Training for Tuesday: Training in the New Year

Well, it happened again. This little linkup has only been in existence since September and this is the second time that I've planned all month for one post, then completely flipped the script when it came time to actually write it. I will say that I'm still training for Rock n Roll DC and Shamrock in March, but what my training over the next few months will look like remains to be seen. I'd share if I knew for sure, but honestly, I don't.


In lieu of a real update on my training, let's talk general training for the new year. It's just about that time when we all vow to do amazing things and to be the best versions of ourselves, or at least to try for a few weeks or months. We start out with the best intentions, but maybe we set our sights too high or didn't have a good game plan to start with and so inevitably all those aspirations start to fade away. I'm totally guilty of doing the same thing, but if there's one thing I've managed to get the hang of, it's a consistent fitness routine.

I've consistently run 4x per week for the last 2.5 years. I could probably count on one hand, maybe two, the number of runs I've missed since the summer of 2012. It's a habit now. It's as routine as brushing my teeth in the morning or doing my laundry. It's just a thing I do - rain or shine, busy or not, tired or not. It took me a while to develop a strong sense of dedication that ultimately led me here. It definitely wasn't an overnight process, but over time, it happened. I think a lot of people crave that kind of consistency but just don't see how they could possibly get there, so today I want to share a few things that helped me along my journey.

Prioritize. Figure out what your fitness goal really is. Do you want to start running? Want to try a different sport, like cycling or swimming (or combine them all and do triathlon)? Maybe you want to start practicing yoga or get into Crossfit. Maybe you want to do all of those things! While each is beneficial and they can complement each other, you probably have one that interests you most. I recommend picking one or two big things to focus on and using whatever else you might want to try as secondary activities.

Be realistic. If you've never run a day in your life and you want to complete a marathon this year, I would say that's not realistic. Sure, people have done it, and it's certainly not impossible (although I think they're asking for injury and/or disappointment). But just because something might not be totally impossible doesn't make it a great idea. Be realistic about your abilities, your time, your dedication, and your life outside of fitness. Understand the commitment that whatever you want to work toward will require, and be honest with yourself if you're willing to put in the work. It's not a big deal if you're not, but if you don't admit that to yourself up front, you're probably going to end up unnecessarily disappointed and no one wants that.

Se a concrete goal. Find a goal race you want to run. A swimming or biking distance you want to hit. A yoga pose you want to master. A weight lifting benchmark. Whatever it is, make it specific (just make sure you allow yourself at least a few months to work toward it). I didn't start running regularly and consistently until I trained for my first half marathon. That date was always in the back of my mind, and the finish line occupied my thoughts on almost every training run. Just having something you know you're working toward does wonders to make it more tangible and help you remember what the point of all your hard work is.

Schedule your workouts. I like to be pretty structured in accounting for my time, and I understand that not everyone works that way, but hear me out. I found that having a few months worth of workouts planned (via a training plan) helped me see the big picture and keep my long-term goals in mind. After following a few training cycles to the T, working out 6 days a week became second nature to me. It may take a while to establish that routine, but if you stick with it, you'll get there. Need help putting a plan together? Lucky for you, the Internet is chock full of them - I started running by following this Couch to 5k program (I seriously can't say enough good things about it and owe it all the credit in the world for turning me from a non-runner to a runner), and Hal Higdon has been my main man for half and full marathon training. Even though I have no formal training in this area to speak of, I am full of anecdotal expertise and enthusiasm for running and scheduling and am happy to share plans that have worked for me if you drop me a line!

Treat your workouts like an appointment. If I had to pick one piece of advice that has been most beneficial to me, it would be this one. You wouldn't just bail on an important doctor appointment because it's raining, right? Well then don't bail on your training. If you wait for the perfect time to complete your workout, you won't get much done. I can come up with a million excuses not to work out, but I avoid giving in by not giving myself the option to skip them. Sometimes it means shuffling days around, but once I've scheduled a workout for a certain day and time (based on how my week is going to be), I try to stick to it. 

Never give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about. This isn't even close to a concrete piece of advice that you can easily implement, but it's just as important. I know we all have goals and things we all want to achieve, but we also all have these things called lives. Families. Jobs. Friends. Other hobbies. Things that in no way contribute to or serve our fitness goals. It's good and important to have balance, but it's also easy to let these other things cause us to lose sight of our goals. Ultimately we are the only ones who can make those goals and dreams come true. If it's really important, it will be on your mind; if it's on your mind, go out and make it happen. One of my favorite quotes is, "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." This time next year, 2015 will have come and gone whether you achieved your goal or not. Do you want to look back and wish you had done it, or do you want to look back and be proud that you did it?

What goal are you going to rock in 2015? How are you going to get there? Link up and share 'em!

Sunday Sweats [12/22-12/28]

Monday: I was all jazzed about officially beginning training for my spring races, only to have a completely unspectacular run. Later that night I hopped on the trainer for an episode of RHOBH (this is how I bribe myself to ride my bike now).

Tuesday: Woke up early to get my workout in before we left town, since I knew that would be my only opportunity. About halfway through the workout I realized I had forgotten to move up in weight for one of the exercises, and by the end I realized that I was actually supposed to move up for all of the exercises. Can you tell I don't normally work out at 6am?

Wednesday: Another run I was super pumped for, since we were at home and I got to run in Portsmouth! Except it was WAY warm (70*, and the only bottoms I brought were long pants), WAY windy, misty, and overall just disgusting. I felt soggy the gross the whole time - definitely not the welcome home run I was looking forward to. I felt good for the first minute and then horrible pretty much every second after. First 3 miles were 8:01, 7:54, 8:22, so not bad...but then I was tired and my stomach hurt and I wanted to just quit and sit on the sea wall and look at the water and think about how I didn't want to push myself anymore and I wanted to throw in the towel on a 1:45 half and be happy with my 1:49 and not even do Shamrock at all. Six walk breaks and 2 miles at 9:58 and 9:35 later, I finally finished the 5 miles I had scheduled.

Thursday: I was determined to have the run I wanted so I gave myself permission for my run to be whatever it was going to be that day. I told myself to think less and do more. I ran where my parents live, down a wooded road to the main boulevard home to chain restaurants and a shopping mall. The scenery was entirely unremarkable, but it didn't matter. Changing my attitude made all the difference.

Friday: Rest day. Ben and I went to breakfast, shopping, lunch, the movies, and had Christmas with his family so there wouldn't have been time to work out even if I had wanted to.

Saturday: Up early again to get in my long run before we left to go back to Blacksburg. I ran some of my old marathon training route and it was nearly perfect. The map looks crazy because of all of my back-and-forth and zig-zagging - I love and miss that. I think I hit just about every street in Olde Towne. The first 10 miles felt pretty great, but by that point I was really regretting not bringing any fluids or food with me to refuel. My legs were starting to feel tired and heavy and it was a bit of a mental struggle to get through the last 2 miles, probably due to lack of energy more than anything.

Sunday: I figured out the BEST way to pass time on the trainer: playing Threes on my phone. That hour flew by! Pumped my tires beforehand, and I don't know how this makes any sense, but I really do seem to ride better on full tires, even on the trainer. Did NROLFW afterward in between prepping dinner and cooking dinner.

- Running fast was hard.
- Zero yoga was done.

+ I think I may have had a breakthrough this week about my race plans for the spring…although I can't be sure and am afraid to share lest I get burned. I need to give it some time before I know if it's real or not.
+ My long run was so great!

Goals for the Week:
  • Cross my fingers that Princeton doesn't open before I head to NJ in 12 days (!!!), but register if it does ;)
  • Figure out a time of day that works for me for running. I think that may be contributing to some of the luckiness I've been feeling.
  • Decide whether I want to run a 5k on New Years…and, if I do end up doing it, PR the shit out of it.

Sunday Sweats [12/15-12/21]

This was a weird week for me, since we traveled home just for the night at the beginning of the week, and I had exams all week, and I think it showed in my workouts. I had a rough beginning of the week but by the end I started to feel like myself and got some quality workouts in! Nothing earth-shattering, but a step in the right direction, I think.

Monday: Had to get up early to get my run in. I was tired and it was really cold and I didn't want to do it, but eventually I forced myself out the door. My legs didn't feel like they were moving that well and it wasn't a very great run, but I'm glad I got it done.

Tuesday: We didn't get back into town until after 5pm and then we had dinner to make, Christmas gifts to wrap, and decorations to put up, so I didn't get to my workout until after 8:30. Like Monday's run, it wasn't great, but I was glad to get it done.

Wednesday: This run was a bit better than Monday's, but not by much. I had planned to do my 4 miles and then get Bane for a 5th, but by the end of the 4th mile I was back home and tired and I had a cramp so I just quit. It was going okay for the first few miles (all around 8:00, +/- 5 seconds) but by the 4th one (8:34) I was just done.

Thursday: After Wednesday I was so mad at myself for not getting through my full run and for not taking Bane all week that on Thursday I made sure I ran a full 5 miles by myself and then picked up Bane for 1 more. The 5 miles were decent. I didn't push the pace but it still felt harden than it should have. I got on the trainer for 30 minutes later in the evening and had a much more pleasant experience than I have been lately! I turned the resistance down some - I'm not sure if I'm just a wimp or if somehow it got turned up really high, but either way it felt a lot better after I turned it down :)

Friday: Rest day! I did take Bane for a 1+ mile walk, but other than that, I did nothing.

Saturday: Rode my bike on the trainer for 45 minutes. Since I had already done 30 minutes on Thursday I didn't feel any pressure to get in a full hour, so I watched an episode of Real Housewives then rode a couple more minutes to round out a solid 45-minute session.

Sunday: Up early for 8 solo miles then 2 more with Bane. My goal was to establish a baseline for my long runs since I start half marathon training tomorrow. I wanted to find where my comfortable pace was, where I could run without feeling fatigue in my legs or my breathing labored. Since the semester is now over and most students have headed home for break, it was oddly quiet and desolate this morning, but it was also peaceful and I kind of loved it. I felt like I could have run forever! Running with Bane was a different story - apparently we needed to pee and sniff on EVERYTHING today. It was frustrating but in all honesty, as much as I want to teach him to calm down, I think he's teaching me the same thing.

- I'm pretty disappointed with how my weekday runs went this week. None of them were particularly fast or good-feeling. I never thought I would see a day when I was upset I only ran at an 8:15-8:30 pace but friends, the day is here.
- No sub-8's this week…unless that one mile 7:56 mile split I had counts…? Yeah I didn't think so.
- This is the second weekend in a row that I didn't get to run in one of my favorite races at home. Pretty bummed about it :(
- I definitely did not do as much yoga as I wanted to

+ I did 40 (out of 65) minutes of a yoga headstand class I have been meaning to do for a few weeks.
+ I got in 2 bike rides. Neither of them was very long but I did ride more total this week than I have in a while.
+ I did not want to kill myself or anyone else at any point while on the trainer this week!

Goals for the week:
  • Start my Rock n Roll/Shamrock half marathon training! I have kind of an insane goal that I'm not entirely sure is going to pan out, but I'm ready to train my little heart out regardless. It's been a while since I really put my heart into a training plan, so I'm apprehensive but excited.
  • Enjoy my Portsmouth runs. After my meltdown this week I'm pretty stoked that I get to do 3 out of my 4 runs this weekend in Ptown!
  • Bike 2x
  • Register for Princeton 70.3 (???). Registration has been supposed to open "soon" for like 2.5 weeks now, so no telling if this will be the week or not. At this point I'm kind of hoping it continues to be delayed so that maybe I'll be able to see the course first when I visit Alyssa in a few weeks, but I'm not holding my breath. I've never registered for a race this far in advance, or registered for this big of a race without at least knowing a little bit of the course first, but I know I'll be so mad at myself if I miss my chance and it sells out. I'm so nervous about registering now, but if I have to do it before I'm really ready to make sure that I get a spot, then so be it. 

Runners Tell All: 2014 Reflections & 2015 Goals

Well, this is it. The end of the road, so to speak, for 2014. I started blogging around this time last year and have linked up for Runners Tell All almost every month (a million thanks to Amanda and Beka for hosting!). I've talked about how and why I started running, my favorite running gear, going through a rough spot, my favorite running picture, my proudest running moment, my training tips, my race bucket listmy biggest running fans and finally, today, I'm looking back on my year of running (and ahead to what's next on my list).

By the numbers:
1120* = total miles run
177* = number of hours spent running
9:28 = average pace for the year
0 = number of injuries!
15 = finish lines crossed
4 = number of states I ran or raced in (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York)
1 = number of back-to-back race challenges completed
2 = number of new races (full marathon and duathlon)
3 = number of sub-2 hour half marathons I ran (plus 1 more if you count unofficial)
8:25 =  my fastest mile at the beginning of the year / 7:29 = my fastest mile by the end of the year
27:39 = my 5k PR at the beginning of the year / 23:59 = my 5k PR at the end of the year
57:00 = my 10k PR at the beginning of the year / 49:20 = my 10k PR at the end of the year
2:09:59 = my half marathon PR at the beginning of the year / 1:49:34 = my half marathon PR at the end of the year
4:48:59 = finishing time at my first marathon
63.5 = lowest monthly mileage (April) / 122.4 = highest monthly mileage (February), 121.9 = close second (September)
*projected - there are still 10 days of December left!

This year of running was a lot of up and down (and I'm not just talking about the fact that I started running hills for the first time ever): I finished my first full marathon feeling like the champion of the world (or Wonder Woman, as it were), then the marathon turned right back around and humbled me; the half marathon put me in my place, but I later beat. the. shit. out of it; I got intimidated and dropped out of two big races, but doing so led me to some big(ger?) things that had never been on my radar until they happened.

This was a transformational year for me. It was my biggest year of running yet, not just because of the numbers up there, but because I finally felt like I got the hang of running. This was the first time I really ever pushed myself. I learned to run hard and to take risks. My attitude toward running majorly suffered after I moved, but the times I've put up since then make it hard to deny that moving has done anything other than good things for my running. Just as soon as I finally made it to a place where running felt comfortable, even easy, I was pulled out of my comfort zone and running was suddenly harder than ever before. I'm not proud of my bad attitude about my new surroundings; it's something I'm still working through. But through all of my struggles, both physical and mental, running has made me a fighter.

Years from now I probably won't remember how fast (or not) I ran in Charleston during my first marathon, or what time my dad and I crossed the finish line, holding hands, at his first marathon, or how long I stood shivering in the cold rain after the Hokie Half Marathon waiting to see Ben finish his first 13.1, or what pace I was trying to hold in Richmond. What I will remember are those experiences. I'm fortunate to have had them, and even more fortunate to be able to start a new year with legs that are able to carry me however far I ask them to.

2015 Goal: Complete a Half-Ironman.

That's it. One goal for this year. I've been wanting to do this since I started triathlon in 2013, talking about it since last year, and I'm ready to make good on it in 2015. I have my goal race all picked out and I'm ready to sign up as soon as registration opens. I'm excited, doubtful, nervous, and hopeful. I hope I'm ready for what awaits me in September.

Since my main goal for 2015 is the 70.3, I know that in order to accomplish it, I need to make it my focus. First and foremost, that means taking the marathon completely off the table for 2015. While I had a really successful 2014, I think I put way too much on my plate and I don't want to risk burning myself out again. I do have a secondary goal for 2015, and that's to run a 1:45 half marathon in March. It's enough of a dream goal that it's definitely going to take some work, but realistic enough that the training (which officially starts tomorrow!) won't be drastically different from how I would run otherwise. I plan to train for it and do my best, but if it doesn't happen, I can live with that.

I need to treat it the same way I treated my first marathon, with visions of the finish line my head during every training session. I need to eat, sleep, and breathe that race. I know from experience that fully committing to this race is what will make not only the race itself, but also my training, a positive, successful experience. As impressive as the second half of my year was, I have a hard time being proud of it because I don't like the attitude I had at the time. So, maybe that's my big goal for 2015: to be the athlete I want to be, mentally and physically. To get my head right. Then hopefully my legs will follow.  

Sunday Sweats [12/8 - 12/14]

Monday: Ran 5k by myself and hit that sub-8 @ 7:56 average…and then I didn't think I had any energy left to take Bane, but after I got home and regrouped for a minute I decided it wouldn't kill me to take him out for less than a mile. We did our .8ish mile loop @ 9:30 average.

Tuesday: NROLFW Stage 1 Workout A-2 (seriously that is so much to type). I could tell a huge difference already, this felt so much easier than last week!

Wednesday: Ah, one of those good-for-the-soul runs! I made a conscious effort to run at a comfortable pace - amazing what a difference just 10 or 15 seconds per miles makes. I ran 4+ alone before getting Bane for our loop. He did really well today! I mean, he did try to jump on 3 people but there was that one time we passed a couple walking the trail and he didn't even lunge at them. Go, B!

Thursday: Ran the same pace as Wednesday and felt pretty good. Picked up Bane after my 3.28 @ 8:07 and then ran .85 with him at 8:59. He ran so well today!

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I was excited to get back to my Saturday long run routine for the first time in…a couple months, I think…until my alarm went off Saturday morning. I focused on running slower than last week so I wouldn't crash and burn at the first hill (and I didn't, so yay), but I do wish I had been able to run faster and feel better about it (so boo). I also felt like toast when I got back to the house to pick up Bane after 6.8 miles, so that's no good either. I have 14 weeks until my goal half so plenty of time to get my pace down, I'm just frustrated running fast, far, and on hills don't seem to mix very well!

Sunday: An hour on the trainer (slower than last week) and then NROLFW Stage 1 Workout 2-B.

+I started feeling like I was getting my legs back this week. I really didn't expect that week at home to make the hills feel so much harder when I got back. I did have to slow my pace a little to get comfortable, but I hope once I get used to them again I'll start speeding up more.
+I held crow for like 2.5 seconds!

-I did not do as much yoga as I would have liked. I think I did some Monday and Tuesday, and that was it until Sunday.
-I HATE being on the trainer. Absolutely loathe it. I don't know what it is but I can't stand to sit there and pedal for more than 10 minutes, if I'm lucky, before I have to stop just to…I don't even know what. Wallow in self-pity and boredom? I just hate it and find it so boring and uncomfortable and when I struggle to make it through 5 minutes nonstop I start to seriously question and doubt my ability to ever be able to ride 56 miles.
-I didn't get to sign up for Princeton 70.3 because registration still hasn't opened (I think they are still working on getting permits, from what I heard)…but maybe that's a good thing? Haha!

Goals for this week:
Run a little longer/farther with Bane
Get on my bike 2x

This is my last week before my official Rock n Roll/Shamrock training starts next week! It's going to be a little crazy as I have an exam tomorrow morning, then we're going home (5 hour drive) immediately after for Ben's company's holiday party, then coming back on Tuesday and I have more exams on Wednesday. But I'm hoping that the semester ending at the end of the week will give me a nice (albeit) short break and leave me ready to start a new training plan and my winter class!

Sunday Sweats [12/1 - 12/7]

I don't normally post on Sundays, but this week I'm starting something new and joining Holly for Sunday Sweats!

This was a busy school week for me so my mood was pretty crappy, which didn't really help me in the workout department. Overall I just didn't feel that great.

Monday: Not-so-easy 5k. Didn't push the pace but it was still hard to keep a comfortable 8:20 pace. On the bright side, my mile splits were near perfect: 8:21, 8:22, 8:20. 

Tuesday: Started New Rules of Lifting for Women for the 3rd time. It's been a year and a half, I think, since the last time I did it (not even sure if I finished the 2nd time around tbh). I've hardly been doing strength training at all the last 6 months. Confirmed what I already knew: I've lost basically all my core strength. My core needs major work!

Wednesday: 4 miles at a comfortable(ish) pace. I actually hated this run until the last .8 because that's when I picked up Bane for his first day of training! He did so great!

Thursday: 2.4 miles alone before picking up Bane for a total of 3.2. He did the same as yesterday until we got about a quarter mile from the house and he saw another dog. He went berserk and I didn't know what to do except stop and walk him past the other dog.

Friday: Rest day!

Saturday: I really want to get back to Saturday long runs but it just wasn't happening this week. The weather was nasty all day Saturday so I traded my run for a ride on the trainer. It was a boring hour but on the bright side, by the time I got off all my Christmas gifts had been ordered!

Sunday: I couldn't decide what I wanted to do for a long run this week (5 miles? 10? 7?) so I decided I'd run for about an hour then pick up Bane for my last mile. For some stupid reason I started out with a 7:52 first mile, and that pace felt okay until I hit my first big hill at mile 2 and then it was definitely not okay. I walked a little up that hill...and some other hills...but on the plus side I ran hard the rest of the time, if that makes sense. I don't know what it is, I'm perfectly capable of running up the hills but I just don't want to anymore. It makes my chest feel yucky more than it hurts my legs. I ended up with 6.65 miles at 8:30 and then Bane and I did 1.35 at around 10:00 (his having to pee on everything and chase other dogs don't really help in the speed department). All around not as fast as I would have liked, but I'll admit it's kind of nice having no pressure and not feeling guilty if I can't quite keep the pace I want.

After dinner I did the NROLFW B workout for this week.

Lots of yoga this week! A lot for me anyway. I've been trying to make sure I do something at least every other day. I think this week I only missed Wednesday, and even though I didn't do much on Friday, I did practice crow for a few minutes.

It's been hard getting used to mountain running again after a week at the beach. My pace has slowed a little bit but I hope with some work I can get where I want to be (about 10 to 20 seconds faster than I'm averaging now).

Goals for this week:
Practice crow!
Average sub-8 on a run
Bike for an hour without stopping every 5 minutes to complain about how bored I am
Register for Princeton 70.3 (if it finally opens and/or if I can get over my self-doubt on the bike)?