In 2004 I ran my third marathon, the Chicago Marathon. Having had a grueling experience while foolishly running the New York City Marathon while injured the year before, I was thrilled to be injury free and running a flat race.

I ran my first three marathons in a pretty simple fashion.

I wore cotton, didn’t have a fueling strategy, a time goal, or a GPS watch on my wrist. Heck, I didn’t even know how to use the lap function on my Timex watch.

Chicago Marathon

My training was as simple as my gear. I ran for time, not pace or distance. I ate a carb-heavy, low-fat diet. I refueled with bagels and lox. I didn’t strength train, get enough sleep, foam roll, go to physical therapy or give up dairy.

I knew very very few people who had qualified for Boston and no one who was vying for a BQ time in their next race.

And ya know what, I loved nearly every single minute of nearly every single run because being a runner and calling myself a marathoner was enough.

Now, I stress over too many minor things. It took me way too long to find the perfect running shoes for this season. I still can’t decide what shorts to wear for the race. And with a mere ten days away from the start of the race, I haven’t quite nailed down my race day fueling strategy.

Every single option for every single question a marathoner can ask is answered in a different way by nearly every single runner visible on social channels giving me the option to second guess the decisions I have made for my next marathon, the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

As I sit here in my kitchen wondering why I’m taking my taper so seriously (and by seriously, I mean I haven’t ran since Sunday) and why I’m not motivated to lace up my shoes and go for a run, the answer is clear.

*Alternative title for this post: “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”

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Race Pace Training Diaries: The Fab 4

by Jess on September 30, 2014

Training Diaries

 

The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here.

Now that I am a little over half way through my training program for the New York City marathon, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about how this marathon training cycle has been different than my previous ones. This will be my 3rd full marathon, but working with Jess to prepare for it has been awesome…so let me tell you a little bit more about my Fab Four!

1. Nutrition

You might have seen my Instagram post last week- nutrition is something that Jess and I zoomed right in on at the start of training. I kept a food journal for a week leading up to the kick-off of my program which provided Jess with a sampling of my eating habits. We were able to identify some key areas that needed improvement such as eating more greens, removing things like Quest bars loaded in sugar alcohols, relying on less fuel during long runs, using things like shakes to help recover from workouts and also at breakfast time to prime my system to be ready to take in other nutrients throughout the day.

I REALLY struggled with nutrition when I trained for my first marathon in 2012. I actually remember sending a frantic tweet along the lines of “Can’t stop eating. How do you battle #runger? Please HELP!”

This time around I feel in control and my body feels so much stronger and better.

run heart

 2. All the miles

I’m running about double the mileage I did with previous training plans. And I’m loving every minute of it! I had never done shake out or recovery runs before working with Jess- and I am SO GLAD she introduced me to them because they really work folks! I no longer go into races or distance runs with stiff legs. And when I’m feeling sore the day after a hard workout, those recovery runs really do loosen you up!

I’ve been running about as much on a weekly basis with Jess as I did during “peak week” of my previous plans. Running all the miles make a big difference. I used to feel majorly fatigued after distance runs or like I wanted to face plant on the couch for the rest of the day. Not anymore! I’ve actually gone out and enjoyed the day and the weekend without feeling the least bit tired. Twenty miles doesn’t take a toll on this lady anymore ☺

3. Making smarter decisions 

You might have read in my previous post that I was having some hamstring issues a few weeks back. The old me would have ignored this pain and continued on with daily workouts because I didn’t want to get off track. This wasn’t an option with Jess. She didn’t want me to attempt any more runs until the pain was gone because that pain could easily turn into an injury…and then I’d really be one unhappy Race Pace Runner ☹ I took a few days off, and when the time was right she started adding workouts back into my training log.

Sometimes we become creatures of habit and the thought of missing a run or workout makes us cringe. But Jess was right, a few missed days is MUCH better than an injured runner.

run key

4. Support

I love running. Everything about it. And working with Jess I have felt supported in my running journey every step of the way. Late night questions, racing strategies, pacing suggestions- she’s been right there to help me out and support me. No more googling random running topics & mining the internet for answers, no more frantic tweets.

Have you been thinking about working with a running coach? These are just a few of the reasons why you should. Feel free to find me on Twitter and Instagram to chat it up some more!

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Ladies and Gentleman, are you ready to embrace the drama?

Reach the Beach Relay

Team Pumped Up Kicks

If so, then let me tell you a little thing about running a relay race, it’s full of drama.

Imagine this: 12 runners without sleep,  very little “real” food or clean showers are crammed into two vans navigating their way through unfamiliar territory while running a countless number of hills and miles. They are hungry, tired and dirty which means everything feels significantly more dramatic than it would on a normal day.

Runger + Zero Sleep + Running All the Miles = DRAMA

Okay, okay so it wasn’t exactly an episode of Real Housewives of NYC , but I did feel the dramatic effects of running downhill for 7 miles, then uphill for several more miles without any sleep and with an upset stomach, but what I learned along the way is that digging deep when the pain sets in is the most rewarding part of running.

Reach the Beach

The 1st Real Script Rewrite

The first time I successfully rewrote the script was during the RnR San Diego Marathon. The memory of picking myself back up off the ground and telling myself I did not come to California to collect a DNF, but to collect a BQ will live on forever. I changed the script and it paid off.

Boston Marathon 2014

But, I thought it was a fluke fueled by my intense desire to go after a reward I so badly coveted (a BQ). Since I earned my long sought after reward I wasn’t sure I would be able to change the script in that manner ever again.

The View From the Pain Cave: New Balance Reach the Beach Relay Leg #25

My 1st leg at Reach the Beach had an elevation loss of over 1,000 feet. Following that run, my quads were toast. By the time I was running my second leg my quads were already sore to the touch. Therefore, when it came time for my final run of the relay, I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t know exactly how much trouble I’d gotten myself into.

Reach the Beach Leg #25 Elevation Profile

Elevation profile of my final 7.2 miles of Reach the Beach

It was the most challenging run I’ve ran in as long as I can remember. I wanted to punch the race director in the face for designing this route (I’m kidding, kinda!). How could they give this leg of the race to me??? (Everything feels personal at this point in a relay.)

I never really wanted to stop running, but for the first few miles of gutting it out on the climbs I wanted it to be easier and I wanted things to go my way (the flat way ;)). I wanted things to stop hurting and I wanted it to be over immediately.

Thankfully, the script started to change.

This is just running.

I’m not in danger.

I don’t live in Syria.

You don’t have Ebola.

Get a grip on reality. You are simply running!

Pain is just pain. It’s not good or bad.

It’s okay if it hurts!

GOOOOOO! Crush your legs, there’s nothing to lose!

I entered the pain cave, stayed inside and wished I could have stayed longer.

My 3rd leg ended up being cut short due to some confusion and I was actually upset, I wasn’t able to gut it out for the last .5. But, I learned that I was capable of rewriting the negative script that usually plays in my head and that when push comes to shove, I can dig deep.

 

Thank you New Balance, for the invitation to be on your media team and for allowing me to gut it out in New Hampshire with a great group of people!

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Race Pace Training Diaries: The Mental Struggle

by Jess on September 15, 2014

Training Diaries

 

The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here.

The past few weeks of training have had a lot of ups and downs. After a few tragic tempo runs I started feeling really down & was being very hard on myself. This negative mindset started affecting my other runs as well. I began taking unnecessary breaks during long runs and basically convincing myself that my tempo run would be doomed for disaster before I had even started it.

As runners, we all know how it important it is to train your brain in addition to all the hard work you put into training your body. Some days, your legs just aren’t up for a 10 miler, but with the right thinking, you can push yourself through.

Jess passed along this article from Runner’s World and it was really helpful. Give it a read if you haven’t already. I related to so many parts of it- especially being too focused on results and not the process.

brooklyn-street-art-olek-jaime-rojo-06-29-14-web-4

Shortly after reading this article and realizing it was time to give myself a little kick in the rear, I began feeling hamstring pain in my left leg which resulted in two unplanned rest days and needing to skip a long run. CRINGE. Maybe taking that time to rest is what I needed though, because during those days I remember thinking to myself “what if you get injured?” and you wasted all those training runs mentally attacking yourself when you could have been savoring every minute of them and focusing on the good.

After this mini break, I feel like I came back to my training plan with a whole new outlook. Not to say that every run has been perfect since then, but I’m ok with that now.

Last weekend I set out on an 18 miler with the NY Flyers and when we hit South Williamsburg, Brooklyn I remember looking up and seeing this street art sign “BELIEVE,” and I felt like it was there for a reason. We can be our own worst critics sometimes and we need to believe in ourselves. No one but ourselves are capable of pushing through those crappy runs when your legs feel dead your body feels tired and you can think of 100 reasons to stop. That’s when this matters the most. So the next time you’ve dug your own hole before even starting your workout, remember that the body achieves what the mind believes. I firmly believe that now!

The-Body-Achieves_What-The-Mind-Believes-Quote

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Two years ago I ran my first relay race. It was equally exciting and exhausting. I was somewhat organized, but definitely didn’t properly fuel or bring enough clothing options. This weekend I’m running my 2nd relay race with New Balance, and I’m much more prepared. In fact, I’m probably over-prepared!

Reach the Beach Relay

In case you aren’t familiar with relay races here’s a quick rundown on how it goes.

A team of 6-12 runners complete 200 miles over the course of 24 hours (or however long it takes). On a 12 person team there are 36 legs of the race. Each person runs three legs in a specific order. For example runner number 1 runs legs 1, 13 and 25. Each team of twelve is divided into two vans. These vans are your home for the duration of the race. While runners 1-6, in van number 1 alternate running their first legs, runners 7-12 wait around for their turn to run. When it isn’t your van’s turn to run, you eat, try to take a nap and bond with your team members.

Reach the Beach Relay

This weekend I’m runner #1 in van #1. Over the course of the race I’m supposedly running 25.5 miles. We’ll see how that goes! I’ve prepped my gear and even made a fueling schedule. I’m not sure I can ever properly prepare for all the running combined with all the time in a van, but I’m going to try my best to not make the fueling mistakes I made in 2012.

Here are the best tips I’ve found on what to pack, how to fuel and how to know what to expect when running a relay race:

How to Fuel for Race Day – Runner’s World

199 Miles Later: Takeaways from Running Hood to Coast – Greatist

Ragnar Relay Packing List (downloadable PDF) – Another Mother Runner

26 Relay Race Tips for a Long Distance Relay Race – Run Lady Like

2011 New Hampshire Reach the Beach Recap – Health on the Run

Hood to Coast 2012 Recap – Fit Happy Girl

 

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The countdown to fall marathon season is on! I have less than six weeks left before running the Chicago Marathon, which means I still have four long runs left.

In the past I really struggled with long runs. I didn’t enjoy them in the least. At one point the only way I could get through a long run was to rely on someone else to push me to the end. If I headed out solo for one of these runs, I often found excuses to stop or push it off until the next day or week.

IMG_2624

When I decided I wanted to train to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon (read how I qualified for Boston), I knew I couldn’t rely on the company of others to get me through those grueling long runs because I wouldn’t have them with me in the race. I also knew that I had specific paces and workouts to complete in order to reach my lofty goal.

While I do sometimes still struggle to get out the door, I’ve reached a point where I no longer struggle to finish long runs and I actually prefer running them solo for the most part.

Tips for your next long run

 

Whether you’re struggling with your long runs like I did or you just need to refine your current pre-run routine, here are three things to do before your next 20-mile training run:

1. Treat the day before your long run as a special day. Treat yourself well by eating healthy, foam rolling, doing some light stretching, hydrating and relaxing a little bit more than normal.

2. Visualize the course you’ve mapped out for the run. Envision running it relaxed and completing the distance/workout with ease and confidence.

3. Make an itinerary for your night and morning so everything goes as smoothly as possible. It will also help prevent you from procrastinating and will get you out the door and on the road sooner! Below is a sample itinerary:

  • 9:00PM layout all long run gear including fuel, money, metro card
  • 9:15 PM: charge GPS device and ipod
  • 9:20 PM: set automatic coffee maker
  • 9:30 PM shut down electronics; get ready for bed
  • 10:00 PM read a book in bed
  • 10:30 PM : lights out
  • 6:30 AM: alarm
  • 6:35 AM: get out of bed  and eat a light breakfast
  • 7:00 AM: get dressed
  • 7:15 AM: dynamic warm-up/foam-roll
  • 7:30 AM: Time to RUN!

This may seem excessive, but this leaves you with very little to think about. You just follow your itinerary and head out the door before you can start to form any negative or self-defeating thoughts. I also recommend doing this on race day to ease your nerves.

Run long and run happy!

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A Superfood Sweet Treat for Runners

August 19, 2014

Chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies have a special place in my memory. Some of my earliest memories include licking spoons and waiting for cookies to cool. I couldn’t wait to get my little paws on them and would often burn my tongue when my patience ran out. In reality these cookies cool rather quickly, but […]

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Race Pace Training Diaries: Falling in Love with Running (and NYC) All Over Again

August 17, 2014

The summer and fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Jess D, a Race Pace Runner, training for the 2014 New York City Marathon with the goal of becoming a faster runner and setting a new Personal Record. Learn more about Jess and her goals here. I am officially in the fifth week of training and have been […]

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I swore I Wasn’t Going To, But This Changed My Mind {Why I’m running a marathon this fall & I need your help}

August 6, 2014

After completing 4 marathons in eleven months(!), I had zero desire to run yet another marathon in 2014. Despite how it appears, I’m not a serial marathoner, just a life-long runner. Running that number of marathons over a relatively short period of time is uncharacteristic for me. What exactly was it that convinced me to […]

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Race Pace Training Diaries: Meet Jess D.

August 4, 2014

Hello fellow runners and Race Pace Runners! My name is Jess and I am lucky enough to be working with @RacePaceJess to train for the NYC Marathon this November. I have been running for about 5 years now, but recently felt like I had hit a plateau. I always get myself from start to finish […]

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