Saturday, January 20, 2018


At some point in our running careers most of us have had a DNF ("did not finish") for a run. Usually the acronym is reserved for not finishing a race, but for me I use it when I don't finish my designated mileage for my training runs as well. I've (fortunately) never had to DNF a race, but training runs... that's a completely different story.

Today was one of those DNF training run days. My legs felt like lead from the very beginning; and between not getting enough sleep last night and being mentally exhausted from a very long, equally frustrating work week, I just could not push myself to do more than 6 (of the planned 10) miles.

I've been trying different strategies to work on mental preparation for my runs and my races because 9 times out of 10 the problem is less of a physical limitation and more of a "I'm not confident that I can do this" limitation. Mental training is hard. Especially since I'm not one of those overly confident individuals to begin with. And when it comes to running I doubt myself a lot.

This morning there was an "awkward yeti" type battle between my various organ systems...
Brain: Can I get through 10 miles?
Legs: I'm tired
Heart: I want to go back to bed
Stomach: I'm hungry
Brain: Well...
Legs: I'm still tired
Heart: I'm really sleepy
Nose: *sniff*
Stomach: Is that fresh baked bread?
Nose: *sniff sniff*
Stomach: *grumbles*
Brain: Well...
Heart: If I was sleeping right now I would be so happy
Brain: Fiiine
Legs: No I think I can
Brain: Too late I'm done. Let's stop at 6 miles
All: YAY!!!!!!

So I stopped at 6 miles. I was running with Mimi who continued on to complete the remaining 4 miles (after we took a quick post-run pic)...

Considering I did a (virtual) half marathon last weekend and I have the Tropical 5K and Miami Half Marathon next weekend, I'm not upset that upset about my DNF training run today. I may do a few miles if others from my running group want to hit the road tomorrow morning. If not, I might just sleep, or swim, or sleep, or do some weight training, or sleep.

This week (so far) I've done two 4 milers and two 6 milers. The distance sets were almost identical...

I'm trying to focus on incremental measurable goals for each week so that I can track my improvement (and not get thrown off by any one run). This week, for example, the group increased our run:walk intervals to 90s:30s and my personal goal was to maintain a sub-12 mins/mile average pace for all my runs (mission accomplished). Next week the running duration won't increase, but the new pace goal will be sub-11:45mins/mile. Each week will have a new goal and I will continue to set new weekly goals once I have accomplished the goal of the current week.

I'm doing the same for cross training. My goal was to swim twice this week for a minimum of 30 minutes each session. I only got through one 30 min session (on Monday) so next week I will aim for the same 2 swim session goal 💪.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Any races planned for the rest of January?

Did you accomplish all your training goals this week?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Key West Virtual Half {"race" recap}

To kick off 2018's running calendar I decided to sign up for the Key West virtual Half Marathon...
Normally I wouldn't register for a race before the Miami Half Marathon race weekend (which is usually the weekend that starts my running calendar); but once I saw the medal I really had no choice but to register...
(The. Lighthouse. Lights. Up!)

I'm a real sucker for cool race medals. I won't even pretend to deny it. The first thing I think about when I'm considering registering for a race is "what does the medal look like?" Well actually, the first thing is probably do I get a medal? and then I determine if it's pretty enough to justify the race entry fee :)

Anyway, since my heart felt obligated to run for the lighthouse, I signed up for the virtual option and ran it this morning...

I ran with Jani for the first 6+ miles and then Mimi and I ran the last 7+ miles. During the first 6 Jani and I encountered a guy who was wearing less than ideal clothing for the 50 degree weather we were having and utilizing the sidewalk as his personal urinal. Not cool. We ran on the road to avoid having to run by him on the sidewalk (especially since he also appeared drunk/high on something). We also dealt with a pretty strong headwind for the first 3 miles, but other than that the first half of my virtual half was great.

When Jani and I got back to our cars, Mimi and I headed out for the second half of my half. We decided to add a change to our normal running route and included a highway overpass as part of an out and back section. Garmin claims that I started at high elevation for this run but I can guarantee you the route was pretty flat apart from those last two "hills" when we ran over the overpass and back...

Fortunately Mimi and I didn't encounter any unsavory characters on our route and we finished faster than I anticipated with a negative split (i.e. second half of the race was faster than the first half)...

Now I just have to patiently wait for my lighthouse medal to come in the mail! And start getting ready for the Tropical 5K and Miami Half Marathon coming up in two weeks!!!

Do you run virtual races?

What was your favorite virtual race (and why?)

What's your biggest motivator for registering for a race?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This Is The Year...

I'm declaring my marathon PR from now. I'm not going to let my own self-doubts (that are sure to creep up) stop me. I'm not going to let the (ridiculous) negative comments from people stop me. And I'm not going to let the fact that the pace I need for my PR goal (which I have not seen/sustained for a while) stop me. This is the year of my marathon PR. One of many probably hopefully.
2015 was a good (albeit injury filled year) for running, and 2017 showed good promise for the shorter distances...
But 2018? Well this year is the year that surpasses all other years. This is the year of PRs! The year of my running goals. The year that I take back the passion and dedication that I allowed to get lost in the abyss of doubts, demands, and declining commitment. 

It's going to be a GREAT year. I can just feel it!

What are you looking forward to this year?

Do you have any specific goals for your running/training?

Do you love The Awkward Yeti comics as much as I do?

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Match Made In Training Heaven...

You know what's better than running? Well, nothing. But you know what's almost as great as running? Cross training! And I'm not just talking about the dynamic stretching that most of us runners do say we do before our runs. I mean an actual cross training activity that's fun, non-impact (or minimal impact), and one that helps strengthen all those under-used non-running muscles.

My go-to cross training activity is swimming. When I do it consistently I really feel an improvement in my endurance level. But, to be honest, it's also the activity that I opt out of a lot. When I feel like my body needs rest I'm more likely to skip a cross training day than I am to miss out on a run...

I'm even worse with body weight strength training and CrossFit type activities cause let's face it... squats suck, burpees will kill you, and no box is low enough for me to jump on it without immediately falling off.

The problem with being inconsistent with cross training (mainly because I'm not good at it) is that I will NEVER be good at it without being consistent. I really have no excuse because consistent cross training with steady improvement will help me run better and stronger. And when I’ve stuck with it during my marathon training I’ve noticed those exact results.

Over the past few years and training cycles I've complied a list of my top 7 cross training tips that (when I actually follow them) have proved to be beneficial. My goal is to follow them as I train for the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 6th because I have some serious PR goals for that race...

Hopefully some of these tips will help you when training for your next big event!

1. Choose a cross training activity that you LIKE to do
Nothing is worse than dreading your workout. And, if you choose a cross training activity that you hate, you're less likely to do it (and certainly less likely to do it well). Try and incorporate a form of cross training that you like to do! Make it a "break from running" that will ultimately help improve your running.

2. Cross training should supplement (not impede) your running
If your cross training activities are too intense then you essentially won't give your body enough time to rest and recover. With marathon training "time on your feet" matters a lot. However, if your muscles are sore from your running miles AND sore from all the minutes you spend cross training, then eventually you'll be too sore to do anything at all! Cross training should complement your marathon training, not detract from it.

3. Schedule cross training with the same commitment that you give your training runs
It's easy to give in to the temptation to skip a cross training day. Try not to. Make it an essential part of your overall marathon training plan and tackle it with the same commitment that you do your runs. Of course, if your body needs rest or you're injured then take the time off you need. But don't skip cross training just for the sake of doing so. It's important so treat it as such.

4. Join forces with a friend for extra motivation
You know how those miles fly by when you're running with a friend? Well cross training can be even more enjoyable when you're working out with a friend. Use the opportunity to motivate each other while simultaneously supporting each other. Whether it's one more rep or one more lap in the pool, help each other get it done!

5. Avoid impact activities that don't allow your legs to rest
Running works specific leg muscles and they need rest. Doing high (and even moderate) impact activities can inhibit your ideal "leg rest" period. Try to incorporate cross training activities that work different muscles and are less taxing on your legs. It's especially important to work on strengthening your core and upper body (as those areas tend to be neglected when marathon training).

6. Track your progress just like you track your miles
Who doesn't like setting a goal and accomplishing it right? Cross training goals are important. Start off by determining your baseline (e.g. How many pool laps can you swim without stopping? What weight can you lift for strength training? etc.) and aim for steady incremental improvements. Do you max out at 20 squats? Aim for 25 the next time. Can you swim up to 800 meters? Aim for 1000 the next time. Focus on gradual improvement and celebrate those accomplishments!

7. Don't forget the goal is to become a stronger runner!
At the end of the day when you’re training for a marathon your goals should be to finish strong and injury-free. And, for many of us, we also want to finish as fast as we can while ensuring those first two goals are accomplished. Cross training should always focus on those end goals. It should be fun and, just as importantly, it should be beneficial.

Since we are at the official start of training for the Pittsburgh Marathon (did you guys do the kick off training run last Sunday?) now is the best time to figure out what cross training activity (or even a couple of activities) you're going to do to get ready for the big day! And if you still haven’t registered yet, use my discount code: YOUNGDSGPM18 for $10 off your registration fee (you can register HERE).

I look forward to seeing you on the course!

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

How many cross training days do you schedule in your half/full marathon training plan?

True/False: Squats are worse than Burpees (my answer – TRUE!)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Off To A Great Start...

2018 is off to a great start so far (training-wise). Which is good since I spent most of the Christmas/New Years holiday period not training. Instead I focused on spending time with family and friends and trying not to stress about the amount of calories I was consuming. 

But when 2018 rolled around (and I woke up from my nap after ringing in the new year,) Sanya (my twin sister) and I headed out for a walk. Not just a simple walk though, a 1 mile uphill I-can-barely-breathe-while-doing-this walk...
(One day I'm going to try and run that entire mile uphill)

I came home later that day and didn't do anything related to training until the 5th, which essentially was my first run of 2018. Fortunately it didn't suck as much as I thought it would considering I hadn't run since December 21st! What made it even greater was the fact that we had more people doing the group run...

And then this morning I kicked off Pittsburgh Marathon training with a 10 mile group run!

Today marked the official start of the Pittsburgh Marathon training cycle and while runners headed out on a "kick off" run in Pittsburgh, I ran "virtually" with my running group...

I'm trying to get more people to run Pittsburgh with me! And as an official blogger for the race I have a discount code so you can get $10 off the race registration (for any distance: full, half or relay). The discount code is: YOUNGDSGPM18 and this is the link to register. It's the 10th year anniversary of the marathon so you know it's going to be an incredible event!

While most of the group braved the South Florida cold weather close to home, we cheered on our missing running teammate Mimi who completed an absolutely incredible Disney Marathon today to close out an even more amazing 2018 Dopey Challenge! 
(so proud of you Mimi!!!)

I'm really excited about this year and all my 2018 goals. I decided several weeks ago to try journaling this year. But instead of writing a mini dissertation about my thoughts and feelings (after all that's what my blog is for right?) I decided to incorporate a daily note of gratitude and a variety of different little things in my Commit30 planner....

I got the planner as a "pixie" Christmas present from my younger sister. My siblings and I do a pixie gift exchange (we started a couple of years ago) and it has become something I look forward to each year. 2017 was even better since we decided to post our "wish list" which made the gift buying process a whole lot easier. A planner or bullet journal was on my list and fortunately my "pixie" listened ;)

I also got a 2018 running log from my parents which is perfect for tracking my training specific activities!

I have a lot of goals for this year. A marathon PR is one of them (an important one), but so is:
1. Improving my running pace;
2. Swimming 1 mile (freestyle only... right now I can do breaststroke without a problem but freestyle kills me); and
3. Running 1000 miles (which I'm visually tracking in my planner as well)...

What are your 2018 goals?

Any major races on the calendar for this year?

Have you ever journaled?