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Archive for April, 2011

I recently was asked by fellow Chicago-Marathon-runner Penny about speed workouts and if I could offer up an example or two.  Of course, I’m happy to oblige (cuz I love talking about running, obvs) so here we go!

First off, do not be scared by the phrase “speed workout.”  Speed is a relative term, by which I mean that one person’s “slow” pace might be another’s “fast” pace.  It’s all about pushing yourself beyond what is ‘comfortable’ (I use that term very loosely since we all know running is mostly a b*tch and rarely comfrotable.)  Ya read me?

OK, cool, now that we’ve worked past that hurdle (look, a track pun! In a running blog! I’m so clever…), let’s talk about what a speed workout typically entails.  If I told you it involves ‘speed’, would you slap me upside the head? Anyways, the point of a workout like this is to try and get your body accustomed to a faster pace.  In order to do this, we have to practice.

So. What might a decent speed workout actually look like?

Here’s a goodie for you guys:

Warm-Up

5:00 jog followed by your choice of Dynamic Movements (high knees, butt kicks, leg swings, sideways shuffles, skipping, etc)

Work-Out

*6 x 1/4 Mile Repeats at a pace that is :30 faster than your race pace.

*2:00 walking rest in between each one.

1/4 Mile is equivalent to 400 meters or one lap of a standard-sized track.  And just so we’re super-clear, here’s a few examples of where your interval times would range, depending on your mile time.

If you run a 11:00/mile, you should run the quarter mile repeats in 2:15.

If you run a 10:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile repeats in 2:00.

If you run a 9:00/mile, you should run the quarter-mile repeats in 1:45.

Tip-If you are unsure of how to calculate this mileage and don’t have a GPS watch, you can always use your car’s odometer or head to your local high school or college to use their track.

Cool-Down

 5:00-10:00 easy jog (you’ve earned it!)

Why is this workout so effective? Coming from someone who specialized in the 400-meter race in high school (ah, the glory days), let me tell you- It ain’t easy.  It’s too long to be a true sprint but not long enough to slow down. This workout will teach your body to move faster for longer periods of time, so hopefully come race day, you’ll be ready to shave a few seconds off each mile.

If you try it, let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear feedback! Don’t be scared off by the title 🙂

Stay tuned for Speed Workout, Part Deux!


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Haaaahahaha, I’m cracking myself up over the title of this post (in general, me no creative when thinking up post titles, so I’m particularly proud of this one.)

And I hope, by now, you’ve realized that the “quickie” I’m referring to has nothing to do with copulation and everything to do with running a 4-mile race last Sunday.

City Parks Foundation “Run For The Parks” 4-Mile Race and Kid’s Races

I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘Why is a four-mile race considered a ‘quickie’?  Well, my friends, a really good way to make four miles seem short is to run 13.1 miles on the same route two weeks before.  This race went by super-fast and with relative ease, especially compared to that beast of a half-marathon.

There’s good and bad news about the aftermath.  The good? I managed to finish in 27:45, which is juuuuuuust under a 7:00 mile and was fast enough to place me 18th in the women’s overall and 8th in my age group. It was a decent time for me (not a PR but a solid effort) and the fact that I did it without having run for the last two weeks, thanks to my knee injury, also adds to my happiness about the race results.

So what’s the bad news? Well, my knee felt alright during the race but started to hurt badly again afterwards, so now I’m back to where I was three weeks ago- resting, icing and ibuprofening the crap out of it.  Le boo 😦

I want to run again!

However, really, the best part of the race was that I organized participation from both parents and children at the school I teach at.  We had more than 20 kids show up, ready to run, which makes my physical-activity-loving heart swell with joy and pride over their excitement and enjoyment of racing. Le awesome!

So that’s all the news that’s fit to print right now, no more racing and a lot more resting for this gimp.  I gotta get my knee healthy again because, all of a sudden, I’m less than 6 months out from the Chicago Marathon and time’s a wastin’! Hopefully I’ll be back to good soon and on the road to (cue ominous music here…) marathon training!

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Las Friday, I came home to this:

That, my friends, is (or rather, was) a decorative pillow on our couch, brutally dismembered until unrecognizable by the demonic force that is Perri.

She’s so proud of herself.

Look, Ma, look what I did! That rascal…

However, in an apparent attempt to get back in our good graces, Perri has started to sleep or sit on the back of our necks and I’ll be darned if it’s not the cutest thing I ever did see.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B (roadtrip!)

This is, indeed, how she sat for a good portion of our two-hour car ride.  Yes, our dog is spoiled as hell.

And finally, just for fun, another photo from our road trip to central PA, where our friends’ 10-week-old baby awaited.  I put on my slickest moves but alas, she did not take to me…

That didn’t stop me from grinning like an idiot while I held her (Oh, that sweet baby smell, I die!)

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My eating habits can only be described as crappy.  It’s honestly kind of ridiculous that I can eat the way I do and am not the world’s biggest fat-ass.

Here’s what a typical day’s worth of food might look like for me:

3495926870_7a86a1a856.jpg (500×332)

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Breakfast- Bagel with cream cheese and Diet Coke (the breakfast of Champions!)

Lunch- Pasta with tomato sauce, Few cubes of cheese, Mini-plain bagel with butter, Handful of raisins

Snack- Bowl of Frosted Flakes

Dinner- Homemade pizza with turkey meatballs and green peppers

Dessert- Half pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

I’m literally cringing, reading that over. It’s all refined carbohydrates, with a bit of protein thrown in for fun, plus lots of saturated fats and sugars and very few fruits and veggies.  Bad news bears.

Thank GOD for my mother’s metabolism because I would probably be massively obese without it (and, I guess I run a lot, that probably helps as well.)

HOWEVER.

I’ve decided that it’s time to make some changes around these here parts, partly because Pete is trying to lose weight (and requested that I do not buy him any desserts, although I am still welcome to buy myself desserts) and partly because I feel that enough is enough.  I am 27-years-young and it’s time to start eating like an adult and not a stupid 19-year-old-in-college.

SO.

Here’s the two changes I’ve made so far (they’re pretty minor but baby steps, people! Baby steps.)

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I’ve swapped out my beloved bagel (God, I love bagels so much!) for oatmeal four days of the week.  Whole Foods (which is right across the street from my job) has an awesome deal- $2.00 gets you a huge bowl of oatmeal with all the toppings you want.  I usually go for strawberries, blackberries, raisins and brown sugar.  It’s cheap, filling and look, Ma- FRUIT!

I’ve also started buying enough apples or pears for the week and bringing one in to have with my lunch every day.  Our school’s cafeteria does not offer fresh fruit (YES YOU HEARD ME RIGHT.  No fresh fruit.  Do not even get me started…) so I have to bring it in myself.  I’m also trying to eliminate that mini-bagel for something with whole grains but there’s just not that many options so sometimes, I’m starving and there’s nothing else that I like to eat.

So, I know these are pretty minor changes in the scheme of things but I feel a difference already, if only in the fact that I’ve definitely been less-inclined to eat as much dessert as I typically do.

Next up on my plan to healthy eating? Swap our refined, white flour for whole grains and find a way to force myself to eat vegetables.  I really hate veggies, so that one’s going to be tough but I’m gonna give it a go…

Are you judging me yet for my eating habits or are you like me and just a junk-a-holic? Have you made any healthy changes lately?

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Post-Race Injury

Crap.

If my mother and other family members didn’t read this blog, that word above would be a much stronger expletive (probably starting with the letter ‘F’ and rhyming with ‘truck’.)

It seems my right knee is injured, thanks to my half-marathon last Sunday. But the thing that is most insulting is that I have no freakin’ clue why this happened! My knee didn’t hurt during the race and it felt fine the rest of the day.  It wasn’t until I woke up on Monday morning when I realized that something was wrong because it hurt like a mothatruckah.

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One of these things in my knee is broken but I’m not sure which!

The only thing I can think of is that I ran this race at a slower pace than normal and perhaps that caused me to change my gait in a way that resulted in this injury.

I wasn’t too concerned at first. I  merely chalked it up to post-race inflammation and general soreness that often accompanies a long run but instead of dissipating rapidly like I expected, it got worse.  Tuesday was rough; although I iced it several times and took ibuprofen, it still hurt.   A  lot. I definitely had the gansta swagger going on (You know, how gangsta’s wear baggy, super-low pants and then walk kinda funny because of them? Well, that’s how it was in my high school, anyways.)

Now it’s Friday, I haven’t run a lick since Sunday, and my knee still hurts.  It does seem to be slowly improving but I am not a happy camper.  Not being able to run or work-out this entire week has not helped my mood, either.

So here I am, five days later and still in pain.  It’s the top, outside portion of my right knee and while it doesn’t seem to be inflamed or swollen, there is definitely more fluid in the right knee than the left one. It’s also tender to the touch.  Googling my symptoms has only gotten me so far (and also led to some dire worries over various possibilities- Isn’t that always the case?)

Anyways, I’ve decided if it is not completely better by this coming Tuesday (which will have been ten days since the race,) I’ll make an appointment with my doctor.  Fingers crossed that I don’t have to and this thing heals on it’s own!

I suppose it’s a good reminder that our bodies are fragile vessels; too much pounding and something’s bound to break down.  Perhaps April should be my month of rest after training for the half marathon? We shall see, the term “rest” is not typically in my vocabulary.

I’ll keep you updated but for now, no running for this gimp.  Instead, I shall sit on my bootay and watch  TV.  Hmmmm, I guess there are a few perks to this injury-thing after all, eh? Kidding! (Kind of.)

Have you ever had an injury that prevented you from working out (or even going about your daily routine?) It kind of sucks!

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My mom gave me this book back during the Holidays but I didn’t get the chance to read it until our trip to Miami.  Since it’s been called “the best novel ever written about running” by Runner’s World, I figured it’d be fun to review it here, on my running blog 🙂

via Amazon

Be warned: It’s a bit slow and confusing at first but (just like the mile-race the main character competes in) it finishes strong.

**Did you catch that sweet metaphor (Simile? Grammar is not my forte) I just did there?

Anyways, Once A Runner tells the story of an elite-miler, Quenton Cassidy, who attends a fictional Division I university during the 1970’s, a decade when the American distance running scene was both prolific and competitive (think Steve Prefontaine.) When he is barred from competition due to a series of unfortunate events, he embarks on a personal quest of sorts to prove his talent to both the school and the world.

Here is a passage that particularly resonated with me:

“…The legs became prematurely heavy, and the central nervous system sent up the message that such punishment could not be endured.  But the central nervous system is overridden, of course, the runner knowing far better by now than his own synapses of what his daily in such absolutes of physical limitations that the nonrunner confronts only in dire situations.” p. 219

Mind over matter, that’s definitely my running philosophy, and I think Parker’s apt description is just so right on.

I definitely acknowledge that if the world of track and field is completely foreign to you, there may be portions of the book that either do not make sense or are hard to understand but Cassidy’s battle of will in order to prove himself draws you in, regardless.

I recommend this book, especially if you’re training for a race or new to running, since I found it highly motivational.  It makes racing sound exciting, which it is.

If there’s any type of running race in your future, this book will psych you up and make you determined to meet whatever goal you’ve set for yourself, even if it’s just to finish.

Got another running book to recommend? I’m on the hunt for a new one (I’ve read Born To Run and Ultramarathon Man)

 

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I ran the More Fitness Magazine Half Marathon in Central Park yesterday! We had perfect (perfect, perfect, perfect!) weather and I ran it with my best friend since seventh grade, whom I corralled, cajoled and somehow convinced to run it with me.

It was her first half marathon and my fifth.  Since I may or may not have strong-armed her into signing up in the first place, I ran with her for the entire race at whatever pace she was comfortable with.

Congrats, Pip, on your first (and maybe last, haha) half marathon!

While I didn’t get a “good time” by race standards, I definitely had a good time by my standards (didja like what I did there with the pun?)

Our other best friend Cara (seriously, the three of us have been BFFs for.ev. er- Sandlot Style) came to cheer us on, as well as my dad, Pete and little Perri. It was so fun to have everyone yelling for us at the finish line, we felt like rock stars! Or track stars, I guess…

Heart you girls!

I also had six co-workers who ran the race and everyone finished and (I think) had a great time, which made the coach in me quite happy.  I really enjoyed leading training sessions over the past few months in order to get everyone ready for this race and I’m planning on doing it again next year! Go team!

We ran most the course at about a 9:45/mile pace which is significantly slower than what I would typically race at (for a half-marathon, I usually average between 6:30/mile and 7:30/mile, depending on what mile I’m at, ha!)

As much as I loved (LOVED) running with my friend and enjoyed the leisurely feel of the pace, there was a small part of me that missed the true adrenaline rush from racing my hardest and sorta longed for that dead-tired ache that comes from running your heart out.

Which is why I’ve decided to register for the Bronx Half Marathon in August and make the two months leading up to the race all about training, which means doing work-outs like mile repeats (ouch) and hard-core long runs.  Imma go balls to the wall because I want to see what I’m capable of!

So, to sum up: Half marathon yesterday, sore today and as always, had a blast.

Have you ever run a half-marathon? Would you consider it? I highly recommend!

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