Strength Training & Running — Is It Working?

Yesterday I finally had a decent long run. 14 miles at an average 8:42 pace and felt strong all the way through.

I’ve been having mixed emotions about the regular addition of strength training into my running schedule. For one, it takes a good amount of time and, honestly, it’s not my favorite thing to do. I wish I were one of those people who loved lifting and crosstraining. While I enjoy yoga, I can’t say the rest of it thrills me much. And the Y has changed the yoga schedule for the summer such that it’s been hard for me to get in classes I like. The ones that do fit my schedule are with instructors that aren’t my favorite and/or the class is too difficult for my needs and level of yoga ability.

In other words, I don’t want to go.

But the biggest mixed feeling about strength training is that it has been tiring my legs out. Which is part of the point, working the under-utilized muscles. My trainer warned me that initially I’d likely find my running to feel slower as I worked my muscles differently and as I continued to rehab my injured hip. But he says that within a few weeks, I’d find myself feeling lighter and faster once my body adapted to the exercises.

Great. Except it’s no fun feeling like dead weight when I run.

20140728-114841-42521763.jpgI found this picture when I googled images for “lead legs”. This feels about right and half the fun.

I’m choosing to trust my trainer, but damn if it isn’t hard to slog through the exercises after a tiring run. Mostly I want to curl up with a burger and fries, not do lunges with weights. The other day I was supposed to do some shoulder mobility work on a stability ball with puny 3 lb. weights and I was too exhausted to cross the gym to get the weights and did the routine without. I felt so lame next to the girl doing alternating one arm handstands. I barely could roll the ball back where it belonged and slither into the locker room. Sad, middle-aged body.

Yesterday’s run was the first time I felt simultaneously pain free and less heavy. I won’t say it was a “great” run, but it was a major improvement. I hope it continues.

On tap this week is a hill repeat workout of 8×90 seconds at 5k speed on an incline of 6-10%. I’m fairly nervous about it because of my hip, but if it starts giving me any concern, I’ll stop. I’m mostly scared about the down hill, which is what wrecked my hip to begin with, so I may just do the workout on the treadmill instead so I can do the recovery on flat. Not ideal but perhaps the smarter choice.

We’re only a month away from our trip to England, and I’m very excited. I’ve also got two weekend trips before that, one to Connecticut and one to Lake Placid. It’ll be fun doing my training in new places. I can pretend I’m finishing the Ironman Lake Placid because in my head is the only way that will ever happen.

Anyone have suggestions for audiobooks for me to listen to when I train? I’ve been moving away from using my iPod during races, but for long runs I really like to listen to a good story.

Friday Five Goals

20140725-105010-39010149.jpgLink up with the terrific DC Trifecta today! Mar on the Run, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What, and Courtney of Eat Pray Love DC. Click on the links and give them some love.

This week’s Friday Five is goals. Goals are good. I have goals. Therefore, I must be good. Logic. :P

1) Continue strength training to help make me a stronger runner. I’d like to be able to lift heavier than I am now and give my arms a little more definition. Heck, I’d like abs too, but that may be reaching.

20140725-142138-51698705.jpg2) Get back to playing my guitar. It’s so pretty sitting in the corner waiting to be asked to dance. I just tried playing American Pie. It was pathetic. :(

3) Write some fiction. This one has been very frustrating. I do have a loose idea for a new suspense novel, but have yet to start typing. It could be a lot of fun to write, but I’m having trouble getting the courage to start.

4) Um, not that I don’t have a lot of mini goals, but I’m struggling here for anything of interest. Weed the garden, clean my closet, mail the excess books to the women’s prison library. Stop negatively assessing my body. Read more books (my ability to concentrate on anything longer than a magazine article is small lately). Get my review of the MebGo Skechers shoes written (quick preview: love them)? Do you really want my boring To Do list? I’m just not all that interesting. Maybe I should add this goal: get a life!

5) Qualify for the Boston Marathon. Hopefully this will happen in October. At the moment it feels like a long shot :( I just feel awfully tired every time I have run this past week. The idea of 20 milers makes me want to hibernate.

Have a great weekend!

You Know You’re a Runner When…

20140723-113844-41924677.jpg…you go to a fancy-schmancy outdoor charity event and see one of those safety mats that cover electrical cords between the seating area and the buffet and think, “Ooh, timing mat.”

I had to resist the urge to run back and forth over it and check my time. For what, I have no idea. Quickest trip through the seafood station?

Wouldn’t it be funny if events tracked how often people returned to the buffet? I bet there are people in my family that would get banned if that happened. They’re like locusts.

I thought this sign was funny (not sure who took the original photo). They haven’t met my extended family — it doesn’t take them 4 hours to clear out a restaurant’s inventory. True story.

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Baystate Marathon Training: Lovely Toes

20140721-114908-42548059.jpgI ran the first double digit run in about a month yesterday and it went fine. I wish I could say I felt energetic, but honestly it felt like work. Aerobically I’m feeling fit, but my legs just feel tired.

I was too lazy to tape up the two toes that always get beat up, and I paid for it. They look worse than they feel.

It was also my first week of over 40 miles since the first week of June. My husband kind of rolls his eyes at me when I complain about not having a great workout because he wisely knows that most workouts are not going to be stellar.

I think my head is in a not-so-good space because I feel like my speed has plateaued, but I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment given that the past two months are post-marathon in which I probably raced more than was smart. I tend to be hard on myself and I am trying not to look at other runners’ running successes and comparing myself unfavorably. That does me no good whatsoever. My best strategy is to keep my head down and follow my training plan. How other people run/train has nothing to do with me.

Just 13 weeks until Baystate. Feeling crazy for marathon training again.

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Not Quite a Recovery Run

20140719-121119-43879949.jpgToday’s Silks & Satins 5k race was a lot of fun. My friend did far better than his estimate; he thought he’d run in the 9:30-10:00 mile range and he ended up doing 8:18. He was also ridiculously consistent in his pacing (durn young whippersnapper — I could learn from him in regard to trusting my internal pacing). He didn’t time it, but I wore my watch and let him set the pace. He was breathing only slightly hard and felt he could’ve pushed pace more.

The race did not have a timing mat at the start, but it did have loose corrals by 1 minute pace differences. I hit start on my Garmin at the gun, then hit the lap button when we crossed the start so we could see how much it affected out overall time. Our official pace was 8:27. We did decent running the tangents and most of the difference is from time lost from the gun start to when we actually crossed the start line, which took us 17 seconds.

My friend commented on how funny my foot rhythm was and noticed that I wasn’t breathing hard. I have a weirdly high cadence. It’s especially high now because I am recovering from an injury, although I had no issues at all with it today. Hopefully the cadence will calm down a little now that I’m on the mend. I guess it doesn’t bother me, but I wonder if there is some point when the cadence becomes too high and detrimental. Today it averaged 203 spm and I suppose I’d like it to get back under 200.

The weather was perfect, 62 degrees and overcast. The course is very flat and my friend generally runs on hills, so he got to see how well hills prepared him to run faster. I’m so glad he asked me to run this with him.

It was also nice for me to run the same course at a conservative pace only a minute and a half slower than in 2013. Last year I was dying during this race — I realized today that I didn’t recognize any of the houses or landmarks in the second half of the race. It was just a haze last year.

I liked doing the 5k this way, although I think I need to get over my fear of running hard for the distance. Maybe not right now since hard efforts are iffy on my hip (although not as bad as down hill). But at some point I really would like to teach myself to not be afraid of suffering a little more for pace.

Observing my friend run faster than he’s used to (his last race in May his average pace was 9:36 for a 3.5 mile race) was inspirational. I can do better.

Great day today. 7/61 in my age group. Not bad for an easy day. 14 miles tomorrow!

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This race is named after the jockey silks & satins uniforms. The race is held near the track, which opened for season yesterday. The horses below were warming up for their races.
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Friday Five: Favorites

Today I’m linking up with the DC Trifecta: Mar on the Run, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What, and Courtney of Eat Pray Love DC. Please check out their super fun blogs that make me wish I could be their (annoying) little tag-along fourth wheel.

This week’s theme is favorites. I almost ended up with all food things. Probably because I am hungry.

1) Breakfast. I never used to eat breakfast unless on vacation (think giant brunch-sized meals) until I started running and going to the gym regularly. I can’t eat too much before I work out, but I do get some decent fuel into me and feel all the better for it. Now I look forward to my banana and coffee and whatever else I am eating in the morning. Today it was with an iced gingerbread Clif Bar and a beet & sweet potato purée.

2) Running races with friends. Tomorrow I will be running a 5k with a friend of mine who is a sporadic runner. I’m excited to share my love of running and to not be racing. The race benefits Special Olympics and it was a good event last year. 5Ks are hard, so I’m happy to do this one at my recovery run pace. My hip thanks me for having to take this one slow.

3) My heating pad. We’ve become good friends since I started running. It’s also my lazy-assed way of warming up before a run, although that is changing with my new warm up/cool down routines. [Un-favorite: the ice pack. I swear at it. A lot.]

20140718-141603-51363304.jpg4) Cleaning out my closet. I wish I had a couple dumpsters in my driveway right now, one for donations and one for trash. I’d just overhaul my entire home, including things of my son’s that I’ve been asking him to organize/get rid of for the last six years.

I’ve been slowly working through my closet and donating things after I realized I couldn’t put away my clean clothes because there was too much in the closet. Part of the problem is that I haven’t changed much in size since high school, so I had a lot of things in good shape that still fit. But I finally got some sense to part with much of it. Goodbye high-waisted khakis from 1989.

20140718-143514-52514652.jpg5) Running while on vacation. I’ve got 3 trips coming up in the next month and a half, and I’m eager to get out on different routes. I’m most excited about the trip to England at the end of the August. I had such a great time running there last fall, and I can’t wait to do some of my marathon training by the English Channel. There’s one big hill I want to tackle that last year I only ran down. Ok, maybe I’m not too excited about running up it, but I will be once I’ve actually done it.

Speedwork at Last!

My chiropractor says he thinks my hip injury is out of the woods. That we can still see the woods in the rearview, but are out of the thick of it.

Today I ran 8 miles with two fast miles (average 7:30 pace) thrown in the middle. They went well considering I’ve not done speedwork in awhile. They were probably a little faster than I should’ve done them (target was 7:45… over-enthusiasm). However, everything feels fine and pain-free. I’ve got a whole slew of strength/flexibility/mobility/form drill workouts I’ve added in my daily routine, and while it means more time at the gym, it seems like it’ll be worth the effort. My personal trainer and I actually started in with weights this week after a break from them, and it went better than I expected. I thought I’d struggle more, and not that I was lifting anything even remotely impressive, it wasn’t down from what I was lifting previously. Yoga chaturangas, push ups and planks kept me in decent shape.

It felt good to move a little faster today. Fingers crossed my chiro is right that I’m done with this injury.

20140716-205853-75533724.jpgAfter my run, I went to the farmer’s market. There was so much fruit there, so I bought blueberries, black raspberries and cherries, plus a bunch of sungold and grape tomatoes (I eat them like berries), micro radish greens and some sort of peppery cucumber that I can’t remember the name of. There was some chick selling 8 oz of beet, kale, celery and apple juice for $8 that I declined to try. She was charging $1 for a “shot” sample, which was no more than a tablespoon. Seriously, it can’t be that wonderful. I got a similar fresh made drink like that in Ireland for about $4 and it was twice the size. It’s not like any of the ingredients were all that expensive. It’s not like I live in LA or NYC and it wasn’t served in some froufrou place. I don’t get it. Maybe if it said it would make me run faster and even then I’d only splurge on something like that on race day. And I spend stupid money on all sorts of things running related.

20140716-210644-76004642.jpgCase in point: like many runners, I’m a fan of Meb. I’d been eying some of the Skechers GoMeb sneakers, and last weekend I found a pair in my size and the color I wanted of the Speed 2 shoes marked way down. They arrived today, and I’m going to test them out tomorrow on my 40 minute easy run. I doubt they’ll replace my beloved collection of Newton Running shoes, but they did feel nice on my feet. If nothing else, they sure are pretty.

I needed another pair of running shoes like a hole in my head. So I won’t tell you about the four pair of running shorts I also bought this week except to say they were on sale and I’m sure they will make me run better.