacher was going on and on about the importance of going slow and all i could think was “oh shit, the group is going to hate that i came to this class!” i, being someone who never asks questions in class, raised my hand and said (in a very serious tone), “you’re just saying go slow and i think that’s easier said than done. how are you supposed to just ‘go slow’?” the whole class died laughing. i was so not trying to be the class clown! i have your back but we all have to honor the purpose of the workout and we have to understand that there is science behind this. we will all benefit if we just try. i’m not a stickler for paces but when you come to me and tell me how fast (and not slow) you did your run, i’m probably just going to ask you if you honored the purpose of the workout? annoying, i know 🙂

oh, by the way, i know it can be done. i’m pretty sure i was running about a 15 minute mile in the picture above!!

Honor the Purpose of the Workout

you would hope that after spending 18 hours in a classroom, you would learn something new.  you would also hope that you didn’t learn too much- i mean, my brain can only hold so much!  i was so nervous going into this class through the RRCA.  when keith and georgia dropped my off at 7:30 am, i felt like it was my first day of 7th grade- i was intimidated and excited all rolled into one.  i spent so much time thinking about whether or not i could hold my own in class, i neglected to think about whether or not my past several years of coaching would be completely shot down.

well fortunately for me (and you!), they weren’t. while i learned a lot and some new theories on running, i also learned that what i have been doing is perfectly acceptable.  it’s interesting how much a running plan is really just based on someone’s theory of running.  a lot of people’s theories, however, are based on scientific research.  i go cross-eyed at the first mention of ATP, pyruvate, glycogen, and lactate but i know how important it is for me, as a coach, to understand how these benefit or hinder the abilities of my runners.

we were reminded, as we went through class, that this is simply the theory of RRCA.  they’re not there to say jeff galloway, greg mcmillin, or any other well known coach is wrong.  they just believe strongly in their theory behind their training plans.  i must say, i drank the kool-aid!  we went over the benefits of building a true base before moving on to any specialized training.  i have always believed in this is as well, but after class, realized that i have to re-define what “base” means to me.  i have always believed that your base is what you’re building while either starting to run or during running- so, if you run 10 miles a week, that is your base.  in the eyes of the RRCA, for the purposes of training for a race, your “base” is your highest amount of weekly mileage that you hope to get to in that training season.  this really changes things in the eyes of training plans.  the RRCA really believes that you should not introduce any race-specific training (speed, tempo, hills) until you are through building your base.  i must admit, i’m a little taken aback at the idea of only spending a few weeks on this during a training season but i’m anxious to try it.

it makes sense when you really think about it.  if you’re in your base building weeks, you need to be focusing on building your base.  why?  because this is what builds your endurance.  if you’re going out to run a half marathon or marathon, what is more important in the long run- endurance or speed?  endurance, of course.  speed will come with endurance and strength but speed will not come at all if you don’t have endurance and strength.  so, your hard runs, during ALL of your base building weeks, is your long run.  during base building weeks, you will also get to your highest single run mileage which means all of your focus for these weeks is on the long run.  i know what you’re thinking- “how do you expect me to get to my longest run in my base building weeks (6 or so weeks) rather than taking the full training time (12 or so weeks)?”- i expect you to get there because you’re going to be running slow enough for the extra distance to not damage your muscles and connective tissues.  (MORE ON SLOW RUNS IN THE NEXT BLOG!)

once you have your base you will then spend a few weeks on race-specific pacing.  is this enough time?  again, yes, if done right, it should be.  you are getting stronger because you will spend more weeks at your base mileage than ever before.  therefore, your body will have truly adapted to the feeling of a long run by the time you go out and race. with this newfound strength, you should feel more powerful than before and, in turn, run a better race.

the key is to truly honor the purpose of the workout. if you’re in your base building weeks, honor that and respect that the purpose is to build endurance. allow your body to adapt before moving out of this phase and into the next. rather than looking at your training as a 12 week plan, look at it as a daily workout. what is the purpose of today’s workout? is it to make you strong? is it to make you fast? every workout has a purpose. your coach is here to help you understand the purpose and your head is here to make you honor that purpose.

to be credible

hmmm, is this the face of a credible person? maybe not! last weekend, as i was headed to Little Rock, i was telling someone on the phone why i was going- to spend the weekend at a certification course through the Road Runners Club of America. “oh, that’s so good that you’ll be credible now,” they said. really?!? NOW i’ll be “credible.” i had to laugh but what i really wanted to do was tell this person how offensive this really sounded to me. (don’t worry, nobody reading this is the guilty party) i knew, however, that this person didn’t mean to discount all of the hours and years i’ve put into running and personal training but was really trying to recognize the importance of my impending certification.

to be clear, i feel like i’ve been “credible” for many years. unfortunately, it’s not all that easy or common to get a certification in running (running coaching, to be exact). i have had my personal trainer certification for about 6 years and in that time have spent lots of my continuing education credits (cec’s) learning about running and cycling (as well as pre and post natal fitness and functional sports training) and have focused almost all of my free time trying to learn everything there is to learn about running. i know you can never learn it all and i love to learn (i’m a good little student) so when i saw 2 years ago that the RRCA was offering a Coaching Certification, i jumped on it. plus, for whatever reason, the coaching circuit in memphis is a little competitive so it certainly won’t hurt to one of the only nationally recognized RRCA coaches in memphis 🙂

it took me 2 years to get into class- the first year was sold out before i had a chance to register so i had to wait another year- they offer about 10 classes per year throughout the US and only have 30 spots per class- so i was pumped when i got in. let me just say this, it was well worth the wait and well worth the money. i was a good little sponge in the second row soaking up as much information as i could. i loved it. i went to the hotel saturday night and blabbered to keith about all that i had learned until i was blue in the face.

fortunately, i also learned that i already knew a lot. this made me feel good about all of the hours i have put into it in the past. we spent about 4 hours on the science behind running and the physiology behind it. we kind of breezed through nutrition, psychology, and legalities- if you call 5 hours “breezing.” on day 2, we spent 9 hours on the building of training plans- the why’s, how’s, and so forth. we broke into small groups and made training plans for Joe Runner who is 30, delusional, and only running because he’s chasing after Suzy Skirt who is 22 and much faster (yes, we made some of this up to make our plan a little more fun!). i have to brag a bit and tell you, my group won every time. ok, if you asked anyone else from a different group they would tell you it wasn’t a competition but, i disagree. our teacher called our plans “beautiful” and had little to no changes so we considered that a pretty big win.

hey, i’ll take a win any way i can get it. i’m probably never going to win a race but i’m ok with that. that reminds me, one of the things Janet (our teacher) said, on day 1, was that being a fast runner does not necessarily make you a good coach. i know this but i liked hearing someone else say it! she talked about how many of the best coaches are not actually that fast and that many of the worst coaches are those people that are. now, i don’t think this is a direct correlation but i do appreciate the recognition that it doesn’t take a fast person to know how to coach.

there is a lot of “competition” out there when it comes to running groups. everyone wants people to like their group. groups think their groups are better than others for whatever reasons. i definitely know that i will never appeal to everyone but i just hope that those i do appeal to, i am benefitting! i take my job pretty seriously and feel very lucky to spend my days doing what i’m doing. i owe a lot of this to keith for being my cheerleader for so many years and constantly telling me to get out there and help people, regardless of how insecure i may have been about my own running abilities. (by the way, do i get to tell my parents i AM using my degrees- teaching and counseling, right?! all those years in school really weren’t for no reason 🙂 )

during our psychology section, we went over the characteristics of a great coach: good and positive communication skills, good listening skills, the ability to motivate, the ability to teach, the ability to inspire, goal setting skills, and the ability to develop and implement training programs. i will continue to work and become better at each and every one of these things. i may not be the fastest runner out there but i will continue to work on becoming the best coach.

by the way, there will be a blog coming soon about all the fun new stuff we went over in class!!

Tag, you’re it

last night we went to the showing of Hood to Coast. awesome!! if you missed it, you missed a great, motivating little documentary.

i remember a long time ago when i never thought i would run anything more than a 5k. then i decided, “well maybe i’ll try a half marathon but i’ll certainly stop there.” insert marathon! well, since then, i’ve kind of thought, “what can i do now that will continue to make running fun and new?” insert relay!

keith and i remember talking to a friend of our years ago who was asked to be a replacement on a Ragnar Relay team. he didn’t really know much about it but is usually up for anything so off he went. he came back a changed person. tired, of course, but said it was an amazing experience. he has now done 2 more. i remember thinking, at the time, that it sounded like a ton of fun but seemed a little too intimidating for me.

well, if there’s anything i learned when doing the marathon (another thing that seemed intimidating to me), it’s truly that anyone can do it. you just have to want it. well, i’m pretty certain i want to do a relay!

so, what exactly is a running relay? well, it depends on which one you do but most of them are pretty similar- you have 12 runners (along with a couple of drivers), 2 vans, about 200 miles, and some running shoes. you literally relay the various legs of the course- tagging your next teammate as you enter the exchange zones. you run for 36 or so hours, sleep very little, eat less than perfectly, and have a ball!

remember, i said in my last blog you have to change / expand your definition of fun. this certainly sounds like fun! right?!

who’s in?

The Un-Amazing Race 2011

Congrats to Sam, Ansley, Stephanie, and Lauren (all pictured above) for the win at the 1st Star Runners Un-Amazing Race! 🙂

it took me a long time to learn to love running. i used to think that if i wasn’t any good, i couldn’t really love it. why in the world would i love something that was so hard or that i could never win? because! because running is fun! i think we, as runners, have to expand our definition of “fun.” i have done this and it has completely changed my perspective of running.

there was a time in my life when i thought “fun” meant staying out late, dancing all night, and drinking a lot. not that i don’t still think that can be fun but now what is really fun to me is a long run with friends, a tough hill workout, running stairs, getting up at 7 am on a saturday to meet the group for a run (whether it be a hard, easy, or long run!), speed workouts, trail runs, and the not-guilty feeling i have if i eat a doughnut after a run!!

keith and i wanted to remind everyone, with the Un-Amazing Race, that running is supposed to be fun. it doesn’t always matter your pace or if you’re running with your best friend, as long as your having fun.

we loved seeing everyone’s team work and ability to adjust to paces (slower and faster) that you may not be used to. i know how hard everyone works on each and every run but always remember that no matter what run you’re doing, have fun!

here’s to many more fun runs with y’all!

How’s it going?

i’m here to check in. how’s in going? are you doing ok with your new years resolutions / goals?! (by the way, what are your resolutions / goals??)

i’m doing pretty good so far. i said i would try one new recipe every 2 weeks. i’ve already tried one this week; 2 if you count my lasagna that i decided to make meat-free. i made chicken enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce- good but quite time consuming! i also made my lasagna that i usually make but substituted soy crumbles for my usual do-to turkey sausage. i don’t know if this really counts as a new recipe but, oh well. i’m still good for the next 9 days!

i said i would reintroduce yoga into my life and that i have done. i’ve gone to 2 bikram classes this week. i feel like those 2 classes should count for much more! i must say, bikram memphis has new owners and this isaac guy is TOUGH. i thought class was tough before but he really pushes you. he told me today that i’m too hard on myself. well, isaac, if you weren’t barking orders at me for 90 minutes and telling me to push harder and that i have more in me, maybe i wouldn’t be so hard on myself. kidding. i actually appreciate being pushed outside my comfort zone.

i think i said i would blog at least twice a week and this is number 2! woo hoo!

fruits, damn fruits. i don’t know why this is so hard for me but it is. well, i actually do know. fruits, to me, are a pain to eat. you have to peel and orange and stand over the sink to spit seeds out. a kiwi has to be tended to. strawberries have to be cut and washed. bananas are just a weird consistency. apples are good. i’m good with apples but i cannot eat 3 apples a day. i probably should but i just can’t. i’m doing ok so far but this is a much more difficult goal than it should be. most days this week i’ve had an apple, forced a banana down, and had juice of some sort (100%, no sugar added, of course!).

what else? oh yea. the book. well, i’m still only reading fitness stuff but i have 26 more days to start something else. i have read Strength Training for Triathletes and am currently reading Racing Weight. these don’t count for my non-fitness books but i am enjoying them so i, at least, have that.

i’m off to a pretty good start. i just have 360 more days to keep it up!

ok, guys. what are you resolutions / goals / challenges???? if you don’t share them, you’re less likely to do them. share them with me and i’ll try to help hold you accountable 🙂