See this picture? It is one of my favorite running locations, the West Ridge trail in Santa Monica. I love the fire roads and single tracks with views of the Santa Monica mountains and the ocean. What you don't see is 5 min after I took this I was thinking about my grocery shopping list, then another 15 min later my mind wandered off to what I was going to eat for lunch (yes I think about food often) and for the record, all that time I was listening to a podcast.
A few weeks back I wrote about going through the motions of running vs getting out there and training. I wasn't making every run count and just finishing the miles to get that check mark on my running plan. Since then, I've found new trails, and bought new gear, in an effort to get that excitement for training going again. (which it has) Recently though I had an A-HA moment, it's not that I wasn't excited or motivated to train, is that I was missing a very important part of my training...incorporating mental training sessions into my plan.
I will be the first to admit I have fallen prey to the over-stimulated society we live in. I am in my happy place when I am multi-tasking and have at least 3 "to do" lists. For the past year or so I constantly find myself doing too many things at one time. This can be watching tv while scrolling through my Instagram account, or checking my email during a break in my workout. Funny though, this chaos was actually a motivating factor in moving to a new location. I was in a job that required long work hours, and was burning the candle at both ends with my personal commitments. Don't get me wrong, I had it under control, and got things done, but I wasn't truly experiencing the moments in my life. I moved to LA to take a step back, let go of a few self-imposed responsibilities and live in an area with beautiful running options.
But here I am 8 months later with the same need to be doing a million things at once. I am still the worst at relaxing. Yes, I now lounge by the pool on recovery days, but while there, I am working, updating one of my to-do lists, or trying to catch up on my news feed. I still crave the visual stimulation and the inspiration social media can bring. I find myself loving a recent podcast, but because I am doing something else while listening, I can't tell you a specific element of the episode. The side effect of this over stimulation and FOMO is my thoughts have become surface level, and I don't have the comprehensive learning I am capable of. If I am going to live the life I want, I must make some changes. Getting back to a more present state of being isn’t going to come naturally, as you can see, I definitely have some work to do.
This month I am going to try to tackle this situation, and focus on finding ways to build this type of mental strength.
I have worked through pretty challenging situations when running, like run up mountains, or in extreme heat, or worse.. extreme cold and high winds. I thought doing those tough workouts would make me mentally stronger. My mantra was, “if I can get through that I can do anything”. But there was a piece missing. After those tough workouts I wasn't doing anything to restore the mental beating I had just taken. As a runner I was taught to give my muscles a post run love. This includes, stretching, foam rolling, compression, etc all in an effort to restore the physical hard work I just accomplished. I work tirelessly to restore and strengthen my physical body, but haven't done nearly enough (which means practically nothing) to restore my mental state. This is why I feel I can’t relax, slow down or just stop and experience life. I have over developed my mental toughness and under developed my mental restorative state. I now realize you need both in order to have mental strength.
I have been researching this for a few weeks and now I am on a mission to find out what type of mental workout is right for me. Over the next month I will be trying quite as few options. This will be yoga (especially yin), meditation, even something as simple as making space and time to be alone, be present. (and that includes being without electronic devices) Heck, my coach is a yoga guru, and has definitely encouraged me to incorporate yoga into my weekly workouts. I know it's going to be hard, probably really hard..but I also used to think running a marathon was really hard and I've accomplished that 12 times.
My goal in this process is to restore the calm in my mind. I want to be able to be more present in every situation, especially when I am out on a 3 hour run. I don't want to go on auto pilot, tune out and not focus on my run. I want to experience the highs and lows of each run, deliberately control my pace, and find ways to improve and learn with each outing. I have goals for my race in October without being able to focus and learn to race, I won't meet them.
For those of you interested, I did have a good week of training.
Keep checking back, I'll share my experiences in new workouts and do an overall recap at the end of September. Do you have a favorite yoga routine, or a calming practice? Share it with me, I need all the tips I can get.
Don’t tell my coach, but I accidentally didn’t follow my training plan this week. Training started off as planned for the first two days, but then Wednesday it took a detour. As I have mentioned I am training for a 25k trail run this fall. On Wednesday’s the race director for this event leads a weekly trail run in Laguna, on the same trails as the race. My training plan called for a tempo run and an easy run this week, but since I was in the Laguna area on Wednesday for a work meeting, I and had to take advantage of the opportunity to take a run on some of the course trails.
The group of runners was incredibly welcoming (as I am finding most trail runners are) and the route was breath taking (we are talking a sunset run high in the mountains with the ocean views). However, I assumed the run would be around 6 miles and it actually ended up being just under 9 miles…ooops. The "detour to my training plan" part is we went for a new route that evening, including the Big Bend loop on our run. This “loop” was 1.5 miles of a steep incline power hike (and by steep incline I mean an elevation gain over a mile of 1,100 feet) I will admit, by the end of the run my legs were tired and I was fading (I didn’t bring any nutrition and totally wished I had). Since it was getting a bit dark the race director, Molly stayed with me, running, chatting and guiding me back to end location. Even though the run was a bit longer and tougher than I (or anyone else running that night) thought it would be, it was such a great run and I even more pumped for the race Molly has put together. I had such a fun time and absolutely loved the trails so much, I hope I am able to meet up with them again sometime soon. At the very least, I will head out there in a couple weeks to do my long run Crystal Cove Park.
However, that isn’t exactly where the story ends. After the Wednesday night run, I drove an hour home, grabbed a bite to eat, took a quick shower and fell into my bed from exhaustion. In case you didn’t catch that, I didn’t stretch, hydrate, or eat protein and boy was that a mistake. I woke up the next morning so sore and stiff I knew I needed to take my rest day earlier than usual. If you are mainly a road racer keep in mind, trail running uses approx. 10% more energy than road runs. If you add elevation, or technical trails to that (rocky single track trails) proper recovery is even more important when you need to bounce back quickly for your next training day . With another long run scheduled on Saturday, I actually decided to take an extra rest day on Friday. Yep, I cut out a run and a cross training workout this week, and that was exactly what I needed. I am committed to following this training plan as written, but sometimes a really great event happens that isn’t on your scheduled, or your body doesn’t respond as well as you thought, so you need to modify. Taking the extra rest day was just what I needed, because I did another hard long run on Saturday and my legs wouldn't have made it without enough rest.
This week’s workouts included:
Random thoughts from the week:
Podcasts: my current obsession.
Yes, I am obsessed with podcasts; all types, all lengths, all formats. I seriously can’t get enough. I listen to them when commuting to work, and they are definitely my secret weapon to keep me moving during a long run.
I thought I would share a list of my favorites and would love to hear yours.
What are you listening too? Do you have a podcast that inspires you, or a playlist that pumps you up? Let me, I would love a listen.
This week began with something I look forward to every 4 years, the Track and Field portion of the Olympics. While I am a bit torn on the Rio event because of numerous doping scandals, I still can’t help but be glued to my computer or tv for coverage to watch some kick-ass ladies compete. I am a sucker for the 1500m, 800m and steeplechase, and want to watch every heat. However, being someone who has run 12 marathons, the Olympic Marathon always pulls at my heart. Sunday, I was like a kid again sitting 2 inches from the TV screen, cheering, screaming and gasping while watching Shalane, Amy and Desi compete with pretty incredible finish times. I can’t wait for even more exciting races this week.
Now, on to what you came here for...
This week’s workouts included:
This week’s random thoughts:
I had a busy week with tons of workouts, a long run with so much climbing and a weekend of playing tourist with family that was visiting. Usually by the end of a long training week and personal commitments, I am pretty pooped and starving, and lately we are talking hangry level. The great thing about this week though, is that my eating seemed to be pretty in balance with my energy because I didn’t let myself reach that dreaded hangry point.
Hangry: when you are burning so many calories, and you are so hungry that you can become angry. Yes, this occurance is pretty typical at this point in my training, as I push a bit harder in my workouts, and run longer miles. Eating during training season can become it’s own sport. The key to “winning” this hunger challenge is to keep the extra calories you are craving and consuming mostly healthy options. It is soo easy to overeat everything in sight at this stage, and as a result can be counterproductive to your training. As a runner, I know it is easy to eat the entire pizza after a long run, and I will admit, I love rewarding myself with a great post run meal. The trick though, is too not talk yourself into believing you can eat the whole pizza every night while you are training for a big event.
You need to balance your reward meals with other great foods that keep restoring and fueling your body, especially if you want to recover properly. I am by no means a nutritionist, and completely encourage a Sunday donut, but I have swung the pendulum both ways. There have been plenty of training cycles where I don’t pay attention to what I am eating, and don’t get a nutritional balance to my meals. There have been other times I didn’t eat enough, lost weight and my muscles suffered because of it. This training cycle, I am trying to manage this constant hunger by keeping a supply of my favorites in my pantry. This includes the following:
Those of you that know me, know I could go on and on about food. I love eating and I love enjoying the food scene here in LA. Do you have a favorite food, or snack that I need to try? I am always looking for new recipes, meals or latest healthy snack.
Check back next week, I’ll be sharing another list of favorites. This time, it’s what I listen to during my long runs.
Most of you are familiar with this scenario: You hear about a race in your area, pay the entry fee (which isn’t cheap anymore), get a new running outfit, and then get to the event and realize the event is completely unorganized and there isn’t even a cool t-shirt. Well, that doesn’t need to happen ever again….once you find Bib Rave .
Bib rave is an on-line portal for race reviews. The goal of this on-line resource is simple…search for a race, read a review from past participants and decide if that is the race for you. Or, run a race, write a review and tell others about your experience.
Bib Rave was founded in 2013 by Tim and Jessica Murphy. We actually met way back when the business was launching, as they were one of the first supporters of a run club I helped launch in Chicago called Crew Runs the World. Not only are the Murphy’s very accomplished runners, but they are some of the nicest people you will meet in the running community. One can’t help but developing a friendship with them and trust their insight to what is going on in all things running.
The company began, as the founders realized there was a need in the market to locate more details on the race day experience, before you hand over big bucks for an event. Yes, there are bloggers who post race reviews, but it can be a bit daunting to dig through the layers the internet. There are also various websites that provide details for up and coming races in a local area. However, those sites usually lack the personal experience had at the event. Tim and Jessica's mission for this website is to create a space for runners from all over the United States, as well as Canada, to find and share honest race reviews from real participants.
Over the years, the business has expanded to include an ambassadorship program which currently includes 75 running ambassadors. These ambassadors help promote various running events, run cool races throughout the country and even review gear from sponsors. While complementary entries are given and gear provided to some ambassadors, Bib Rave has an expectation that each review is honest. The goal isn’t to fill up with website with loads of reviews, but to provide real perspective from every day runners.
One other fun thing that has evolved from this business is a weekly twitter chat hosted by Bib Rave. Each Tuesday at 8pm central time a facilitator hosts the chat, asking questions based on a weekly theme. Anyone can participate and the answers are shared via the hashtag #bibchat. These chats are highly informative and an amazing way for the running community to connect while sharig tips, and advice. In my opinion, this should be a must on runners weekly “to do list”. Let me warn you..the chat tends to lead to a side discussion on food, donuts, or beer, so don’t participate on an empty stomach.
Why am I telling you about Bib Rave? First of all, I think it is an amazing resource that I have used numerous times before deciding on a race. Secondly, they have so graciously asked me to join their ambassador team to help spread the word in Southern California.
This means that on occasion I might run a race, provide a race discount offer or review a product from a company that has been referred by Bib Rave, but the catch is, I still will be providing an honest recap on what I discovered.
So, what are you waiting for…head to www.Bibrave.com for some race research and make your next run the best race ever.
This week’s long run called for 13 miles, and for some reason I was a bit anxious about this. It has been a couple months since I ran that far in one run, and after last week’s crash and burn I was honestly a little intimated by the thought of 13 trail miles. This was a bit hard for me to rationalize because a couple weeks back I had the best runs in Tahoe on some tough courses. I took time to review my running log, reflecting back on that trip and I realized the naivety and excitement for running on a new trail calmed the nerves of running tough miles. It’s funny how being surrounded by beauty can be such a great distraction. However, if I am going to accomplish my goals for this 25K in October I knew I needed to start this long run in a good mental space and find a way to push back the anxiety.
On Friday, I set an intention of getting myself pumped for this Saturday long run. I opened the new Oiselle bra/top I had just received in the mail, jumped on the internet to find new trail options, and then took some downtime to relax and listen to one of my favorite podcasts. Believe it or not, this really did the trick. My new gear was soo cozy for the 2+ hours of running, the podcast episode featuring one of my favorite trail runners Devon Yanko reminded me of the power of women trail runners and the new trail route was absolutely perfect! I was focused and mentally present on my run, concentrating on the terrain while enjoying the fresh view. Yes, 13 miles was still hard, but I was relaxed, ran a good pace, felt strong, and I LOVED the views of the trails. (Seriously I can’t wait to go back to this spot to run again) I walked away from that run feeling better than I had in a while and knowing I can do this. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but it really felt great to push through the “fear” of the run and realize the base training I have put in is really working.
Here is how my week’s training stacked up:
Random thoughts from the week:
--I must prepare my strength training workouts in advance and incorporate more running drills during the week. My ankles and hips are taking a beating, so I need to work on building that strength as well as my running form & economy. This includes drills such as A-skips, high knees, butt kicks, etc. I will talk to my coach about ankle work, as she has given me some great ideas for my strength workouts.
--I focused on hydrating more this week, and can do even better. I sweat a lot when I workout and loose a lot of salt, so I need to focus on this more than others. Vishal from Nuun wrote this blog post this week on the importance of salt, and it was a great reminder for me.
--I have been keeping a log of my weekly workouts, but this week I realized I need more details. Less info about the mileage, as my Garmin and Strava accounts record that detail, and more on the specifics of workout and the effects (such as how I fueled, how it felt, etc).
My focus for this cycle of my training plan is to build strength and endurance. Keep checking back, to see how it goes. Oh, and if you have ideas for other great trails in the LA area, or running drills that you love…send them my way.
Ever have a week where you are just going through the motions? Well, that was what happened with my training this week. Summer has arrived in Southern California. The days have been hot and humid and the night’s cool. This would be perfect, in fact the very reason I moved to LA; problem is my training was off this week. The reason it was off? I didn’t put complete effort into each of my runs. My speed and tempo were good but short, and my long run bombed. Yes, it was hot and I was unusually tired this week, but those are excuses. I know better. I have trained in heat and high humidity for many years. I said I when I started this blog, I would be honest. So, I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you it was awesome.
Here is how the week went down:
But it wasn’t all disappointment this week. Sunday I had planned a meet up with some fellow Oiselle Volée runners. We took a Standup Paddle Board class and it was a blast. The class took place in Marina del Ray where the instructor took us on a paddling tour of the marina. The class was a great workout, we even incorporated some squats, v-ups and surfboard style paddling to get our heart rate pumping in the session. It was a relaxing way to connect with others, and soak up some sun. I absolutely love exploring the LA fitness options, and doing it with new friends makes it even better. Best of all, we made it through an hour of paddling, and working out without falling in.
Random thoughts from this week:
This week was a good wake up call, I must get back in “training mode” vs “running mode”. It’s time to commit to being prepared and pushing myself to meet my goals, not just run the distance to check off my training plan. I must make each workout count as step toward my goal.
Where do I go from here? It’s all about getting back to the basics. I will set intentions and commit to meeting them. I am 3 months out from race day. It’s time to elevate and get my rear in gear.
Here are my workout intentions for this month:
--Elevate my strength training, by incorporating heavier weights and longer workouts.
--Hydrating before workouts. I need to focus on taking in electrolytes and fuel prior to my runs, so that I don’t bonk early, especially with the summer temps.
--Setting pace goals for my speed workouts. My training plan calls for timed runs for speed but I need to run my speed sessions hitting interval pace times closer to 7:30 min per mile.
--Rest days before long runs. If I am going to hit the double digit training miles, I need fresh legs which means I need to take a rest day prior to my long run.
--Stretching session every day. I am not sure if it is age, or just hitting more mileage, but my legs are so tight and heavy unless I take lots of time to stretch. I must spend time every night giving my body love, especially if I am going to prevent injury.
Check back next week to see how I am Running Fierce and Living Fit.