Sunday, August 31, 2014

Running with Blueberries

So I have come to realize that running is much like blueberry picking. Does that sound crazy?  It probably is but think about this.  We have four big blueberry trees here on our property.  For the past couple weeks I've been going outside every couple of days to pick the new ripened blueberries.  It's really my favorite time of day.  I usually go out in the late afternoon.   It's very quiet.  I can hear the trees in the wind.  Birds flying overhead, sun warm on my face.  I'm not really sure what made me think of it but as I was moving under the bushes to get another look for ripened berries is dawned on for this 50 mile ultra is like blueberry picking.  Have you ever gone blueberry picking and you look at a branch from the top and you don't see a lot of berries.  Maybe you see one or two berries and you pick them off.  If you stopped there your bucket wouldn't be very full would it?
But if you go around to the other side of the bush or you bend down and look up you see ripen berries that you never saw before.  It's all about perspective, taking a second look.  That's really what this whole process of training for this ultra marathon is like for me.  I've had to take a second look at many different aspects of myself.  I've had to bend, reassess and be honest about what I am doing and not doing consistently.  My perspective on the larger goal is shaping and changing.  But instead of the training bending to meet my needs I must bend and form to meet it.  I cannot just look at it head on,  I must wait, be patient and look at the bigger picture.  Much like blueberry picking if you pick a berry too early it will be tart.  But if you wait a day or two it will ripen into a sweet treat.  Training is a delicate balance of working hard and waiting.  Each facet of the plan is important to the next.  Getting in your runs, strength training, eating properly, stretching and rest are all essential to the next part of the plan.
What I have found is that I am not working each part of the plan.  One facet being my nutrition. As a dietitian I eat fairly well. You can see many of my clean eating food posts on IG. But I'm not consistent when it comes to getting my protein after workouts or making sure I'm properly fueled or hydrated. As my mileage is creeping up the demands on my body are that much greater.  I have to really think about eating as part of the training plan.

Another perspective is warming up and stretching. I've never been good at that. I think I'm just so busy sometimes that I don't take the time. But it's not optional anymore.  My muscles need to be warmed up prior to heading out. They need to be stretched and rolled on the foam roller daily.  I need to take care of them, so they take care of me.

I have also had to mentally change my expectations of my physical capabilities. I cannot look at my garmin watch and look at my time.  If I am honest it's crap.  My legs are so tired all the time from running, cross training that I can't keep a fast pace, it's defeating.  I'm actually happy if my over all time comes out in the 10min/mi range.  That's a huge mental change from someone who's always been obsessed with catching the BQ.  But I'm having to bend my expectations.  I have to take a different look to what the ultimate goal is.

So the next time you go blueberry picking. Take a moment to think about how taking a second look at something; whether is training for a race, an issue at work, a relationship.  How can you come at it from a different angle?  What things are you doing or not doing to help the situation?  For me I have to work on my nutrition, taking better care of my body and be kind to myself.  I have to let go of time expectations during my runs, knowing it's part of a larger goal....50 Mile Ultra Nov 8th!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

So You Want To Be A Runner?

Well one thing I'm learning very quickly training for this ultra is that you can't just run and think that's good enough.  I have always been someone who cross trains.  Since moving to MA I have tried multiple gyms to try to find the perfect fit for me.  I like doing classes and also being able to use the free weights and workout on my own.  Over the past two years my cross training has been very haphazard. I go to a few classes, do some of my usual weight routine but nothing consistent.  I can totally feel the places where I need more muscle strength to keep up with the demand of this training program.

It's funny because looking back at all my different race experiences the races that I did well were ones that running was on par with my weight training.  So I'm back at it a minimum of two days a week.  If your looking for a place to start or maybe take your weight training to the next level check out Mountain Athlete. My running coach introduced me to this site and it is awesome.  The people at Mountain Athlete know their stuff!  They have training plans to fit different types of goals, ultra running, mountain climbing, skiing.  They provide video demonstrations of all the different exercises so you can make sure your form is correct.

So if you want to be a runner utra runner, then you cannot just run.  You need to strength train to get your body to perform at it's peak.  Do you strength train?  How often?  What keeps you motivated?  I want to hear all about it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Tunes Week 2!

So here we are on to our second installment of Tuesday Tunes!

As I  stated last week I am definitely a runner who runs with music.  I know some of you poo poo that idea but for me it's motivating.  I have been known to skip a run until later because my iPod was not charged.  For me when I hear certain songs it pumps me up.  I'm also a spin instructor so we all know how important music is to those classes.  A bad mix of music can make a 60 minute class painful. 

Like it or hate it music is motivating.  Come on even the most dedicated runner who never runs with music can attest that certain songs can bring out your "beast mode" pretty quickly.

Did you like last weeks selection?  If you missed it you can find the post here.  This weeks song is one that mixes a little techno with an oldie.  It's California Dreaming by Royal Gigolos.  Listen to the whole 30 second preview before you make your decision.  It's such a fun song.  When I play it in spin class people are like what the heck is this but as soon as the beat of the older version gets mixed in and people love it!

Let me know what you think.
Happy Tuesday!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tunes!

I am definitely a runner who runs with music.  I have been known to skip a run until later because my iPod was not charged.  For me when I hear certain songs it pumps me up.  I'm also a spin instructor so we all know how important music is to those classes.  A bad mix of music can make a 60 minute class painful.

Like it or hate it music is motivating.  Come on even the most dedicated runner who never runs with music can attest that certain songs can bring out your "beast mode" pretty quickly.

So I thought I would start sharing some of my favorites.  I always am tweaking my play lists and before my races I will make a play list based on the time I want to complete my race in.  I will put a certain song at the 2 hour mark so I can gauge how I'm doing.  Yes I have my garmin or Nike+ watch to look at but sometimes hearing that song at the two hour mark will refocus me on my goal.

So for today I am giving you one of my favorite songs, I Feel So Close To You; by Calvin Harris EP remix.  This has been on my spin class play list as well as my marathon play list.  It has a great beat.  Take a listen you won't be disappointed.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Am I Crazy?

Does it seem like everyone thinks I'm crazy?  When you tell people you are training for a marathon they look at you and nod appreciatively.  Most people even if they haven't run one can relate in some form or fashion.  When you tell someone that you are training for an ultra marathon you get a blank stare....

Oh what is that, they ask.  So you try to explain that there are many types of ultra races, 32 milers, 50 miles, 100 miles, 50K, 100K, 12 hour 24 hour...the list goes on; but you've chosen a 50 mile ultra race.  Again with the blank stare and maybe an eye roll. The next question I get is....50 miles in one day?  Yes in one day I say.  Again the blank stare, eye brows furrowed, you can see the smoke billowing from there head trying to imagine running 50 miles.  The next question I get is Why?  Honestly that's a hard one to answer because I have many reasons for wanting to take this on.
For starters I like a challenge.  I like to push the limits of what I am capable of.  I know fitness is important for a healthy life but having a goal, big or small keeps me motivated.  I like to have races on the books, it makes me accountable.  Also I really enjoy running long distances.  I relish my long runs.  I do most of my training alone.  I love being with my thoughts, it's where I find some space from the hectic day to day. I can think through things and gain perspective.  It is something that is solely mine which being married and having three children you can lose sight of yourself.  So that's why I run...that's why I'm taking this on. 

So Why am I training for a 50 mile Ultra Marathon...because I can and it brings me joy.  Oh and PS to all of my blank stare friends....I'm not crazy.  Well ok maybe a little :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It's really happening!

I've got so many things to share I'm not sure which one to tell you all first!  OK first I am officially registered for the Stone Cat 50 Mile Ultra Run- November 8th! Whoot whoot!  It was a lottery for entry so even though I signed up right at 12am when the lottery opened I wasn't sure I had gotten in until it closed 12 days later!

Other great news surrounding my latest challenge is that I have an amazing coach and friend to guide me through this next journey.  Her name is Tara and I will be sharing more about her experience as an accomplished ultra runner in another post.  But all I can say for now is I cannot wait to learn from her and embrace the ultra running community.

Tara & I after a hot 2014 Boston Marathon finish.
As my coach Tara asked me to think about what my goals were for this race.  Goals....humm that's an interesting concept.  It's a great question and one I probably would have over looked in thinking through my plan.  I mean when I run a road race, time is usually the first and foremost goal for me.  A personal best is always in play at most of my races now.  But when going for a 50 mile ultra run the goals must be different.  So I pondered this for a few days and I jotted them down.  This is what I came up with and emailed to her.

OK so I have been thinking about what you asked me, i.e. My goals for this 50 mi trail race.
1. Make it through the training uninjured.
2. Learn how to eat/hydrate properly. Complete the race without being nutritionally depleted. (This one is big for me because I have had many races where I have experienced the repercussions of dehydration.)
3. Finish the race feeling strong both mentally and physically. (I think I have mentioned that I have been having issues with psyching myself out, so I want to feel totally confident in my abilities and not doubt myself or the training process.)
4. Finish under 11 hours.  (I do think this is a lofty goal, but hey a girls gotta dream right?)

Pretty basic I know, but right now I'm not feeling in tip top physical shape.  As for running I feel good.  My base mileage is where it needs to be, but I need to work on some strength training and find a balance.  Unfortunately cross-fit just isn't fitting into my training schedule right now, so I have to look at other options for me.  Hot yoga is very important for my flexibility so I have to get that in at least 1x per week now.  I have an initial plan that I got off of this site.  But Tara has taken all of my requests i.e.  Yoga, Strength Training, need for variety into account and she is mocking up my plan as we speak.   I am very, very, VERY scared to trail run by myself so that is going to be a huge obstacle for me to conquer.  But what is life without challenges?  

This past week was my first full week of training, where I accomplished training runs and required weekly milage.  The first 4 weeks are really about ramping up my mileage again to get a good base.  I was pretty psyched that I rocked my first back to back long runs a 12 mi Saturday and 10 mi Sunday.  ((It is to be noted that I was only so posed to do 8, somehow I had it in my head it was 10 miles and I did 10, oh well).  I felt amazing, way better than I thought.  In fact Sundays run was much more enjoyable than Saturdays who knew!  I guess the object is to keep your expectations low and you won't be disappointed! LOL.  This was last weeks schedule and what I actually did.
Jul 21Week 3 0        104          02          04     4.58012 12.018   10.3330   36.3     
I did more than I needed and I understand that cannot continue.  The 10 on Monday was actually soposed to be done the previous week but I couldn't get it in so it happened Monday, hence the 0 mileage on other days.  On tap this week was this.... I'm off to hit that 14 miler!  I really feel like this is happening! Yippee!
Jul 28Week 402     5.584          06      5.58014834