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Once I got back from all my traveling (more recaps coming soon) and took a few days to recover, I looked at the calendar to count down the weeks until the Chicago Marathon.  As of July 23, there were 11 weeks until D-Day.  Oh crap! I was so far behind in marathon training, I was practically starting from scratch.

I unfortunately  did not run very much while in Europe.  I naively brought lots of work-out gear, genuinely believing I would manage to run the majority of days but the combination of wine, site-seeing and having too much fun basically killed that plan from the get-go.

According to my original training plan, I should’ve been running around 14 miles for my long run the Saturday after I came back.  Yeah,  ain’t no way, no how that was happening.

So I’ve been a bit frantically training, trying to catch up to where I should be.  After taking a few days of working out on the elliptical for 45-minute stretches to get my general cardiovascular abilities back, I started training for real on Monday, July 25.  Just for fun, here’s what my work-out schedule looked like:

Monday, July 25– 6 Mile Run

Tuesday, July 26- 45:00 Elliptical at medium resistance, 15:00 Strength Training

Wednesday, July 27- 8 Mile Run

Thursday, July 28- 55:00 Elliptical at medium to hard resistance

Friday, July 29- 12 Mile Run (Long Run for the week)

Saturday, July 30- 30:00 Elliptical (Recovery, very low resistance)

Sunday, July 31- 30:00 Elliptical at medium resistance, 15:00 Strength Training

That is an intense week of training, with far more running than I normally do but given my limited time to catch up, there just wasn’t any other option.  Luckily, I’m on summer vacation so I had plenty of time to do all this.  I’m going to shoot for 14 miles this coming Friday (8/5) and 16 miles the following Friday (8/12), which will finally put me back on schedule.

Bumping up my long runs by two miles rather than my usual one mile is a little bit intimidating but honestly, it’s only an extra 8-10 minutes (depending on how spent I am) so it shouldn’t be too terrible (HA. I say that now, we’ll see how I feel after it’s done!)

I’ve also been taking between one and three 1:00-walk breaks during my longer runs at evenly-spaced intervals (approximately every half hour or so.)  No shame, I think they’ve been helping, at least with my mental state.  I’ll probably continue these until I feel like my running stamina has truly returned.

With only 9.5 weeks until the Chicago Marathon, it is seriously go-time.  No more excuses, no more dragging, no more minimal whining, time to git ‘er done!

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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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I haven’t had a bad run in a while but man, yesterday’s kicked my arse! I set out with the intention of running 12 miles (my long run for the week, got two weeks until the More Half Marathon!) but only managed to complete 10.5 before my legs just quit on me completely.

Honestly, the entire thing was a mental battle that, while I did win, was fairly intense.  Usually in a long run, the first couple of miles go by quickly but on this one, I was wiped right from the get-go. My legs felt like they had 20-pound weights strapped on to them and I lacked the usual spring in my step. There were SO many times where I wanted to stop and walk but somehow, I managed to keep trudging along at a pace far below what is typical for me.

It probably didn’t help that it was 74 (!!!!!) degrees and sunny out, quite a departure from the typical 40-degree and raining weather I’ve been running in as of late. Plus, I forgot a hat and/or suntan lotion so I wound up with a wicked lobstah face and a funk leg tan. Oooooops (Don’t tell me mother, she’ll KILL me!)

The only thing that made this run less than a total disaster was that I didn’t poop my pants.  Yes, laugh, laugh all you want but it’s happened an embarrassing number of times.  It’s a runner thing.  Actually, that topic probably deserves it’s own post, stay tuned…

What’s frustrating is that I don’t really know why I felt so poorly during the run.  It would be understandable if I had done an intense work-out or weight lifting session the day or two before but I didn’t.  On Wednesday, I ran 4 miles easy with a co-worker and then on Thursday, I ran about 3 miles.  Neither of these should give me dead legs but I sure as sh*t had them on my run yesterday.

I used to get really upset when I had a bad run, one where I didn’t feel like I went fast enough or far enough but I think I’m finally at a point where it doesn’t bother me as much (OK, being honest, it still bothers me a little because I kept getting passed by other runners and I HATE THAT!) because I know that it’s not necessarily an indicator of how I’ll do come race day.

And even better? I’m not running this race aiming for a certain time (I’m leading a group of co-workers) so there’s zero pressure, which is really nice.  Although, truthfully, the only pressure there ever is is self-imposed but giving myself a break isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Long story short: Bad runs happen.  It’s how we react to them that matters and in my case, I guess I’ve finally got enough running experience to shake it off.

Whoohoo, another level of maturity gained!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick my nose and laugh at my farting dog because while I may have matured somewhat as a runner, in the rest of my life, I’m still five years old.

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Today’s workout comes to us via my college track and field coach, who liked to inflict this one upon us when she felt we needed a good figurative kick in the arse.

I would put this in the “medium to hard” category, as far as workouts go, since it requires you to be conscious of your pace for the entire time.

Before I write out the workout, I think it’s best if we all refresh our memories as to what a bell curve actually looks like:

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Remember these bad boys from high school algebra? Or was it geometry? Clearly, math is not my strong suit!

Anyways, here’s how the workout goes:

*5:00 easy jog warm-up (with some dynamic movements thrown in, if you want)

*2:00 at a pace you would consider a “1” on a scale of 1-5 (one is the easiest)- this is the beginning of the bell curve; follow this with 2:00 at a “2”  pace (slightly faster.)

*Continue the workout with 2:00 intervals at levels “3”, “4” and “5” (level 5 being a pace you could maintain for 2:00 but probably not much longer than that. In other words, you should be sucking wind by the end of that interval!)

*Once you do 2:00 at level “5,” drop down to “4” for 2:00, then “3” for 2:00, etc until you back down to the “1” pace, or your easy jog.

*5:00 cool down of easy jogging or walking

This workout is designed to be done continuously, moving from one level to the next without stopping and it’s a great way to focus on your pace and push your body out of it’s comfort zone.

I also like this workout because it’s quick but it gets the job done. Cardiovascular limits are pushed, mental barriers are broken and it’s just a great little session to bust out whenever you’re feeling the need to push yourself.

What do you guys think, does this look to difficult to attempt or could you do it?

 

 

 

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Haha, get it? The cat is in an actual rut!

Seriously, even if you only have 25 minutes or less, this is a very effective way to maximize a workout.  Here it is:

One minute on, one minute off, for as long as you want to work out.

You can do this on any machine in the gym or any type of physical activity (running, biking and swimming come to mind.)

All it means is that you do one minute of activity at a hard pace, followed by one minute at an easy pace.  Rinse and repeat.

I swear, it works, as simple as it sounds! I did 30 minutes like this on the elliptical the other day and I definitely felt a difference from my standard “barely exert myself” normal half hour on the ol’ ellip’.

Plus, for some reason, the time seems to always fly by whenever I do this work-out, which is another bonus. Mostly ’cause I can only handle one episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” or whatever syndicated sitcom happens to be showing (with the exception of Friends.  Friends rules, forever!)

Anyways, you should try this workout, it’s really, really easy and you’ll get good results.   So go now, try it and report back to me and tell me how it went!

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