Modified fartleks for 10 (miles)

Saturday’s run – my description: Modified fartleks for 10 miles (holy hell)
Saturday’s run – Scott’s description: ‘we had fun.’

Um hi, who the heck throws fartleks into a 10 mile training run and *then* says it was ‘fun.’
…that would be my husband, who I know believe is crazier than I am.

For those of you wondering – a fartlek is:

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes

So while we didn’t do full-out fartlek work on Saturday, we sure as hell did a modified version of it. And it hurt. A lot.

I still haven’t decided if I would’ve liked a courtesy heads-up from Scott that this was in ‘his’ plan for us on Saturday or not — I kind of think if I knew it was coming, I would’ve wussed my way out of it somehow. Or at least whined a heck of a lot more at the outset (and I admit to whining a LOT after the first sprint session, not gonna lie).

Here’s what we did, generally speaking:
Ran our first 2ish miles as our warm-up — this portion of our route is particularly hilly so not entirely fun as a warm-up, just sayin’
Ran the next 2 miles at a picked-up pace (this is all guestimates since I am garmin-less as you know)
Then, we we rounded the bend towards the golf course, we pulled back a bit in preparation for our first sprint
Over the bridge we went, right over the ocean — the most beautiful part of our run. And we were sprinting our asses off. It was probably about a quarter mile or so sprint. My legs were FLYING. And to be honest, that first sprint felt good. I had no idea I had such speed in my legs.
Post-sprint, we wound our way around a cute neighborhood, up a rolling hill that surprisingly kicks your ass on a good day, nevermind right after a speed burst. Oy. Our breathing regulated and we prepared ourselves for the next sprint. Back over that bridge but about double the distance and faster. This one REALLY hurt.
Gasping for air, I was whining my ass off, so ready to be done but we still had 3 miles left before home.
Off we went, back up another rolling hill, and another before we rounded the bend towards the final two streets before home. Scott took off. Left me in his dust — this is his cue to pick up the pace. It always pisses me off because he does it when I’m at my most tired…and I know he is smart for pushing me that way, but in my head, I’m bitching and moaning. The more I bitch and moan in my head, the faster I go though, so I suppose it all works out. (man, my husband is so smart, isn’t he? Knows just what to do to get me moving…lol)
Finally we’re at the home stretch — the final half mile to home and I’m just DONE. I’ve slowed way, way down but I’m still moving so that’s a good sign, right?? So I sprint to the finish as best as I can, rushing towards Scott who finished before me and he’s a sweaty smiley mess. Such a beautiful sight, I must say. <3

So after ALL of that? I can’t say that I love mixing sprints/quasi-fartlek work into training, but I will say that I needed that. A reminder that I can push myself even when I’m dead-tired and that I can push past the mental doubts that started to creep in as I grew more and more tired. I’ll need all the mental endurance I can get leading into this marathon, yeah? So I suppose I should thank my husband for kicking my ass then, huh? Even if I whined a bunch about it. ;-)

(and finally, from the ‘you know you’re a runner when’ files…)

On “body” memories

I thought about titling this post “muscle memory” but that would be misleading — so I’m calling this my thoughts on “body’”memories instead.

You see, something I’ve noticed a lot more lately, especially as I get more and more into the whole intuitive eating thing, that my body remembers a LOT of things.

…it remembers how good it feels when I fuel it with real, nourishing, whole, YUMMY foods.

…just as it remembers how not-great it feels when I cave to something far less nourishing (think: nachos).

…it remembers how much more energy it has when it’s fully hydrated. especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing up in my neck of the woods.

…it remembers how light and airy it feels when the body is rested, without too many two-a-days thrown into the mix.

…just as it remembers how badass (in a good way) it can feel after a particularly killer week of workouts, as the one I’m experiencing right now has been (more on this in a minute).

…and it remembers what it feels like to run, run hard, run far(ther) and recover. (much more on this in a few, too)

…the body just knows, responds, refines.

I’m consistently struck by this thing called ‘intention.’ That ‘thing’ I’ve been working on a lot this past year — living with intention, eating with intention, working out with intention, “being” with intention. A lot of that plays into what the body knows and how it responds to living intentionally.

And I am really digging that right now. I’m feeling very ‘at peace’ right now…with everything.
…and it makes me feel very blessed. Incredibly thankful. And very proud.

I’ll be thinking about this tomorrow while Scott and I tackle our long run of the week…week #3 of marathon training. We’re going for 10 miles, our first double-digit run since the half marathon in May.  And I’m feeling excited and energized about it. Not anxious like I mentioned in my post last week about that very mental 9-miler. And I like to think a lot of that has to do with this feeling of ‘peace’ I have going on right now. And the fact that my body remembers what it feels like to run in the double-digits and takes very little time at all to recover from it. I wind up feeling really GOOD after I stretch and re-fuel (ohhh oatmeal!) after a long run like that. I used to feel completely wiped, drained, OUT of it after a long run.

The body remembers. My body does. I dig it.

(and let’s hope it remembers how to run in the heat, even though we’re going out early morning, it’s VERY humid around here, not entirely adjusted to it yet. Body, please remember!!)

<< Oh – and another note: this killer workout week of mine. I’m calling it my last-chance workout week before the very EPIC return to wine country we have planned for next week. I am BURSTING with excitement about it. I seriously can’t sit still for the life of me. More on the trip in my post tomorrow…but for now, just know that I’ve been doing my best to kill every single workout this week while I can…especially at the barre, I’m going to miss barre n9ne in a big way next week. However, I do believe the ‘sacrifice’ is worth it. hehe. >>

Mental miles for 9

Saturday was my second long run of Chicago Marathon training.
…and it was a far more ‘mental’ 9 miles than I would’ve liked.

This after just virtually cheering on this girl through her longer and longer ‘long’ runs leading to her first half marathon, and reminding her to get out of her head and to just trust her body — and here I am struggling with the exact same thing.

Hmph.

That’s what I was thinking about while I struggled to get out of my head on Saturday. I didn’t talk much at all to Scott, was too busy mentally chiding myself for allowing my brain to take over. This mental mind game went on for a good 4-5 miles before I finally said something to Scott.

“I’m having a mental day today.”

To which Scott said: “Stop. It’s a beautiful day. We’re spending time together. It’s been a busy week. Just enjoy this time.”

Just that simple comment was what I needed to start turning things around up in my head. I won’t say that it was a sudden ‘lightbulb moment’ or anything, but it helped me to start to pull myself out of my head and to truly see the beauty around me while starting to let my body work, my mind wander.
…vs. letting my mind ‘work’ and my body suffer for it.

It helped that the weather was ideal for this run. It was low 60s, very breezy, bright sunshine — downright gorgeous. It also helped to be running along one of our favorite routes, right by the water for portions of it — seeing the sun glisten on the water, the boats floating around out there on their slips, so effortlessly and calmly. Just seeing the  serene waters helped me to calm down.

We wound up doing an extra loop on our return trek back over the bridge to give the bridge time to go back down after letting a boat pass through. This switch-up helped me tremendously. It meant that after we crossed the bridge, making our way back home — we only had a couple of miles to go which helped me to get the whole “long run” anxiety out of my system. Now we were just running home, essentially.

It’s those little mental tricks that sometimes make all the difference in a mental run like Saturday’s. The comment from Scott, plus the switch up in our route, and I was able to overcome the mental shenanigans going on in my head.

And when all was said and done? We rounded that last corner and made our way home — and I felt great. I didn’t feel like I’d just run 9 miles. Sure, I needed to stretch (like whoa), but other than that? I felt strong and totally conditioned for the distance. Which, after the fact, really boosted my confidence.

I just have to remember that not every run is going to be without it’s bumps and bruises — and every single run will teach me something new about myself and my abilities as a runner.

…2 weeks down, 16 to go. Whoa. ;-)

Celebrating strength (in running)

I think we should celebrate our strengths. 
…a helluva a lot more often than we’re accustomed to.

So today? I’m celebrating the strength I found in running this past weekend. 

I ended up running three days in a row, something I’m not known to do often or at all, really. I like to give my legs time to rest, coming back stronger the next go-round. However, after a few days off from running last week and the way my plans ended up rolling out this past week/weekend, I ended up running Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I will say that I had every intention of nixing the Sunday run, pushing it to sometime later this week if I needed to. But I woke up bright and early on Sunday, sun was shining, and I was ready to run.

Ready to runafter two really good, really strong runs the previous two days. 
I celebrated that strong moment. It was a brief celebration, but I made sure to stop and note it in my mind before Scott and I took off for our run. (note: we saw the cutest little bunny on this run, he was a little guy, so soft and furry…it took every ounce of self-control not to run after the bunny in an attempt to befriend him).

Backing up a bit. Saturday’s run. Our first “long run” of our official Chicago marathon training plan.
We ran 8 miles. I was wicked PMS-y (sorry, TMI for the male readers). I legit thought I might puke near the last mile and a half.
…and then, it happened.

I started to let go just a little bit more. A little bit more than I have in a long time as a runner. My mind freed itself from all the crazy thoughts that typically run around up there. And I focused. On the strength I was finding in my legs. As I rounded the final turn and we made our way the final half mile, I felt my legs pushing off the ground, gripping the surface, drawing energy from the pavement and plowing along. I have never felt that before. The sensation of the muscles in my legs working — stabilizing me, centering me, propelling me forward.

I felt strong. It felt so awesome.
(but, I won’t lie — I was really glad to see these 8 miles done, I was hurting by the end. Nothing a bowl of oatmeal and a picnic in the park later that day wouldn’t fix!)

Backing up again. To Friday’s rundate with my fit bestie, Steph. We ran a familiar route to us — one we used to run every single week the first time we trained together for our first half marathon. It was our ‘long run route’ at the time. On Friday, we went with a 7.5 mile route. And made sure to ‘save up’ a few topics to discuss on the run to make sure the time would go by quickly. And lemme tell ya — that trick totally worked. What also worked? That I was feeling so rested from those few days off, and despite my best attempts at jinxing myself with Friday’s post, it was a killer good run.

Again, I walked away from that run feeling strong.

Strong is beautiful. Strong ought to be celebrated.


So today, I’m celebrating my strength and urging each of you to dig deep today to find your strength — and when you do, please own it, please share it, please embrace it.  

Source: tumblr.com via Lauren on Pinterest

Running + barre: revisited

Last May, less than two weeks into the 60-day barre n9ne challenge, I wrote about running + barre and how great of a combination it was turning into for me. At the time, I was still very, very new to barre and had barely scratched the surface in that post about just how amazing of a pairing barre workouts can be with running.

I have been meaning to revisit the topic for awhile now but after seeing this fab friend posting on Facebook that she was adding barre and yoga work to her (first-ever!) half marathon training plan, I knew it was time to get crackin’ on this post.

So, in no particular order, here is what makes running + barre an awesome marriage (at least IMHO…)

Strong hammies and glutes = happy knees. It’s no secret that I’ve had my fair share of knee issues over the years. There was an ITBS flare-up after my first half marathon (that required PT) and then there was a fairly minor case of patellar tendonitis after my second half marathon (sensing a trend here, are we?).  In both cases, the real issue wasn’t my knees but the muscles surrounding my knees. They were weak. Underdeveloped. In need of some serious muscle conditioning. Since taking barre classes this past year, would you guess that my knees have never been happier? My third half marathon in October did not follow the same pattern as my previous two: I didn’t come away from the experience injured. Quite the opposite. I walked away healthy and fit and strong. I owe it to the barre (n9ne).

Endurance, like whoa. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll refresh your memory again. The barre n9ne method (as well as similar barre styles) relies heavily on endurance-style muscle conditioning. In other words — a shitton lots and lots of reps, done with very light handweights or just the weight of your own body (at the barre and on the mat). That endurance requires focus and mental strength to push through all those reps, to allow your body to do the work your mind is trying to tell you isn’t possible. It’s the same endurance (mentally and physically) that’s needed when it comes to running miles (long, short, speedy, or otherwise). My interval workouts are speedier and more powerful and my overall run-durance is way better than it’s ever been (particularly this winter when I really, really wanted to keep my mileage up during the colder months of the year, always a struggle for me int he past). Again, I owe a lot of that to the endurance and mental strength I’ve gained from the barre (n9ne).

Smabs. <—for those of you unfamilar with my lingo, that’s code for “some abs” or “smabs.” Prior to barre n9ne, I had a really hard time connecting with my core, and because of that, I often underworked that part of my body when it came to strength training. At one point, I hated core work. Hated. Did anything in my power to woopsie, skip that part of my workouts whenever possible. Now? I’m working my core daily for hours at a time. Hours?? Yes, hours. Every single barre class I take or teach requires constant vigilance in maintaining a strong, engaged core. During the upper body work, while at the barre working the lower body and glutes, and most definitely during the core-specific segment of the class. In reality, you should be working your core the entire hour of the class. So you can imagine the difference I’ve seen in my core strength after a year of classes. Not gonna lie, while changing for my interval workout the other night, I actually did a double-take in the mirror — I’m rockin’ some serious ab definition. ((ME? Smabs? Who knew?! )) But I digress — back to running + barre and why this all relates. The core is a huge factor in how you run strong. It keeps you centered and sturdy and able to push up and down hills and into those wind gusts It’s partially why I don’t fear hills and don’t totally hate running in the wind (sure, it’s not *fun* per se, but at least I know I can push through it with strength). Once again, I owe it to the barre (n9ne).

Botton line: It’s all connected. And barre n9ne, combined with running, has more than proven that to me. It’s all connected. It all matters. It all works together in perfect harmony.

Running + barre = happy knees; a centered, focused mind; and the strongest body this girl has ever had. <3
(…how’s that for enough reasons to give this pairing a try some time?) ;-)

Thinkin’ hilly…’n stuff

After chatting with my sis about her recent success (asslap, sis!) with tackling her first hill-style interval workout yesterday, I got to thinking about my own “relationship” with hills when running.

…which quickly blew up into a much bigger topic once the wheels started turning. (typical!)

To start – I thought about how I approach hills when I run. I really can’t avoid them all that much in my neighborhood since I’m sort of surrounded by them so they’ve never really “scared” me so much as I’ve just dealt with them and learned to push through them over time. I rarely, however, use much of an incline when I run on the treadmill though and I got to thinking about that fact.

So sure, I’m pretty decent on hills when I run outside…but how does that change when I’m facing far less hills in the winter (due to fewer outdoor runs and much more time on the ‘mill)? I’m sure it’s doing me no favors in the winter months not to be doing much in the way of hill work except on the rare occasions that I get to tackle them outside in the chilly winter months.

So I resolved right then and there to start incorporating hill work into my running plans this winter. It could translate into every-other-week hill-style intervals vs. straight-up speedy intervals. Or, it could translate into one of my steady-state runs including hill work, particularly as the winter months drone on and steady state treadmill jaunts grow more and more tiresome. And it most certainly means making sure that my outdoor runs still include any and all routes where hills are involved. Just for good measure.

But what this little exercise also reminded me of? That anyone can be the victim of a plateau or falling into the “well, I’m already pretty good at that so…” mindset. In other words – don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut or a routine just because “it’s how you’ve always done it.”

I want to apply this to all of my workouts from now on. 

Not that I’ve felt like I’ve hit a wall or anything with my workouts, but more because I never want to get complacent. I don’t want to hit the barre and feel like “I’ve done this workout before…” I want every trip to barre n9ne to feel new and challenging and shake-worthy. Same goes for each run – inside or out. I want to walk away from each run feeling as if I left nothing to spare. No speed left on a speedy day. No leg stamina left on a hill day. No endurance left on a long distance day.

This isn’t me being all hard core and crazy. Nope. This is just me never taking my workouts for granted by phoning them in. To me, there is nothing worse than complacency –not just with workouts, but in any area in life. Always be looking for ways to grow, change, evolve.

…to me – that’s what this lifetime is about – living your best life right now, and always working for that personal “best”…even if it stings a little. ;-)

Speedastic Intervals (or: intervals inspired by crazy fast running friends)


I was torn on what to title this post today.
…for two reasons:

1 – the intervals I managed to eek out in the wee hours of Tuesday morning were entirely speedtastic.

2 – those very intervals were inspired by some crazy fast running friends of mine (you two know who you are!)

I have to say – the one thing that building intervals into my running regimen this fall (and yes, winter) has taught me? I am far faster than I give myself credit for. I know, I know – you’re all shaking your heads at me…especially since I vowed not to question my abilities the other day in this post. Woopsie. I did it again. (I promise, I’ll learn…)

So there you have it. I admit it. I’m getting faster. And I kinda like it.

And it’s about time I get that thought straight in my head, I have lots of running fun planned for 2012, afterall. Plus, I’m loving the intervals mixed in with my steady-state running plans for the winter. Keeps these legs guessing (and hurtin’!), that’s fo sho!

So anyway, the speedtastic interval work I did on Tuesday? Looks very, very similar to Sam’s intervals from the other day – with one exception, I’m not *quite* as speedy as she is. Damn girlfriend! The other difference – I’m listing my speeds in “mph” vs. “pace” since I’m the cool kid that avoids Garmins and numbers and all that jazz like the plague. ;-)

One thing that remains the same between her workout and mine? This was damn hard. But I kind of loved it. Suuuuch runner’s high afterwards (on the treadmill, no less!).

Speedtastic Intervals (Sam-spired!)

Warm-up: 1 mile @6.5 mph

Interval #1: mile 1-2 @7.5 mph
Recovery: mile 2-2.15 @3.5 mph (walk)

Interval #2: 2.15-3.15 @7.5mph
Recovery: mile 3.15-3.40 @3.5 mph (walk)

Interval #3: 3.40-4.40 @7.5mph
Recovery: mile 4.40-4.60 @3.5 mph (walk)

Interval #3: mile 4.6-5.6 @7.5 / 7.6 mph
Recovery: mile 5.6-6.0

…and then, tweet like hell that you’re done and damn proud of yourself:


JessFit654

Annnd done. Four rounds of intervals, 6 miles later. Wiped, but psyched! Thanks to @runcupcake and her crazy interval plan ;-p

Pause and reflect (thankful)


Thank you, friends. You know how to make this girl feel loads better about this knee situation of mine. I am still so blown away by all of your awesome (and sound!) advice. I somehow had a feeling ya’ll wouldn’t let me down. :)

…which brings me to today’s post.

On pausing and reflecting (thankful).

Once again, I’m slapped with a little bit of perspective. As I was sitting here yesterday, contemplating whether or not I should attempt to run, to rest, to walk, or to sit here and whine about it, a thought occurred to me. I’m kind of being a big baby about this little knee pain of mine.

On a small scale:
…I’ve been through two major (for me) knee injuries that literally left me sidelined for months. This achy knee will sideline me for a week or so. No big deal.
…I have access to other forms of exercise (hello, barre n9ne!) to keep me moving, regardless of if I can run or not.

On a (much) bigger scale:
…I am healthy and strong.
…I am active and a little bit of time away from running will do me nothing but good.
…I am able.

I feel like I go back to that “being able” thing a lot lately, but there’s a reason for that. I never want to take that for granted. So I hope you don’t mind that these “able” theme pops up pretty regularly here.

Another reason it’s on my mind? I read this post yesterday from Susan over at The Great Balancing Act…it was such a reality check. If you even *think* a negative body image thought after reading her post, you ought to have your head examined. For real. I won’t attempt to do the message behind her post justice – I just urge you to head on over and read it for yourself. It’s amazing and wise reading.

So the moral of this story? I’m thankful….that this appears to be nothing worse than a little achy knee that simply needs a little R&R….but more importantly, that this is such a minor “thing” in the grand scheme of things.

All this has done is reinforced to me the need to honor my body, to train smartly, and to listen to my body, above all else (and to listen to your wise words too, don’t you worry!).

The Rx: no running for a few days, lots of stretching and icing, and some strength training, barre n9ne-style. Not a bad gig, if you ask me.

Work smarter. Train smarter. Run smarter.

Some of you have probably seen me on twitter talking about running smarter, training smarter. It’s become my mantra lately — mostly because the last thing I want to do right now is end up with an injury that would sideline me from running, from keeping up with my endurance and preventing me from chasing runner’s high after runner’s high.

But the other reason I’ve been talking about running and training smarter? Because I want to both care for my body in the months leading into full marathon training *and*  make the most of my workouts.
Quality vs. quantity. 

No more was this true than in Sunday’s barre n9ne intensive class I took with my sis and Steph. It’s a 90-minute workshop style class where Tanya takes students through five of the signature barre n9ne moves and hammers home the exact right form for each move and explains *why* form matters so much.

The “why” is pretty easy: Work smarter

She’s right — and her focus on that today totally hit home for me because it’s totally been on my mind…how can I continue to work and train smarter?

…to continue to evolve barre n9ne into a workout that never fails me, that doesn’t cause plateaus, that continues to refine me?
…to continue to run smarter, running harder when my body tells me “GO!” and train smarter when my body tells me “NO!” Truly listening to body cues.
…to put my all into my workouts, but not necessarily in a “balls out” kind of way, but in a focused, smarter way.

Work smarter, train smarter, run smarter. 

This has quickly become my new mantra for the rest of 2011 and all of 2012 (aka: the year of 26.2).  

In the meantime, I’ll be over here on my wobbly legs from yesterday’s intensive, that sh*t burns when your form and your focus is spot-on. Holy hell am I in for it in class this week. Burn baby, burn. ;-) 

Well, now what?

…so there’s that PR I can’t stop talking about.

…and that little marathon thing I can’t stop thinking about.

…and barre n9ne that I’m still totally and utterly in love with.

Well, now what? 

I’m finding myself stumbling into an “in between” spot — no races to be training for, no barre n9ne challenge to be focused on (not “officially” anyway…always in barre n9ne mode in some shape or form). No “something” to be working towards, near-term.

So, knowing me, I’ve been doing lots of thinking. About what I want to focus on for the next say, six months before officially throwing myself into marathon training (y’know, after I can actually register for the Chicago Marathon…minor detail!). 

And I’ve decided that I have three goals for myself – they probably won’t surprise you.

1 – Maintain my running endurance as best as I can this winter (aiming for a long-ish run per week all winter, for the most part)

2 – Make sure to properly mix in intervals to work on speed. (I hear a certain Jim over at RunBikeSurf has a killer interval workout he and Sam at Because I can are planning to post soon…ahem!)

3 – Stay focused in barre n9ne, constantly improving my form, core strength and flexibility.

Sounds pretty well-rounded…and kinda similar to what I’ve been doing, yeah? The difference to me is a subtle one. But it’s an important one to me. I’ve worked SO hard to get myself into the best running “fitness” of my life and I feel like I’m in a really good place. So I want to hang onto it like hell. 

I’m also so grateful for what barre n9ne has done for me — it’s totally transformed me, and continues to change me every single day. Physically but perhaps even more so mentally. So I want to hang onto *that* like hell too. 

The only difference in either scenario? No hard and fast “schedule” or “training plan” for the next few months. And I’m cool with that. It’ll let me mix up my weeks a little bit more than I have been the past few months. But it’ll still be focused, which is so important to me.

For example – this week has been solely focused on barre n9ne while I give myself a running break (my joints are thanking me!). And maybe there will be a week or two where I’m more focused on running and intervals/speed and less so on barre n9ne. Who knows.

Either way? I have my eye on the prize – 26.2 next October. The next year is going to be a rollercoaster (like whoa). And I’d like to start that rollercoaster on solid (strong) ground. Strong legs, happy joints, conditioned core.  Run-smart. Train-smart. Live-smart. 

…so this is my non-plan of a plan. I dig it.