*Weekday long runs*

Busy summer weekends has required that I rearrange my training schedule around a bit. With a race last weekend (speaking of, I moved up to the 7th place, overall female spot!), a backpacking trip this weekend, and traveling home to Oregon next weekend, I’m going to have to get creative in order to stick to my plan and get those long runs done.

I’m very fortunate that my work schedule is part-time and allows me the option to get it done before I work later in the day. But that said, I realize weekday long runs can be a huge challenge for anyone working an 8-hour day or is juggling the demands of a family and responsibilities at home.

While I was trying not to look at my watch every 10th of a mile this morning, I came up with a short list of suggestions to help make the occasional long run during the week manageable.

  • Plan it a week out, minimum. Don’t expect to just wake up one morning and decide to do it. Being mentally prepared is a huge part of the battle so schedule it, put it on your calendar, and make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. Also, don’t schedule it on a super busy day… like say when you have a presentation to give at work first thing in the morning.
  • Prepare in advance. Don’t wait until the night before to restock your fuel. I’m bad about keeping a supply on hand so I’m either trying to track something down the day before or realize the morning of my long run that I only have two Clif Shot Blocks left in my stash. (Yeah, that was this morning.)
  • As you would for any long run, get your gear in order the night before. Make sure you have clean socks, all of your gadgets are charged, you know where the lid to your water bottle is…
  • Calculate how long your run will take and add a few minutes so you’ve got some wiggle room if you get delayed or have to stop at a trillion traffic signals. Set a departure time and stick to it.
  • Plan to get up early enough to allow yourself the time to do whatever it is you need to do to prepare. Coffee, a light breakfast, Chakra cleansing meditation, whatever. It might mean you have to get up at 4 AM, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s not a regular occurrence so suck it and set your alarm.
  • Make sure you allot enough time to cool down and refuel before you need to get ready for work or whatever activities you have planned.
  • If the mileage you need is pretty high and you truly don’t have enough time before work or you get stressed at the thought of trying to squeeze it in, there’s nothing wrong with breaking it down into two runs. Split it up and run half in the morning and then the other half during lunch or later in the evening.
  • Don’t skimp on a post-run reward because you’re pressed for time. You earned that decadent smoothie or stop at Starbucks!
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Reward yourself for those hard-earned miles!

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*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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*Training when you’re NOT training*

The content of this post came to mind last week while I was out on a run. It was Wednesday afternoon and I was aiming for what I hoped would be at least 7 miles but ultimately, I ran 8.

Mid-run I was questioning myself as to why on earth I was pushing myself to run 7, or more, miles when I have NOTHING on my race calendar. With an imminent move out-of-state on the horizon, I’ve been reluctant to commit myself to an event for fear that I’ll not be able to fulfill the entry.

As I thought a bit deeper on the subject, I rationalized my mileage for two reasons:

  1. I want to be a stronger runner. The only way I will get stronger is by RUNNING. It may seem more like maintenance than training, per se, but as long as I feel like I’m working (and not slacking off), I know I’m contributing to my overall fitness.
  2. Should I have the opportunity to race in the  near future, it is going to be on very short notice. The better the shape I’m in will make a huge difference if I decide to jump in on an event that is a mere two weeks away.

With that in mind, I came up with a few tips for surviving a period in which you find yourself in the training mentality but you’re NOT actively training.

  • Get S T R O N G! Even if your mileage is high, it likely won’t be as high as if you had an actual race coming up. So use the extra time to build strength. It will make you a better runner and help prevent injury when you do ramp up your mileage again.It has become a higher priority for me in the past few weeks and I’m already seeing some improvement.
  • Switch gears. With my attention turning toward trail running and perhaps an ultra race at some later date, I’ve set a goal to run on a single-track, and somewhat technical, trail at least once a week. Additionally, instead of being concerned about my mileage or pace on those runs, I’m focusing on time spent on the trail. This could be applied in so many different ways but switch it up! Find some new routes, run with a friend or group you normally don’t, ditch the Garmin (I CAN’T BELIEVE I SAID THAT!), add a track workout, hit the trail… whatever offers some variety to your regular routine.
  • Focus on short-term goals. I just (finally!) received a copy of the Believe Training Journal and I’m so jazzed! One of the features I’m already in love with is that each week there is a space to write down your focus for the week. While long-term goals are so important, I think short-term goals have a bigger impact because they aren’t necessarily as lofty. They are more like the steps you are going to take to achieve the ultimate goal. I’m aiming to pick one or two things each week that will get me closer to the dream. For example, this week I set a goal to revise my standard strength training routine and incorporate some new exercises and combinations.
  • Embrace the space. I have a feeling that taking some time away from racing will reignite the competitive fire inside me. And when I do put something on my calendar, I’ll be ready to dive in and work.Take time to consider what it is that you love about training and racing. I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that it will become a priority again when the time is right. In the meantime, embrace the little bubble in which you don’t have to worry about getting a long run done every. single. weekend. Or, how you’re going to fund multiple race entry fees. Or how you are going to balance work, family, training, etc. Embrace the space!
  • Plan for the future (as best you can). My immediate future is so up-in-the-air that I don’t know what state I’ll be living in two months from now. But what I do know is that I’m going to run some great events at some point. In the meantime, I’m educating myself, staying focused on my goals, researching possible events, connecting with other runners in various circles, and holding onto the idea that the training I’m doing now, while I’m not actually training for something, will only better the outcome down the road.
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Using this time to plan for the future!

Everyone will have their own different approach to the “off-season” or a break from training or racing but it doesn’t mean that you can’t gain fitness and keep working toward whatever dreams you hope to achieve in the future.

Good luck!

*The seduction of soaking*

Happy National Drink Wine Day! No, I’m not kidding! According to www.nationaldrinkwineday.org, February 18th has been designated as a day to share the love and health benefits of wine.

It would be a disservice to not celebrate this fine, heart-healthy holiday by enjoying a glass (or two!) of one of my favorite reds so CHEERS!

Actually it fits in nicely into my evening, which has turned into a little self-care spa night. My track speed workout last night left me exhausted. (My legs were so sore and fatigued this morning that I wore my Pro Compression socks to work!) I was feeling extra drained when I set off for a few miles this afternoon. Recognizing this made me back off my pace to keep the run as easy as possible.

Upon my return home, after some strength and core training, the lure of hot, steamy water to soak my weary body in seduced me into hopping in the tub for a few minutes. BLISS.

I’ve loved every form of hydro-therapy for as long as I can remember… baths, Jacuzzi’s, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, mineral hot springs, soaking pools…

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My happy place!

I know that there is a ton of information, science, and studies to support how beneficial ice baths are for athletes. But I cannot deny how much better I feel after a traditional hot bath as opposed to an ice bath. Not to mention that I absolutely hate being cold and ice baths are like torture!

While ice baths get a lot of attention, I would point out that a hot bath has many therapeutic benefits too. They promote the deep relaxation of muscles which can relieve cramping, help create elasticity of muscle, and provide relief from tension headaches. Soaking can improve circulation, help you sweat out toxins, and help you find a peaceful state of mind.

I would recommend that if you are at all concerned about the safety of a bath, hot or otherwise, you consult your physician.

Personally, the hotter the better. Often times I add Epsom salts or other magical potion to help reduce inflammation and essential oil for fragrance to deepen my state of relaxation. (I highly recommend lavender. It is one of my favorite scents of all time and fantastic for mental wellbeing!) I’ll soak for 20-30 minutes, allowing the water to naturally cool so that I almost start to chill before I exit, and then dress warm and relax for a while before returning to normal activities. Better yet, head to bed!

Sure, baths aren’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t overlook them as a regular part of your self-care practices.  And if you have a hot tub, can we be friends?

*Rolling with it*

At 7 PM last night, I found myself 45 minutes from home with an hour-and-a-half to kill while my daughter was at soccer practice. It had been a long and busy day already and I was tired! I could have sat in my car, vegged out on social media, and called it good. But since I hadn’t been able to squeeze in a run earlier and I didn’t want to miss my only opportunity, I hauled my ass out onto the track where the practice was being held and ran 7 miles.

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Seven miles on the track wasn’t a lot of fun but I was grateful that the opportunity presented itself. This week has definitely proven to be challenging as far as getting workouts in. With that, I thought I’d share my three top tips that I’ve been putting into practice for keeping up on training when life gets crazy.

  • Do more when you have time to do more. I call this the weekend warrior approach. I typically get the majority of my weekly mileage in between Friday and Sunday because I simply have more free time. When I do find that I have some extra time during the week, I’m trying to do a little more. For example, on Tuesday my afternoon/evening opened up so instead of running the 7 miles I had scheduled, I added an extra one to get ahead of the game. Look for those windows of opportunity!
  • Accept your personal daily rhythms and plan around them. At the beginning of this training cycle, I “scheduled” some early morning runs. Have I gotten up extra early to actually run them? No. I know, for a fact, that I will not get up during the winter months to run at 4:30 AM. I just won’t. In the summer when it is light outside, warmer, and I don’t have to get myself and two other people ready to function for the day, sure. But I was delusional when I put those runs on my training calendar. So I’m accepting it, crossing them off my schedule, and moving on.
  • Break it down if you have to. During the week, Tuesday through Thursday, I’m aiming to block out an hour to run each afternoon. However, there are some days that I can’t get a solid hour. I can A) sacrifice my daily mileage goal and just do what I can or B) break it up into two runs. Two 30 minute runs is just going to be more manageable some days and that is okay. Don’t fear multiple workouts but also don’t stress if one shorter session is all you can do.

Above all else, sometimes you’ve just got to roll with it and be flexible. Life happens. Things come up. I’m constantly reminding myself of this and think there is great value in going with the flow whenever it becomes necessary to do so.

Happy Thursday!

*And the winner is…*

Eric W., aka, gymnut2008!

Congratulations, Eric! Please email me at hylaridenour@yahoo.com so I can send you the code for your free entry into any open heat (non-confirmed start time), Reebok Spartan Race in the continental US!

Didn’t win? How about 10% off as my way of saying thanks for playing! Use this code: SPARTANBLOGGER at registration to receive your discount.

Also, if you’d like to save 50% of on the Spartan Cruise, (50% 0ff!!!), use this code: Cruise50.

I want to give a huge shout-out to the awesome team at Reebok Spartan Race for making this giveaway possible! And, another shout-out to my readers and followers! Thanks for all of the great tips and suggestions for getting Spartan Race ready!

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Footnote: The winner was generated randomly using Rafflecopter and the free Spartan Race entry prize is being provided by Reebok Spartan Race.

 

*Heal lock lacing technique*

They say that you learn something new every day. I learned a neat little trick yesterday that made me think that if it is beneficial to me, it might be to you too.

As my trip to Utah to run Ragnar Zion approaches, I’m working to get my gear in order. That means I got to go pick up my very first trail running specific shoes yesterday! I’m so excited to hit the trail tomorrow to begin breaking them in!!

Anyway, I tried out a few different brands and styles. I love Brooks and have been running in the PureFlow line for the past few years. However, I wasn’t super crazy about the fit of either of the styles I tried so on a whim, (okay, I was attracted to the color) I decided to give Saucony a try.

I immediately liked the way they felt… not too heavy but stable and supportive. And, the sole has great grip for traction! The only problem with them is that because my right foot is slightly smaller than my left, my heal was slipping a little during my test run in the store. The left shoe fit perfect with no slippage so I didn’t want to go down a half-size but I was concerned about how loose the right one was.

While I’ve seen a few sources provide information on alternate ways of lacing shoes, I never paid much attention to them. When the sales rep re-laced my shoes to created a more snug fit, my mind was blown by its effectiveness! No slipping! I rarely even use the upper two eyelets on shoes. Most often because the laces are never long enough. (Another problem that can be solved by an alternate lacing pattern.) Essentially, he threaded the laces out through the second from last (at the top) eyelet and then back in the top one before crossing it over to the other side. It makes a little loop like this:

It's like I'm learning to tie shoes all over again!

I’m learning to tie shoes all over again!

The laces are then threaded through the loop. Once they are pulled taut they stay put really well. Brilliant I say!

Snug and secure!

Snug and secure!

It is amazing how much of a difference it can make in the fit and feel. Out of curiosity, I went looking for a little more information and came across this site which explains what I learned is the Heal lock lacing technique.

There you have it! Pretty cool, right? I’m off to enjoy a quiet Saturday night. My first night home in about a week! I dressed up for the occasion too. Have a great evening! ; )

Hoppy Easter!

Hoppy Easter!