*Weekly mileage ~ Nov. 14-20*

Mileage for the week of November 14th – November 20th

Total weekly mileage: 26.5

Total November mileage: 90.25

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 1,293.5

Week in review:

11/14      No run/rest day

11/15      30:15 min./3.5 mi./8:37 pace

11/16      31:20 min./3.52 mi./8:54 pace (+1.98 mi. of hill repeats at NP) (5.5 mi. total)

11/17     48:01 min./6 mi./7:59 pace

11/18     31:51 min./4 mi./7:57 pace

11/19     No run/7.5 mi. hike

11/20     1:01:29 min./7.5 mi./8:12 pace

This week turned out to be a little lower in overall mileage but I made up for it with some good cross-training between the workout with the November Project and my hilly little hike Saturday. (My glutes are still sore from that hike too!)

My hope is to up my mileage a little bit this week since I have some extra time in the mornings. My son is out of school for the holiday so I get a break from the morning prep/drop-off routine, not to mention a long weekend coming up. What better way to fill that space than with some extra miles and added strength training?

I’m eager to dive into training but I really want to focus the next few weeks on building some strength and creating a solid foundation for when I do jump in. That, and create a plan of attack for the Christmas and New Year holidays so I don’t completely derail myself. Then balls to the wall come January!

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*John Muir is my homeboy*

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

                                                                                  ~ John Muir

The naturalist and environmental philosopher, John Muir, was waaaay ahead of his time. Having died in 1914, long before modern conveniences and technological advances, he recognized our innate need to connect with the natural world. His foresight has allowed for the preservation of some of the most beautiful, serene, and untouched parts of the country. I feel it is an honor to be able to go into the wilderness to witness such spaces. For the second time in a month, I was submerged in some of the back country that Muir is renowned for and I’m beyond grateful.

After a trial one-night, 8-mile backpacking trip a few weeks ago, my brother, sister-in-love, soon-to-be three-year-old nephew, and I set out for a more challenging two-night trip. Over the course of three days, we hiked approximately 25 miles up and over passes in the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We camped at two different lakes, visiting three over the course of the trip. It was magical. Being that we were in sequoia territory, I made my brother make a quick pit stop to get this pic:

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Sequoia trees grow in groves and are native to only the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

When I venture out into the wild, I’m seeking quiet, an escape from the busyness of society and life, and to see parts of the country that few will see with their own two eyes. I return with much more than that, just as John Muir predicted. (It also made for some hardcore cross-training!)

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I will note that I (happily) did not encounter any bears though we did see a paw print and bear poop right on the trail.

*Weekly mileage ~ July 18-24*

Mileage for the week of July 18th – July 24th

Total weekly mileage: 27

Total July mileage: 100

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 684.5

Run review:

7/18     33:30 min./4 mi./8:21 pace

7/19     43:27 min./5.25 mi./8:17 pace

7/20    39:40 min./4.75 mi./8:21 pace

7/21     1:49:23 min./13 mi./8:25 pace

7/22     No run (backpacking)

7/23     No run (backpacking)

7/24    No run (backpacking)

Last week was pretty much what I expected. I took the weekend off from running in exchange for approximately 25 miles of cross training, er hiking, through rugged mountain terrain carrying a 35-40 pound backpack the entire time. (More on that in my next post!)

I’m satisfied with the 27 miles I did run (putting me right at 100 so far for July) and if I factor in the mileage from backpacking, not to mention the elevation ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, it was a solid week of training!

Later this week I will be off on my next adventure so I know my mileage will be somewhat limited but I’ve made the necessary adjustments to my training plan to accommodate my travels and am confident that I’ll be able to pick up where I left off when I return.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

*Weekly mileage ~ July 4-10*

Mileage for the week of July 4th – July 10th

Total weekly mileage: 37.75

Total July mileage: 41.75

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 626.25

Run review:

7/4     No run (backpacking)

7/5     41:00 min./5 mi./8:11 pace

7/6     33:51 min./4 mi./8:27 pace

24:56 min./3 mi./8:19 pace (easy run with a few hill repeats thrown in)

7/7     33:32 min./4 mi./8:23 pace

7/8     43:22 min./5.25 mi./8:16 pace

7/9     2:11:26 min./12 mi./10:57 pace

7/10   37:28 min./4.5 mi./8:20 pace

I’m feeling pretty proud about how last week went down since I was putting in full-time hours half of the week. This week will bring the same challenge. Plus, I’m getting ready for my 8k trail race this coming Sunday!

Speaking of, I figured this past weekend would be my last opportunity to get out on some trails before my upcoming race. I tried to do this run a few weeks ago only to discover that what looked like a trailhead on Google maps, was fenced and gated with no access. I found another route and trailhead, which distance wise, was about perfect to knock out my long run.

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Yikes!

After almost two miles of running uphill through a swanky residential neighborhood, I was greeted with a seriously rough trail that is not for the faint of heart. It’s steep, rocky, narrow, and in some spots, downright questionable. In fact, even though I counted the entire distance toward my overall mileage, I hiked quite a bit of the trail going both up and back down. It wasn’t worth the risk. Safety first, kids!

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Beautiful but treacherous!

Despite the challenge, I made my goal of running to the iconic Hollywood sign!

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The view from the top of Mt. Lee, behind the Hollywood sign.

Celebratory airborne pic!

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I did it for the Insta. JK

The high that was climbing to the top and capturing these images was replaced with trashed quads and a sore ankle (which are still plaguing me two days later). I struggled through the remaining five miles to complete 12 overall but at least I got some cool pics! Ha!

 

*The family that adventures together…*

Running, without a doubt, is at the top of my list of favorite things, as is probably obvious since I write a running-related blog. However, it is not my only love.

When I was growing up, my father, a wilderness enthusiast, had my brother and I hiking, camping, road tripin’, and exploring the western part of the US as often as possible. As a kid, I could have cared less. I remember, on a couple of occasions when I was in my teens, being pissed that I was camping in Colorado instead of cruising around town, or stuck on a beach with my parents somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula instead of hanging out at the local Taco Bell with my posse. (To make matters worse, this was waaaaaaaaay before we all had cell phones and social media to stay in touch.)

Fast forward a few years and I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I’ve found for my upbringing and my own love of the outdoors. I’ve done the exact same thing to my own children and it gives me so much joy to see my daughter plan hiking trips with her friends and beau. (The apple never seems to fall far from the tree, right?)

In recent years, one of the things that I’ve been most grateful for are the opportunities to, once again, share these types of adventures with my lil’ bro. My adventurous excursions pale in comparison to what he, and his wife, have accomplished over the last 14+ years but I’m just grateful that every once in a while, they invite me to tag along!

Last weekend was no exception.

The four of us: my brother, sister-in-love, nephew (not quite three years old), and I went on a two-night camping/backpacking trip about four hours northeast of Los Angeles in the Sierra Nevadas. The original plan was a two-night backpacking trip but due to the fact that it was a holiday weekend, and we didn’t pre-reserve a backcountry permit, it seemed we’d be campground camping for the weekend. While still fun, they were looking forward to testing the backpacking waters with their toddler in tow. As is turns out, we made a second attempt to get a permit and we got one for the second night. Score!

My experience backpacking is still limited and I learn something new every time I go. I also fall in love with it more each time. It amazes me to think how few people will ever get to experience this:

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Blue Lake

Despite the mosquitos (and there were A LOT of them!), this adventure was everything I fall asleep at night fantasizing about. I can’t wait to do it again! And, hopefully, one of these times, bring my boys along!

 

*Base building for dummies*

Editor’s note: the title of my post is not meant to offend anyone or imply that anyone is a dummy. I often write in a satirical tone meant to be jovial but not offensive or mean-spirited. (Though I’m perfectly fine with calling myself a dummy, as is the case here.) Also, while I do hope to offer my readers some practical running and training tips based on my own experience, I am not a certified running coach.

Since I first began running, nearly 21 years ago, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is this: the best way to avoid having to start over is to not quit doing it in the first place. (That is of course, unless you are forced to take time off to rest or heal after an injury. Not doing so would make you a dummy. Just sayin’.)

I have no idea how many times I’ve taken a break from running, for whatever reason, only to basically have to start over from scratch when I decided that I couldn’t live without it. The time-frame of the breaks has varied anywhere from a few days to a few months. (I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed an entire year in there somewhere too.)

In runners speak, base building or base training, is a period of maintenance, typically off-season, before jumping into your next training program. For new runners or those of us who have fallen off the wagon, it is often referred to as a point from which we begin running at a lower mileage base and begin to build from there.

Whether you plan to begin training for a future race or not, I think creating the mindset that you are in a base building phase is much better than a start over phase. Rebuilding a running program is a great opportunity to take a really good look at what you’ve done in the past, where you are now, and what your goals are. From that evaluation, you can make the necessary adjustments that correlate with your training plan or race schedule (if you have one).

My self-prescribed base building plan is really just a compiled list of do’s and don’ts that have helped me rebuild my mileage over the years when I’ve had to start over. I’m sure it will be beneficial for others that need a subtle (or not-so-subtle) kick in the ass to get out there and get moving again.

The DON’T List

Don’t beat yourself up over taking time off. Life happens. Shit happens. Get over it and move on. (I’m talking to you, Hyla.)

Don’t compare yourself to where you were last week, month, or year. Case in point: this time last year I had already run more than 700 miles. So far this year just a little over 300. But who’s counting?

Don’t compare yourself to other runners and the mileage they are currently logging or races they are doing.

Don’t worry about pace. Just get out there and run! As they say, a mile is a mile regardless of whether you run it in 8 minutes or 13 minutes.

Don’t immediately plan speed work sessions, hill repeats, ambitious long runs, etc.

The DO List

Do give yourself a mini-break regularly but pick a day/date that you’ll start back up. (Unless of course you are under the care of a physician and you need their consent to be released for physical activity.) I’ve found that while coming back after a break can be challenging, I think extended rest periods are very important for avoiding injury and long-term burnout.

Do decide what you want (safely and within reason) your base mileage to be. (This can and will change, as often as every couple of weeks and dependent upon what you were running before your break.) Using myself as an example, this week I have worked on running three miles most days so that it would become comfortable. In the weeks leading up to the time I took off, my average runs were three to four miles.

Do start slow and easy. No need to push the pace yet. Use this time as an opportunity to reconnect with what made you fall in love with running in the first place and why you want to keep doing it.

Do understand that you are going to be uncomfortable at first. There is no way I can sugarcoat it for you. It is very likely that you are going to experience some really ugly feelings both physically and mentally. Refer back to the first suggestion on the DON’T list.

Do aim to increase your mileage each week but wait until the second week, minimum, to add a “long” run. This is somewhat individual but the rule of thumb for increasing long run distance is about 10% each week. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable adding a mile (sometimes two) to my longer runs. You have to gauge it for yourself. It will also be dependent on how far you were running on your longer runs before you took time off and how long the break was. I’d also recommend that you wait until after you have two solid weeks of easy, short runs in before adding speed, interval, or hill training into the mix.

Do cross train and add strength workouts to your plan. While I wasn’t running, I was staying active by hiking hilly canyons and doing body-weight-based workouts several times a week. I’ve continued this practice as I’ve started running again. I know it helped me maintain some of my endurance and strength when I wasn’t running and has made the transition back to running easier.

Do believe that with consistency and optimism, you will regain your fitness and actually feel like a runner again soon. It’s a safe bet to say probably sooner than you think is possible too. In just one week, with only about 16 miles under my belt, I already feel SO much better!

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My first run back after 18 days off. Gotta start somewhere, right?

There is a ton of information to be found online and in various publications on the subject. However, I’ve stripped it down to these basic do’s and don’ts because I feel that many traditional base building training programs are geared toward athletes that have more rigid training cycles and are just coming off of one and/or has just finished a target/goal race. I fall into neither of these categories. Also, at least for me right now, I feel that laying the groundwork using these guidelines is a lot easier than a more formal training schedule.

Please remember that I do not have the credentials to give training advice and speak only from my own experiences so don’t be a dummy and take it for what it’s worth.

Happy base building!

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*Time to buck up*

It is a fair assumption that the constant stream of Boston Marathon-related images circulating on every social media channel I follow is the reason that I woke up this morning thinking enough is enough. Time to buck up and get my ass in gear.

After only one run over the course of the past 24 days, totaling a whopping 2.75 miles, my mind and body are starting to feel like they are on the same page again. However, I would be remiss to not give credit to the athletes, many of which are running Boston tomorrow, for the boost of inspiration I’ve needed.

So today I strapped on my Garmin and hauled myself out the door. My plan would have gone a lot better had I went earlier in the day and carried some Nuun. While I LOVE the So Cal weather, I’ve never loved running in the heat and when the temp is 80 degrees at 10 AM… it’s going to take some getting used to. Not to mention better planning in the future. (Like going earlier when the forecast is calling for high temps. Duh!)

That said, I ran 1.75 miles before the heat did me in. (And that was after hiking 1.5 miles to the top of a hill that has a pretty steep incline.)

It all starts with a single step, right? Even though I feel like I’m starting over in a sense, I’m confident that I’ll bounce back fairly quickly if I keep at it.

Then there is THE marathon tomorrow. I can’t believe it has been a year since I was there preparing to run my first Boston Marathon. I really hope that I have the opportunity to do it again someday. A piece of me wishes I was there this year but as I wrote about here, I know it wasn’t the right time with everything I’ve had going on the past few months.

Good luck!

Good luck!

I hope everyone racing tomorrow has a fantastic experience and that the weather is perfect! Good luck, runners!!!!