Latest Posts

B.A.A. Half Marathon & Distance Medley

Yesterday, I completed my 2-in-1 goal of finishing the B.A.A. Half Marathon and Distance Medley. I finished the half in 2:02, which was a small PR for me (my best before this was 2:05). I was actually surprised that I was able to finish in this time, as most of my training runs were slow and felt difficult for me to complete. I was running 10:00-10:30 all summer and could not believe the splits on my watch throughout the race. I think part of this was mental – I have been working for 2 years to recover from an injury and was afraid of pushing too hard during the training runs.

Official Results from the B.A.A.

  • Official Time: 2:03:01
  • Overall: 2943/6205
  • In Gender: 1212/3416
  • In Division: 294/838
  • Checkpoint at 5 miles: 48:45
  • Checkpoint at 10 miles: 1:33:57

Warning – this post is pretty long, but if you’re thinking about running the B.A.A. half or are curious about how a beginner can prepare for a half marathon, hopefully, you’ll find some of this information useful! I’ve tried to break it down into a few sections so you can skip to what you find helpful.

Read More

Advertisements

Half Marathon Training: Weeks 1 & 2

I’m now on week 2 of my half marathon training plan, so I figured I would share what I’ve done so far. I’ve been using the Strava Half Marathon Training Plan (Created by McMillan Running) to get in mileage. I’ve added some strength training, cross training, yoga, and am continuing to keep up with my physical therapy.

I chose the Strava plan because it recommends running a range of minutes per workout (e.g. 40-60 minutes) which provides some flexibility. While training for my first half, I grew impatient with my runs and tried to complete them faster as part of an effort to get them over with. This time around, I want to build the mental strength necessary to get myself through the race. Because I don’t have control over the recommended amount of time, I can’t rush through the workout. By focusing on time rather than miles, I’m forced to listen to my body and adjust my form and speed as appropriate. If my body isn’t feeling right, I stay on the lower end of the recommended time frame, and if I feel good, I push up to the higher end.

Read More

The Season of No Excuses, Ever Again

“Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.” –Steve Prefontaine

“We all know those runners that have better excuses than results. It just never seems to be their day. The real racer takes charge of what they can. They put in the work. They get fit. They race the legs they brought. We’ve noticed it seems to work out better for those runners.” –Tracksmith

*waves*

It’s taken me longer than what is probably normal to figure out my injury and put in the appropriate amount of work to treat it. I spent a couple of years whining and giving PT about 50% of my best effort, but this year, I finally got fed up with being on the sidelines and not being able to give 100% during races.

So I put in the work. I passed my PT evaluation. I ran a 10K. I’m healed. I’m signed up for a fall half. I’ve been running regularly for about a month. I’m ready.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of my official half training schedule. And guess what? I SLAMMED my toe into my coffee table, resulting in a searing pain I’ve never experienced before. Definitely something more than a stubbed toe. I decided to play it safe and skip my run. Excuse #1.

Today I woke up with a purple toe. Not promising, but for my own sanity I have to believe it isn’t broken. Again, I stayed on the sidelines tonight, icing my toe, feeling too bummed out to sub my run with a bike ride. Excuse #2.

There’s a pattern emerging here, but I’m not going to let it get the best of me this time. I’m not letting myself create Excuse #3. Broken toe, sprained toe, no matter what, there are no more excuses. Can’t run? Bike. Can’t bike? Swim. Can’t swim? Lift. I’m not letting anything stop me this season. I’m putting this on the internet because as we like to say in behavior change theory – public commitments lead to change.

“He was trying to switch gears; at least that is how he thought of it. And though it was a somewhat frightful thing to contemplate for very long, he really was pulling all the stops. After this, he would have no excuses, ever again.” –Once A Runner

Let’s ride.

Rethinking Injuries

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been battling an injury. What started as a hamstring pull has evolved into a hip imbalance, posterior tibial tendonitis, you name it. I’m getting tired of writing about how I’ve almost healed, only to get sidelined again after a few months. Each time I start training for another race, I’m set back quickly by something that does not feel right and I return to PT.  It’s frustrating to feel aerobically in shape but feel physically restrained from going the distance. Running has been my lifeblood since I tried track and field in middle school —  it has been a constant source of joy in my life, even when times have been rough. For the past couple of years, however, it’s been the main source of my frustration. Running is the only sport I truly love. Growing up, I tried so many of them, but I’ve only ever enjoyed the feeling that comes with pushing myself to the limit on the track or until the trail’s end.

Recently, I was listening to an episode of Running On Om (Episode #187), and Lauren Fleshman said something that totally changed my perception. I’ve always been a pretty casual runner, but this still resonated with me:

Julia Hanlon: This is a question from Runner Who is Striving to Deal with Injuries Better. ‘Hi Lauren, I was injured a lot while competing in college, and just recently got injured as I was ramping up my post-collegiate training. My various injuries have often resulted in low self-esteem as I so strongly identify as a runner and injuries don’t allow me to exercise that part of my identity. No pun intended. As someone so passionate about running, how do you deal with the disappointment that comes with injury and how are you able to dissociate your self-worth from running goals and accomplishments?’

Lauren Fleshman: The positive side of an injury is that it’s that impetus for growth that everybody needs…You have to at some point actively draw a line, a hard line, you have the glass ceiling, this is like the concrete floor — where is the concrete floor of how deep you will allow athletic disappointment to go into your being? Where is disppointment allowed to live and where is it not allowed to live? How do I stop it from erroding my self worth and remaining just an injury? …This is something really important … Those first steps are tough. …You have to keep working at it. 

[…]

Julia: Running is a practice that you have to keep at, even during the times that are uncomfortable or may feel unfamiliar.

Lauren: It’s worth that awkward stage.

 

And this really got me thinking. While running is something I love — there are other interests I should be pursuing too. Being injured is providing me with the opportunity to push myself in a different direction and I’m discovering new ways of challenging myself physically and mentally.

Although I’ve tried a lot of different activities to stay in shape outside of running, being injured this long has really forced me to go outside of my comfort zone to find things that work and are enjoyable. I’ve ditched the gym because I’ve finally admitted to myself that I hate it. I’ve stopped doing barre too. Right now, I’m discovering how much I enjoy yoga, cycling ,& pilates, and I plan to start swimming regularly soon. Who knows? By the time I am able to fix my hip imbalance, maybe I’ll be ready to try my first sprint tri…(it’s nice to dangle that idea in front of myself as a goal).

Outside of staying active, I’ve been using my extra time to explore my interests in graphic design & hand lettering a bit further. It’s exciting to put extra time into these hobbies. I’ve only ever trained up to a half marathon, so running did not ever consume that much of my time, but I have been focusing on goals outside of training and work, which has been refreshing for me.

Regardless, the most important thing I’ve come to terms with is that if you’re injured, it’s going to take a while to get back to 100%, but the journey is important. If you are truly willing to work on it, you will become stronger and can only end up a better runner. I really hate working on my hip, but I’m finding new ways to do it, and that is giving me the hope I need to get after it.

Winter Running Survival Guide

I usually dread winter, especially winter running, but I’m taking a different approach this year. I recently read an article, which talks about how the Norwegians handle the longer nights and cold temperatures. Instead of complaining about getting through the season, they focus on spending time with family and friends, and making every experience as cozy as possible. Norwegians keep their homes decorated for the holidays throughout the winter, cook meals with friends, and spend evenings snuggled up in soft blankets. To keep a long story short, they simply have a different outlook on winter than the rest of us. Lately I’ve been appreciating the importance of changing my mindset. Being mindful throughout the winter season is just another way to turn things around. But what does this have to do with running?

I am still working at getting back on the running wagon. I’ve been diligent enough with my PT that my hamstring is hardly giving me trouble anymore, which is encouraging. Things are finally getting back to normal, and winter could not be a more perfect time to focus on correcting my form, strengthening my core and preparing to finally complete the B.A.A. Distance Medley, which has been my goal for a couple of years. Although I did register for it this year and ran the 5K and 10K, things got cut short because my hamstring did not heal in time and my PT advised sitting the half out.

This winter, I’m trying to focus on getting my pace back to normal, and also just trying to fall in love with running again without taking things too seriously. I’ve been so frustrated with running the past two years because it took so long to pinpoint my injury and start the healing process. Now, my only goal is to get strong so I can be a lifelong distance runner. I’m trying not to worry about my times and just focus enjoying the fact that I can run again without pain.

Winter is the perfect time for this because it’s a wonderful excuse to stay inside where it’s warm and focus on yoga and core-strengthening exercises. To get back on track, I’ve been doing the Oiselle First or Fastest 5K Training Plan. Here’s the first week:

your-first-or-fastest-5k

Image Credit: oiselle.com

This training plan is wonderful for winter because the workouts are short and simple. I can quickly squeeze them in before or after work and I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Doing The Dozen is challenging, but I feel stronger every time I do it!

I’ve also been meditating regularly to keep a healthy mindset. When our thoughts get negative, it’s easy to stray from our goals and give up. Meditation helps keep me focused and grateful for where I am in the present moment. Even though I’m not training for the races I’d like to run, it helps to remind me that I am working toward my goals and I have already come so far. Almost every day, I do a meditation from calm.com. The app has even more options, many of which are totally free!

 

IMG_0724

You can follow me on shapchat: granitecanyons

 

Every year, someone from Oiselle writes about new ways to go “funning,” which is another inspiring way to get out there! Some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Dash through the snow
  • Go on a Christmas lights run
  • Get together with friends to run downtown and see all of the holiday window displays
  • Go runching (running + brunching) — and don’t forget to order a mimosa!
  • Destination run — run to your favorite winter farmers’ market or coffee shop and treat yo’self at the end

Aside from dressing appropriately for the weather, here are my winter running essentials:

wintergear

  • WOOL SOCKS! My regular running socks do not cut it in the winter, and wool socks make it easy to stay outside longer
  • Yak Trax: These will keep you stable through the ice and snow.
  • Reflective gear: Make sure you’re visible as the days get shorter.
  • Oiselle Wazzie Wool: Throw on the Jane John tights as an extra layer under your favorite running tights.
  • Yank: Be safe out there.
  • Spotify Running: Don’t worry about putting together the perfect playlist — let Spotify do it for you.
  • Jasyoga: Yoga specifically designed for runners and it’s only $5 a month!
  • SAD Lamp: Amp up your energy levels by sitting in front of a full spectrum lamp!

And finally, start a training journal! Take note of the foods you’re eating, how your body is feeling, and what you’ve accomplished each week. It’s a great way to stay motivated and appreciate your progress.

 

flightlog

Thanks for the motivation, Oiselle!

 

Happy winter running everyone!

Finally! Hamstring Injury Recovery

Yes, you read that correctly. I am almost back on the running horse! It’s been a very frustrating two years. Back in 2013, I began training for my first half marathon and pushed myself to the point that my hamstring gave out. I did not realize the seriousness of the injury, ran through the half, and continued running after that. Before long the pain was so unbearable that even walking was difficult. I began a pattern of taking time off of running in hopes that the injury would heal, followed by getting sidelined because the injury was actually chronic. Two doctors, and two physical therapists later — I’m getting ready to run long distance again.

My injury was difficult for me to understand because the pain would move up and down my right leg. Sometimes my glutes hurt, sometimes I had knee pain, and other times my hamstring felt so tight it would rip. The inconsistency of the pain made it almost impossible for me to understand that I had a chronic injury. That, and it did not completely take me off the trails — I was still able to run, however at about 4-5 miles in, I usually had to stop. At one point, the back of my knee became so swollen that I got concerned enough to see my doctor. She thought I had a Baker Cyst and sent me to physical therapy. After weeks of treatment, nothing was working, so my PT recommended going to an orthopedic, who then recommended an MRI. The MRI revealed that my knee was totally normal, so the orthopedic diagnosed me with hamstring tendonitis. I got paired up with a new PT who is a marathon runner and has done Boston a few times. She immediately knew what exercises I needed to do, and was very understanding of the remorse that comes with not being able to run.

TL;DR: I have a muscle imbalance in my hips, which is throwing my form off while running and contributing to a tight IT band, hamstring tendonitis, and knee pain, etc.

I started working with the new PT in June and it’s almost October, but I will be ready to race in about 1 month! I passed my final PT evaluation 3 weeks ago and have been continuing to do my exercises. She said that:

  1. I can run again and…
  2. If I am consistent with my exercises I’ll be able to run 6+ miles with no pain by November.

I’m taking things easy and slow, but it is worth it because every week I get a little better. Starting from the bottom is really rough — it takes some effort for me to go 3 miles and I’m very out of shape, but I’m looking forward to the day that I can get back to my regular long runs.

This may sound stupid to those who have been doing distance running for a long time, but I learned that hard way that distance running requires more than just running mixed with random cross-training. My PT told me that if I want to continue racing at the half marathon or marathon level, I’ll need to keep my hips strong and balanced and will have to supplement my runs with pilates (to strengthen my core), yoga (to keep from getting too tight), and regular band walks.

Here is a list of exercises that I’ve been doing regularly if you are interested: