Posts Tagged ‘training runs’

Stick it out

Date: June 22, 2014

Distance: 10 miles

Time: 1:52:51

Yesterday, I completed a ten-mile training run and thought a lot about the importance of sticking it out. (Forgive the capital “R”. Not my creation. Like the sentiment, however.

This thought–about the need to be persistent during a particular workout–was most likely brought on by the fact that I chose to run five miles uphill before I turned around and rewarded myself with the much-easier five miles down. I hate hills. They really suck. But, I must admit–sometimes the first couple of miles of any run feels challenging, no matter the terrain or elevation. To get through those first tough miles, I repeated, “stick it out, stick it out, stick it out” dozens of times in order to keep myself focused.

Even after eight years of running, I still have days when I start out and nothing is coming together–I hurt, my muscles feel tight, I can’t get my breathing under control, and–in short–it’s not fun at all.

Thankfully, because I’ve been running for awhile, I know that this feeling is most likely temporary. I just need to stick it out until my muscles loosen, my breath falls into a calm, steady rhythm, and my mind opens up because I forget that I’m running. I just need to stick it out.

For me, things generally come together about 1.5 or 2 miles in. This common physiological reality is probably why people who say they hate to run honestly hate to run. They most likely haven’t ever gotten past those initial couple of miles and experienced “the good part.” After all, why would anyone run if it always hurt and was a struggle? It takes awhile, though, to work up to one or two miles when running and many people simply don’t have the patience or the will to stick it out.

Before I started running regularly, I remember how awful some of my first attempts felt. I used to be in awe of runners who ran “for fun” and genuinely seemed to enjoy running. Blech. I hated it and could never understand how they got to that point. I remember thinking that some people are just built for running and I’m not.

In reality, I just had never given myself a fair chance to build up to the point where I could start to enjoy running–where I could experience the benefits of running. That took me years. I wished I would have stuck it out back then, but I didn’t have the patience.

The idea of sticking it out not only applies to singular workouts–it also applies to an entire training plan or one’s general approach to healthier living and long-term goals. This weekend, I was provided with a reminder.

Being Reminded About the Need to Stick it Out

I’ve often written about my affinity for Bikram yoga. When I practice yoga, I am stronger, I have more clarity, I experience increased flexibility, I have improved balance, I sleep better, and I’m an all-around nicer person. So, why oh why did I quit going to classes about a month ago when I know how beneficial a regular practice is?

As sometimes happens, life got in the way. I had a particularly busy schedule last month and started cutting back on yoga classes–telling myself I didn’t have time. Thankfully, I (mostly) still kept up my running schedule.

After realizing that I had let an entire month slip by without attending a yoga class, I dragged myself to class on Saturday. And, what did I notice? I didn’t feel as strong. I was distracted. I had almost no flexibility. And the next morning? I was SORE!

Rather than beat myself up about my lack of discipline, though, I’ve used this experience as motivation to re-commit to a regular practice.  I’ve got to get back to my twice-a-week yoga routine.

It’s depressing, but it’s reality. It doesn’t take long to lose fitness levels when workouts stop. It’s much better to maintain those levels with a regular workout routine so the many benefits of regular exercise continue.

When life starts to get in the way, or when that training run starts out in agony, I just need to remind myself to stick it out. It’s worth it.





Outside is best

Date: February 15, 2014

Distance: 9.15 miles

Time: 1:34:04

After weeks of long runs on the treadmill due to the cold weather and icy streets, I was thrilled to be able to run outside. Finally.

Looking up Emigration Canyon about halfway into my run.

Looking up Emigration Canyon about halfway into my run.

Back to one of my very favorite runs–Emigration Canyon. It’s not that pretty right now–not like it is during the warmer months of the year–but it was oh, so satisfying. I breathed in the cool fresh air, subtly waved to the bicyclists who passed me, and loved enjoying the scenery. Even the grey, muddy hues were much preferred to the inside of a gym.

Running outside is like playing outdoors where running inside on the treadmill is like playing video games in front of the television.

Heck, the newer treadmills DO have a television monitor and various gimmicky displays. Good thing, too, because that’s about the only way I could get through a treadmill run. Here’s what my long run is like on a treadmill:

1. Step on, push quick start, and wonder what “Fitness Test” would even tell me. Don’t want to know.

And, the view heading down

And, heading down.

2. Start at 2.8 mph for the first five minutes to warm up while I plug my earphones into the audio and channel surf. Watch CNN for the first few minutes, get bored, and then usually settle on the Food Network channel. Or, just listen to music while playing with the displays that show me how many laps I’d be running if I were on a 5-K course around a pond or running on a track.

3. Bump up speed to 5.0 and every tenth of a mile, increase the speed by .1 until I get to 6.5. Every mile do straddle maneuver so I’m off the moving mat while I take a swig of water. I am simply not capable of drinking and running at the same time.

4. Every once-in-a-while grab the bar in front and measure my heart rate–only because I can. I certainly don’t do anything with that information.

5.  Go back down to 2.8 for ten minutes. Then repeat steps 3 & 4.

Or, at that point, advance to step 6.

6. Gut it out at 5.8 (or wherever else feels reasonable) until I reach my planned distance.

7. Wipe down all the surfaces I touched with a provided disinfectant cloth and think, every single time, “Maybe I should have wiped it down before I started my workout, because I bet the person who used this before I did didn’t wipe it down when they were done.”

8. Walk to my car, feel guilty for adding emissions to the environment, and hope for warmer running weather soon.

So much for those weekend plans

Date: October 5, 2013

Distance: 13.58 miles

Time: 2:31:47

Yesterday, after seeing that the Rapid City/Hill City, South Dakota weather forecasts were calling for blizzard conditions and up to a foot of snow, I decided to cancel my hotel and car rental reservations in time to avoid paying any cancellation fees. Good call.

The early winter storm was even worse than predicted. Last night and through today, I am reading reports of wind gusts of up to 68 miles per hour, snowfall ranging from 23 to 48 inches, and widespread power outages throughout South Dakota. The flight I planned to take into Rapid City this morning was cancelled, so I couldn’t have made it in there even if I wanted to.

This was really a bummer because Orlando has time off from work and was planning on riding his motorcycle up to meet me. We envisioned a fun, autumn weekend together where I got to knock out another state and he got to test out his bike on a long-distance road trip. Rain snow check, I guess.

Bundled up at Little Del Reservoir

Bundled up at Little Dell Reservoir

And, that’s okay with me. The race, Run Crazy Horse, was an event that several of my friends and I had talked about running together but this year, plans didn’t mesh. My attempt to run it came together only in the last couple of months, and the whole time I was preparing for the race, I didn’t quite feel 100% okay with the fact that I would be running it without my friends (you know who you are). And, now, with this year’s plans falling apart, I look forward to resurrecting our efforts to all get together next year to run it.

In spite of not being able to run the race in South Dakota, I decided to complete a 13.1-mile local training run instead. The Midwest might be digging out from one of the biggest snowstorms they’ve seen, but here in Utah, we have beautiful running weather.

I had Orlando drop me off at Little Dell Reservoir, which happens to be just over 13 miles from our house, up Emigration Canyon. I ran the first couple of miles with our dog so he could get some exercise in today (that’s about his limit), and then he and Orlando headed home and I enjoyed a beautiful, crisp run with spectacular views of oranges, yellows, and reds as I meandered down the canyon.

About a mile in.

About a mile in.

I took my time today–walking the first 1/10 of every mile and running the rest. That is, until I got to about mile 11. At that point, I’m sad to report that my ankle was giving me grief to the point I felt as though I should walk most of the remaining two miles. I came home, iced it, and plan to take it easy over the next few days to see if that helps–it usually does. Further proof that I’m not meant to be a full marathoner. Halfs are my limit.

Next up? Arkansas and Missouri in November.


Update: Tomorrow’s 2013 Crazy Horse Half Marathon was canceled. Hoping for next year…

Is it possible?

Date: August 25, 2013

Distance: 10.85

Time: 1:44:45 (9:45 pace)

In preparation for the Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon, I planned to complete a ten-mile training run yesterday that followed the last ten miles of the race course. (I’ll spare you the details about taking a wrong turn that added almost a mile to my planned route).

The course promises to be fast.  The website includes quotes from all sorts of runners reporting PRs (personal records) and BQs (Boston Qualifying times) at last year’s race. The fast, downhill course is pretty much the only reason I decided to run another Utah race instead of “saving myself” for other states. That, and the fact it’s close to my house and being held during a perfect time of the year to be racing down a scenic mountain canyon.

At my age, I have no idea how many more races I’m capable of so I’ve got to spend my racing miles allowance judiciously. Still have to get through 27 more states.

from Google images

from Google images

Months ago, when I registered, I had a tiny little thought in the back of my head suggesting, “You might be able to get that sub-2:00 time you’ve always wanted.” Despite the fact that my fastest time (2:03) was in 2007, and my last several races have averaged 2:18, I still haven’t given up that goal.

Yesterday’s trial run gave me an indication of what I might expect come race day–three weeks out.

The half marathon course will begin about 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, so I went about 5 miles up for my planned ten-miler. After leaving the mouth of the canyon, the course heads west, through residential areas, and ends at Cottonwood High School. The last five miles are mostly flat–with just a gradual descent. It’s those first miles, however, that allow for screaming fast times.

While I have averaged a 10:30 minutes/mile pace in my last five races, my first five miles of the training run were completed at 8:56, 9:05, 8:33, 8:42, and 8:47.  I was shocked when I would glance down at my Garmin and see how fast I was running–especially since I wasn’t breathing hard at all. If I could run an entire half marathon at an 8:33 pace, I would finish in 1:52!  No, I fully realize that won’t happen. There’s no way I’m running an entire race at 8:33. Still, I felt so incredibly good during this run, I realize that the 2:00 time just may be within reach. My pace for 10.85 miles was 9:45/mile and that pace would allow me to finish in about 2:07.

In three weeks, is it possible to shave off some more time? I really, really hope so.

I will admit to being incredibly sore today. My quads and calves are hurting and I feel upper glute/lower back muscles I didn’t know existed. The speed and the downhill course resulted in some achy muscles. I also admit to not having worked out at all for six days in a row this past week. I know, I know, skipping workouts will not get me to sub-2.

I’ve got to resolve to eat well, sleep well, and closely follow my training plan if I’m going to make that long-time goal of under two hours.

Now that I know the course (no more wrong turns), I’ll follow it for next week’s 11-mile training run. That will give me an even better indication of how I might do come race day.

Last long run before Colorado race

Date: July 14, 2013

Distance: 12.22 miles

Time: 2:07:08

Drop off spot with Rocco.

Drop off spot with Rocco.

Today, I was able to have Orlando drive me 12 miles up Emigration Canyon–the furthest I’ve run on this route. In fact, it was even about 3/4 of a mile past the summit, so the first portion was uphill before I was rewarded with the downhill, scenic trek. Dog got a bit of exercise too, because I took him with me for the first mile or so. Luckily, Orlando parked only 1.16 miles from where he dropped me off and waited for us because even that short distance tired out the dog. My dog is the biggest couch potato! You would think with his lean build, and long legs, he would be built for distance running. Nope.

After I got rid of the lazy dog, I enjoyed the winding, downhill road and beautiful, sunny weather. I didn’t care about my time today–just wanted to enjoy the run and get my mileage in before my Colorado race (two weeks out). I took in the views, stopped to take photos, listened to my iPod, and simply enjoyed the run.

The last three miles were tough because that’s where the course flattens out, and even brings a few uphill portions as I near home. Plus, at that point, I was tired and hot.

By the time I hit mile 9, my mixture of half coconut water/half drinking water was warm. Not enjoyable. Also, I was using a free sample of Shot Bloks–strawberry flavor. Not going to ever purchase that flavor, that’s for sure. I much prefer the lemon lime or black cherry flavors. When I got home I was happy to drink a full  glass of COLD water.

Feel ready for the Denver race, now. It’s a bummer I have to run it alone. No running buddies are joining me so I’m just going to knock this one out myself. Posting pictures of Emigration Canyon since I write about it so much.

Road down Emigration.

Road down Emigration.

Little Dell at top of Emigration Canyon

Little Dell at top of Emigration Canyon

Mojaves two weeks in a row? OMG.

Date: July 12, 2013

Distance: 2.5 miles (8×400 runs and 10×400 walks)

Times for the 8x400s: 1:54, 1:43, 1:45, 1:40, 1:44, 1:47, 1:42, 1:39 (Average: 1:44)

Rode my scooter to the local high school track, did a set of Mojaves, sweated like a pig, and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful summer evening. I love these wonderful summer nights.

Took pictures to share. This is where my kids (went) go to high school. Go Rams!

Hey, I also took took seconds off of my average time from last week. Nice.


Long Run

Date: July 7, 2013

Distance: 10.21 miles

Time: 1:47:50

I loved today’s run.

judas priest

google images

I had planned to have Orlando drive me ten miles from our house, up Emigration Canyon so I could do one of my favorite, mostly all downhill runs. He was running a bit late for work, though, so I had him drop me off just four miles from home.

To get my planned ten miles in, that meant I had to run uphill for the first three miles–good for me, but not my favorite thing to do. Turns out, I had one of the most amazing runs. It was pretty hot out–about 80–but it started raining at mile 1.5 and continued until my three-mile turn around. That cooled me off a bit. Then, the rest of my run was a rewarding downhill for the next five miles, followed by mostly flat terrain as I neared home.

Satisfying. Loved it. And, I’m reminded of a kick-butt running song.

Turbo Lover” got me through the last part of my uphill.

Gotta love the 80s.