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Worst Week of Training So Far?

After my kick-ass training last week, I felt better than ever. The mountain top was in sight and I was full steam ahead. Then I got smacked with a cold. Combine that with a feeling like my legs were made of lead and what you have folks is a terrible training week. I just couldn’t get any runs in during the week.

Yesterday, it was gorgeous out so we went out for a nice leisurely run to test my legs and lungs. It really wasn’t bad and I actually ran some of my fastest splits in a long while. Today’s run I decided to cut short by 4 miles just to be careful, especially because my left thigh just above my knee is feelings a little tweakish.

Anyway, on my run today I started thinking about how there are a few songs on my playlist that inspire slow motion montages in my head. It’s like they trigger “if this was a move, here are the scenes that would go along with this song.” Do you have those?

Songs currently inspiring the montage:

Gym Class Hereos: Fighter

Kelly Clarkson: Stronger

A 32 Mile Week: 20 Miler Numero Uno!

I am currently laying on my couch knowing that I accomplished a lot this morning, but also knowing that I don’t anticipate being able to move anytime soon. I ran 20 miles this morning, and I did it in just over three hours and 30 minutes.

The 20 miler has been looming over me since marathon training started. There was something about 20 that just made me anxious. I think it was the fact that I knew what 10 miles felt like and this would double that feeling. I know this is going to sound bad, but it was nice to know that my training partner–who has done multiple marathons–was also feeling the anxiety before today’s run.

It was also nice that several of my Twitter friends had words of encouragement and bribes of baked goods to keep me motivated.

Encouragement at its best

I was nervous that my shins would start acting up, the last few runs have been cut short because of pain. As we started running though there was no pain and it stayed away. It wasn’t until we started up the climb on Wisconsin that my legs started to ask why? The view from the top though was awesome and worth the climb. In fact the entire run was worth the pain I am currently feeling.

Now here’s my question. I recently read an article that said it takes 3-4 weeks to recover from an 18-20 miler and that you SHOULDN’T do a 20 miler within a month of the race. My second 20 miler is scheduled for 2 weeks from today. Should I do it? Or should I just begin the taper?

Eating to Fuel the Long Run

Listen to a conversation between people training for a marathon, and you’ll hear three main topics: how many miles they’re running this week, which part(s) of their body are sore or tight, and what to eat. Runners know that food fuels exercise, but what type of food and when to eat are key questions.

What to Eat

Running all those miles means your body needs more fuel than usual, which translates into choosing foods that are good sources of healthy carbohydrates, supply plenty of vitamins and minerals, and help promote muscle recovery. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk and yogurt, and protein found in soy, legumes, or fish give your body the energy and stamina required for marathon training. Choose less processed foods whenever possible: baked potato instead of French fries, fruit instead of a candy bar, or a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread instead of an energy bar. A marathoner’s body craves the nutrients naturally found in foods, not the sugar, fat, sodium and flavorings added to processed food.

Tips for Vegetarian Runners

The Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Dietary Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends vegetarian athletes include plant-based iron-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole and enriched grains, dark green leafy vegetables, or dried fruit on a daily basis for optimal energy levels. Include foods high in calcium and vitamin D such as fortified soy milk or tofu made with calcium for strong bones and to reduce the risk of stress fractures. Vegan runners need a source of vitamin B12 found in nutritional yeast, soy milk, or fortified foods like many breakfast cereals.

When to Eat

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD , a nationally-recognized sports nutrition expert, recommends three stages of fueling for endurance running: before the run, during the run, and after the run. Choose easily digested foods high in carbohydrate to provide energy before you run. This is not the time for high-fiber cereal or slow-digesting legumes, which could lead to stomach upset or cramping during a run. Instead, choose small amounts of pasta, rice, bagels, fruit, cereal or yogurt one to two hours before exercise. Limit fat in your pre-run meals, because fat takes longer to digest and could cause nausea. Refuel during runs lasting longer than one hour with a carbohydrate-based sports drink, gel, chew or real food such as Fig Newtons or pretzels. Encourage muscle recovery by eating a balanced meal with both carbohydrate and protein within one hour after finishing a run. The carbohydrate helps restore muscle glycogen and the protein promotes muscle repair. Enjoy a rice or quinoa pilaf with legumes or tofu, peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, or a vegetable stir-fry with shrimp. Refueling after a long run preps your body for a run the next day.

Food choices and timing of meals and snacks are just as important as long endurance runs or fast tempo runs. Skip meals, and you’ll find yourself dragging through a workout. Plan your food choices just as carefully as you choose your shoes or track your heart rate, and your body will respond with increased energy for the entire 26.2 miles.

Guest Blogger Lynn Grieger is a registered dietitian, American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, Wellness Coach, and Road Runners Club of America certified running coach and contributor to Everyday Health and its calorie counter tool.

Switching Up the Long Run

Kristin & I did our long run on Saturday this week. That little change (despite a crappy running week) actually gave me more of a desire to run on Sunday too. Usually, I do my little 3-4 miles on Saturday to loosen up the legs, and dread the long run the following today. Not so much. Even though we cut the run short (neither of us were really in the mood) it was still a pretty good run.

Since I started running with Kristin I haven’t been listening to music. We pretty much just talk, or run together in short bursts of silence. I love it and it’s something I never used to do.

This is not Kristin and me…we look super sweaty when we run

Back in NYC I would go out for runs with McKenzie and Kristin (different one, apparently Kristins like to run) and we would have one ear bud in and one out. Yes, we chatted and it was great. But the background noise was still a bit of a distraction.

Next weekend I will be in NYC and I have to get my first 20 in. I am a bit nervous. Do I want to run it in the city before heading home? What does that mean from an ice bath, sitting on the train for 3 hours stiffness? Or do I want to head home and force myself to go for the run when I get back?

Workout Out Review: Edge Yoga

I finally took the plunge on Friday and tested out a yoga studio near me–Edge Yoga. I haven’t been to a proper (I say proper, meaning it isn’t a class at Gold’s) yoga class since moving to D.C. and I really needed it.

I marched myself over to Mark’s Yoga I class expecting a nice easy Friday afternoon flow. I was wrong, dead wrong. I would say the class is taught in a more Power Yoga style. There were absolutely varying levels of yogis in the room, but this was a serious group. Handstands and all. Mark moved pretty quickly through the flows and I quickly worked up a sweat. Every time I hit down dog I chastened myself for not bringing my towel, that’s how sweaty I was.

Mark was really attentive and help get me into the binds and keep my balance in some of the more challenging poses. I asked for hip openers and I am pretty sure he quickly ascertained why. I couldn’t for the life of me get into Bird of Paradise on my right side.

Would I try more classes? Yes. Would I bring my towel? Absolutely. Is this the studio for me? Not sure.

Marathon Training: 18! (or as my dad thought YAY TEAM)

By all accounts this was not an awesome training week for me. Every single run was sluggish, cut short, and just dreadful. That includes my simple 4 miler from yesterday.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to my run with Kristen this morning. Eighteen felt like a foreign number that stirred my stomach into this incredibly uneasy feeling. More than once I thought about canceling. I didn’t want to submit Kristen to my poor running abilities, but I sucked it up.

Today’s run was really something to behold. In addition to running a completely new route, we also got to experience the Nation’s  Tri.

It was so beautiful today, even with the debris from last night’s storm

The route took us up the Capital Crescent Trail to the Palisades (someone please tell me who lives in those gorgeous/enormous homes), through Tenleytown, down past Adam’s Morgan, The Capitol, and the Tidal basin ending back in Georgetown. We got to see the bike and foot race, causing both of us to say “nuh uh, no way we will EVER do that.”

We kept a good pace throughout the run today finishing at 3:06:12, which isn’t too bad considering the first leg was pretty much uphill (like the race). I was really happy that we finished and that I ran much better than the rest of the week.

Of course right now I feel like death and not even my nice bath seemed to help.

Marathon Training: Is Speed Work Necessary?

This week marks what I am calling the beginning of the trip down the mountain in marathon training. That means tomorrow is officially the start of what should be speed work.

I’ve never been much for picking a goal time and trying to get to it–I just like to say I finished. Because of this interval training has been reserved for fat burning, treadmill routines.

I’ve been getting slower over the last few years. I don’t know if it is because I haven’t trained appropriately for my last few halfs or I didn’t rest enough. Regardless now that speed work is here I am considering actually doing it.

The plan calls for 6 miles with 4 x 800 at MP. I am going to be honest here and tell you that I have NO idea how to do that. Do I go to the track? Do I just use my new handy dandy watch to time it out?