Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feelin' Good!

The last few weeks of running have been great. I just finished my second week of my new training plan from my coaches and feel awesome! I've made some changes, my body is making changes and it feels like things are coming together.

I've never been a very high-mileage runner. Quite frankly, while training for the Philly Marathon, it kind of scared me to run long and run often. I would often wake up feeling a new tight muscle here, or a twinge there and it felt like something was constantly falling apart. I only ran 4 days a week during training and my mileage was never that high. Now, for half marathon training, I'm running more than 30 miles every week, running 5 days a week, and am feeling good! I'm gaining my running confidence back and slowly finding my speed again.

I know that I lost a LOT of fitness after the Philly marathon because I had to take time off due to an IT band issue. In December, I ran 30 miles. Total. I did better in January, with 84 miles, but it has taken me a while to feel like I can run somewhat fast again!  Last week was fairly rough.  After being sick for 5 days the week before, I ran 34 miles last week. But by the time last weekend rolled around, Saturday's run of 6 easy miles felt really hard and my Sunday run with Jess felt harder than any run recently. But this week, everything feels easier and I feel like I can already see the benefits of last week's work.

I want to become a stronger, faster & better runner, so I've been focusing on a few things in the last few weeks to make that happen.  My training plan is completely different than anything I've done before, which is the biggest change. This includes more days with speed, but balances it out with recovery runs and easy runs. On the easy days/miles, I don't push it. On recovery days, I REALLY don't push it. And on speed days/intervals, I go for it.  My mileage is higher, but it's higher with quality miles. Not go-out-and-run-fast-for-no-reason miles which I may or may not have done before...

I've also been focusing on my running form and forward lean. I used to run basically standing straight up.  See exhibit A.

Even at mile 26.1 of a marathon I was still standing up
straight! Not necessarily a good thing...
Photo credit: Ashley

Now, I'm consciously working on engaging my hamstrings and glutes more while running.  I've also been doing more core work and strength training, and lunges before every run to hopefully keep me injury free.  I've also been incorporating (pre and post runs) some PT exercises to make sure my IT band stays happy, some extremely painful foam rolling (when I can bring myself to do it the way I was showed at Finish Line) and stretching. These have quickly become some of my favorite stretches, thanks to Oiselle and Jasyoga!

My body is feeling so much more solid and stronger than during marathon training. My training schedule has so much variety in it that I now look forward to every run. And I'm looking forward to my first race of the year (NYC Half on March 17) to see all my work come together and hopefully pay off in the form of a new PR!

How's your running going? Are you training for something? What's your next race? What are your favorite strength training exercises/DVDs/classes?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Learned & Loved: January 28-February 3

{What I Learned & Loved!  A short and sweet recap of my previous (running) week: ideas of what worked for me so I can do it again in the future, things to change and highlight(s) of my week. This will be something I can reference down the road in training cycles, when I'm struggling or when I feel like things are going well.}

Learned: Running fast and feeling good one day does not mean that running fast will feel good another day. On Thursday, when the weather looked like this (note wind speed) I had 8 miles on the schedule with some mile repeats and short recoveries. 

I planned to do this run in the morning, but after being woken up at 4am and again at 6:30am from wind that sounded worse than Hurricane Irene or Sandy, along with rain slapping against our windows, I postponed this run until the afternoon.  That meant I had all day to read on Twitter about how windy it was and how hard it was to run south, straight into a tailwind. People were NOT kidding. With my schedule calling for 4 x 1 mile @ 7:15, I tried to plan out my route as best I could so the repeats would come while running north. But obviously, I can't run north all the time, so I had to suck it up and run some/parts of repeats straight into the wind. My miles came out at 7:09, 7:25 (straight into the wind and was giving it everything), 7:13 and 7:11 and after this run, I felt awesome!

On Sunday, my schedule called for 8 miles again, with 3 x 1 mile at 7:35 with 1 minute recovery. This, I thought, would be easy after Thursday's run, but I struggled more with this run. Fortunately, Jess ran with me, so I had someone to keep pushing me when I really didn't feel like it. This run, even without the wind, felt so much harder to me than Thursday. I think my body was just getting progressively more tired as the week went on and I just didn't have the energy for this run. BUT, we did it anyway! Splits came out to be 7:35, 7:25 (thanks, Jess!) and 7:32. 

Loved:  While some runs this week felt really hard, I'm really happy that I hit all of my paces (with the exception of the mile straight into the wind above!) and got in all my miles for the week. This was my highest mileage week since the Philadelphia Marathon, clocking in at 34 miles. That's nearly twice as many miles as I've ever run for half marathon training in the past, so I'm excited to see what the NYC Half in March brings!

What did you learn this week? What did you love?